Sunday, September 26, 2010

Star Fruit Upside down cake

    My mom periodically sends me these wonderful fruits called star fruits which grow abundantly in her backyard garden. While some of them are eaten , most of the times they just rot in my fruit basket and seriously I hate to see that. So this time around I googled star fruit recipes and it came up with some interesting ones, one of which was the  Star Fruit Upside Down Cake. 

Star fruit also know as Carambola, is a native of Philippines, Indonesia , India and Sri lanka.
Carambolas are rich in anti oxidants, vitamin A , vitamin C and potassium. The fruit in cross-section is a five point star and hence the name Star fruit.

Star-Fruit Upside Down Cake :

Ingredients : 

3 to 4 star fruit, sliced
1/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
Juice of 2 Florida passion fruit / Orange
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2  eggs
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup  milk
1 tsp. each of vanilla and almond extract

P.S : If using orange juice use orange essence instead
Preheat oven to 350 F / 150 C.
Arrange sliced starfruit in bottom of a greased 9 inch cake pan as close together as possible.You can also place cherries in between the spaces to give an added effect.
Mix together 1/4 cup butter, brown sugar and passion fruit/ orange juice and pour into pan, turning so mixture covers bottom. Set aside.
Cream together 1/2 cup of butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beat well.
Mix together dry ingredients. Add flour mixture, alternately with milk, to butter mixture. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts. Pour into prepared cake pan.
 Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until cake pulls away form sides of pan.
Let cool for five minutes before inverting onto serving plate.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Bizarre chinese food Adventure

China was one country my husband and I always wanted to visit. Although it was my first trip and my husbands second, he hadnt prepared me enough for the food-wise cultural shock I was to receive. When our china trip was being planned, I happened to catch one of my favorite shows on travel network of Bizarre foods in Guangzhou, China which happened to be the place we were visiting. I recorded it and hoped we would go to all those places and eat the bizarre food. What I hadnt prepared myself for was the extensity of the bizarreness in reality that was existing there.And what an adventure it was. We walked the streets and the little aisles, visited food courts, sat in restaurants and street stalls and witnessed the stangest of foods and ate what was edible...though most of it was not for the faint of heart. Many a times , our chickentarian friends travelling with us , would almost throw up seeing us eat or just looking at the food itself. The menus in restaurants were filled with dishes like pigs liver, trotter, intestine, guts, frogs, snakes, oxtail etc.

Dried Snakes, Centipedes, Slugs and Snails

Not a spare part was left uneaten. There's no wasting any parts for the chinese and thats the way we liked it. Although I would never eat intestine and guts for goodness sakes.

Hongkong was a typical cosmopolitan place. Given its touristy nature, finding any kind of food here was easy. A one hour ferry ride from Hongkong took us to Macau which was definitely a hot spot for food. Since the early 16th century, it has been ruled by Portugese traders and was handed over to the People's Republic of China in the late 90's. The cuisine in Macua has a portugese influence to it. We visited one Portugese restaurant and all the dishes had a distinct portugese flair along with their chinese counterpart.

Oxtail Curry

Pork Chops With Portugese Sauce

Portugese Egg Tarts

Macau is very famous for its portugese egg tarts made of flour, eggs, margarine and milk, best eaten when it is hot. It is a very popular snack and is served in most bakeries.

After our visit in Hongkong and Macau we landed in Shenzhen, the chinese territory and believe it or not, we went tex-mex. Mainly because our wary friends were so smitten by the chinese food in hongkong for three days that tex-mex was a welcome sight for them. Not so for us, although it didnt turn out to be bad afterall.

Guangzhou was the turning point in our trip. We got to see so much of real stuff. Its amazing how countries differ with their culture, style, language and food. Its what separates us and makes us who we are. Coming back to reality, Guangzhou is a food lovers paradise. I love Dim sum. Back in the US, they only serve Dim sums for lunch. Apparently not in china. There it is mainly served on the streets and mostly for breakfast. Most restaurants we visited had a menu for dimsum and we had to order it off the menu, unlike in the US where they bring dimsum to you in different carts pushed by waiters.

Breakfast consisted of steaming soups, Barbeque pork buns, steamed rice dumplings, pastries filled with egg yolk (yuck!!!) and a lot of other fancy stuff. It was left to us to pick what we wanted and hoping it would be good. We spent most of our time scanning for street stalls or shacks to eat our breakfast and lunch. These eateries truly produce some amazing and authentic fare fit for hungry travellers like us who craved for food beyond imagination.

