3.14.2015

White & Dark Chocolate Millionaire's Shortbread

I cannot get over how easy and delicious this treat is. It is originally from England and its called "millionaire's" shortbread for a reason. As you can see from the picture above, it has multiple layers of heavenly goodness. It starts from shortbread on the bottom layer (flour, butter, sugar thats it!), caramel in the middle and white & dark chocolate on top. How can you go wrong with these ingredients? It takes about an hour to make and can be stored up to two weeks. I made these for a lecture at work for all my co-workers and they disappeared quickly of course. They certainly are decadent and all you need is one piece of this to be satisfied (usually, lol).

I am certainly not a baker because I like to get creative with the ingredients.  I would call myself a savory cook, for sure. This recipe does not require a precise baker and is one of the easiest and delicious cookies you have ever had. I can surely make that guarantee!
My husband has a major sweet tooth so I had to keep these away from him as much as I possibly could.

Most of our weeknights I cook even with our busy schedule. There are many reasons for this- I love to cook (this may not apply to everyone and I understand that), it's cheaper than eating out or ordering in and its lower in calories. I am a 20 something year old girl and I can empathesize with anyone living alone and working hard jobs. I understand the difficulty of cooking after work. I am a resident physician, I can tell you this is the busiest I will ever get in my career but I found time to cook, not only to be creative but to create a time to cherish with my husband. At many times we cook  and enjoy the recipes together. I would encourage everyone to cook at home as much as they can to stay in shape, save money and keep a traditional dinner alive. We try to restrict ourselves with 1-2 weeknights to have dessert usually and I would not say we would eat this recipe everyday but its okay once in a while ;-).
Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Please email me your additional suggestions or constructive comments on this recipe on shuchie.jaggi@gmail.com


Ingredients:
Shortbread:
1 1/2 Cup of All-purpose flour
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup of Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon of Salt

Caramel Layer
1 1/2 Cans of Condensed Milk (14 ounce cans)
1/2 Stick of Unsalted Butter

1/2 pound of  Dark Chocolate Chips
1/2 pound of White chocolate Chips

Directions:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
2. Using a hand mixer, mix together all-purpose flour, room-temperature butter, sugar and salt. They should resemble peas.
3. Set your batter on the bottom of a 8 x12 inch dish
4. Bake the shortbread mixture for approximately 20-25 minutes until it is golden brown on the edges.
5.In a saucepan, melt butter and then add in the condensed milk.
6. Stir until it appears to be amber colored (Approximately 15 minutes).
7. Layer your caramel mixture on top of the baked shortbread. Let it set for 10 minutes on room temperature.
8. Place a glass bowl on top of a saucepan and melt white chocolate.
9. Once the caramel layer is cooled, pour the melted white chocolate on top. Make sure it covers the entire shortbread. Cool for 10-15 minutes.
10. Repeat Step 9 with dark chocolate. Pour on top of the cooled white chocolate.
11. Place in the refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes.
12. Cut into 1 x 2 inch pieces and devour. It could be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.



2.23.2015

Garlicky' Kale Chips


After coming back from work and before dinner is ready, I am always looking to eat a quick snack. It is a tough time when hunger levels are super high. This is the time when most of us turn to unhealthy snacking such as potato chips, ice cream, cookies etc. They surely are unnecessary and non-nutritious calories right before dinner. A great way to deal with the hunger pangs are through these super yummy, salty kale chips. We sometimes do not even realize that the behind these crispy chips lies a superfood; Kale. It is packed with vitamins and minerals and are low in calories. Sometimes, I pack them with me to work for the next day and it goes very well with sandwiches. Remember extra-virgin olive oil that was great for reducing cardiovascular risk? It is part of this recipe and contributes to the good calories.Try this easy recipe and store kale chips as your next snack!

