Friday, February 27, 2015


It is summer here and I am relishing cool salads everyday. Today I tried out this delicious plum salad. Filled the plum halves with crumbled Buffalo Mozzarella cheese and garnished with grapes and rosemary leaves.

Plums .... 2 
Cabbage or lettuce leaves .. 4
Carrot ..... 1/2 (julienned)
Arugula ..... 1/4 bunch (you may use any other salad greens too)
 Buffalo Mozzarella cheese... as needed 
Grapes ... 8 - 10 
Rosemary leaves ... 1 sprig

For the dressing:
Mayonnaise .. 1 tbsp
Honey .......... 2 tsps
Balsamic vinegar .. 1 tbsp
Olive oil ........ 1 tbsp
Salt .... 2 - 3 pinches
Black pepper ... as per your liking.

1. Put the dressing ingredients in a small bottle and shake it up to mix well.
2. Cut the plums into halves and remove the seeds. 
3. Wash the cabbage or lettuce leaves and place them in a serving dish.
4. Spread the washed and drained arugula leaves and julienned carrots on the cabbage leaves.
5. Break the cheese and stuff into the plums. Decorate them with grapes and add few to the salad.
6. Pour the dressing over the salad.
7. Garnish with rosemary leaves.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

PANE SICILIANO ( Sicilian Semolina Bread )

Pane Siciliano is a simple semolina bread crusted with sesame seeds. It goes very well with soup.
On the 13th of December, feasts are held in Sicily and around the world celebrating the bravery of Santa Lucia. One way is by baking a special bread which is known as Pan Siciliano. What is unusual about this bread is that it is baked with semolina ( what we know in India as rava/ sooji). In Sicily (and Italy), the semolina they use for this bread is a specific grind of durum wheat called “semola di grano duro rimacinato” or just “rimacinato”, which translates as 'ground again'. This refers to semolina which is ground once more to break the coarser grain into finer flour.
If you can find rimancinato, then go ahead and use that. Otherwise use the finest grind semolina you can find. There’s variety of semolina that is very fine (still grainy) that’s used for making laddoos, halwa and batters. Otherwise, just run the semolina you have in the chutney jar of your mixer-grinder or coffee grinder till it’s fine.
Though there are a lot of recipes for making this bread in a shorter time, traditionally, this bread is made with a pre-ferment which the Sicilians/ Italians call “cresciuta”. This produces a more flavourful loaf of bread and isn’t all that much more work. This recipe calls for gluten which improves the texture of the loaf. If you do not have it, leave it out. I have not used it in my recipe.

We Knead To Bake #24 : Pane Siciliano (Sicilian Sesame Seeded Semolina Bread)
(Adapted from Ciao Italia - )

For the Cresciuta (Biga/ Pate Fermentee):
 Lukewarm water .... 1/4 cup
Active dry yeast ..... 1/4 tsp
All-purpose flour .... 1/4 cup

For the Dough:
Active dry yeast ..... 1/2 tsp
Lukewarm water (110° to 115°F) ... 1 cup
 Honey ..... 2 tsp
All the prepared Cresciuta
Fine durum semolina flour ... 2 to 2 and 1/2 cups
Vital wheat gluten ... 1/2 tsp ( I skipped it )
Salt ... 1 tsp
Olive oil ... 1 tbsp

A little water for brushing on the bread
Sesame seeds ... 1/8 cup


First make the Cresciuta. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a small bowl and stand it aside for about 10 minutes till it is frothy. Stir in the flour with a fork and loosely cover the bowl. This mixture should be a little wet/ stringy. Leave it in a slightly warm place for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

The next morning, , Dissolve the yeast in the warm water mixed with the honey. Let it stand for 10 minutes till it is frothy.

Add the cresciuta and mix well.

Mix together 2 cups of the semolina, gluten and salt and add it to the bowl with the olive oil. Mix well and then add as much more semolina as is necessary until you have a smooth ball of dough

Add additional flour a little at a time and blend well

Now you have a soft and smooth ball of dough that is just short of sticky.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn it to coat well, then loosely cover and let the dough rise.

This should take about 1 1/2 hours. Now the dough is risen to double its quantity.

Deflate the dough, and knead it lightly.

 Roll it out into a “rope” that is about 30” long.

 Place baking parchment on your baking tray, grease it lightly, and then gently lift up the rope of dough and place it on the baking tray. Curl the dough back and forth on itself leaving a 6 or 7 inch tail. Fold the tail over the shaped loaf. Do not tuck it under the loaf.

Loosely cover and let the shaped dough rise for 2 hours till almost double in size. Lightly brush the top of the dough with water and then sprinkle the sesame seeds over this pressing them in lightly with your fingers.

Pre-heat your oven to 190C (375F) with an baking tray placed upside down in it. Place your baking tray with the dough on the hot tray and bake for about 30 minutes until the bread is brown and done, and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Cool on a rack completely before slicing.
This recipe makes one small to medium sized loaf .

This video of Mary Ann Esposito making the Pane Siciliano with Peter Reinhart is quite helpful -

Linking this to :
My Diverse Kitchen - We Knead To Bake #24 : Pane Siciliano (Sicilian Sesame Seeded Semolina Bread)

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

BUTTER GARLIC PRAWNS ( Valentine's Day Special )

This is a simple and delicious snack and takes hardly any time to prepare it. Since I made it for Valentine's Day I put the prawns in satay sticks in the shape of a heart. You may serve them on a platter too.

