Monday, December 27, 2010

Daring Bakers

Well, I seem to the last one to post yet again! This time we were challenged with Stollen, a cake like yeast bread with history as rich as its flavors. While it is thought to have originated sometime around 1330s, it is first mentioned in the accounts of the Christian Hospital of St. Bartholomew in Dresde, Germany.  Want to read more about it- check these pages here or here.

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.



Stollen Wreath
Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people (I made one medium-sized and two small loaves)

¼ cup lukewarm water
28gms fresh yeast {or 14 grams active dry yeast}
1 cup milk
140gm unsalted butter
5½ cups {770 grams} all-purpose flour ,  plus extra for dusting
½ cup{130gm}  vanilla sugar
¾ teaspoon  salt {if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement}
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 2 lemons
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup firmly packed raisin (golden and black), cranberries
3 tablespoons rum
1 cup almonds, chopped
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Powdered sugar for dusting wreath

Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.


Method

In a small bowl, soak the raisins and cranberries in the rum and set aside.
Whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, and lemon zests. Set aside.
Melt the milk and butter gently in a pan. Stand until lukewarm.
Pour ¼ cup warm water into a small bowl, add fresh yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange zest.
Then stir in {or mix on low speed with the dough hooks} the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.
Add in the soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!
Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading {or mixing with the dough hook} to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes. The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn’t enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.
Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge {since the butter goes firm} but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough
Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Preheat oven to moderate 180°C with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

Forming and Baking the Wreath
Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.
Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.
Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.
Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh – especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!

When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.

Judgement

Thank you Penny- this was one of my successful DB digs! The house smelled great and the Stollen tasted awesome. I love fruit cakes and this is one of my new favorites.

Do check out other magnificent stollens @ Daring Kitchen.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Daring bakers- really really late

So here I am about 10 days late with my DB posting- I had almost everything ready to go for the Thanksgiving dinner but then Mr. Potter happened. I had seen it once before already but our friends who are both fairly new parents (a 7 mo old and a 15-month old) wanted to desperately see the movie on Thanksgiving day. And since they brought with them a beautiful mango tart- my dessert plan went out the window. The menu included- a chickpea-butternut squash pot pie, carrot-parsnip soup and beet-apple salad.
Finally I got a chance to use the pasta frolla dough that has been sitting in my refrigerator for almost 2 weeks now! Yippeee....

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.




Ingredients

I used the version2 of the pasta frolla recipe, a crostata with a mixture of AP flour, almond meal and barley flour. You can check the DB website for more information on this recipe.

For filling, recipe source from Ciao Italia
1 cup long-grain rice
2 cups whole milk
3 inch piece of vanilla bean, slit lengthwise
1 pound cottage cheese, well drained
1 large eggs
1/4 cup apple sauce
1 tbsp finely ground flax seed in 1/4 cup water, beaten well
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Method

Lightly spray a 9inch pie plate with butter spray. Set aside.

I used a food processor to make the dough and well my dough was chilling for oh only about 10 days!

To prepare the filling, pour the rice and milk into a 1-quart saucepan, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the saucepan with a small knife, cover, and bring the rice to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue cooking the rice until all the milk is absorbed. Let the rice cool.

In a large bowl, beat the cottage cheese, egg, apple sauce, flax seed in water, orange juice and zest, and sugar until smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract. Fold in the cooled rice. Set the mixture aside.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Divide the dough in half- I could not do this because I had enough only for the crostata, nothing for the top. Roll on a lightly floured surface into a 14-inch circle. Line the tart shell with one rolled-out half and trim the edges even with the top sides of the prepared pie plate.


Fill the tart shell with the ricotta and rice filling. There will be a little of the filling left over. This can be baked separately in a small ovenproof dish or in small ramekins.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown (well there was not top in mine) and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center of the tart.

Cool the tart on a rack, then carefully remove the sides of the tart pan and place the tart on a decorative serving dish. Cut into wedges to serve.

Judgement

I really underestimated the flavors. Going into this, I was very skeptical but now I am a believer. Especially after a day of chilling in the refrigerator and a topping of melted berry jam- it was unbelievable! Loved it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oh this one I love...

If I had a go-to recipe, a sort of comfort dessert, this would be it, I think. Since I discovered it a few years ago, I have lost count of how many times I actually made it. In fact, my roommate was so enamored by it that he learned to make it too!

