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Gujiyas (Indian Fried Pies or sweet empanada)

Posted by vivnidhi on March 21, 2010

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Gujiyas

This post has been lying in my drafts for months now. Yes, my dear blog turned two this November but I could not post anything or even celebrate for that matter. To make the long story short, we all kept falling sick and prey to almost all the bugs around. This certainly has been a very healthy year for the bugs, specially in Michigan. Let me shut the hypochondriac in my brain who wants to enlist every detail of the past months, starting from the no. of coughs per minutes to the boxes of tissues used and move on to better things I can share with you.

In December I attended Michigan Lady Food Bloggers (MLFB) cookie exchange which was real fun.The no. of cookies I brought back home cheered everyone like nothing else could. Check out  Kate’s blog for the photographs and you can absolutely drool at ALL the cookies ….. All the cookies were delicious! I made (as usual) roasted almond macarons with chocolate ganache. I think almost all got over baked. Yet, with all that sugar, how bad can a badly baked macaron taste ?…….so it wasn’t too bad :-) .

Moving on…….to an authentic old Indian treat “Gujiya” . I have interesting stories up my sleeve regarding the gujiya or pirakiya.  I grew up watching my Grandmother (Dadda)  and my Mother make gujiya for most festivals. Dadda would always fill it and close it while my Mom would make the dough, the filling and even fry it. My Mom cannot close a gujiya, she never felt the need to learn it :-) . Closing the gujiya or making the ‘curved pattern’ is called “Murri Banana” meaning making murri. The good thing is that I know how to make murri somewhat. [You bet, as if  I will leave the chance to brag ;-) .]  In my grandmother’s generation, when a girl (Indian girls then would be married at a very early age i.e. 13-14…..I am talking 1930′s) would be married, she would be asked to make gujiyas and the way her gujiya looked and tasted would be a measure of her competence in the kitchen. As I heard this story almost every year, I thought I better learn to make it well (lest I be judged on the same basis ;-) ) and so I coaxed Dadda to teach it to me. Well! till my last gujiya making stint with her, she was never really pleased with my murri. She always said mine was ok cause it would not open up but I could do better.  So, see I could have actually done without bragging :-) . There’s always a gujiya mold available in Indian stores which seals the gujiya well and one need not make murri etc. but I have never used it. An Empanada mold would be perfect too.

Fast forward to my first year after marriage…….the first year on Diwali, I planned to make gujiyas. I really thought to myself,”big deal” I have always helped Dadda and Mummy make it. I made a few and took them to the husband’s aunt (Masiji’s ) place. Oh, were they sweet(no, not the gujiyas……..my husband’s Aunt & Uncle)….. my gujiyas were really soft and I have blanked out on the filling now. Masiji just put all the gujiyas in the oven and I think transformed it into something edible somehow. Then I kept making gujiyas every year and I doubt I ever really got it right. Either the dough would be soft or I would fry on a higher temperature or I would play with the filling , I was always unsatisfied and a bit hesitant to offer it to others. 3 years later came my Mother-In-Law who actually taught me how to make the real thing. Since then, I have been successful consistently. Nothing beats practice.

The Recipe: (For about 30 gujiyas)

For the Shell:

  • 2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 4 Tbsp. Canola Oil
  • 1/4 cup Water + /- 2 Tbsp. water

For the Filing:

  • 200 g Khoya/Mava (Indian cooked dried milk) cut in small cubes
  • 1/2 cup dry fruits (cashews, almonds, pistachios) slivered, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup raisins (green/golden ones are preferable )
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Cardamom powder (I even crush the cardamom seeds using a rolling pin when in hurry)
  • Canola/Vegetable  Oil for frying

For the binder:

  • 2 Tbsp. All Purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water

To make the shell dough:

Add the oil to the all purpose flour and rub the mixture between the palms of your hands. The oil should be uniformly distributed in the flour and should resemble fine bread crumbs.

Add the water slowly to the flour and make a stiff dough. It is important to knead the dough well for good gujiyas. A good tip for all such dough is to set aside a tsp. of oil initially and then at the very end add it in a corner of the plate you are using to knead. The dough is then broken in 2 -3 pieces and then made smooth by touching those pieces with the oil in the corner till all the oil is absorbed. Cover the dough and let it rest for 1/2 an hour while the filling is prepared.

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Stiff gujiya dough

To make the filling:

Heat a wok or a saucepan on medium heat (no. 5 mark) and add the khoya (milk solids) in it.

Use a spatula to break the big lumps of the khoya.

Keep frying the khoya till it turns golden brown. The heat can be reduced a little bit if you are not able to stir all the khoya to (no. 4 mark). Once the khoya turns brown, add the nuts, raisins and cardamom powder.

Let the mixture cool and then add sugar to the mixture. The sugar amount can be varied as per taste too.

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Store bought Khoya / Mawa

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Khoya cut into cubes

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Adding nuts and raisins to fried Khoya….we do not want to brown it too much at this stage

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Khoya, nuts, raisins and cardamom…….filling’s ready…it will be crumbly when dry

 

To make the Gujiyas:

First prepare the binder paste by mixing the all purpose flour and water. Set it aside.

The dough should be more pliable now as it has rested (goes same as humans ;-) ). Break the dough into 30 equal parts and keep rounding them with your palms as you are breaking. Cover the broken and rounded dough with a moist cloth so that they do not dry too much.

Using a rolling pin, roll each dough ball into a round about 2.5″ in diameter.

Apply the binder paste along the edges. Use your index finger to dip in the binder paste and then spread it around the circumference of the rolled out round.

Add about 1 Tbsp. of the filling into the round and fold the round into a semicircle now. At this step, you can either press all the edges hard so that they do not open, or use a gujiya mold ( empanada mold) or make a murri. The murri is made by pulling very small portions of the dough edge and rolling it over the edges. Honestly, it is a little difficult to write about it, its easier to learn when seen. I shall try someday to insert a video here but that has to wait. Keep the prepared gujiya aside and cover with a moist towel while you prepare the other gujiyas.

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Almost round ;-) dough and filling

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Folding and closing in process

The wok or frying pan should at least have 2″ of oil. Start heating the oil on medium heat as you prepare the gujiyas. Once 5 or 6 gujiyas are ready, add them to the oil. Drop a tiny dough piece to check the oil. It should not be so hot that the dough ball comes to the surface at once. The oil should be just hot enough that the dough ball stays immersed for about 30 seconds. You should be able to see the bubbles as you add the dough piece. Lower the heat just a little bit to about medium low (gas mark 4) and fry the gujiyas till golden and crisp.

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Gujiyas in hot oil

Serve hot or at room temperature. These gujiyas keep well for at least 2 weeks in an airtight container.

These gujiyas are sometimes further dipped in sugar syrup. The consistency of the sugar syrup varies. The sugar syrup can be quite dry or even a little liquid resulting in different tasting gujiyas. I most often like it without the extra sugar though the other kinds have their own place in my heart ;-) .

If you have made any dumpling, empanada, sweet pie before, please do try this simple filling. It is extra-ordinary. No coconut, semolina….yet these will taste quite good. Most North Indians make it on Holi, the festival of colors….ah well for the next year now!

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Only pictures for now ;-)

 

Posted in -All Purpose flour, -Almonds, -Canola Oil, -Cardamom, -Cashews, -Khoya/Mava (Milk solids), -Pistachios, -Raisins | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Daring Bakers 2010 : Nanaimo Bars

Posted by vivnidhi on January 27, 2010

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Nanaimo Bars

This is the only picture I was able to take…..took them to a friend’s potluck and forgot to take photos

All the Daring Bakers are headed to Canada for winter Olympics. Of course, I can’t fool you….no……we are not going….just celebrating ;-) by making nanaimo bars. OK, I also had never heard of these until………..”The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month.”

Nanaimo Bars are a classic Canadian dessert created in none other than Nanaimo, British Colombia. In case you were wondering, it’s pronounced Nah-nye-Moh. These bars have 3 layers: a base containing graham crackers, cocoa, coconut and nuts, a middle custard layer, and a topping of chocolate. They are extremely rich and available almost everywhere across the country.

Lauren wanted us to bake the Graham Crackers gluten free. I used all  whole wheat pastry flour (atta) instead of the gluten free flours as I am too lazy. These are absolutely divine. You will not want to buy store bought after trying these out. Superlative praises for these graham crackers. I stopped buying Indian Glucose biscuits long long back because of Trans fats. These graham crackers will certainly fill that craving. Please visit Celiac Teen or the other daring bakers this month for some great gluten free versions.

Recipe Source: Graham Wafers — 101 Cookbooks (http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/000126.html) I adapted it to be gluten-free. The adapted recipe is below.
Nanaimo Bars — City of Nanaimo (http://www.nanaimo.ca/EN/main/visitors/NanaimoBars.html)

The Recipe:

Preparation time:
• Graham Wafers: 30 to 45 minutes total active prep, 2 ½ hours to overnight and 45 minutes inactive prep.
• Nanaimo Bars: 30 minutes.

Equipment required:
• Food Processor
• Bowls
• Parchment paper or silpats
• Cookie sheets
• Double boiler or pot and heatproof bowl
• 8 by 8 inch square pan
• Hand mixer or stand mixer (You may use a wooden spoon, but this makes it much easier!)
• Saucepan

  • For  Graham Wafers
    Ingredients
    2 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp. Whole wheat pastry flour (atta)
    1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
    1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
    3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
    7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
    2 Tbsp. Honey, Mild-flavored such as clover.
  • 3 Tbsp. Molasses
    5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
    2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract

Directions:
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, molasses, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with atta and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of whole wheat pastry flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.

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Graham Crackers

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We loved our graham crackers with some nutella and whipped topping……….Husband can’t have enough of it :-)

Nanaimo Bars
Ingredients:

For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut  unsweetened

For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter

Directions:
1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

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Making of the Nanaimo Bar………bottom layer

(This is the only photograph I have :-)) )

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My Tweaks to the recipe:

  1. Used whole wheat pastry flour (atta) for the crackers.
  2. Substituted molasses for some  honey as I was out of honey.
  3. I made double the middle layer (mistake..) and double the chocolate (bring on more :-) )

Additional Information:

These bars freeze very well, so don’t be afraid to pop some into the freezer.

The graham wafers may be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Mine lasted about that long.

If making the graham crackers with wheat, replace the gluten-free flours (tapioca starch, sweet rice flour, and sorghum flour) with 2 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp of all-purpose wheat flour, or wheat pastry flour. Watch the wheat-based graham wafers very closely in the oven, as they bake faster than the gluten-free ones, sometimes only 12 minutes OR even 10.

For the Nanaimo Bars, if making with wheat, replace the gluten-free graham wafer crumbs with equal parts wheat graham wafer crumbs!

Information on Celiac Disease: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/celiac-disease/DS00319

Information on Vancouver 2010: http://www.vancouver2010.com/

City of Nanaimo: http://www.nanaimo.ca/EN/index.html

Gluten Free Flour Information: http://glutenfreemommy.com/gluten-free-grains-101-the-best-flour-blend/

Video on making Nanaimo bars: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5aqa6R1jIM&feature=fvsr

Recipe and video for Vegan Nanaimo Bars (you didn’t think I’d leave you guys out?): http://www.everydaydish.tv/index.php?page=recipe&recipe=159

Recipe for gluten-free and vegan Graham Wafers: http://www.thesensitivepantry.com/the-sensitive-pantry/2009/8/3/grahams-…

 

Nanaimo bars disappointed me because of the middle layer. A bit too sweet. I will try other buttercreams or some custard as filling the next time. The husband was pretty impressed with the texture of the middle layer though and wanted me to just follow the recipe and make the amount of filling given.

For the funny attempts at decorating. I used plastic chocolate. I will post the plastic chocolate recipe separately later.

It’s after ages I am posting a daring baker challenge on time. I also hope that I shall continue to do so in the coming months and blog a little more….I have dozens of posts half written which have not yet made it to the blog.

Expenditure:

Heavy Whipping Cream 1/2 pint ……….$1.99………….from Meijer

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Total………………………………………$1.99

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I just received this photo…..it certainly looks better than the first

Posted in - Confectioner's Sugar, -Almonds, -Butter, -Coconut, -Cream, -Dark Brown sugar, -Honey, -Molasses, -Semisweet Chocolate, -Vanilla, -Whole Wheat Pastry flour, Baking Soda, Daring Bakers, Eggs, Milk, Sugar, Vanilla Pudding mix | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

This Halloween we decided to eat some sleeping swaddled Babies

Posted by vivnidhi on November 2, 2009

Yeah the ghoulish spirits entered our house this year and we ate these babies up with some butter and honey.

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This is before baking them……notice the colored little fingers

This month Gretchen of Canela & Comino baked up Tanta Wawas (Peruvian Bread Babies). Now the name itself sounds so much fun and she has made such beautiful loaves (just looking at them will tell you that they were fun to make). She has a lot about Tanta Wawas on her blog. I just remembered ” On November 2nd, these bread babies are taken to the cemeteries in town so they can be left as offerings to those that have passed away and then are broken apart and eaten among the visitors. It is unknown when this Andean tradition began but it is known that from long ago, special breads were made and eaten in this manner.” I knew I’d be making it on Halloween.

