October 23, 2013

Turkey lasagna with caramelized onions

      My friend Tanushree had just got done with a major presentation and it was a good reason to celebrate. She is one of my best cooking buddies but sadly we do not get chance to spend time in kitchen together very often.. Made good use of one such rare evenings with all smiles !! Lasagna was the first Italian dish (leaving pizza aside) I have ever tried.  This dish was an experiment since I have forgotten how I made it a year ago. Thanks to our blog that the recipe is getting noted down this time ..for you and me :)
The Turkey lasagna with caramelized onions turned out to be delicious and all of us ate way more than we could / we should.

Serves: 6-8
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time : 30 mins
  • Lasagna sheets (~ 10 sheets)
  • Ground turkey (1lb); Can be substituted with chicken or more veggies like cauliflower, mushroom to make veg lasagna.
  • Olive oil / butter (2 tbsp)
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese (2-3 cups);
  • Onion (1 medium sized sliced)
  • Garlic (4 cloves chopped well)
  • Red and yellow peppers ( 2-3 medium sized, sliced);
  • Tomatoes (1 -2 chopped)
  • Cilantro (3-4 tbsp chopped )
  • Italian seasoning (2tbsp); 
  • Ground black pepper (2 tsp)
  • Ground thyme (1 tsp)
  • Hot sauce and ketchup (to taste and optional; I like HOT food )
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Cilantro leaves for garnishing
  • Caramelized onion rings for garnishing.
Method :
Turkey filling
  • Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.
  • Bring water to boil in a large container (so that lasagne sheets fit intact) and add sheets. Boil for 10-15 minutes with intermittent stirring. Drain hot water and rinse with cold water to prevent sheets from getting sticky. Set aside.
  • Turkey Filling: 
    • In a small pan, heat 1 tsp olive oil, and add onion rings and allow them to cook in low heat until caramelized. After few minutes add garlic. Fry well for ~ 5 mins.
    • Add chopped peppers now and cook for another 5-10 mins. 
    • Add  tomato and turkey/ chicken and mix well.
    • Add spices (italian seasoning, thyme and black pepper) and stir everything well.
    • Cook covered  in medium flame for ~ 20 mins. Allow the filling to cool slightly before layering.
Layering the lasagna
  • Layering:  
    • Layer a  9 inches by 12 inches pan with 1/ 3rd of lasagna sheets. 
    • Add layer of cooked turkey on it (about half ). 
    • Sprinkle Mozzarella cheese and add hot sauce and ketchup on it. 
    • Repeat layers one more time, ending with lasagna noodles on top.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 F for 30 mins. 
  • Caramelize onion rings separately in 1 tsp olive oil.
  • Garnish with caramelized onion rings, cilantro and Italian seasoning.
Serving Merlot from Whole foods with this dinner was an excellent idea !!
Recipe might seem a little complicated (blame my novice writing style) but it's not...It is surely time consuming so can be saved for special nights, or done ahead of time. :)  Give it a shot.

Buon apetito!!

Ajanta from Amherst

PS : Sorry that I did not take a final pic of it !! 

October 21, 2013

Malabari Paratha or Porota

Every time someone's parents are visiting, the rest of us literally beeline to eat 'homemade' food. Recently, we were invited by our friends for some authentic 'homemade' food from Kerala. I landed a couple of hours early to learn how to make Malabari Porota from my friend's father-in-law (FIL). I brought one 'handvo' as offering for my 'guruji'. I will save the handvo recipe for another post.

It was an interesting afternoon. My friend's FIL speaks only Malayalam, and a few words of English. I do not speak Malayalam at all. All afternoon, we communicated through my friend as the translator, or using sign language. He asked me how I made the handvo, and I showed him by pulling out the ingredients from their pantry, their fridge and sometimes even Google images. He clearly laid out the ingredients necessary for the porota for me, and then asked me to write the recipe. He patiently posed for each picture that I wanted to click while he made the porotas. In the end, he made me try a couple of porotas, and even gave me 'homework'- to practice making them at home and make some in front of him before they leave for India in two months!

