Friday, November 27, 2009

Holy Canoli...




So last month after missing the wonderful macaroon baking event I opened the daring kitchen forums page with a lot of enthusiasm. The moment I opened it my jaw dropped and then a feeling of relief came over- the forum page said "Sorry we are not baking this month". I thought "ah! what a relief, I don't have to try making/baking something and then realize that I suck at it!!"But that moment was indeed brief but what we we were asked to do this month, were some lovely canolis.

The November 2009 challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian pastry, cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbook Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Mattichio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scocilone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

I followed the exact recipe from the daring baker's website.
For the filling again I followed the recipe- I made the regular cream filling and pumpkin filling because I was going to take it for a Thanksgiving Dinner at a friend's. The variation I did was I added ground cardamom and rose water in my cream filling. I also used lavendar and lemon verbena scented powdered sugar for the filling and I should not say it myself but that did make a difference- everything was so fragrant and festive all of a sudden.

The shells, now that is a different story folks. Well I did lie when I said that I followed the recipe to the "T"- I so did not for one big reason- I added red wine vinegar and red wine to make the shells and in the end I had a pinkish dough. The texture looked alright but I did not have canoli forms so I decided to use a big dry pasta shell to get the canoli form. Now the website said I could use cannellini pasta and you know what It tried every big store (Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, other specialty stores)- nada, zippo noone carried the damn thing. Now that does not bode well, does it- especially a day before thanksgiving! But thankfully I found another big pasta called manicotti and I used that instead. The shells came out alright, as always could have been better. They did not blister but hey they tasted just fine and everyone enjoyed it.

The cardamom and rose water added a touch of freshness and apparently indianness to the whole thing.I am glad people liked it or at least they were generous enough to tell they liked it.

I think I will make it again- especially if I host a party at home, that way I need not carry the filling around and interrupt the dinner to fill my cannolis. But I definitely do want to improve my skills and may be the next time around I will get those gorgeous looking cannoli forms.

I must definitely thank the wise guy for helping me with the preparations- afterall he is more patient than I am and he is one who is my scape-goat!

Have a great weekend y'all and hope you all indulged in a great Thanksgiving meal and of course, Black Friday shopping!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Indian brunch


I am heading over to this month's mingle at Meeta's with an Indian brunch. The brunch consisted of
ரவை உப்மா (Rava upma)
வெங்காய (Onion) சாம்பார் (sambar)
Sweet pongal
And not to forget coffee (unfortunately this was instant coffee!)

For the rava upma,
Roast about a cup of rava/sooji for a few minutes, keep it aside once its done.
In a pan add about a tablespoon of oil, once that heats- add mustard seeds and let them splatter. Once they splatter add cumin seeds, a tbsp of chana dal, whole dried red chillies, a pinch of asaefoetida. Let them hang out in the oil for a few seconds.
Add the chopped onions and saute them. Then add any veggies you like (I added peas, potatoes, carrots and lima beans). Saute them all and cook them with very little- salt and pepper them as you like. Once the veggies about half way done, add the roasted rava and a cup of water. Let them cook together (salt and pepper again to taste), this should take about 5-7 minutes. Towards the end add a bit more oil (I used EVOO) and sort of flatten the upma in the pan so that it can brown on one side.
Serve hot with chutney/sambar/gotsu/yogurt/pickle (really your choices are unlimited)- I did onion-potato sambar.

For the sweet pongal,
Cook sushi rice according to package instructions.
Once the rice is cooked, add the kozhukattai poornam to it and stir well.
Serve hot or cold and top with some sweetened coconut milk and sesame seeds (toasted).
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