Wednesday, April 27, 2011


As a typical foodie, I spend most of my days thinking about, reading about, eating or preparing food.  My food-obsessed life wouldn’t be complete wihtout food magazines to read while traveling, waiting and during other quiet times.  They point me to new food trends, area restaurants and great recipes.  Some mags that I’ve subscribed to in the past but have not renewed are:

Martha Stewart’s Living – It’s large and full, but just not for me.
Food Network Magazine -- a good mag with great photos, but I can only read so much and wanted to branch out,
Cooking Light – a good mag, but I’m moving on to try new things.

This year, my subscriptions include Bon Appetit, Eating Well, Good Housekeeping and Southern Living.  My top fave is Bon AppetitThe magazine is small and thin compared to Food Network Magazine.  But I literally hang on every page, sometimes reading articles a second and maybe even a third time.  It’s one of the most well-written magazines that I’ve had the pleasure to read.  New editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport has overseen a redesign that speaks to me.  The newly redesigned BA  tells you what to cook, how to cook it, and why to cook it, now.  In Rapoport’s own words, “...Everyone on this staff, from the creative director to the research editor, loves to cook, eats with conviction,and never hesitates to tell you where he or she ate last weekend.  Food matters to us…”  I’m the first to admit that the staff of BA is light years ahead of me in culinary skills and expression.  Which is exactly why I love to read what they have to say.

I love their r.s.v.p. column – letters written by readers that have visited restaurants, fallen in love with a dish, can’t get the recipe pried from the chef, and hope that BA can get it for them.  Many times, the chef will release the recipe when BA asks.  When they won’t release it, BA comes up with a copy-cat version. 

Molly Wizenberg, award-winning blogger and author of “A Homemade Life,” is a regular contributor and I always look forward to her column.  Molly has the uncanny ability to make you fall in love with a food that you’ve never tried.  When she wrote about green papaya salad, I felt compelled to make it.  No matter what she writes about, I want to try it. 

Restaurant and Drinks Editor Andrew Knowlton keeps readers up to date on food trends and area restaurants that are worth visiting.  Andrew is definitely worth listening to, IMHO.

Prep School, in the back of BA,  gives easy to follow, step-by-step pictorial instruction to accompany recipes that may have difficult procedures for novice cooks.

A Recipe Index is included in case you want to keep your magazine and use it like a cookbook. 
And if you don’t know where to buy some of the ingredients, Sourcebook, also in the back, lists shopping info.  I love that BA has given me sources for wild salmon.  I’ll definitely be ordering some. 

So why am I telling you all this?  Because in these uncertain economic times, magazines are struggling.  Remember what happened to Gourmet, another great –er, used-to-be-great -- food magazine?  Please don’t let it happen to Bon Appetit.  A one-year subscription (12 issues) is only $12.

Monday, April 25, 2011


strawberry swirl cheesecake (5)

I made this cheesecake  in 2008, with a different crust and different ingredients in the filling.  It was excellent.  This time, I used my homemade graham crackers for the crust, adding chocolate chips and cocoa.  Instead of using sugar for the strawberry puree, I used strawberry jam sweetened only with fruit.   I liked this version better.  Served with extra puree spooned onto the plate, everyone raved over this version, and I’m keeping it as my current favorite. 

strawberry swirl cheesecake (2)

Strawberries are available year round, though in-season local strawberries are always the best.  You can make this deliciously firm, creamy and rich New York-style cheesecake with frozen or out-of-your area strawberries.    You won’t be disappointed if you try it.  And cheesecake freezes beautifully, so no need to feel like you have to eat it all up in a few days.

strawberry swirl cheesecake (3)

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake with Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust
Adapted from
Rating:  9.5 out of 10

Strawberry Puree:  1/2 lb.  fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled, washed, sliced
1/4 cup strawberry fruit spread, sweetened only with fruit juice
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. almond liqueur (or lemon juice)
1 Tbsp. butter

Crust: 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. cocoa

Filling:  3 (8-oz.) pkgs. Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (I used my homemade vanilla)
1/2 tsp. lemon zest, finely grated
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. orange extract
3 Tbsp. heavy cream

Garnishes:  Whipped cream, Chocolate shavings, extra whole strawberries

Make strawberry puree:  In  medium heavy saucepan, crush berries with a potato masher.  Add fruit spread and cornstarch and stir to combine.  Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring as needed. Cook till mixture is thickened, several minutes. Remove from heat and strain through a sieve. Stir in butter and flavoring. Cool thoroughly.