Ingredients:
4 Cups of Kale (Coarsely Chopped)
2 Tablespoons of Extra-Virgin
1 Teaspoon of Garlic Powder
Salt to Taste (2 Teaspoons preferable)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. In a large Ziploc bag, add all of the above-mentioned ingredients together. Shake the bag well, until all the kale leaves are covered with the olive oil. Place the contents of the bag, onto a flat cookie baking sheet and place in the oven. The chips should be crispy by the end and will take approximately 30 minutes, flip them once in the middle. 

2.19.2015

Koshari (National Dish of Egypt)


My occasional cravings for Koshari do occur on a monthly basis when I feel like having a satisfying meal. Koshari is considered Egypt's street food. Street food just by its name has to be delicious. In New York it is the halal carts, with chicken and rice, Malaysia; curry puffs, India; Chaat  and if we have tasted any of these we know how delectable they are.  The reason  this one to be different is because no other meal has rice, pasta and chickpeas altogether. It is just not the usual combination of ingredients for us in the United states. Believe me it is so satisfying when topped with a mediterranean style thick tomato sauce and crispy fried onions, A huge burst of flavor in all honesty. It makes for a quick fun meal and is sure to be a great party dish as well.
The way I initially learnt this recipe was through one of my Egyptian friends when we held a "Koshari party". Yes, it is certainly worth a party! Our cooking party was so much fun with music and learning authentic cuisine.  She taught me the right way of making it and it was really a fun girl's night in. It ended with the satisfaction of delicious Koshari! As you can see from the picture there is nothing too complicated but it is an unusual medley of ingredients.
It is important to use long-grain rice in this recipe because the flavor profile is completely different. At the same time, we do not do this on a normal basis but the onion topping has to be stir fried until it is almost burnt. I hope you enjoy this amazing recipe as much as I do and bring a little taste of Egyptian street food to your house.

Ingredients:


Long Grain  Wild Rice (1 Cup)
2 Cups of Water
1 Can of Garbanzo Beans (240 ml) (Drained)
1 Cup of boiled pasta ( Spirals or Macaroni or Rigatoni)
1 Can of  Tomato Sauce (15 ounces)
2 Tablespoons of Salted Butter
2 Teaspoons of Paprika
1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2 Teaspoons of Cumin
Salt & Pepper
1 Bouillon Cube (Vegetable)
2-3 Cloves of Garlic (Minced)
2 Large Onions ( 1 Onion Minced in very small pieces, 1 Onion in rounded slices)
(Optional: 1 Teaspoon of Garam Masala)

Directions:
In a saucepan on medium heat start by melting a tablespoon of butter. Once it appears semi solid, add in the bouillon cube and stir until well mixed with the butter. Pour in the wild rice( raw) and toast all the flavors together on low-to medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the water and cover with the lid for at least 15 minutes until the rice appears to be well cooked.  Check the rice by tasting it and if still appears to be raw, can add 1/2 cup more water and cook for another 5 minutes.
In the mean time, in a skillet start by adding 1 tablespoon of butter on medium heat. Cook the sliced rounded onions (stirring occasionally) until they appear dark-brown to black (5-7 minutes). Set aside once done. In the same skillet on medium heat add in the minced onions and cook until they appear translucent (2-3 minutes). Then add in the minced garlic, paprika, salt, cayenne pepper, cumin (optional garam masala for extra depth of flavor).  Stir them well, if it appears dry, extra teaspoon of butter could be added. Now when it appears well mixed (pasty), pour in the tomato sauce. On low heat stirring occasionally, simmer the sauce until it appears to thick (10-15 minutes).
Finally in a bowl, place a layer of boiled warm pasta then the drained garbanzo beans. Place the warm wild rice on top of the garbanzo beans and finally top with the tomato sauce and crispy onions.

Bon Appetite!

