Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Hungry Cook Just Got Hungrier!!

I've got my very own website now!!!
Follow my food adventures at The Very Hungry Cook!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Spiced Yogurt Muffins

Alright, I just have to say this now, these are the best muffins I've had in over 3 years, probably ever. And people, I've eaten a lot of muffins these past 3 years! But wait, thats not all. These muffins are healthy! No, really. Low fat, brown sugar, yogurt- it's all there. Really, you will not BELIEVE just how darned good these muffins taste. I know I hardly can! And I've been making them every few days since my first batch :)

Ok, ok, I'll stop going on and on, and just tell you about the recipe. But oh, before that, you need to know this, Singapore = food paradise. No, it's not not one of those random things I just like saying (though, now that we're on that topic, did I mention that I have about 2 whole hedgerows of basil at home? And that I can't think of anything exciting enough to make using basil? Sorry, back to Singapore). Anyway, the thing is, I spent the last 4 days there. And probably ate about a month's worth of food (I can see you turn green with envy! Poor you, I feel your pain. Honestly I do.) 

More importantly, I managed to bring home over 40 pounds (ha! it still feels so good saying it!) of food/cooking ingredients. Look! This is just some of the food that I bought back. I can't wait to get cooking with all this!!

Please tell me you're jealous now. It would make up for all those times I've looked at your blogs and wished I could just go shopping and buy cheese and fresh herbs, like you probably can.

Back to the muffins.

You will need - Low fat yogurt, all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, freshly grated nutmeg, eggs, unsalted butter, applesauce (or milk), granulated sugar, light brown sugar, vanilla extract/vanilla bean, salt (that I haven't included, of course), and ground allspice (that I don't have)

It's very simple. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl (except the granulated sugar and 1/4 tsp nutmeg), and keep that aside. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, butter, applesauce (or milk) and vanilla extract (if you're using a bean like I did, just scrape out the seeds and use the pod to make vanilla sugar). Fold yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients until just blended.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the granulated sugar and remaining nutmeg over the muffins. Bake until muffins are springy. Let the muffins cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

Serve warm. And bake them again. And again. And again. And again... You get the idea...


(adapted from Food & Wine Magazine)


all purpose flour - 2 cups
light brown sugar - 1 cup
baking powder - 1 tbsp
baking soda - 1/2 tsp
salt - 1/2 tsp
ground cinnamon - 1 tsp
ground allspice - 1/2 tsp
ground cloves - 1/2 tsp
freshly grated nutmeg - 3/4 tsp
eggs - 2 large (room temp.)
low-fat yogurt - 1 & 1/4 cups
unsalted butter - 4 tbsp
applesauce - 1/4 cup (or substitute with full fat milk)
pure vanilla extract - 1 tsp (or 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped)
granulated sugar - 1 tbsp

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
Keep aside the granulated sugar and 1/4 tsp of nutmeg.
In a bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, applesauce (/milk), butter and vanilla.
Fold the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients until just blended.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. 
Sprinkle granulated sugar and remaining nutmeg over the muffins.
Bake for 18 minutes, or until muffins are springy.
Cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
Serve warm.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Truffle Infused Mac & Cheese

Every week, a bunch of my friends and I meet up and spend the evening together eating, gaming and watching insanely scary movies. This usually ends up with my being walked home at about 2 in the morning by one of the biggest guys around (hey, I might not be brave, but I'm not stupid!)...
Anyway, last night we had movie/game night again, and I offered to cook, after having put it off forever.
I decided to keep it simple and make this AMAZING Mac & Cheese recipe, with muffins to snack on later. The first time I ate this was at my very first french cooking lesson ever, where our instructor was showing us how to make a bechamel sauce. It was my very first truffle experience, and ever since then, I've been addicted!!
Mac & cheese, I figured, was fun and uncomplicated enough for an evening at home watching movies, but not so commonplace as to be boring, thanks to the truffle oil..
I made a whole lot of it, and by the time we were through with dinner, there wasn't any left, so I'm sure you'll agree when I say that it was a hit!

