Saturday, July 30, 2011

Your Ultimate Loaded Citrus Cherry Dark Chocolate Tartlets

OK, let me start by acknowledging how humbled I feel this week by the love I have gotten through this blog. After I seriously started posting recipes & photographing my food in late December 2010 I have made new friends, learnt tons & felt great. I'm neither a master cook & nor a star food photographer, this journey has helped me become a decent concoction of both the attributes for sure. Idea of my blog has always been to try something new & present it in a creative way. You clicks tell me something is working for sure & I need not give up. Earlier this week we had our 100,000th visitor at, this gives me confidence & motivates me to do more. Thanks again for all the love, you guys keep me Going !!!

It had been a while now & I'd been bringing bags of cherries home only to see them vanish quick. My husband & my son can't keep their hands off cherries in the summer - hence the vanishing act. Last weekend finally I did deal with my two boys, that if can resist this time, they will get something new. I didn't have time to bake the shell so I used my Favorite keebler Graham cracker shells. This recipe was quick & divine. A lot of inspiration was derived from one of my favorite bloggers Lindsey @ , but I played with the contents & fillings. I'm definitely gonna bake a shell next time ( Look at Lindsey's pictures .. absolutely Mouthwateringg.. ) For now, heres what I did..

Ingredients: -
2 lbs pitted cherries (6 cups)
Juice of 1/2 Lime freshly squeezed
Juice of 1/2 Orange freshly squeezed
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 Stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts

Preparing the preserve = The Filling..
Method: -
We start by pitting our cherries.
I don't have a fancy tool to pit cherries, my method is simple, cit a cherry in half & use you hands to pop out the seed. This method is comparatively hassle-free & leaves less of the cherry blood on your kitchen counter.
Heres an interesting link to 4 different ways to pit a cherry.

Combine cherries with sugar; stir into cherries.
Bring to a full boil, stirring, over high heat.
Add lemon juice & orange juice along with some orange zest & return to a boil
Keep stirring constantly, boil 1-2 minutes.
Remove from heat and skim off foam.
Immediately spoon preserve into a jar.

For Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache: -
Place the finely chopped chocolate and butter in a medium bowl and set aside. 
Combine cream, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves and liquid is just at a simmer, about 3-4 minutes. 
Pour cream mixture over chocolate and butter and let sit until melted, about 5 minutes. 
At this stage mix in finely chopped roasted hazelnuts.
Keep stirring gently until smooth. 

Assembling the Tart: -
We need to do this step quick & carefully & complete it while shells are still in the foil protection.
Take the shells out of refrigerator & line them up on a tray.
Gentlely drop 2 spoonfuls cherry preserve in each tarlette.
Pour almost 3 spoonfuls ganache into each shell and quickly transfer to the refrigerator.  
Chill until set, about 2-3 hours.

Time to enjoy the labor of your hard work.

I loved my Graham Cracker shells, they a delicate though...

Shell crumbling, preserve oozing out yum..yumm... Sinful !!!

I loaded my Tart with some extra cherry love..
Let me know how you like it !

Love, Sonia

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesdays - 27th July 2011

A Blast from recent past - Macys 4rth of July Fireworks

Calm Before the Storm


Smiling faces..

An inadvertent Bokeh...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Homemade Potato Sev - Indian Style Spicy Fried Noodles

I have to admit that I'm loving this country - its people, its culture & its cuisine.... It took me a while to adjust, but now I'm very assured when I say "I'm Loving it".   Yet I still miss Indian festivals and home made food and Indian Street food (the most !). Today I'm going to share a recipe of Aloo Bhujiya or also known as Aaloo or Potato sev. Its a crunchy and spicy snack mix to munch anytime. If you skip Aloo (potatoes) it is known as besan bhujiya (chickpea sev). Give it a shot and I'm sure you will love to munch it till last and tastes superb by adding little bit of onion and a few tomato chunks (dont forget to squeeze some fresh lime juice  & add a some chat masala). Here's the recipe ......!

