Mushroom Yorkshire Puddings

Mushroom Yorkshire Puddings-3

Today, I’m actually guest posting over at Go Bake Yourself! Uru needed some help while she finished off her exams and I was more than happy to help her out with a post.

I’m sure you all know lovely Uru; she need no introduction. But just incase you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, Uru is a recent university student who has been blogging about her sweet tooth for a few years now. I’ve known her as long as I’ve been writing. She lives in Australia and she just finished her first year in university, woo hoo!

Mushroom Yorkshire Puddings-4

Uru has a few things in common with me; she is the same age as my eldest daughter, both are in university and both are vegetarians, oh and both have massive sweet teeth!

Please go and check out my post over at Go Bake Yourself and say hi to Uru. I made her some Mushroom Yorkshire Puddings. My daughters loved them and I thought maybe Uru would like them too. They were pretty delicious. They are perfect as a main dish or as a side to roasted meats.

Before you head on over to read the post, I thought I’d fill you in some news on my side. We had a great Thanksgiving with lots of food and dessert but of course, the best part is always the conversation and friendship. How was your Thanksgiving? 

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Talking about Thanksgiving, I have the two winners for the MM Local contest. I believe, you both will receive a gift card/promo code for an item from their online store. DRUMROLL……

The winners are….Denise from the blog From Brazil to You and Karen from Back Road Journal! Congratulations ladies! I used the Random Number Generator and their numbers are the ones that popped up. I will forward your information to the lovely folks at MM Local so they can contact you. You’re going to love their products, make sure to pick the Colorado grown produce 🙂

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I am finally free! Thanksgiving was the last major load on my mind but with my events done, my guest post done, my recipe development done (almost) and Thanksgiving done, my daughters birthdays done, I can finally chill for a bit! I really need to catch up with everyone’s blogs and start to really cook and bake again for my own blog. It’s been so long it seems.

I hope your holiday baking is in full swing. I can’t wait to come by and see what you guys are creating. 

I wish you all a great week ahead. I will be by to say hi shortly! Please stop by Go Bake Yourself and read my post! Thank you!!

Oh, and if anybody is wondering what happened with my car shopping….

4Runner

I am the proud owner of this badass 2015 Toyota 4Runner 🙂 I LOVE it.

Pear Stuffing and a Giveaway!

Pear and Pomegranate Stuffing-5

The holiday season officially starts next week with Thanksgiving kicking it off here in the US. Thanksgiving also happens to be, I think, the most anticipated and biggest holiday for food inspiration, new and traditional cooking and baking, and of course, let’s not forget the eating.

I did not grow up celebrating Thanksgiving, obviously, because England doesn’t have that holiday. However, I believe that Thanksgiving is truly a foodie holiday. The whole day is centred around food, family and football, with a bit of thankfulness thrown in.

I really took to Thanksgiving! Now, sometimes when I feel like holding back a bit, I can’t. My children and my husband, are crazy about the food. It’s the one holiday they really look forward to for the particular food that’s served.

Last year we did a potluck with our friends and a 40 pound turkey, 30 side dishes and 12 desserts. We were very thankful and incredibly full. This year it’s the same group but I hope the turkey is smaller!

Pear and Pomegranate Stuffing-3

So, onto this recipe. As you know, I rarely do any kind of sponsored posts on my blogs. It’s not that I’m not open to them, it’s just that I’m very particular about product I endorse. It has to be all natural, preferably organic and even better if it’s Colorado local. I’m a big supporter of small farms and local businesses.

So imagine my excitement when I received an email from MM Local, a Colorado based, organic company that specialises in preserved and pickled fruits and vegetables, and fermented sauces and pickles. I knew about them from the farmers markets and had tried their jarred fruit.

What I love about MM Local, besides the fact that they are from Colorado and use organic ingredients, is that they source their produce and ingredients from local Colorado farms. These are farms whose stands I visit in farmers markets and whose produce I buy.

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They were kind enough to provide me with a few jars of my choice of fruit or vegetables. Since Thanksgiving is next week, they were interested in the stuffing/dressing recipe I mentioned. I asked for some of their delicious jarred Paonia pears with rosemary for the recipe. The rosemary and pear combination is fantastic.

