Shakshuka – Poached Eggs In Fiery Tomato Sauce


Gently poached eggs  on a spicy flavourful and rich tomato-red bell pepper sauce tempered with middle eastern spices eaten with toasty bread is one of the best dishes you can ever have. The furiously smoky red hot spicy sauce, the tender eggs and the aromatic herbs, the subtle taste of cheese (feta preferably but Parmesan tastes good too)

It is versatile and full of nutrition. Add your choice of veggies or meat to it to make it more delicious. I would recommend ham or bacon, eggplant, baked potatoes or sweet corn but the simple Shakshuka actually does not need any of it.

Essentially a breakfast dish you can have shakshuka any time of the day. You can prepare the sauce ahead and use it later too. You can bake it or just make in an open skillet as per your liking. Originally a North African (Tunishian)  dish, Shakshula is widely eaten all over Israel, Algeria, Morrocco, and other places. Though there are many variations, it tastes good whichever way you make it. The origins are debatable but the dish is undoubtedly out of the world.

If you have a Challah bread then the classic Shakshula is THE thing to eat with it. Use the bread to mop up all the juices from the sauce. Shakshuka is also called “Eggs from hell” and now you must have guess why we love it so much 😀

A large Iron skillet is the best to make and serve  Shakshuka but you can use a cast iron one or a sauce pan too.

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To make Shakshuka you will need :

Ingredients:

Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons

Onion – 1 large thinly sliced or chopped

Garlic – 3 cloves minced or finely chopped

Tomatoes – 8 large finely chopped ripe plum tomatoes or 1 can of whole plum tomatoes with juice

Tomato Paste – 4 tablespoon

Sweet bell peppers – Red and Yellow (I each – seeded / chopped finely or sliced thin)

Salt – to taste (you can use kosher salt)

Ground cumin – 1 teaspoon

Black peppercorn – freshly ground (to taste)

3-4 Eggs ( Or as many as can fit nicely in the skillet)

Cilantro/ coriander – chopped fine (for garnish)

Sweet paprika- 1/2 teaspoon

Jalapeno / cayenne pepper or  green chili (optional & according to taste)

Fresh sweet corn (boiled) – 4 tablespoon

Sugar- 1 teaspoon

Fresh Basil/parsley (optional) – 1 teaspoon

Feta/Parmesan or any other cheese you like

Bay leaf – 1 ( I like the taste with tomatoes)

You can add sausages, ham, bacon if you wish. Vegetarians can add eggplant, corn etc.

Method –

Take a large wide iron skillet or any other saucepan. Keep that apron on as the  sauce has a tendency to sputter. It can be messy as hell 😀

In a iron skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add onion and saute till translucent.

Add bell peppers and jalapenos (if using). Cook them on low-medium heat till they are tender.

Add garlic and tomatoes. Be careful and gentle while pouring the canned tomatoes.

Stir in sugar and other spices. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If using sausages, bacon etc, add it now and stir.

Add basil/parsley if using.

Keep the suace on low heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Slow cooking helps the flavours to come out well. The sauce should be flavourful and  have thick stew like consistency, the vegetables should be soft and sweet. You can add a little water , tomato paste , white wine or broth to acquire the right consistency. Taste it after the tomatoes have cooked and adjust whatever more is required.

Once the sauce is nicely done, press the feta cubes into the sauce or add grated parmesan and stir.

You can freeze this sauce for later use too but if you want to use it now and wish to finish the Shakshula on the stovetop then, make 3-4 indention in the sauce and gently crack one egg in each. Keep the heat low or the eggs would scramble.

There are various ways to eat the eggs in shakshuka. I like the runny yolk but you can scramble them in too. Sprinkle a bit of freshly ground pepper and salt on each egg.  Spread the egg white gently over the sauce so that it mingles with it but be careful not to break the yolk.Baste the egg whites with some sauce. Cover the skillet and let it set. Cook till the whites are no longer translucent and the eggs are done to your liking. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro /coriander  and sweet corn. Serve with hunks of bread. Usually sakshuka is served in the skillet itself.

You can sprinkle the cheese on top of  of the dish and bake it in oven too.  For this preheat the oven to 180 degrees and bake for 10-20 min till the eggs are done.