Make crust:  Heat oven to 325F.  Process chocolate chips in work bowl of food processor until chopped in fine pieces.  Add remaining crust ingredients and pulse till everything is combined.   Pat dough onto bottom and 1" up sides of a greased 8" springform pan lined tightly with two layers of tinfoil that go all the way to the top of the pan. Place on a baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack.

Make filling:   Heat oven to 400F.  Start heating a pot of water for the water bath.  Wipe work bowl and blade of food processor.  Combine cream cheese and sugar, pulsing till smooth and well mixed.  Add eggs and yolk, one at a time, pulsing only till yellow disappears after each addition.  Scrape sides and bottom of work bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and pulse just till combined. 

Prepare for baking:  Pour batter evenly into cooled crust.  Swirl half of the puree (about 3/4 - 1 cup) into the top of the cheesecake.  (Do this by dotting the mixture over the top and swirling with a knife or spatula.)  Place foil-lined springform pan in a large baking pan.  Fill pan with hot water halfway to the top of the cheesecake pan.  Bake 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 250F.  Bake an additional hour and 30 minutes, or till cheesecake is set.  Cool on wire rack for 2 hours, then uncovered in fridge for 2 hours.  Cover cheesecake and refrigerate overnight before serving.  Yield:  8-10 servings

Friday, April 22, 2011



Southern Living, one of my favorite magazines, has given us this delightful new take on asparagus.  It may not look very different, but your tastebuds will tell you otherwise.  Freshly grated ginger, Dijon mustard and a hint of orange juice awaken this sometimes boring vegetable.  If you have any left over, cut it up and add it to your next tossed salad, or even better, to scrambled eggs. 

If you’re looking for other ways to be creative with asparagus, try SL's Asparagus Pesto for a real treat.

Grilled Orange-Ginger Asparagus (Adapted half recipe)
Source:  Southern Living
Rating:  8.5 out of 10

INGREDIENTS:  2 Tbsp. orange juice
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/2 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed

Combine everything except asparagus in resealable plastic bag and squeeze together to mix well.  Add asparagus.  Refrigerate 2 hours or more, up to a day ahead.  Grill over medium high heat, 3-4 minutes per side, depending on thickness of stalks.  Serve hot, room temperature or cold.  Yield:  2-3 servings

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


sour cream vanilla cupcakes

This recipe, adapted from Elinor Klivans’ book, Cupcakes, was touted by to be great.  They certainly are different.  First, the eggs and sugar are beaten together till light and creamy, then the butter and vanilla are added followed by the sour cream.  Finally, the dry ingredients are blended in.  I’ve never mixed a cupcake batter with this method and decided it was worth a try.  The resulting texture is noteworthy – light, fluffy and airy, with only a small amount of baking powder and baking soda, due to the air beaten into the eggs at the beginning.  And the sturdy cupcakes crown beautifully even though you only use 2 Tbsp. of batter. 
sour cream vanilla cupcakes (3)

My all-time favorite vanilla cupcake recipe is SOUTHERN LIVING'S, but I’m glad I tried these.  If I have sour cream to use up (Southern Living’s cupcakes use buttermilk), I might make them again.