Boiled Potato: 1
Chickpea Flour: 1 cup
Rice Flour: 2 tsp
Chilli Paste : 1/4 tsp
Ginger Paste: 1/2 tsp (or add ginger powder)
Salt : 1/2 tsp or to taste
Carom Seeds: 1/2 tsp
Chat Masala: 1 tsp
Oil: 2 tsp
Water: 1/4 cup or adjust to requirement

Sieve chickpea flour and rice flour in a bowl.
Grate the boiled potato and add to the flour.
Season the flour with spices, ginger and chilli paste.
Slowly add water to the flour and make a dough.
Heat oil in a deep wok or frying pan or a Deep Fryer.
Fill the Sev machine (or you can perhaps use a Pasta Machinewith the dough and rotate it in clockwise direction into the hot oil.
Deep fry till it turns golden brown from both sides.
Drain it on the paper towel.
Let it cool down for a while and enjoy with cup of your favorite tea or coffee.

Yeah, do try a topping of finely chopped onions, tomatoes and cilantro.

Can't beat this combo...
With a dash of fresh lime juice & some chunky chat masala !

Fill it in paper cones (traditionally done!) and take out with you in the evening for a munch .

Hot 'n' Spicy !!!
Love these beauties !!!

My family loved this creation, hope you'll give it a shot & don't forget to show me how you liked it !!!!


Friday, July 15, 2011

An Assorted Nutri-Crostini Party for Sunday Breakfast... !

Every weekend I run out of ideas as to, what to cook for the breakfast ? The menu should be steady on two grounds. First, it should be fast to cook and clean. Second, yet the table should be full of healthy and inviting food. Though our staple weekend breakfast/brunch is of paranthas (stuffed indian flatbread), this time I thought of taking a break from our traditional menu and had made assortment of topped Crostini. In no time, my b'fast table was full of wonderful and Nutritious varieties to nibble. Hmm... my mouth is still watering as I write this post...!!!

Here is my secret to a Happy Mom and Happy Kid recipe too. Make your kiddo a fruit and chocolate crostini and he will be your buddy for the day. Some of these ideas are inspired and adapted from Bon appetit, June 2011.

Assortment of Nutri Crostini's....!!!

As per Martha Stewarts website "Crostini is just a fancy name for baguette slices that have been brushed with oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and baked until golden brown. Their salty crunch makes it hard not to munch on them plain, but resist temptation. Crostini makes for an endless variety of near-instant hors d'oeuvres. Just spoon on your pick of toppings and watch the crostini disappear!"

So here is what we need : -
  • 1 baguette, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

For toppings
Some Nutella, Butter, Cream Cheese, Hidden Valley Ranch, Ricotta Cheese, Reddish, thinly slices sweet peppers, peaches - sliced, corn kernels, chopped mint, chopped cilantro, ground black pepper & salt to taste.

How to toast your bread:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Arrange  slices on two large baking sheets; brush both sides with oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. 
Let cool on baking sheets.

Lets Top our crostini's with toppings now.

Starting with Hazelnut Spread and M n M's:
This crostini is made just for my little heart (kiddo...!). 
Layer the crostini liberally with hazelnut spread (or Nutella) and top it with his fav little m n m's. 
And he was all mine for the whole day...... !!!!! 

A Crostini with M n M's...!

Red Reddish & Yogurt Spread:
Layer the hot crostini with whipped yogurt. 
Top it with thin and round slices of red reddish. 
This was too simple to make and yet great to eat.... !!!

A Crostini with Reddish

Peppers & Hidden Valley Ranch:
Layer your bread with hidden valley ranch dressing. 
Add thinly sliced bell peppers and a sprig of mint. 
Season with salt, pepper to taste. This was so healthy and Yummy....! 

A Crostini with Pepper Juliens... !

Pea Salsa & Parmesan Crostini:
Blanch 1/4 cup of fresh or frozen peas till tender. 
Drain the peas and crush it in a blender to make a salsa, add salt, pepper and parmesan. 
Spread the mix on the crostini and garnish with fresh mint. 
The pea salsa was wonderful..... !!!

A Crostini with Pea Salsa... !

Fresh Corn & Cilantro Ribbons:
Blanch fresh corn in warm water. Add some butter, salt & pepper. Layer the hot toast with butter and corn. Garnish with cilantro ribbons and Enjoy......!!!

