If you’ve been around these parts before you know the most important part of food for me is taste. It helps if it is quick and easy to make and bonus points if it is cute and quirky too. This little treat ticks all those boxes. I found this one in quite a few places on the internet and decided that I had to try them out. They are perfect to make for a Halloween themed party. I will admit that the cheese stringers were a little fiddle to begin with, but eventually things started moving along much faster. And, considering there was zero cooking involved, I still give this little snack a thumbs up. Kids will love the novelty of these ‘Witches Broomsticks’. I made these to serve at an office party and the adults couldn’t keep their hands of them either.
These snacks also use only 3 ingredients – pretzel sticks, cheese stringers and fresh chives. There is not much of a process involved either, so let’s get straight to the instructions.
I hope you make these savory treats this Halloween and enjoy them as much as we did.
Start with the cheese. Cut the cheese stringer sticks into about 1 inch pieces or one thirds.
For each of these pieces, cut up or pull apart two thirds of the length of it to make the bristly edge of the broomsticks.
Now simply pierce the uncut end with a pretzel stick.
Finish them off but tying with a piece of fresh chives.
What treats are you planning for this Halloween???
I tried out this amazing Avocado Pasta Salad over the weekend and it was a big hit. There is a little stove time involved to boil the pasta and to fry the bacon, but the end result is so good, I’d say it was well worth it. I can’t wait for the next potluck or picnic, because I know that this salad will make an appearance.
The dressing is an avocado based one and is super easy to make. If you have an immersion blender, you life will be even easier. If not, just use your regular blender and you’ll be sorted. Basically all the ingredients for the dressing get blitzed together and ta-da …. you have yourself a salad dressing. I love recipes that are as easy as this. The ingredient list for the salad is just an approximation of what I used. Feel free to adjust as needed.
Avocado Pasta Salad
Serves 4 (as Main Course)
2 cups uncooked Macaroni
1/4 onion, finely chopped (use a sweeter onion if you can’t stand the heat from a raw onion. You can also use a couple of spring onions, finely sliced)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1/2 cup boiled / roast chicken, shredded
1/2 cup corn kernels
1 avocado, diced
4 rashers of bacon, fried till crisp and chopped / crumbled
1/4-1/3 capsicum (I used green because thats all I had. You can use red or yellow too, or even a combination of them.)
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
For the dressing –
1 ripe avocado
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander (use the leaves and the stalks)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Boil the pasta till al dente, following the package instructions. Run under cold water to stop the cooking process and to cool the pasta down. Drain and set aside.
Blanch the broccoli florets in boiling, salted water till it is a vibrant green, about 30 seconds to a minute, depending on how crunchy you like your broccoli. Immediately drain and immerse the broccoli in ice cold water for a few seconds to stop the cooking process. Drain and keep aside.
In the same pot of boiling water, boil your sweet corn kernels till done. Drain and set aside.
Get your salad ingredients ready.
For the dressing, simply blitz all the ingredients together.
Toss the salad in the dressing and refrigerate for about 1 hour before serving.
Pin now and try later!!!
Maple syrup, to drizzle over, to taste
So last week I shared with you a lesser known, but extremely yummy recipe for a biscuit found in the Pune-Mumbai region – Shrewsbury Biscuits. If you haven’t seen that yet, go check it out, I’ll still be here when you get back.
Okay, so you’re back. Today, is the turn for another lesser known recipe, this time for a cake called Mawa Cake. Again, as far as I know this cake is found in the Pune-Mumbai region. Kayani Bakery in Pune and Merwan’s Cake shop in Mumbai are popular for their Mawa cake, though you will find quite a few other shops selling this cake. They are usually sold in packs of 6 – 6 muffin sized pieces. This simple cake is so very special. It is not much to look at, but what it lacks in looks, it makes up for in taste. If you’ve never heard about this cake before, you should put it on your list of recipes to try out. Mawa is nothing but milk solids and this is widely used in a lot of Indian sweets.
A lot of people cringe at the thought of making their own mawa and just buy it from the local Dairy shop in India. This is because, while it is a simple process of reducing milk, working with about a litre of milk could take you about an hour to process. In the past, I have made Mawa the traditional way a couple of times. But for this cake, I decided to try out a cheat’s version of Mawa. This method takes literally 2 minutes at the most, and you would never be able to tell that it is an instant version. I’m so happy that I found this method. I have a whole bunch of recipes for Indian sweets that I’ve been ignoring, simply because it calls for Mawa. But that has changed, so you can expect to see some more Indian sweets / Mithai recipes, just before the Indian festival season starts.