As you can see from the picture above, we had a great time making these. The kids colored their hands well (yeah, there was more color on their hands than on the dough). And since they are a little sweet, they were liked by all.

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Look at those hands……project totally worth it

The Recipe:

Tanta Wawa (Peruvian Bread Babies)

Makes 4 small loaves

  • sponge:
    1 egg
    1/2 cup of all purpose flour
    1 tablespoon of sugar
    1/4 teaspoon of yeast
  • dough:
    1/2 cup of all purpose flour
    1 cup of whole wheat flour
    2 cups of bread flour
    1/2 cup of white sugar
    1/4 cup of brown sugar (I used turbinado sugar)
    1 tablespoon of dry yeast
    1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
    1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves
    1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds
    2 teaspoons of salt
    1/2 cup of milk
    1/4 cup of water
    1/4 cup of butter (I used smart balance)
    2 eggs (at room temperature)
    1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
    1 egg yolk (for painting)

1. In a bowl create the sponge by combining 1/2 cup of flour, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of water, a pinch of instant yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Stir together, cover and let rest for a few hours. …..(Mine was 6-7 hours as it was the day before Halloween)

2. In a bowl, mix the flours, sugar, yeast, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and sesame seeds. Sprinkle over the sponge. Don’t stir. Cover and let rest for a few hours. (Mine rested overnight)

3. Add the 2 eggs and vanilla to the flour mixture. Measure the milk, water and butter in a measuring cup. Heat for 30 seconds in the microwave, pour into the flour mixture. Mix well, then turn out and knead for 10-15 minutes, using additional flour if necessary. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Form them into ovals. Cover and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

4. Stretch each dough ball into the form of a “fat baby” and place them on baking sheets. Cover with plastic and let the dough babies rise for 2 hours (there won’t be too much rise at this point).

5. Preheat the oven to 180C. Brush the egg yolks evenly over the dough babies. Bake bread at 180C for 30 minutes.

I am sending these swaddled sleeping Tanta Wawa, or Peruvian Bread Babies, to YeastSpotting .

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So, the oven baked up triplets for us :-))

The husband asked why did you not paint them after baking and I wondered why too.

Thanks a lot Gretchen for a real fun challenge. All the Bread Baking Babes have baked up beautiful babies, a must see.

No new expenses for this one ;-). I had everything at home.

Posted in - Bread Flour, - Smart Balance, -All Purpose flour, -Cinnamon, -cloves, -Sesame seeds, -Turbinado Sugar, -Vanilla, -Whole wheat flour, Eggs, Sugar, Yeast | 8 Comments »

Chinese Flower Steam Buns (Xiang Cong Hya Juan Bao)

Posted by vivnidhi on October 5, 2009

Trust me, I do not know what half the title says but these are delicious!

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Bad picture …….once again, but these are good!!

Bread Baking Babes have been steaming this month. Trying to produce the best flower buns and each one’s a looker. Mine’s not a looker but was so good. Karen of Bake My Day steamed up a recipe from Global Baker by Dean Brettschneider.

I read all the bread baking babes blogs before I went ahead with the recipe. This recipe calls for Chinese Flour which should be low gluten. I made a trip to our Chinese Store , got all the ingredients and that’s the best thing I did ;-). These came out perfect ……absolutely bread like……no chewiness……perfect soft breads. I was absolutely surprised….how could steaming create such fabulous buns……it was a transformation. Unfortunately, I do not have a cut shot, that would have said more than I can write. We were all so hungry, we just ate it up and forgot all about pictures :-). Anyway, bottom line, if you want to make these……get Chinese Flour :-).

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Low Gluten Chinese Flour……called “Weak Flour”

The Recipe:

makes 10 buns

Everywhere you go in China you see people eating steam buns, also known as mantong Typically Chinese, a sweet bread is combined with a savoury filling, such as red bean paste and barbecued pork, but take care and avoid using too much filling or the bun will fall apart during the rising and steaming stage. The baking powder helps to open up the texture and gives a little tenderness to the eating quality of the buns. If you can, use imported Chinese flour from a specialist Asian food market or store”.

Dough

300 g chinese flour (use low gluten flour such as cake flour)

15 g sugar

15 g butter

good pinch of salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp active dry yeast

150 ml chilled water, placed in the refrigerator overnight ( I just put mine in  the freezer for 15 minutes )


Filling

rice bran oil, for brushing on dough (I used good old extra virgin olive oil :-) )

40 g finely chopped spring onions or chives

25 g finely chopped red chillies

salt to taste


To make the dough, place all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and, using your hands, combine to form a very, very firm dough mass. Don’t be tempted to add any water or the steam buns will be flat after steaming.

Place the dough on a work surface and, using your rolling pin, roll out to a thin strip, fold this in half and roll again. Repeat this 10-15 times with a 30 second rest in between each time. This is a way of mixing a very firm dough, the dough will start to become smooth and elastic as a result of the rolling process.

Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warmish place (23-25C) for 15 minutes. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out each piece to a 25cm square. {{this is strange…he never states that you divide the dough in this stage, so use and roll the one ball of dough you have}}

Brush the dough surface lightly with oil and sprinkle the chopped chives and chillies evenly over the dough. Season with salt.

Fold the dough in half and then cut into 2.5cm strips so that you end up with 10 folded strips. Stretch each strip and, starting at the folding edge, twist the two pieces of each strip over each other to form a rope.

Take the twisted rope and tie into a double knot, tucking the loose ends underneath. Place each bun with ends facing down on a 5cm square of non-stick baking paper** and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Prove for approximately 30-45 minutes in a warm place.

Bring a wok or saucepan of water to the boil with a bamboo steamer sitting on top. Remove the bamboo steamer lid and place the buns on the paper in the steamer 3-4 cm apart to allow for expansion during steaming. Replace the steamer lid and steam for 20 minutes. Repeat until all the buns have been steamed and are firm to the touch.

Karen‘s Notes: you might want to adjust the steaming time from 10-20 minutes, keeping the water at a low blub.

the paper: the pics in the book show him using paper circles, sort of perforated. (as in: paper circles with rather large holes in them). I’m using a regular steam pan with a metal insert and I preferred oiling the base of the metal insert not using any paper, re-oiling when needed. Another thing: I used a tea towel between the lid and the pan to catch any condensation.

I forgot all about the paper and just plain steamed mine. No problems ;-).

I am absolutely in love with garlic chives from Chinese store and so of course I got the authentic stuff.

I also made a couple for the kids with turbinado sugar and they were gone in no time.

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Chinese Flower Buns with Turbinado Sugar

I will certainly be making  these again. Thanks a lot Karen.  All I wish is that the recipe would at least not have butter and sugar in grams. It’s painful to measure such small quantities in my manual scale which has been even suffered in the hands of my kids :-) .

Expenditure:

Chinese Flour…….500 g……….. Chinese Store (Hua Xing)………….$ 2.39

Chives…………….1.03 lb……….Chinese Store (Hua Xing)………….$ 2.21

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Total……………………………………………………………………..$ 4.60

Posted in --Extra virgin olive oil, -Chinese Flour (low gluten), -Garlic chives, -Olive Oil, -Red Chillies, -Turbinado Sugar, Baking Powder, Sugar, Yeast | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Puff Pastry……..Just Chill!

Posted by vivnidhi on September 27, 2009

Puff pastry is the most delicious thing to eat….all the buttery goodness and crisp flaky layers…..I can always drool. I would not have imagined making those in this life if it wasn’t the Daring Bakers……..prompting, coaxing, luring, guiding and what not. This bunch is really out there to make you daring in life.

In India, puff pastry with spicy potato & mixed vegetable filling were called patties and they were the most delicious things you could lay your hands on. It would always be the first item to finish in a get-together. Even the soggy ones would be gone before the rest of the stuff. These are usually bought from either a canteen or a local bakery and I somehow associate it to my college days. For some strange reason (maybe the egg wash) I never remember eating it at home. Those are my memories associated with the puff. After coming to the US, a friend of mine told me how easy it was to get frozen puff pastry here and make patties. Well! when I got shopping, I bought phyllo dough :-). No matter how hard I tried …….I would not be able to make patties…..whatever I made was delicious but not THAT. I do not even remember if I made the real thing for my in-laws when they were here (or maybe I did on my last trip) …..they too are very fond of it like me… But some years back, I discovered the puff pastry in the grocery store and I attained the joy of finally making Patties at home. I have a killer filling recipe (Thanks to my Mother in law) who taught me the Samosa filling and I use a similar method for this filling. My Dad was really pleased when I made it for him and it’s no easy job pleasing him, he has a very keen sense of taste.

BUT I hardly ever make it……..all that butter…..I think my life is more precious than patties. OK, haven’t I been talking a bit too much of patties? Obviously doesn’t end here……the saga continues…….

The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ Challenge has been chosen by Steph of a whisk and a spoon. Steph chose Vols-au-Vent, which we are pretty sure in French means, “After one bite we could die and go to heaven!” ;-)  These are pronounced “vo-o-voh” (Let me make use of High School French :-) )…….it’s ok to not pronounce “Hors-de-oeuvres” correctly for the longest time ;-). The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

No dessert vols-au vent here, masala filling as always ;-) .

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Spicy Vegetable filling Vols-au-vent

The Recipe:

Equipment:
-food processor (will make mixing dough easy, but I imagine this can be done by hand as well)
-rolling pin
-pastry brush
-metal bench scraper (optional, but recommended)
-plastic wrap
-baking sheet
-parchment paper
-silicone baking mat (optional, but recommended)
-set of round cutters (optional, but recommended)
-sharp chef’s knife
-fork
-oven
-cooling rack

Prep Times:
-about 4-5 hours to prepare the puff pastry dough (much of this time is inactive, while you wait for the dough to chill between turns…it can be stretched out over an even longer period of time if that better suits your schedule)
-about 1.5 hours to shape, chill and bake the vols-au-vent after your puff pastry dough is complete

Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent

Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent

In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need:
-well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)
-egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
-your filling of choice

Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled. (If you are looking to make more vols-au-vent than the yield stated above, you can roll and cut the remaining two pieces of dough as well…if not, then leave refrigerated for the time being or prepare it for longer-term freezer storage. See the “Tips” section below for more storage info.)

On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.

(This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut square vols-au-vents using a sharp chef’s knife.) For smaller, hors d’oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)

Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.

Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.

Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)

Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the center “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.)

Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.

Fill and serve.

*For additional rise on the larger-sized vols-au-vents, you can stack one or two additional ring layers on top of each other (using egg wash to “glue”). This will give higher sides to larger vols-au-vents, but is not advisable for the smaller ones, whose bases may not be large enough to support the extra weight.

*Although they are at their best filled and eaten soon after baking, baked vols-au-vent shells can be stored airtight for a day.

*Shaped, unbaked vols-au-vent can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first).

Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough

From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough

Steph’s note: This recipe makes more than you will need for the quantity of vols-au-vent stated above. While I encourage you to make the full recipe of puff pastry, as extra dough freezes well, you can halve it successfully if you’d rather not have much leftover.

There is a wonderful on-line video from the PBS show “Baking with Julia” that accompanies the book. In it, Michel Richard and Julia Child demonstrate making puff pastry dough (although they go on to use it in other applications). They do seem to give slightly different ingredient measurements verbally than the ones in the book…I listed the recipe as it appears printed in the book. http://video.pbs.org/video/1174110297/search/Pastry

Ingredients:
2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter

plus extra flour for dusting work surface

Mixing the Dough:

Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.

Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)

Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that’s about 1″ thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter:

Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10″ square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with “ears,” or flaps.

Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don’t just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8″ square.

To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns:

Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24″ (don’t worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24″, everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).

With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.

Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24″ and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

Chilling the Dough:

If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you’ve completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.

The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.

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Puff Pastry dough……..before rolling out & 1/4 of the dough rolled out

Steph’s extra tips:

-While this is not included in the original recipe we are using (and I did not do this in my own trials), many puff pastry recipes use a teaspoon or two of white vinegar or lemon juice, added to the ice water, in the détrempe dough. This adds acidity, which relaxes the gluten in the dough by breaking down the proteins, making rolling easier. You are welcome to try this if you wish.

-Keep things cool by using the refrigerator as your friend! If you see any butter starting to leak through the dough during the turning process, rub a little flour on the exposed dough and chill straight away. Although you should certainly chill the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns, if you feel the dough getting to soft or hard to work with at any point, pop in the fridge for a rest.

-Not to sound contradictory, but if you chill your paton longer than the recommended time between turns, the butter can firm up too much. If this seems to be the case, I advise letting it sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to give it a chance to soften before proceeding to roll. You don’t want the hard butter to separate into chunks or break through the dough…you want it to roll evenly, in a continuous layer.

-Roll the puff pastry gently but firmly, and don’t roll your pin over the edges, which will prevent them from rising properly. Don’t roll your puff thinner than about about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick, or you will not get the rise you are looking for.

