Ria's Collection: December 2018

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


Gingerbread House
This month really has been driving me crazy! It's usually my most favourite time of the year but this time, it's been too too busy. With so many events, we just don't have any time for personal stuff. We still haven't bought any gifts for each other, can you imagine! Luckily, the coming weekend if pretty slow,maybe we can hit the mall and buy some stuffs for the kids atleast.
Gingerbread house (2)
I've never made a Gingerbread House before so I wanted to make it this year, especially for Ian. He has been asking for one since last year and I had promised him that we will make one this year. I planned to make it around Thanksgiving break and we did just that. We made the dough,rolled it out, cut out the pieces,baked it and built our own Gingerbread house and used up all the leftover candy from Halloween to decorate it. I even took pictures to share it here during the first week of December.
Gingerbread House (1)
Then things happened. I mean, life happened. With everything that was going on, I just didn't feel  like sitting down with my laptop to talk about the house. It got pushed and pushed and finally today, I found sometime while Zara was napping to talk about it and share it with you all. Trust me, it's such an easy thing to do and it is really a fun thing to do with kids as well. This recipe for one of the best tasting gingerbread house comes from Beatrice Ojakangas.
Gingerbread House (3) Ingredients:
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup dark corn syrup or light molasses
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoon water

For assembly:
Royal Icing:
1lb powdered sugar
1-2 egg whites
1 teaspoon lemon juice or almond or vanilla extract

Gingerbread house: In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar, molasses,spices & baking soda until smooth. Add flour and water and mix to form a stiff dough. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes or until firm.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Gingerbread house templates: 
Front & Back of the house -Two rectangles 3 by 5 inches
Roof - Two rectangles 3 by 5 1/2 inches
Ends of the house - Two pieces, 3 inches wide at the base, 3 inches to the roof line and slanted to a peak 5 1/2 inches from the bottom.

Roof and sides of the entryway - Four smaller rectangles,  1 1/2 by 1 inch
Front of the entryway - One piece 2 inches wide at the base, 1 1/2 inches to the roof line and slanted to a peak 2 1/2 inches from the bottom.

Roll the chilled dough onto a parchment paper and cut out the pieces using a template made from the measurements given above. Leave the pieces intact and remove the excess dough. Bake for about 15 minutes until the dough feels firm. Place the templates over the pieces and trim if necessary. Do this while the cookie is hot.

Royal Icing:  Mix all the ingredients together using a hand mixer until the mixture is smooth and is pipeable. Transfer it to a piping bag and use as needed. Cover unused icing as it will dry up. If you need to thin it out, use lemon juice.

Assembling: Decorate the pieces with royal icing and let it harden, about 10 minutes. Start building the house by gluing the front and back and sides using the icing. Hold it for a few seconds till it dries up. Then attach the roof and then continue to build then entryway. Don't rush, take your time.

Even though it looks like a lot of work, it isn't. Make your templates the day before and even the cookie dough. Next day, bake and build the house. It will be one of the most memorable things you will be doing this holiday season for sure!

Saturday, December 1, 2018


Meen Pollichathu (1)
Ilove fish and my family loves it too! I try to cook with fish as often as I can. It's almost always as a Meen Vevichathu or Meen Varuthathu. I've been making Fish Moilee quite a few times over the last few weeks along with homemade bread. There's something so comforting in that combination. This Meen Pollichathu is a made with a twist from the traditional one.
Meen Pollichathu (6)
When I posted a photo of this dish on Instagram, I received a lot of questions regarding where to buy banana leaves here. I buy it from Oriental stores and I've seen it at Malayali store around Onam. We rarely shop at our Malayali store. These leaves come frozen in small trays. I find them very handy. Just pull out how much you need and the rest can stay in the freezer. The leaf is limp because it's frozen so we can use it without taming it over fire.
Meen Pollichathu final
Meen Pollichathu is best made with Karimeen.Even though we get them here in frozen form, I rarely buy it. The last time I bought it was when Appa & Amma came here for Christmas last year. Amma made a Karimeen Mappas with it and it was delicious!! This recipe uses a slightly different masala and uses sambar tamarind instead of Kudampuli. It's a very quick dish to make, just like most fish recipes and has a charm to it because it's wrapped and served in banana leaf.
Meen Pollichathu (6)
400 grams cleaned fish
2 sprigs curry leaves
3/4 teaspoon mustard
1 tablespoon vinegar*
1 cup sliced pearl onions
4 tablespoon oil

Grind together:
1 tablespoon Kashmiri red chili powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
4-5 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon tamarind pulp (homemade)
8 pearl onions

Method: Heat 3 tbsp oil and crackle mustard seeds and curry leaves. Saute the ground ingredients, till the oil separates. Add the shallots, stir well and pour the vinegar and salt. Add the fish and move it gently to coat the pieces with masala.

In an oil paper or banana leaf *, arrange the fish with its masala. Pour the remaining 1 tbsp oil over it and fold into a neat parcel /parcels. Put the parcels into a dish and bake at 400 F till the outside is golden for about 30 minutes. Once it's baked, take it out, open the parcel and serve hot !

* Use your own judgement here because we are already using tamarind pulp.
*If you are using fresh banana leaves, you will have to tame it over fire. 'Vaati edukukka'.
*You can cook this on the stovetop as well. Cook on medium flame for 8-10 mins flipping once in between till the leaves are a bit brown.
Mrs. B.F.Varghese's cookbooks are a very common sight in most Malayali households in Kerala.I have them too and I found this recipe from one of them. It's name intrigued me at first and then when I remembered the frozen banana leaves that I had been hoarding for a while, I decided to make use of it. Ian gave me the biggest thumbs up ever and said that the fish is very good! Jobin said the same too! I used Tilapia filets for making these and hence the tiny packages. The recipe was meant for one piece of fish. This is a very good twist to traditional Meen Pollichathu. Do give it a try sometime during this festive season!
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