You will need - pasta (I've used macaroni, what with it being MAC & cheese and all...), milk, butter, all purpose flour, cheese (I've used parmesan, pecorino and cheddar), white truffle oil, and salt and pepper (neither of which I've included in the photo). Simple isn't it?

To begin, grate a HUGE amount of cheese. No, I'm kidding. I like using this ribbon grater though, because what would normally be half a cup of cheese, gets grated to about 4 cups. Really, I promise. Makes me feel like I've been generous with the cheese without worrying about throwing in an extra yoga session to work it all off.

Alright, now that your cheese is all grated, take a nice heavy saucepan. Alternatively, if you live in MY world, please just get the only saucepan thats not waiting to be washed in the kitchen sink.
Crank up the heat and bung in the butter! (Yes, again, bung IS a real world. Where are you people from, another planet???) Once the butter foams, add the flour in and whisk until blended.

Now, let the roux cook for a few minutes (you can lower the heat during this part).

Once the flour has cooked well, take the pan off the heat and start whisking in the milk, and bring the mixture to a boil. Then, strain the whole thing to remove any lumps. At this point, while its still very hot, add the rosemary.

And now for that grated cheese....mmmm...
Don't put all of it in though! 

Reserve one-eighth of the total, and add the rest, whisking until you've got a nice sauce...

See how good that looks?
Check seasoning. Ooh, this is the part where you realize you have a winner. The sauce alone is good enough to eat all by itself, and we haven't even got to the good part yet!!  Patience, patience!

My sauce didn't need any salt, but I did sprinkle some freshly ground black pepper on.
In the meanwhile, boil the pasta until its al dente.

Mix the pasta and the sauce. Fight the urge to eat it all now. I promise you, it gets better, MUCH better. Really.

And now for the good stuff! Truffle oil! Drizzle/mix/stir, whatever you want. Just make sure that its EVERYWHERE. Now sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.

Bake for a few minutes in the oven, or stick it under a salamander until the cheese on top melts and becomes nice and golden and bubbly.

Serve warm...

Be warned though, this is a one way trip to truffle heaven. I shall see you there.



Milk - 350 ml
Flour - 15 g
Butter - 15 g
Rosemary - 1 tbsp dried/2 sprigs fresh
Parmesan - 1/4 cup
Pecorino - 1/4 cup
Cheddar - 1/4 cup
White truffle oil - 3 tbspns
Salt - as required
Pepper - 1 tsp
Macaroni - 2 cups

Bring liberally salted water to a boil in a large pot. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.
In a heavy saucepan, heat butter until it foams. Add the flour and stir until well blended.
Cook the roux for a few minutes.
Remove from heat, add the milk, whisking all the while. Back on the heat, bring the milk to a boil. Remove from heat again.
Pass the mixture through a sieve. This is now a bechamel sauce.
Pour the bechamel back into the pan (low flame) and add the rosemary. Cook for a minute before taking the pan off the stove.
Grate all 3 cheeses and mix them together. Reserve 1/8th of the mixture. 
Whisk the remaining grated cheese into the bechamel.
Check seasoning (pepper and salt).
Mix the pasta with sauce in an oven-proof dish.
Drizzle the truffle oil on the pasta and mix well.
Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on the pasta. 
Pass under a salamander/cook in an oven until the cheese bubbles and turns a golden yellow.
Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sun-dried Tomato & Thyme Focaccia

FINALLY! This is the first yeast bread recipe I'm posting! Been putting it off for a while now... Bread is one of those things I keep putting off making, because its a long drawn out process.. But when I finally do get around to baking, there hasn't been once that I haven't felt that it's all been worth it!!

There's something about bread, maybe its that warm delicious smell that fills the house while it bakes, or watching leavened dough cook to a deep golden color, or that first warm, crusty bite, or maybe it's all those things put together. Whatever it is, bread cheers me up like few other things do!!

