Pumpkin bread pudding

I roasted a turkey for the first time this Thanksgiving Day, if you leave out those nightmares I was having about the bird coming out charred from the oven, everything went well without a hitch. In the previous years we were either joining our friends for dinner or flying to India during thanksgiving weekend, and thereby depending on what we chose, made desserts to take along or hauled those oversized bags to the airport. We had friends over for Thanksgiving dinner last week, they brought in lovely home made pies and just for the sake of not letting any celebration go off without making a dessert I made a pumpkin bread pudding. I used a recipe from Pillsbury website which sounded different from the conventional bread pudding recipes as it calls for bread crumbs instead of pieces. The baked pudding resembles a cake in form and texture, with a softer and richer feel to it, something I would describe as a pudding cake. It might not be a bad idea to experiment with other fruit purees in this recipe.
This is my entry to the Festive food fair event hosted by Anna of Morsels & Musings, do check out the round up for fabulous holiday meal ideas. Thank you Anna.

Recipe source : http://www.pillsbury.com/

3 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup butter melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 3/4 cups Plain Bread Crumbs
2 cups milk
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2-cup raisins

For spiced whipped cream

1 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ginger or ¼ tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350°F, spray 8 or 9-inch square pan with cooking spray (or use butter). In a mixing bowl beat eggs well, add sugar, spices, butter, vanilla, and beat again. Add bread crumbs, milk and pumpkin and gently mix. Keep for 10 minutes. Add raisins, mix well and pour into the prepared pan. Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes, check doneness using a knife or tester. Cool on a wire rack, unmold, and slice into squares. Serve hot or cold topped with spiced whipped cream. Leftover cranberry –apple-orange sauce worked well with this pudding, and so will any other berry puree or preserve.
Happy Thanksgiving

A good root !

Sweet potato is a nifty root, and when it comes to cooking with it I somehow sport a minimalist approach. I have made chiffon pies and biscuits out of it, yet plain boiling or baking is still the favored method for cooking this root in our household. But whenever we chance upon substantially interesting recipes, we get all the less prejudiced about it, and carry on with our pots and pans. Here are two recent additions to our sweet potato repertoire.

1) Grilled

Recipe from C for Cooking - Thank you.

2) Whipped

4 cups Sweet potatoes cooked and mashed
2 teaspoon unsalted butter (optional)
2 tablespoons cream
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Salt and pepper or maple sugar ( or demerara sugar, just for the look of it) -to taste.

Mix all the ingredient except the last one, beat vigorously with a handheld mixer till the mixture is smooth and shiny. Season with salt and pepper for serving as a side dish. Pipe whipped potatoes and sprinkle with maple sugar to turn it into a light dessert. Recipe adapted from www.cooksrecipes.com
Pasta with fennel

Ever since I cooked fennel bulbs for the first time after coming here, I was wondering if there are any traditional Indian recipes for cooking fennel bulbs and fronts. India is one of the major producers of fennel seeds, and so I was naturally curious about the use of fennel bulbs in Indian cuisine. Search for an authentic Indian recipe using fennel bulbs did not generate promising results (Correct me if I am wrong, a comment on this regard is greatly appreciated), and it was disheartening to think about squandering those toothsome bulbs once the seeds are harvested. Somehow this obvious lack of a classical Indian way of cooking for an edible plant grown in many parts of India sounded improbable considering the diversity of vegetarian cuisine in the country, and how it is adapted to accommodate the local edible flora.
A couple of Google searches later, now I know that Florentine fennel cultivated for its succulent bulbs does not set forth the best of fennel seeds. Indian fennel seed is from a variety of fennel plant with characteristics similar to the wild type, bulbs are smaller, harder, stronger in taste, and overall not rated prime for cooking. What a relief, we are not wasting anything super delicious after all! Being milder in taste, fennel bulbs go very well in sweet or savory recipes. Here is a recipe for an easy breezy fennel pasta, the bulbs can trap a lot of mud; rinse in plenty of water after slicing.

Spaghetti – ½ lb
Fennel bulb
(Cleaned and sliced thin)- 2 cups
Fennel fronts finely chopped – ½ cup
Garlic, minced fine – 4 pods
Onions finely chopped – ½ cup
Fennel seeds (optional) – a pinch
Olive oil – 1 tbsp
Crushed chilly pepper – ¼ tsp
Parmesan cheese ¾ cup
Cream (or milk) ½ cup
Salt to taste

Cook pasta al dente, drain and keep. Heat olive oil in a pan; add onions, garlic, and pinch of salt, sauté till onions are translucent. Add chopped fennel bulbs and seeds (if using) and sauté till the pieces are tender. Add the crushed chilly pepper. Reduce the heat to minimum and add cream followed by cheese. Mix till the cheese melts (less than a minute), and turn off the heat. Add cooked pasta, chopped fennel fronts and toss to coat with the sauce.