Prawns ... 250 gms
Garlic.... 1 tbsp (crushed)
Lemon juice .. 1 tbsp
Kesari / orange colour .. a pinch
Red chilli powder .. 1/4 tsp
Salt ..... to taste
Butter .... 1 tbsp


1. Peel and clean the prawns leaving the tails intact. Marinate them with all the ingredients mentioned except butter.

2. Heat the skillet and add the butter. As it starts melting tip in the prawns. Saute them turning a few times until the colour changes and they are done. (5-7 minutes)

Serve hot.

Check out the video

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Friday, February 13, 2015

PANEER CUTLETS (Valentine Day Special )

Made some paneer cutlets for the Valentine Day. Very easy to make and they tasted delicious

Paneer ... 1 cup (crumbled)
Potatoes ... 2 medium
Bread crumbs ... 2 tbsps
Anardana powder .. 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder ..... 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala .... 1/4 tsp
Red chilli powder .. 1/4 tsp (you may use green chillies too )
Salt ...... to taste
Coriander leaves .. 1 tbsp (finely chopped)
Oil ... to fry

For dipping:
Corn Starch ... 1 tbsp
APF / Maida .. 1 tsp
Salt .... a pinch
Make a thin batter with all these ingredients adding sufficient water. This helps in giving a crispy texture and the cutlets will not break when you fry them.

1. Boil the potatoes. Peel and mash them.
2. Crumble the paneer well.
3. Mix all the ingredients in the first list except oil.
4. Make heart shaped cutlets using a cutter.
5. Sprinkle some bread crumbs over them.
6. Heat the oil in a pan. Dip each cutlet in the thin batter that you prepared and fry them until crisp.
Serve them hot with any sauce or chutney of your choice.

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Check out other Valentine Day Recipes:

Coconut Hearts

COCONUT HEARTS ( Valentine Day Special )

Easy coconut sweet that can be made in 20 minutes. You can make any shape you like. I made it heart shaped for Valentine Day.

Dry dessicated coconut ... 2 cups (plus 1/4 cup for coating )
Milk powder ................... 2 tbsps
Condensed milk ............  1/2 can (about 100 gms )
Milk or water.................. 2 tbsps
Ghee / clarified butter ... 2 tbsps
Cardamom powder ....... 1/8 tsp

1. In a thick bottomed pan heat the ghee.
2. Add coconut and saute on low flame for 4-5 minutes.
3. Mix the milk powder and condensed milk and keep stirring continuously on low flame.
4. Add 2 tbsps of milk and continue to stir until it leaves the sides. (5-7 mins )
4. Add the cardamom powder and mix well.
5. Shape the mixture into hearts using heart shaped cookie cutter.
6. Coat them with dessicated coconut.

This quantity makes about 15 - 18 pieces depending on the size of the cutter / mould.

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Coconut Barfi

JELLY HEARTS DESSERT (Valentine Day Special)

A simple dessert for your Valentine Day Menu..

Strawberry or Raspberry jelly ... 1 packet
Plain gelatine crystals ............ 1 tsp
Cream ......................... 1 sachet (200ml )
Vanilla essence .... 1-2 drops
Sugar .................... 1 tbsp
Chantilly cream .....  1 can (I bought the ready to use can )
Cherries .......... for garnishing
Heart shaped cutter

1. Set the strawberry jelly as per the instructions on the pack but reduce the quantity of water because we need firm jelly.
2. Heat 1 and 1/2 cups of water and mix the plain jelly crystals until well blended. Let it cool.
3. Add the cream and sugar and mix it well. You can flavour it with vanilla essence if you like.
4. Grease the moulds before setting both the jellies so that the jelly can be upturned easily.
5. First take the white jelly and carefully separate the edges using a knife and take it out in a plate.
6. Cut out a heart using a cutter
7. Repeat the same with the red coloured jelly.
8. Place the red jelly heart into the white jelly to fit into the heart portion that was removed.
9. Garnish it with chantilly cream and cherries.
A simple and easy dessert is ready to serve.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

HEART SHAPED PIZZA (Valentine Day Special )

Heart shaped pizza for your Valentine Day Menu. You can have any toppings you like. I have made it with capsicum / Bell pepper hearts.

To make the dough:
Flour ...  2 cups
Yeast ... 1 tsp
Sugar .. 1 tsp
Salt .... 1/2 tsp
Olive oil ... 1 tbsp

1. Take lukewarm water in a bowl and tip in the sugar without mixing.
2. Sprinkle the yeast on top and leave it for a few minutes until it becomes frothy.
3. Now take the flour in a big bowl and add salt and olive oil.
4. Stir in the yeast and knead the dough adding a little water if required.
5. Place it in a greased bowl covered in a warm place until it raises to double the size.

Meanwhile make the sauce:
Tomato ... 1 large
Chilli sauce .. 1 tbsp
Salt ... to taste
Oregano .. 1/2 tsp
Oil ... 1 tbsp

1. Blanch the tomato and peel the skin. Puree it.
2. In a pan add oil and saute the tomato puree until thick
3. temper it with salt, chilli sauce and oregano.
You may add a little sugar or tomato ketchup if you like.

Capsicums / Bell Peppers .. red, green and yellow (cut them into tiny hearts using a cutter )

To make the pizza:
1. Take out the risen dough and knead it to a smooth texture.
2. Roll it and cut out into a heart shape. You can use a heart shaped mould if you have one.
3. Spread the prepared sauce evenly.
4. Place the capsicum hearts.
5. Sprinkle the cheese and oregano on top.
6. Leave it for 10 minutes until it is risen.
7. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes. ( 250 degrees )

Note: The time and temperature depends on the type of oven used. Check it out.

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