I used a hearty, peasant bread from Whole Foods, leeks for a mild onion flavour and some beautiful, crimson pomegranate arils for that burst of sweet tart flavour. Of course, you can use whatever bread you’d like including a good quality dried bread stuffing cubes. If MM Local pears are available in your area, please seek them out and use them! They are of excellent quality and so much better than any tinned pear.

I made the dressing in a pan and this quantity will make enough for a 9 x13 pan. I made a bit extra to stuff some under a chicken I was roasting for dinner so I could taste them both ways.

Pear and Pomegranate Stuffing-6

They are both excellent. Of course, the stuffing had all the chicken drippings so it did have extra flavour from the chicken fat and spices. The dressing in a pan can be drizzled with the turkey juices and some turkey fat to get the same flavour. The dressing by itself has a lot of flavour as well, the sweetness of the pears, the saltiness of the bread, the crunch of the toasted pecans and the tartness from the pomegranate all add great layers of flavour and texture.

If you’re looking for a new stuffing/dressing recipe, I hope you’ll give this one a try. If there is one new recipe I try every year, it’s the stuffing recipe. A new one every Thanksgiving 🙂

Pear and Pomegranate Stuffing-1

To make your holidays sweeter or more savoury, MM Local is giving away a sample (it’ll probably be a MM Local gift card or promo code) of their delicious jarred fruit or vegetables to two lucky people (US only at the moment) All you have to do is leave me a comment telling me your favourite Thanksgiving dish. Is it the stuffing? The sweet potato casserole smothered in marshmallows or the green bean casserole? I want to know (really, I just want ideas for new side dishes) I’ll pick a winner by Thanksgiving and announce by the end of the month. 

So, onto this Pear Stuffing recipe, hope you get a chance to try it.

Pear and Pomegranate Stuffing and a Giveaway!

Rating 

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 12 servings

Ingredients
  • 2 jars MM Local Pears with Rosemary
  • 2 cups sliced leeks, about 3 medium, white and light green parts
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced thinly
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ cup pomegranate arils
  • 1½ cups pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sage, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
  • 10 cups bread cubes, good quality
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup pear syrup from the jar
  • ½ cup heavy cream, optional
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Few tablespoons of turkey drippings
Instructions
  1. If you are using fresh bread cubes, allow to dry out overnight or place in the oven on a sheet pan and dry out at 325F/150C for about 20-25 minutes.
  2. Allow to cool.
  3. In a large skillet or frying pan, melt the butter.
  4. Add the leeks and allow to soften
  5. Add the celery and garlic and cook until soft.
  6. Add the sage and rosemary and cook for two minutes or so.
  7. Place the cooked mixture into a big bowl.
  8. Add the cubes of bread and toss with the vegetables, allowing the butter to coat the bread.
  9. Sprinkle the pear syrup over the top the bread and toss.
  10. Add the heavy cream if using and toss again.
  11. Moisten the bread cubes with enough chicken broth as needed.
  12. Some people like the stuffing drier so you can adjust how much broth you add.
  13. If you like the stuffing more soft, add all the broth and add more pear syrup or cream if needed.
  14. Allow the cubes of bread to sit and soak the liquid for about 20 minutes.
  15. Meanwhile, chop the papers into bite size chunks and mix into the bread mixture.
  16. I chopped mine the same size as my bread chunks to give a more rustic looking dish.
  17. Add 1 cup of the pomegranate arils to the stuffing and mix through.
  18. Add the chopped pecans.
  19. Grease or spray a 9 x13 roasting tin or glass dish.
  20. Pour in the stuffing mixture.
  21. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
  22. Place the stuffing in the oven for about 45-55 minutes or until nicely brown and the liquid has all been absorbed.
  23. After it is baked, if you wish, pour the turkey drippings through the stuffing, and add the remaining pomegranate arils before serving.
  24. If stuffing the bird, place the stuffing in the cavity and follow turkey cooking directions.
  25. Bake the rest alongside, following directions above.
Notes
The heavy cream is optional but it does add a nice bread pudding type texture to the stuffing. If you don't like it too soft then you can omit it and add extra chicken broth to moisten.

 

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Hope everyone’s Thanksgiving prep is well underway. I just finished a big event last night and I can now start my planning. It hasn’t helped that I’m still not better. I have a sinus and ear infection and I pretty much can’t hear anything but buzzing in my right ear. My husband is pretty thankful that I can’t talk either.

The giveaway is now over! Winners announced in the new post.

