Prawns in Garlic Sauce


Prawns , commonly known as ( Jumbo ) shrimp , are a staple in my freezer . They are a quick , delectable  and easy to cook , making it just great for any weeknight dinner .  This sauce is a cross between Thai and Chinese with some Indian influence , ofcourse , as it comes from famed Indian chef and cookbook author , Nita Mehta. I did add some Sriracha hot sauce to the sauce as my family loves spicy food , I also added 2 tbs of sherry in the very end as a finishing touch to the dish.

Serves 6

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

12 prawns , shelled and deveined , tails intact

Oil for frying

MARINADE

1 egg lightly beaten

1 tsp salt

1/2 -1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp MSG ( optional )

1 tsp vegetable oil

1/4 tsp ground pepper

1/4 cup cornflour

SAUCE

2 tbs garlic paste ( 10 to 20 flakes of garlic , crushed to a paste )

2 tbs oil

3 tsp soy sauce

2 tbs ketchup

1  1/4 tsp ground white pepper

3/4 tsp salt

2 tbs cornflour mixed with 1/2 cup water

1/4 tsp MSG ( optional )

2 tbs sherry ( optional )

1 tsp sriracha ( optional )

Beat egg lightly with salt , sugar , msg  , oil , pepper and cornflour.

Add prawns to this mixture , stir and leave to marinate for 30 minutes .

Heat plently of oil in wok . Drain off excess marinade from prawns and fry them for 2 to 3 minutes until golden .

Drain well and place on paper towel .

SAUCE

Heat oil and fry garlic on low heat till it starts to change its color.

Add ketchup , pepper , salt and soy sauce . Cook 1 minute .

Add sugar( and msg and sherry)Add water . Bring to a boil and simmer 2 minutes .

Add cornflour slurry , stirring all the time , until the sauce thickens . Remove from heat .

Add the fried prawns and heat through . Serve hot garnished with sliced spring onions.

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Chicken with Mustard Mascarpone Marsala Sauce


If there is one Italian chicken dish my family adores , its this one . It is versatile and satisfying in any season . During the summer I serve it with a medly of fresh seasonal vegetables and in the winter , I use different herbs and perhaps add some sun dried tomatoes and rosemary . Also I like to saute the chicken with salt , pepper , a little fresh rosemary and a little balsamic vinegar , I feels it lends a depth to the chicken . Whatever happens , though , we almost always serve this luscious chicken over spinach linguini ( delverde is our family favorite).

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

Serves 4 to 6

1  1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast , cut crosswise into 3 pieces

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tbs olive oil

5 tbs butter , divided

3/4 cup chopped onion ( I use shallots )

1 lb cremini mushrooms , sliced

1/2 cup sundried tomatoes , sliced ( optional )

2 tbs minced garlic

1 cup dry Marsala wine

1 cup ( 8 oz ) marcarpone chees

2 tbs Dijon Mustard

2 tbs chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 tbs chopped fresh rosemary ( optional )

1 tbs balsamic vinegar ( optional )

pinch red pepper flakes ( optional)

12 oz dried fettucini

Sprinkle chicken with salt , pepper , rosemary and balsamic ( if using ). Heat oil in a heavy large skillet over high heat . Add the chicken and cook just until brown , about 4 minutes per side . transfer the chicken to a plate and cool slightly .

While the chicken cools , melt 2 tbs of butterto the same skillet over medium high heat , then add onion or shallots and saute until tender about 2 minutes . Add mushrooms and garlic and saute until mushrooms are tender and juices evaporate , about 12 minutes . Add wine and simmer until it is reduced by half, about 4 minutes . Stir in the Marscarpone and mustard. Add red pepper flakes ( if using ).

Cut the chicken breasts crosswise into 1/3 inch thick slices . Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet . Simmer , uncovered , over medium low heat until the chicken is just cooked through and the sauce thickens slightly , about 2 minutes . Stir in the chopped parsley . Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper .

Meanwhile , bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccini and cook until al dente . Toss the fettuccini with 3 tbs of butter and season to taste with salt and pepper . Swirl the pasta onto serving plates . Spoon the chicken mixture over top . Garnish , serve .

