Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Pantry Essentials....

Chez Nous, we try and keep the pantry stocked  - so we can try out that Thai Curry or the Quiche Lorraine on a whim. The following is a list of pantry essentials in Fifi's kitchen......

Dry Herbs & Spices:

  • Indian Spices (Chilli - both fiery and spicy & Red and mild, Turmeric, Garam Masala, Coriander powder, Saunf (green fennel), Jeera (cumin seeds), Mustard seeds, Dry red chillies, Aamchur (dried mango powder), Assorted masalas - for channa, meat etc)
  • Whole Spices (Cinnamon, Cloves, Cardamom, Star Anise, Bay leaves, Nutmeg etc)
  • Roasted Garlic
  • Chilli Flakes
  • Paprika
  • Garlic Salt
  • Lemongrass
  • Herbs (Oregano, Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, Parsley, Tarragon and Chives)
Fresh Herbs: 
Fifi plants and Serenity sincerely waters them, so technically all credit for our little herb garden goes to him! After one CRAZY trip around the suburb where I live on a rainy day looking for Italian basil because my recipe demanded it and I had guests that evening... and where I visited over SIX places and was disappointed, I decided we needed to plant some of these "exotic" herbs. This actually makes a lot of sense, since if you go to buy Italian basil, it comes in a BIG bag that will NEVER get used up even if you eat pesto for breakfast, lunch and dinner!! All it takes is sticking a few of the cut stems you buy into some soil... and lots of diligent watering, of course!! Please note that basil tends to blacken when you refrigerate it.... its actually better off left on your kitchen counter in a little bit of water - will stay reasonably okay for 2-3 days. 
  • Italian basil 
  • Lemon basil
  • Thyme
  • Mint
  • Rosemary (planted today, let's see if it takes!!)
I DO keep a ready-made pasta sauce in the fridge - it comes in SO handy when you've had no time to make dinner..... maybe one day I'll make my own and freeze it or something - but for now, the Ragu Pasta Sauce is my Plan B.... for pretty much ANY emergency meal !! 
  • Italian Dressing (brand - American Garden  / Remia / Kraft)
  • Sriracha Chili Sauce (a popular spicy sauce of Thai origin)
  • Kasundi - coarsely ground mustard sauce - and I SWEAR by the local Bengali version over ANYTHING else!! I also keep Kraft mustard and a Dijon mustard.... but the desi Kasundi is STILL tops!!
  • Soy Sauce
  • Honey (superb with pork chops - yes, yes.... that recipe WILL come!)
  • Olive Oil (I do not buy pomace, recommend extra virgin olive oil)
  • Balsamic Vinegar / Red wine vinegar 
  • We always have tetra packs of coconut milk, tomato puree and cream. 
  • Ginger and Garlic Pastes
  • Thai Curry pastes
  • Bouillon cubes (Chicken AND Beef) 
  • Rice noodles (since Mimi makes something we call her "Rice Noodle Thingy"!!)
  • Egg Noodles
  • Flour
  • Cocoa
  • Cooking chocolate (comes in slabs.... I usually have the dark variety in the fridge)
  • Pasta (at any point of time, we have atleast 2 kinds of pasta - for variety!!) - and from a health perspective, I would recommend the use of wheat pasta rather than the refined flour variety. Try the gnocchi - potato pasta .... its heavy, but soooooooo yummmmmm!!
  • Rice (a regular kind and a lovely long-grain basmati!)
  • Lentils / White beans / Chick peas
  • Sun-dried tomatoes (these come dried - or you could buy the ones in oil - but that works out to be PRETTY steep.... I bought them in a packet..... cleaned them (and you will see why!), kept them in the sun for a day.... and put them in olive oil myself!)
  • Shitake mushrooms (these come dried and you can store them upto a year!)
In the Refrigerator / Freezer:
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Mayonnaise
  • Bacon (bits and fresh!)
  • Boneless Chicken breasts 
  • Sweet corn
  • Frozen peas
  • Cold cuts
  • Cheese 
  • CHOCOLATE!!! (yes, it is an absolute paradox - for a diabetic person, there is a LOT of chocolate in my refrigerator!)
I'm sure Mimi will have stuff to add...... but this is pretty much IT from me, Fifi ! 
Cook up a storm! Bon Appetit , Fifi .

Re-inventing the wheel....

So yeah! In the few short days that "Cookie Monsters" has been up, we've gone through 3 template changes. Now, you COULD attribute that to the fact that 2 women run this blog.... but the fact is, that no matter how fancy and awesome a "dynamic" template looks, doesn't mean that it won't have glitches. In our case, the template refused to post any comments!!

Since the blog came up, we've had 1 person write in with feedback and suggestions, which we both plan to implement..... Thank you Kavita.... and then we figured that the comments section just doesn't work.... so we ditched the fancy-shmancy and went back to a basic template.... and now IT WORKS!!!

So do let us know what you think..... or if you want us to try out and post something special.... Mimi's Tarte Tatin answers Kavita's recipe query. We're open to trying anything - after all, we DO have our respective guinea-pigs to try these on!! We may take a day or two to try out recipe requests (always depending on how the pantry is looking, of course!!) but we will try and make it!

