Where’s the Beet?!

By Maasi Saba

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It’s still quite hot here in Lahore. The temperature has lowered a bit where at times the fan is enough to cool me. Even though schools have reopened this week and inshallah I will get back to my old routine, I’m still a lazy bum. And a bum just wants to eat. To eat something cold, and ready to eat is more my style these days. So, I wanted to share with you all a recipe for a salad my mom makes. Her salad had these ingredients, apples, beets, and pears. Mine just has apples and beets. My kids don’t like the pears available here, they say they feel too bumpy, and sometimes they can’t seem to swallow them. Don’t ask me why.

In this salad, I used 2 beets, and about 3 apples since apples these days are a bit small. After peeling the beets, I diced them up as I would when making fruit chat. I peeled and diced the apples as well.  Boil the beets until tender. Just make sure they are boiled through. Let the beets cool down and then mix with the apples in a container.  Now, on to the dressing….

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When I asked my mom how she made this salad, she just told me the things she added and no quantity. I like to know the quantity and my mom would just say, “mera andaza hai,” (It’s according to your taste) which didn’t help me much. She tried her best to tell me how much, and the rest was up to me. So trial and error many times this summer and I found a balance I liked. The funny part is, I didn’t use measurements either! So let’s see if I can explain it well enough for you to try this as well.

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The dressing consists of yoghurt (I used Nestle and not homemade because this is a sweet/tangy salad), mayonnaise, vinegar, salt and sugar (I use castor sugar because it dissolves quicker). Now, in my head, I feel using a bit more yoghurt than mayonnaise is a healthy decision. So I use more of yoghurt and mix it well with some mayonnaise, then I would use a cap half way full of vinegar and a bit pinch of salt, and 2 big pinches of sugar. Does this make sense? Well, today, I measured the ingredients and well, it didn’t come out the way I want it. I think it needs a bit more vinegar. But since I already have mixed it for you all to see, I’ll just eat it the way it is. It’s still tasty! So I measured it this way: ½ cup yoghurt, 1/3 cup mayonnaise,  ¼ tsp salt, 2 tsp sugar, and 1 tsp vinegar. There is something wrong with this, it isn’t tangy enough, so yes, I need to add a bit more vinegar, and I might have added a bit more sugar than I stated, and not enough salt. You guys can figure it out. Sorry ladies, I’ll try better next time, inshallah.

Mix both dry and wet ingredients and refrigerate. After a few hours, it will turn a nice shade of purple. Serve chilled as a side dish or your main course. And it tastes better the next day. Be careful though as beets to stain clothes! I think one day I will try it when I attempt to dye things using natural household items. Lol!

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Recipe: Jalapeño Poppers

A couple of days back I was having a little chit chat with Maasi Saba and well, the subject of Iftari came up, which usually is the most popular topic of discussion in our households during Ramadan. I wanted to make something simple but different and voila! She recommended this amazing jalapeño poppers recipe, which I made as soon as i could and was an instant hit in my family!!

Read the recipe in her own words and discover for yourself, these scrumptious little jalapeño poppers. And do try, I’m sure your kids will love you for this!

— Maasi Wajo

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By Maasi Saba

All day long, you think of what you would like for Iftar. You go through the list like a routine. Pakoras? What kind of pakoras? Fruit chaat, dahi bharray, dahi pakoria, chinese rolls, sesame chicken on toast, kebabs, shami kebabs, etc. But as the time rolls on, going into the kitchen is like jumping over a hurdle. But, alas, we still go in, and we prepare Iftar for our loved ones. We try to make it tasty and interesting. (But there is always one person who is not happy.) We make different drinks, different types of milk drinks, and have an assortment of dates on the table. We also put out all the sauces, ketchups, and chutneys we have in the house to make the food more interesting. I hope our families will be happy with our effort.

Trying to make different things for Iftar isn’t easy. Sometimes our efforts backfire and everyone looks at the dish and then our faces thinking, “What is that supposed to be!” I think we all have those bad days. Those days I wish I had someone else doing the work in the kitchen!

Today, we have a quick and easy recipe to share with you. I have been making this for a few years and my family loves it. Well, minus my younger two who don’t like jalapeños. In the U.S., my mom would buy jalapeño poppers from Costco and we would devour them before we sat down at the table. They were delicious! They made them using whole jalapeños stuffed with cheddar cheese! YUM! You can’t find them here, and you can’t use cheddar cheese either. That particular cheese here is a bit in the oily side and it will just lose its shape n become mush. My mom tried making it with cheddar and mozzarella cheese and they opening while she was frying them.

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For this recipe, you will need to buy fresh cottage cheese, a bottle of jalapeño slices, egg, flour (optional) and bread crumbs for coating. 