Toasted corn kernels Crostini

Peach, Ricotta Cheese & Maple Syrup: 
This is inspired by the Italian combo of fruit and cheese .
Spread ricotta cheese on the bread. Top it with thinly sliced peaches.
Drizzle some Maple syrup/Honey. Season the crostini with salt and pepper, And enjoy.....!

A Peach & Ricotta crostini

Jalapeño & Cream Cheese Crostini:
On the toasted crostini liberally apply cream cheese and top it with sliced Jalapeño peppers.
My choice for this combo was Texas sweet & hot  Jalapeños.
Its Hot plus Yum.....!

Hott.. Jalapeño & Cream Cheese Crostini

Hope you enjoyed this Nutritious and inviting buffet of Crostini's. 

This a toast to all my Blogger Friends and Readers... !!! 

And yes, do share with me ideas for the next weekend. I wud love to hear from you guys. Luv, Sonia.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Proud Lime 'N' Poppy Seed Muffins served on Lime Coasters

This time around I played with two of my all time favorite baking ingredients - Limes and Poppy seeds (Unlikely heroes in my short baking history) . 

In summers they are like magical coolers which can soothe you from inside out. It has been quite long since I baked my last cake and this time craved to have cool cake { Literally ;-) & Otherwise } . 

So after some brainstorming, decided to add zest and juice of fresh limes and a handful of poppy seeds to the batter. The muffins were rocking - in taste, texture and looks of course. Pack each muffin in a foil to avoid crumbling and you are all set with a homemade snack on the weekend vacation. 

Relish cool muffins out in the bright sunny days and pat your back too, did it again !!!!!!

Muffins on Lime Coasters !

1 Lime, for grated zest and its juice
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter
2 tbsp poppy seeds

For the Icing (Optional)
3/4 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tbsp fresh lime juice + zest
1 tsp poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Butter a your muffin pan, alternatively line with paper muffin cups.
In bowl mix the sugar and zest of limes together with a blender until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lime is strong.
Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the lime/sugar mixture and combine well.
In another bowl, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lime juice and melted butter together, until well blended.
At this stage mix the liquid ingredients with dry ingredients and blend well for a short duration.  
Stir in the poppy seeds, blend again for a short duration.
Pour the batter evenly among the muffin moulds.  
Bake for ~ 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thick knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.

Its fun to wait and watch Muffins !!!

Carefully remove each muffin from its mold and place on a wire rack to cool down.

Enjoy warm or not so warm after the shoots.....!

All set to enjoy the little bites with my shot of espresso........!!!!!!!!

                                                 Love these Cute Muffins.....!!!!!!!! 

(and did you notice , I did 3 different sizes of muffins)

Either sprinkle immediately with fine sugar, or cool the muffins completely on the rack before doing icing them. 

In a bowl, whisk cream cheese, sugar, lime juice + zest and poppy seeds. Put this mixture in a ziplock bag and decorate as you like.

                           A Proud Lime 'N' Poppy seed Muffin. 

                                    was Scrumptious !!!!!!!!!

Enjoy warm and soft muffins with lime and poppy seeds with evening tea !!

Thank you so much for being here and stay tuned for more exciting recipes !

Much Love, 
 Sonia !

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Gulkand: A Speciality Rose Petal Preserve from India

A Rose is a Rose  is a Rose. You may decorate your living room with a bunch,  float in water with diyas/floating candles, else enjoy a rose based drink. Its aroma can lighten up your spirits, an its vibrant color can fill your life with brightness. Rose has been my favorite flower since I was young.

Gulkand or more precisley gulqand is a sweet preserve of rose petals. Gul means the flower and qand means sweet, so literally its a sweet made from flowers. Gulkand is a very popular rose petal spread from India. It is known for its innumerable medicinal and ayurvedic properties. Its best known for its cooling properties especially in the hot and humid summer days. Perhaps the most famous way of having it is wrapped in Paan Leaf along with some crushed betel nut, cardamom & raisins  - as a mouth freshener.

Home made Gulqand from Garden fresh Roses

My mom got this spread for us and made it with her own garden fresh rose petals (desi gulab or musk rose). So here I'm sharing her recipe. Enjoy Gulkand with rabri, basundi, smoothie, shake or on top of ice cream.

