Sev ni Biranj (Sweet Vermicelli/Sevai)

September 3, 2008

Sev biranj is a dessert that was made often at our home back in India. Biranj being one of my favorite desserts, everytime I visited India, the relatives would invite me for lunch/dinner and the dessert would be biranj. I am not trying to be rude, but none of those would taste near as delicious as the way mom made it. I guess that is how everyone feels about the dishes cooked by moms.


Anyway, I was craving it last week after thinking about it for weeks. One call to mom on skype and I had the recipe. It is so simple and yet beyond delicious. You can either make it with milk or water. Also any dry fruits would work in this dish. especially toasted almonds. I hope y’all enjoy it as much as I do 🙂


Recipe: Sev Biranj (Sweet Vermicelli/Sevai)
(Serves 2)


1 cup Sev (I used wheat vermicelli)
3/4 cup boiling milk/water (+/-)
1/4 cup sugar (or per your taste)
3 cardamom pods (seeds crushed)
1 Tbsp ghee (clarified butter)


Heat ghee in a pan and once hot add vermicelli to it. Roast the vermicelli till it becomes brownish. You’ll know when its roasted from the aroma. While it is roasting, boil milk (or water) in a saucepan. Once the vermicelli is roasted add the boiled milk (or water) to it. Be careful, there will be some splatters. Reduce the heat to low-medium and let vermicelli cook. When the milk (or water) is completely evaporated, add sugar to it while continuously mixing it. Once sugar melts, add crushed cardamom or any other dry fruits you would prefer. Serve it immediately.


Strawberry Mascarpone Crepes topped with Baked Strawberries

August 22, 2008

With end of summer nearing, I am grabbing all the berries I can. Especially strawberries and blueberries. So of course I end up with a huge quantity of berries…more than I can handle. Same thing happened last week and I had to find some way to use them before they spoiled. Trying to find some ideas, I came across this recipe at A Life (Time) of Cooking. The recipe is so simple and yet so delicious. If you have not tried it yet, please please do try it.


I baked the strawberries and stored them in the refrigerator for next day’s breakfast. The crepes filled with strawberry mascarpone were cheesy, sweet and just yummy!

This entry goes to:
1. MBP – Fruit Fare hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen. MBP is the brain child of Coffee of The Spice Cafe.


2. WBB – Combi Breakfasts hosted by Latha of Masala Magic. WBB was originally started by Nandita of Saffron Trail.




Recipe: Strawberry Mascarpone Crepes topped with Baked Strawberries
(Serves 2, Makes 4 crepes)


Baked Strawberries

1-1/2 cup strawberries
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 cardamom pod


3/8 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
3/8 cup milk (I used 2%)
1.5 tsp sugar
3 tsp butter (melted)
a pinch of salt


1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 tsp agave nectar
1 Tbsp baked strawberries


For Baked Strawberries, preheat the oven at 350 degrees F, hull the strawberries and place them in a baking dish. Add agave nectar, crushed cardamom seeds, and cinnamon stick to the baking dish. Mix the ingredients in the baking dish and bake for 30 mins.

For strawberry-mascarpone filling, add 1 Tbsp of baked strawberries and agave nectar to mascarpone. Mix till you get a smooth mixture.

For crepes, whisk flour, egg, milk, sugar, salt, and butter together to form a smooth batter. Refrigerate the mix for 30 mins. Heat a skillet and brush some butter in the skillet. Pour a small portion (1/8 cup) of batter into the pan. Tilt the pan till you get a thin layer of batter in the pan. Cook until brown on the bottom, approx. 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the crepe over and cook on the other side for about 30 secs. Transfer to a plate and repeat till all batter is used up.

For assembling the crepes, add a small amount of (about 2 Tbsp) of strawberry mascarpone to the crepe and roll it. Top off the crepes with remaining baked strawberries. Serve immediately.

Grilled Peach Napoleon

August 11, 2008

Somehow on weekends we end up having late breakfast/brunch which messes up our whole schedule for dinner. This results of course in us being hungry by 4 pm..which further means that we are no longer hungry by dinner time…so what happens then? Same thing happened last Sunday. I wasn’t hungry for a heavy meal, but was in mood for something light. Additionally, I had two events to participate in. So to kill several birds with one stone, enters grilled peach with cardamom flavored mascarpone.