-Try to keep “neat” edges and corners during the rolling and turning process, so the layers are properly aligned. Give the edges of the paton a scooch with your rolling pin or a bench scraper to keep straight edges and 90-degree corners.

-Brush off excess flour before turning dough and after rolling.

-Make clean cuts. Don’t drag your knife through the puff or twist your cutters too much, which can inhibit rise.

-When egg washing puff pastry, try not to let extra egg wash drip down the cut edges, which can also inhibit rise.

-Extra puff pastry dough freezes beautifully. It’s best to roll it into a sheet about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick (similar to store-bought puff) and freeze firm on a lined baking sheet. Then you can easily wrap the sheet in plastic, then foil (and if you have a sealable plastic bag big enough, place the wrapped dough inside) and return to the freezer for up to a few months. Defrost in the refrigerator when ready to use.

-You can also freeze well-wrapped, unbaked cut and shaped puff pastry (i.e., unbaked vols-au-vent shells). Bake from frozen, without thawing first.

-Homemade puff pastry is precious stuff, so save any clean scraps. Stack or overlap them, rather than balling them up, to help keep the integrity of the layers. Then give them a singe “turn” and gently re-roll. Scrap puff can be used for applications where a super-high rise is not necessary (such as palmiers, cheese straws, napoleons, or even the bottom bases for your vols-au-vent).

You can find lots more general tips for making puff pastry on-line, including here:
http://www.baking911.com/pastry/puff.htm

I encourage everyone to watch the on-line video from the PBS show “Baking with Julia” that accompanies the book:
http://video.pbs.org/video/1174110297/search/Pastry

Spicy Filling Recipe:

  • Potatoes 1 or 2 (depends on your inclination) chopped in small cubes 
  • Mixed Vegetables (carrots, green beans, peas ..) 1 1/2 cups (I used frozen mix as I was in a rush)
  • Fresh Ginger washed, scrubbed and minced  2″ piece
  • Green chilli minced 1 (optional)
  • Canola Oil 2 Tbsp. (Vegetable oil is fine too)
  • Cumin seeds 1 tsp.
  • Asafoetida 1/4 tsp.
  • Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp.
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander seeds dry roasted and ground coarse 2 Tbsp.
  • Amchur/Dry mango powder 1 Tbsp.
  • Garam Masala 1/2 tsp.
  • Cilantro leaves torn 1/4 cup (optional)

Heat oil in the wok. Add cumin seeds & asafoetida. When the spices seem to sizzle, add half the ginger and green chilli (if using). These do taste good when a little spicier than usual. Add the potatoes and mixed vegetables. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the wok.

When the potatoes & the vegetables become tender, add all the remaining ingredients. Mix well and cover again for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and finally add the cilantro leaves and mix well. The filling’s ready!

The video is a must watch. I can’t call my tryst with puff pastry a complete success. You must check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see the real stuff. But this has tons of potential. I need some more practice and better butter :-) to make the perfect puff pastry. So, you can see I do not have high standards for myself on this one. I am quite pleased. I took some at my Son’s preschool potluck (oh yeah ;-) ) and they were very well received. I brought none back. I made a crude galette with spicy peas …of the leftover dough scraps for  friends…….again everything was gobbled leaving none for me..(everybody forgot :-)) ) Anyway, I couldn’t be happier…..not being able to taste the final product gave me the kind of joy that eating the whole thing wouldn’t have.

Expenditure is left for tomorrow …….I need to sleep.

Tomorrow is here already!!

Expenditure:

Cake Flour………From Kroger……………………….$ 3.14

Butter…………..From Walmart……………………..$ 1.98

———————————————————————————

Total…………………………………………………..$ 5.12

Posted in -All Purpose flour, -Asafoetida, -Butter, -Cake Flour, -Canola Oil, -Carrot, -Cilantro, -Coriander, -Cumin seeds, -Dry Mango Powder, -Garam Masala, -Ginger, -Green Beans, -Peas, -Red chili powder, Eggs | 13 Comments »

Daring Cooks cook Indian : Masala Dosa (Updated)

Posted by vivnidhi on September 15, 2009

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Masala Dosa with Sambhar, coconut chutney and Podi

Debyi from http://www.healthyvegankitchen.com hosted this month’s challenge and ordered Indian Dosas for all of us at Fresh Restaurants (www.freshrestaurants.ca) in Toronto, Canada. Since we all live in a virtual world these days, we were all handed over a recipe from their cookbook  and asked to make dosas to serve ourselves. Now, masala dosas (and oh my dear idlis, made from a similar batter) are a very big favorites with me. I can eat them all the time. My parents and I spent a couple of years in Vishakhapatnam , Andhra Pradesh and that is where my mother learnt to make good idlis and dosas. Another big influence was my Aunt who spent half her life in Chennai, then Madras and cooked fabulous South Indian meals.

Unfortunately I cannot make something with grains and flour and call it a dosa. A similar fare called Chil-ra is made in North India and I will be talking about it at the end of the post. Hence, I used my regular recipe for making dosas . I hope Debyi won’t mind it……..I kept the whole thing Vegan :-) .

The Recipe:

Dosa:

  • Idli Rice 3 cups soaked in water overnight
  • Black gram (Urad Daal)  1 cup soaked in water overnight
  • Fenugreek seeds 1 tsp.
  • salt to taste

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Fenugreek seeds,urad daal soaked and drained and idli rice soaked and drained in picture 2

Soak fenugreek seeds and urad daal together in water overnight. Since I make idlis and dosas from the same batter, I soak rice and lentils separately. Grind the lentils with little water till a very smooth paste is achieved.

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Ground lentils

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Rice needs to ground well too…..adding rice paste to lentils paste and final paste before fermentation

After lentils and rice are ground well, add rice paste to lentils paste and add about 2 tsp. salt. Leave to ferment 12 to 14 hours. Unless, you live in a hot weather, in that case check after 5-6 hours. The dough should almost double.

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Half the batter : after fermentation. Add water as required and dosa batter’s ready

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Ladle the dosa batter in circular motion

Potato filling:

  • Potatoes 4 medium boiled and chopped
  • Onion 1 big sliced
  • Ginger grated 1 tsp.
  • Canola Oil 2 tsp.
  • Asafoetida (Heeng) 1/2 tsp.
  • Mustard seeds (Rai) 1 tsp.
  • Fresh Curry leaves 2 stems washed
  • Bengal gram (Chana Daal ) 1 tsp.
  • Black gram (Urad Daal) 1 tsp.
  • Turmeric powder (Haldi) 1 tsp.
  • Red chilli powder (Lal mirch) 1/2 tsp.
  • salt to taste

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Potato filling ingredients clockwise:Fresh curry leaves, boiled potatoes, asafoetida, urad daal, chana daal, grated ginger, mustard seeds and sliced onions

To make the filling:

Heat the oil in a wok and add all the ingredients except potatoes, onion and salt.

Fry for one minute then add the onions. Let them fry for 2 more minutes.

When the onions start to turn translucent, add the potatoes and salt. If the mixture seems too dry, add 2 Tbsps. water. Cover and cook the filling for 5 minutes. The filling is ready.

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Add the potato filling as the dosa starts to brown at the bottom

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Fold the dosa and we’re done

I prepared 2-3 dosas at a time on a big electric griddle as I was serving 5 people at a time. The best crispness and color is achieved on an iron griddle. The iron griddle is heated , a couple of drops of oil are added to it and a raw onion just sliced at the top is used to spread the oil on the griddle. This is the traditional way of preparing dosas.

Sambhar :

  • Split yellow pigeon peas (Arhar/Toor Daal)  2 cups boiled in a pressure cooker with turmeric and salt
  • Canola Oil 1 Tbsp.
  • Mustard seeds (Rai) 1 tsp.
  • Cumin seeds (Jeera) 1 tsp.
  • Asafoetida (Heeng)  1/2 tsp.
  • Fresh Curry leaves 2 stems washed (remove the stems ;-) )
  • Ginger 2 tsp. grated
  • Garlic 2 cloves minced
  • Shallots/pearl onions 1/2 cup (cut if required to bite size pieces)
  • Tomatoes 2 chopped
  • Vegetables of choice (beans, bell pepper, bottle gourd etc. ) optional
  • Sambhar Masala powder 1 Tbsp.
  • Tamarind concentrate 1/2 tsp.
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro/coriander leaves for garnish

To prepare the sambhar heat oil in a big saucepan. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida and fresh curry leaves. When you hear the mustard seeds crackle, add the ginger and garlic.

Next add the shallots or pearl onions and fry for a little bit more. Next add the tomatoes. When the tomatoes start getting mushy, add the boiled lentils. Mix well and let it come to a boil. The consistency should be like lentil soup. It can be thinned a bit more if desired.  Finally add the sambhar masala powder and the tamarind concentrate.

(If using actual tamarind, soak it in hot water for 15 minutes. Take the pulp out and discard the fibrous portion and the seeds.)

Garnish with cilantro leaves and the sambhar is ready.

Coconut Chutney:

  • Grated coconut (fresh/frozen) 1 cup
  • Dalia Daal (Roasted split Bengal gram) 1/2 cup
  • Peanuts 2 Tbsp.
  • salt to taste

for tempering:

  • Canola Oil 1 Tbsp.
  • Asafoetida 1/4 tsp.
  • Mustard seeds 1 tsp.
  • Fresh Curry leaves 2 stems washed
  • Whole Red chili 1

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Dalia Daal/ Roasted split Bengal gram

This is a very basic coconut chutney but tastes great! To prepare the chutney, grind the chutney ingredients in a grinder (ideally) or a blender (I use) and add a little water. Grind the ingredients well till you get a smooth consistency.

Heat oil in a small wok and add all the tempering ingredients. Heat till you hear crackling noise and the tempering ingredients look crisp. Do not let it burn. Add immediately to the ground chutney.

The coconut chutney’s ready!

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Coconut chutney

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Please help yourself ;-)

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Dosa with Nutella , caramel sauce and some sweet butter

 

Chil-ra or Godhuma Dosa:

The actual recipe given by Debyi uses spelt flour to make the crepe. In North India , it is called Chilra and in South India, it is called Godhuma Dosa (whole wheat flour dosa)

The way we make it in North India is slightly different and hence my clarifications. We do not eat the chil-ra with any curry. It is usually eaten with pickle or cilantro chutney or even Bhukni (a dry tangy spice powder)

The Recipe:

  • Whole wheat pastry flour (atta) 2 cups
  • Onion 1/2 medium minced
  • Ginger 1 tsp. grated/minced
  • green chilli 1 cut fine
  • tomato 1/2 medium chopped fine
  • Carom seeds 1 tsp.
  • salt to taste
  • water

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Clockwise: Atta , water , onion, green chili, ginger and tomatoes

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Chil-ra with yogurt and mango pickle……comfort food

Add all the ingredients and enough water to make a smooth batter. Make sure no lumps remain.

Heat a griddle and make crepes out of these. These will not be as thin as the lentil mixture. But the meal’s ready instantly. I used to love eating these as kid and still do. My kids are a big fan as well……….only I do not know if it’s the chance to eat pickle or chil-ra that draws them to it. Anyway, it’s a good quick fix for me ;-) .

Edit : 17 Sep.  09 : Oh Dear me! I just re-read my post and realized that I have written the quantity of rice as 1 cup and that of the lentils too. It was a typo. I am so very sorry if anyone has tried making this with the wrong ratio given.  I have marked in red , please do check.

Posted in - Turmeric, -Arhar (Toor) Dal, -Asafoetida, -Canola Oil, -Cilantro, -Curry leaves, -Dalia Daal/Roasted split Bengal Gram, -Fenugreek seeds, -Garlic, -Ginger, -Idli Rice, -Mustard Seeds, -Onion, -Potatoes, -Red chili powder, -Tamarind, -Tomato, -Urad daal/ black gram, -Whole wheat flour, Shallots, _Chana Daal/ Bengal gram | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

Black Bread

Posted by vivnidhi on September 7, 2009

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Russian Black Bread…We loved ours with pesto mayo sauce

The bread is black and I cheated too…….was that because I cheated………NO. Gorel of Grain Doe made a Russian Black bread this month for Bread Baking Babes. How she used a couple of recipes to invent this one is a very interesting read. I did not have any sourdough starter and used yeast….that’s my cheat ;-). Now, you think I would not buddy up those who bake bread?

It was such a different looking bread and I had never even heard of it, leave alone taste it.Result : We all loved it. Even when it started getting drier on the 4th day, the husband said ” I like it” :-). The recipe’s a keeper even if it requires more pre-planning than normal.