Oh, and this one's for my friend Vasi, who is always looking for egg free recipes!! Hopefully this will be the first of many!!

So lets get baking!!

You will need - all purpose flour, Durham-semolina (or just substitute with A.P. flour), water, extra virgin olive oil, salt, dry yeast, Sun-dried tomatoes and thyme.

I ALWAYS mix the yeast with some warm water and a little sugar/honey. I know, most of the time dry yeast is reliable, but trust me, there are few things as irritating as having a rock solid ball of dough after having used yeast that you thought was alive... So mix the yeast with warm water and sugar, let it sit for a few minutes. Once you have a nice froth on top, you know you're good to go!

Mix all the ingredients (Except the sun-dried tomatoes and thyme) and knead until you have a smooth, silky dough. Elbow grease people! I know that a stand mixture will do the trick, but honestly, I find that I appreciate my bread SO much more when I've had to put a lot of effort in!

Divide the dough into four, and roll out into a circle/square/rectangle, whatever. Yes, you can make a map of the world if you want. Take a piece of parchment paper and oil it. Lay the rolled out dough on the oiled side. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let it prove for about 2-3 hours.

By which time, it should look like this- all pillowy and nicely risen.

Now soak the sun dried tomatoes in hot water for a few minutes. Then chop them up.

Dimple the dough, press in the tomatoes, and sprinkle the thyme-be generous.. Leave it to prove for another hour. 
Then bake at 450 degrees F for about 20 minutes, or until golden on top.

Serve warm.  It tastes brilliant just by itself, but you could serve it with a dip. I've used everything from pesto to a roasted eggplant dip and this focaccia is excellent!



All purpose flour           -  450 g
Durham semolina         -   190 g
Water                              -   440 g (yes, grams not ml)
Extra virgin olive oil     -   80 g
Salt                                   -   12 g
Dry yeast                         -   3 g
Sun-dried tomatoes      -   2 tbspns
Thyme                             -   1 tbspn

Combine all the ingredients except the tomatoes and thyme
Knead until the resulting dough is smooth and silky.
Oil a cookie sheet, place parchment paper on it, oil that as well.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces.
Roll out the dough into disks or squares.
Proof for 2-3 hours, at 75 degrees F.
Soak the tomatoes in hot water for 5 minutes, then drain and chop.
Dimple the focaccia, them top with the tomatoes.
Sprinkle the focaccia with thyme and let it sit for another hour.
Bake at 450 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until a golden crust has formed.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cinnamon & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

There's just one photo this time, and not a very good one at that, I'm afraid... I've been trying to find an ice cream machine for months now without much luck. well, I finally ended up losing my patience and making it myself. You see, I've been craving really good quality ice cream for a while now, but again, no luck in finding any :( 
If you've already made your own ice cream, this probably isn't the most exciting post I've done. On the other hand, if you've never made your own ice cream, you HAVE to try this. You will never settle for store bought ice cream after this, I promise you! This is SO rich and smooth and silky and full of flavor that you'll never go back to that second rate stuff they pass off for ice cream in most stores.

I started off making vanilla bean ice cream, and then decided that I wanted something a little more complex. So I ended up adding the one flavor that I knew would pair well with vanilla - cinnamon, of course!! Thanks to the vanilla seeds, the ice cream has this gorgeously crunchy (I can't quite describe it any other way) texture, while the cinnamon adds a warmth and depth of flavor that you'll love.