Lemon-grass grilled rack of lamb with tamarind sauce


Ever since this recipe was featured in the New York Times , my family has enjoyed the delicious , complex flavor of this dish . This recipe is great both on the grill and under the broiler due to the sugart marinade that helps to brown the meat easily . Once grilled drizzle the tamarind sauce on to the ribs giving a really beautiful appearance and complex flavor , typical of Vietnamese food .

Adapted from The New York Times

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

4 stalks lemon grass , trimmed and minced

4 shallots , peeled

2 Thai chilies , or 1 small jalapeno , stemmed and seeded or about 1 tsp crushed red chili flakes or to taste

1/2 cup sugar

1 tbs neutral oil , like corn or canola

2 tbs fish sauce

2 small racks of lamb , about 1  1/4 lbs each , cut into riblets

salt and pepper

Tamarind sauce

Combine lemon grass with shallots , chilies , sugar and oil in a mortar and pestle or a food processor , or mince finely with a knife . Add fish sauce , sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper and marinate it in this mixture for 2 to 3 hours , wrapped and refridgerated .

Start grill . Rake coals so fire is quite hot on one side and cooler on the other ,and grill rack is about 4 inches from the heat . Grill lamb , starting on hot part of grill , until crusty , turning as necessary . move it to cooler part if it threatens to char. Cook until an instant read thermometer inserted into center of meat measures 125 to 130 degrees for rare ; this will take 10 to 15 minutes , serve hot , with tamarind sauce .

TAMARIND SAUCE

1/2 lb dried tamarind pods or 1 lb tamarind paste

1/2 cup sugar or to taste

2 tbs fish sauce or to taste

Simmer pods ( with their husks ) or paste in hot water to cover , stirring and mashing until soft , about 10 minutes for pods , 5 for paste . If you use pods , remove husks . Press pulp and seeds in a fine sieve .

While warm , stir in sugar and fish sauce to taste . Serve hot , with lamb ( sauce can be refridgerated for about a day and reheated just before serving ; add a little water or lime juice if necessary to thin it out )

Fantastic Thumbprint cookies


Ever since I started making these cookies I have had multiple requests for more and the recipe . I must confess this is a great recipe from Ina Garten , more commonly referred to as the barefoot contessa . I have made a few minor changes to the recipe . For one thing I reduced the amount of sugar by a 1/4 cup as I found 1 cup too sweet . I increased the vanilla by a little extra , I cannot stress the importance of a good extract , I love Neisen Massy , it really makes a difference . I omitted some of the all purpose flour and added some rice flour .It really gives a light airy texture to the cookie . Lastly , I omitted the beaten egg , for the wash and replaced it with some whole milk , for all my friends with egg allergies . It did not affect the taste or texture of the cookie at all .

Adapted from Ina Garten

32 cookies

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

3/4 lb ( 3 sticks ) unsalted butter , at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar ( I use superfine sugar , it really gives the cookie a finer crumb )

1  1/2 tsp good quality Vanilla ( such as Neilsen Massy )

3   1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup rice flour

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4   to 1/2 cup whole milk

7  oz sweetened flake coconut

Raspberry or apricot jam ( seedless raspberry jam tastes great in these cookies )

Preheat oven to 350*F.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment , cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla.

Seperately , sift together the flour ,salt and rice flour . With the mixer on low speed , add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar . Mix until the dough starts to come together ( Do not overmix at this point ) Dump on a floured board and roll together in a flat disk ( this is a very important step , as the dough rests and is easier to proceed to the next step ). Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes .

Roll the dough into 1  1/4 inch balls . Dip each ball in the milk and then roll in the coconut. Place balls on ungreased cookie sheet ( I use parchment paper to line the sheets ) and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger ( I use the back of a wooden spoon ) .

Bake 20 to 25 minutes , until the coconut is a golden brown .

Cool and serve .

Quick Paneer Tikka


Whenever I find a recipe that tastes great and is quick and easy to make , I go for it . My family is crazy for paneer , an Indian cheese , closest in taste to ricotta , but much firmer and left to drain till it forms firmly into a cheese . Typically it is then cut and deep or shallow fried for a crusty exterior and a hot tender inside . The only real change I made to this recipe is the addition of some red food color and I omitted the green peppers , as I prefer the paneer without it .