Black Bread – intermediate style

SOURDOUGH

  • Medium rye flour 300 g (10,6 oz)
  • Water 350 ml (1,5 cup)
  • Active sourdough culture* 2 Tbsp

SOAKER

  • Old bread**, toasted 100 g/3,5 oz
  • Coffee, ground 15 g/0,5 oz
  • Vegetable, neutral oil 25 g/0,9 oz
  • Molasses 60 ml/1/4 cup
  • Caraway seeds 2 tsp
  • Fennel seeds 1 tsp
  • Minced shallots 1 Tbsp

Water, hot 400 ml/1 2/3 cup

FINAL DOUGH

  • Medium rye flour 300 g/10,6 oz
  • High gluten bread flour 400 g/14,1 oz
  • Salt 20 g/0,7 oz (appr. 1 Tbsp)
  • Yeast
  • Fresh: 15 g/0,5 oz
  • Instant dry: 1,5 tsp (0,17 oz)

Soaker

  • All of the above
  • Sourdough
  • All of the above

* If you don’t have any active starter at hand, I think you can cheat by using a small amount (say 5 g fresh or 0,5 tsp instant dry yeast) instead.

**  Gorel used rye sourdough bread, but I guess any old unsweetened bread will do, or any old bread in general.

Sourdough

Mix the ingredients to the sourdough, cover the container with plastic and leave for 12–14 hours at room temperature.

Soaker

Toast the old bread in a toaster or in the oven. The bread should be browned, but absolutely not blackened. Dice the bread or just tear it in pieces and put it in a bowl. Add the rest of the soaker ingredients except the water. Heat the water to near boiling and pour over the soaker ingredients. Cover and leave for the same duration as the sourdough.

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All set: Flour mix, Soaker and sourdough…and yes,  that’s my rye flour

 

Final dough

Mix the two flours in a separate bowl.

If using fresh yeast: Take a small amount of the soaker liquid and dissolve the yeast in it.

Add the yeast mixture OR the instant dry yeast, soaker, sourdough and salt to a mixing bowl.

Add half of the flour mixture and work the dough by hand or in machine. Continue to add about 100 ml or ½ cup of the flour mixture at a time and work until the flour is completely absorbed before you add the next round. The dough shall be firm but still quite sticky. You might not use all the flour, or you might need to add more flour, all depending on the flour used.

Place the dough in an oiled container, cover with plastic and leave for 2–3 hours or until doubled in size.

Shaping and proofing

Drizzle some rye flour on the table top and place the dough on top. If the dough is very sticky, pour just enough rye flour on top of it to make it possible to handle.

Divide the dough in two and shape the parts into oblong loaves. (I placed them on parchment paper to make it possible to just slide the loaves into the oven.) Stretch the surface using both hands to get a tight loaf. Use more rye if the dough is too sticky to handle.

Cover with a tea towel and leave for 60 minutes. Don’t over-proof! (Fire up the oven after 30 minutes to have it ready.)

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Sticky dough: After first proof

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Does this sticky dough proof quickly, this is after 55 minutes

Baking

Place an empty metal container in the bottom of the oven. Put in your baking stone or an empty baking sheet. Heat the oven to 225 °C/435 °F.

Put 3–4 ice cubes in the metal container.

Move the loaves to the hot stone or sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.

Open the oven door to vent out some moist. At the same time, lower the temp. to 200 °C/400 °F. Bake another 30-40 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped underneath, or when the inner temperature has reached appr. 97 °C/207 °F.

Let the loaves cool down before you slice them. Eat with butter and maybe some sharp cheese, or why not cured salmon.

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Russian Black Bread

This bread made some delicious veggie sandwiches for us with mayo and pesto. Thank you Gorel.

I’d like to send this to Susan of Wild Yeast as my first YeastSpotting entry.

Posted in - Bread Flour, -Caraway seeds, -Fennel seeds, -Rye Flour, -Vegetable Oil, Baking Powder, Coffee, Old Bread, Shallots, Sugar, Yeast | 7 Comments »

Last of the oldies: Daring Bakers June Challenge : Bakewell Tart….er…Pudding

Posted by vivnidhi on August 10, 2009

Perhaps the pictures I took were so bad that I never felt like posting. But, nevertheless, I must say that I made this delicious dessert in the month of June when I was supposed to, I don’t know why I did not post it. It was my first time making frangipane……..”it was lovely indeed” ……….as the English would say ;-)

It’s easy and quite delicious. The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800′s in England.  You can read all about the bakewell tart on these blogs and it is a very interesting read. I am just on one of my “too tired to write sessions” today.

The Mighty Flame at 180 x 180 (largest)presents:

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Bakewell Tart ….er pudding

Looks plain but trust me ….tastes delicious

The recipe:

Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it’s overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Jasmine’s notes:
• If you cannot have nuts, you can try substituting Victoria sponge for the frangipane. It’s a pretty popular popular cake, so you shouldn’t have any troubles finding one in one of your cookbooks or through a Google search.
• You can use whichever jam you wish, but if you choose something with a lot of seeds, such as raspberry or blackberry, you should sieve them out.
• The jam quantity can be anywhere from 60ml (1/4 cup) to 250ml (1cup), depending upon how “damp” and strongly flavored your preserves are. I made it with the lesser quantity of home made strawberry jam, while Annemarie made it with the greater quantity of cherry jam; we both had fabulous results. If in doubt, just split the difference and spread 150ml (2/3cup) on the crust.
Annemarie’s notes:
• The excess shortcrust can be rolled out and cut into cookie-shapes (heck, it’s pretty darned close to a shortbread dough).

Sweet shortcrust pastry

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

  • 225g (8oz) all purpose flour
    30g (1oz) sugar
    2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
    110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
    2 (2) egg yolks
    2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
    15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Jasmine’s notes:
• I make this using vanilla salt and vanilla sugar.
• If you wish, you can substitute the seeds of one vanilla bean, one teaspoon of vanilla paste or one teaspoon of vanilla extract for the almond extract

Frangipane

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

  • 125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
    125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
    3 (3) eggs
    2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
    125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
    30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

We had gone strawberry picking that weekend and so of course I prepared some quick strawberry jam. No pectin, nothing but strawberries, sugar and lemon juice….that’s it and folks at home could not have enough of it…..actually there wasn’t t enough of it as I used it up in the tart :-) .

Optional element: Home made jam or curd
We know several amongst us are rather jammy with making their own jams and preserves. Go ahead get wild and creative or simply showcase whatever’s local and in season. If you haven’t jammed before and want some hints or recipes, take a look at Bernardin’s homecanning.ca. If you want to just make some jam for this challenge and not go through sterilizing jars and snap lids, you can try a pan jam, similar to Jasmine’s Blackberry Pan Jam. If you do use homemade jam, please include your recipe or the link to the one you used in your post.

Quick Strawberry Pan Jam (similar to Jasmine‘s pan jam)

  • Strawberries 2 cups cleaned and quartered (measured after cutting)
  • sugar 1 1/2 cups
  • Lemon Juice 1 Tbsp.

On a heavy bottomed pan, heat the strawberries till they boil and add the sugar and lemon juice. Let this cook on medium heat till a  successful plate test can be done. For the plate test, place a plate in the freezer or chill it well. Pour a big drop of jam on this cold plate and give it 30 seconds. If the jam has reached the right consistency, it will very slowly spread a little. More about jam making here.

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Strawberry Pan Jam

I also made some strawberry leather ( I mentioned we went strawberry picking, so, yeah I had a bounty)  for “decoration” which looked good but bad pictures…. Anyway, the boy is nuts about this fruit leather and I prefer making it at home to avoid preservatives and less sugar compared to store bought. Very simple to make, patience is the only virtue required in making fruit leather. Most types of fruits can be used to prepare fruit leather. Please leave melons :-)). I have made fruit leather out of strawberries and kiwi fruit so far. It’s basically like aam papad that we would eat just with other fruits….kids love it. Unfortunately, I have no pictures…next time.

Strawberry Leather:

The Recipe:

  • Strawberries 2 cups cleaned, hulled and pureed
  • sugar  1/4 cup
  • Lemon juice 1 tsp.

1. The same ingredients as jam but tastes quite different. Lemon juice is required both here and in jam to reduce crystallization of sugar. I remember jam bottles which would have rims covered in sugar. Anyway, so far I have only made in small quantities which lasts me about 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator and no sugar crystallization so far. Anyway, puree the strawberries and strain them. I just add the strawberry seeds to the jam….I like the crunch in it .

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Strawberries for strawberry leather

2. In a heavy bottomed pan, add sugar, strained puree and lemon juice and heat on medium heat. Stop after about 20 minutes or until the mixture has thickened considerably yet should be of pouring and spreading consistency. Try your hand at it……..the result will be delicious anyway :-) .

3. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Parchment paper is a necessity for making fruit leather. Spread the mix as thinly and uniformly as possible. We don’t want to spread very thin as it will get crisp or worse burn but too thick will take an eternity. About 1/4 inch is good enough.

4. Preheat the oven to 200 F. Keep the baking sheet in the oven and forget for at least an hour. After the first hour (for a small batch) I like to check every half hour. The mixture keeps drying and when it’s ready, there won’t be any soft portion left & will also not be very sticky.

5. Let it cool completely and store wrapped in parchment. Can be cut as desired. The result is worth the effort.

July2_07

Bad attempt really……bakewell tart was delicious with some whipped topping

The red stuff is strawberry leather roses…..bet it didn’t look as bad as here :-)

We all thoroughly enjoyed this bakewell tart…..er..pudding. It’s a great & easy make ahead dessert. We liked it better the next day. 

Did not cost me anything as I made half the quantity and had everything at home.

Posted in - Confectioner's Sugar, -All Purpose flour, -Almond extract, -Almonds, -Butter, -lemon, -Strawberry, Eggs, Sugar | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Beirut Tahini Swirls…….Sukkar Bi Tahin

Posted by vivnidhi on July 29, 2009

Bread Baking Babes make Sukkar bi Tahin.

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Sukkar bi Tahin

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Here’s my savory …garbanzo filled swirls and sweet Tahini paranthas

As soon it was approaching the middle of the month, I was frantically searching for bread baking babes….what are they baking this month, I hope I don’t miss it……….I did not ;-) . I made 2 batches at least and mix and match here and there ;-). This month’s host babe was Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies.

The recipe she chose is for Beirut Tahini Swirls, Sukkar bi Tahin. It is a cross between a flatbread and a yeasted pastry, only mildly sweet. It is street food in Beirut, and very addictive!
“Beirut has a lot of good food at every level, from fancy restaurants to local eateries, from home cooking to quality market shopping. And for a curbside snacker like me, it’s paradise. There are sesame-covered flatbreads, grilled meats, and sweet and not so sweet cookies; there’s always something nearby to eat.” “These tahini swirls, called sukkar bi tahin in Arabic, are flattened flaky rounds flavored with tahini and sugar, not too sweet, not too strong tasting. Serve them warm or at room temperature-they’re just right either way.”
Alford and Duguid, Home Baking .

The recipe:

Sukkar bi Tahin – Beirut Tahini Swirls

Home Baking, The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World

Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Makes 6 golden brown, flaky textured coiled rounds, about 6 inches wide, filled with sesame paste and sugar.


Ingredients


Dough

  • 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • about 1/2 cup all purpose flour for dusting
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Filling

  • 3/4 cup tahini
  • 3/4 cup sugar

 

Garbanzo Bean Filling

  • 1/2 cup Garbanzo beans soaked for at least 4 hours and boiled…mashed lightly
  • 4 sun dried tomatoes soaked in water and drained
  • 1/2 cup Tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 Cilantro chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • salt to taste

 

Directions

In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water.

Stir in one cup of the flour, then add the sugar and oil and stir in.

Incorporate a second cup of flour, then turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 to 3 hours, until doubled in volume.

Meanwhile, place a baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles, if you have them, (or a baking sheet) on the middle oven rack and preheat the oven to 375 F.

Mix together the tahini and sugar and stir until smooth. Set aside.
Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces.

Work with 3 at a time, keeping the others covered.

Flatten each out on a lightly floured surface, then roll each out to a rectangle about 5 inches by 10 inches.

Spread the top surface with 2 1/2 tablespoons of the filling mixture, spreading it almost to the edges.

Roll up the rectangle from a long side into a cylinder, which will stretch as you roll to about 20 inches long.

Anchor one end and coil the bread around itself, then tuck the end in.

Flatten with the palm of your hand, then set aside, covered, while you fill and shape the other 2 rectangles.

Return to the first coil and roll out gently with a rolling pin.

Roll the other 2 out a little and then return to the first one and roll it out a little more thinly, and so on, until you have rolled each to a round about 6 to 7 inches in diameter.

A little filling may leak out—don’t worry, just leave it.

I brushed the top with a wee bit of oil and sprinkled some sesame seeds before baking. (optional)

Place the breads on the hot baking stone or tiles (or baking sheet) and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and flaky.

Transfer to a rack to cool.

Shape and bake the remaining 3 pieces of dough.

Serve warm or at room temperature.


*Tahini is a paste of ground sesame seeds. It can be found in health food stores, Middle Eastern markets and some grocery stores. It is a common ingredient in hummus, and is gaining in popularity in most parts of the world. It must be refrigerated after opening.

Natashya says: “The swirls should end up like puffy pita. If they are very thin they will be crispy, if they are not rolled enough, they will puff up like cinnamon rolls. We are striving for a flatbread pastry that puffs a little. Try them a couple of times, experiment. They are fun to bake.”  You bet they are ……I had a ton of fun……as usual ;-) .