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 I took about 3-4 heaping spoonfuls of jalapeños, drained and roughly sliced them.

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I have a family of eight members all under our roof so I used two cottage cheese and crumbled it up with my hands at first and then a fork.

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I mixed the two by hand and was able to shape them into small little croquet shaped balls. I had to put them in the fridge for an hour because that day it was particular hot, and my own sweaty hands were ruining the shape.
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After 2 hours, I dipped them in a well beaten egg and coated then with breadcrumbs. (You can add flour as well if you like). I froze mine immediately for later use.

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When frying, make sure the fire is not on low or they will open up before they are golden brown.

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Jalapeños give it the right tangy and spicey taste! These jalapeño poppers are very tasty. Now you will have to adjust to your liking the amount of jalapeños added. I didn’t add any seasoning, but you can if you want.

Some of My Favourite Swiss Roll Recipes

By Maasi Maryam

Don’t we all want to get a little creative in our kitchens? Well, most of you already are but today I want to show you that being creative and original can be very basic and rewarding. Playing around an old favorite is never easy, but with a little dedication and some hard work, (yes the love of food can make its way into the busiest of schedules, trust me) we can come up with things that would take a lifetime to forget!

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It’s all about a few creative twists and turns to the humble sponge. A good sponge cake sheet can be the basis for a variety of delicious desserts. Let’s start with some tips for a perfect sponge every time. The cake batter is always baked in a large shallow Swiss roll tin to make sheets of sponge.

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To prevent it from sticking to the pan and breaking when you take it out, butter the tin, line it with greaseproof paper and then butter again. Once the cake has cooled down, you can then start filling it with fruit mousses (any soft fruit mango berries peaches), chocolate ganache or cream patisserie. You can get as versatile with the fillings and toppings as you please…how about a layer of homemade jelly or walnuts and cream? It all depends on your mood and what flavours amuse you the most.
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Today I want to share with you all some combinations for filling and toppings I adore. So that basically means that I’ll be sharing some recipes from one of my favourite cookbooks, “The Creative Kitchen”. The recipes include peach fruit mousse, chocolate ganache and walnuts and cream topping.

Let’s get working mommies !

Peach fruit mousse

Gelatin 15 g
Peach fruit juice 1/2 litre
Sugar 200 g
Water 3 1/2 fl oz
Egg whites beaten until stiff  3
Heavy whipping cream whipped to soft peaks 3/4th litre

IMG_0965Start with pouring some tropical juice in the gelatin to soften it, mix until smooth. Melt the sugar in the water over a low flame, while stirring gently. Gradually increase the heat and boil the syrup. Then take it off heat and immediately dip the base of pan in cold water to stop the cooking process. Put this hot syrup on the beaten egg whites in a thin stream, whisking without break and continue beating until all the syrup is incorporated and the meringue is cool.

IMG_0971NOTE: what you ‘re making here is a meringue. The finished meringue should be very shiny and white and form a stiff peak on the end of your whisk. Now melt the smooth gelatin and peach juice mixture over a low heat and add the rest of the peach juice as well. Carefully fold the gelatin and juice into the meringue, and then fold in the whipped cream as well.

Chocolate Ganache

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Hard semisweet chocolate chopped 250g
Whipping cream (not whipped) 1/4 litre

Put the chocolate and cream in a heavy based saucepan over a low heat and stir until all chocolate has melted. Continue mixing over heat for about 10 more minutes, but do not bring to a boil. The chocolate cream mixture should be smooth and thick by now. Now pour the mixture into a large bowl and refrigerate at least an hour.

When you take the bowl out of the fridge whisk the chocolate mixture with an electric beater for 10 minutes or until it doubles in volume, very light in texture and a pale brown.

Walnuts and Cream

Ground walnuts 1/2 cup
Heavy whipping cream (whipped and chilled)  2 cups
Sugar 4 tablespoons (less if you like)
Vanilla essence 1/2 tsp
Salt a pinch

Mix together all of the above and chill overnight.

Serving suggestions

All these fillings can be used to fill layers of sponge that have been moistened by spraying with sugar water syrup. (1 part sugar to 2 parts water mixed and poured in a spray bottle)IMG_0970

Use the Swiss roll tin to pour over some jelly into, let chill and set completely, top with the fruit mousse and finish with the sponge cake sheet, trimmed to fit the top of the tin. Take the finished layers out by placing the tin upside down so you see the jelly layer on top.

Or simply spread the walnut whipped cream onto the cake sheet and roll it to make a lovely Swiss roll.

Believe it or not, working with different tones and textures brings out the best chef in you. Happy cooking mommies 🙂