Easy-peasy date and walnut cake, source here



Ingredients

12 dates, pitted and chopped
1 1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1 tsp. baking soda 
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped 

Method (followed it to the "T")

Boil the milk in a saucepan. Remove from heat.
Add the dates and let it stand until cool.
When cool put into a blender or food processor and process or blend until the dates are ground.
 Add the oil into blender/food processor and blend/process again until incorporated and mixture becomes thick. Add sugar to the mixture in the blender/food processor and blend until incorporated.
Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl. Seive flour and baking soda well. Fold in the flour until it is mixed well. Add chopped walnuts.
Pour batter into a greased glass microwavable dish. 
Place in microwave and bake for 10 to 11 minutes on High. 

Judgement

My modifications to this cake resulted in a really dense cake (think I loved the recipe as it was, or I could have gone easy on the whole wheat pastry flour). Everyone else seemed to think it was really good, except of course...me....(but then I am always hard on myself- nothing seems good enough you know). The good thing though it paired great with vanilla ice cream and I could not have asked for more after my tooth extractions!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Monthly mingle with fruit!


I have become a daring cook and baker ever since I started blogging- I try and incorporate different vegetables that are especially. The hardest for me was using the fall bounty-I hardly knew some of their names. But hey I am still the learner!
Our last trip to the grocery store, we bought exactly one of these pretty looking fruits (this I knew the name of)- persimmon (the wise guy did not even know what it was when he picked it up!). I had it in the refrigerator for a week or so, manically googling recipes using persimmon when I hit upon this beautiful cupcake recipe from one of my favorite blogs- Cupcake Project.  The search stopped there!

Recipe source here, minimally adapted

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking soda
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cups sugar
2 large eggs
¾ cup persimmon pulp (the insides of 1 over-ripe persimmon)
½ cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
orange zest (from about half an orange)


Method

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice and baking soda.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar, then mix in eggs, persimmon pulp and orange juice until thoroughly combined.
Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until fully incorporated.
Fill cupcake liners ¾ full with batter.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted and removed clean.

I decided to skip on the frosting for no particular reason.

Judgement

Loved it- all the fall flavors jived so well. Next time the frosting is also ON people! Between the two of us we have so many the first day but who cares tis the holiday season. This cupcake is off to the monthly mingle hosted this month by lovely Deeba of the PAB fame and this series was started by another lovely blogger Meeta of Whats for lunch, honey? fame. Now with two gorgeous bloggers involved how can I not mingle! Thank you ladies...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

First time with chestnuts

and I must say I have fallen in love with them...

This was a lovely eggless mousse recipe that I adapted from here.

Ingredients

about 100gms Chestnuts (had about 20 of them)
sugar to taste
1 tbs cocoa
1 tsp almond extract (this was way too much)
16 ounces heavy whipping cream

 

Method
Peel the outer leathery layer on the chestnuts. Place them in water to cover, simmer until tender. Remove the chestnuts, let it cool and then peel the inner skin. Add sugar, cocoa and almond extract. Process in a food processor until smooth and well combined.
Beat heavy cream until stiff. Fold required amount (I just eyeballed the amount) into chestnut puree. Divide among desert glasses. Chill until set-up.
Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Judgement

Except for the fact that we did not like the overpowering flavor of almond extract, it was a perfect decadent dessert. Next time I will surely try some variations, in fact I am looking forward to using roasted chestnuts!

You can read all about how to boil/roast chestnuts here or here. You can get plenty of information about chestnuts, even a bit of history here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On my plate this evening


Yet another simple dal with snake gourd and okra curry, on a cold night one can never get enough of just rightly spiced, warm dal!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hallowed halloween

The Scottish variant of "All-Hallows-Even", better known as Halloween is celebrated in Ireland, Scotland, Canada and the United States. It is linked to the Celtic festival of Samuin (pronounced as Sow-an) which roughly eludes to "summer's end". It was believed that during Samuin, the border between this world and the other world becomes thin and hence dressing up in costumes and masks, basically disguising, helped ward off the harmful spirits.

To me, the resemblance of Trick-or-treating to something called "souling" is even more interesting. Apparently poor people used to dress up on Hallowmas, celebrated on Nov 1st, and go door to door getting food in return for the prayers for the dead. 

Source: here at wiki, here and for some really fun Hallow-trivia check here

It definitely is much more fun now- don't you think- American capitalism at its best (well one of its very best), you can dress up as anything you want- you name it, they sell it.

Anyway this year, we decided to celebrate it too- well more like "a reason to have a party, yoo hoo". Recently I have begun cooking for the parties, nothing big- usually appetizers and desserts, rarely do I engage in large scale cooking. So this time in the spirit of halloween, here goes the list of stuff I made.

Cheese cups filled with mango salsa and spicy black beans- recipe source here at Martha Stewarts's


Witches Fingers, the source for these fingers can be found here.

Mulled brown blood, recipe source here


I followed most recipes very closely, except for a few changes/ substitutions here and there. If you need to know any of my adaptations, leave me a comment. 

