Gotgamssam – Korean Dessert with Persimmon & Walnut

Gotgamssam

Waiting at the barber while my kids got their haircuts, I was skimming through the old magazines they had around. One of the Korean magazines had a few beautiful pictures of dry persimmons, and this orange roll with nuts in the middle. Of course, all instructions were in Korean. I asked the ladies who work there what it was, and after a few minutes of going back and forth, another nice customer stepped in to help translate for us. He found out from the women where to buy the ingredients and how to make this roll. Hope he got a great haircut for his good deed :)).

Gotgamssam

Gotgamssam is a traditional Korean desert or snack that is served with cinnamon or green tea, and it requires only 2 ingredients. I was told that it is common in Korean homes to have a few rolls tucked away in the refrigerator for company. Super easy to make, I was reminded of diabetic family members who stay away from dessert. A few slices of this might be a welcome treat for them. Give it a try.

Gotgamssam

You can buy dried persimmons in the frozen section of your International market. The box pictured here was around $6. If you cannot find dried persimmons, this same technique can be used for dried apricots which are more easily available. Looking online, I learnt that the apricot version is called Salgussam.

Gotgamssam

(About 18 slices)

  • 1 container (6 pcs) dried persimmon (if frozen, thaw)
  • big handful of whole walnuts

1) Preheat oven to 350*F, pour the walnuts on a rimmed cookie tray, and place on the center oven rack.

2) Bake for 6-8 minutes, stirring once in between, till golden and fragrant.

3) Remove from the cookie tray onto a plate and spread to cool completely.

4) With a sharp knife, trim the ends of the persimmon, and slit all the way down only on one side to form a flat, rectangular piece.

Gotgamssam

5) Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on the counter, and line up the persimmon slices where the edges slightly overlap.

Gotgamssam

6) Place a double or triple layer of the toasted walnuts on top of the persimmon slices and gently press into the fruit to hold in place.

Gotgamssam

7) Gently, but tightly roll up the fruit over the walnuts and roll into a log. Cover with plastic wrap and reshape into a circular log if necessary.

8) Place the log in the freezer for about 30-45 minutes to firm up.

9) Unwrap, and cut each persimmon into 3 slices using a serrated knife.

Gotgamssam

10) Serve with green tea or cinnamon tea.

NOTE:

  1. If the slit fruit seems too ‘pulpy’, gently scrape out some of the soft stuff before filling with the walnuts.
  2. Toasting the walnuts was my idea – you may skip this step if you like.
  3. Consider substituting candied walnuts for a different taste.
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Oven Roasted Tandoori Cornish Hen

 

Tandoori Cornish Hen

After many years of wanting to make cornish hen, I finally mustered up the courage to experiment. I figured that with the accompaniments I planned to serve, we would at least have other things to eat if the meat didn’t turn out right. Let me just say that I should have made this a looooong time ago!! The chicken was moist, full of flavor, and falling off the bones. My 10 year old would have probably eaten a whole cornish hen if I let him :).

NOTE: Please take a few minutes to read the recipe before deciding if it’s easy or too complicated based on the number of steps below. I’ve laid out everything step-by-step, hence the long write up. In honesty, the whole process is pretty straight-forward and relatively easy. The only hard thing in my opinion is having to wait about 24 hours before eating.

Oven Roasted Tandoori Cornish Hen

(Serves 4)

  • 2 cornish hens – about 1 lb each (I buy the 4-packs from Costco)
  • 2-3 Tbsp oil / butter

FOR THE BRINE:

  • 32 oz buttermilk (about 4 cups)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick (broken)
  • 8-10 whole cloves
  • 4 black cardamom pods (moti elaichi) / 6 green cardamom pod
  • 2-3 Tbsp salt (or more to taste)

1) Remove the plastic inserts from the cornish hens and wash inside & out thoroughly. Drain well.

2) Meanwhile, in a lidded container big enough to hold both birds, add all the brine ingredients and mix well. It should be on the saltier side, but don’t worry – the chicken will only absorb a little.

3) Gently immerse the hens into the brine, making sure that the brine fills the cavity and covers the whole bird. Cover the container and refrigerate overnight.