Fresh Rose Petals: 2 cups (I used Garden Fresh from Pots)
Sugar: 1 cup (add more if you like more sweetness)
Honey: 2-3 tsp
A dash of cardamom powder
Few drops of Rose Essence

Sprinkle water on the roses in the pot and after a while pluck the roses.
Gently wash the petals or dab it with water and let it dry on paper towel.
In a bowl, mix rose petals with confectioners sugar, honey and a dash of cardamom and give it a good toss. Now add few drops of rose essence and shake well.
Transfer the contents in a glass jar (pre washed and dried)  and keep it in sun for couple of days, shaking occassionally.

Fell in love with its deep Red Color

When the roses become more dark and the sugar is blended well, its is ready.

Enjoy gulqand with bread, parantha, icecream or a glass of warm milk.

This is absolutely lovely and refreshing to taste. 
A spoon of fresh rose spread is so therapeutic to mind and soul. 
Hope you give it a shot and enjoy making and relishing it....!

Hugs, Sonia !!!

Sharing fresh Gulkand with Simple Lives Thursday, 51st Edition.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Refreshing Pomegranate Ice Tea with a Orangey Twist

Pomegranate is an all time favorite of mine. I've been playing with the idea of making an ice cream or a sorbet, for some weird reason haven't been able to find much of my fvt fruit in the markets. Even went to an extent of Buying a bottle of POM, hmm... inference = can't beat the freshness. So here we are trying my hands on making a strange concoction which delivered well. Many people don't get Ice Tea, never mind these blokes, I love ice tea. What can beat a chilled can on Arnold palmer (Half Lemonade / half Ice Tea) on a warm & humid summer day.

Refreshing Pomegranate Ice Tea with a Orangey Twist

Back to pomegranates, today we will learn how to cut one without leaving a mess on your clothes & turning the juice into a great Ice Tea recipe which I'm sure you'd love reading more than I loved making it.

How to cut/de-seed a Pomegranate:
Make sure you are not wearing whites & in fact wearing an apron is safe.
With a chef's knife make a cut through the crown of pomegranate & cut in half.
Use your hands to tear open the fruit, do all this in a large bowl so that any juice or loose seeds fall in.
Make a second cut through the half working from the crown to the way down.
Again make sure you work away any loose seeds & collect any juice in the bowl.
In the bowl fill some water, take all the 4 cut portions & start prying away seeds one by one.
Seeds will start sinking in the water.

Make sure your hands are always inside the water, this will ensure juice doesn't splatter all over.

Use your hands to take out seeds and collect in a bowl.
Job done :)

Ingredients for Pomegranate Ice Tea:
(Yield 4 Glasses)
1 Pomegranate
4 Tea bags of Tazo Wild Sweet Orange Ice Tea (can use regular Lipton tea bags)
2 tsp Freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
4 tbs Sugar
4 Orange Slices for decorating our glasses

Take pomegranate seeds & crush in a blender for ~ 1min
Use strainer to separate pomegranate juice from seeds.
In a pan take pomegranate juice, add sugar & keep heat on simmer for almost 10 mins.
Mix will start to thicken, add lemon juice at this stage & stir for another 2 mins.
Take off the heat & collect in a cup, allow to cool down.

Take Hot water (4 Glasses) in a bowl & dip tea bags.
Leave the bags in for 2-3 mins.
Use a spoon & fork to squeeze bags.
Dont leave bags in for more than 5 mins , it will make the tea bitter.

At this stage, add pomegranate mix to the tea.
Mix well & keep aside to cool for 30 mins

Pour into 4 Glasses & add Ice to each glass ~ 2-3 cubes per glass
Decorate with Orange & serve

Yumm.... Can you beat this freshness !!!
This drink is packed with anti-oxidants which improve health & detox your system.
Can you find a better way to enhance your well being.

A simple, quick & nutritious drink for this summer.
Everyone at my home loved this recipe.
Hope you like this too and will give it a shot ...
and yess... don't forget to tell me how you liked it.
Cheers ... Sonia !!!

PS : My.Creative.Flavors will be featured as Foodista Featured Drink Blog of the Day on 2nd July ' 2011, make sure you visit Foodista & appreciate.
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Date & Walnut Birthday Cake!!!

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