We all love hummus at home. Hummus - the creamy protein-packed paste that is made primarily from mashed chickpeas which can be used as a dip or a spread.
History of the Humble Hummus
According to ancient scriptures, it was first consumed in Egypt around the 13th century but it was very different from what we having today. Early Egyptians omitted tahini and garlic and used pickled lemons, herbs, spices and other nuts instead. It was only during the 16th century that the Mediterraneans started consuming the way we do today. It is so popular all over the world and its not surprising that restaurants have sprung up recently dedicating their menu to this humble but highly nutritious dip/spread - namely Hummus Grill in Philadelphia, Hummus Cafe in Seattle and many more.
Hummus Health Benefits
Hummus, with its protein rich chickpeas, highly wholesome EVOO, raw garlic and calcium rich sesame seeds in its tahini, is packed with many health benefits. It
Basic hummus consists of chickpeas, tahini (which is essentially ground roasrted sesame seeds), olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and salt. I wanted to make a version with cilantro (coriander) to see how it would turn out. I used only 1/2 cup which gave a faint green shade to the hummus and a hint of cilantro flavor. I believe it will be even more delicious with a full cup.
Ingredients (yields 2 cups)
1 can of garbanzo beans (15 oz)
2 tbsp tahini
3/4 cup EVOO
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove
1 cup cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
Salt per preference
3-4 tbsps water
Extra EVOO, cilantro leaves and a dash cayenne pepper for prettying it up
1) Put everything into a food processor and blend. Please don't make the mistake of putting the ingredients into a blender, like I did. It took a long time to blend it to a smooth paste. Only use a food processor.
2) Remove from food processor, pour it into a shallow serving bowl with a coloured interior for that extra impact. Swirl EVOO, add a dash of cayenne and place the coriander leave in the center.
Serve with your fav dip chips or on your wrap as a spread. It's really delicious. You won't regret trying out this super easy recipe.
When my girls were much younger and were studying in a local elementary school in the East of Singapore, I would volunteer on a weekly basis to keep the kids gainfully occupied while the teachers were engaged in their staff meeting. Occasionally, we would hold meetings related to th volunteering within the school and food was always brought in. One of the parent volunteers, Niza, made an amazing bread pudding that I can't replicate even till today. Attempts to obtain her recipe were always met with vague answers and that she would bring the recipe the following week. I guess when you have an absolutely delicious out of the world recipe, you wouldn't want to share it with friends you don't know so well.
Perfectly understandable but something I wouldn't do. I share my recipes with everyone. I believe that everyone brings a different, their own unique touch to the food they make and it never turns out exactly the way the original cook makes it. For example, let's take my own recipe below. Some may make it full fat, some may use blueberry bread instead of the stipulated banana walnut bread. You get my gist? So go on and share your recipes with everyone. You'll make that person's day! And the fact that someone actually asked for your recipe is a compliment and vouches for your culinary skills. What a boost to your ego :)
For those who may not know, bread pudding is essentially a bread based dessert. It is popular in many countries around the world. Bread Pudding uses stale bread pieces spread with butter and then soaked in a sweet creamy egg mixture and then baked till the custard sets and the top is a glorious golden brown. One of the easiest desserts to prepare and it can be both sweet or savory. Interesting fact - Bread Puddings were first found in a published recipe book in UK dated 1728. We are looking at a close to 300 year old recipe!
Many recipes online use actual bananas and walnuts for their Banana Walnut Bread Pudding. I needed a quick and easy recipe so I used the slices of a Banana Walnut bread loaf, instead. Such an easy fool proof way to bake the perfect Banana Walnut Bread Puddng. It tasted heavenly, by the way :) And look out for the wholemeal version. Couldn't resist not topping off with more walnuts, though!
Ingredients ( Yields 8 big square chunks)
1) First butter a 10 by 6 inch rectangle glass baking dish.
2) Then cut the bread slices into 4 triangles each and butter both sides.
3) Arrange them into the baking dish in an alternate fashion, till all the pieces are used.
4) Preheat the oven now at 180 deg C or 350 deg F. Then beat the eggs lightly with an electric beater.
5) Add the sugar and keep on beating till all the sugar has dissolved around 5 mins.
6) Now, you will add the cinnamon powder, vanilla essence, cream and skim milk. Whisk everything till all are mixed well.