Judgement

Everything was a big hit- especially the cheese cups, the mulled brown blood and the witches finger :D! Try these at your next Halloween party and wow your guests! 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tried and tasted

This month on the Tried and Tasted series hosted by Priya, the blog being featured is "Chef in You". It features as one of my daily haunts.
Now I am not too fond of mushrooms but this time I let the wise guy pick up some, thought would use it in an omlette or may be even some good fried rice. But a quick search on Chef in you and this recipe was an instant click. So I ordered the wise guy to go for it and he actually made this recipe with minimal help from me. We did not have a few ingredients on hand, so like any good cook I went with my own substitutions which are marked in red.

Ingredients, original recipe can be found here

1 1/2 cups chopped button mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1/2 cup cheddar, grated
2 tbsp grated parmesan
1/4 cup milk ( or replace it with egg)
2-3 tbsp chopped parsley
1 cup panko bread crumbs ( Italina style crumbs with herbs and spices adds more taste)

Method

In a non stick pan, add little olive oil and saute onions and mushrooms till soft. Set aside.
Add the chopped nuts to the mushroom mixture and mix well.
Then add the cheese, bread crumbs, chives, egg/milk and combine well.
Grease the baking dish (I used a square pan), line it with aluminum foil and then press the mixture into the tin.
Bake till firm about 45-60min at 400F. Leave for 5 min, then turn it out into a plate. Cut them into slices and garnish. Serve with any kind of sauce you like

Judgement

A very nutty delightful dish, great as a snack since there it not much of a preparation. Loved it!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Daring Bakers- finally after a brief hiatus

I am back at DB after a while now- this month while I could not eat what I made, I sure did have fun especially because I could finally Susan's lovely recipe to test.

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.



Here is my take on Susan's fat-free vegan donut recipe

Dry ingredients

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup unbleached flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp freshly ground cardamom

Wet ingredients
1/2 cup low-fat soymilk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp soy yogurt (plain or flavor of your choice)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp water

For the glaze:

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp orange juice

Preheat oven to 325. Spray a mini-donut pan with canola oil.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Combine the wet ingredients in a measuring cup. Pour the wet into the dry and mix well.

Spoon in the mixture carefully, fill it to about 2/3 rd of the way.  Bake for 8-12 minutes, until tops are done.

Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes. Carefully run a toothpick around the edges and centers of the molds to unstick the donuts.

Wash the pan and repeat with the remaining batter.

Once the donuts are cool, prepare the glaze by mixing the light brown sugar and vanilla extract well with orange juic.  (If the glaze seems too thin, add more sugar; if too thick, add more water.) Dip or drizzle the glaze on the donut, just the top. (The bottoms are very spongy and shouldn’t be dipped.) Be careful to dip the donut very briefly or it will absorb too much of the glaze. Allow to dry before serving.

Judgement

Now what better than warm donuts for a cool October, perfect challenge- thanks Lori!

Well well, the wise guy could not obviously wait for the glaze to dry- I said taste and see, he quickly popped three! I did have enough left to take over to a friend's place- they loved it. I got a kick when she said she could taste the cardamom! As for the short-of-5-teeth me, I devoured mine with a nice big scoop of coffee-toffee yogurt ice cream.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

On my plate this evening...


A Botswanan cabbage curry with mint rice

Botswanan cabbage curry, a very simple mildly spiced dish- recipe source

Ingredients
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 onion, sliced
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp dried oregano, crumbled
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp dried Kashmiri chillie, crumbled
1 small white cabbage, shredded (this I would say about 2- 21/2 cups of shredded cabbage)
Olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Method
Add the oil to a pan and when hot use to fry the tomato and onion for about 5 minutes. Add the herbs  and stir to combine then add the cabbage. Stir to mix then reduce the heat and cook, partially covered, until the cabbage is soft (stir occasionally). The cabbage should be completely soft when done but will not have colored at all.

Mint rice, source here

Ingredients
1 large onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp shahjeera
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
whole garam masala (4 cloves, 1″ cinnamom, 1 elachi, 1 star anise)- I ground these coarsely after roasting them for a few minutes on dry heat
salt to taste

1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice

Make a paste
1 cup chopped pudina  and cilantro leaves, packed
3 green chillis
2 tbsps grated coconut

Method

Heat oil in a pan, add shahjeera and bay leaf and saute for a few seconds. Add the sliced onions and saute for 4 mts. Add the ginger garlic paste, the coarsely ground spices and pudina-cilantro paste. Saute for another 5 mins or so.
Add the cooked rice and saute it till everything is combined
Serve hot with raita, papad or any curry of your choice.