2.13.2015

Valentine's Day Dinner





Valentine's day, though is a hallmark-inspired holiday (at least in my opinion) but is always a fun day to tell your loved one how much you appreciate them. What better way than cooking a meal for your significant other? This meal was made by me yesterday as a pre-valentines day dinner for my husband and I made it in under 2 hours. I believe you can too! Honestly, I think I won a lot of brownie points for this effort. Each part of this meal included a theme of Valentines day. A touch of raspberry or heart shaped polenta kept the love alive in this meal.
Starting with Thai Ice tea which you see in the upper left corner included fresh raspberries and mint which was so perfectly sweet and refreshing. I started off our dinner by bringing out this drink first and he absolutely loved it. If I remember correctly he drank 3 of those in one night. For sure I would say it was successful :-)
My appetizer was Tapenade(right upper corner) which included green and kalamata olives, capers, parsley etc as few of the ingredients. You can understand the freshness and flavors that was included. I cut out fresh strawberry slices in heart shapes and topped the tapenade with it. It was perfectly sweet and cut through the sour/bitter flavor of the olives.
Heart shaped polenta and white bean ragout(left lower corner) were the perfect combination and really kept the valentines day theme going. The polenta was perfectly soft and paired well with the tomato sauce in the ragout.
White chocolate mousse(right lower corner) was the final excitement. It was the best ending to the Valentines Day dinner. The white chocolate with the raspberries and mint was so perfect and it was super decadent so you would not need too much of it and have leftovers for the next day.
I hope you enjoy your meal and you do not have to go beyond this article to make the perfect meal!

Thai Iced Tea

Ingredients:
5 Cups of Water
6 Teabags of Black Tea
4-5 Cloves of Cardamom
7 Ounces Condensed Milk
10 Fresh Raspberries
4-5 Leaves of Mint
1/2 Cup of Sugar

Directions:
In a saucepan, bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Add in the tea bags and let it boil until the water appears tea-colored. Then drop in the cardamom after you have crushed them and add the sugar. Boil for 2-3 minutes and then the saucepan can be removed from the stove and you can let the tea cool down for 2-3 minutes. Now add in the condensed milk and mix well with a spoon and the pour the tea into a jug. Place the jug in the refrigerator and let it cool for an hour. Before serving add raspberries and mint on a skewer and place in the glass to give a Valentines day effect! Before serving, drop in a few raspberries, ice and mint into the tea.


Tapenade with Strawberries


1/2 of a French Baguette
2-3 Fresh Strawberries ( Sliced and cut into heart shapes)
7-8 Capers
10 Green Olives
10 Kalamata Olives
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
3-4 Leaves of Basil
Salt & Pepper
1 Red Onion (Sliced)
3-4 Cloves of Garlic

Directions:
Heat a frypan on medium heat and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil. After the oil appears to be heated, add in the sliced onions and cook until golden brown and then remove and place in the food processor. Add in the capers, olives (green and kalamata), basil, olive oil, garlic salt and pepper into the food processor and then chop for less than 10 seconds at a time up to 3-4 times. It should be a rough chop and should not be too "pasty". Slice the french baguette (fresh) and spread the tapenade and serve with fresh (heart shaped) strawberries!


Heart Shaped Polenta with White Bean Ragout

Polenta:
1 3/4 cup of Cornmeal
6 Cups of Water
3 Tablespoons of Butter
2 Teaspoons of Salt

White Bean Ragout:
1 Onion (Round Slices)
3-4 Garlic (Minced)
240 ml of Tomato Sauce
Salt and Pepper
2 Teaspoon of Crushed Red Pepper
1 Teaspoon of Oregano
1 Can of Cannellini Beans
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil

Directions:
Boil 6 cups of water on medium heat in the saucepan. Add in two teaspoons of salt. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal and cook for 15-17 minutes and whisk occasionally (now on low heat).  Place in a flat large container and let cool. When it is set well, cut into heart shaped pieces before serving.

Ragout:

In a skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add in the onions and cook until golden-brown. Now add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Pour in the tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Sprinkle in the salt, pepper, oregano and crushed red pepper. Finally, add in the cannellini beans (drained before). The key to this recipe is to cook the sauce for 15-20 minutes on low heat until it appears to be thick.
Finally, plate the sauce first and place the heart shaped polenta on top!