I used half whole wheat flour and half all purpose flour for sweet tahini filling ones and all whole wheat flour for the savory garbanzo beans ones. Original recipe uses all purpose flour only.

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Left: 1/2 whole wheat with 1/2 all purpose flour dough Right: Whole wheat flour dough

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We have risen..the 1/2-1/2 dough was a little behind, but it did catch on

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Dough cut in 6 pieces ..sweet tahini filling behind

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1 piece rolled

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Filled up

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Rolled up again

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Ready to be baked

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Sukkar bi Tahin

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Had some leftover sweet tahini filling…..what did I do with that

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Made sweet paranthas of course…..dough details here and here

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Filled up and closed

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rolled …

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On the griddle…ready to be turned and oiled

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The other side…..

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Quick , delicious sweet treat…….kids will thank you…..this tastes best warm, will harden as it cools cause the flour cover is thin….does not taste bad even then ;-)

You bet I enjoy taking pictures and posting huge ones on the blog ;-) . I dare say I loved making these. Thank you Natashya and Bread Baking Babes.

Posted in -All Purpose flour, -Cilantro, -Garlic, -lemon, -Olive Oil, -Sesame seeds, -Sun dried tomatoes, -Tahini, -Whole wheat flour, Sugar, Yeast | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Daring Bakers July bring Cookies…….

Posted by vivnidhi on July 28, 2009

Vanilla at 180 x 180 (largest)brings…..

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The boy can’t stop himself ;-) Plum jam cookies and lots more…….

Jaana tha Japan , pahunch gaye Cheen…………Had to go to Japan , and I reached China…. You don’t get it……yeah…..oh well! the daring baker challenge this month was mallow cookies and milanos….long live Pepperidge Farm! I ended up making those and a fusion…..which we all absolutely loved.

These cookies pictured above are truly the best cookies I have ever made. If you liked and ate jam biscuits (called so in India) in your childhood, these cookies will bring those memories back. I surprised myself……..these tasted so good.

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

The mallow cookies were great, I would have never dreamt of making homemade marshmallows but homemade taste so………..good and you can flavor them just as you would want. Thanks a lot Nicole, for this challenge.The mallows biscuit was really delicious. The no. of cookies mentioned in the original recipe is all messed up….which actually worked in my favor :-) .  I loved it so much that I made some plum jam and filled them up and loved the result.

Milanos were quite a disappointment and I would certainly not want to make those again. The milanos dough was like tuiles batter yet not even that….I give up.

The husband was quite excited about Milano cookies and so I made them first, in fact packed a few for a friend, but it was a lot of effort in trying to make them the same size…..and the end result was not worth it… I just made about 2 dozen of them.After that I split the batter in half , spread on the parchment on the entire tray and baked for 5 minutes in the oven. Cut them with a pizza cutter in squares and back in oven for 5-7 minutes more. Same with the rest of the batter. Filled them up up with the chocolate ganache and anything with chocolate gets eaten here. I do not recommend this and will not be making them again :-) . I should mention the chocolate ganache tasted good and the husband even helped me zest the whole orange. What do you think…….I will need help again some other time too..I must not forget the dear husband :-)

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Don’t they look cute…….

Milanos for friends…….hope they ate it up soon…..before they turned chewy…….oh no….boo hoo hoo

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Rest of the Milanos……..:-)

 

Here come the mallows…..pretty good cookies , if one is fond of marshmallows. We are not too fond of them, yet no cookies left of the 28 I made.

The recipe:

Mallows(Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Serves: about 2 dozen cookies

• 3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour
• 1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
• 3 eggs, whisked together
• Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
• Chocolate glaze, recipe follows

1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.
2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.
3. Add the eggs and mix until combine.
4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
7. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.
8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
9. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.
10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.
11. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.
12. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
13. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, then proceed with the chocolate dipping.

Homemade marshmallows:
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 cup light corn syrup
• 3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
• 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
• 2 tablespoons cold water
• 2 egg whites , room temperature
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
5. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.
6. Transfer to a pastry bag.

Chocolate glaze:
• 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
• 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil

1. Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.

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Marshmallow cookies before the dip in chocolate

I got 28 cookies by using 1/4 of the cookie dough. Made 1/2 the amount of marshmallows and chocolate glaze. Since my glaze eventually bloomed, I covered them up in Milanos ganache…….the Milano cookie filling :-)………yeah that’s me!! Tasted good, nevertheless ;-)

Chocolate Ganache:

• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 orange, zested

I also prepared some plum jam….just because I had some plums I had to use. Filled them up in the mallows crust, sprinkled with sugar and loved , loved it! Please do try if you are in the mood to make cookies, true labor of love , forming so many small bites but totally worth it ……..as you will see in pictures below :-)

Plum Jam Recipe:

  • Plums 2 1/2 cups …..pitted, and chopped fine
  • Sugar 1 1/2 cups
  • Lemon juice  1 Tbsp

That’s it….I added all of this in a heavy bottomed saucepan with 2 Tbsp. water. Cooked it down till I could do the plate test. For the plate test, place a plate in the freezer or chill it well. Pour a big drop of jam on this cold plate and give it 30 seconds. If the jam has reached the right consistency, it will very slowly spread a little. More about jam making here. I made a small quantity, hence it went directly to the refrigerator.

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Pick one up……these are ready for a sprinkling of sugar

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Here are the mallows…..this is how they looked

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Perfect with coffee….for some great mornings………

I just took a picture as the husband had set the table

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Somebody else had a great time too……….

It’s been one whole year being a part of the Daring Bakers for me. I have come a long way…..I remember my first challenge Filbert Gateau….I remember my delight. Now I dare to experiment on my own…..Thank you Lis and Ivonne and the whole Daring Baker community which is the best resource of all.

Expenditure:

Unsalted Butter: ………………….$2.17……….from Walmart, some left

Corn syrup(16 oz.)…………………$1.67……….from Kroger, lots left

Heavy cream(1/2 pint)…………….$2.89…………from Kroger, lots left

Powdered sugar……………………$1.99…………from Kroger, lots left

Bakers Chocolate semisweet(8 oz):$ 3.29………….from Kroger, none left

Orange 1 :-)…………………………$0.64………….from Kroger, ate it up….

————————————————————————————————–

Total………………………………..$12.65

Posted in -All Purpose flour, -Butter, -Canola Oil, -Cinnamon, -Corn Syrup, -Cream, -Orange, -Plums, -Semisweet Chocolate, -Vanilla, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Daring Bakers, Eggs, Gelatin, Sugar | Tagged: , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Daring Cooks # 2 Potstickers / Gyoza

Posted by vivnidhi on July 21, 2009

July1_21

Yaay! I can make neat Potstickers  too!

Those who have read my earlier post know that I am late in posting about practically all the posts for the past two months. OK, enough of apologizing. Lost time can’t be brought back again but I can try to learn (Oh yeah………. ;-) )

The reason these potstickers are late is that I experimented a lot with these. Since I first ate the vegetarian gyozas that Trader Joe’s sells, I have been hooked. I remember telling the husband very comfortably……I can make these as he was trying to pick up the last TJ’s one off my plate too. I generously handed the last gyoza to him and said to myself, “shouldn’t be a big deal really”. Before I could fully make a plan about these gyozas, Jen from use real butter announced that the Daring cook challenge as Potstickers. I was very excited (shows when I don’t post on time, right ;-)  ).

Anyway, the bigger challenge these days is posting , not making.

Let me start with saying, I have made it four times now (very unusual for me, I hate repeating) and don’t think my stint with gyozas ends here. I only repeat recipes which I am trying to master…….say Idlis………and now potstickers :-).  How do people write recipe books, how many times do they test?

Round 1: Stuffed whatever I had on hand, forgot soy sauce and cornstarch. You bet………..it tasted great…….I was the only one who ate :-) .

Round 2:  A planned visit to the Asian store, bought garlic chives, tofu etc…….pantry equipped. Even though I baked the tofu and drained it well, I found the end stuffing mixture to be quite wet. This resulted in not well shaped gyozas. Anyway, tasted great, got a pat on the back :-)

Round 3: Cooked the stuffing up, mixed it with some finely chopped veggie burgers (this was for something else) but ended up in potstickers. Husband said, I liked round 2 better.

Round 4: This time, I was dead sure of what I wanted to do………everything in place……….yet the husband said…….round 2 was better…………and boo hoo hoo ……..he is right.

Round 5: Got filled with coconut fudge and some also had chocolate ganache filling , and topped with powdered sugar…Yes, I was cleaning the freezer which is filled with small tit-bits.

Here’s the recipe with my vegetarian filling and the best proportions *(these matter….all I had wrong in round 4 was a little extra daikon radish ):

Jen says “It’s a basic concept: a filling inside a dough wrapper, sealed, and cooked. This delicious theme runs through many cultures and is among the more popular bites at Chinese restaurants – especially dim sum. “

The process goes a little like this:

You can (and should) reference instructional photos and discussion on Jen’s blog post here.

Wrappers: Well yes, you could purchase pre-made dumpling wrappers at the store (NO WONTON WRAPPERS – they have egg), but they are inferior compared to homemade. The whole point of this challenge is to make the dumpling wrappers by hand. So here is the one requirement: the dumpling wrappers must be made by hand. It isn’t all that hard, it just takes a little time and practice. People usually get the hang of it after making about a dozen.

Fillings: the beauty of the Chinese dumpling/potsticker is that the filling is very versatile. That’s why there are so many different kinds of dumplings when you go to dim sum. The two most common are pork and shrimp. You can make them with other ground meats (beef, chicken…) or vegetarian (tofu, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, glass noodles, Chinese chives – oh yum!). The important thing to keep in mind is that the filling needs to “stick” to itself or else you will make your life incredibly miserable wrapping up filling that keeps falling apart. I think if I were to make vegetarian dumplings, I would sauté the cabbage and mash up the tofu for a better cohesiveness. It’s up to you how you want to fill your dumplings and I say – run with it! Just keep it cohesive and no big chunks of hard ingredients (they poke through the wrapper dough = disaster). I realize it may be tempting to dump all of the vegetables into a food processor and give it a whir, but I caution against it. You don’t want a slurry, you want a mince. Practice your knife skills and be careful.

Special Equipment: A rolling pin – preferably not tapered. (see blog pictures for the type I use).

Time: Prep for the filling takes me 30 minutes – longer if peeling and de-veining shrimp. It will depend on your proficiency with a good sharp knife. Rolling and wrapping several dozen dumplings takes me 1 hour by myself. My parents can crank through it in 30 minutes when one person is rolling wrappers and the other is wrapping dumplings. Might be fun to get a second person to help! Cooking: I have to cook mine in batches. When steaming, I can cook a dozen at a time in about 10 minutes. Potstickers: 15 minutes per 2 dozen determined by the size of your pan. Boiling – 6 minutes per dozen or so depending on size of pot. My own personal preference is for potstickers – mmmmm! But they are ALL good.

The Recipe:

Dough:

  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup (113g) warm water
    flour for worksurface

Make the dough, Method 1: Place the flour in the work bowl of a food processor with the dough blade. Run the processor and pour the warm water in until incorporated. Pour the contents into a sturdy bowl or onto a work surface and knead until uniform and smooth. The dough should be firm and silky to the touch and not sticky.[Note: it’s better to have a moist dough and have to incorporate more flour than to have a dry and pilling dough and have to incorporate more water).

Make the dough, Method 2 (my mom’s instructions): In a large bowl mix flour with 1/4 cup of water and stir until water is absorbed. Continue adding water one teaspoon at a time and mixing thoroughly until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. We want a firm dough that is barely sticky to the touch.

Both dough methods: Knead the dough about twenty strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes. Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking – about 1/16th inch. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper and fold the dough in half, pleating the edges along one side (see images in Jen’s post for how to fold pleats). Keep all unused dough under damp cloth.

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The dough, even though feels very dry….just let it rest ;-)…..this is after the rest

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Dough cut into 5 pieces

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The cut portion of the dough is rolled into a thinner round and cut further. Good idea to cut it bigger than I am showing here. This was my first attempt.

  • Vegetarian filling:
    2 carrots minced
  • 4 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
    3 stalks green onions, minced
    6 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 bunch Chinese chives/garlic chives minced
  • 1 medium red onion minced
    1/2 cup Daikon radish peeled and minced (lesser than shown in picture below)
    1/4  cup ginger root, minced
  • 1 cup tofu (baked in oven at 400F for 15 minutes) mashed (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
    3 Tbsp (40g) soy sauce
    2 Tbsp (28g) sesame oil
    6 Tbsp (16g) corn starch

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Finally some color……spring onion, carrots, napa cabbage, garlic, garlic chives, red onion,ginger and daikon radish

Even though Jen asks to mince  the veggies by hand, I chose to use the food processor………and was I glad I did ;-). Mince these veggies and drain the water by pressing with hands. Add the sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil and corn starch.

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Vegetarian filling

  • dipping sauce:
    2 parts soy sauce
    1 part vinegar (red wine or black)
    a few drops of sesame oil
    chili garlic paste (optional)
    minced ginger (optional)
    minced garlic (optional)
    minced green onion (optional)
    sugar (optional)

To boil: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add dumplings to pot. Boil the dumplings until they float.

