Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppers

This year, to celebrate Valantines day, we went to Romano's Maccaroni Grill for dinner. Since our daughter is just one year old, we didn't want to plan for any activity that may take longer time. The dinner idea worked out fine.

I had never been to Romano's Maccaroni Grill, so I didn't know if they had good options for vegetarians. Also, in general, I don't like to eat out at any Italian restaurant. I find that the food is too bland for my taste, and it's loaded with cheese, which I don't like. But, the food at RMG was not bland at all, and it wasn't loaded with cheese. We ordered an appetizer and two main dishes so that we can taste everything. We ordered Goat Cheese Peppadew peppers with Balsamic Glaze for appetizer. For dinner, we ordered Eggplant Parmesan and Mashroom Ravioli with Marsala Cream Sauce. I have to say, EVERYTHING was delicious.

Since then, I have been looking for fresh peppadew peppers at grocery stores. I haven't found a single place yet where they are sold fresh. I also looked for jarred peppadew peppers in the Italian isiles in stores, but couldn't find any.
Anyways, so instead of peppadwe peppers, I used pimento peppers. You can use cherry peppers or any variety of small sweet pepprs. Here is the recipe for herbed goat cheese stuffed peppers.

Herbed Goat Cheese
10-12 Pimento Peppers (or any small sweet pepper of your choice), tops removed
5 Oz Goat Cheese
1 Teaspoon Chopped Chives,
1 Teaspoon Chopped Cilantro,
3Teaspoon Olive Oil

Balsamic Glaze
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon Sugar
2 Tablespoon Soy Sauce

Balsamic Glaze: In a sauce pan mix together the balsamic vinegar, sugar and soy sauce. Stir well. Turn on the stove to medium high heat. Once the mixture starts to bubble, turn on the stove to low. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Turn off the stove, and set aside. A not here: the mixture will continue to get thick after cooking, so dont cook it for more than 20 minutes.

Cheese Stuffed Peppers: Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a bowl mix together the cheese, chives, cilantro and 2 teaspoon of olive oil. We are adding olive oil just to soften the cheese, so make sure not to add too much. Mix everything  with the help of a fork. Transfer this mixture into a sandwich bag. Make a small cut at one corener of the bag.
In a deep oven safe dish, arrange the pepper such that they are all standing up. With the help of the plastic bag, fill each pepper with the herbed goat cheese. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Transfer the dish into the oven. Cook for 20 minutes or until the peppers just start to get tender. You dont want to pepper to turn soft and mushy. Make sure not to over cook them. After 20 minutes, transfer the dish to the top rack, and broil on high for 1 minute. Turn off the oven. Transfer the pepper to another plate so that they don't continue to cook in the hot oven tray. Drizzle the balsamic glaze over the pepper. Serve hot.

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Homemade Blueberry Ice Cream (Gelato)

There was about half a gallon milk in the fridge which was about to expire in a day. Generally, I don't pay much attention to the expiration date on the milk jug. Instead I look for the signs or taste, which show me that it has expired. But, since I had a year old daughter, who drinks milk everyday, I didn't want to take any chances:).
Most of the time, I make paneer when we ahve a lot of milk which is about to expire, but since it was just half a gallon milk, making paneer was not an option.
I remembered that I had put a lot of blueberries in the freezer before we went for our 10 days vacation to NJ (my parents house) to celebrate Srishti's 1st birthday. Since, I wanted to use up the as much milk as possible, I just thought of making bluberry ice cream. I asked my husband how does blueberry ice cream sound to you, and he goes, great idea:)
This is the first time ever I will be making any type of ice cream. I don't have an ice cream maker, but I remember seeing a show on food network, where chef Sunny Anderson, makes ice cream without any ice cream machine. So, I set on my journey to making homemade icr cream, without an ice cream maker.

Here is my recipe for making homemade blueberry ice cream
3 Cups Whole Milk (gives creamy texture),.
2 Cups Unsweetend Evaporated Milk,
2 Cups Frozen Blueberries, (fresh works fine too, see notes below)
1 Cup Sugar,
1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt,
1.5 Teaspoon Corn Starch,
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice

Dissolve the corn starch in half cup of milk and set aside. In a deep pan, add the rest of the milk, evaporated milk, blueberries, sugar, salt lemon juice. Stir to combine everything. Put it on stove on medium high heat. Bring to boil, stirring frequently. Once the mixture comes to a boil, add the cornstarch mixture and stir well. Reduce the heat to medium low, and let the mixture cook for 10-15 more minutes, or until it becomes thick like pancake mixture. Turn off the stove.
With a slotted spoon, take out the blueberries in a blender bowl. Let it cool, then blend it to make puree. I didn't make a very smooth puree, because I like tiny bites of real fruit in my ice cream. Add the puree to the milk mixture and combine well.
Now cover the mixture with a plastic wrap, such that the plastic wrap touches the top surface of the mixture. Refrigerate for 4 hours minimum, or refrigerate overnight. Putting the plastic wrap right on top of the milk will eliminate the formation of cream (malai).
The next day, (or after 4 hours), take the mixture out, remove the plastic wrap, and stir well. Put the plastic wrap back on, and transfer the mixture to freezer. Take out after 1.5 hours. Stir well to brake frozen crystals of the cream. Put the plastic wrap back on, and freeze. Take out after another 1.5 hours, stir again. Repeat this atleast 4 times before you finally freeze it overnight.
Enjoy it the next day. You can sprinkle some blueberries, and crushed roasted almonds on top before serving.

If you are using fresh blueberries, don't add them to the milk while boiling it. Instead make puree, and add them at the end before refrigerating the mixture.
You can also add some toasted roughly chopped nuts to milk mixture before refrigerting it. Almonds and walnuts would work the best.

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