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 1/2 packet tandoori masala of choice (I mixed in a bit of red food coloring, but this is optional)
  • 1 Tbsp ginger paste
  • 1Tbsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon / lime juice

4) Next morning, mix all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust salt & lemon juice as needed.

5) Remove the chicken from the brine and pick away any whole spices sticking to it. Set aside on a plate and discard the remaining brine.

6) Evenly spread the chicken with the tandoori marinade, making sure to get under the skin and in the cavity*** (see note at bottom of post). (Do not slather the marinade on in thick layers as it will be doughy and bitter when cooked. Spread generously but evenly.)

7) Return to empty brine container and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. You can flip the bird over once or twice while marinating (optional), and return to the refrigerator.

TO COOK THE CHICKEN:

  • 2-3 large red potatoes
  • 1 medium green pepper (capsicum)
  • 1-2 large red onion
  • 1-2 Tbsp oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

8) Remove chicken from the refrigerator and set at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

9) Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375*F.

10) Chop the red potatoes, peppers & onion into large chunks and toss with oil, salt & pepper.

11) Place in the bottom of a roasting pan sprayed lightly with oil (you can line the pan with foil for easy cleanup).

12) Use twine to gently tie the chicken legs at the ‘ankles’ :)). Poke a toothpick through each wing into the breast meat to keep the wing from spreading & getting burnt while cooking. [Google “how to truss a chicken” for more info]

13) Place the hens on the roasting rack**(see note at bottom of post). Brush/spray lightly with oil or butter, and cover lightly with foil.

14) Bake for about 35-40 minutes covered. Remove the foil, baste with some remaining marinade, turn the roasting rack around, and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Watch closely to ensure that the meat does not turn dry. Chicken is done when the juices start to run clear.

15) Remove from the oven and gently drape the foil on the chicken (DO NOT SEAL). Let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with mint chutney and/or raita. For other accompaniments, check out my Desi Holiday Feast post.

Tandoori Cornish Hen

NOTE: I don’t like poking holes in the chicken before marinating as I feel it lets the juices run out and dry the meat while cooking. You can do it if you prefer, but the cook times may need to be adjusted.

If you do not have a roasting rack to cook the cornish hen, you can crumple up aluminum foil or layer on root vegetables on the bottom of the tray to keep it away from the juices.

Vegan Zucchini & Corn Cutlets

Vegan Zucchini Corn Cutlets

Is everybody getting ready for the holiday madness? For many years, I felt like I was short changing my kids and family if our holidays didn’t involve hand made stuff, decorating, cleaning and cooking like a maniac, and entertaining over the 6+ weeks starting mid-November. It’s so easy to get caught up in the picture perfect version of the holidays that is sold to us by retailers and media, that we forget it took a large paid team of people to come up with what we see in ads. 2 years ago, I decided that I would not do anything that my kids didn’t really care about. Surprisingly, they were fine with not putting up a tree (second time in 15 years; the first was when we lived overseas for a year)!! That December, we travelled to Jamaica for a gloriously relaxing vacation, took naps, read books, watched movies and played Scrabble. Not a single wreath/christmas decoration came out of the box. We did do some casual entertaining (as in easy meals, or order in Chinese or pizza) with small groups, and were actually able to sit down and enjoy company. It was an eye-opener for me. I wasn’t a yelling nagging lunatic with a whisk in one hand and a dusting rag in the other!! (Atleast, I think I wasn’t one. My family may differ 🙂 but they have to agree that I toned it down a couple notches.) We did put up our tree last year, and baked, entertained, shopped, etc. but I didn’t stress about how perfect everything had to be. It’s definitely a work in progress, but I’m trying to walk down the same path again this year.

What I want to say here is that while we may not be able to completely give up everything, the holidays are about appreciating our loved ones and making the time to connect with them. If you can effortlessly whip up a 7 course meal and still smile, hats off to you. But most of us need a stash of easy and quick tricks in our bag to tide the next few weeks. In the coming days, my plan is to post recipes of what I am making in my own home. I assure you that they will be easy, healthy (somewhat :)), elegant, and mostly make-ahead. After all, the hosts need to enjoy the party too.

