Sunday, February 27, 2011

Gutsy Cooks and HCB'ers share a Sunday

Heavenly Cake Baker's baked one of the most amazing Sticky Toffee Puddings I have ever tasted. A moist, flavorful, a lightly spicy cake, with a decadent lemon toffee sauce, creme fraiche with lemon juice and zest, and toasted pecans. As the fork tines slid into the cake, I knew making this recipe was worth every second.

What was an opening surprise for me was the 8 ounces of stout beer and moist dates. You soak the dates in the beer then puree both together in a food processor. I wasn't sure what to expect since stout beer is a distinguished flavor all its' own.
Then you have the toffee sauce. A lot of fresh lemon juice gets added in to give a citrus edge.

Matched with creme fraiche and toasted pecans, this is one dessert I will remember for a long time.

The Gutsy cooks have been extremely busy as well. Cynthia and Sam are the hosts for this month in the Gutsy Cook Club and chose a main dish of chicken biryani and a dessert; pear, mascarpone, hazelnut tart. I made the Indian chicken biryani, but I followed Monica's wonderful advice over at Sweet Bites; I am so glad I did because after a little research, this is what I found: Aayi's recipes: Hyderabadi chicken biryani recipe! Authentic Biryani from India. Aayi does not give specific measurements for all her ingredients so each person gets to approach the recipe accordingly. Lets just say, I can't wait till next weekend to make this again!

Aayi's ingredient list is as follows (adapted and changed just a tidbit):
1 cup sliced onion (fried in oil till crisp)
1/2 pound of boneless skinless chicken (I used 1 full pound)

Chicken Marination:
3 T. chopped coriander leaves
2 T. chopped mint leaves (I used dried)
1/2 t. ginger paste (found at Safeway by fresh mushrooms)
1/2 t. garlic paste (found in same place as ginger paste)
3 green chilies (I chopped mine; bigger pieces then diced)
1/2 t. red chili powder
4 cloves powdered (I used 1/2 t. of cloves-next time I will use a little more)
1" cinnamon powdered (I used 1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon)
1/2 t. cumin powder (will add 1 t. next time)
1/2 t. coriander powder
1/2 cup thick yogurt (I used Greek yogurt and more like 3/4 cup)

Add all the marinade ingredients and 1/4 cup fried onion to chicken pieces and leave it aside for about 1 hour in refrigerator.

For Rice:

1 and 1/2 cups Basmati rice (par-boiled, long grain Basmati is the best)

1/4 cup onion

3 cups water

2 cloves (I used 1/4 t. ground cloves)

1" cinnamon (I actually used a cinnamon stick)

2 cardamon

2 bay leaves

1/2 t. ginger paste

1/2 t. garlic paste

1/2 t. green chili paste

1/4 t. turmeric (I believe for the yellow coloring of the rice.)

Ghee (clarified butter; amazing stuff!)



Heat ghee and add cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves, ginger and garlic paste, green chili paste, turmeric, onion and fry for a few minutes. Now add the rice and fry for 2-3 minutes. Then add salt water and let it cook (I let the rice cook uncovered for 14 minutes).

Putting Everything together:

Heat ghee in a thick bottomed pan and add marinated chicken. Fry for about 2 minutes. If chicken leaves some water, that is fine.

Spread half the quantity of rice, followed by 1/2 the quantity of fried onion. You can add 1/4 cup water just to make sure the rice is completely cooked.

Spread remaining rice and then onion.

Cover the pot with lid and cook on a medium low flame (I have an electric stove so went with medium low heat) for about 30 to 45 minutes. (I cooked mine for 40 minutes.)

I served the chicken biryani with baked artichokes and our dinner was perfect, filling, and delicious! Not the prettiest plated dish but taste made up for looks.
I made the raspberry souffles from last week's menu, using the rose water. My raspberries actually tasted like raspberries; surprising for being in the middle of wintertime.

My first time making anything with Rose water. I have seen plenty of recipes but I have always chickened out. To be absolutely honest, after trying the finished, chilled raspberry souffle, I am not a fan of the flavor. The first taste was raspberries then a lingering rose flavor. Maybe the dislike comes from being a new taste for me but I didn't care for it. The little souffles turned out adorable and I will make these again, only with plain water or maybe a raspberry liqueur.

The longest part of the recipe was making the puree and chilling the souffles. Pretty easy and definitely beautiful to present.


Hanaâ said...

I missed you, lady!!! Are you back for good now? :o) Your dishes look amazing and make my mouth water. I was just telling Monica over on SweetBites that I should try making Biryani again now that I have more cooking experience. Last time I made it (3-4 yrs ago) it turned into complete "mush". Hubby was a good sport and ate it anyway :o) The "pudding" is good, isn't it? It's definitely one of my favorite recipes from the book.

Eliana said...

WOW - this looks way better than the Sticky Toffee Pudding I recently had at a restaurant in my neighborhood. So sticky and delicious.

Vicki said...

It all looks fantastic!

Monica said...

Oh wow.. you cooked up a storm! Your Indian version sounds so much better!!!!!!!! and I'm going to add this to the book, so next (soon) we go with this version (I have another two in the works as well)

And the souffles ohhh so pretty! I totally afraid of souffles, guest they need to go in my Kitchen bucket list.