Sunday, September 9, 2012

Eggplant Pizza or Eggplant Parmesan

First new dish I tasted after coming to US was Olive Garden's Eggplant Parmesan. And it was delicious. I am sharing with you all a healthier and simpler version of Eggplant (Brinjal) Parmesan or Eggplant Pizza. Name as you like, eat as much as you wish.. :)

Prep Time:  50 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

1 Big Eggplant (Brinjal)
salt to taste
1 tsp Black pepper
1 tsp Olive Oil
1 tsp  Dried Herbs
1/2 cup Bread crumbs
1 cup Pasta Sauce or Marinara Sauce
Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
Parmesan Cheese

For Pasta Sauce
1 cup Tomato Paste
1/4th cup Tomato Sauce
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 medium onion chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
few springs of fresh Basil
1 tsp Butter
1 tsp Black Pepper powder
Salt to taste

Cut the Eggplant into 1/2 inch thick slices. Place the slices in a plate. In a small bowl mix oil, salt, crushed Black Pepper and Dried herbs like Parsley and basil. Lightly brush this mixture on both the sides of the eggplant slices. Allow the slices to marinate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile you can prepare your pasta sauce. You can use the store bought pasta sauce also.

For Home made Pasta Sauce Saute Onion in butter until its tender. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add Tomato Paste, sauce, tomatoes, pepper powder, salt and Basil. Allow it to cook uncovered, stirring occasionally for around 20 minutes or until desired consistency.

Crush the bread crumbs finely and set aside in a plate.
Now coat the eggplant slices from both sides with the bread crumbs and put them for grilling.

Option :  You can also bake them in oven, but i like the grill lines on the eggplant so i prefer to grill them.

After grilling place them on a greased baking tray. Spread sauce over the slices and top them with the cheeses. Bake at 350~ F for 4-5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.  

Tip : 
1. You can deep fry the eggplant slices by dipping them in a thick batter of All purpose flour (maida), salt, pepper powder, dried herbs, teaspoon of oil and water. Skip the marination and grilling part.

2. You can bake the eggplant slices by dipping them in the thick batter (recipe as in tip 1) and coat them with bread crumbs. Bake them at 350~F for 25 minutes or until golden brown, turning them once. Skip marination and grilling part.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Almond Pretzels

Soft Almond Pretzel
Aroma of hot soft pretzel is irresistible :)

I had tasted normal Pretzels and I didn't like them much. But once I tried these soft Pretzels, I could not resist having them every time I passed by Aunt Annie's shop in nearby mall. Thus me and my husband became huge fan of soft Pretzels, especially Almond Pretzels. And as usual, my cooking passion kicked in and I decided to make these at home.

I searched the recipe on internet but there were many methods of making them. I experimented a bit and result was not bad at all. In fact it turned out to be as good as the one from Aunt Annie's :).

Preparation Time - 1 hr 30 mins
Cooking Time - 30 mins


1 cup All Purpose Flour
1/4 the packet Rapid Rising Yeast
1 tsp Sugar + 2 tsp Sugar
Salt to taste
2 Tbsp melted Butter
1 Tbsp Baking Soda
2 Tbsp coarsely crushed Almonds

This will make 4 Pretzels.

Dissolve 1 tsp sugar and yeast in 2 tablespoon lukewarm water. Keep it aside for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile Mix Flour, salt and 1/2 Tbsp butter. Add the dissolved yeast and form a soft dough. Add extra water if needed. Transfer the dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover it and keep it in a warm place  approximately for an hour or until it's size doubles.

Mix sugar and almonds in a small bowl and keep aside. Punch down the risen dough and divide into four parts.Roll one part into a long rope.

Make a U shape with the rope, twist the ends of the rope and join them at the bottom of the U shape. Use some flour for dusting.
For nuggets cut the rope into 1-inch pieces. You can also create different shapes; it can be a fun activity for kids - with all the different shapes they can give to a regular pretzel :)

Place the pretzels on a dusted and lightly greased plate.

Boil almost 1 litre of water. Add baking soda to it. In parallel, lightly grease your baking sheet and preheat the oven to 425F.

Add the pretzel into the boiling water and allow it to cook for not more than 1 minute. Remove it from water and place it on the greased baking sheet.  For nuggets, place them in water for 30 seconds.

Brush the pretzels with butter and sprinkle the almond mixture on top. Bake the pretzels for 12-15 minutes. Baking time varies, so keep an eye. My pretzel got baked in 12 minutes.

Take them out and lightly brush them with butter or dip them in liquid butter as done by pretzel shops. The hot soft pretzels are ready :).

Try it and do share your experience.