Friday, July 11, 2008

Garam Masala Pears

I received this recipe from Emilie and I can't wait to try it. You can visit Emilie's excellent Food Blog at:

Thanks for sharing your recipe Emilie!

4 small ripe Comice pears (Anjou or Seckle are good alternatives)
4 Tablespoons agave nector
4 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon lemon juice optional
toasted sesame seeds or toasted coconut for garnish


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
peel and core the pears, cut in half and arrange cut-side down in a baking dish
whisk the agave, water, oil, garam masala and lemon together
pour mixture over the pears
bake for 20 minutes, basting the pears halfway through.

I was mentioning to Emilie that all I needed to find now was some agave nectar, but in having done a little research I found that it is available in most food specialty shops and also in health food shops. The following is some useful information about the agave nectar.

The Awesome Agave

The agave (uh-gah-vay) plant has long been cultivated in hilly, semi-arid soils of Mexico. Its fleshy leaves cover the pineapple-shaped heart of the plant, which contains a sweet sticky juice. Ancient Mexicans considered the plant to be sacred. They believed the liquid from this plant purified the body and soul. When the Spaniards arrived, they took the juices from the agave and fermented them, leading to the drink we now call tequila.
But there is a more interesting use for this historic plant. Agave syrup (or nectar) is about 90% fructose. Only recently has it come in use as a sweetener. It has a low glycemic level and is a delicious and safe alternative to table sugar. Unlike the crystalline form of fructose, which is refined primarily from corn, agave syrup is fructose in its natural form. This nectar does not contain processing chemicals. Even better, because fructose is sweeter than table sugar, less is needed in your recipes. It can be most useful for people who are diabetic, have insulin resistance (Syndrome X), or are simply watching their carbohydrate intake.
Fructose has a low glycemic value. However, according to some experts, if fructose is consumed after eating a large meal that overly raises the blood sugar or with high glycemic foods, it no longer has a low glycemic value. Strangely enough, it will take on the value of the higher glycemic food. So exercise restraint, even with this wonderful sweetener. It is a good policy to eat fructose-based desserts on an empty stomach, in between meals or with other low-glycemic foods. Use it for an occasional treat or for a light touch of sweetness in your dishes.


This sweetener is sometimes called "nectar" and sometimes called "syrup". It is the same food.
The light syrup has a more neutral flavor.
In recipes, use about 25% less of this nectar than you would use of table sugar. ¾ cup of agave nectar should equal 1 cup of table sugar. For most recipes this rule works well.
When substituting this sweetener in recipes, reduce your liquid slightly, sometimes as much as 1/3 less.
Reduce your oven temperature by 25 degrees.
Agave nectar can be combined with Splenda to counter Splenda's aftertaste and to control the amount of fructose used.
The glycemic index of agave nectar is low.
As a food exchange, a one-teaspoon serving of agave nectar equals a free food. Two servings or two teaspoons equals ½ carbohydrate exchange.

Cheers From Patricia

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Garam Masala

My husband and I love having Indian food and the spicier the better. Hubby is an excellent cook and loves taking over when it comes to preparing all our Indian meals. Garam Masala is one of the main ingredients in most Indian foods, so I thought I would share an easy recipe for making your very own Garam Masala. By the way I will be sharing a few posts in the near future of various Indian recipes. One coming up will be for a Chick Pea Gravy...a recipe which my husband received from a friend at work. He and his friends were having a luncheon at the office and a friend had made some Chick Pea Gravy which my husband claims was "out of this world". It is served with bread or rolls. Now I haven't made it yet, although I have already added the recipe to my personal cookbook files...but I purchased the Chick Peas last Saturday and just need to get a couple of more ingredients and I am set to go. Looking forward to making it on Saturday.

Well on with the Garam Masala.

1 /2" Cinnamon Stick (about 1 heaping tsp broken)

2 Bay Leaves, broken

3 tablespoons Green Cardamom Pods

2 teaspoons Fenugreek Seeds

1 tablespoon Whole Cumin Seeds

1 tablespoon Whole Coriander Seeds

1 tablespoon Black Peppercorns

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Whole Cloves

1 teaspoon Blade Mace

Preparation Instructions

Break the cinnamon sticks into pieces.

Crumble the bay leaves.

Heat a heavy frying pan and after 2-3 minutes put in the whole spices.

Dry roast over medium heat until the color darkens, stirring or shaking the pan frequently to prevent burning. Burns very easily!

Leave to cool, then grind.
Apparently stored in a airtight jar this will last 3-4 months.
You can add 2 teaspoons of ground tumeric after grinding to add a golden color and/or add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground ginger to give some heat, or to taste."

Let me know how yours comes out!

A little info about Garam Masala....

Garam means Hot and Masala in this sense means spice mix, although not many are hot as the name implies, but . There are hundreds of varieties, but suprisingly not many are available to public viewing as their secret content is often jealously guarded by families and chefs alike.

Garam Masala is often used towards the very end of the cooking process, and sometimes just sprinkled over the dish as it is being served. It creates that wonderful smell and taste we are so used to, and because most spice mixes are delicate they would not withstand a long cooking time and still preserve their aromas and flavours.

The typical spices found in Garam Masala are; Coriander, Cumin, Cinnamon or Cassia, Asian Bay leaves, cloves, Cardamoms, Turmeric, and Chillies. Quite often these are roasted whole and when cool they ground to a fine or coarse powder. A grinding stone is the best method as it releases the flavours, but you can use a coffee grinder which will do a reasonble job; but beware some spices like Cumin cause the spindle to seix=ze and attack the plastic also. So make sure you clean the grinder thoroughly each time.