Bon Appetit from Mimi & Fifi !!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Chicken Rice

The Husband and i...we love Singapore...we love visiting the city and we love eating the street food.  This recipe is the reconstruction of the Singapore Chicken Rice, I say reconstruction because it has a desi twist to it because of the spices but still has the soul-food quality to it.

We make this whenever we miss home and friends or one of us is about to fall ill, the non-vegetarian's answer to the reviving qualities to a kichdi as it were.  Please do note, NOT a biryani recipe.  Fifi, Serenity and I enjoyed this, one cold evening on our balcony (the few times Serenity agreed to dine al fresco).  I made this last night because I was missing them and  I thought will share this with you all today.


1tbsp oil or ghee (depending on which side of the diet you are on!)
500 gms chicken
1.5 cups rice
1 maggi chicken cube
2 medium sized chopped onions
2 medium sized tomatoes
6 to 8 cloves garlic, 1 inch giner and 5 to 6 green chillies all roughly chopped using mixie
whole garam masala whatever you have at home (elaichi,cinnamon,cloves,star anise), a handful of mixed garam masala.  This you dry roast before using in the dish.


Dissolve the cube of chicken is enough water such that the chicken is half submerged in it, poach the chicken in this liquid.  Poach it such that chicken is just about cooked.  Reserve the poaching liquid.

In a pressure cooker heat the oil/ghee and add the ginger, garlic and chilli mixture with the whole garam masala.  Saute for a few minutes till you can smell the cooked spices.  Then add the chopped onions, once they start to brown add the tomatoes.  Once this has been incorporated add the rice and add 1.5 times water (so here it would be 3 cups of water).  When i say water i mean first measure out the poaching liquid and if this measures upto 1.5 times of the rice then use all the poaching. If the poaching liquid is not enough then add remaining measure of plain water.Add salt to taste and  pressure cook for 2 whistles.  Let rest for about 10 minutes.

Pop in your fav movie, song or if you are a "dramedy" queen  like me,  get out your fav pics of your bff and sniff away.....

Bon appetit from Mimi !!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Tarte Tatin

As i mentioned earlier i do not bake as much so this recipe is a wee bit special as this was one of the first things i baked and the poor pic is proof enough that i did not have enough left for a decent apologies for the poor pic...will replace when i bake one next.

Tarte Tatin is just about the easiest things to bake and the fancy name does not hurt either! The short crust pastry in this recipe can also be used for quiches,pies and tarts. I use regular salted butter (no butter like amul butter).  So here goes my friends presenting to you Tarte Tatin:

(This is for a 9 inch baking dish, not the tart dish as the juices tend to overflow so use either an oven proof round pan or a regular 9 inch cake tin)

Short Crust Pastry:

100g Self Raising Flour
50 g diced butter (measure the butter when diced) (the butter to be cold but slightly soft)
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp ice cold water

For the Apple topping:
3 large Granny Smith apples (if medium sized you can use 4)
Rind and Juice of 1 lemon (if using lime then juice of half a lime should do)
75gms butter
75 gms demerara sugar



Flour,icing sugar and butter goes into a bowl and using your fingertips start crumbling the butter into the flour and sugar.  It is important that the consistency remains crumbly at this stage so do not knead just crumble  using your finger tips, continue to do so till the mixture resembles a breadcrumb consistency (if the butter is at room temperature you will not achieve this consistency). Add the yolk and the water to form a firm dough, it should not be sticky dough.  Just knead the dough very gently for a couple of minutes and put in an air tight container or wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


Peel and slice the apples thinly immediately sprinkle with the rind and juice of lemon/lime. In a pan melt the butter and sugar as mentioned in the topping ingredients. Once the 2 have been fully melted and incorporated pour melted liquid into the bottom of your cake tin, or if you are using the pan then let it remain in the pan itself.  On top of this arrange the slices of apples around the base and pile in a circular manner to fill the dish.

Roll out the refrigerated pastry and cover the pan or cake tin with the pastry. Bake in a pre heated oven at 200 deg C for 20 minutes or until the pastry is cooked to a golden brown.

Once done remove from oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes. Slice a piece....serve yourself some and enjoy....

Bon Appetit Mimi

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Potato Garlic Bacon Bake...

This is an easy-to-do midweek dinner, very creamy and filling. No crust, just layers of flaky, smoky potatoes (thanks to the bacon!) and a creamy sauce. You could add a layer of grated cheese, but I think its pretty rich the way it is. Peas and parsley would also be good, and of course carrots! (Serenity is a BIG carrot lover, he recommends adding carrots to EVERYTHING!!