 

Enjoy this wholesome dish any time of the day. By the way, it is a perfect paleo dish too.

 

Bon Appetit  

 

 

 

 

 

Rum Balls With Chocolate Ganache


Boozy Chocolate Ganache

There is nothing more beautiful and heart warming than to watch your sons cook up a chocolate storm in the kitchen. Yesterday both the young men officially kicked off the holiday season with Chocolate Ganache rum balls. All I did was watch and eat the sinfully loaded goodies. of course, I helped them clean up the stuff.

There was a time when my kitchen would smell of Christmas baking and four little hands would help me make the delicacies. Roles change with time but the warmth and love of bonding over cooking in the kitchen remains the same. That is true love – for food and for each other.

Chocolate ganache is easy and tough at the same time. Simple ingredients and quick to make, this beautiful glaze can be used for anything from truffles, cakes, bread / cookie spread, cup cake filling. We used it to spread over the tasty coconut macaroons.

Coconut Macaroons with Rummy Chocolate Ganache

You just need to keep in mind two important things while making ganache- temperature and proportion. For layering you need to take 1:1 equal proportion of cream and chocolate, for filling it will be 2:1 ( two part chocolate one part cream) and if you want it as a pouring glaze just make the proportion 1:2 (one part chocolate two part cream) It is that simple.

There is no need to simmer or boil the cream, it should be hot enough to melt the chocolate. Use a rich dark chocolate for the ganache.

Usually heavy cream is the best but here I have used fresh cream with semi sweet very dark chocolate.

To make a  voluptuous chocolate ganache you will need :

Dark chocolate (We used semi sweet)

Fresh or heavy/ double cream

Salt – one pinch

coffee powder – 1 teaspoon

Pure Vanilla – 1 teaspoon

butter – 1 tablespoon

Weigh the chocolate and cream to 2:1 proportion so that you have a thick voluptuous ganache.

In a heavy bottom saucepan heat the cream ( do not boil) on low-medium heat.

While the cream is heating, chop the chocolate with a serrated knife into very fine pieces.

Add butter salt and vanilla to the cream and turn off the heat once the cream is heated properly.

Add the chocolate and let it stand for a few minutes for the chocolate to melt properly.

With a kitchen whisk,  blend the ganache slowly until it comes together in a creamy glossy mass.

To use this for making the rum balls or truffles you will need to set the pan in the refrigerator so the ganache cools down completely. Take out the pan every fine minutes and stir to let it cool evenly. It will go from soft to hard quickly so if if that happens simmer it over hot water for a few seconds.

Basically you will need to perfect the recipe by trial and error.

To use it for the frosting for a cake, let the ganache cool completely and whip it with a spatula or wooden spoon until it is light and fluffy. About 1-2 minutes.

We added Old monk dark rum to the ganache (about 2 tablespoons) before setting it in fridge for using later for rum balls.

Rum Balls With boozy Chocolate Ganache

Traditionally the rum balls or truffle balls were made with biscuits and nuts. I have had some awesome Danish rum balls (Rumkuglers) and trust me no other thing in the world can beat them in richness of flavour and texture.

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I love the hands smeared in chocolate, the aroma of dark rum and freshly baked cake for putting together of one of my favourite truffles. I prefer them without any nuts.

Here we used a 8 inch Devil’s Food cake to make them. (1/2 kg cake) . You can use any other cake of your choice. An old pound cake or a fruit cake that you have had enough of should do. This is one of the good ways to use leftover cakes

The moist, rich cake was cooled completely before it was crumbled.

Add about 30 ml of dark rum to it and let it soak for say about 10 minutes.

Into the cake crumble went a handful of  raisins and dried blackberries soaked in 20 ml of dark rum (including the liquid) and 1/2 cup of chocolate ganache.

Rum balls are supposed to have a potent taste of rum, that’s the way we love them. It is sinfully boozy and chocolaty.

In went 1/2 cup of grind mix of nut to this. Walnuts, pecans go well.

Everything was mixed well and the mixing bowl was then covered with a plastic wrap.

The mixture was left to cool in fridge for an hour.

Now to make the balls :

Make small or large balls with the dough and coat them with more ganache or thick melted chocolate/ molasses and then roll them on desiccated coconut/ chocolate rice, sprinklers / mix ground roasted nuts for a decorative layering or keep them plain like I did.

