Lemon Velvet – A 3 Ingredient Wonder

Every family has it’s go to recipes, the ones with a totally retro vibe that make a steady appearance at dinner after dinner, but somehow never get boring. For some it is a classic cake or a kheer, but in my family that dessert is Lemon Velvet and the best way I can describe it is as an eggless lemon mousse. It is sweet, tart and utterly luscious. Like most things I like to make it is also a cinch to pull together and can be used in many ways.

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We usually served lemon velvet in a square or rectangular dish, layered with salty buttery Tuc biscuits, stabilized with two spoons of dissolved gelatin and cut in to squares for serving. These days I love prettying it up by serving it in glasses and adding some attitude with crushed gingersnaps. You can also layer it with fruit, spread over meringue, use it as a tart filling – the possibilities are endless.

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(between you and me, it’s yummiest licked of the spatula … shhhh)

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Quick Raspberry Sorbet

People it is hot. Like really hot. I love it. Chalk it down to my desert birth (Jeddah) or my youth in a hot humid city (Karachi), but that lovely skin tingling under the suns rays feeling, that folks, is my happy place. On such a happy day I happened to venture to a local fruit/vegetable store and acquired these babies just because they looked so darn good.

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Then I got home and remembered something – I don’t actually like raspberries. Raspberry flavored things yes, raw raspberries not so much. So then 20 minutes later I had this.

Quick Raspberry Sorbet

It was hot you know, and in my mind sorbets without the cream and eggs of French style ice creams are practically a health food and this one hit the spot. Slightly sweet, slightly tart, and just beautiful to look at it, it’s the perfect cold treat for those last days of summer.

This makes a generous 3 servings which is perfect for us, but if you were having company then I suggest doubling it. Extras aren’t a bad thing 😉

Raspberry Sorbet

2 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (more for a sweeter sorbet)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
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Puree the raspberries and water together. Set a strainer over a large bowl and strain the puree to remove seeds. Whisk in sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice. Taste. Churn in ice cream machine according to manufacturers directions (this small amount took me 10 minutes) or put in a freezer safe container and mix every few hours till it is at your desired level of firmness.

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Crunchy Delicious Hazelnut Sticks

There are biscuits you make to impress people – the pretty kind, the indulgent kind, the kind that you look at and ooh and aah. These are clearly not those biscuits, these are the biscuits that you put into the nearest jar and share with a good friend over coffee and really good conversation. There is something extraordinarily comforting about the crunch of finely chopped hazelnuts toasted to nutty caramelly perfection and I can imagine them disappearing quickly over gossip with friends.

Delicious Hazelnut Crunch Sticks

If you wanted to make these prettier looking you could do so with a little drizzle of chocolate or a dunk in Nutella and some nonpareils. Before gussying them up try them as they are just so you can truly appreciate just how something so simple can be so good.

Added perks? Great hazelnut taste without peeling and toasting hazelnuts AND they are eggless for those avoiding eggs.

Delicious Hazelnut Crunch Sticks

These babies are from Alice Medrich’s book Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy and so far most of the things that I have tried from this book have turned out well including these.

Crunchy Delicious Hazelnut Sticks

On another note, I am sorry for the lack of posts. A crazy combination of time away, failed photos, recipes that I came up with and forgot to write down has meant that I have been an absentee blogger. My instagram followers (@sarahjmir) know that for the most of it I have been cooking and baking away and will have lots to share with you in the coming weeks!

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Thai Crunch Salad with an Absolutely AMAZING Peanut Dressing

Okay so here’s the thing. I am originally from Pakistan and well… traditionally back in the motherland we aren’t so big on raw food i.e. salad. The only ‘traditional’ salad is ‘kachumbar’, a desi spin on pico de gallo. It basically involves some chopped cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, green chilies with a hefty amount of lemon or vinegar and a little salt/pepper.

But this salad – or rather this dressing – this dressing changes everything. I could eat it with anything and everything and had this immensely irrationally urge to hoard it and sit in my closet and eat it all (with the actual salad itself ofcourse). It admittedly has a lot of parts, but they come together so beautifully (and quickly) that I would – and will – make this ten times over. The velvetiness of the peanut butter, the sweetness of the brown sugar, the tartness of the lime – it’s a big ol’ party in my mouth.