Chinese Bao ~ Indian Style

Indian bao

Sticking with the whole “many uses of tandoori chicken” theme, I made something that I have wanted to for a long time, the Chinese bao or bun. I love Asian food, every kind, but am not very good at making any! I want to blame the fact that I have always had an electric cooktop and with an electric cooktop, there is no way to get a wok hot. I use frying pans most of the time ad they get it done but as you know by now, I love to own pans. I feel they add to the authenticity and taste (probably not but this is what I tell my husband as I am spending his money). 

These buns don’t need a wok so I figured I was pretty safe and couldn’t possibly muck it up. Besides, I am good with yeast doughs and I like working with them. Let me tell you that I have never had a bao until the other day when I made my version. I can only imagine that the BBQ’d Chinese ones are pretty amazing. Unfortunately, as much as I love Chinese cuisine, I am unable to try many things because of the high usage of pork which we don’t eat. Therefore, I convert everything to chicken.

Chinese cooking lends itself pretty well to Indian fusion. No surprise really considering the Mongols invaded India many times. I am assuming that their food was very similar to their Chinese neighbours in the South. There are a lot of fusion dishes that Indian chefs and home cooks have created and it is very popular.

I remember when I was young and we used to go to India for summer holidays, one of my favourite places to eat was at the Chinese Indian restaurant. I would wait ever so patiently for my uncles to take us there. I loved every thing they served. They were all Chinese dishes but with a little Indian twist. If you check the ingredients for Chicken 65, you will find soy sauce and I believe this is one of those fusion dishes that became so popular. By the way, if you have never had Chicken 65, make some now! I guarantee it will become one of your favourites. I have my recipe on the site, check it out.

When I baked the tandoori chicken for the Butter Chicken, I had one huge tandoori chicken breast left over. I saved it to make these fusion bao. Instead of the sweet and smoky, barbecued chicken that can be found in a traditional bun, I decided to add an Indian twist by filling with tandoori chicken. It’s really still BBQ; just different spices that’s all. I made some mint and cilantro chutney to mix with the chicken and added a dollop of sweet chilli sauce. They were spectacular! I was really thrilled that they turned out so well.

The dough for the bun is a straightforward yeasted, sweet, milk dough. It was easy to blend and knead and fairly easy to roll. Shaping the buns takes time but that’s not too difficult to do.  

If you’ve never tried bao, maybe try a Chinese Indian fusion one.

Indian Chinese buns

buns5

Chinese Bao ~ Indian Style

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 16 pieces

Ingredients
Bao Dough
  • 3 cups/460g all purpose/plain flour
  • 1 packet/7g instant yeast
  • 11/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¾ cup/177mL hot milk (hand hot)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2 cups/260g diced, cooked tandoori chicken
Mint-Cilantro Chutney
  • 1 cup/13g fresh mint
  • 1 cup/13g fresh cilantro
  • 1 green chilli
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
Instructions
  1. Make the bao dough first and let it rise.
  2. Proof the yeast in the slightly hot milk with the sugar.
  3. Mix flour and salt together in the bowl of a mixer.
  4. Once the yeast milk mixture is frothy, add to the flour and mix.
  5. Add the egg and the oil.
  6. You may need a bit more milk depending on how dry your flour is that day.
  7. Using the dough hook, let the dough come together.
  8. Knead for about 10 minutes until it is a smooth ball.
  9. Place ball of dough in a greased bowl in a warm place to rise.
  10. Since it's a heavy milk dough, it will take a good 90 minutes to 2 hours to double in size.
  11. Make the chutney.
  12. Add the mint, cilantro, green chilli into a blender with a dribble of water (2 tablespoons or so) and blend to a paste.
  13. Check for salt and add the cumin.
  14. Mix a couple of tablespoons of the chutney and sweet chilli sauce into the chicken filling.
  15. You don't want it too liquidy or it will be hard to make the buns.
  16. Put aside.
  17. Preheat the oven to 350℉/180℃
  18. Once the dough has doubled, pull the dough onto a counter and roll into a log.
  19. Cut into 16 pieces.
  20. Roll each piece into a ball and put aside.
  21. Work one at a time and roll out the ball into a circle of about 6-8 inches (15-20 cm)
  22. Make the dough thicker in the centre, thinner at the edges.
  23. Put a scant teaspoon of the filing into the centre of the rolled dough.
  24. Pull up the edged of the dough towards the centre, pinching the dough and sealing as you go.
  25. Twist the top a bit to ensure it is sealed. I wet the edges a bit, it was easier to seal them that way
  26. Put them on a baking sheet and repeat until all are made into buns.
  27. Brush them with a beaten egg and place them in the oven.
  28. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until they are golden brown and risen.
  29. Cool a little before eating.
  30. Serve with extra sweet chilli chutney or the mint chutney.
Notes
Drain the chicken mixture in the chutney a little before filling the dough. Too much liquid and you will have it seeping through the top.

