Happy Holidays!!

I am truly excited-I won the MLLA for November!!I usually am not in luck with the lucky draws and so I could not believe when Simona mailed me that I won.Thank You Susan and Simona and of course, my lucky stars!! It is the perfect end to 2011 for me.

                           Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!

                                    Have a safe and a fun season!!See you all in 2012.


Onion & Tomato Focaccia

 Focaccia is a rustic Italian bread with a taste and fragrance similar to pizza.It can be topped with herbs or cheese or Onions. While not very common, I have seen some exotic toppings like fruits as well. It requires very little or no kneading at all, one of the few breads that is simple to make.It can be served as an appetizer by topping some mild cheese on top or as a sandwich. I chose to top it with Tomatoes and Onions sprinkled with Rosemary.

Recipe: Martha Stewart
7 cups Bread Flour
3 1/2 cups warm water
1 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsps coarse salt+Extra for sprinkling
3/4 Extra Virgin Olive Oil+1 tbsp
1 tsp Dried Rosemary
2 tomatoes, finely clied
2 Medium Onions, finely sliced into half moons

  • Combine flour,water and yeast in a bowl
  • Cover the bowl and keep it aside ina warm place and let it rise for 2 hours until the dough is tripled and consists of sponge like bubbles
  • Add salt
  • Using a mixer with a dough hook, mix the on low speed for 3 to 5 min
  • When the dough clings to the sides of the bowl, raise the soeed and beat for an additional 15 seconds
  • Turn the dough onto a floured surface. DO NOT add flour to the dough. Add more flour, if necessary to the work surface
  • Fold the bottom edge about one third of the way to the center and the top edge to the center
  • Repeat with left and right sides until all edges meet at the center
  • Place the dough once again in a lightly floured bowl with the smooth side up
  • Cover the bowl and let it rise in a warm place for an hour until doubled
  • Return the dough on to a well floured surface
  • Repeat the folding process of folding the edges towards the center
  • Return the dough into the bowl and let it rise for an hour
  • Preheat the oven to 450F
  • In the mean time, heat 1 tbsp of Olive oil 
  • Saute the onions till translucent and cook tomatoes till tender
  • Add the dried rosemary and keep the mixture aside
  • Pour 1/4 cup of olive oil on to 2 baking sheets
  • Coat the sheets well
  • Place the dough on the floured surface
  • The dough should be very soft
  • Divide the dough into 2 portions
  • Evenly coat the dough with oil and place the 2 portions on the baking sheets
  • Shape them into ovals or rounds
  • Drizzle with the remaining olive oil
  • Evenly distribute the tomato and onion mixture onto the 2 doughs
  • Sprinkle with sea salt
  • Bake until the focaccia is browned on the top about 25 to 30 min
  • Serve the Focaccia warm

Black Bean Soup

'Santa Claus is coming to town'. Under that pretext we make the little one clean her toys, eat her food etc., Yes, Bribe it can be considered but I consider it to be a motivator.And trust me the solace is only temporary.Things will go back to normal for the most part come January.I enjoy while it lasts!!
I wish I had Santa and the Celebrations growing up. My mom's life would have been much easier. We put up the tree and decorate the tree as a family. It is something that she looks forward to and something that I look forward to in the gloomy winter season.
Here is a hearty soup perfect for Winter.I used canned black beans and allow me to blame it on the impatience to make this soup.

Adapted from:Eating well
2-15 oz cans of Black Beans, drained and washed(To clean any excess salts)
1 Red Bell Pepper,finely chopped
2 Medium Onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup Salsa
2 tsps Cumin powder
1/4 cup Sour Cream, optional
2 tbsps Olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Water
  • Heat 2 tbsps olive oil in a pan
  • Add onions and red bell peppers
  • Cook till they are soft
  • Add Garlic and let it cook for 2 min
  • Stir in the cumin powder ans salt
  • Add beans, salsa, and water
  • Simmer for 15 min
  • Puree half of the soup in a blender
  • Combine the puree with the remaining soup and simmer for an additional 10 min
  • Stir in a dollop of sour cream if desired
  • Serve hot with bread


Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake

She looks and smiles! She shouts in joy! The little one gets a sparkle in her eyes and a sense of excitement when she sees a full moon or a Sunset.And then the pretend play of going to the moon or space begins.I try to deflect and procrastinate the "Rocketship launch" as she refers to it as I usually am deeply burrowed with house work but she is persistent each and every time.She whisks us into her tiny world in no time and we lose track of time.We become kids once again to only let the reality hit us hard.This luscious dessert is for my "Mini astronaut"

 Recipe: Hershey's Recipe Collection

3- 8 oz packages Cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 tsps Vanilla extract
1/4 tsp Salt
2 cups Dark/Bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp Shortening

Brownie layer
6 tbsps Melted Butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup + 2 tbsps All Purpose Flour
1/3 cup Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
  • Preheat the oven to 350F
  • Butter a 9 inch Spring foam Pan
  • Combine Melted Butter,Sugar,and Vanilla Extract in a bowl
  • Add 2 eggs and mix until well combined
  • In another bowl, combine flour,Cocoa Powder,Baking Powder,and Salt
  • With the Beaters on the low speed, slowly add the Butter mixture into the flour mixture and beat until all the ingredients are incorporated well
  • Pour into the pan and bake for 30 min until the brownie begins to pull away from the sides
  • In the meantime, prepare the cheesecake batter
  • Beat Cream Cheese and sugar in a large bowl until smooth
  • Set aside 2 tbsps chocolate chips
  • Gradually beat in the eggs, whipping cream, Vanilla and Salt until well combined
  • Place the remaining chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for about a 1 1/2 min until chocolate is smooth after stirring.
  • If needed, microwave for another 15 sec
  • Slowly, add it into the cheesecake mixture
  • Once the brownie is removed from the oven, immediately pour the cheesecake batter over the brownie Place a roasting pan or a pan big enough to hold the Spring foam pan
  • Return the Cheesecake batter pan to the oven; Place it in the roasting pan and pour hot water until the water comes halfway to the spring foam pan
  • Bake for 50 min until the center is set
  • Remove from the oven
  • Set aside to cool on a wire rack
  • Let it cool and remove from the pan
  • Place the remaining 2 tbsps of Chocolate chips and shortening in a bowl
  • Microwave for 30 sec and stir till smooth If needed, microwave for an additional 10 sec or in 10 sec increments until smooth 
  • Drizzle on top of the cheesecake
  • Refrigerate for at least 8 hours
  • Serve cold
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