To steam: Place dumplings on a single layer of napa cabbage leaves or on a well-greased surface in a steamer basket with lid. Steam covered for about 6 minutes.

To pan fry (potstickers): Place dumplings in a frying pan with 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil. Heat on high and fry for a few minutes until bottoms are golden. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Cook until the water has boiled away and then uncover and reduce heat to medium or medium low. Let the dumplings cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat and serve.

To freeze: Assemble dumplings on a baking sheet so they are not touching. It helps to rub the base of the dumpling in a little flour before setting on the baking sheet for ease of release. Freeze for 20-30 minutes until dumplings are no longer soft. Place in ziploc bag and freeze for up to a couple of months. Prepare per the above instructions, but allow extra time to ensure the filling is thoroughly cooked.

To serve: Serve dumplings or potstickers hot with your choice of dipping sauce combinations.

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Pan fried is the way to go for us: these look  darker than they actually were ….trust me, these are delicious

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Ah…..my black background

One more pic and the one with the coconut fudge filling (tasted like modaks :-)) )

Posted in - Napa Cabbage, - Red onion, -All Purpose flour, -Carrot, -Daikon Radish, -Garlic, -Garlic chives, -Ginger, -Sesame oil, -Soya Sauce, -Spring Onions, -Tofu, Corn Starch, Sugar | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

More than a month late : Daring Bakers May: Apple Strudel

Posted by vivnidhi on July 5, 2009

This was the May’s Daring Baker Challenge. No, its not a case of dementia……..just pure procrastination. Its been strange strange past months, I would make Daring Bakers & Cooks challenges with a lot  of enthusiasm and then not post them. Everybody in the house seems to be suffering from a severe case of Writer’s Block. I really hope Lis and Ivonne don’t kick me out of the group. This month (whole of June), I sat and pondered and planned what I would do with the recipe……..but the truth is : I haven’t made it yet.

Anyway, often in life I have gone in my self-created shells and each time emerged stronger. So, I am hoping that the same would happen this time too. Cooking and baking has kept me sane all these years when I have not paid any particular attention to my career. I remember hearing somewhere (blame the radio for all my weird stories) that the happiest workers are those who work in creative fields. You bet, the only creativity I have is in the kitchen:-). This is the very thread that keeps me excited about the next day. When my mother was here a year back, she was surprised beyond belief to hear my then 2 year old son tell her all about Indian spices, where his Mom kept them, which utensils she used for what purpose.

Oh , now that I have blabbered about everything else, let’s get on with the strudel. I found it to be delicious and a perfect spring-summery light dessert.

Vanilla at 180 x 180 (largest)presents:

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Mini Apple Strudel topped with candied apple peels and caramel sauce

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

Preparation time
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes – 3 hours 30 minutes

15-20 min to make dough
30-90 min to let dough rest/to prepare the filling
20-30 min to roll out and stretch dough
10 min to fill and roll dough
30 min to bake
30 min to cool

Apple strudel
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum
3 tablespoons (45 ml) raisins
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbs
strudel dough (recipe below)
1/2 cup (120 ml, about 60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts
2 pounds (900 g) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices (use apples that hold their shape during baking)

1. Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook whilst stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely.

3. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. Spread the walnuts about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip. Mix the apples with the raisins (including the rum), and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the walnuts.

4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.

5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

Strudel dough
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.
Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.

2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.
Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).

3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.
Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it’s about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

Tips
- Ingredients are cheap so we would recommend making a double batch of the dough, that way you can practice the pulling and stretching of the dough with the first batch and if it doesn’t come out like it should you can use the second batch to give it another try;
- The tablecloth can be cotton or polyster;
- Before pulling and stretching the dough, remove your jewelry from hands and wrists, and wear short-sleeves;
- To make it easier to pull the dough, you can use your hip to secure the dough against the edge of the table;
- Few small holes in the dough is not a problem as the dough will be rolled, making (most of) the holes invisible.

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Milk Bread for bread crumbs

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This is what happened to the bread

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Sliced apples, flour, bread crumbs and chopped nuts

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Here’s  the dough

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This is what I could do with it

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And, here’s  the result……yeah at least some of it

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Decided that I do not like sliced apples, minced them up with the rest of the stuff and it stayed marinated in rum for a good 3-4 days…………:-)

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Here’s the result …hot out from the oven

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Oh..this is what I did with the apple peels………candied them :-) ………..sliced the peels, blanched them in boiling water for a bit, threw the water and then reduced them with sugar, spread them on parchment and let them dry. Topped them on the strudels in the last 5 minutes of baking. (My son could not stop eating these :-) )

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Loved these mini strudels topped with candied apple peels and caramel sauce

Have a bite……

It’s a shame I did not post this scrumptious strudel on time even though I made and took pictures way before the challenge date. Yet I am posting it now:-). Hopefully I will post on time henceforth( don’t apply this to the June challenge for which I am late already:-) ). Thank you Linda and Courtney for a delicious challenge.

Expenditure: Zilch

I had everything at home, specially the big box of granny smith apples(approx. 20 lb for $2) I picked up at Joe’s Randazzo on my early morning finds.

Posted in - Bread Flour, -All Purpose flour, -Bread crumbs, -Butter, -Cider Vinegar, -Cinnamon, -Granny Smith, -Raisins, -Vegetable Oil, Alcohol, Daring Bakers, Sugar | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

YES….Asparagus bread with Parmesan cheese and Walnuts and uh… Arugula

Posted by vivnidhi on June 26, 2009

It’s been a long time that I wrote anything on the blog. Not even posting more photographs of the gnocchi , not posting about the daring bakers and cooks challenges. Past couple of months have been absolutely crazy. It’s an absolute surprise how time flies by, really…….doesn’t the time ever get tired of just ticking. Oh, I get crazy running after it, never really making it. I want to be on top of situations and reach appointments early……….but the reality is …I am mostly running late. If I wake at 5 am in the morning, the day and the task list gets longer……..I start thinking…..”Oh, why didn’t I wake up at 4″ And……I don’t even work outside the house……..I don’t know what is wrong and do I even have the time to think of it…..ha?

Anyway, now that I have opened up my heart, written a full paragraph without interruption……….(ah, lets not count the fact that I have a fidgety 1 year old who landed up on my lap scribbled a little on the table till I actually handed her “writing book”) OK OK……focus, focus………I just had to break my silence on the blog and I have been so excited this past month about the Bread Baking Babes.

I baked the bread they blogged about and it just tasted superb. I had to blog about it and yeah………..today is the last day if I want the badge. I always manage doing things…….it’s ok if on the last minute. A friend a few years back illuminated me about the JIT….Just in Time Theory. Well, I am a perfect practitioner.

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Asparagus, walnuts, parmesan cheese and baby Arugula/Rocket

I was going to bake this month’s BBB bread no matter what cause I love baking breads and these folks bake great looking breads:-) . I was out of almost every bread baking ingredient so I bought a lot of stuff. It was fun. Baked the bread yesterday…..and was really thankful that it was not difficult. The only added activity for me was shelling the walnuts but I better use them before they go bad.

The Recipe:

Asparagus Bread (with Parmesan Cheese and Walnuts)

2 small loaves

This bread goes very well with a cold meat and salad buffet.

125 g green asparagus ……..9 pieces for me

25-30 g rocket

50 g walnuts,

50 g freshly grated parmesan cheese

450 g strong bread flour (you can also use half whole wheat and half white or white whole wheat if you can get that)

12 g fresh yeast or 1 1/4 tsp dry instant yeast

250-270 g water

25 g olive oil…….1 1/2 Tbsp for me

10 g (sea) salt………….1 1/2 tsp. for me

  • Boil 3/4 liter of water with a pinch of (sea) salt. Clean the asparagus, set two of them aside, cut the rest into 4 pieces. Boil these pieces for 2 minutes in the water, scoop them out (so you can use the water for the rocket as well) and rinse under cold water (to stop them cooking).
  • Put the rocket in the boiling water for a few seconds (until wilted), drain and rinse under cold water and drain again.
  • Press the water our of the rocket, chop it coarsely and cut the asparagus into 1/4 inch (± 1 cm) long pieces, set aside.
  • Crush the walnuts coarsely and grate the parmesan.
  • Measure the flour and yeast in a large bowl, mix in most of the water and knead for a few minutes (on low speed), add the olive oil and knead for 10-12 minutes. Add the salt and knead on medium speed for 5 minutes until very elastic.
  • Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Work the asparagus pieces, rocket, walnuts and parmesan in with care so that they’re evenly distributed. The dough should be very supple and elastic, hence the long kneading time. For me the best way to incorporate all the ingredients is to spread the dough out into a large slap, sprinkle all the ingredients on and roll it up. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes, press flat and fold… rest 5-10 minutes press flat and fold. Shape into rounds.
  • Place the dough in a greased container, cover and let rise for about 2 hrs.
  • Divide the dough into 2 equal parts.
  • Make round balls, cover with a tea towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Flatten the balls and fold into taut breads with slightly tapering ends. Lay one asparagus in lengthwise in the middle of the bread and press in slightly. Sprinkle with wheat flour and cover to rise for 70 minutes or until doubled. Before baking you can sprinkle a little grated cheese on the bread if you like (optional).
  • Preheat the oven (preferably with stone) to 460ºF.
  • Place the loaves directly on the stone. Spray with water (or poor some hot water in a metal container on the bottom of the oven that you preheated to create steam)
  • Lower the temperature after 5 minutes to 400ºF. Open the door after another 10 minutes to let some air in. Repeat twice during baking.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

(adapted from: “Artisan Bread” -Jan Hedh)

Original post can be found on the blog “Notitie van Lien” ©2009.

www.notitievanlien.blogspot.com

I used half whole wheat and half bread flour. I followed the recipe exactly except for these changes: Mixed with hands, mixed flour, yeast , salt and water together and then knead in oil.  After letting the dough rest for about minutes, I incorporated the greens and walnuts , shaped the dough and left it to rise. No excessive resting allowed in this house. Next I shaped the bread for final rising on the sheet I was going to bake it in. I do not have a stone, so I baked the breads on a normal baking sheet. Sprayed some water on the loaves before baking and baked for 40 minutes. The bread tasted fabulous. One thing I’d change about my recipe is that I would spread some cornmeal instead of the whole wheat flour I put under the loaves as I was in a rush (always!!)

One more note about the ingredients: I should admit that I am not an asparagus fan at all and the husband has very limited likes in the vegetable world. But, what do you do if you have an adamant wife determined to put all kinds of vegetables on the plate:-) ? And the husband can’t even complain these days cause the 31/2 year old catches it instantly …….”even Papa doesn’t like broccoli” . So, I these days find the husband eating broccoli and actually saying  that he likes it:-)………even when there are other choices:-). Ok, gist of the matter…..everybody at home enjoyed the bread thoroughly. This is a delicious bread, do try it…..and it’s even good for beginners as the recipe is so simple. Thanks Lien!

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After the second rise, before baking

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Baked loaves

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Pick a slice………….

Expenditure:

Asparagus………………….1.57 lb. …………$3.12 ,        from Busch’s………lots left

Arugula……………………5 oz………………$ 3.99        from Busch’s………lots left

Argentine Parmesan……..0.62 oz……………$5.57          from Busch’s………lots left

Whole wheat flour(KA)…. 5 lb………………..$3.22          from Walmart…….lots left

Bread flour………………..5 lb……………..$2.64         from Walmart…….lots left

——————————————————————————————————–

Total………………………………………….$18.54………..

That’s an expensive bread! The pleasure I got out of baking and eating it……….priceless……

 

Posted in - Bread Flour, -Arugula/Rocket, -Asparagus, -Olive Oil, -Walnuts, -Whole wheat flour | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

Daring Cooks First Challenge : Ricotta Gnocchi

Posted by vivnidhi on May 16, 2009

flame_w180x180 presents

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(Drum rolls Please!!!!)The Daring Cooks are out with their first challenge……..Ricotta Gnocchi !

The inaugural May 2009 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was brought to us by Ivonne of Creampuffs in Venice and Lis of La Mia Cucina. They chose a recipe from the stunning cookbook by Judy Rodgers, named after her restaurant, The Zuni Café Cookbook.

As I joined the Daring cooks, I was determined that my version of daring cooks challenges is going to be low fat and mostly vegetarian…..it can only get fishy ;-) , I know but then it won’t be for me ;-).

Long long back, when I did not know how to pronounce (no-kee) correctly, I had attempted making potato gnocchi. I think it turned out ok but since we can’t stay away from spices, after the first day, the leftovers were transformed to aloo kofta curry and THEN they were thoroughly enjoyed :-)  .

For some strange reason I believed that this won’t be the case with ricotta gnocchi. If you look at Judy Rodgers preparing ricotta gnocchi in this video here, you will feel like picking one up right away.

The first thing I learned that making homemade ricotta is exactly like making paneer. The only difference is that for ricotta Whole milk is used and cream is also added to it, in India nobody adds extra cream. But, I bet anyone will tell you that the creamier the milk, the better the paneer/chhena  will turn out.  Other difference I can think of is that we mostly use buffalo milk in India and here in US, we use cow’s milk and hence the fat content definitely varies.

