Friday, May 11, 2007

Strawberries and creamcheese

well, i have some cream cheese which needs to be used soon and a pound of strawberries, which should be used soon as well.. so i looked for a recipe which could use both.. and found several recipes for strawberry cheese cake.. the choices are endless, especially on

Let's see what I do on Saturday.....

Monday, May 7, 2007

Pana Cotta

When I had this delicious Italian dessert at the Town Restaurant, in Honolulu, I thought this is so amazing, it must be really hard to make it at home.. It turns out that I was totally wrong.. it is one of the simplest desserts to make at home, unlike Tiramisu which I recommend only if you have lots of time and patience!!

Here is the recipe, which I adapted from recpiezaar...


1 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon (one sachet) unflavored gelatin

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup honey (less if you don't like it too sweet)

few drops of vanilla essence

Berries to serve


Place the milk in a pan and sprinkle the gelatin over. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.

Stir the mixture over medium heat just until the gelatin dissolves but the milk does not boil, about 5 minutes.

Add the cream, honey, and vanilla. Stir until the sugar dissolves, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Pour into 6 wine glasses(or any other glasses that you like) so that they are 1/2 full. Cool slightly. Refrigerate until set, at least 6 hours.

Serve with berries on top, or with raspberry/strawberry sauce and some fresh berries...

To make the raspberry sauce: Puree 12 ounces fresh/thawed raspberries, 3 tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons lemon juice in a blender until smooth and strain. Adjust taste by adding more sugar or lemon juice.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Costa Rican Gallo Pinto

First had this with Cedar and Brian who learnt this recipe during their travel in South America. It is simple, delicious, looks nice and is healthy (and vegetarian!)..

The basic trick is to combine the right amont of rice and beans and mix with tomatoes, shallots, cilantro etc. The combinition of these ingredients go perfectly well to produce a wonderful dish. Gallo pinto means spotted rooster and it is obvoius why this recipe is named this as the combinition of the red and green of the vegetables here and there with the background of dark purple of the grains... makes it visually very appealing.

I would not go in details of how Cedar prepared this, becauese I did not take notes while she made it.. I kind of know how to make it, if I have to make it.. But here is a nice recipe by a fellow blogger Tico Pinto.

Here is an edited version of a recipe from recipezaar:

Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican Rice and Beans)

Time to make 15 min 5 min prep(serves 6)


2 tablespoons canola oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups cooked white rice

2 cups cooked black beans, (I soaked mine overnight and pressure cooked for few minutes)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tomato (finely chopped)

salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

fresh cilantro (optional)

sliced green onions (optional)


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until it just begins to soften and turns color. Add garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until onion is golden.

Add spices and stir into onion and garlic. Next, add the beans and then the rice.

Combine the rice and beans evenly and cook until mixture is heated through.

Add tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with some chopped cilantro or green onions.

Serve hot with avocado and feta cheese.... For breakfast you can add a fried egg on the side as well.

Couscous the wonderful pasta

I never realized couscous is not only versatile, easy and fast to prepare but also cheap(er) and delicious.. After reading tons of recipes on couscous, I realized that I can just play with ideas, tastes and see what I have to prepare this... There are basically very few rules and very few ways that you can really mess up couscous.. In short, I would recommend keeping some couscous handy for a quick meal.

My couscous recipe


1 shallot (finely chopped)
1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
1 tbs olive oil
1/4th of a bell pepper (cut into small pieces, 3/4 cm cubes)
2 tbs cashew nuts
2 tbs raisins
1/2 cup couscous
3/4 cup water (the rule is to keep a ratio of 1 to 1.5) [I added a bit more]
2 black olives
dash of lime
1/4 tomato (roma), chopped


Fry the shallot and garlic till slightly golden, add bell pepper and continue to stir. Add the nuts and raisin. After 2 mins add the water and let it boil. Add the couscous, stir, and immediately remove from heat. Let it sit for 7-10 mins. Don't peek. After 7 minutes, fluff with a fork and add tomatoes, lime and olive and serve.

Jamu, the Indonesian magical drink

Well this drink was made by my East Timorese friend, who has a aunt who had lived in Indonesia sometime and learnt all kinds of esoteric stuff for health and beauty from there. Jamu according to my internet research is a herbal health drink which has been used for thousands of years to maintain youth and vitality. Originally these recipes were strictly guarded to be used for ladies of royal families only and were passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth. But, now they are popular drinks and are commercially produced for mass consumption.

There are several kinds of JAMUs for different purposes. This Jamu is supposed to be good for women's health, especially before periods... it cleanses the system and they say that it stops fat accumulation in your body....

unfortunately there are fewer resources in English on the net on Jamu, but I found some. One is this blog by an Indonesian which discusses the aphrodisiac properties of these herbal drinks..

Jamu with Tamarind, Ginger and Turmeric

1 ounce fresh turmeric root
1 ounce fresh ginger root
1/2 ounce tamarind
brown sugar to taste
2 litres of water

Wash, peel, and chop the turmeric and ginger. Put the first three ingredients with water in a pan and cook for 10 -15 minutes after the water boils. Add sugar and salt to taste.
You can serve it hot or cold with ice cubes.

Carrot, Banana, Chocolate, Cashew Cake

Well, banana cake is one the easiest cakes to make... I learnt this when I saw my health crazy and/or vegan friends making this cake with soft tofu, just milk/yogurt and usually no butter and eggs.. And, one of them just did not use any specific measures and came up with really tasty cakes.. But, anyway, I do use some 'recipe' rules so that I don't mess my egg/oil/flour ratio.
Here is one recipe that I saw on that looked simple enough to be the subject of my improvisation..

This is MY version of the original - Recipe - Banana Carrot Cake.


1/2 stick of butter

1/3 c. honey

2 whole eggs

1/2 cup grated carrots

1/2 cup mixture of cashews, chocolate chips, raisins, dessicated coconut

2/3 cup mashed bananas

1 1/2 cups sifted flour (I cup all purpose and half a cup of wholewheat)

1 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. of cinnamon powder

1/4 cup of yogurt

1/2 cup of milk


Mix ingredients in order given and pour into a loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees until center springs back when touched (about an 45 mins). Cool down the cake before serving.

This freezes well.