7) Pour this egg cream mix into the baking dish with the prepared bread slices. Bread slices will start to float, so gently press them down with a spoon. Set aside for 10 mins.
8) Top with the chopped walnuts.
9) Bake in the pre-heated oven for 40-45 mins or till the top is golden brown.
10) Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an added indulgence.
I did a cook book review recently titled Silk Road Vegetarian and this recipe is adapted from that book. It was a nice change from the usual plain red lentil curry I make for my family often. Adding vegetables to the red lentils and then mixing in a tempered tomato gravy gave a delicious twist. And it was the first time I have used zucchini in an Indian curry. My family loved it and it goes particularly well with an Indian rice dish called Kitcheri www.americanmoments.net/quick--easy-vegetarian-recipes/healthy-kitcheri(See pictures).
The original recipe didn't call for certain spices but I added them anyway - cumin, chilli and turmeric. And I have adjusted the recipe accordingly for a family of 4.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1/2 cup red lentils (Masoor dal)
3 cups water (600ml)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 small carrot, sliced into thin quarters
1/3 big zucchini, sliced into thin quarters
1/2 cup peas
1 cup cauliflower florets, cut small
2 tbsps Canola Oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp mix of ginger and garlic
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
1 and 1/2 medium tomatoes, cubed small
Coriander Leaves for garnish
1) Wash and boil the red lentils in 3 cups of water. Add the turmeric powder and salt and simmer on low heat for 15 mins.
2) After 15 minutes, add in the vegetables, stir and cook covered for another 15 mins on low heat. I didn't have cauliflower florets at that point. That's why it is missing!
3) While the vegetables and the lentils are cooking, get another small pot and heat the canola oil. Fry the cumin seeds.
4) Then, add in the chopped onions and ginger garlic paste. Fry for 2-3 minutes on medium heat.
5) Add in the spices and salt and fry for a few minutes.
6) This will be followed by the chopped tomatoes. Let it cook till it becomes pulpy and then mash it a little.
7) After the 15 minutes, the cooked vegetables and lentils will look like this. Pour in the tempered tomato mix into the cooked vegs and lentils.
8) Mix well.
9) Garnish with extra red chilli flakes and coriander leaves. Serve hot with your favorite rice dish.
Spanish Omelette is the English name for a traditional Spanish dish called Tortilla Espanola or Tortilla de Patatas. It is basically an omelette using eggs, potatoes, onions/chives and garlic.
According to legend, Spanish Omelette was created when during the siege of Bilbao in the Spanish Civil War in 1937, General Tomas de Zumalacarregui was in the field and happened to come across a farmhouse and demanded a meal from the farmwife. All she had were a few eggs, potatoes and onions, so she combined all three, making an omelette (necessity is the basis for most inventions/creations, isn't it?). Surprisingly, General Zumalacarregui was pleased and took the recipe idea with him.
Omelettes are one of the most easiest quickest meals to prepare. You can throw in any ingredients you like with basic seasonings and pour in your beaten eggs, and you have a nutritious protein-rich meal. In this post, I made an omelette using only egg-whites as I am very put off by the strong egg smell and taste of the eggs in Singapore.
I didn't have whole egg objections while living in America, but I do in Singapore. My husband Anand says it is because of the chicken feed. I thought I was the odd one feeling this way but apparently a friend and fellow Book Club member Anu feels the same way about Singapore eggs too. She said she could eat eggs in India but she can't here because of its egginess. I believe vegetarians build up a strong sense of smell over time so that they can tell the difference between non-veg and veg.
I have used potatoes with skin for fibre and for still keeping the nutrition under its skin and since I only had basil leaves, instead of chives, I had to make do with them.
Ingredients (for a 9 inch omelette)
5 tbsps olive oil
6 eggs, egg yolks discarded
1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly
2 medium potatoes, sliced thinly with or without skin
6-8 big Basil Leaves (or 12 small) and extra for garnish
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 tsp Chilli flakes and extra for garnish
Salt & Pepper
1) Heat the EVOO and fry the sliced yellow onion for 3-5 minutes on medium heat.
2) Add the sliced potatoes, basil leaves, sliced red capsicum, salt and pepper.
3) Let the vegetables cook for 15 mins on medium heat, stirring often so that the potatoes don't stick.
4) Season the egg whites with salt and pepper and beat very well till fluffy. Then, pour in the egg whites into the pan. Add in the halved cherry tomatoes, cut side up, and submerge them in the egg whites so they don't fall out when you flip the cooked omelette later.
