Saturday, February 26, 2011

My 1st Anniversary In The Blogging World N Tiramisu-Heaven In Mouth!

Let's celebrate my first year anniversary in the blogging world by something sweet! And what can beat Tiramisu?! Tiramisu (pronounced "tih-ruh-mee-SOO") is an Italian dessert invented in the 1960' in Italy, obviously! Literally translated Tiramisu means "pick me up" or "carry me up", which probably refers to the jolt you get after eating espresso and alcohol laced ladyfingers. It is often called an 'Italian Trifle" because, like any trifle, it has layers. In this case, ladyfingers are dipped in a mixture of coffee (espresso) and alcohol (rum or Marsala), and then they are layered with a custard that has been mixed with mascarpone cheese. All these ingredients are very expensive. So this heavenly dessert can't really be prepared that often. There are variations of this recipe like using vanilla pudding and cream cheese etc replacing mascarpone. I've tried them also. I'll post another quick and easy Tiramisu recipe later on.
OK, for now, lets go to our Tiramisu recipe. The bad news is that this yummy Tiramisu recipe is unbelievably high in fat and calories. So, it is NOT suitable for people who are on a diet. This recipe doesn't require baking, just cooling in a fridge. That is why it is so popular during hot summer days. Needless to mention its nice refreshing taste.

2 cups espresso, cooled
1/3 cup sweet Italian vemouth or rum
40 Italian Lady finger cookies
1.1 lbs fresh mascarpone cream cheese
5 eggs
5 tablespoons of sugar
Bittersweet chocolate for shaving
Whipped cream, chocolate espresso cream mousse and cocoa powder for garnish

How to:
Separate the yolks from the whites into two different mixing bowls. In the bowl with the yolks, add sugar and beat yolk mixture with an electric mixer until consistency is creamy. Add mascarpone cream cheese and mix thoroughly. In the other mixing bowl, beat egg whites until they turn into fluffy white peaks. Carefully fold white peaks into the creamy yolk mixture.

In another bowl, mix together espresso and vermouth. Dip cookies in coffee mixture for a few seconds, making sure they are wet outside but still somewhat dry in the middle. Arrange dipped cookies in one tightly pack layer on the bottom of a cake pan. Pour 1/2 of the cream on top of the cookies and spread evenly. Add a second layer of soaked lady fingers, then evenly spread the remaining cream on top.

Plastic wrap the cake pan and leave Tiramisu to rest in the fridge for 3-4 hours. Before serving, sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Garnish the way you like and enjoy this little pick-me-up!

Monday, February 21, 2011


Paninis are Italian sandwiches, that have now become international. I had my first Panino in Venice, Italy in 2003 during our Europe trip. Since then, I've developed a liking for this toasty, warm Italian sandwiches. I am not a sandwich person per se but I love to have paninis every now and then. I've learned from my Italian co-workers that paninis are customarilly made from a small loaf or roll of bread, typically a ciabatta. The loaf is horizontally cut and filled with Italian cold cuts like salami,ham, cheese, mortadella or other food. Now that is has gone international, we can fill it up with almost anything and make our version of paninis. Personally, I prefer lots of roasted vegetables and a slice or two of good cheese and I am good to go. That is exactly what I did with this panini. I had leftover grilled veggies like colored peppers, onions and portobello mushrooms. I also had ciabatta rolls that called for paninis. I made Sriracha mayonnaise(regular mayo + as much Sriracha as you can handle!) and slathered on the rolls. Then loaded up the rolls with veggies and slices of fresh bufala mozzarella and topped them off with peppery arugula. Put another slice of the roll back on top of it, and grilled it in my panini press. And presto! I got filling, hot sandwiches for supper ready to enjoy. I served it with roasted baby potatoes.
There is no recipe for this sandwich as it only requires a sturdy bread to stand the heat of the panini press and the rest is all upto our imagination.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mango Strawberry Crème Mousse

I had some strawberry Jell-O leftover from Mark's birthday's dessert. I also had a lonely mango in my fridge! Now mango and strawberry are a marriage made in heaven! So I decided to make a cool cool dessert with all the leftover ingredients from my fridge and the end result was simply fabulous. It was light as a cloud. We could have pints of it without getting full! We all were left craving for more. What a perfect way to end any dinner. This is just a perfect weeknight dessert that would easily make you float to the weekend! Come on friends, enjoy some of this light, cool crème mousse!
Mango Crème Strawberry Mousse
1/2 package Strawberry Jell-O
1 cup Hunt's vanilla pudding
2 cups Cool Whip
1 mango, puréed
1/2 cup Hunt's vanilla pudding
1-1/2 cups Cool Whip

How to:
Mix first 3 ingredients in one bowl, last 3 in another bowl. Arrange in a tall cup. Serve with a dollop of Cool Whip!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mark's Birthday Dinner!

For Mark's 16th birthday, I planned a special dinner menu. Well, a day in advance as his birthday fell on Sunday, we were going for Chinese lunch buffet to his favourite restaurant. I had to keep in mind his likes and dislikes(he loves Italian food, dislikes Indian veggie dishes!). I also had to keep in mind the taste with no extra fat. So I prepared a 3-course dinner for him. It wasn't a surprise as he only knew what I was making for him. I prepared roasted mushroom soup, garlic breadsticks, grilled chicken with herbs with saffron sauce and warmed veggie salad. For dessert, I was thinking about making something very special for him. And I chose to make crepes - strawberry cream filled crepes. We all enjoyed the dinner so much, he couldn't stop hugging and kissing and thanking me for so many hours!

Roasted mushroom soup

1/2 lb. each Portobello, cremini and button mushrooms-coarsely chopped
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2-3 big garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4-5 cups chicken broth
Heavy cream as required

How to:

Roast all the mushrooms, onion and garlic with olive oil in 400° F oven for about an hour. Puree them well. Keep aside.
Mix with chicken stock, salt and pepper. Add or reduce the stock to get the consistency to your liking.
Simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes and serve hot with croutons(optional) on the top.

For crepes, I used plain old recipe from Alton Brown from food network. I love the man's cooking! Didn't want to change the recipe a bit. So I follow the steps religiously and as a result, got fluffy, soft crepes.

2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons melted butter
Butter, for coating the pan

How to:
In a blender, combine all of the ingredients and pulse for 10 seconds. Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.

Heat a small non-stick pan. Add butter to coat. Pour 1 ounce of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to the cutting board. Lay them out flat so they can cool. Continue until all batter is gone. After they have cooled you can stack them and store in sealable plastic bags in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for up to two months. When using frozen crepes, thaw on a rack before gently peeling apart.

For the filling, I had to use my imagination. There are so many recipes available on the web. I didn't want to use any of them. I wanted to come up with my own recipe. Finally, I thought of this and boy, the result was strawberryliciously lip smacking!!!

Strawberry crème crepe filling:

Mix 1/2 packet of strawberry Jell-o with 2 cups Hunts vanilla pudding and 1 cup Cool Whip. Place it in a plastic bag with the plain nozzle. Pipe into the crepes, fold the crepes and arrange on a serving platter. Garnish with powdered sugar, a dollop of Cool Whip and a sliced strawberry.

I tried to present it two different ways. Loved them both!

Main course was grilled chicken with saffron cream sauce, roasted potatoes and steamed beans.