Whole Milk - 500 ml
Double Cream - 500 ml
Caster Sugar - 8-10 tbspns (depending on how sweet you want it to be)
Vanilla - 1 pod 
Cinnamon powder - 1/2 tsp 
Egg yolks - 8 (yes, you read right...:)

Score the vanilla pod lengthwise and remove the seeds.
Mix the milk, cream, vanilla seeds, vanilla pod, cinnamon powder and about 6-8 tbspns of sugar. Bring the whole thing to a boil, remove from heat and keep aside.
Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until its gone a pale yellow.
Take a ladleful of the hot milk/cream mixture and whisk it into the egg mixture. Repeat with 2 more ladles of the milk.
Remove the vanilla pod from the milk.
Pour the egg mixture into the milk.
Cook on a very low flame for a few minutes until the yolks thicken enough for the mixture to go glossy and be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Take it off the heat.
Keep aside for a bit until its cool, then strain it.
If you have an ice cream machine, just follow instructions to chill and make ice cream.
If you don't have one, pour the mixture into a tray and chill in the freezer.
Every 20 minutes take the tray out, and using a ballon whip, whisk the mixture until you've broken the ice crystals and aerated the ice cream until it is smooth.
Keep repeating it until the ice cream reaches the desired consistency.
After this, you can transfer the ice cream into tubs and store in the freezer.
You could serve it with a lot of things, but I honestly think it tastes best on its own. Double portions!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I seem to be on a sweet streak this week-sorbet, now churros.. 
SO, here are 3 good reasons for making churros-
1.They taste DIVINE when served piping hot-sweet, crisp, with a hint of cinnamon and SOOOO light!
2.They are really easy to make.
3.Most cooks will have all the ingredients required in the kitchen at any given point of time.

Finally, here are MY reasons for making them-
1. Making pate a choux makes me feel terribly accomplished.
2.I want churros.

Convinced you, didn't I?

I'll take that as a yes. So, to begin, you will need-eggs, all purpose flour, castor sugar, ground cinnamon, butter, a neutral oil to deep fry and water.

Sift the flour and castor sugar together and put it aside. In the meanwhile take a nice heavy bottomed saucepan and heat the butter and water in it. Wait until all the butter melts and the water has begun to boil. Take the pan off the heat and add the flour mixture in ALL at once. Using a spoon/wooden spatula, beat the mixture well until flour has blended thoroughly. Put it back on medium heat and beat it until it looks like the mixture in the picture below- it shouldn't stick to the sides of the pan and possibly begin to leave a film at the bottom.

Take the pan off the heat again, make a well and break an egg into it. Beat it to a smooth paste before adding the next egg. Repeat and add the third egg. 

Keep at it for a few minutes. You're done when the mixture is smooth, lump free and glossy, like this one below!

Mix the cinnamon powder with the remaining castor sugar. Now its time to break out your pastry/piping bag. Heat oil. Deep fry the churros until they're an even golden brown and crisp. When they're VERY hot, dust them with the cinnamon sugar.

And then, eat up!! Mmmm...This made me SO happy today, You have NO idea!



All Purpose Flour - 1 cup
Castor Sugar - 5 tbspns
Butter - 6 tbspns
Water - 1 cup
Ground Cinnamon - 1/2 tsp
Eggs - 3 eggs
Neutral Oil - enough to fry with, you decide!

Sift together flour and 2-3 tbspns of the sugar. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the butter and water. When the butter melts and the water's started boiling, take the pan off the heat and pour in the flour mixture all at once.
Mix well using a spoon/wooden spatula until it is well blended. Put the pan back on moderate heat and keep beating until the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan and a thin film coats the bottom.
Take the pan off the heat again. Make a well in the flour mixture and break an egg into the well immediately. With a spoon, mix vigorously until the egg has totally blended in. Do the same with the other 2 eggs. Keep beating until you have a nice smooth, lump free mixture.
Mix the remaining castor sugar with the ground cinnamon.
Spoon the mixture into a piping/pastry bag. Use a star nozzle. 1/2 inch (1 cm) should do it. 
Heat the oil to 375 degrees F. Pipe 4 inch (10 cm) lengths into the hot oil. Fry until the churros are crisp and an even golden-brown.
Remove from the oil and drain for a few seconds on a paper towel. Dust the churros with cinnamon sugar when they're REALLY hot. Serve immediately.
O.K., now, a couple of things- instead of deep frying the mixture, you can pipe nice 10 cm lengths of it, or little blobs if it makes you happier, on a cookie sheet lined with butter paper, and bake the lot until it is golden brown on top.
Then, if you've made blobs, you slice each in half horizontally and fill the puffs with creme chantilly (whipped cream with sugar in it and maybe vanilla, if you like).
If you've made long ones, then you make a little hole in one end, and pipe in a mixture of creme chantilly and custard. Dip the top of the puff in chocolate and voila! You've made yourself an eclair.
Alright, enough of that, sorry if I've bored you, let me know how it goes!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pomegranate Apple Sorbet