It is always preferable to make your own Garam Masalas as commercial packaged varieties are often contain fillers, additives and inferior spices. Make up in small quantities, keep them in a glass jar (spices affect some plastics) and store them in a dark cool place, and don't keep them for too long as the soon lose their qualities.

Cheers From Patricia

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Baked Peach Pancakes

One food item I have truly missed since I moved here to New Zealand ten years ago is Bisquick. It is just so easy to use and very convenient to have on hand in the cupboard. Unfortunately it is virtually unavailable here, but just recently I was browsing some food categories on TradeMe New Zealand which is the New Zealand equivalent of eBay and I found a lovely lady that had some for sale which she had brought over from the States. So I immediately bought 6 large boxes and found myself in seventh heaven. I hadn't used any for ten years so this was definitely heaven sent as far as I was concerned. Now I know many of us are Gordon Ramsay fans and I would probably get a "white thumbs down" if he ever knew I was using anything but the natural ingredients from scratch, but sorry Gordon we all have a comfort zone and now was my chance to get busy in the kitchen again making some great Bisquick goodies. I thought you might all enjoy a great recipe for Baked Peach Pancakes....using Bisquick of course, and I will include the recipe here for you, but for those of you who prefer the "from scratch method" it is here for you as well.

Baked Peach Pancakes (Bisquick Style)


1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 cup Original Bisquick® mix
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs
2 medium Green Giant® Fresh peaches, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup sugar


1. Heat oven to 400ºF. Place 2 tablespoons butter in each of two 9-inch pie plates. Heat in oven until melted.
2. Stir together Bisquick, milk and eggs. Arrange half of the peach slices in each pie plate. Divide batter evenly between pie plates. Stir together sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over batter.
3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.


Baked Peach Pancakes From Scratch

4 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
4-5 medium peaches, peeled and sliced
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
Beat eggs and add sugar, milk, oil and salt. Add flour and mix well. Let stand for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Butter two 9 inch round cake pans and sprinkle with some of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Arrange peach slices on pans and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar and brown sugar. Dot with butter. Pour batter over peaches and bake 30-35 minutes until top is golden.


Monday, July 7, 2008

Pineapple Smoothie

Although it is quite cold here in New Zealand right now, I have spoken with several family members and friends up in North America and all I am hearing is how hot it has been. I am quite envious actually and I would swap weather with any of you in a heartbeat. So I have decided to share something refreshing from the heat with all those sweating in those hot spots all over America and elsewhere. A nice Pineapple Smoothie should do the trick. I have always loved pineapple during the summer especially, and even now we enjoy having fresh pineapple here in the winter months as well. I love to munch on it, and I really do enjoy cooking with it too. Pineapple is terrific on homemade pizzas, and great in a pork stir fry too. Give it a try!

Here's your Smoothie!


2 c. orange juice
2 (16 oz.) can crushed pineapple, undrained
4 med. bananas
4 tsp. sugar
2 (16 oz.) carton plain yogurt
2 c. crushed ice


Combine all ingredients except yogurt in blender and process until smooth.

Add yogurt and process until blended.

Garnish with a pineapple .

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Yummy Cupcakes...But Take A Closer Look!

Greetings From New Zealand!

Setting all food aside for a will just have to have a look at these great cupcakes.....But....they are pincushions! I couldn't resist sharing them on Platter Chatter. Almost good enought to eat, right?

If you are a stitcher, sewer, quilter or an all-around craftsperson than you will absolutely adore these wonderfully glitzy cupcake pincushions created by my dear and talented friend Jana way up in the woods of British Columbia, Canada. I was so excited when I saw Jana's cupcake pincushions that I just had to share them with all my blog readers. They are so reasonably priced that you won't be able to resist adding one to you collection of needlework or craft accessories. They are sooooo soft and ever so colorful. I use mine every is just so pretty to look at in person and serves your every day pincushion needs for your crafting. The pincushion comes with some bright glitzy pins which really top it off to a perfection that you will almost want to eat one. Just click on any one of these excellent images and it will take you to Jana's wonderful web site for pricing and additional details...and while you are there have a good peek around at all the other magnificent goodies that Jana has to offer especially for those of you interested in graphics for computer graphic design and scrapbooking. There are gigabytes galore of beautifully designed and created goodies for all your special needs.

Enjoy your cupcake.....mine is so good...I'll just have to have another!

Jana's Wonderful Web Site


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Food Lovers Unite...I'm Back!

Well I'm back blogging after a very long hiatus due to some health issues, and more recently busy with my jewelery business. I hope to be able to stay more current so that I can provide all of you that read my Blog all kinds of interesting goodies and items worth noting. Yes, all these months away from blogging has been a bit disheartening but hopefully things will pick up. I thank all of those who have still been reading my blog during my absence and look forward to having you all back again.
A very special Happy Fourth of July to all of my American Family and Friends and Readers. Actually the 4th happens also to be my Wedding Anniversary. This year on the 4th my husband and I will be married ten years. So hard to believe that I moved here to New Zealand from New York just ten years ago to marry my Kiwi fiancé It seems like just yesterday quite frankly.
I have been pretty busy just lately setting up my new web site for my jewelry business:

Irresistibly Ewe
Patricia's Beaded Treasures

I would love for you to stop by for a visit, although I do not have any jewelry uploaded as yet but hope to be ready to go within the next week or two weeks. All of my jewelry is hand-crafted personally. I will be offering beaded jewelry, beaded charms fobs, and beaded bookmarks. There will also be links for other items for offer such as Home Decor, Vintage Treasures, and Shabby-Chic. You may also have interest in auctions, and they will be available via my boutique as well. I will post to my blog to let you know when I am up and running, but feel free to have a peek at my web site itself.
Well...good to be back all.....and as always I welcome your feedback at any time. Have a good look around as there are lots of things to see and make you think on my all my blogs.

Cheers From Patricia