I guess love for food transcends language and cultural barriers!

Serves: 6-8 persons
3 cups all purpose flour
11/2 cup water
Salt to taste.
Oil for rolling and frying

  • In a large bowl, place three cups of all purpose flour. Dissolve salt to the 11/2 cup of water. Now knead the dough carefully for a long time till the dough is semi-soft, not sticky at all. Cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  • Dough balls
  • Divide the dough into dough balls about the size of a tennis ball. Each dough ball would make two porotas. Baste some oil on them, cover with damp cloth and let them rest for atleast 30 minutes.
  • Grease the countertop with oil. Apply some oil in your palms. Take one dough ball and flatten it with the heel of your palm till it is about a 6-7 inch disc, of even thickness.
  • Place right fingers under the disc facing the top and the left fingers on the top left side of the dough disc, facing the counter. Flip your hands around while holding the dough so that the right hand fingers are now facing the bottom/ counter and the left hand fingers are facing the top. Repeat. Dough will gradually stretch and become thinner. Dont worry if you make any holes. It will all be covered up in the end.
  • Divide the stretched dough with the back of a spoon
  • Once it is thin and almost transparent, divide it into two equal parts with the back of a spoon or a knife. Holding the two ends of one piece, stretch slightly till it folds into a long rope/ ribbon. Roll from one end, into a rosette and tuck the other end under it. Repeat for the remaining dough. Cover the rosettes with damp cloth and let it rest for another 30 minutes. I tried to capture the entire rolling process over here.

Little dough rossettes
  • Grease the heel of your palm with oil. Take one dough rossette and gently pat it into a disc, about 6-7 inches in diameter. 
  • Heat a griddle and cook the porota on both sides till it is golden brown in color.
  • Place the cooked and still hot porota on the countertop and slap to crush it between your hands, so that it becomes fluffy and flakey. Be very careful, as the porota is very very hot. I did it only after the porota was slightly cooler. Its easier to see the crushing in the video here.
  • Serve with a curry of your choice. 
Bon Appetit!
Hetal from Houston

October 8, 2013

Chocolate Cupcake with Mocha Frosting

Cupcakes are always safer to bake as we can control the portion size and it takes lesser time. So last week for a friends get together, I decided to bake very simple chocolate ones. Never doubt the power of chocolate :P  Wanted it to look a little fancy and hence decided to use mocha frosting;  I love mocha :D and this recipe has been tried and tasted by a friend so I gave it a shot.

Packed tight and ready to go  :)
Prep Time: 30 mins
Baking Time: 30 mins
Serves: I never comment on that ;) it made 12 cupcakes though!

Ingredients :

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs ( room temperature) 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Whipping cream - 1/2 cup
  • Instant coffee powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Milk chocolate - 0.5-1 oz / 5-6 cubes ; this depends on your love for chocolate

  • Method:


    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prep 12-cup standard muffin pan with paper liners.
    • Into a medium bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
    • In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, then beat in vanilla. 
    • With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream and beginning and ending with flour.
    • Pour batter into cups, filling each 3/4 full.
    • Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.
    • While cupcakes are in oven, prepare the frosting.
    • Melt the chocolate in a microwave at low power.
    • Add coffee powder and blend well to make sure there are no lumps. Let it cool.
    • Whip the cream with electric mixer till it forms stiff peaks and add the chocolate mixture to it. 
    Tip from friend:  If you don't want to add chocolate, you can mix the coffee with a few teaspoons of whipping cream or milk and then add it to the whipped cream.

    Cool cupcakes in pan for 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then spread with frosting using a table knife or small offset spatula.
    Decorate with grated chocolate, walnut / almonds or anything of your choice.

    Enjoy baking! Bon Appetit ...

    Ajanta from Walnut Creek, CA this time :)