Crunchy Thai Salad with an AMAZING Peanut Dressing

At this point I realize it’s a little odd to gush about salad dressing so much, but trust me, this is 100% gushworthy. The recipe is from the amazing blog Once Upon a Chef. I made some changes to the greens, but out of convenience more than anything else which is why I am posting the recipe as it was originally written.

Thai Crunch Salad with Peanut Dressing
Serves 4
Thai Peanut Dressing:
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, from one lime
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2-1/2 tablespoons sugar (I used brown)
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1-inch square piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
Salad:
4 cups chopped Napa cabbage or shredded coleslaw mix (I like to toss in a little shredded red cabbage for color)
1 cup prepared shredded carrots
red bell pepper, thinly sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 small English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
1 cup cooked and shelled edamame
2 medium scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup loosely packed chopped fresh cilantro
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Line up all the ingredients, pull out your blender and combine everything but the cilantro in the blender until smooth. Then, add your cilantro and pulse a few times – too much and you will have a green dressing.  Refrigerate until ready to serve
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For the salad, combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine. If serving right away, drizzle the peanut dressing over top and toss; otherwise, serve the dressing on the side so the salad doesn’t get soggy.
Thai Crunch Salad w an AMAZING Peanut Dressing
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Eid Eats 2014 & Chocolate Covered Salted Caramel Ice Cream Stars

Hello everyone and welcome to the first of many Eid Eats! Eid Eats is a virtual Eid potluck party hosted by Asiya at Chocolate and Chilies and myself. Whether you are celebrating Eid this coming week or not you should keep an eye on this post for some delicious inspiration courtesy of some incredible bloggers.

To my Muslim friends I wish you an early Eid Mubarak – hope us bloggers provide you with some scrumptious ideas for your upcoming festivities!

Click on the Eid Eats button below to see what yummies have been prepared for this wonderful occasion and to submit your blog post as well. You can submit links (and check back for updates) till the 29th of July 🙂

Today I am bringing to you a dessert that is part recipe and part idea. In other words you can make it like I did or take the idea and run with it. Either way it should be tons of fun 🙂

Some time ago I had made this star shaped kulfi and since Eid and Chaand Raat (the night the new moon is spotted signifying the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid) reminds me of all things celestial I thought I would go with a fun spin on that idea. I present to you homemade salted caramel icecream in a star shaped chocolate shell with a smattering of edible gold stars scattered across the top.

Chocolate Covered Salted Caramel Icecream Stars w Edible Gold Stars

It is beautiful, luscious, and decadent all at the same time making it utterly celebration worthy.

Now obviously you can use any ice cream that you like, but do remember that a chocolate coating adds an element of sweetness so a less sweet ice cream is ideal. If you have an ice cream machine then this recipe is a must try.

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Aalu Gobi – Spicy Potato and Cauliflower Curry

This one’s for me. I know, I know, that sounds terrible. But it is.

It is so hard to cook like someone else, but for people like me who grew up only eating their mothers cooking so much of our sense of what food ought to taste like comes from mama. The other day I had this sudden craving for this dish, but truth is I had never made it before and I have had several versions of it which I do not like very much. So I took a risk, called my mother and this is the recipe she gave me. And it works. Mama Jafri, bless her heart, isn’t necessarily the most accurate recipe relayer – often times when I would complain about how something didn’t turn out well she would say “oohhh… but if you wanted to make it really good then you should have…”

Aalu Gobi / Spicy Potato and Cauliflower

Like on what planet am I aiming to cook mediocre food?

Anyway, points to Mama J on this one.

The reason I say this one is for me is this: I cannot afford to lose it. And if I scribbled it down  on a piece of paper somewhere then I most certainly would. Seemed best to put it out in the internet-verse where others can have access to it as well.

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Baked Samosas and Eid Party Details!

I’m  backkkkk …. guys isn’t it a little ridiculous how much something as well… common…as the common cold can really get you down? I usually escape these sorts of things, but this time round it got the best of me for a few days – throw teething and the usual sleep deprivation into the mix and well… it hasn’t been pretty round here.

On to happier things – and we have two of them today. One is Eid Eats, the virtual Eid party Asiya at Chocolate & Chillies and I are hosting and the other is a lovely baked samosa recipe that is from Asiya’s blog.

