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.


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