Judgement
I made everything super-spicy, but despite that I loved the flavors in the cabbage curry. The mint rice was tasty but I should have cooked the rice along with the mixture or at least used basmati instead of brown rice (made it all the more wetter!).

Friday, October 22, 2010

Well well...

Now how long has it been- a month since my last post! Time really flies- after a whirlwind of September and what looked like a torrential start to October, I was hoping to get back to regular blogging but of course " man proposes...". So here I am partially back and unable to eat much due to the removal of not much, just 5 of my teeth. Did I ever mention- I hate dentists!

I wanted to start this series this past week - "On my plate" to give y'all a glimpse of what cooks at chez moi everyday. But right now have encountered a bit of a setback with my dental surgery.


On my plate tonight- a salad with red leaf lettuce and pears, an omlette and simple dal chaval. 

Rachel Ray's 4 star salad, source here 

Ingredients
1 lemon, juiced 
3 tablespoons olive oil 
2 hearts of romaine lettuce, chopped 
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced 
3 small pears (the smaller variety, I forget their name)
1 tablespoons dried thyme
1/4 cup finely chopped mint leaves 
Salt and pepper

Method
Place the lemon juice in the bottom of a bowl and whisk in oil. Add lettuce, onions, pear, thyme and mint to the bowl and toss. Season the salad with salt and pepper, toss again, taste to adjust seasonings and serve.



Minimalistic masoor dal

1 cup masoor dal
a pinch of turmeric
salt and pepper to taste

For tadka

1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
a handful of curry leaves
about 1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
green chilli, split
oil 
Cook the masoor dal with turmeric, salt and pepper (I pressure cooked it). While the pressure cooker is cooling, prepare your tadka- heat a pan with oil in it. Once oil is hot add, the mustard and cumin seeds. After the seeds splatter, add the curry leaves, ginger and a split green chilli. Add the dal the tadka along with some water to thin it out (I love my dal thin!) and let it come to a boil. That is it- you are done!

Minimalistic Omlette

2 eggs (one egg yolk plus two whites)
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne pepper 
Beat everything together, and cook in a pan with a little bit of oil.

Judgement
Now I am not sure if the guest was impressed but I sure was- I mean I cannot believe that I came home from cook and gathered all my enthusiasm to cook this simple, healthy yet flavorful dinner. Mm..mm..mmm...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A request my blogger buddies....

Hi guys

This post has nothing do with food, so if you are here to get a dose of food fix- sorry not today. I am writing today to raise awareness and potentially some money for the organization I volunteer with "Stop Child Trafficking Now" and an issue that is close to my heart.



My teenage years in India involved feeling helpless and angry at households that employed children as domestic help. Many such scenes have left a deep impression on me early on in my life (they still do) and I remember making my mom promise me that she would never ever hire a child (thankfully my mom never did hire help for a long time). I could not bear the thought of someone my age doing all the household chores while I bask in their labor and get all the education I need to move me forward in life. Only a handful of us think twice before we hire children to perform duties that we are fully capable of handling.

I must clarify here that even though I talk of child domestic labor, in many countries a lot of these children working far from home are easy prey for the sellers, and therefore sooner or later some of them will be trafficked and sold! A majority of trafficked domestic workers are girls, this is especially true in Africa (source: UNICEF). Children are trafficked for sex and slavery.


I do my part in small ways by refusing to buy anything that I know was the product of child slavery. Anyway my anger issues aside- now I have actually started involving my time and effort in learning about various forms of human slavery and more recently volunteering with SCTnow. SCTnow provides me with a perfect platform to help stop any and every child from being trafficked for sex or as slaves.

 I am writing to encourage you to take a look at their website- register for the walk, volunteer with the organization, donate any amount of money to support the cause (remember human trafficking is the SECOND LARGEST criminal enterprise after the selling of drugs and weapons). Together lets put an end to the misery of millions of children- it is our duty to protect them.

If you are interested in walking or volunteering, check here. The walk is taking place in over 50 cities worldwide, so be sure to check the list and register for the walk.

You can donate here by clicking "support me" on MY donor page.  Remember the walk is happening on Oct 2nd and Oct 3rd in many cities.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Leftover-part 2

"Leftovers make you feel good twice. First, when you put it away, you feel thrifty and intelligent: ‘I’m saving food!’ Then a month later when blue hair is growing out of the ham, and you throw it away, you feel really intelligent: ‘I’m saving my life!’"- George Carlin

  
When life gives you leftovers...make a crumb pie! This crumbs for this pie come from my previous DB challenge, as usual, the first attempt at the challenge was a failure. The failure was the sponge sheet cake which I tried to do vegan (the recipe for that vegan cake was adapted from a vegan cupcake recipe found in this book, a tiny book packed with tongue tickling, mouth watering vegan cupcake recipes!).
Anyway the crumbs were divided- one went into the refrigerator and the other is (still) lying in my freezer. The inspiration for this recipe comes from here.