Elinor Klivans’ Sour Cream Vanilla Cupcakes, adapted 
Rating:  8 out of 10
INGREDIENTS:  1-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar (Klivans uses 1 cup, but 3/4 cup makes these plenty sweet.)
1/2 cup (1 stick) room temperature unsalted butter
1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup lite or regular sour cream

Heat oven to 350F.  Grease a 12-cup muffin tin, or line with paper liners.  Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt onto a large piece of waxed paper.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar for about 2 minutes, or till light and creamy.  Add butter and vanilla and beat on low speed for about 1 minute, or till well blended.  Beat in dry ingredients on low speed till blended.  Add sour cream and beat till smooth and well blended. 

Fill each cup with about 2 Tbsp. batter.  Bake 14-16 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted into centers returns with just a few crumbs and tops are firm.  Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes.  Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling.  Frost as desired.  Yield:  12

sour cream vanilla cupcakes (4)

Monday, April 18, 2011


Dove Peanut toffee crunch coconut muffins

This is it – the end of my stash of Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch.  They were put to good use in these yummy coconut muffins.  Coconut oil, coconut flour, coconut milk, toasted coconut and coconut extract bring an amazing texture and flavor to this moist, dense and not too sweet breakfast muffin.  And the coconut flour, toasted coconut, pecans and whole wheat flour add fiber.

If you want to be naughty, soften some butter and mix some real maple syrup and a bit of cinnamon into it.  Absolutely delicious on this or any other muffin.  If you want your muffin to be sweeter, just add an additional 1/4 cup sugar to the batter.

Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch Coconut Muffins
Source:  Judy’s Kitchen
Rating:  8.5 out of 10
INGREDIENTS:  1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill organic coconut flour
1/4 cup King Arthur white whole wheat flour
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I used Gold Medal)
3/4 - 1 cup sugar (I used 6 Tbsp. sugar + 1-1/2 Tbsp. NuNaturals Stevia = 3/4 cup sweetener)
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans
1/2 cup toasted sweetened dried coconut
1/2 cup Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch, chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin unrefined coconut oil (if hardened, then melt and cool
1/4 cup Smart Balance buttery spread or butter, melted, cooled
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. coconut extract (optional)
1 cup lite coconut milk
1/4 cup milk

Heat oven to 425F.  Grease a 12-cup standard muffin pan, or line with paper cups.  In medium-large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Stir in pecans, dried coconut and toffee crunch.  Set aside.

In large bowl, whisk together coconut oil, butter, egg, flavorings and milks till smooth.  Add dry ingredients all at once and stir with spoon or spatula lightly, just till barely incorporated.  Do not over mix.  Divide batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, using about 1/4 cup batter for each muffin. 
Dove Peanut toffee crunch coconut muffins (2)

Place pan in oven, close door, and immediately reduce heat to 350F (325 for dark or coated pans).  Bake 17-20 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted in center of muffin returns with just a few crumbs.  Cool in pans 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.

Dove Peanut toffee crunch coconut muffins (3) 
Serve plain or with butter sweetened with maple syrup and cinnamon.  Yield:  12 muffins.
Dove Peanut toffee crunch coconut muffins (4)

Monday, April 11, 2011


banana pnut toff crunch muffins
Here’s another way to use Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch.  Chop them and use them like chocolate chips in this super-moist, tender and just-sweet-enough muffin with great banana flavor. 
My top two favorite recipes for banana cake are Ultimate Banana Cake and One-Bowl Banana Nut Cake.  Either one can be served without frosting as a banana bread, or baked in muffin tins.  This recipe ranks as a close third.
Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch-Banana Muffins
Adapted from
Rating:  8 out of 10
INGREDIENTS:  1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch, or chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
3 bananas, very ripe (about 1 cup mashed)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (I used my homemade vanilla extract)
1 large egg
1/3 cup (5-1/3 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted, cooled

Heat oven to 375F.  Grease a 12-cup standard muffin pan, or line with paper cups.  In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Stir in toffee crunch and walnuts.

In medium bowl, whisk together mashed bananas, sugar, vanilla, egg and butter till well mixed.  Pour into dry ingredients all at once and stir together with spoon or spatula just till barely combined.  Do not over mix. 