The recipe below is just a guide for making these cutlets. Since zucchini has a neutral taste, you can add any seasoning of choice: green chillies & chopped mint; sriracha & fish sauce; chopped dill & feta cheese; etc. I have used basil & oregano as I wanted to empty them out. It is crucial to squeeze out the water from the zucchini, and to add a binding agent to hold the mix together. (I might try adding mashed black beans instead of the potato next time.) The flour & starch / bread crumbs aid in absorbing any left over moisture, and may not be necessary if you have had enough time to drain the vegetable.

I have made these cutlets a day or two before my party and heated in a toaster oven, and they tasted just as good as fresh. If you plan on reheating, place them on a rack after cooking so they cool without sitting in steam. Cool completely and store in a paper towel lined air tight box in the refrigerator. I sometimes make these and serve as after-school snacks and my 10-year old will eat 4-5 without complaint.

Vegan Zucchini – Corn Cutlets

(Makes about 24)

  • 2 lbs zucchini
  • 1 cup roasted corn ( I buy the frozen bag but you can roast at home if you like)
  • 1 Tbsp garlic (paste or minced or powder)
  • 1 Tbsp dry red chili flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp dry basil (crush between palms before adding)
  • 1 Tbsp dry oregano (crush between palms before adding)
  • 1 medium boiled, peeled & mashed potato [or] 1 egg**
  • 1 cup bread crumbs [or] 1/2 cup all-purpose flour + 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • salt to taste
  • Oil for griddle

1) Set a colander in a plate or bowl,and grate zucchini into it using the fine side of the grater.

2) Toss with 1 tsp salt and set aside for 15 minutes. This will make the vegetable release a lot of moisture and drain into the lining plate/bowl.

3) Meanwhile, in another large bowl, mix the corn, garlic, chili flakes, basil, oregano & potato.

4) After 15 minutes, squeeze out the grated zucchini and add to the corn mixture. Adjust salt and spices, and chill for another 15 minutes (optional – this will help to set the mixture and make for easier shaping. Also, this will release any additional water in the zucchini, and you can control the amount of bread crumbs added).

5) Alternately, you may skip the chilling, and add the bread crumbs (or all-purpose flour & cornstarch) and mix well.

6) Heat a griddle on medium and add 2 Tbsp oil to it.

7) Shape 2-3 Tbsp of the mixture into balls and flatten into patties. Cook the patties on medium-high for about 3 minutes per side until golden brown.

8) Serve with dipping sauce of your choice – ketchup, ranch, sriracha, cilantro-mint-green chili chutney, etc.

*** Vegans might want to try flax egg as a binding agent. Please let me know how it turns out if you do.

Guilt free Chia Seed – Pumpkin Pie Filling

Guilt Free Chia Seed - Pumpkin Pie Filling

Halloween seems to herald in the start of unhealthy eating. By the time we’re done sneaking our favorites from the kids candy stash, Thanksgiving comes around, and the holiday parties begin. If you like pie like I do, then this season is like walking in a land mine! I stumbled upon this recipe on Pinterest from Forks Over Knives and LOVE it. Surprisingly, my 10-year old has been enjoying it too as much as I do. You can have it for breakfast, snack or any time you get a craving for something sweet. Made with whole foods, and put together in minutes – what’s not to love about this Pumpkin Pie Filling?

Guilt Free Chia Seed - Pumpkin Pie Filling

Guilt Free Chia Seed – Pumpkin Pie Filling

(Serves 4-6)

(Adapted from Forks Over Knives)

  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1 cup water
  • 12-15 pitted dates
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin (NOT pie filling)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds***
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

1) Add the chia seeds to your blender and make it into a powder. Pour into a large bowl and set aside.

2) Add the almonds, water & dates to the blender jar and puree. (Alternately, use 1 cup of almond milk & dates).

3) Add the banana, pumpkin, vanilla & spice, and blend well.

4) If your blender is powerful, add in the chia and give it a whirl till well mixed. Add a few more tablespoons of milk or water if necessary. Otherwise, pour the liquid from the blender over the chia powder and mix well.

5) Pour into 4-6 serving dishes and chill covered for a few hours (it’s fine to eat right away too). Sprinkle with cinnamon before serving.

6) My teen loves his pie crust, so I poured some into individual ready crusts for portion control.

*** If you prefer the texture of whole chia seeds, skip step 1 and mix with the pumpkin filling. This method requires several hours to set – it will not be ready to eat as soon as it is assembled.