Back to the cake. If you have your Mawa sorted out, the rest of the recipe is like a simple pound cake one but with a serious flavor profile. The Mawa adds a richness to the cake and it is mildly flavored with cardamom powder, resulting in a very exotic tasting cake. This time around my husband made the cake, which I guess made it even tastier (lol). He chose to bake this in an 8″ round cake tin, but you could bake it in a cupcake tray too. I do hope you try it out.
Yields: an 8 inch cake or 15-16 cupcakes
1 portion of homemade mawa (recipe below) or 200g unsweetened mawa
200g all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cardamom powder (Seeds of about 10-12 green cardamom pods, powdered)
Preheat the oven to 160ºC.
Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Beat the whites to a stiff froth and keep aside.
In another bowl, cream the butter, sugar and egg yolks till light and creamy.
Add the mawa, cardamom powder, baking powder and flour and mix till well incorporated. (If the mawa in store bought or is a firm block, grate it before adding into the batter)
Fold in the beaten egg whites gently till just evenly incorporated in the batter.
Pour the batter in the prepared cake pan and bake for about 40-50 minutes (if using a cupcake tray, bake for 15-20 minutes) or till a bamboo skewer inserted near the middle of the cake come out clean.
Cool completely, cut and serve. Don’t get fooled by the look of the cake. It tastes a whole lot better than it looks. And don’t forget, if my husband (who has probably not baked more than a handful of times so far), can whip this up, so can you.
How to make Instant Mawa?
1 tbsp ghee / clarified butter
1/4 cup milk
1 cup full fat milk powder
Warm the ghee and the milk together. You just want this mixture warm, not hot.
Add the milk powder and stir and cook till it comes apart from the pan and starts forming a ball.
Use to make mawa cake.
Notes: If you are baking the cake in a regular cake tin and not a cupcake tray, in some cases, the milk solids may cause the cake to brown quickly. This is normal, but if you think it is browning too fast and may burn, cover the tin loosely with aluminium foil and continue baking till the cake is done.
Fish cutlets are one of my favorite seafood recipes to make and to eat. I love seafood and I also happen to love cutlets. They are so versatile. You can serve them as a snack / appetizer (they go so well with a chilled beer), as a meal with a side of chips and / or a salad or you can use them to make a fantastic burger. I have shared a recipe for fish cutlets previously using fresh fish. You can find that one here. This recipe is fairly similar with the exception of one main difference. This one uses canned tuna.
Now, I love my fish fresh. I believe that fresh is the best way to enjoy fish. But yesterday, I found myself longing to eat some fish cutlets but didn’t have any fresh fish. Now that was just not going to do. So I put my thinking hat on and eventually decided to try to make cutlets using canned tuna instead. I had heard that some people make their cutlets with canned fish, but I’d never tried it out for myself. I happened to have a few cans of tuna chunks in the pantry, so I figured I had nothing to lose.
The cans I used were tuna chunks in spring water. You need to make sure you drain the tuna well. I didn’t know what to expect and found that I had to use a little extra egg for binding but in the end I was delighted with the results. The cutlets were delicious. It took a fraction of the time to make compared to if you were to use fresh fish because the fish has to be cooked and deboned. So in all, I was extremely pleased with this attempt.
The type of canned tuna will determine how much egg is needed. I would recommend starting out using one egg and if you can shape the cutlets easily without them falling apart, then you are good to go. If not add more egg to the mix.
Goan Fish Cutlets
Yields: 12 cutlets
4 cans of tuna (I used 95g cans of chunk tuna in spring water) (Or 1 can x 495g Tuna)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 red birdseye chillies, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped (or you can use paste)
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or you can use paste)
A small bunch of fresh coriander leaves and stalks, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilly powder
1/4 tsp black pepper powder
2 slices of bread
Bread crumbs, to coat the cutlets
Oil for frying
Drain the tuna thoroughly and flake it in a large mixing bowl.
Soak the bread slices in water for about 5 minutes and squeeze thoroughly. Crumble the bread as fine as you can and add it to the bowl.