5) Cover and cook on low heat for 5-10 mins.
6) When the sides are crisp and omelette moves on the pan when you tilt it, the bottom is cooked.
7) Flip over using a wide spatula and cook for another 3-5 mins.
8) Garnish with chilli flakes and more basil leaves. Cut into 4 big quarters or 8 medium wedges.
9) Enjoy your Spanish Egg-White Omelette on its own or with your favourite breakfast accompaniments.
Potatoe Anna or Pommes Anna is a classic French dish created solely for potato lovers. It is entirely made of sliced potatoes baked in quite a generous amount of melted butter. It is usually baked/fried in a round dish or a pan and the end result is like a layered potato cake (See picture below - this is not mine by the way. I am just showing you how the classic Potato Anna looks like). It is then cut into wedges and served hot usually to accompany roasted meats. Potato Anna was created around the time of Napolean the Third, during the early 19th century. It is named after a beautiful lady but there is still a controversy as to whether it is named after actress Anna Damiens or Anna Deslions.
Individual Mini Potato Anna makes a great little side dish for your dinner/party or you could just eat it on its own. They look so pretty and impressive but I assure you they are so easy to make. The only time consuming part is the slicing of the potato into thin slices. I kept the skin on in mine but you could do without in yours. Also, don't soak the potatoes in water after slicing them. We need the starch to bind them together when they are baking. I have used butter to get the authentic taste of Potato Anna but I'm sure EVOO will work wonders too.
Ingredients (for 6 mini Potato Annas)
8 medium sized potatoes
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
80 gm butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped chives
Salt & Pepper
1) Preheat your oven to 190 deg C or 375 deg F. Grease a 6 hole Mini Pie Pan with butter and place a square greaseproof paper on the bottom of each hole. Ensure that the corners of the paper stick out. If you don't have this Mini Pie Pan, then use large ramekins.
2) Slice the potatoes very thinly and overlap them in a layer in a round flower pattern. Sprinkle a teaspoon of Parmesan cheese, spoon a small amount of butter and season the slices with salt and pepper.
3) Keep on layering the potatoes, butter, cheese, salt and pepper till you reach the top of the Pie Pan hole or ramekin. I needed 4-5 layers to reach the top. Do the same for the rest of the potatoes. Top it with chives.
4) Bake in your preheated oven covered with foil for 30 mins, then remove the foil and bake for another 20mins uncovered to make the potato edges crispier. Top with more chives and serve warm. It is quite heavy because of the butter so 1 should suffice per person in your family or party.
Imagine cheecakes in bite size? The idea for this came from a request from my daughter Riya who requested for an Oreo Cheesecake (after watching videos on Youtube) and I had a tea gathering to attend yesterday (4 Apr) at a friend's place and I wanted to bring something bite-sized.
I had a fabulous hilarious time catching up with this fun group of ladies. We met eons ago through our parent volunteer group while our kids were in Temasek Primary School - an elementary school in the east of Singapore. Our kids have long graduated and have gone on different ways but our friendship is still growing. Some of us haven't met up with others for a while but we didn't take long to warm up to each other again.
Like what Saras, our host, quipped 'If one treasures a relationship, no matter what, it cannot break. All it takes is a hug and coffee'. Well said dear.
So, coming back to the recipe, this is a rather simple cheesecake recipe involving baking. I like the base which has crushed Oreo biscuits and Pretzels. Why Pretzels? The filling has condensed milk which can be very sweet for some. The addition of the Pretzels gave a nice balance to the overall taste - it turned out salty sweet chocolatey and creamy. If you find the base rather dry add a bit more butter to the recipe below (10gm more). Cheesecakes can sometimes be quite big a slice and over filling to the point of one gasping for breath and going 'Enough! There isn't any space left in my tummy!' However, the size of these cheesecakes, being mini, is ideal for tea parties and post dinner desserts when you have had just too much to devour and you just want something sweet to complete your meal!
I have used a mixture of Ricotta and Cream Cheese in the filling. Ricotta is not technically a cheese as it is actually from whey, a by product of cheese making. It has a solid texture compared to cream cheese and must be beaten well to ensure all the lumps are smoothened out well to use in the cheesecake recipe. I have used Ricotta in baked pasta dishes but this is the first time I have used it in a dessert. I loved the mix - in fact I was spooning and gulping down the remaining batter mix!! Yum.
