They say , you don't need an occasion to plan a special dinner! However, with busy and hectic routines of modern day women, be it the working class , or the home makers, its difficult to add a yet another element to the routine dinners , that are already made within tight schedules, whilst managing household chores and of course children!
But if meals are simplified, and made with at home ingredients, adding a continental twist to them makes up for a special treat for your near and dear ones, without actually fussing about it much!
What remains is planning the ambiance , which isn't much difficult either.
Just Shut off your white lights and turn on those dim lamps at home. Light a simple candle , and present your treat in your favourite crockery. Bring out the cutlery , knife,forks,spoons, soup bowls , and spread over your dining table.
And if you have kids...put them to work! Share your lil secret party plan with them , and you ll be amazed , how seriously a they take your plans!
Having said that , what remains, is an actual planned meal , that was made in an hour or so , planned in mins and cooked with whatever was available in my pantry!
Meal Plan : To surprise husband, with a simple continental light meal.
Ambience: A dim lit lamp , a candle , and a bottle of wine, light gazals on the background.
Table : Regular Crockery and Cutlery , Brought out favourite Stem Glasses.
Appetizer: Spicy Sausage Bites
Side: Palm Heart and Olive Salad
Main Course: Spicy Prawns in Tom Yum Curry with Flat Rice Noodles
Dessert: Fruity Ice Cream Cake
Spicy Sausage Bites:
This is a very easy starter. I had the sausages and the cheese available and decided to make this really quick starter. You can use the plain sausages also and just toss in some herbs later while cooking.
4 nos Spicy smoked sausages
1/2 tsp Chilli Powder
2 / 4 tsp Grated Herbed Gouda Cheese
a pinch of Namak Shamak
1 tsp Oil
Add oil in a non stick pan. Toss in the sausages cut into rounds, add the chilli powder and the salt. Cover and cook till crisp. This will take about 6 to 8 mins.
Serve hot with grated smoked gouda. You can use mozzarella cheese also.
Palm Heart and Olive salad:
I had ordered some palm hearts a few days back. And on pure whim I decided to use it in the salad. Its slight coconutty taste went very well with the crispness of the lettuce and the slight bite of the horseradish dressing. And the Olives imparted the required tang!!
If you cant source palm hearts, use some shredded cabbage instead.
100 gms Palm Hearts (I bought these from Foodesto.com)
10 to 15 Black Olives
1 small Lettuce
1 small Onion
2 tbsp Horseradish dressing
1/2 tsp Chilli flakes
Roughly shred the lettuce. Cut the onions.Deseed and chop the tomatoes, and the olives.
Cut the palm hearts and boil in salted water for 5 mins.,drain and keep aside to cool.
Prepare the dressing by adding the chilli flakes to the horseradish dressing.
Now assemble the salad and serve garnished with pudina leaves.
Spicy Prawns Tom Yum Curry with rice noodles:
Basically this paste is used to make tom yum soup, but since I had run out of thai red curry paste I decided to get innovative and use this instead and the result was absolutely fantastic.... It compliments the rice noodles perfectly. Just dont make the curry too runny.
8 to 10 Prawns
1 tsp Ginger Garlic paste
1 Tom Yum Paste (I used Exotic food)
1/2 tsp Red chilli powder
1/2 tsp Namak Shamak
1 Coconut milk (I used homemade)
1 tsp Oil
1/2 packet Flat rice noodles
Boiling 5 cups of water in a pan. Add 1 tsp salt. When boiling add the noodles cover and turn off the heat. Let it stay for 10 mins. Drain and toss adding a tsp of olive oil.Keep aside.
In a non stick pan.Heat the oil. Add the ginger garlic paste, chilli powder, prawns, salt and the tom yum paste. Saute till oil leaves the sides. Now add the coconut milk and cook covered for 10 mins.
Serve hot with rice noodles.
Fruity Ice cream Cake
I had made this one on earlier occassion , and decided , it was the quickest possible dessert to put up.
I put my 10 yr old to work to assemble the dessert using leftover cake, and the fruit cocktail tin and vanilla icecream.
Derived from the eggless sponge cake , this dessert is quick and easy and made from a few ingredients.
The Ice cream can be substituted with whipped cream. I have tried both the versions and both taste awesome!!
I have tried making a low fat whipped cream using the regular Amul fresh cream , that is 25 % fat. By trial and error , I finally got my consistency right. It might not be as stiff as the whipped heavy cream, but hey , atleast you can have the dessert feeling less guilty!
2-3 Slices of Eggless Sponge Cake ( Any sponge cake will do)
1 Can of Fruit Cocktail
1 Cup Vanilla Icecream
1 Cup Amul Fresh Cream or any whipping cream
2 tsp gelatine dissolved in 1tbsp warm water
2-3 tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla essence
Do not use whipped cream if using vanilla ice cream.
For making low fat whipped cream, pour the chilled Amul fresh cream(discard the liquid water mixture from the pack and use remaining thick cream) in a cold steel bowl and start whipping with electric whip . Gently start adding sugar.
Now add the gelatine mixture and vanilla essence and keep whipping , till the cream starts forming soft peaks , but still runny.
Refrigerate for 10 mins in deep freeze.
Again whip the cooled cream for 5 mins.
Keep it in refrigerator for usage later.
Line a glass or a bowl with foil ,keeping the ends of the foil ,intact at the brim of the glass.(or use a riing mould in case available) Push in a slice of cake. Drizzle some syrup from the fruit cocktail to moisten the cake. Now add some canned fruits and top them with the whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.Layer it again with a slice of cake,followed by fruits and cream. Decorate with canned cherry.
Cool this mixture in refrigerator for 10 -15 mins.
To demould, put the glass or bowl in warm water and gently pull the ends of the foil at the brim .
Arrange on a plate and remove or peel off the foil.