Thursday, October 21, 2010

Trifle Pudding

Trifle pudding is a quick and easy dessert that can be served for any occasion. The ingredients of a trifle pudding are arranged in layers and is normally served in a glass bowl which shows off the distinct layers which could be of different colors. The layers that make up this pudding are normally cake, fruits, jello, whipped cream, custard or ice cream. You could use ingredients based on your imagination and come up with your own unique trifle pudding. With the different textures of the various layers in the pudding and the tasty ingredients that go into its making, it is a "never-fail" recipe for a dessert. The one I have here is made with mostly store bought ingredients and hence the only prep time needed is to assemble the different layers, except for making the custard.

Serves around 10-12 people
Butter Pound Cake- 3/4 lbs
Milk- 2 cups
Custard Powder- 3 tbsp
Sugar- 2 tbsp
Mixed Fruits- 30 oz can
Whipped Cream- 8 oz
blueberry- a few to garnish (optional)

1. Take 4-5 tbsp milk and mix with the custard powder. I used strawberry flavored custard powder to create a pink layer.
2. Boil the remaining milk in a pot and add the sugar.
3. When the milk starts to boil, add the custard mixture and keep stirring.
4. When the milk starts to thicken, turn off the stove and let it cool. The custard does not have to be very thick.
5. In an 8" x 8" pan, layer the cake pieces cut to around 1" thickness.
6. Using a fork, poke the cake all over slightly.
7. Pour the almost cool custard on top of the cake layer evenly.
8. Drain the fruits from the can to remove all the syrup. I used a can of mixed fruits cocktail. You could also use fresh fruits for better taste; if using fresh fruits use around 20oz. of chopped fruits.
9. In a bowl mix the drained fruits with the whipped cream well. I used cool whip.
10. Now layer the fruits with cream on top of the custard.
11. Cover the pan with a foil and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
12. You could garnish with some blue berries on top and serve.

A perfect recipe when you do not want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. You could also use a sponge cake or mix the fruits with ice cream, as a variation to this recipe.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Nei Choru / Ghee Rice

Nei Choru is another one of the traditional Muslim dishes made during special occasions. This was what my mom used to make during most weekends back home. It is a quick and easy dish, but that does not in any way affect its grandeur. It definitely belongs to the group of those royal dishes such as Biryani and Pulao. The flavor of the ghee and the spices makes it all the more regal. The flavor was filling up the place so much, that my son was climbing up on a bar stool to see what was cooking!

Serves 4-5 people
Basmati Rice- 1 1/2 cup
Oil- 1 tbsp
Cinnamon- 1 - 2" stick
Cloves- 3
Cardamom- 3
Onion- 1 small size (around 0.35lb - sliced)
Ginger Garlic Paste- 1 1/2 tbsp
Green Chilly- 1 big (sliced of round)
Water- 3 cups
Ghee- 2 tbsp + 1 tsp
Salt- to taste
Raisins- 1/2 a handful (optional)
Cashew nuts- 1/2 a handful (optional)

1. Soak the rice for around 30 minutes and drain it.
2. Heat oil in a pan and add cinnamon, cloves and cardamom to the oil and saute for a minute. You could use ghee instead of oil as well.
3. Add the Onions and saute until transparent.
4. Add ginger-garlic paste and saute until the raw smell is gone.
5. Add the green chillies and saute for another minute.
6. Add the water and salt and let it boil.
7. Add 2 tablespoons of ghee when the water starts to bubble.
8. Add the drained rice to the boiling water.
9. When the water is almost evaporated, turn off the stove and close the pan with a lid and let it rest for 15-30 minutes.
10. Fry the cashews and raisins in the remaining 1 tsp of ghee until the raisins are plump.
11. Garnish the ghee rice with the fried cashews and raisins. You could also fry some onions and garnish.

This aromatic ghee rice goes well with most all curries, be it Vegetarian or Non-Vegetarian. Bring in a Raita, Pappadam and pickle to the table and you are ready for a perfect feast.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Baklava is one of the divine desserts that I was introduced to, after coming to the US at a Greek restaurant. That first bite made me a big fan of this dessert. A number of countries have claims as being the origin place for Baklava including Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iran and so on. It is a rich flaky pastry made with phyllo sheets filled with chopped nuts; nuts used could be almonds, walnuts, pistachios, etc sweetened with a simple sugar syrup known as 'Atyr' or 'Atir'. I have looked all over the internet for the perfect recipe and this is a combination of multiple recipes (allrecipes, dedemed, etc). It did come out great!  

Makes 20 pieces
For the Simple Syrup/Atyr
Water- 1 1/2 cup
Sugar- 1 1/2 cup
Honey- 3/4 cup
Lemon Juice- 1 tsp
Rose Water- 1 tbsp

1. Boil the water and sugar together in a pan until the sugar completely melts in.
2. Add the honey and let the mixture simmer.
3. Add the lemon juice and let it boil for 10 minutes.
4. Add in the rose water and boil for another 10 minutes.

Atyr or Simple Syrup is ready. This needs to be refrigerated before using in the baklava. I made this a day ahead and refrigerated it. It is also a perfect syrup for pancakes.

For the Baklava
Walnuts- 10 oz
Pistachio nuts- 6 oz
Cinnamon Powder - 1/2 tsp
Nutmeg Powder- 1/4 tsp
Butter- 8 oz (2 sticks)
Sugar- 2 tbsp
Phyllo Sheets- 8 oz

1. Chop the walnuts and pistachios into small pieces (you can see the size up to which the nuts need to be chopped from the picture). I used slightly salted pistachios. You could use the nuts of your choice; just use a total of 16 oz.
2. Dry roast the chopped nuts for around 5-7 minutes in a medium flame. Do not let it brown.
3. Once roasted, let it cool for 10-15 minutes.
4. To this, add sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg powder and mix well.
5. Melt the butter in a bowl.
6. Butter the baking pan generously using a brush dipped in melted butter. I used a 9" x 13" disposable aluminium foil pan.
7. Unroll the phyllo sheets carefully. You need to work quickly on these sheets, else they dry up quick. You can cut the entire roll to the length of the pan, if needed. I just folded the edges to meet the size of the pan, as and when I was placing each layer. That worked well too.
8. Butter each sheet generously and place in the pan one over the other. The numbers of layers needed is up to you. I placed 8 sheets at the bottom.
9. Now spread half of the chopped nuts evenly on top of the 8 layers of phyllo sheets.
10. Butter another 5 layers of thin phyllo sheets one at a time and place one over the other.
11. Spread the remaining nuts evenly on top of this second layer of phyllo sheets.
12. Add 7 more layers of phyllo sheets on top of this after buttering each layer. Butter the top layer as well.
13. Now carefully cut this into the required shape you need. Do not cut completely through the bottom. This will help the sugar syrup to not go to the bottom of the pan and prevent soaking the phyllo sheets.
14. Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree F preheated oven.
15. Pour the refrigerated simple syrup over the baked baklava immediately after taking out of the oven.
16. Serve when baklava cools down. Do not cover the baklava as it may get soggy.

Baklava should remain crisp even after all the syrup is absorbed in.Garnish with some powdered pistachios.

If you are a dessert person, I am sure you will fall in love with this. The only problem with making this is you cannot just stop at that first one. So I would suggest you make it when you have a party or share it with your friends; if you are not bothered about calories, then don't even worry - just go ahead and make it.

Sending this Baklava off to Meeta's Monthly Mingle - Taste Lebanon event hosted by Bethany of Dirty Kitchen Secrets.
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