Place the balls on a parchment paper and put them in the fridge.

You can also roll the dough into a small logs and cover them in marzipan and dip the ends in melted chocolate to make rum logs.

You can use cocoa powder and any fruit jam / honey / golden syrup/ corn syrup / for binding

Also,  you can use Brandy, Bourbon instead of dark rum but there is a reason these are called Rum Balls 🙂

Enjoy them fresh or freeze them for later use. The rum balls stay good for 10-15 days in fridge. That is if they aren’t gobbled up sooner than you can blink your eyes.

Hope some of you will try this and do not forget to let me know your experience. These rum balls are midway between the solid rum truffles and Christmas pudding. They are soft and moist. One can make the other variation just by adjusting the proportions. I prefer the melt in the mouth texture. 🙂

Happy Holidays.  

 

 

Drunk Coconut Macaroons

 

 

Fractals


Image Copyright – Tikuli

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

there is still

a hint of autumn

in the breeze

fragile as a whisper

a quiet reminder

of something fleeting

***********

    winter pruning

            I nip a thought in the bud

                 **************

“What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up Like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore– And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over– like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?” Langston Hughes

what happens to the dream deferred? does it become wafer thin? Does it perforate? Does it encrust and fall off like scabs? Does it smell of moth balls? Does it spawn a warped double? Does it trickle away and dry up?.

 

                    ***************

I said, “I have been put in the box before death.”

He said, “but you are a Hindu, you go up in flames when dead.”

I said, “I go up in flames every moment of living too.”

 

**************

the motionless day

grows dark inside the room,

the winter breeze

slithers through the window,

a spider dangles on a single

strand of web, thin branches

tremble and weep, but you,

on such winter days, are

the scent of lemongrass

not wanting to leave

the teapot

**********

The parting isn’t hard really ,

it is the wretched sense of abandon

in unfinished conversations,

in lost fragrances, in heart’s great void of silence,

in places that have a putrid sense of familiarity-

coffee shops, cheap hotel rooms, bars,

in old telephone diaries, in hunger

that food cannot lay to rest, in words

frozen mid air, in the crumpled pieces

of paper filled with gibberish, in the taste

of your skin, that’s hard to let go.

The constant abandoning

in that abject indifference, the obscure silences

that tie my stomach in a hangman’s noose, wherever I go,

whatever I do, whoever I am with. It’s always there,

 morphed into everything familiar and unfamiliar, and

when I look into the mirror, I see it in my eyes.. looking

at me with the same look of abandonment I saw in your eyes

when we last kissed before the distance between us stretched like melted cheese

Recipe – Whole Wheat Banana Nut Bread In a Mug


Moist and delicious banana bread  infused with the flavor of sweet banana and the goodness of whole wheat and organic jaggery  is not just nutritious  but also simple to put together. It is also the best way to use the over ripe bananas unless of course you blend them into a smoothie. You do not need a fancy mix for this fluffy bread. I usually bake it in the oven but the idea of a single serve banana bread cake in a mug is super awesome and a must try.

One can use Finger Millet instead of wheat or even almond flour and voila! you have a gluten free banana bread. I used organic jaggery granules, a healthier option than refined sugar. Now, we all know the benefits of all these ingredients so I won’t go into that here. Don’t be shy to ask mother Google. 🙂

You can add your choice of nuts (walnuts pair best with bananas). I have used sun dried blackberries instead of raisins/sultanas in this recipe. Just a handful. Some people add chocolate chips too but I do not not like to mix the two strong flavours. I feel chocolate masks banana’s delicate flavor.

So let us fill the warmth of holiday cheer in the house and start making this wonder bread in a mug.  Yes, you can whip up this goodness in just a bowl or directly into the microwave safe mug.

 

Ingredients :

1 over ripe banana ( 3 full tablespoons of mashed banana approx)

3 tablespoon organic jaggery granules

3 tablespoon whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 medium size egg

pure vanilla –  few drops

A pinch of salt

2 pinches of fresh cinnamon powder

choice of nuts/raisins/berries/chocolate chips etc (all optional)

Method :

Dry roast the flour on low heat till it gives a roasted aroma and the wheat turns light brown in color. ( this is optional step. You can use the wheat flour without roasting too but this step makes the bread more flavorful)

Mash an over ripe banana and dry roast the nuts you are using. Crush them a little.