Fill muffin cups almost to top.  Bake 17-19 minutes, or till toothpick inserted in center returns with just a few crumbs.  Feel the pick to be sure it isn’t gummy.  If it is gummy, the muffins are not yet done.  Cool in pan 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to finish cooling. 
Yield:  12 muffins

Friday, April 8, 2011


Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch Muffins (5)

Have I told you how much I love Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch?  It comes individually wrapped in a bag, and you can find it in the candy section of your store.  I found mine in Wal-Mart.  It would be more convenient for bakers if they would make this candy in a bar that could be chopped, but unwrapping each little tinfoil package is so worth it because this is the most amazing candy.  (I’m not being compensated in any way for this endorsement.)
Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch Muffins 

I’ve already made some outrageous peanut butter cookies with the toffee crunch candies, and let me tell you, these muffins are just as outrageous.  Moist, with a unique flavor that is almost like a malt flavor, these muffins, with a hint of cinnamon, are just sweet enough for me.  Sweet freaks might want to add an additional 2 Tbsp. sugar.  If you’re looking for a  treat that will  keep you happy and is not too involved to make, this is it.

Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch Muffins
Adapted from
Rating:  9.5 out of 10
1/2 cup (4 oz.) vanilla non-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (I used 1/4 cup white whole wheat + 3/4 cup UBAP)
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. sugar (I used 1/4 cup sugar + 1-1/2 tsp. NuNaturals Stevia)
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/3 cup Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch, unwrapped and chopped

Heat oven to 350F.  Grease a 6-cup muffin tin or line with greased paper liners; set aside.
Stir baking soda into yogurt; set aside.  In medium-large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, vanilla and egg.*  Pour liquids into dry ingredients all at once and stir lightly with spoon or spatula only till barely combined.  Do not over mix.  Stir in toffee crunch candy.  Spoon into prepared baking tin, using about 1/4 cup batter for each muffin.  Top with streusel.** 
**Cinnamon-Pecan-Dove Streusel:  In small bowl, stir together 2 Tbsp. chopped Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch, 2 Tbsp. sugar (or 1-1/2 tsp. NuNaturals Stevia), 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 1 Tbsp. chopped pecans.  Sprinkle, then press, onto tops of muffins

Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch Muffins (2)

Bake 17-20 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted near center returns with just a few crumbs.  Yield:  6 muffins
Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch Muffins (3)

*TIP:  Use a medium microwaveable bowl to melt butter.  Let it cool slightly, then add sugar, vanilla and egg and whisk till smooth.  This saves a dish.

Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch Muffins (4)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


vanilla bean cheesecake almond crust (2)

Two years ago, I made Food and Wine’s Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Walnut Crust, and it was absolutely amazing.  I wanted to make it again, but with an almond crust, to see which I preferred.  Both crusts are delicious with this cheesecake, and I have no preference.  So you can feel free to try either one with great results. 
vanilla bean cheesecake almond crust

My vanilla bean supply was exhausted, so Beanilla got another order.  This time, I lucked out.   Rare and exotic Tonga vanilla beans were on special, half off.  They are noted for their intense flavor and fragrance, and I was excited to get a chance to taste them and try them in this cheesecake.  The sour cream topping also got a hit from the vanilla beans.  My pantry has another bottle of homemade vanilla extract brewing, and I still have 4 vanilla beans to use up.  Tonga beans, I found out, are fatter and longer than other beans and have a ton of vanilla bean seeds inside.
vanilla bean cheesecake almond crust (3)

If you decide to make this cheesecake and opt to use vanilla extract instead of vanilla beans, please use a high-quality vanilla.

What more can I say?  This cheesecake is simply wonderful.  It’s not necessary to pile on fruit, sauces or chocolates to make it better.  It’s already great, just like it is. 