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So, what do you think of my fusion bao? Having had a few, let me tell you they were excellent and my family gobbled them up. I still want to try the authentic Chinese ones one day, maybe I’ll make them next time.

Now onto important matters, the winner of my Gordon Ramsay cookbook giveaway! Anybody who left a comment on any post and also followed me on one other social media platform, was entered. The more they “followed” the more chances they had. I just made numbered list and put it through a random number guesser/generator. The winner of the Gordon Ramsay’s Sunday Lunches cookbook is…………………Nami from Just One Cookbook! 

Way to go Nami! I will get your details and send the cookbook out. I hope you find it useful in some way. Most of all I just wanted to thank all my readers for their support. I appreciate you all!

Hope you are having a great weekend so far.

Éclairs with White Chocolate Cream, 2nd Anniversary and a Giveaway!

eclairs with white chocolate cream

Today, my blog turns two years old! For me, that’s quite an achievement seeing as that I am really bad at maintaining it! I love writing and cooking for it, but unless I devote a considerable time to it, it’s hard work to maintain and generate the traffic you want. I am thankful though, to everyone who has and continues to visit and read my ramblings and try my concoctions. I want to thank, my blogger friends who tirelessly read my stories and memories, and support me unconditionally. They leave wonderful comments and feedback and I appreciate each and everyone of them.

Two and a half years ago, I toyed with the idea of starting a blog but kept talking myself out of it. I knew it needed a serious commitment that I knew I couldn’t keep. However, days of cooking and cleaning and being a wife and mommy were just making me numb. I longed for intellectual conversation, something to tickle my numbed and sleepy nerves; a spark to jolt me into being me the old me. Here are a few random facts that make me, me:

I am a Sci Fi/Mystery nerd: Star Wars, Star Trek, all superhero movies, Sherlock, Inspector Lewis..
I am a science geek: audio/video, tech etc
I am a hopeless romantic but happen to be married to the least romantic person ever.
I love to read but hardly get the chance because half way through the first page, I am asleep.
My favourite are the British classics, mysteries and yes, I did read Fifty Shades of Grey.
I love all kind of music from Led Zeppelin, The Who and AC/DC to One Direction and Eminem ( however, I do draw the line at Justin Bieber)
I love to talk; about everything and anything.
I love to travel and absorb cultures and wish I was fluent in every language.
I am a fidgety restless person whose mind is constantly churning; I always need to do something or learn something new
I was born in Saudi Arabia, I grew up in England (London will always be my home) and my family is from India and I live in America married to an American, when people ask me where I am from, there’s usually a big pause. I still haven’t perfected that answer.

So, I went from being this person who wanted to do everything to a stay at home mom. It was hard for me and so I started playing around with arts and crafts, did a bit of sewing, experimented with cooking and baking. As much as I loved doing stuff, I felt like my mind still wasn’t being exercised. Hence, the blog. I wanted to write, and use big words, and make grown up sentences rather than the simple, explanatory ones I used with my children day in and day out. Of course, two years ago I did have teenagers, but when have you known a teenager to 1. Converse with their parent 2. Converse in proper English? So, commitment or not, I started my blog for myself mainly. It didn’t matter to me back then if anybody read it; I was writing for myself.

Two years later, I have readers and slowly but surely, it’s getting noticed. So, thank you all for reading and supporting me! I still maintain this for myself, but making new friends from all over the world has been my new motivation to keep updating the site on a regular basis.

As a thank you to my regular readers, family and friends, I am giving away a thank you gift. Unfortunately, since I am bank rolling this giveaway, I have to limit it to US postal addresses. I have picked Gordon Ramsay’s Sunday Lunch cook book to giveaway. I think Chef Ramsay is awesome and his recipes are easy to follow and recreate. I hope the lucky winner will think so too.

