Ria's Collection: November 2019

Monday, November 18, 2019


Garlic Parmesan Pasta2
Ihave lost count of the number of times I've made this recipe in the last one year. It is such a favorite amongst us and I even made it this time when I went home. Our little ones love pasta and even we enjoy it when made well. There are somedays when Ian & Zara asks me to make this particular dish. They both LOVE mushrooms so much that I think they sometimes eat this just for the yummy mushrooms that goes into this dish. It's very easy dish to make and they make great leftovers too!
Garlic Parmesan Pasta 3
You just need a few ingredients and by that I mean, pretty rich and tasty ingredients to pull this together. I made this for our annual Christmas party last year for the kids because most kids that we hang around with love pasta. And I still continue to make this very frequently for my own. Ian loves it so much that he asks me often if I've noted down the recipe somewhere so that he can recreate it when he grows bigger. Zara makes sure that there's enough of mushrooms in the bowl of pasta that I give her.
Garlic Parmesan Pasta
Growing up, I disliked everything about mushrooms. I think it was because of the way it was made...in it's whole form. I like them sliced thinly and sautéed in some butter or olive oil along with some salt and pepper until they reduce in size and turn brown in colour. That flavor is SO good! Now, whenever we go out and if I am ever in doubt of what to order...if there are mushrooms on the menu, then there's no looking back! I love adding them even to my Risotto, which is another much loved dish by the children. I found this recipe on Alyssa's blog and decided to toss some pasta along with it . Best decision ever!
Serves 4

Garlic Parmesan Pasta 1
4 boneless skinless chicken breast / thighs, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & Pepper
8 ounces white / baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced

Creamy Garlic Parmesan sauce:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream or half and half
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper powder
1 cup spinach, chopped
8 ounces pasta of your choice, cooked al dente*

Method: In a bowl,sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.In a large skillet on medium high heat, heat olive oil and cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes until they are golden brown on the outside. Remove onto a plate and set aside.Into the same pan, add the sliced mushrooms and saute well adding a pinch of salt and pepper till it reduces in size and turns brown. Remove onto a plate and set aside.

To make the sauce, add the butter to a pan on medium heat and when it melts, add the minced garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the flour and mix well to cook for another 30 seconds. Add the heavy cream, chicken broth, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cook stirring till it begins to thicken. Add the spinach and cook until it wilts, 30 seconds.
Add the cooked pasta, reserved chicken & mushrooms and toss well to mix. Serve hot!

* Reserve about 1 cup of pasta cooking water, incase you need to thin out the sauce later.
For this recipe, you can use bottled grated Parmesan cheese or you can grate your own. It doesn't make that big of a difference. I've tried them both since I've made this dish way too many times already! I always use homemade chicken stock because it's pretty much a staple in our fridge. You can use storebought as well. I haven't tried substituting it .You can serve the chicken not just with pasta but alongside buttered rice, toasted bread, mashed potatoes etc. I started with pasta and it's stuck with pasta forever I guess! ;-) I hope you try this and enjoy it as much as we do!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019


I've been baking a very similar cake for over 8 years now and we love it! I got that recipe from my cousin Roshini a long long time ago. After she got married, they moved to Australia, the place where this cake is the most popular. Roshini used to tell me via our chats that she tried a new recipe for the same and it was even better than the one she had shared with me many years ago.Somehow, I never got hold of that  'new' recipe from her. Years passed by and we both barely get any free time to chat about our new recipes and what we have been writing down in our recipe diaries. She has two little ones and so do I, so that's pretty self explanatory! :-)
Last weekend, we had a lovely newly wed couple over for dinner. I usually start any party prep by making the dessert first because it somehow sets the tone of the party right. But last Saturday was a super busy one for us and by the time we were home, it was around 5:00 pm. I still hadn't made the dessert! So I quickly glanced through my cookbooks in our home library and came upon this beautiful recipe for a Sticky Date Toffee Cake by Marcy Goldman. Her book Passion For Baking is truly a treasure for any baker!

This recipe can be made in no time at all, provided you have the ingredients on hand, especially dates. Since this cake can be served warm, it is perfect to make it at the last minute. It can be made extra special if you can have a scoop of vanilla ice cream alongside the cake. I love the hot and cold combination, it never gets old for me. Plus,this cakes makes for a great Fall & Winter dessert! One of the first recipes I've tasted from Marcy's book was the first every cake Jobin baked for my birthday in 2010 - Finnegan's Chocolate Cream Cake. You should check that out if you are looking for a good birthday cake.
STP 5 Makes 12-14 servings

1 1/2 cups pitted dates
1 1/2 cups water
4 teaspoons pure vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter,softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
3 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Hot Toffee Sauce
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla

In a medium saucepan, simmer dates in water and vanilla until they are soft and mushy. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Let it cool.
Preheat the oven to 350 F and prepare a 9 inch round cake tin.
In a medium bowl, cream together butter and both sugars along with orange zest until fluffy. Blend in the eggs one by one and then fold in flour, baking powder and salt. Blend well. Add dates and mix well to combine. Pour the batter into a prepared pan and bake until just set, 40-45 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sauce by simmering together brown sugar, cream and butter for 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla.
When the cake is done, poke holes all over with it a skewer and then drizzle the sauce onto the warm cake. Serve warm or at room temperature. 
The aroma that fills your home while baking this cake is something that you should experience. It's fantastic! The batter bakes up into a moist, soft cake and the orange zest adds such a lovely touch to the overall taste of it. Ian kept hovering around our oven asking when the cake was going to be ready. I wasn't sure if I should let him know that there were dates in the cake because it's one of the very few things he has kept aside to eat when he grows bigger! ;-)
I find it hard to not tell the kids what I am serving them because I would personally like to know what's on my plate. So I told him about the dates and as always, he said he will try it. And guess what..he couldn't stop himself from finishing the slice I had served him! The next day, he woke up whispering into my ears asking if he could eat one more slice after breakfast!! It's THAT good! :-)

Sunday, November 10, 2019


Waffles 1
When I came to this country close to 10 years ago, it was an experience in itself. I am not talking about the culture, fashion or anything outwardly but I am talking about shopping for all the wonderful ingredients that I had been reading all my life in cookbooks that Mamma & Amma owned and all those wonderful kitchen appliances that I had been dreaming of using in my kitchen! Waffle maker called my name but at the same time I wasn't really sure if I should get one for us because how many times would you actually use it, right?

If you know me atleast a little bit personally, you will know that I cook a lot on a daily basis. But if you were to come to ours someday, there will hardly be any appliances to be found. Infact, I don't even own that many pots and pans for the same reason.
Waffles 3
And that reason being...I cannot function in a cluttered environment. It honestly makes me feel so lazy inside. I need my counter tops to be empty at all times and with a shiny surface! I am constantly arranging and rearranging things to make space even when I don't own that many things! This is kind of growing with me as I grow older! :-) So inorder to avoid cluttering my kitchen shelves, I usually wait for months and sometimes even 10 years to actually buy an appliance...like a waffle maker!

Our little ones are forever hungry and they are such amazing food loving children. So it's actually a pleasure to cook for them. But these days, their requests are non-stop and I feel like a machine especially once Ian is back from school. Then even Zara's appetite hits the roof!
I don't enjoy cooking the same thing over and over again. So constant food requests plus my problem of not enjoying making the same thing over and over again kind of led me to buying a waffle maker a couple weeks ago.
Waffles 4
When I brought it home, the kids were too excited to wait for me to make it over the weekend. So, I quickly glanced through the Cuisinart Belgium Waffle Maker manual and used a recipe which sounded really good to me. I mean, how can you go wrong with flour, butter, eggs & a pinch of sugar! This is honestly THE best waffles that we've eaten in our lives. They are thick, crisp on the outside and very soft and tender...almost like a set custard in the centre. SO GOOD!

Waffles 2 Makes 8 waffles

2 cups milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter,cubed
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons active, dry yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Warm milk and butter together in a small saucepan. Once the butter has melted, remove and cool until just warm.
In the meantime, whisk together flour, yeast, sugar & salt together in a large bowl. Add the warm milk to it and whisk to combine. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined. Cover the bowl and let the batter chill in the refrigerator for atleast 12 hours and upto 24 hours.
Pre heat the waffle maker to desired setting.
Whisk the batter to combine,it will deflate and that's OK. Pour 1 heaping cup of batter onto the centre of the lower grid of the preheated waffle maker; spread the batter evenly using a heatproof spatula. Close the lid and cook until the tone sounds.
Remove them carefully and serve immediately with a dusting of powdered sugar / maple syrup and some fruits.

* The first time I made these, I got exactly 8 waffles. The second time I made it, I made the first 4 for the kids and then wandered about doing other things. So when I came back the batter had risen again because of the yeast and I ended up with 12 waffles in total!
* You can freeze the waffles and reheat them on a rack in a 200 F oven for 5-6 minutes.

This is an excellent recipe when you have company because the batter can be made the previous night so you can take your own sweet time to wake up in the morning and the breakfast is done in no time at all! I must mention that the waffle iron does take a little while to heat up, so just keep that in mind.
I am thinking of doubling the recipe next time onwards so that I can freeze the extras for the coming days or for the days when the kids request for snacks after snacks!

My family only had one word to describe these … 'Amazing!'
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