I usually grill peaches and add a dollop of mascarpone cheese on top. But on Sunday I guess I had more time on my hands than I realized and went ahead to make perfect rounds of the peaches and decorating the dish. Not that any of it took much time.

The end result was sweet peaches with creamy cardamom mascarpone and so easy to make. I did not realize, but peaches and strawberries compliment each other very well. There are many alterations you can do with this recipe. I might try this with blueberries..or make blueberry mascarpone. Also, you can substitute cardamom with cinnamon. Yummy!


This entry will go to:
1. Monthly Mingle – Grill It! started by Meeta of What’s For Lunch Honey? and hosted this month by Sig of Live to Eat. You can find all the previous Monthly Mingle round-ups on Meeta’s blog here.

2. Think Spice – Favorite hosted at Sunita’s World. With cardamom being my favorite spice, this recipe is perfect for this amazing event.


Recipe: Grilled Peach Napoleon
(Serves 2)


2 peaches (not too ripe)
4 Tbsp Mascarpone cheese
1/2 tsp honey
1 pod cardamom – skin discarded and seeds crushed
butter for brushing the grill
2 strawberries – thinly sliced


In a bowl, mix mascarpone cheese, honey, and cardamom. Slice the peaches about 1/2 inch thick. Brush some butter over the hot grill. Lay the peach slices on the grill. Turn the peach slices over after 3-4 mins or after they are soft and have nice grill marks. Let them cook on the other side for another 3-4 mins. Once the peach slices are done, use a cookie cutter to make the perfect rounds. Let the peaches cool.

For assembly, lay one slice of peach on the plate and add a layer of mascarpone mix over the slice. Add another layer of peach slice and mascarpone mix. End with a slice of peach on top. Garnish with sliced strawberry.

Wickedly Good Brownies

August 8, 2008

As I mentioned in my last post, my mother-in-law was visiting us for a few days. One of her favorite desserts is brownie. J, who does not care for desserts (unlike me, give me anything sweet and I’ll gobble it down!), loves brownies. We have been married for 3 yrs now, and I have never had courage to bake brownies. Back then, oven for me was this shiny cool (and I mean literally!) piece of appliance to store some cast iron pans.


But the new partisan cook in me jumped at the idea of baking brownies for both MIL and J. I searched high and low for a brownie recipe and when I saw Dorie Greenspan’s “French Chocolate Brownie”, my eyes sparkled. I knew this was THE recipe (which was very surprising having never baked them before).

My MIL’s sister, Aunt L, is an amazing cook. So when my MIL said “L would be so jealous.” I thought it was the biggest compliment I could get. 😀 The brownies were soooo chocolatey, almost like fudge. The crispy, crackly choclolate skin against the soft, moist, gooey interior ….was sooo good! If you like chewy brownies rather than fudgy, I think (gurus out there, please correct me if I am worng) you could increase the quantity of flour. Either way, this recipe is a keeper! Without further ado, here is the recipe. Hope y’all enjoy it as much as we did.



Recipe: Brownies
(Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s “French Chocolate Brownie”)
(Makes 16 small pieces)


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
6 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar


Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil and set aside. Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It’s important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.

Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter mix, mixing only until it is incorporated—you’ll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won’t be completely incorporated and that’s fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula.

Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.

Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares.

These taste great warm or cold!

Ice Cream with Caramelized Bananas

August 3, 2008

What do you do when you have a heat advisory in effect 😕 Do some gardening? Yeah right! But that’s exactly what J did. He had an itch to do some cleaning up in the yard and the 105 F temperatures did not deter him from going to a nursery to get new plants and planting them. After he was done with planting, he was literally panting! So to cool him off (after drinking a ton of water) I decided to get him some ice cream with some bananas that needed to consumed.


Natural sugar in banana (for that matter pretty much every fruit) helps them caramelize very well. Caramelizing bananas gives this sticky crunch (a little bit) to them…Yummy! You could also top caramelized bananas over pancakes.



Recipe: Caramelized Bananas
(Serves 2)


2 Ripe Bananas (Not overly ripe)
3/4 tsp maple syrup
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1-1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter


Slice the bananas length wise and then halve them (make 4 pieces from each banana). Melt the butter in a pan. Add maple syrup and stir well. Now add the bananas and walnuts to the pan. Let the bananas sit for about 4-5 mins…or till they caramelize. Turn the bananas and cook them on the other side for another 4-5 mins. That’s it…they are ready to be served with ice cream or pancakes or just by themselves!