Ingredients (for 24 mini chesecakes)
For the biscuit pretzel base
100gm Oreo biscuits (18 biscuits) (Split and filling removed. Keep the filling)
50 gm Pretzels
70 gm unsalted butter, melted
For the filling
1 cup ricotta cheese
250gm cream cheese
1 cup condensed milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, extra for decorating
24 hole Mini Muffin Non Stick Pan
1)Start preparing the mini muffin pan by greasing it with a brush of butter. This ensures that the cheesecakes do not stick to the muffin pan base.
2) Process the Oreo biscuits and Pretzels in a food pocessor or a blender. It will be time consuming if you try to crush them using a rolling pin and you will not get a fine texture that is required. Mix in the melted butter.
3) Press the crumb base mixture into the 24 holes of the mini muffin pan. Use the end of a rolling pin - it works out really well then using a spoon. Leave the pan aside while you prepare the filling.
4) Preheat the oven to 170 deg C or 325 deg F. Whisk the Ricotta and cream cheese well, then add in the orea filling, condensed milk, beaten eggs and vanilla bean paste. Whisk until smooth and until there are no more lumps.
5) Add in the choc chips in the end.
6) Spoon the prepared batter mix into the greased holes of the mini muffin pan. The cheesecakes expand a little so don't over pour. You may have some remaining mix. (Go on take a spoon and taste it. Your knees would buckle, I promise!)
7) Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 mins max. The sides will be set and the middle will be slightly wobbly. Remove from oven and quickly top a few choc chips so that they melt in the warm cheesecakes. Leave them to cool. Once cool, scoop them out from muffin pans and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours before serving.
8) Enjoy a little bite of sweet chocolate cheese heaven!
Bruschettas are wonderful delicious appetizers and the fact that they just need a few minutes to prepare and assemble makes them even more delicious, don't they?? Usually, I chop the tomatoes and mix them with olive oil and basil leaves, season them with salt and pepper and serve them on toasted baguettes.
I thought I'll do it a little differently today. I marinated the tomato slices in a mix of balsamic vinegar, oilive oil and some bruschetta seasoning I came up on my own. Then I topped it off with basil leaves and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.
Parmigiano Reggiano is a hard dry cheese made from skimmed or partly skimmed cow's milk. It has a hard pale-golden rind and a straw-coloured interior but with a rich sharp flavor. They are aged at least for 2 years which results in their complex intense flavor. I found out that Parmigiano Reggiano is the original Parmesan Cheese. The Parmesan cheese we consume everyday is just an imitation of the original Parmigiano Reggiano and are only aged for 10 months. I realised after tasting some shaved Parmigiano Reggiano that nothing compares to its granular texture that melts in the mouth and I could taste the distinct aging in its flavor. This was not obvious in our regular Parmesan Cheese.
And did you know that there is something called Bruschetta Seasoning in the market? Having never come across such a seasoning before, my next best alternative will be to come up with my own, using what I had in my kitchen today and what is usually required for bruschettas. I used chilli flakes for a bit of spice, garlic granules and an Oregano, Basil and Tomato spice blend which I had bought long ago thinking I would definitely have a need for it someday. That day is today!!
You can come up with your own Bruschetta Seasoning too - just ensure these essential ingredients :
Dehydrated tomato pieces,
Dried Basil and
Ingredients (For 4 Bruschetta Slices)
4 slices of Ciabatta/Multi grain loaf
1 and 1/2 red ripe tomatoes, sliced very thinly into 8 round pieces
2 tsp Oregano, Basil and Tomato (OBT) Spice Blend
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp Garlic Granules
1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbsp EVOO plus extra for drizzling at the end and for drizzling on toasts before assembling
6-8 Basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
Salt & Pepper
1) Mix the seasonings together - OBT Spice Blend, Chilli Flakes, Garlic Granules, Balsamic Vinegar and EVOO.
2) Then, soak the sliced tomato pieces in them and let them marinate for 10 minutes.
3) In the meantime, toast the ciabatta/multigrain loaf slices and drizzle EVOO over them. After 10 minutes, start assembling the marinated tomato slices over the toasts.
4) This will be followed by the chopped basil leaves, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano and a drizzle of EVOO. Finish it up with a dash of pepper and salt. Serve as a quick appetizer or even with a warming soup of your choice. Best served warm. Enjoy!!