Evenings also consisted of street side food. We walked through streets where vendors were selling their dried snakes, centipedes, snails , snakes and fish. We walked through small aisles where groups of people played games on the road, blissfully unaware of the time or day. We visited a place called jade market where there were hundreds of stalls each consisting different kind of food, dedicated to different palates. Some had eye-catching chicken, shrimp, lobsters,octopus on skewers roasting while others had scorpions, snails, snakes and centipedes for snacks. Some had steaming soups and noodles so applealing while others had things that would literally make you throw up. Yet it was all a part of the game, a part of discovering the country, its cuisine, its variety and its way of life.

We soaked in the culture, the streets, filled with people constantly nibbling on these nick nacks every couple of hours , their ability to be active and healthy, and enjoy their life, blissfully ignorant of the tourists in awe of their cuisine and lifestyle. Despite language being a big barrier for most foreigners the people in China are friendly, helpful, efficient and amazing. We might want to learn a thing or two from them !!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

And then came Halloween...

Halloween is always a fun time, well... mostly for the kids. What could be a better day in their lives than posing to be a character out of their favorite shows or story books and stashing up on hordes and hordes of worthless candies down their secret compartments and God knows where. What I don't understand about Halloween is the Trick part in the " Trick or Treat ". Whatever happened to asking tricks and then getting the treats I remember a couple of Halloweens back, a kid knocked on my door and smugly said "trick or treat". I said Trick and stood there looking at him - well waiting for a trick. He just stared at me and then walked away. I eventually ended up running behind him giving his much deserved candies he so badly wanted..! much for the trick part.

My friends and I wanted to have a party this Halloween so the kids could go trick or treating together. "The Gang " decided it was boring to do the same old Indian pot luck and we embarked on an idea of a finger foods party. So each one was supposed to bring at least two finger foods and the condition was it should not be an Indian dish.And what a surprise dinner it was. Every ones pent up culinary ideas and skills came alive that day and boy were we daring enough to bring those picture perfect dishes out of our cooking books alive on our tables. What an array it was !

I buried myself in my Tapas cookbook and fished out three dishes I could make. Asaparagus with bacon ( not featured here ) , Mushrooms on sourdough bread and Stuffed mini peppers.

Stuffed Mini Bell Peppers :

Stuffed sweet bell peppers

1lb - Mini red, orange and yellow bell peppers
1 lb - Minced Turkey or chicken or beef
1 - Onion ( Chopped)
1 1/2 cup - Bread crumbs
1 cup - Frozen or fresh chopped spinach
1 tbsp - Hot sauce or Sriracha sauce
4 tbsp - Parsley ( Finely chopped)
1 - Egg
Salt as desired

Cut the tops off the mini bell peppers , scoop out the seeds and veins; rinse with water and wipe them dry. Set aside. Meanwhile in pan, add oil, when hot add the chopped onions and saute well. When the onions turn glassy, add the minced turkey/ chicken and let it cook. When the meat is cooked, add the chopped spinach, hot sauce, salt, 1 cup bread crumbs ( reserve the half cup for later) and parsley and mix until all ingredients are well incorporated.Spoon the mixture into the mini bell peppers. Beat one egg in a bowl and spread the 1/2 cup bread crumbs on a plate. Dip the tops of the bell peppers in the egg and then in the bread crumbs. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the stuffed bell peppers in a baking dish and bake for about 10-15 minutes depending on how soft you like it. I broiled the peppers for about 5 minutes on high after baking to get the charred effect. Best served as finger food or an appetizer.

Mushrooms on sourdough toasts :


5 Tbsp Olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 lb Mushrooms ( shittake, portabella or wild mushrooms)
2 tbsp Spanish Sherry
4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
12 slices long , thick crusty sourdough or any bread
8 tbsp tartar sauce / ranch

Heat oil in a large skillet, then add the garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 30 seconds or until softened. Increase heat to high and add the mushrooms and cook, stirring continuously, until mushrooms are coated in oil and all oil has been absorbed.
Reduce heat to low and cook for 2-3 minutes until all juices have been released from the mushrooms. Add the sherry and cook for about 3-4 minutes on high heat until all liquid has evaporated. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile preheat broiler to high. Toast the bread slices under the broiler until lightly golden brown on both sides.
Spread tartar sauce or ranch ( You could use mayonnaise too) and top with the cooked mushrooms. Serve hot.