Meeta’s Chocoholics’ Cake and Manhattan

July 29, 2008

I was very excited when Zlamushka of Spicy Kitchen chose Meeta’s What’s For Lunch, Honey? blog for the Tried and Tasted Blog event.


Meeta’s blog is one of my favorite blogs. Her blog is full of delicious recipes, amazing photos, mouth watering desserts (some of them I had never heard of 🙂 ). Her passion and love for cooking is an inspiration to me. Though I am a regular visitor to her site, I had never made an attempt to cook any of her recipes. Her recipes looked so good and beautiful that I really don’t know why I didn’t try her recipes earlier.

I had J look at Meeta’s blog and select something that is vegetarian and something he would like to eat. And guess what he picked! His first choice was the Manhattan drink and then the Chocoholics’ Cake. J loved his Manhattan. In fact, I had to make a second one for him. I tried it too, but it was a little too strong for me. Both of us had never had bitters in a drink, and I do have to say it did bring a nice flavor to the drink. However, it took me a while to convert Meeta’s metric measures..but the end product was worth every bit of time 🙂


The Chocoholics’ Cake was also out of this world. The addition of the blackberry spread to the cake is genius. It kept the cake moist and gave rich color to the cake. I followed Meeta’s recipe for cake exactly. However, I did double the recipe of the chocolate was too good to not make a little bit more 🙂



Chocoholics’ Cake Recipe
(Adapted from Meeta of What’s For Lunch, Honey?)


For Cake:

1-1/2 cups of All purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli)
1 cup milk at room temperature
1/2 cup butter (at room temperature)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
3/4 cup seedless blackberry fruit
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

For Chocolate Frosting

1 Ghirardelli Semi-sweet Baking Chocolate Bar (113 gm) – Chopped
2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 Tbsp butter
6 tsp heavy whipping cream


In a bowl, add both the granulated and confectioner’s sugar with butter and mix with an electric mixer until the mixture becomes creamy. Break an egg, mix for a min. and then add another egg. Mix for another min. Add vanilla essence and blackberry seedless fruit and mix well. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and milk and mix till you obtain a smooth batter. Preheat the oven at 350 degree F. Butter an 8 inch x 8 inch pan. Pour the cake batter into the pan. Bake the cake in the oven for 45 mins.

For Chocolate frosting, heat the chopped chocolate, butter, whipping cream and sugar in a pot over gentle heat till you get a smooth mixture.

Once the cake is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool. Once the cake has cooled down, apply the chocolate frosting evenly over the top of the cake. Let it set for 15-20 mins and then cut a piece and enjoy!

Creme Brulee French Toast

July 20, 2008

I had seen recipe for Creme Brulee French Toast on Epicurious a long time ago, but had never tried it. When I saw that Sia of Monsoon Spice is guest hosting WBB-Weekend Breakfast with the theme being to cook a breakfast/brunch dish with summer vegetables or fruits, I was ecstatic. Now I had a reason to make this amazing dish.


Off I went to Central Market (I don’t have a farmers’s market closeby), where I saw different varieties of fresh berries and cherries. I realized how perfect using these summer fruits would be for Sia’s WBB-Weekend Breakfast blog event. Berries are very good for you as they are rich in antioxidants..You can find how good the berries are for you here. Making the french toast was super easy because I did the major work (which was hardly major!) the night before. The following morning all I had to do was mix all the berries and diced bananas in a bowl so that all the fruits marinate in their juices for a while and bake the french toast! I served it with the rasberries, strawberries, blackberries and bananas.


I did make a few changes in the recipe. I did not add the corn syrup (as the brown sugar was quite enough) and instead of grand marnier I used Triple Sec (that’s what I had). The result, was rich, creamy, french toast. J did not enjoy it as much as it was super rich and mushy. I liked it but would probably make it once a year ..may be Christmas morning!?! I would probably add some nuts to it and also would flip the french toast once it is cooked and cook it further in the oven for another 10 mins for crispy crust. Overall though, it was amazing! Now off it goes to WBB-Weekend Breakfast event 😀