Ingredients

2 cups cake crumbs (mine were chocolate)
5-6 tbsp vanilla custard powder (I buy this from Indian grocery store, you could also buy Bird's custard powder and follow package instructions)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup powdered vanilla sugar
1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
a pinch of salt

Method

Set the crumbs in a 9-inch pie plate, I set it in the refrigerator (did not even bother to turn the oven off for this one!)

For the custard filling
In a small bowl, mix the custard powder, cocoa and salt
Dissolve the custard-cocoa powder mixture in cold milk and set aside
Heat about 2 cups of milk and dissolve the sugar in it.
Add the powder mixture to warm milk and cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly and avoiding lumps. 
Whip the cooled custard mixture with the cream cheese.
Add the completely cooled mixture to the crumb pie shell and put it in back in the refrigerator. (The only thing here is the custard should not be runny, if it is you can freeze the pie but that, too me, was not great tasting)
Enjoy it with some homemade whipped topping and berries!

Judgement
This pie was heaven and it took me like 10 minutes to prepare everything.  Have scraps, try this pie- the flavor combination is unlimited and am sure you creative daring cooks and bakers would come with some seriously wicked crumb pies!
I am sending this recipe to Scrumptious Delights From Leftovers hosted by Padmajha of Seduce your tastebuds.

PS The book can be found here, I have tried a few recipes and they were all good-Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule!

Friday, August 27, 2010

This month's Daring Baker

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

This month we were allowed quite a bit of variations- to begin with we could either do a Baked Alaska or Petit Fours. I do not really care much for meringues and so I chose petit fours. I also chose to half the recipe for the pound cake since it is just the two of us. For the ice cream I made Apricot-fig custard ice cream, adapted from Tarla Dalal's recipe here.

Brown Butter Pound Cake

19 tablespoons (9.5 oz) (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter
2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring) (See “Note” section for cake flour substitution)
1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.
2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.
3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.
5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.
6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Apricot- fig custard ice cream

2 1/2 cups milk
1 tbsp vanilla flavored custard powder
1/3 cup vanilla sugar
1 1/2 cups dried apricots and dried figs, soaked in warm water for about 4 hours

Method 
Deseed the apricots and figs. Puree them and set aside, add a little bit of milk to thin it out.
Dissolve the custard powder in ½ cup cold milk and keep aside. 
In a non-stick pan, combine the milk and sugar and bring it to a boil. 
Add the custard powder mixture and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes till the custard is thick. Strain the mixture if it appears lumpy. 
Cool completely, add the apricot-fig puree and mix well. 
Pour into a freezer-safe container and freeze. Every 45 min or so break up the ice crystals. You need to do that about 4-5 times.


Chocolate Glaze (For the Ice Cream Petit Fours)



9 ounces (250g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (250 ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
1 1/2 tablespoons (32g) light corn syrup, Golden syrup, or agave nectar
2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract
Stir the heavy cream and light corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the dark chocolate. Let sit 30 seconds, then stir to completely melt the chocolate. Stir in the vanilla and let cool until tepid before glazing the petit fours.

Assembly Instructions – Ice Cream Petit Fours
1. Line a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) pan with plastic wrap, so that no sides of the pan are exposed and so there is some extra plastic wrap hanging off the sides. Spread 1 ¾ to 2 cups (450ml to 500ml) ice cream into the pan. Cover with more plastic wrap and freeze several hours.
2. Once the brown butter pound cake has completely cooled, level the top with a cake leveler or a serrated knife. Then split the cake in half horizontally to form two thin layers.
3. Unwrap the frozen ice cream. Flip out onto one of the layers of cake and top with the second layer of cake. Wrap well in plastic wrap and return to the freezer overnight.
4. Make the chocolate glaze (see above.)
5. While the glaze cools, trim ¾” (2cm) off each side of the ice cream cake to leave a perfectly square 7.5” (19cm) ice cream cake. Cut the cake into twenty five petit fours, each 1.5”x1.5” (4cmx4cm)
6. Glaze the petit fours one at a time: place a petit four on a fork and spoon chocolate glaze over it.
7. Place the petit fours on a parchment-lined baking sheet and return to the freezer for one hour.

My Story:

Well in a perfect world, I would have had a perfect "Petit Four" instead I had to trifle it. I am not sure what happened but my cake did not rise well at all (may be because I halved the recipe and used a slightly larger pan!) and it did not help that I tried to cut it into two (boo hoo..)- it tasted damn good though (totally make the brown butter cake again- thanks Elissa!). So what do you do when life gives you cake scraps and ice cream- you trifle it!