Mix together , wheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon powder and salt in a bowl.

Add a lightly beaten egg, mashed banana, roasted crushed nuts, raisins/berries/sultanas, vanilla, jaggery and mix well with a fork or small whisk. Make sure that the jaggery melts. You can keep the mashed banana chunky or smooth as per your liking.

Now take a microwave safe mug and spray it with some cooking oil or just rub a little butter to grease the mug.

Spoon the batter into the mug and tap it gently on the counter. Add some roasted crushed walnuts and dried berries / raisins on top.

Place the mug on a saucer and into the microwave for 90 seconds. Keep the mug in the center of the microwave plate. You will see the bread rise as it bakes.

Check by inserting a tooth pick if the bread is done. If not give a few more seconds. The time may vary depending on the microwave and the mug you are using. It is tough to standardize these recipes.  you will get the hang of it. Don’t overcook. Check after a minute.

Be careful as the mug bread will be hot at the surface. Let it rest for a few seconds. I know it will be tough not to dig in as the aroma is truly tempting. 🙂

You can replace the jaggery with brown sugar or white sugar but the consistency may differ. Same with the use of flour.

Double the quantity if you want to share it with someone special.

 

Top it with sifted confectioner’s sugar, have it with a dollop of rich coffee ice cream or just enjoy the sweet banana infused wonder as it is.

Check out my other microwave mug cake recipes.

They are super quick and sumptuous.

Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

Peanut Butter And Jelly Mug Cake


Peanut butter jelly mug cake

When you have jars full of freshly made peanut butter and guava jelly you can’t resist to try a few recipes with them. I love PBJS and while munching on a such delicious sandwich I decided to explore the idea of a mug cake with these two favorites. Now, I have used peanut butter / jelly in cup cakes previously as a filling or as a base ingredient but not in a 2 minute microwave mug cake so the thought was exciting enough to explore a good recipe. We don’t always invent our own recipes, sometimes we explore tried and tested recipes of other bakers and add our twist to them.  Grain free peanut butter and jelly mug cake  sounded interesting and I looked it up. She had used maple syrup and spooned jelly on top but I had another plan. I omitted maple syrup and sugar and added jelly in the mix plus on the top as garnish. The result was as mind blowing as the original recipe. Those who are passionate about PB  and Jelly can never go wrong, can they? 🙂  So, a big thank you to Alyssa for this treat.

So, this is how I did it.

Ingredients :

3 tablespoon – homemade smooth peanut butter ( Natural, no added oil)

3 tablespoon –  homemade guava jelly

1/2 teaspoon – vegetable oil (I used Saffola gold)

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla ( not extract)

1 large egg

1 tablespoon toned milk ( I used Mother Dairy)

1/4 teaspoon normal baking powder  (you can use gluten free to make it completely grain free)

Method : 

In a bowl, mix peanut butter, milk, egg, vanilla, oil, baking powder and one tablespoon jelly until there are no lumps left and the mixture is smooth in texture. (I don’t mix the ingredients directly in the mug for any mug cake)

Pour half of the mixture in a microwave safe mug. Always use a large mug to avoid spill. Keep a saucer under the mug if you think the mixture may spill.

Now add one tablespoon of jelly and pour the rest of the mixture. Tap the mug lightly on the counter and microwave it for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until done. Time may vary according to the type of mug and microwave. Do check after 11/2 minutes.

Serve it warm with a little more jelly on the top.

You can use any any jelly in this recipe.  My peanut butter had salt so I did not add more. Sweetness came from the jelly so no added sugar.

Enjoy this light, fluffy and flavorful mug cake anytime of the day. Pairs best with a hot mug of black coffee.

I never buy peanut butter from the market but if you do try to get one with no sugar and added oil. Or just try my recipe from the link above. 🙂 It is easy and healthy.

Bon appetit 

 

 

Homemade Guava Jelly – Recipe


Guava Jelly

When life gives you guavas turn them into jelly, jam, butter, cheese, juice or just eat them fresh from the basket sprinkled with some tangy chaat masala. As I always say, anything guava is good. This lovely tropical fruit is versatile and utterly delicious. It also ranks high on nutrition scale. Low in calorie, rich in Vitamin C, dietary fiber and other nutrients, the sweet fleshy ripe guavas are my favorite for more than one reason.