Serves 4

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

1 lb paneer ( available from Indian markets )

2 medium green bell peppers , cut into 1 inch pieces

3 tbs oil

1 tsp chaat masala

MARINADE

1/2 cup thickened yoghurt ( I use Greek yoghurt )

1 tsp each ginger and garlic paste

1/2 tsp red chili powder

a pinch of turmeric powder

1/2 tsp garam masala powder

2 to 3 tbs heavy cream

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

salt to taste  

1/4 tsp red food color ( optional)   

Cut paneer into 1  1/2 inch squares with half inch thickness .

Mix together all the ingredients of the marinade and marinade the paneer cubes in it for about 15 minutes . Heat oil in a saute pan, place in paneer cubes and fry till golden and crisp on the surface . Drain on absorbant paper .

Toss the bell peppers in the remaining marinade and saute them in the remaining oil in the pan for 2 to 3 minutes . Place a pepper piece on each paneer cube and pierce with a toothpick . sprinkle chaat masala and serve hot.

The best classic shortbread


I found myself singing ” Silver Bells ” the last few days , it is the holiday season , after all . I was getting ready for all my holiday cookie baking , when I decided to bake up some “silver bells ” , using my true tried and all time favorite shortbread cookie dough . The dough cuts out and keeps its shape once bake very well . They are rich and buttery , so they keep really well for a couple of weeks , making them great for holiday giving and shipping . I think the secret to this simple 4 ingredient cookie is the cold , unsalted butter that provides the smooth rich texture of a cookie that just melts in your mouth ! O and as if that was not enough , classic shortbread is almost always eggless !

Fine Cooking

Yields about 4 dozen 1 1/2 by 2 inch bars

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

Preheat oven to 300*F

1/2 lb ( 1 cup cold unsalted butter , cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 cup granulated sugar ( I prefer superfine , just pulse in the food processor 4 or 5 times )

1/2 tsp table salt

10  oz ( 2  1/4 cups ) all purpose flour

1 tsp good vanilla extract ( I add this as I love vanilla , here a good extract makes all the difference , optional)

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment ( or in a large bowl with a hand mixer ) , combine the butter , sugar and salt on low speed until the butter combines with the sugar but isn’t perfectly smooth , 1 to 2 minutes . Add vanilla , if using , and combine .

Add the flour and mix on low speed , scraping the bowl frequently , until the dough has just about pulled together , about 3 minutes ;don’t overmix .

Roll , cut and bake for 30 to 60 minutes.

Almond or Hazelnut cookies


During the holidays , especially when the first sign of flurries appear , I am ready for my holiday cookies . I must confess , these cresent cookies , made with toasted almonds ( very important , I find , as it intensifies the flavor of the almond and gives the cookie a crisper texture ) , are my favorite . Normally the cookies are rolled in powdered sugar , but I use just a dusting , its just the right amount . I made slightly larger cookies to pack as individual gifts , but , round , crescents or even cigar shapes are attractive .

Adapted from cook’s illustrated

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

 2 cups hazelnuts , toasted or a scant 1  3/4 cups whole blanched almonds ( preferably toasted )

2 cups bleached all purpose flour

3/4 tsp table salt

1/2 lb (2 sticks ) unsalted butter , softened

1/3 cup superfine sugar

1  1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract ( if using almonds )

1  1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar for rolling cooled cookies ( I used less than 1 cup as I just sifted the sugar on top )

Adjust oven racks to upper and lowe middle positions and heat oven to 325*F . Mix 1 cup chopped nuts , flour and salt in medium bowl . In workbowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade , process remaining chopped nutsuntil the texture of coarse cornmeal , 10 to 15 seconds ( do not overprocess );stir into flour mixture and set aside.

In bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed or by hand , beat butter and sugar until light and creamy , about 1  1/2 minutes with an electric mixer or 4 minutes by hand ; beat in extracts . Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula; add flour mixture and beat at low speed until dough just begins to come together but still looks scrappy , about 15 seconds . Beat at low speed until mixture just comes together , 6 to 9 seconds ( do not overbeat .

Working with about 1 tbs dough at a time , roll and shape cookies into balls or other desired shape . Bake until tops are pale golden and bottoms are just beginning to brown , turning cookie sheets from front to back and switching from top to bottom racks halfway through baking , 17 to 19 minutes .

Cool cookies on sheets about 2 minutes ;remove to cooling rack to cool completely . Then either roll each cookie in powdered sugar or simply dust with powdered sugar.