Add the rest of the ingredients except the panko bread crumbs and the oil to the bowl.
Place a layer of the breadcrumbs on a dry plate.
Using the fish mix, shape into cutlets and carefully coat on both sides with the bread crumbs.
Heat 1-2 tbsp oil in a pan on medium heat and carefully place the coated cutlets on the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes on medium heat till golden brown on one side.
Then carefully flip over to cook to a golden brown on the other side too. Add another spoon of oil to the pan as needed.
Repeat till the batter is over and all the cutlets are fried.
Every summer, snake beans were at the peak of their season. We didn’t grow this but there was a local farmer in the village who did. And he did a fantastic job of it. I loved and to this day love snake beans. We cook this up in a very simple way, a traditional Goan fugad. A fugad has its roots in Portuguese food. It is a stir fry of vegetables with some spices and seasonings and a sprinkling of fresh grated coconut. Most Goan households still cook their vegetables this way. The snake bean version was my favorite. I volunteered to prep 2 massive bundles every single day. Yes, I managed to convince my mother and aunt that I wanted to eat this every single day while I was there and that I would clean it and get it ready to be cooked myself. Thankfully, they obliged and so someone from that good old farmers household would graciously drop off a couple of bundles at the house on their way to the market. The simplicity of the dish may fool you. But the end result is fantastic. In my humble opinion, it is delicious. The beans turn out tender and sweet I’m sure kids would love it too. I could eat it by itself or with steamed rice or chapatis.
I recently managed to get some gorgeous bundles of snake beans and had to make this fugad again and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to share it with you. So if you can find some good, fresh snake beans or if you grow them yourself, I hope you try this out.
Eeril Fugad / Goan Snake Beans Stir Fry
3 small bundles of snake beans, the fresher the better
1 large onion, diced
2 fresh green / red chillies
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup freshly grated coconut
1 tbsp olive oil
Break off the ends of the snake beans and break off into inch sized pieces. Rinse through and drain and keep aside.
Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.
Slit the chillies in length, but not all the way through. This way you get all the flavor but not much of the heat.
Let the chillies fry up for a few seconds till they get fragrant.
Add the chopped onions and saute till the onions have softened and get slightly brown on the edges.
Add the snake beans and stir them in for a while. You will see the green color of the beans turn a darker shade.
Add the salt and let the bean stir fry for about 2 minutes.
Add a splash of water, a very small amount to prevent the beans from burning and help them cook through.
Cover the pan and let it cook. Add more water, if needed.
When the beans are almost cooked, add the freshly grated coconut and stir through.
Serve hot as a side dish with some Goan fish curry or prawn curry and rice or with some chapatis.
So to ease back into the flow of things, this will be a quick post. The recipe also is a quick one, super simple to make. Infact, you can barely even call it a recipe, but the results are so very good, I will go ahead and post it here to share with you. If you haven’t tried out sweet potato fries yet, trust me, you really should. Even my beloved husband, who doesn’t care much for the sweet potato (he calls it a sweet mush / baby food), loved it and actually requests for these fries every once in a while.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind here. You could peel the potatoes, but I leave the skin on. Just give it a good wash and scrub and you are good to go. Also, size of the fries will make a difference. The thicker you cut it, the longer it will take to cook. The thicker sized fries will still be soft and fluffy. If you are like me and love a little crunch in your life, cut the fries thin. It cooks quicker and caramelises a little and is super delicious, not to mention perfectly crunchy.
This fries are a much more healthy version that the regular potato fries and are great either as a snack or as a side to a big roast dinner or holiday meal too.
Sweet Potato Fries
1 large sweet potato, washed
Salt, to taste
Freshly crushed black pepper, to taste
A drizzle of olive oil (about 1 tbsp)
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Cut the sweet potato into fries.
Drizzle a little olive oil on a baking tray.
Place the sweet potato, salt and pepper on the tray and toss to make sure everything is well coated. You can add a little more olive oil if needed.
Arrange the potato pieces in a single layer.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning the pieces once at the halfway mark.
Keep an eye on your oven from time to time. It may not need as long in your oven. Also this time will depend on the size of the pieces. So keep an eye on it the first time you make this.
When it is done to your liking, take it out of the oven.
Serve hot and enjoy!
Come back tomorrow and I’ll show you how to use these fritters to make another yummy snack.