White Chocolate Mousse with Raspberries

7 Ounces of Condensed Milk
1/2 Cup of White Chocolate Morsels
4 Ounces of Cool Whip
1 Graham Cracker Crust
4-5 Fresh Raspberries
2-3 Sprigs of Mint

In a saucepan on low-medium heat add in the cool whip, let it liquify. Now pour in the condense milk and the white chocolate morsels. Stir together until the mixture is completely homogenous. Now pour into the graham cracker crust. Place the mixture into the refrigerator for 30 minutes or more. When set, place raspberries and mint in the middle and serve!


This brings together all 4 recipes to create one amazing meal! Happy Valentine's Day!






1.12.2015

Moroccan ChickPea Patties


Surely this was the day I barely had any ingredients at home. I was out of fresh vegetables and without them I was totally out of ideas for lunch. I looked in the pantry and was delighted to see chickpeas and tomato sauce (canned of course!). I knew this would make for a beautiful meal and it is totally easy to make too. So I put my thinking cap on and decided to go the mediterranean route with aromatic flavors of cumin and paprika. I think cumin may be one of my favorite spices because in all my dishes it always adds this depth of flavor and  heat. I cannot place in words what level it takes my recipes too. So this time I decided to do the same and made chickpea patties with a mediterranean flavored tomato sauce. It was so light and refreshing that I was energized and satisfied for the rest of my day.
During my days in residency ( I am an Internal Medicine Resident, by the way), cooking has been my escape. Through my tough days, cooking dinner and experimenting in new ways is what has got me through. I do not think I could have completed my days in residency without being a chef in my kitchen. There were days when my patients did not have the best outcome. It was not anyones fault sometimes not even their own. Then I would question myself why did this happen? Being depressed and angry I would come home and not wanting to go on another day. However, I have realized to be sane during residency you need a passion beyond medicine. I am very happy I found mine. Through, cooking I can express my emotions and sometimes the love and spirituality that I get from being a physician. This blog is not only my oasis but sometimes my escape.

Back to the recipe now! This sophisticated and flavorful meal can be made under 40 minutes and will surely make your spouse or children happy. It can be placed in pita bread or in just plain whole wheat slices and just spread the sauce and it will make for a great meal for a larger family. Let me know how you like it! Stay tuned for more fun recipes coming your way :)

Ingredients:
1 Can of ChickPeas (15.5 Ounce Can)
1/4 Cup of Bread Crumbs
1 Egg
1 Tablespoon of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 Teaspoons of Paprika
2 Teaspoons of Cumin
Salt & Pepper

Tomato Sauce:
1 Can Tomato Sauce (29 Ounces)
Salt & Pepper
1 Teaspoon Cumin
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon Nutmeg
A Pinch of Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 Fresh Plum Tomato (Finely Chopped for Garnishing)

Directions:
In a food processor, place the canned chickpeas and chop until fine but not pureed. Make sure you see smaller pieces of chickpeas in your food processor when done. Place the chickpeas in a small bowl, sprinkle in the cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients well. Then pour in the breadcrumbs and break one egg into the mixture. Using a big spoon, mix the ingredients well together. It is should make a semi-solid homogenous mixture. If it appears to be too liquid, add in the extra bread crumbs. Using your hands, make into small round patties. it should make approximately 4-6 patties. Heat a skillet on medium heat and pour in the olive oil. Individually place each patty on your skillet. Once a single side is brown, flip them and cook the other side. Place aside when done!

For the sauce, start by heating a saucepan on medium heat. Pour in the olive oil and when it appears to be heated pour in the tomato sauce. Start my sprinkling salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and cumin. Finally when the sauce is bubbly and aromatic, add a pinch of cinnamon. Let the sauce simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes. When done serve with the chickpea Patties!

Bon Appetite!