Well, I used 2% milk , now I do not know how much healthier it was but I tried. I did end up with a ton of whey because of using 2% milk but it was quickly used up in making my regular atta. To make paneer , just bring the milk to a boil and then add lemon juice to it. When the milk separates, drain the whey and further press it to dry it out completely.

Here are the pictures:

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Draining the ricotta, whey and the drained ricotta

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Can’t help using hands: smoothening out the ricotta, and the gnocchi, ready to be boiled

Oh, I have completely forgotten to mention my discovery. Yeah going very early to our vegetable market has its plusses. I have discovered the “reduced price box”. In $ 2 I end up getting a box full of a particular fruit or vegetable. It’s absolutely amazing, the stuff is good and not old, a few blemishes here and there but it’s far from bad. Honestly, it’s not bad at all. When we shop in the day, those boxes are long gone, but if one is there when the store opens its gates at 6 am, you can find treasures. So, this time I returned home beaming with boxes of green apples, orange bell peppers and pickles :-).I am talking of Joe’s Randazzo, if you are in the Detroit area.  Oh yeah that’s the Scrooge me talking but that’s how I am and always have been;-)

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Orange Bell Peppers, now who would mind these?

I used some, froze half of them (a couple month’s supply) and roasted the rest. Pealed and in the refrigerator hee hee.

Ok, back to the gnocchi. I believe you can take an Indian out of spice land but you cannot take spice out of him. Its true for our household. First I served it up with roasted bell pepper cashew sauce with dried fenugreek. The sauce was good but the husband wondered aloud, why didn’t you make matar paneer:-). I know he did not mind the gnocchi but matar paneer is the way to go in our house:-).

Next day, I pan fried the gnocchi in a Tbsp. of oil and added salt, pepper and lime juice. Sprinkled some fresh cilantro and the husband absolutely perked up.

Late Update June 28th 2009 : Just uploaded the lost pictures of pan fried ricotta with Indian spices:

May_03

Pan Fried Ricotta Gnocchi with spices

Well! my advice is that if you are not particularly fond of gnocchi, this recipe will not change you. Just take the pressed ricotta/paneer and pan fry it and serve it with preferred seasonings. You will not miss gnocchi:-)

Posted in -All Purpose flour, -Cheese, -Kasoori Methi, -Orange Bell Pepper, -Red chili powder, Eggs, Milk | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Lasagne Time

Posted by vivnidhi on March 28, 2009

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Here’s Chopping Ninja …..just being “DARING”

Soon, all the chair backs were also covered! not a pretty picture I know

The husband thanked me first for not growing my own spinach and grinding flour at home (also with a look that said “I know what’s on your mind ;-) ” ) I have been pestering him about CSAs but I know…….one day……..that too will happen :-) .

I really could never have envisioned myself making lasagne…….ever…….and that too with home made pasta!! I heard of it only after coming to the US. The husband is not particularly fond of any form of noodles and while I enjoy pasta , I have never quite liked lasagne. Even the ones with eggplants  in them!! While I can say that this Daring Bakers challenge tasted quite good (EVEN the Hubby ate it and said “it’s fine, it’s good, don’t worry, I can eat it :-)” ), I doubt that I will be remaking it.

The husband chose to eat this instead of the “rajma Chawal (kidney beans-rice) back-up was satisfying enough for the amount of work that went into making it ;-) . Though , I did not stop my nagging here. Since I could not believe that he was eating lasagne…….

Me : ” You don’t have to eat it, you know, you just are eating it cause I put in efforts” .

Him : ” This is good, don’t worry, rajma Chawal is too ordinary” .

Me : “Ah, then I should make this a weekly affair”.

Him : (with a smile and a look that said “I mean this!!!!) ” I like it irrespective of who made it and how much effort went in it  Let’s keep it like a once in a decade…..or lifetime experience…..you know me & noodles”

Oh yeah, I got it, I said it in the second paragraph” I won’t remake this lasagne” but will certainly make individual components like the sauces or even the pasta. Heh heh …In the kitchen, the chopping Ninja rules!!

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna – Daring Bakers March 2009 Challenge

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

I try to listen to “The Splendid Table” every week on NPR. I am a radio buff and absolutely love the show!

 

All recipes below from The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food by Lynne Rossetto Kasper (published by William Morrow and Company Inc., 1992).

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno)
(Serves 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 to 8 as a main dish)

Preparation Time: 15 minutes to assemble and 40 minutes cooking time

10 quarts (9 litres) salted water
1 recipe Spinach Pasta cut for lasagna (recipe follows)#1
1 recipe Bechamel Sauce (recipe follows)#2
1 recipe Country Style Ragu (recipe follows)#3
1 cup (4 ounces/125g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Method
Working Ahead:
The ragu and the béchamel sauce can be made up to three days ahead. The ragu can also be frozen for up to one month. The pasta can be rolled out, cut and dried up to 24 hours before cooking. The assembled lasagne can wait at room temperature (20 degrees Celsius/68 degrees Fahrenheit) about 1 hour before baking. Do not refrigerate it before baking, as the topping of béchamel and cheese will overcook by the time the center is hot.

I made the ragu a day earlier and bechamel before assembling the lasagne.

 

Assembling the Ingredients:
Have all the sauces, rewarmed gently over a medium heat, and the pasta at hand. Have a large perforated skimmer and a large bowl of cold water next to the stove. Spread a double thickness of paper towels over a large counter space. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Oil or butter a 3 quart (approx 3 litre) shallow baking dish.

Cooking the Pasta:
Bring the salted water to a boil. Drop about four pieces of pasta in the water at a time. Cook about 2 minutes. If you are using dried pasta, cook about 4 minutes, taste, and cook longer if necessary. The pasta will continue cooking during baking, so make sure it is only barely tender. Lift the lasagne from the water with a skimmer, drain, and then slip into the bowl of cold water to stop cooking. When cool, lift out and dry on the paper towels. Repeat until all the pasta is cooked.

Assembling the Lasagne:
Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a layer of about four overlapping sheets of pasta over the béchamel. Spread a thin layer of béchamel (about 3 or 4 spoonfuls) over the pasta, and then an equally thin layer of the ragu. Sprinkle with about 1&1/2 tablespoons of the béchamel and about 1/3 cup of the cheese. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with béchamel sauce and topping with a generous dusting of cheese.

Baking and Serving the Lasagne:
Cover the baking dish lightly with foil, taking care not to let it touch the top of the lasagne. Bake 40 minutes, or until almost heated through. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, or until hot in the center (test by inserting a knife – if it comes out very warm, the dish is ready). Take care not to brown the cheese topping. It should be melted, creamy looking and barely tinged with a little gold. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the lasagne rest for about 10 minutes. Then serve. This is not a solid lasagne, but a moist one that slips a bit when it is cut and served.

I baked in my 10″x 10″ square pan and it worked well. Three layers of pasta.

#1 Spinach Egg Pasta (Pasta Verde)

Preparation: 45 minutes

Makes enough for 6 to 8 first course servings or 4 to 6 main course servings, equivalent to 1 pound (450g) dried boxed pasta.

2 jumbo eggs (2 ounces/60g or more)
10 ounces (300g) fresh spinach, rinsed dry, and finely chopped; or 6 ounces (170g) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3&1/2 cups (14 ounces/400g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour (organic stone ground preferred)

Working by Hand:

Equipment

A roomy work surface, 24 to 30 inches deep by 30 to 36 inches (60cm to 77cm deep by 60cm to 92cm). Any smooth surface will do, but marble cools dough slightly, making it less flexible than desired.

A pastry scraper and a small wooden spoon for blending the dough.

A wooden dowel-style rolling pin. In Italy, pasta makers use one about 35 inches long and 2 inches thick (89cm long and 5cm thick). The shorter American-style pin with handles at either end can be used, but the longer it is, the easier it is to roll the pasta.
Note: although it is not traditional, Enza has successfully made pasta with a marble rolling pin, and this can be substituted for the wooden pin, if you have one.

Plastic wrap to wrap the resting dough and to cover rolled-out pasta waiting to be filled. It protects the pasta from drying out too quickly.

A sharp chef’s knife for cutting pasta sheets.

Cloth-covered chair backs, broom handles, or specially designed pasta racks found in cookware shops for draping the pasta.

Mixing the dough:
Mound the flour in the center of your work surface and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs and spinach. Use a wooden spoon to beat together the eggs and spinach. Then gradually start incorporating shallow scrapings of flour from the sides of the well into the liquid. As you work more and more flour into the liquid, the well’s sides may collapse. Use a pastry scraper to keep the liquids from running off and to incorporate the last bits of flour into the dough. Don’t worry if it looks like a hopelessly rough and messy lump.

Kneading:
With the aid of the scraper to scoop up unruly pieces, start kneading the dough. Once it becomes a cohesive mass, use the scraper to remove any bits of hard flour on the work surface – these will make the dough lumpy. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes. Its consistency should be elastic and a little sticky. If it is too sticky to move easily, knead in a few more tablespoons of flour. Continue kneading about 10 minutes, or until the dough has become satiny, smooth, and very elastic. It will feel alive under your hands. Do not shortcut this step. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it relax at room temperature 30 minutes to 3 hours.

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Pasta dough

Till here it was fine, no problems. I washed fresh spinach and drained it in a colander. Mixed it with 2 large eggs in a blender to get a uniform color. I think some water was retained in spinach leaves, the dough just turned out beautiful, quite supple.

Stretching and Thinning:
If using an extra-long rolling pin work with half the dough at a time. With a regular-length rolling pin, roll out a quarter of the dough at a time and keep the rest of the dough wrapped. Lightly sprinkle a large work surface with flour. The idea is to stretch the dough rather than press down and push it. Shape it into a ball and begin rolling out to form a circle, frequently turning the disc of dough a quarter turn. As it thins outs, start rolling the disc back on the pin a quarter of the way toward the center and stretching it gently sideways by running the palms of your hands over the rolled-up dough from the center of the pin outward. Unroll, turn the disc a quarter turn, and repeat. Do twice more.

Stretch and even out the center of the disc by rolling the dough a quarter of the way back on the pin. Then gently push the rolling pin away from you with one hand while holding the sheet in place on the work surface with the other hand. Repeat three more times, turning the dough a quarter turn each time.

Repeat the two processes as the disc becomes larger and thinner. The goal is a sheet of even thickness. For lasagne, the sheet should be so thin that you can clearly see your hand through it and see colors. Cut into rectangles about 4 by 8 inches (10 x 20 cm). Note: Enza says that transparency is a crucial element of lasagne pasta and the dough should be rolled as thinly as possible. She says this is why her housekeeper has such strong arms!

Dry the pasta at room temperature and store in a sealed container or bag.

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Here , I thought I lost track of what I was doing……..

#2 Bechamel

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour, organic stone ground preferred
2&2/3 cups (approx 570ml) milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Using a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Sift over the flour, whisk until smooth, and then stir (without stopping) for about 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk a little at a time and keep the mixture smooth. Bring to a slow simmer, and stir 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper, and a hint of nutmeg.

You bet, the usual white sauce but nutmeg made it fabulous. Oh well , mine was a generous hint of nutmeg ;-)

#3 Country style Ragu’….Vegetarian  (Ragu alla Contadina……vegetarian)

Preparation Time: Ingredient Preparation Time 30 minutes and Cooking time 2 hours

Makes enough sauce for 1 recipe fresh pasta or 1 pound/450g dried pasta)

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (45 ml)
    2 ounces/60g nutrela (textured vegetable protein granules (TVP) )
    1 medium onion, minced
    1 medium stalk celery with leaves, minced
    1 small carrot, minced
    12 ounces/125g firm tofu
  • 4 ounces/125g  Vegetarian sausage
    2/3 cup (5 ounces/160ml) dry red wine
    1 &1/2 cups (12 ounces/375ml) vegetable stock (homemade if possible)
    2 cups (16 ounces/500ml) fat free milk
    3  tomatoes, peeled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Working Ahead:
The ragu can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. It also freezes well for up to 1 month. Skim the fat from the ragu’ before using it.

Bring a sauce pan of salted water to a boil and add the TVP/nutrela to it. Put the heat off. Remove from from heat and drain after 5 minutes. Press with hands to remove as much water as possible as it cools.

Browning the Ragu Base:
Heat the olive oil in a 12 inch (30cm) skillet (frying pan) over medium-high heat. Have a large saucepan handy to use once browning is complete. Add the nutrela and minced vegetables and sauté, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, 10 minutes, or until the onions barely begin to color. Coarsely grind the sausage and tofu, in a food processor or meat grinder. Stir into the pan and slowly brown over medium heat. Protect the brown glaze forming on the bottom of the pan by turning the heat down. Cook 15 minutes, or until the stuff is a deep brown. Turn them into the saucepan and set over medium heat.

Reducing and Simmering: Add the wine to the skillet, lowering the heat so the sauce bubbles quietly. Stir occasionally until the wine has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Scrape up the brown glaze as the wine bubbles. Then pour the reduced wine into the saucepan and set the skillet aside.