A simple zucchini curry

The word “curry” is on its way to confuse me, I face my worst moments whenever I am confronted with bottles labeled “curry powder” in a grocery shop, or when I am dipping a piece of naan into that omnipresent red gravy served in Indian restaurants here, which appears in the menu in many different curry avatars. I have a bottle of curry powder which has almost acquired the status of a keepsake, was once opened and a tablespoon or two used and is gathering dust ever since. Any spice blend as it is used in India, be it a sambar powder or garam masala, can be strong but is devoid of that lingering fetor that some of the “curry powders” have. What is that secret ingredient or formula which suppresses the fragrance of the spices, and turns this blend into a pungent smelling buff colored power? In India majority of everyday no frill curries feature simpler spice combinations and reflect regional and personal spice preferences. Here is a simple zucchini curry, with coconut milk and curry leaves, tastes best when served with rice.
Zucchini (medium size)- 2
Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
Kashmiri chilly powder – 1 ½ tsp
Salt - to taste
Curry leaves – 8-10nos
Coconut oil – 1 tsp
Onions sliced (preferably red) – 1 ½ cup
Ginger finely chopped – 1 ½ tsp
Garlic finely chopped – 1 tsp
Coconut milk (light) - 3/4cup

Halve each zucchini horizontally. Cut each half into 1-½ inch slices. Score (2 or 4 lines) the flesh side of the pieces with a knife. Mix chilly powder, coriander powder and a pinch of salt, add 1 tbsp water and make a thick paste. Marinate zucchini pieces in this paste for 10-20 minutes. Heat ¾ tsp oil till smoking hot; add onions, ginger and garlic and sauté till onions are translucent. Add 3/4 cup of water to the sautéed mixture and let the water boil. Arrange the marinated zucchini pieces with cut side up in this mixture. Mix ¼ cup of water with the remaining marinade and add to the pan. Add ¼ cup of coconut milk. Cook covered for 8-12 minutes. Remove the lid; turn the heat up to thicken the gravy. Once the gravy is thick, add ½ cup of coconut milk, and gently mix. Turn of the heat. Slightly crush curry leaves with ¼ tsp coconut oil and add to the prepared curry. Keep it covered for 5-10 minutes. Mix well before serving with rice.
Sesame ginger soba noodles

I have nothing against those recipes featuring instructions galore, or the ones with ingredient lists spreading across pages, but I am definitely not trying one of those on a cold and dark autumn evening. The extra hour of darkness we earned for our evenings ever since last Sunday, resulted in an increased affection for favorite quick fix meals, and a comfort ginger sesame soba noodles is back in the everyday food radar. Soba noodle is made of buckwheat flour, and as far as I gather it is a wonder flour, low in gluten, contains rutin, and the calorie value per cup is closer to that of whole wheat flour. Along with all these formidable qualities this flour also has a unique earthy and nutty taste, which is mildly reflected in soba noodles. Tossing these noodles with a simple sesame-ginger dressing with a dash of mirin is all you need to complement the inherent flavor. To make things even better, this is a versatile recipe. On a hot summer day, if you are upset by an overwhelming abundance of sunshine(!), fix it up as a cold noodle salad or on the turn of the plate if you are sulking on a chilly wintry evening, perplexed about what to cook, toss some hot freshly cooked noodles with a warm dressing made with the same set of ingredients, and you will never be disappointed. One of these days, I will find my sunny self again and might disappear into the kitchen to try out something special, but for now we are very pleased with our hot noodle bowls !
6 ounces dried buckwheat (soba) noodles
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon peanut sauce
2 tbsp finely grated ginger
½ tsp grated garlic
1 cup finely shredded green onions
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sesame paste
½ tsp mirin (optional)
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1-2 tsp chilly paste or oil (adjust according to your heat tolerance)
Vegetable oil – ½ tsp

Dry roast sesame seeds, keep aside. Cook Soba noodles in excess of water. Drain and keep it covered. Heat ½ tsp vegetable oil in a pan; add finely minced garlic, stir fry for half a minute. Lower the heat to minimum, add grated ginger and ¼ cup of chopped scallions, stir well. Turn of the heat. Add sesame paste, peanut sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and chilly oil ( or paste). Whisk all the ingredients together. While the noodles are still hot, toss with the sauce mixture and add toasted sesame seeds and the remaining green onions. Top with your choice of meat, seafood, eggs or vegetables, stir fried or grilled. For a summer salad, make a dressing by simply whisking all the ingredients together, mix with cold cooked noodles just before serving.


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