So I made a really quick Cherry Compote, Emeril's recipe here except I did not use kirsch; also made whipped cream and voila!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Leftovers- part 1


I love Mark Bittman, you know the minimalist and his simplistic attitude towards cooking- I mean even his monstrosity of "How to" series lack the usual colorful photographs that make their way through most cook books (I love his books). I do not know about you but as much as I love thumbing through the pages of such books, I rarely have tried anything from me- may be partly because I feel like my dishes would never look as radiant as the ones in the book. I recently borrowed Bittman's "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food" from the library and going it through it like it was my way to salvation! 
Here is my version of the two recipes from this book-

Rice Cakes with cheese

Ingredients (My changes in red)

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup grated aged sharp white cheddar
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tbsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
butter for frying

Method
Whisk eggs and milk in a bowl until it is mixed well. Whisk rice and cheese. Use a spoon to mix in flour, baking powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Make a batter that is not too thick.
Heat a skillet.  Add a small piece of butter and using a large ladle scoop the batter and put it in the pan. Cook as many as would fit in the pan- and cook both sides, takes less than 10minutes per cake. 
Serve hot- ketchup goes great with it 

Curried spinach with coconut milk

Ingredients

3 tbsp oil
dried red chillies, I used about 6
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound spinach. washed and destemmed
1 tbsp curry powder, or as per your taste
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup water/stock

Method

Heat oil in a large pan. When hot add chillies and garlic
Add in the spinach, all the liquid (stock and coconut milk, I had some left over stock from a previous recipe-you could simply do by with just coconut milk)
Cook slowly (took about 20 min) until most liquid has evaporated

Judgement

The rice cakes had a beautiful golden crust and they tasted beautiful too. I served the rice cakes with ketchup and curried spinach. I loved all these flavors together- sweetness of ketchup, curry from spinach and all the cheesy goodness of the cakes! Try it- you can do the same with any other grain!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hail to one pot wonders!


This past week, we had friends over- friends of ours who had moved recently- yeah and they are quite close to us now! The sambar sadam- thayir (yogurt) sadam (rice) combo sounded perfect for a houseful of 7 hungry people. This was the perfect opportunity to try my hand at bisibele bhath. As usual I turned to the trusted world of food blogs and there was I staring at this really simple recipe from Mysoorean

Ingredients
2 cups rice (uncooked)
1.5 cups toor dal (uncooked)
4 cups vegetables (potatoes, peas, beans and carrots)
lemon-sized tamarind, pulp squeezed
11 cups Water

Masala
1 cup grated dried coconut
4 tsp Sambar Powder
4 Tbsp Coriander Seeds
1" Cinnamon
3 Cloves
2 Cardamom
2 tsp Khus Khus
Asafoetida
1 sprig Curry leaves

Tadka
3 Tbsp Oil
6 Red Chillies
3 tsp Mustard Seeds
Turmeric

Method
Fry the masala ingredients in about a tbsp of hot oil, I added the coconut and the sambar powder after I turned the heat off. Grind to a paste with a little water. Keep aside.
In a pressure cooker, do the tadka. Add the veggies and fry for a few seconds. Add rice and dal and fry for a few more seconds. Now put in ground masala, water, tamarind pulp and salt to taste. Cook in the pressure cooker. 
Serve hot with chips/papad/raita/whatever you like!

Judgement
I have never really made bisibele bhath, boy am I glad I made it finally. Now tell me isn't this a one pot wonder! I am sending this off to Nupur's Blog Bites- Potluck event.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lemony light Pasta

No man is lonely eating spaghetti; it requires so much attention- Christopher Morley

  

This month's Vegetarian Times had some truly interesting and simple pasta recipes and this, is the adapted version of one such recipe.No stories, just a simple recipe with VT version in red

Ingredients

8oz spaghetti (I used whole wheat, fettucine)
3/4 cup whipped cream cheese (1/2 cup)
2 tbsp olive oil plus extra for the pasta
juice and zest from one lemon
chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar (omitted)
salt for the sauce
pepper to taste (I added quite a bit)

Method

Cook the spaghetti according to instructions with olive oil and salt

In a pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil, cream cheese and about one tbsp of lemon juice- once the cheese is in a saucy consistency, switch the heat off. Add the pasta (I did add a bit of pasta water), rest of the lemon juice, lemon zest, parsley and cheddar.

Serve hot

Judgement

A beautiful light pasta meal you will enjoy all through the year. Now come on- are you trying to telling me that it can get better than this?!