Gordon Ramsay's Sunday Lunch: 25 Simple Menus to Pamper Family and Friends

To enter the drawing, you have to just go crazy with me socially! The more love you give, the more chances you have. You have till February 28 to get crazy. I will announce the winner first week of March.

Here’s what to do:
Leave me a comment or two, telling me an interesting tidbit about you.
Like my page on Facebook and say “hi”

And for extra entries:
Subscribe by email or register on my website
I am on Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram

I know I have regular readers who don’t comment, so it would be nice to meet y’all!

Now, onto my anniversary dessert. I wanted to celebrate my two years with one of my favourite pastries, the éclair. These are slightly more jazzy and festive for the occasion and the inspiration came from the BBC Good Food magazine (they did some pastel eclairs in their January issue).

I have sort of combined my anniversary and Valentine’s Day dessert into one. These are great for any occasion and making them colourful allows you to tailor them to your specific event. I chose these colours because they are anniversary festive and very Valentine’s Day festive too. I thought this would be a nice kick off to some Valentines Days goodies coming up this week.

eclairs with white chocolate cream

Éclairs with White Chocolate Cream

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 18 eclairs

Ingredients
Choux Pastry
  • 20z/56g butter, in pieces
  • ⅔ cup/150mL water
  • ½ cup/75g flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
White Chocolate Cream
  • 1 cup/236mL heavy cream
  • 4oz good quality white chocolate, I used Ghirardelli
Decoration and Icing
  • 4 oz melted white chocolate, divided and coloured
  • assorted candies, sweets and sprinkles
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400℉/200℃
  2. Mix the flour and salt together.
  3. Have a piping bag with a medium size plain nozzle ready to be filled.
  4. Have a baking sheet lined with parchment paper ready.
Choux Pastry
  1. Place water and butter in a medium pan and bring up to boil gently.
  2. Once butter is melted and mixture is beginning to boil, pull of the heat.
  3. Dump in the flour and salt and beat vigourously to combine.
  4. Don't over beat otherwise the fat will seep out.
  5. Let cool for 2 minutes.
  6. Once the mixture is in ball, using a hand mixer, start to mix the pastry ball.
  7. Add the eggs in a stream and continue to beat.
  8. Beat on high to trap as much air as possible into the pastry, 5 minutes.
  9. Once the eggs have been added and the pastry beaten, it is ready to be piped.
  10. Fill the piping bag with the pastry and pipe out long tubes of about 3"(8cm)
  11. Use a wet knife to cut of the ends from the piping bag.
  12. Pipe out 18 eclairs onto the parchment paper, leaving 2"(5cm) between each one.
  13. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and puffy.
  14. As soon as they are out of the oven, remove from the baking sheet and poke two or three holes
  15. at the ends to release air.
  16. Or you can also slit the sides if you prefer.
  17. Place on a wire rack and cool before filling.
White Chocolate Cream
  1. Place the white chocolate in a microwaveable bowl and heat at 30 second intervals till melted.
  2. It will only take about a minute to melt and the residual heat from the bowl will continue to melt the chocolate all the way. Set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, whip the chilled cream to stiff peaks.
  4. Slowly add half of the cooled, melted chocolate and continue to whip gently for a minute.
  5. Then fold in the rest of the chocolate, till combined all the way.
  6. Fill a piping bag with a small nozzle with the cream.
  7. Put aside until ready to fill the éclair shells.
Decorating
  1. Melt some more chocolate and divide into bowls and colour with desired colours.
  2. Have candy and sweets ready to sprinkle.
  3. Once the shells have cooled, using the piping bag filled with cream, squeeze cream into the ends of the shells using the holes you poked earlier.
  4. If you slit the sides, just pipe cream into the shell.
  5. Dip the éclair into your choice of coloured chocolate cream and sprinkle with candy.
  6. Put aside as you complete the rest.
  7. If you are not serving them right away, chill in the fridge.
  8. Éclairs are best eaten on the day they are made but I can eat them the next day too!
Notes
The times given are approximate. Depends on how long it takes to melt your chocolate, how efficient you are at piping and how much decoration you are doing.

eclairs with white chocolate cream

eclairs4

eclairs with white chocolate creamOnce again, thank you for all your support the last two years. I hope you will celebrate with me and enjoy some éclairs. These are amazing; creamy and indulgent with just the right amount of sweetness. Make them for any special occasion. I look forward to reading your juicy tidbits and picking a winner!