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Almond Crust
Inspired by Food and Wine Magazine
Rating:  10 out of 10

CRUST:  1/3 cup toasted almonds
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
1/3 cup graham flour, or whole wheat
2-1/2 Tbsp. butter, melted

Heat oven to 350F.  In work bowl of food processor, pulse almonds and sugar till almonds are finely ground.  Add flours and butter and pulse till mixture comes together.  Press onto bottom and 1” up sides of greased 8” springform pan.  Bake 8-10 minutes, or till set and beginning to brown.  Cool on wire rack.   Reduce oven heat to 300F!

SOUR CREAM TOPPING:  8 oz. sour cream, or lite sour cream
2 Tbsp. sugar, or 1-1/2 tsp. Nu Naturals Stevia
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped, or 1 tsp. vanilla  (I used Beanilla Tonga vanilla bean)

In small bowl, whisk together sour cream, sugar and vanilla.  Set aside.

  16 oz. Philly cream cheese or Neufchatel
1/2 cup sugar, preferably fine grind (or 1/4 cup sugar + 1 Tbsp. NuNaturals Stevia)
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped, (or 1 tsp. vanilla) (I used Beanilla Tonga vanilla bean)
2 large eggs
1 tsp. high-quality pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond liqueur, such as Amaretto
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. cornstarch

Reduce oven heat to 300F!  Wipe out work bowl of food processor with damp paper towel.

Combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla bean seeds in work bowl of food processor.  Pulse till well combined and smooth.  Add eggs, one at a time, pulsing just till combined.  Add flavorings, cream and cornstarch and pulse briefly to combine.  Pour over cooled crust, place on foil-lined, rimmed cookie sheet and bake 55-60 minutes, or till edges are lightly golden and cheesecake is slightly jiggly in center. 

Remove cheesecake from oven; immediately pour sour cream mixture over top and smooth the surface.  Return to oven and bake 5 more minutes, or till topping is set and no longer glossy on top.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature, several hours.  Place in refrigerator, uncovered, for another two hours.  Cover with plastic wrap applied directly to surface of cheesecake and refrigerate overnight before slicing.  Yield:  8-10 servings

Monday, April 4, 2011


CI best mac n cheese
Some of my best recipes have come from America’s Test Kitchen, including this one.  This baked mac and cheese is creamy, sturdy and rich, even when you change some of the ingredients.
CI best mac n cheese (2) 
Cook’s Country uses evaporated milk; I used 2% fresh.  They use elbow macaroni; I used medium shells.  Instead of American and Monterey Jack cheeses, I used Gruyere and Gouda.  The ratios and flavorings were kept the same, and the results were outstanding. 
CI best mac n cheese (3)
The original recipe was intended as a potluck macaroni and cheese and made an amount suitable for a 9x13 pan.  I scaled the recipe down for a smaller family, to yield 4-6 servings.  This one will be in my regular rotation.  It’s definitely a keeper – nice flavors, crispy cheesy topping, creamy cheesy insides. 
Cook’s Country Macaroni and Cheese (1-1/2-Quart Recipe)
Adapted from Cook’s Country TV
Rating:  9.5 out of 10
INGREDIENTS:  1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, torn into large pieces
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp. finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 quarts water
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1-1/2 cups (about 1/4 lb.) uncooked medium shell pasta
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 tsps. white whole wheat flour (Cook’s Country uses all-purpose flour)
1-1/8 cups 2% milk
1/2 tsp. hot sauce
big pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup shredded Gouda cheese
1/3 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese

In work bowl of food processor, pulse bread to coarse crumbs.  Add 1 Tbsp. melted butter and Parmesan cheese and pulse till well combined and crumbs are uniform.  Set aside.

In 3-quart heavy pot, bring 2 quarts of water and 3/4 tsp. salt to a boil.  Add pasta and cook to al dente, about 6 minutes.  Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain and rinse pasta under cold water. 