Eid-ul-Fitr has always had a soft spot in my heart – and not just because of the money/’fitri’ we got as kids from all of our relatives 😉  This is the Eid where my family would host an ‘open house’, a way for everyone to get together to celebrate this wonderful occasion. While the traditional sivaiyan and samosas would usually be present at these occasions there would also be some things that I had never made before. This is where I got to experiment and have fun.

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In the spirit of those good times I would like to ask you all to join our virtual Eid party, Eid Eats. Here is how it would work:-

1.) Make any dish of your choosing that you would make for Eid – something new, something old, either goes – write a post and have it ready for the 25th of July 2014.

2.) Link back to both our blogs i.e. Flour & Spice and Chocolate & Chillies and use the button above in all of your posts (pretty cute isn’t it!)

3.) On July 25th, Asiya and I will have our posts up – do remember to add your post to the link up.

4.) Remember to visit and leave comments on participating blogs – who doesn’t like a little bit of love 🙂

Also some of you may recall that Henna at My Ninja Naan was originally supposed to be my co-host, but has had to bow out owing to personal circumstances. Hopefully next year 🙂

Now on to the yumminess at hand.

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A Samosa needs no introduction; this rendition escapes the deep fryer and instead gets a crispy baked exterior with the added flavour punch of ajwain or carom seeds.  I intended to use Asiya’s exact recipe for the filling, but was out of peas and threw in cilantro for some freshness. Folks this one is a keeper. And I am not just saying that because standing over a deep fryer in summer is no fun. The exterior is flaky and flavorful and the spicy filling is simple, but oh-so-good.

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Eggplant, Mushroom, and Spinach Saute

If you asked me a few years ago I would have told you that I categorically do not like eggplants. The usual desi eggplant dishes – baingan ka bharta, bagharay baingan, etc. do not do it for me at all. But then, then something happened. I discovered that you actually  do not have to cook it to soft mushy pulpiness. You can cook it until just tender – a magical point where eggplant pieces retain their ‘skin’ and shape and yield a creamy softness. That friends is my happy point.

This dish meets several of my requirements for something I would make again – it is quick, easy, can be made spicy, and between the eggplant and spinach it is quite healthy for you too. Today’s version was topped with some nice bright feta, but I imagine it would be delicious with some toasted pine nuts strewn on top or even some crispy fried onions.

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The recipe, only mildly tweaked, is from Pretty Delicious by Candice Kumai. I have tried a few of the recipes in this book with mixed results (probably due to my own errors), but I love the premise of the book. Unlike books which tend to be low-fat or low-carb this one takes a FWB (Food With Benefits) approach to food. In a nutshell what we put in our body should nourish it. Sometimes ‘healthy’ cooking tends to focus on minimizing foods impact on us, this book tries to maximize its impact in the best way possible.

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Bhindi ki Sabzi or Spicy Pakistani Style Okra

At the age of 12 I remember telling a family friend that I knew how to cook. When she asked what I could make I rattled off a list of things and when I said “bhindi” (okra) she stopped me and asked how I cook my Okra. I remember being nervous and subsequently relieved that I could ‘remember’ the recipe. My adult self realizes just how funny that was given that this dish has a grand total of 5 ingredients and that’s including the Okra.

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This is one of my favorite ways to eat Okra and it is one of the things I make when I want to eat a dish that reminds me of home. It also cooks pretty quickly which is a huge plus in my book.

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Quick Tomato Tart

This past weekend I had my uncles and their families over for lunch. They were supposed to come around 1 and it was 1:15 when I realized that I had forgotten to make the tomato tart. 15 minutes later I was waiting for it to come out of the oven and despite the fact that I rushed the process a little it still turned out well.

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The recipe is slightly adapted from Ten Dollar Dinners by Melissa D’Arabian and I have made it many times by now. It makes for an especially lovely summer lunch with a side of lightly dressed baby arugula and is equally good as a ‘snack’ on its own. I usually make it in a tart pan, but on one occasion when my tart pan had run away from home I put it out on a baking sheet and found that I quite like the effect.

You can switch the Parmesan out for goat cheese if you prefer. The mustard flavour is mild at best, my mustard hating sister (Yeah, I know, weirdo) enjoyed the tart and didn’t even know there was some Dijon action happening.

The tomatoes are clearly the star here so make sure you get the reddest most beautifully ripe tomatoes you can find!

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