Potato Garlic Bacon Bake.
Ingredients: Potatoes (depending on how many you're cooking for!)
Cream (again, you need just enough to cover the potatoes, but not make it too watery!)
Garlic (as MUCH of it as you like - we LOVE garlic!)
Bacon bits (this is a VERY handy addition to your pantry, quick and adds so much to any dish)
(Get a friend who's coming down from somewhere to get you a bag and store it in the fridge! 
Failing this, you'll need to dice up bacon really small and fry it - 
a little fat is good, but if the bacon is too fatty, you'll need to trim it!)
Olive Oil / Butter

Method: - Thinly slice the potatoes (i scrubbed them and left the skin on) and lightly cook.
DO NOT OVERCOOK the potatoes. They need to be cooked but still firm.
- Fry the onions in butter / olive oil. Saute the garlic. Caramelize and keep aside.
- Lightly saute the bacon bits to heat through and release flavour (or fry them if you're using raw bacon)
- Mix in the sauteed onions. Add the cream and cook - take care not to make it too watery (my sauce was, but it still tasted great!)
- Layer the potatoes in a baking dish. Pour the onion - cream mixture to cover the potato slices.
- Bake in a 200 C pre-heated oven for around 45 minutes till the top is golden brown. 

Notes: I have not used any thickening agent, so the sauce is a bit runny.
If you're feeling guilty about the cream sauce, you could make a sauce with a lesser percentage of cream, thin it out with milk and then thicken it with flour... like a white sauce roux. Chives would also be a great addition! 
Bon Appetit from Fifi ! 

Fried Rice....

This is a quick stiry fry type of recipe....back home with fifi and serenity...I would often make pasta and oriental whilst fifi is the bakes,hearty pork chops and sweet somethings station here goes my quickly make and quickly eat fried rice....
 Ingredients:  Half an onion finely chopped (medium)
2cloves of garlic minced
1 egg
Any crunchy soft vegetable ( pak choy, iceberg lettuce, sugarsnap)
If using meat or prawn then precooked meat chicken or prawn (u can flash fry the chicken beef or prawn prior) Soy sauce about a tsp depending on the kind of soy sauce used.
Pre cooked rice
Half table spoon oil

Get the pan real hot and add oil....then add the onions...once these are pale and translucent add the garlic....stir fry and before the garlic changes colour add the egg and stir such that it scrambles. Once the egg is fully cooked...add your meat or seafood. Once this has been incorporated add the veg and once the veggie is bright green add the rice....stir quickly make a well within the rice and add soy sauce.....once incorporated remove from heat and sprinkle salt if necessary.the whole stir fry should not take more than 3 to  minutes. Bon Appetit from Mimi !!

Drunken Chicken and Claypot Rice....

This was our FIRST collaborative effort..... and a grand success, if I may say so myself ! 
In Kerala, where we both originally hail from, fish curry is cooked in an earthenware pot, called a 'chatti'....
Having obtained one of these, we broke it in by making Clay Pot Rice (not having any fish at hand that day!)
Both of these recipes are our own !! (But we only wrote down the one for the rice!!)
Bon Appetit - Mimi & Fifi !

Clay Pot Rice
Chicken stock
1 sachet Ramen flavour
Spring onions
Star Anise

Boil water with everthing except rice.
Add rice.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Starting on a Sweet Note.... Brownies!

In India, you should (ideally!) start something on a sweet note..... now since I'm diabetic, I cheated on this one!
But this recipe makes these gorgeous, slightly sweet, very dense brownies!!
Bon Appetit - Fifi !

Perfect Brownies!

Ingredients: 1 1/2 cup sugar (I substituted 1/2 cup of Splenda!)
3/4 cup cocoa
3/4 cup butter (melted)
3/4 cup flour
3 eggs
3/4 cup chocolate chips
walnuts / hazelnuts (optional, but of course you've got to put them in!!)

Method: - Combine sugar, flour, cocoa, eggs and melted butter
- Do this by hand until the dry ingredients are just about incorporated into the wet and stop (The more you stir it, it accelerates the production of gluten)
- Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.
- Line a 9" x 13" pan with parchment
- Pour in the batter and spread it out 
- Bake at 325 F or 165 C for 20-30 minutes till a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clear.
- Lift the parchment out of the dish. Peel the edges and cool before slicing. 

Meet the Cooker Monsters....

Welcome to the Cooker Monsters! We're Mimi & Fifi.... no, those are NOT our names... and we love to cook.... and EAT! We're a pair of girls who like the nice things in life - good food, good men (!! yup, we found them and married them!!), lots of shoes and clothes and travel.....

Thanks to a coincidental move to a different city, Fifi (and Serenity - her Significant Other!) had Mimi as a (more-or-less-permanent!) housemate! A strange arrangement that resulted in lots of mayhem and laughter and many forays together into cooking up a great meal !!

Mimi is known for her mad "get-rich-quick" schemes which included writing a book together, selling our completely mental home videos to Google (a la Charlie bit my finger) and a million others!
On a more serious note, Mimi is a sucessful entrepreneur and a partner in an e-learning company!

Fifi is temperamental and extremely accident-prone (especially around Mimi!!). Fifi enjoys single-malts, the company of other crazy people and is an internet - junkie. She is the widely recognised Queen of the land of Faux Pas! She has a mental age of 6 years which she shamelessly allows Mimi and Serenity to pamper! She is a Communication Designer specialising in Spatial Design.

Together, we are the Cooker Monsters! We cook, we eat, we laugh and we love. We hope you're around to enjoy the ride with us!