This light pasta is off to Thyme For Cooking who is hosting the Presto Pasta Night this week.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My experiments with

idlis, a "Lunch Box" special.

Idlis have a special place in our culture. Be it Ramisseri (yeah they have a special secret idli recipe!), Kanchipuram (the big flat ones) or my mom's mallipoo idlis- a family is never complete with idlis at least once a week. The name seems to have come from Tamil- ittu avi- literally pour and steam. Since it is a combination of rice and lentils,  there is a lot of ground to play in.
Some interesting links here and here that describe the little history that we know of, for idlis.
Ingredients

3 cups rice
1/2 cup whole urad dal
1/2 cup skinned whole urad dal
1/2 cup sprouts
2 tbsp ground flax seed
1 tbsp methi, soaked separately

Method

Soak the rice and the lentils separately (you do not have to soak the sprouts) for a few hours; 4 to 6 hrs is plenty of time.
Grind them separately adding as little water as possible, add the sprouts and methi seeds to rest of the dal mixture and grind until they become a fine paste -the key to good ildis is how finely the lentils are ground, or so I am told! I use a blender and it does a decent job.

Grind the rice mixture and flax seeds, this does not have to super fine.

Mix the two mixtures well and let it ferment overnight in a warm place. 

The next day your batter is ready and just before you cook the idlis, add salt and thin it if necessary with water.




Judgement

My dad would have surely not approved of the texture, you see they were not mallipoo idlis (idlis that have the texture of jasmine flowers). But we loved it- the idlis came out well (not too hard, which I was dreading) and they tasted great. My favorite way to gobble them- dredge leftover idlis in idli podi and seasame oil, and eat them the next day. Believe me- that is heaven right there!

This recipe is off to MLLA #25, an event started by lovely Susan and hosted this month at Siri's Corner. Have you submitted your legume recipe yet?

Hear ye hear ye...

it is time once again for a daring baker's post- and for me I think I have not participated in almost two months, well shame on me.


The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

For this challenge we had to make the swiss rolls with a filling of our choice, fudge sauce or a variation and two ice creams of our choice. Now that means, you know what, letting your creativity flow in full swing! Well after coming up with many variations, theoretically speaking of course, I stuck with chocolate-coffee-vanilla combination. I followed Sunita's recipe for the swiss rolls and the filling. Instead of the fudge sauce, I made a vegan mocha-espresso mousse. For the ice creams, I made a partly vegan vanilla ice cream with hazelnuts (well sorry not entirely vegan since it has honey) and a partly vegan mocha ice cream with hazelnuts.


The Swiss rolls

Ingredients

3 medium sized eggs, at room temp
112 g powdered sugar + extra for rolling
23 g all purpose (plain) flour + 20 g natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted together
1 tbsp boiling water
a little oil for brushing the pans

For the filling-
1C whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
35 g powdered sugar

Method

Pre heat the oven at 200 deg C /400 deg F approximately. Brush the baking pans ( 11 inches by 9 inches ) with a little oil and line with greaseproof baking paper. If you have just one pan, bake one cake and then let the pan cool completely before using it for the next cake.

In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and sugar and beat till very thick; when the beaters are lifted, it should leave a trail on the surface for at least 10 seconds.

Add the flour mixture, in three batches and fold in gently with a spatula. Fold in the water

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan and spread it out evenly, into the corners of the pan.

Place it in the centre of the pre heated oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes or till the centre is springy to the touch.

Spread a kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle a little caster sugar over it.

Turn the cake on to the towel and peel away the baking paper. Trim any crisp edges.

Starting from one of the shorter sides, start to make a roll with the towel going inside. Cool the wrapped roll on a rack, seam side down.

In a large bowl, add the cream, sugar and vanilla extract and beat till very thick/ stiff peaks form.

Open the roll and spread the cream mixture, making sure it does not go right to the edges (a border of ½ an inch should be fine).

Roll the cake up again, this time without the towel. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge till needed, seam side down.

Partly vegan mocha ice cream (recipe source here) and vanilla ice cream (recipe source here)

Ingredients
2 c soy creamer, (To make this, I followed this recipe here, but added buckwheat honey instead of agave nectar).
1 c  soy milk (I used vanilla soy milk)
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate
¾ c fresh, strong espresso
¾ c sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch 
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped

Method

Mix ¼ cup of soy milk with the 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and set aside.

Mix the soy creamer, soy milk, coffee, sugar and the chocolate together in a saucepan. When the mixture has just started to boil, take off the heat and stir in the arrowroot slurry. This should immediately cause the liquid to thicken (not a lot, but a noticeable amount; it will be thicker when it cools).

