Sunday, November 28, 2010

Simple Beef Bolognaise Cannelloni

Having a sister a year elder to you is the best thing that can happen to anyone. She is your best friend when you need someone beside you. She is your teacher when you need help in your studies. She is your partner when you wanna do something your mom would never approve of. She is your counsellor when you need one. And once in a while, she becomes the villain who has come to destroy your life and hinder your freedom ;). Nada, I dedicate this post to you.
Last week Grandpa had come India. Nada had called me up and asked what should she sent for me through him. I told her I don't need anything...ok, i did ask her for some things, but what she sent me really moved me. She had sent me cannelloni shells and lasagna sheets, both of which I had been missing after coming to India. She had also sent me a couple of tart pans and muffin cups. Though I really wanted them, I hadn't asked Nada to sent them, and yet she sent them. That was ssooooo sweet of her. Nada, I LOVE YOU!!
I used the cannelloni shells to prepare beef cannelloni. I didn't follow any recipe. I simply tried to recreate the taste of the cannelloni served at Ponderosa-without ricotta cheese coz i hate ricotta cheese in my cannelloni. And I should say, I did a good job, but I am sure I could have done better with a little more planning. I filled the shells with beef in bechamel sauce and poured bolognaise sauce over the shells. I had placed the shells in one small and one large Pyrex dish. But the sauce managed to cover only the larger dish. I was in no mood to prepare more bolognaise sauce, so I used some store bought tomato sauce for the second dish. It turned out to be extremely tangy. But the next day, Voila! it tasted just like Ponderosa's.
Recently a new reality show named "Masterchef India" started airing on star plus. A couple of weeks back, on children's day, some kids were made to judge the dishes prepared by the chefs. Inspired by this format, my sisters decided to judge my cannelloni. So, as soon as I removed my cannelloni from the oven, my 2 younger sisters, my bro and 3 of my cousins, all of them seated themselves on the dining table and began to shout for food. I got 8s and 9s for my cannelloni...not bad,huh.?
In the following recipe, I have doubled the amount of bolognaise sauce. Feel free to experiment...


For the meat filling:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups minced beef
1 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp Italian seasoning, or to taste
2 tsp chilly flakes, or to taste
salt, to taste

For the bechamel sauce:
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
a pinch of nutmeg

For the bolognaise sauce:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
5 tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp chilly flakes
3 cups water
5 tbsp tomato sauce(optional)
salt, to taste

20 ready-to-cook cannelloni shells
200g cheddar cheese, grated
50g mozzarella cheese, grated

For meat filling:
Heat oil in a saucepan. Saute onion and garlic till onions begin to lose its colour. Add beef. I used some green chillies too. Saute till the beef is cooked. This might take some time. Add about 1/3 cup of water if needed, but remember, we need the filling to be dry. Add the seasoning and switch off the flame.
For bechamel sauce:
Heat butter in a sauce pan. Add the flour and saute till they combine well. Add all other ingredients. Bring it to a boil. Let it simmer till it becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Pour it into the meat filling and mix well.
For bolognaise sauce:
Blend the tomatoes in a food processor. Heat oil in a deep saucepan. Saute onions till they become transparent. Add all the other ingredients. Bring it to a boil. Adjust the seasoning and remove from flame.
To assemble:
Smother 1/4 cup bolognaise sauce into the Pyrex dish. Fill the meat into the cannelloni shells. You can use a teaspoon to fill them and use the opposite end of the spoon to push it in. However, I was more comfortable using my hands. That way , I can control the amount of meat the goes into my cannelloni. Remember, overfilled cannelloni don't taste good.
Place the filled cannelloni in the Pyrex dish. You can use 2 dishes if the don't fit into one. Do not place the shells one upon the other. Pour the bolognaise onto the shell. Top with the cheeses and bake at 200C for 30 minutes or till cheese become golden brown.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Eggless chocolate mousse-A sweet punch

This month's sweet punch challenge was a little hatke(different) from the usual ones. This month, we were given 3 recipes: tomato souffle, eggless chocolate mousse and a cholate mousse and asked to prepare any one of them. I prepared the eggless chocolate mousse. Not that I have a problem with raw eggs in my mousse, I just went for the eggless version since the recipe was from Nigella Lawson, a famous celebrity chef whom I have been following lately.
It was super easy, just melting the ingredients, folding in cream and refrigerating it. But as I always say, I can ruin even the best of the world's recipes. And that is exactly what I did. For starters, I burnt my chocolate. And then my cream refused to become creamy and looked more like milk. At the end, I was left with a chocolate sauce that tasted scrumplicious, but was nowhere close to a mousse. Without any hope left, I poured the "sauce" into induvidual serving bowls and refrigerated them. What I had after one hour was a dense, rich chocolate pudding close enough to be called a mousse.The next day, it tasted even better.

These are the things I am going to remember the next time I prepare this:
When melting, see to it that the marshmallows are placed in the bottom of the saucepan and the chocolate is at the top since marshmallows take the longest time to melt and since chocolate is sensitive to heat. Keep an eye on the chocolate while it is melting and don't go off to wash the dishes like I did. Use good-quality cream and not any old tin of cream lying in the pantry. Watch Nigella's videohere for more details. Mohammed enjoyed his mousse with Parle- G biscuits

Eggless Instant Chocolate Mousse:

Recipe Souce :Nigella Lawson via Ria's Collection
Serves: 7

Mini marshamallows - 150 g (you can use regular marshmallows too)
Butter-50 g, softened
Chocolate- 250 g (I used a mix semi-sweet ), chopped into small pieces
Hot water-60 ml
Cream-284 ml
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp
In a heavy-bottom saucepan, melt the marshmallows,butter,chocolate and water together, stirring every now and then.
Meanwhile, whip the cream with vanilla until thick.
Fold it into the cooling chocolate mixture until you have a smooth mixture. ( I let the chocolate cool very well for the fear that the cream might melt.)
Pour into individual ramekins and let it set in the fridge for about 1 hour.