Ice cream is one of those things I've loved ALL my life! (no, really, I was 2 months old when I first ate ice cream, ask my parents).. But I discovered sorbet only when I was 15 on a trip to France. Needless to say, I was hooked! Not to mention extremely upset for a while, when I realized that not many people even knew what sorbet was in my part of the world. Until I realized how easy it is to make, that is! I LOVE how cold, sweet and refreshingly tart good sorbets are... And I must confess, I tend to get a bit carried away when it comes to the tartness. So feel free to scale down on the quantities of lemon/lime/sugar that I've used....

You will need - Apples (I like using equal numbers of Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples), lime/lemon (depending on which is available), pomegranate, sugar, water. Simple, isn't it? :)

O.K., to get started, peel, core and dice the apples (medium-fine dice should do) Then in a saucepan, add the apples, sugar, juice and zest of the lime/lemon. Let the whole thing come to a boil, then lower the flame so that it simmers until its reduced by a third and the apples are tender. Let it cool.

In the meanwhile, you need to extract juice from the pomegranate. Either blend and strain or just use a juicer. Or, if you're pressed for time like me, cheat!

This is one of my favorite brands of pomegranate juice (read one of the ONLY brands of pomegranate juice available). And its SO much easier to just use this :) It tastes great too! Of course, it isn't anywhere close to as good as the real thing (according to the carton, only 33% of the whole thing is real juice), but it'll do for now... If you can take the time out to make fresh juice though, I would highly recommend you do so!

Measure out the juice while the apple/sugar/lime mixture cools. Once cool, blend all ingredients together. Strain using a strainer with not-too-fine holes. I used this colander type thing i found in the kitchen. It worked really well, because it kept most of the pulp in but took out all the unmanageable pieces.

Pour the mixture into a tray, and stick it in the freezer. Every 20 minutes, Take a fork and scratch up the whole thing, so there aren't any hard frozen lumps. Once you think its reached the right consistency, you can transfer the sorbet to tubs and freeze. I know it looks terrible now, but just wait until its done!!

Defrost for a few minutes before serving, so that the sorbet gets to a scoopable (yes thats a new word I invented :) consistency. Serve garnished with a sprig of mint/slice of lemon.
If frozen, it should last about 2 days I think. Sadly, I can't tell you if it'll keep any longer because whenever I've made it, 2 days is the longest its gone without everyone eating it up!
Oh and before I forget, if you really like mint, try add a few mint leaves chopped up/chiffonaded to the sorbet mixture just before freezing.



Apples - 2 (1 Granny Smith, 1 Red Delicious)
Lime/Lemon - 1 (Juice and zest)
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Pomegranate Juice - 3/4 cup
Water - 1/2 cup

Peel, core and dice apples. In a pan, add the apples, water, sugar, lime/lemon juice and zest. Bring to a boil. Lower top a simmer and let the mixture cook until  the liquid has reduced by 1/3rd and apples are tender.
Let the mixture cool, add the pomegranate juice and blend well. Strain through a course sieve so that a decent amount of pulp is retained.
Pour into a tray. Freeze. Every 20 minutes, scratch the mixture up using a fork. Once it has reached desired consistency, either serve the sorbet, or transfer to tubs and freeze.