For the vanilla ice cream

2 c. soy creamer, homemade
2 c. vanilla soy milk
3/4 c. sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla extract 

Follow the procedure above as for the chocolate ice cream. I do not have an ice cream maker and therefore did this the old fashioned way of pouring the mixture in a fairly deep pan- freezing it and taking it out every few hours to break the ice crystals with a spatula (have to be forceful here!)

Mocha-espresso mousse layer

Ingredients
6 oz extra-firm silken tofu
2 tbsp soy milk
1 tbsp maple syrup
4 tsp instant espresso powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

Method

Crumble tofu in a blender. Add soy milk, maple syrup,  espresso powder, vanilla extract. Also add molten chocolate (double boiler/ saucepan/ microwave, whichever you choose, just do not burn it, is all) and blend until combined.

Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerator until it firms up.

Assembly
Cut the Swiss rolls into ~10 equal slices ( approximately 2 cms each )

Cover the bottom and sides of the bowl in which you are going to set the dessert with cling film/plastic wrap.

Arrange two slices at the bottom of the pan, with their seam sides facing each other. Arrange the Swiss roll slices up the bowl, with the seam sides facing away from the bottom, to cover the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till the slices are firm (at least 30 minutes).

 Soften the vanilla ice cream. Take the bowl out of the freezer, remove the cling film cover and add the ice cream on top of the cake slices. Spread it out to cover the bottom and sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till firm ( at least 1 hour).

Add the mousse over the vanilla ice cream, cover and freeze till firm . ( at least an hour)

Soften the chocolate ice cream and spread it over the mousse. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4-5 hours till completely set .

Remove the plastic cover, and place the serving plate on top of the bowl. Turn it upside down and remove the bowl and the plastic lining. If the bowl does not come away easily, wipe the outsides of the bowl with a kitchen towel dampened with hot water. The bowl will come away easily.

Judgement

Everything tasted good but for the vegan (well partly-vegan) vanilla ice cream, it was not creamy enough for me. The best part- rolls themselves with the filling and the mousse (with best chocolate as ingredient, it sure did make a difference!)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tis the season

for the itsy-bitsy, dainty golden beauties.
  
"I have no hostility to nature, but a child's love to it. I expand and live in the warm day like corn and melons"- Emerson


The corn season arrives and I let out a sigh of relief. I wait eagerly for these months when I can go out to the store, smell the wet earth on fresh corn and obsess over which one, among the hundreds laid out, I should pick. I love corn- and I love all kinds of it. I am happy with just plain corn (sweet or otherwise) roasted on a stove.
I saw the recipe here- by the way Mark Bittman rocks!

Ingredients

2 tablespoons canola oil
3 ears corn, stripped of their kernels
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 tsp chilli powder, like ancho
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small can (15oz) black beans
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Method

Put the oil in a pan and turn the heat to high. When the oil is very hot but not yet smoking, toss in the corn. Let it sit for a minute or so, then stir or shake the pan; brown the corn a bit, 5 minutes or less, then turn off the heat and stir in the onion, pepper, chile powder, salt, and pepper.

Cool for a few minutes, then toss with the remaining ingredients. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature

Judgement

I love corn in any form, if you have missed it the thousand times I have said it before!



  • 2 teaspoons canola oil


  • 1 clove garlic, minced


  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels (from 3 ears)


  • 1 large ripe mango (about 1 pound), peeled and diced


  • 1 15-ounce or 19-ounce can black beans, rinsed


  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion


  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper


  • 3 tablespoons lime juice


  • 1 small canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (see Ingredient Note), drained and chopped


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin


  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • 2 teaspoons canola oil


  • 1 clove garlic, minced


  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels (from 3 ears)


  • 1 large ripe mango (about 1 pound), peeled and diced


  • 1 15-ounce or 19-ounce can black beans, rinsed


  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion


  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper


  • 3 tablespoons lime juice


  • 1 small canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (see Ingredient Note), drained and chopped


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin


  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • 2 teaspoons canola oil


  • 1 clove garlic, minced


  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels (from 3 ears)


  • 1 large ripe mango (about 1 pound), peeled and diced


  • 1 15-ounce or 19-ounce can black beans, rinsed


  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion


  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper


  • 3 tablespoons lime juice


  • 1 small canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (see Ingredient Note), drained and chopped


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin


  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • 2 teaspoons canola oil


  • 1 clove garlic, minced


  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels (from 3 ears)


  • 1 large ripe mango (about 1 pound), peeled and diced


  • 1 15-ounce or 19-ounce can black beans, rinsed


  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion


  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper


  • 3 tablespoons lime juice


  • 1 small canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (see Ingredient Note), drained and chopped


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin


  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • And for dessert, we have fresh figs-quark cheese pot- for those days when you crave something sweet