Coconut Macaroons – To dip in chocolate or not?

Coconut Macaroons

I got this recipe from a PTA mom at my son’s school a long time ago – she must have given it to over a dozen people as the cookies were SO good – and I’ve looked at it and put it away so many times over the years. Finally decided to try making them, and boy, are they easy to make. In fact, I would say the ‘hardest part’ was scooping them onto the cookie tray (well, besides sweating it out on the treadmill and cursing myself for eating too many! But that’s a different blog post ;)).

Coconut Macaroons

You can dip these macaroons in chocolate if you like, but they are good as-is too. Super easy to make, crispy on the edges, chewy on the inside. YUM!

Coconut Macaroons

(about 3-dozen cookies)

  • 1 (14 oz) package flaked coconut – sweetened**
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 egg whites – room temperature
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1-2 cups chocolate chips – optional

1) Preheat oven to 325*F.

2) In a large bowl, add flaked coconut, sugar, flour & salt, and mix well.

3) In another small bowl, add the egg whites & the almond extract, and beat lightly.

4) Add eggs to the coconut mixture and mix well.

5) Drop by tablespoons onto a greased cookie tray.*****

6) Bake 18-20 minutes, until edges are golden brown.

7) Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

8) If you are using chocolate, melt the chips according to package directions and dip the macaroons halfway. Set on the same parchment lined trays to harden completely.

9) Store in an air-tight box for several days.

 

NOTE** : If you decide to use unsweetened coconut flakes, increase the sugar to 2/3 cups.

NOTE*****: I always use parchment paper to ensure my food does not stick to the pan, and also to make for easy cleanup.

For easy and even scooping, I use a small ice cream scoop (and NO – I don’t make any revenue by linking to Amazon from here. This is just to give you an idea.)

 

Cupcake Bouquet

Mother’s Day is around the corner, and I am so excited about writing my first Feature Post. I have come across many enterprising and inspiring women who balance both family and career, and are able to take the plunge to pursue their passion. This post is the first of (hopefully) many more where I can give a shout out to these wonderful ladies (and men), and spread word of their work.

Today, I am writing about CUPCAKE DELIGHTS by Hannah Jaikumar. Hanna (and her twin sister Nandini) and I went to college together, but we had lost track of each other over the years. Thanks to Facebook, we were able to reconnect a few years ago, and catch up again. Going through her photos, I was simply amazed by her baking talent. When I found out that this mother of 2 young children works full time, and runs her baking business, I felt that I had to encourage her endeavor. I’ve shared a small sample of her beautiful creations here.

Hannah's Cakes

 

Here’s a small write up about her:

ABOUT MYSELF…
Hi, I’m Hannah Jaikumar, living in Brampton, On, Canada. I am a Realtor by profession for the past 10 years, but baking/cooking has always been my passion. No matter how busy I am, I always find the time and energy to bake.

HOW DID I GET INTERESTED IN BAKING…..
My cooking skills definitely are acquired from my mom Irene who is a great cook and my inspiration. I remember when I was 6-years old, my mom had baked “Vanilla Buns” during summer vacation in Delhi, India where I grew up for the first few years. The kitchen was filled with the aroma of vanilla, and the pan was a beautiful diamond shape. I still have the pan as a keepsake. The Vanilla Buns project stayed in my memory since then and eventually got me interested in baking.

Cakes By Hannah

(Edible Sugar-paste Flowers)

WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY LIKE….
I usually measure/weigh the ingredients, and get icing bags with appropriate nozzles ready the previous night. The next morning, while the first batch is in the oven, I get the batter ready for the 2nd batch, and all the baking is done back to back. While the cakes are cooling, I get the frosting ready according to the orders placed. I prepare a basic frosting, divide it into portions, and vary the flavors with additions of extracts or fruit pulps.