Note : The intial recipe called for Aioli sauce. I did not have the patience nor the time to try this one. Hence I substituted tartar sauce but I am sure ranch or mayonnaise would have tasted much better.

Latha's Chilli Shrimp
Latha's Bean Chilli Dip

And then came halloween ...(latha special)

Latha's Bean chili Dip

Lathas bean chilli dip

2 Cans Kidney beans
2 Tsp Coriander - finely chopped
2 Tsp Green onions - finely chopped
1 Tsp Garlic - finely chopped
1/2 Red Bell Pepper
1/2 Green Bell Pepper
2 Green chilis (deseeded and finely chopped)
1/2 Red Onion
1 Tsp Pickled Jalapeño (chopped)
3/4 Cup Water
2 Tsp Oil
Salt to taste

Drain the kidney beans and reserve a few whole beans. Mash the rest of the beans with a hand blender. Chop the onion and peppers into very small pieces. In a pan heat the oil, add the chopped onion, green chilies, three quarters of the peppers, garlic and jalapeño. Saute until it becomes slightly brown. Add the mashed beans and water. Add salt to taste. Keep stirring for few minutes until all the ingredients are mixed well. Finally add the coriander, green onions, reserved peppers and the reserved whole beans and the dip is ready . Serve with toasted Pita breads.

And then came halloween...(latha special)

Latha's Chili Shrimp


1 lb - Shrimp (Cleaned and deveined)
1/2 Tsp - Paprika
2 Tsp - Red Chili powder
2 Tsp - Parsley - dried (or fresh)
1 Tsp - Garlic - Finely chopped
1 Tbsp - Onion - Finely chopped
1 Cup - Liquid from the pickled banana pepper
2 Tsp - Green onions - Finely chopped
2 Tsp - Oil - 2 tsp
Salt to taste

Marinate the shrimp in the liquid reserved from pickled banana pepper for about 15 to 20 minutes and then discard the liquid. Heat the oil in a pan, saute the onions and garlic for 2 mins, then add the parsley, chili powder, paprika and salt. Add the shrimp and cook it till it turns pink and plump which should take about 5 minutes . Add the green onions. Keep stirring until the shrimp becomes dry. Serve with Lemon wedges.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pork vindaloo

Vindaloo is originally a goan dish, introduced by the portugese . From what I have researched about this mouth watering dish is that it takes after two main ingredients - vinho which means wine or wine vinegar and alhos which is garlic. Over a period of time, vindaloo had taken in different forms and ingredients in each household with the use of red chilles, lime juice, potatoes and so on. Although my mother is a Manglorean, I never learnt this dish from her since she never made pork at home. Maybe it was partly because my dad never ate pork. So it was totally ironic that I had to learn this from my mother-in-law who is a Tamilian.According to me, this is her version of a Tamil style of vindaloo since she adds mustard seeds .It is simple to make, tasty and is best served with white bread.

1 lb - Pork Butt (Cut into 1.5 inch cubes)
2 - Medium Sized Onions
2 - Medium Sized Tomatoes
5-6 - Garlic (Peeled)
2 Tbsp- Vinegar
1 Tsp - Mustard Seeds
5-6 - Curry Leaves
4-5 - Red Chillies( Depending on the level of spiciness)
1 Tsp - Cumin
1 Tsp - Turmeric Powder
Salt to taste

Grind the onions, garlic, cumin and the red chillies in a blender and keep aside.

Grind the tomatoes separately and keep aside.

In a pan or pressure cooker, add one teaspoon oil .When it is hot, add the mustard seeds, wait for the splutter and then add the curry leaves and the ground mixture. Saute the ground mixture well until it becomes brown and forms a thick consistency.
Add the pureed tomatoes, saute well and then add the pork pieces. Add turmeric powder and salt to taste and cook/pressure cook the pork until well done. Once cooked, you should see the pork fat on the top of the curry. Let it boil until it becomes thick of a gravy consistency. Add 2 tbsp of vinegar, remove from heat and serve hot with rice or white bread.