There are lots of childhood memories attached to this humble fruit. What fun it used to be to forage them from the trees and run for life before one was caught and then relish it in some quiet peaceful corner. Guava trees used to be in abundance when I was a kid. Almost every home with a patch of land had one in the corner. We too had a small guava tree in one of our houses and it was a joy to behold so many different birds having a feast there. The guavas were sweet and delicious too.

I make guava jelly in every season. As the fruit has high level of pectin I never add artificial pectin. The jelly sets perfectly with the natural fruit pectin. It is basically a very simple recipe and I am sure al of you can enjoy making it at home. You can adjust the measurements sugar and water according to the  liquid extract of the fruit.

To make this beautiful translucent jelly you need just four things.

Ingredients :

Guavas – Ripe but firm 1 kg

Sugar –  4 cups approx ( 3/4 cup to each cup of liquid extract)

Lemon Juice – 4 tablespoon

Water – Enough to cover the fruits

Method :

  1. Wash and pat dry guava fruit that is ripe but firm. Too ripe and soft fruit has low quality pectin and won’t help jelly to set perfectly. Avoid the raw ones totally. You can use a mixed bag of guavas ripened to various stages. I used the firm, ripe ones.
  2. Chop the fruit and put it in a large steel pan with enough water to cover the fruit.
  3. Turn on the heat and bring the mixture to boil on high heat then reduce the heat and let it simmer till the fruit is soft and mushy,
  4. Once the fruit softens take a another pan and put a strainer that sits properly on its rims. (This is optional) Cover the pan with a muslin cloth that is wrung out in water so that it absorbs very little of the precious guava liquid extract. Pour the fruit mixture slowly on the cloth or jelly bag (if using) . I do this process twice to extract maximum juice. Once the fruit is strained I put it again to boil for 5-10 min in just enough water. Ten add it to the previous extract before tying the pulp in the jelly bag or muslin cloth.
  5. Gather the four ends of the cloth and twist and tie a knot or tie it with a string. Hang it at a safe place and let the liquid drip and collect in the pan. DO NOT  squeeze the bag or this will make the jelly cloudy. Let the liquid collect preferably overnight.
  6. Once you have all the strained liquid , discard the pulp or make guava cheese from it.
  7. Measure the liquid and add sugar and lemon juice to it. For each cup of liquid add 3/4 cup of granulated white sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Stir it properly and put it back on stove  to boil in a heavy bottom pan. Make sure you use a large pan as the liquid will tend to over boil and spill.  Always cook the liquid rapidly so there is no loss of pectin. Slow cooking destroys the pectin in the juice.
  8. I usually do not cook more than 4 cups at a time because the secret to flavorful and aromatic jelly is in its freshness. So, make it in small batches.
  9. Cook it on medium -high flame stirring constantly. Skim off the foam from the top of the liquid. By now your home will be fragrant with the intoxicating aroma of guava jelly. This is one aroma that you can not forget.
  10. Keep checking so that you do not overcook the jelly and turn it into a toffee. 😀 Once the liquid starts to drop off the spoon in two joined drops or coats the spoon even slightly and hangs from the spoon when inverted, turn the heat off.
  11. Do a plate test – Chill a steel plate beforehand in the freezer. Take it out and place a little jelly on it, if the top skin wrinkle or if you run a finger through it and the jelly takes its shape back it is done.
  12. Let it cool for 5 minutes and skim off all the froth and bubbles from the top before pouring it in the clean sterilized airtight jars. Always keep a cloth under the jar to prevent breakage.
  13. Let it cool before putting on the lids.
  14. Use this magnificent, delicious jelly as a spread or as a filling in cakes or just simply eat a spoonful whenever the craving hits you.

 

 

 

Five grain biscuits with guava jelly

I made a sinfully delicious PBJS with homemade peanut butter and this jelly and while drooling on that realized that the treat wasn’t yet over. So, a little bit of both went into some yummy mug cakes. The jelly tastes best with fresh crisp toasts with a hot mug of coffee.

Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwich

Enjoy!