My family has always supported me a lot, be it tasting tirelessly by being guinea pigs or helping me in other ways. My husband Seraphim takes care of the home front, while our 11-year old daughter Rishona keeps our 3-year old Rivka entertained. Last but not the least, thanks to my twin sister Nandini who patiently listens to all my baking ideas and stories, and gives me valuable feedback.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS….
I’ve always dreamt of starting a baking business. I started on a large scale for the first time in the spring of 2010 to raise funds for the SICK KIDS HOSPITAL in Toronto. It was the first “BAKE SALE & LEMONADE STAND” organized by my daughter Rishona. I baked 700 chocolate chip cookies in 2 days while being 5-months pregnant with our second daughter. Rishona has since continued her fundraising every year till date. Over the years I have been treating family, friends, neighbors, my daughter’s school teachers, doctors office, school custodian, school bus operator, grocery store employees, and my hair dresser to name a few.

Currently, I take orders for CUPCAKES where the flavors & frosting can be customized to suit the customer’s taste. My other speciality is over 25 custom made flavors of BISCOTTI.

 

CONTACT INFO…..

I live about 50 kms from Toronto and cater to orders from in and around the city. All orders are to be picked up.

CUPCAKE DELIGHTS BY HANNAH

Phone: (416) 268-5307

 

 

CUPCAKE BOUQUET

Cupcake Bouquet

A cupcake bouquet would be a lovely gift for any occasion – Birthday, Anniversary, Mother’s/Father’s/Grandparent’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Baby / Bridal shower, Thank You, Congratulations, etc.

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, this might be the sweetest homemade gift that mom ever received.

Hannah Jaikumar from CUPCAKE DELIGHTS by Hannah was kind enough to share her method for these beautiful arrangements.

 

MATERIALS REQUIRED

Clay/Ceramic Pot or Vase – 6-inches in diameter

Pebbles to fill inside the pot

Styrofoam Ball – 6-inches in circumference

Glue gun

Tooth picks

Green tissue paper – 1 sheet (cut into 6-inch X 1-inch strips)
Fancy fabric ribbon-2-inches wide (Make a fancy bow separately.)

Cellophane wrap (optional)

13 to 18 large cupcakes [OR] 20 to 26 Medium cupcakes [OR] 30 to 36 Mini cupcakes

Butter cream frosting

Pastry bag

Icing tip of your choice according to the flower to be piped

 

Method

1)    Bake, cool and ice your cupcakes according to the flower of your choice, e.g. Roses or hydrangeas. Alternately, you can use store bought cupcakes.

(I prefer to refrigerate the iced cupcakes for 4-6 hours to firm up the icing for easy handling.)

Cupcake Bouquet

2)    Fill the pot/vase with pebbles to weigh the container down.

3)    Glue the Styrofoam ball with hot glue to hold it firmly in place.

Cupcake Bouquet

4)    Wrap the ribbon around the edge of the pot and glue at the joining. Glue the already made bow on to the front of the pot.

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5)    Keeping the bow as the front of the arrangement, insert 2 toothpicks, about 1-inch apart per cupcake. Make sure it is at a 45 degree angle, otherwise the icing will fall off or the cupcake will loosen from the paper cup.

Cupcake Bouquet

Cupcake Bouquet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6)    Place a cupcake snuggly on to the tooth picks, right in the centre. Continue by positioning 2 toothpicks per cupcake until the bottom row is complete. Adjust the tooth picks to ensure that the cupcakes are close to each other. You might have to remove and re- insert the toothpicks a few times. You can fit about 8 to 10 large cupcakes in the bottom row for a 6-inch pot and 6-inch Styrofoam ball. Move on to the next row with the same 2 toothpicks per cupcake pattern. The middle row will hold about 4-6 large cupcakes. The top will hold 1 large cupcake.

Cupcake Bouquet

7)    If using tissue paper, cut 1-inch by  6-inch strips. Fold the strips in accordion style. Carefully insert tissue paper in-between cupcakes, making sure not to touch or smudge the icing. Another easy trick is to use a pair of forceps/tweezers to insert the tissue paper. If using edible leaves follow the same procedure. Cover as much as you can so that no white Styrofoam ball is seen from the outside.

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 Cupcake Bouquet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8)    Cut a large size cellophane wrap. Place the bouquet in the center and carefully gather the cellophane wrap together. Tie a ribbon just enough to loosely hold the bouquet. I usually like to give the bouquet with a few extra cupcakes just incase 1 or 2 fall off the arrangement and can be replaced at the venue.

Cupcake Bouquet

 

YOUR CUPCAKE BOUQUET IS READY TO BE DELIVERED