Return empty pot to stove and melt 2 Tbsp. butter over medium heat.  Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, till mixture turns light brown, about 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in milk, hot sauce, nutmeg, mustard, pepper and 1/4 tsp. salt.  Cook till slightly thickened, about 4 minutes.  Off heat.  Whisk in cheeses and 2 Tbsp. reserved pasta water till cheese melts.  Stir in pasta. 

Pour into greased 1-1/2 quart oven-proof baking dish.  Top with bread crumb mixture.  Bake till cheese is bubbling around edges and top is golden brown, 20-25 minutes.  Let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

Friday, April 1, 2011


gajar halwa

My Indian physiatrist (he’s a muscle specialist, not a head shrink) waxed poetically for months about his favorite dessert, made by his grandmother in India.  He reminded me of a homesick school boy as he reminisced about the sweetness of the carrots,  the chewiness of the raisins,  the crunch of the pistachios, cashews and almonds, the warmth of the pudding as it came off the stove, and mostly how it satisfied his hunger and was a gift of love from his grandmother.  As I listened, I was amazed that he could be so excited about carrot pudding.  (That’s the literal translation of gajar halwa.  In Hindi, “gajar” is carrot and “halwa” is pudding.)  In India, it’s made with red carrots, which are sweeter than American orange carrots.  Still, it didn’t sound like anything I would like.  But, with his birthday looming, I decided to make him happy. 

After watching several You-tube videos on the subject and reading at least 10 different recipes, I had my plan formulated and my confidence boosted.  My first surprise was how very easy it is to make.  My second was how much I liked it.  This is a dessert I could easily get excited about.  It’s that good.  If you’re wondering what it tastes like, think carrot cake in pudding form.  The milk and sugar mix with the carrots and cook down into a subtly sweet pudding studded with pan-toasted nuts and raisins.  A touch of cardamom hides in the background.  You’ll be licking the plate for every drop.  It’s delicious warm or cold, and I hope you can stop at just one serving because it’s not exactly low-cal. 

So far, I’ve given you an appetizer and entree for your Indian meal.  This is your dessert.  And it will steal the stage, for sure.  I hope you enjoy your Indian dinner.

Gajar Halwa (Indian Carrot Pudding)
Adapted from
Rating:  10 out of 10

INGREDIENTS:  3 Tbsp. of ghee* or unsalted butter, divided use
1 Tbsp. broken unsalted cashews
1 Tbsp. unsalted pistachios
1 Tbsp. unsalted blanched slivered almonds
3 Tbsp. golden raisins
4—1/2 cups peeled, grated carrots (grated on large holes of box grater)**
2 cups whole milk or half and half
1 (14 oz.) container sweetened condensed milk
3-4 cardamom pods, deseeded, ground finely

In 10” or larger heavy sauté pan, melt 1 Tbsp. ghee or butter on medium heat.  Add nuts and raisins and cook, stirring, till cashews are golden brown and raisins plumped, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to bowl.

Add 1 Tbsp. butter to sauté pan and increase heat to medium-high.  Add carrots.  Cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes, until the raw smell of the carrots turns into a yummy fragrance.  Add both milks and stir well to combine.  Stir occasionally for the first ten minutes, then stir more often as the mixture boils down. 
gajar halwa (11)

When the carrot and milk mixture begins to come together (about 30 minutes in all), starts to leave the sides of the pan, it is of halwa consistency (a little thicker than applesauce).  Taste it.  It should be pretty sweet.  If it is not sweet enough, add sugar (up to 1/4 cup) and stir for another few minutes to incorporate.  (I added 3 Tbsp. sugar.)  Off heat.  Add cardamom powder, nuts and raisins and the remaining tablespoon of butter.

Serve warm or cold.  Yield:  about 8 servings

*Ghee is clarified butter, or butter with water and impurities removed.
**Grating the carrots can go quickly if you hold the tapered end of the carrot and start grating with the fat end of the carrot on the grater.  
gajar halwa (8) 
Instead of standing the box grater up to do this, lay it down, so the carrot pieces fall into the grater.  Empty grater into measuring bowl as you go along. 
gajar halwa (9)