Tuesday, June 18, 2013


A cool, creamy, lightly coffee flavored Italian dessert.

6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 8 oz block of cream cheese, softened
2 cups whipping cream
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons instant coffee granules mixed with 1/2 cup of warm water OR 1/2 cup strong coffee/espresso
30 Ladyfingers (enough to make two layers in the dish of your choosing)*
15 Amaretti cookies (or any crisp cookie with hazelnuts, almonds, etc.)
fine chocolate of your choice for garnish OR cocoa powder

Place about 1.5 inches of water in a sauce pan over medium heat.  On top of this place a microwaveable glass bowl.  The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water in the pan.  To this, add your egg yolks and sugar and slowly whisk.  Once the bowl heats up and starts steaming you will need to continually whisk the eggs to keep them from scrambling.  Whisk for about 15 minutes - the eggs will triple in volume, and form a thick yellow custard.  You will know the eggs are done when it becomes difficult to whisk.   Immediately remove the bowl from the heat and set aside to cool.

When it becomes cool, beat in the soft (room temperature) cream cheese using a hand held mixer.  The mixture should be smooth and free of lumps.  Place in the refrigerator.

Place the whipping cream in a stainless steel metal bowl, and using a hand held mixer, beat on high until the whipping cream becomes light and frothy.  And in a tablespoon of sugar and continue beating for a couple minutes.  Add 1 more tablespoon of sugar and beat for 2 minutes.  Add the last tablespoon of sugar and beat until the whipped cream forms stiff peaks. 

Remove the egg/cream cheese mixture from the refrigerator and gently fold in the whipped cream just until combined.**

Set out your desired serving dish (i.e. I used my 11 cup oblong Pyrex, an 8inch by 10inch - but you can use any glass dish, trifle dish, etc.  Adjust your the layers in your dessert accordingly.).  Well coat the amarettti cookies in the coffee, then place on the bottom of the dish - repeat until there is a complete layer on the bottom.  Add a third of your cream mixture to the top of this and spread evenly. Dip ladyfingers in coffee and then layer across the cream mixture.  Add the next third of the cream mixture in an even layer across the ladyfingers.  Add another layer of coffee-dipped ladyfingers, and the last of your cream mixture.  Last, grate the chocolate over the top of the cream OR lightly dust with cocoa powder.

Chill for at least 8 hours and up to 48 hours. 

*I found ladyfingers in the Asian grocery store, of all places

**To make a delicious Italian custard/pudding, zabaglione, make the egg yolks as stated above.  SKIP the cream cheese step, and pour the warm custard over fresh berries, sliced peaches, etc.  Or for another variation, cool the custard in the refrigerator.  When it is cold, fold in the whipped cream.  Serve with assorted fresh berries, fresh sliced peaches, etc.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Palak Murgh (Spinach Chicken Curry)

Similar to the well known vegetarian dish, palak paneer (spinach with paneer, Indian cheese).  Since certain members of our family do not like paneer, this was made with chicken.

For chicken
1.5 lbs chicken breast, cut in 3/4" cubes
1/4 cup yogurt
1 heaping tablespoon coriander powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
1 tablespoon oil

Combine and marinate in refrigerator up to 12 hours.  Then, heat oven to 450.  Place the chicken pieces in an oven safe, oiled dish and cook for about 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and tender.  Set aside.

For curry
1 - 16 oz package frozen whole leaf spinach, thawed*
1 teaspoon oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1" piece cinnamon stick
3 cloves
2 cardamom pods
1 finely chopped onion
1/2 to 1 sliced serrano chile
1 roma tomato, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 cup heavy cream or whole milk

Take frozen spinach and blend just until pureed.  Set aside.

In a pot heat oil then add cumin seeds, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom. Fry for about 30 seconds then add onion and serrano chile and stir-fry until browned.  (About 10 minutes)  Add tomato and saute until soft and pulpy.  (Another 7-10 minutes.) Add the ginger garlic paste, coriander, cumin and garam masala and salt.  Stir fry for a couple minutes then add pureed spinach.  Add a little water if necessary, to get desired consistency (it should remain a little thick) and cook for 5-7 minutes uncovered.  Stir in cooked chicken pieces, salt, adjust seasonings as necessary stir in cream.  Simmer for 5 minutes then serve.

Delicious with naan, chapati, paratha or white rice.

*If using fresh spinach, buy a bag of baby spinach leaves which are prewashed, and then blanch them prior to pureeing.  To blanch: keep a large bowl of ice water near the stove.  Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the spinach leaves and simmer for a minute.  Immediately remove the spinach leaves and dunk them in the ice water bath.  Drain the spinach then proceed with recipe.

Recipe Serves 4.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Beef Biryani

Delicious variation of biryani.  You can use almost any cut of beef as the pressure cooking will easily make it tender and delicious!  Beware of your spice level in choosing how much chili powder, black pepper and green chiles you add to this dish!

2 tablespoon oil
2 lbs beef, chopped into 1" cubes
2 onions, thinly sliced and divided in two equal portions
1 roma tomato, chopped
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1 tablespoon fennel powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ghee or butter
1 star anise
5 cloves
3 cardamom
1" piece of cinnamon stick
1 bay (cassia) leaf
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
10-15 peppercorns (optional)
1/2 to 2 serrano chiles, sliced lengthwise
3/4 inch piece of ginger AND 8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped then pureed in blender or food processor with little water
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
2 cups basmati rice
1/4 cup yogurt
3 and 3/4 cups water (and reserved beef broth, see instructions below)

Heat the oil in a small pressure cooker.  Add the beef to this and sear.  (Place in oil and do not stir until the beef is browned and easily comes up.  Then turn over and sear on the other side.)  Using a slotted spoon, remove the beef and set aside.  Add half of the sliced onions to the oiled cooker and stir fry until the onions are browned.  (Around 10 minutes.)  Add the chopped tomato, and stir-fry until tomato becomes pulpy.  Add to this the spices: chili powder, turmeric, coriander, fennel, black pepper and salt.  Stir until well combined.  Add just enough water to fully cover the beef, place the lid tightly on the cooker along with the weight.  Keep heat at medium.   Once the pressure builds up cook for 10-15 (5-6 whistles on my cooker) minutes then switch off the flame.

Meanwhile, in another pot OR large pressure cooker, add the ghee and heat.  Add the whole spices: star anise, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf, fennel, peppercorns.  Saute until fragrant then add remaining sliced onions.  Stir-fry until the onions are golden brown (about 10 minutes).  Then stir in ginger-garlic paste.  By now your pressure cooker should have naturally released the pressure.  Once you open it you should find the beef fork tender.  Using a slotted spoon, put the beef into your large pot and stir.  Then add the rice.

Now, you will want just under 4 cups of liquid to cook your rice.  Start with your yogurt, then use any leftover beef broth (and the scrapings from the pan, as long as they are not burnt!).  The remaining liquid will be water.  Stir in salt to taste.

If cooking in pressure cooker: place the lid tightly on the cooker and weight.  Leave heat at medium.  When the cooker gives one long whistle switch off the heat and leave until pressure naturally releases AND the pot is cool enough to touch.

If cooking in the rice cooker: place everything in your electric rice cooker and cook according to manufacturer instructions.