Stir ½ cup stock into the saucepan and let it bubble slowly, 10 minutes, or until totally evaporated. Repeat with another ½ cup stock. Stir in the last 1/2 cup stock along with the milk. Adjust heat so the liquid bubbles very slowly. Partially cover the pot, and cook 1 hour. Stir frequently to check for sticking.

Add the tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pot. Cook uncovered, at a very slow bubble for another 45 minutes, or until the sauce resembles a thick, meaty stew. Season with salt and pepper.

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Chopping & TVP in salted water

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Drained TVP and here’s my soy stew

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Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna

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Here’s a piece!

Half of the lasagne is in the freezer now for rainy days and the rest is waiting for us to devour. By the way, the husband took some left overs as well to work the next along with his usual fare………..Now, whatt d’ya call that ?

Check out what other fabulous Daring Bakers have baked at Daring Bakers Blogroll . Egg less, gluten free, SWEET lasagne all there!

Expenditure:

Spinach (1 bunch)………………….$0.79 from Randazzo……..finished

Parmigiano-Reggiano 5 oz ………….$4.99 from Trader Joe’s ….some left

Nutrela 100 g……………………….$ 1.99 from Indian store…..little left

——————————————————————————————–

Total ………………………………$ 7.77

Posted in -All Purpose flour, -Boca Burger, -Butter, -Carrot, -Celery, -Cheese, -Nutmeg, -Nutrela, -Olive Oil, -Onion, -Spinach, -Tofu, -Tomato, Eggs, Milk | Tagged: , , , | 10 Comments »

Sailing the Pink Seas

Posted by vivnidhi on January 29, 2009

j_97

Tuile Boats with whipped cream and strawberry cream

This month’s Daring Bakers challenge was French Tuiles. Light and fragile as can be. I can definitely not call this month a success cause we were a part of several mishaps as we waded our way in making these fragile bits. First my one year old chanced upon the chocolate sauce bottle as I was playing with refrigerating tuile dough and baking tray. Next thing we had a delicious choco-baby and chocolate floor (right when I was using the tuile stencils). Thank God for my 3 year old(who loves to keep an eye on such situations and raises the alarm only when the deed is done;-) )………otherwise I would not even have noticed and continued my play. Next, when I thought I had learnt how to roll these exactly as I wanted to……….kept the last batch in the oven ………………………………….and ………….forgot to take it out ………until it turned into crisp , dark brown ………..yes, burnt.

Anyway, in spite of all this , as usual with daring bakers, the tuiles were delicious and very fragile. They paired beautifully with the strawberry cream I made. I learnt a fabulous way to garnish in future. I will certainly use these in my desserts.

I paired these with Light and easy strawberry Cream. The strawberries were courtesy of Locavorious. I must say that they were better than store bought frozen ones and my son just loves to snack on them plain. A very big thank you to Rena Basch who gave these to us free of cost. I joined a fabulous group of Michigan Lady Food Bloggers and through them I came to know of locavores. I will try and join them next season.

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Local Strawberries

Light & Easy Strawberry Cream

The Recipe:

  • Strawberries 1 cup (fresh /frozen)
  • Sugar 1 tsp.
  • Sugar Free Strawberry gelatin 6 oz (1 pack)
  • Water 1/2 cup
  • Fat free Whipped Topping 2 cups thawed

This is an extremely simple recipe. Dissolve the gelatin in 1/2 cup hot water. Puree the strawberries in the blender with 1 tsp. sugar. No need to thaw the strawberries. Add the strawberry puree to the gelatin and mix well. Put  this in the refrigerator for half an hour. When it has started to set a little, add the whipped topping and fold it in the gelatin mixture carefully. Back it goes in the refrigerator for at least 4-6 hours. Ready!! Pair it with tuiles and a sprinkle of best aged balsamic vinegar and we have a classic dessert ready.

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Light & Easy Strawberry Cream

For a little shaping up after the holidays, we’re adapting an air of lightness, adding a touch of crisp and maybe even go nuts. A challenge that’s more about technique than about baking a recipe. With the choices given, we think you’ve got plenty of options to chose something that’s individually challenging. You are allowed every flavor in the universe, you may go round or square, roll or fold but you need to shape up!
So here we go; January – something light… Tuiles – what could be lighter?? big_smile
Traditionally, tuiles are thin, crisp almond cookies that are gently molded over a rolling pin or arched form while they are still warm. Once set, their shape resembles the curved French roofing tiles for which they’re named. The Dutch angle: traditionally this batter was used to bake flat round cookies on 31st December, representing the year unfold. On New Years day however, the same batter was used but this day they were presented to well-wishers shaped as cigars and filled with whipped cream, symbolizing the New Year that’s about to roll on. And of course the batter is sometimes called tulip-paste….

This month’s challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

About the shaping: you don’t need to buy anything especially for this challenge, I made the stencils I used for the butterflies myself out of thick plastic sheet and cut out the desired shape. You can use anything you have handy in your kitchen/house like broomsticks, knitting needles, cups, cones.. use your imagination.

Following is a recipe taken from a book called “The Chocolate Book”, written by female Dutch Master chef Angélique Schmeinck.
Recipe:

Yields: 20 small butterflies/6 large (butterflies are just an example)

Preparation time batter 10 minutes, waiting time 30 minutes, baking time: 5-10 minutes per batch

65 grams / ¼ cup / 2.3 ounces softened butter (not melted but soft)
60 grams / ½ cup / 2.1 ounces sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (7 grams or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
65 grams / 1/2 cup / 2.3 ounces sifted all purpose flour
1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

Oven: 180 C / 350F
Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly. Press the stencil on the bakingsheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the wings and body of the butterfly.
Bake butterflies in a preheated oven (180 C/350F) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from bakingsheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again. (Haven’t tried that). Or: place a bakingsheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.
If you don’t want to do stencil shapes, you might want to transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the desired shapes and bake. Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones….

Anything you’d like to know and more: http://www.pastrysampler.com/Questions_ … /tuile.htm

There are more alternative recipes too  Nougatine, Chocolate Tuiles, Savory tuile/cornet recipe. These recipes can be found at host’s blogs here. To check out who has made what , check out the Daring Bakers’ blogroll.

Wish I had done the savory…..the husband wanted me to but I couldn’t some other time:-) Not a great start to 2009 but then there’s hope………I see it just behind the snow :-)

Expenditure:

Parchment paper : $ 2.84 from Walmart lots left

And a huge big thank you to Rena for the strawberries!

Posted in - Bread Flour, - Confectioner's Sugar, -Balsamic Vinegar, -Butter, -Cocoa Powder, -Cream, -Strawberry, Eggs, Gelatin, Sugar | Tagged: , , | 14 Comments »

Daring Bakers French Yule Log

Posted by vivnidhi on December 30, 2008

I would have never known of this and certainly not attempted to make a FRENCH YULE LOG had I not joined Daring Bakers. December has been a wacky month with my mind just unable to concentrate on anything at all. And here was a challenge which required immense amount of planning and precision.

So, here’s the result ………shoddy work, but a sincere effort nevertheless. It was a delicious dessert undoubtedly (even with the kind of work I have done.) The next time it will definitely be better looking than this;)……….I only have to figure out an occasion that deserves such a lot of work:))

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Here’s my Log!

This month’s challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.
They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand

A French Yule Log!!!
SO, what is a French Yule Log you say and how is it different from the cake roll Yule Log made last December by Daring Bakers.

In France you can buy two kinds of Yule log, either the Genoise and Buttercream type that we made last December, or what is more commonly purchased which is a frozen Yule Log very reminiscent of an ice cream cake, only often it’s not made of ice cream but rather frozen mousse of some sort. In French this is called an entremets which is sometimes loosely translated in English as simply a cream dessert. This also means that this recipe is not holiday-specific, it is also just a scrumptious dessert recipe.
This recipe comes almost entirely, except for one small labeled portion and some of the variations courtesy of our dear Daring Baker Fairy Tartelette, from the website: Florilège Gourmand (address above) which belongs to Flore (who has not disclosed her last name to me in my exchanges with her) and is unreal. Her website is in French and different portions of the recipe have been pulled from the recipes in the entremets section.
So, to the business of our Yule log:

THE CHALLENGE RULE is that you MUST MAKE ALL 6 of these elements for the log:
1)  Dacquoise Biscuit-               Almond
2)  Mousse-                                   Dark Chocolate with Orange Curacao
3)  Ganache Insert-                   White Chocolate with orange undertones
4)  Praline (Crisp) Insert-      Milk Chocolate & almond praline
5)  Creme Brulee Insert-        Vanilla with orange undertones
6)  Icing-                                       DARK chocolate
The assembly will essentially be a Dacquoise Biscuit at the bottom, and the inserts inter-layered with mousse, with an icing finish.
That’s about it for rules. Oh yeah, please have fun!

FRENCH YULE LOG OR ENTREMETS RECIPE by Flore of Florilège Gourmand

Element #1 Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)
Preparation time: 10 mn + 15 mn for baking
Equipment: 2 mixing bowls, hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, spatula, baking pan such as a 10”x15” jelly-roll pan, parchment paper
Note: You can use the Dacquoise for the bottom of your Yule Log only, or as bottom and top layers, or if using a Yule log mold (half-pipe) to line your entire mold with the biscuit. Take care to spread the Dacquoise accordingly. Try to bake the Dacquoise the same day you assemble the log to keep it as moist as possible.
Ingredients:
2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) almond meal
1.75 oz (1/2 cup / 50g) confectioner’s sugar
2Tbsp (15g) all-purpose flour
3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 medium egg whites
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
1.    Finely mix the almond meal and the confectioner’s sugar. (If you have a mixer, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds).
2.    Sift the flour into the mix.
3.    Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff.
4.    Pour the almond meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.
5.    Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it.
6.    Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape (circle, long strip etc…) and to a height of 1/3 inches (8mm).
7.    Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden.
8.    Let cool and cut to the desired shape.

This was really really delicious! I could eat the whole thing alone. I made a normal almond dacquoise with almond meal made at home. Yes, I had the skins on the almonds. You think I’d not eat that fiber ;-)

Element #2 Dark Chocolate Mousse
Preparation time: 20mn
Equipment: stand or hand mixer with whisk attachment, thermometer, double boiler or equivalent, spatula
Note: You will see that a Pate a Bombe is mentioned in this recipe. A Pate a Bombe is a term used for egg yolks beaten with a sugar syrup, then aerated. It is the base used for many mousse and buttercream recipes. It makes mousses and buttercreams more stable, particularly if they are to be frozen, so that they do not melt as quickly or collapse under the weight of heavier items such as the crème brulee insert.
Gelatin is the gelifying agent in all of the following recipes, but if you would like to use agar-agar, here are the equivalencies: 8g powdered gelatin = 1 (0.25 oz) envelope powdered gelatin = 1 Tbsp powdered gelatin = 1 Tbsp Agar-Agar.
1 Tbsp. of agar-agar flakes is equal to 1 tsp. of agar-agar powder.
Ingredients:
2.5 sheets gelatin or 5g / 1 + 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
1.5 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp (10g) glucose or thick corn syrup
0.5 oz (15g) water
50g egg yolks (about 3 medium)
6.2 oz (175g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1.5 cups (350g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
1.    Soften the gelatin in cold water. (If using powdered gelatin, follow the directions on the package.)
2.    Make a Pate a Bombe: Beat the egg yolks until very light in colour (approximately 5 minutes until almost white).
2a.  Cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F (118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature.
2b.  Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer.
2c.  Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.
3.    In a double boiler or equivalent, heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
4. Whip the remainder of the cream until stiff.
5.    Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then stir in ½ cup (100g) of WHIPPED cream to temper. Add the Pate a Bombe.
6.    Add in the rest of the WHIPPED cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.

I added 1/2 tsp. of orange extract and 1 Tbsp. Orange Curacao………..to please the hubby and he loved it;) I cannot rave enough about this, it is among the most delicious mousse I have ever made. The alcohol just makes it perfect!!

Element #3 Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert (I made a white chocolate ganache)
Preparation time: 10mn
Equipment: pan, whisk. If you have plunging mixer (a vertical hand mixer used to make soups and other liquids), it comes in handy.
Note: Because the ganache hardens as it cools, you should make it right before you intend to use it to facilitate piping it onto the log during assembly. Please be careful when caramelizing the sugar and then adding the cream. It may splatter and boil.

Variations on the Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert listed above:
White Chocolate Ganache Insert
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
5 oz (135g) white chocolate, finely chopped
4.5 oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp / 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
1.    Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small sauce pan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color (for most of you that means darker than last month’s challenge).
2.    While the sugar is melting, heat the cream until boiling.  Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil.
3.    Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.

OK, here I just did not realize that I had to reduce the cream by a Tbsp. My weighing scale is messed up, thanks to the Sonny Boy and so my ganache just never set. BUT, do you know, I loved the caramely gooey ganache, you can’t see a layer of that, but I could taste it:)). Failure in some sense, but I do not mind it one bit.

Element #4 Praline Feuillete (Crisp) Insert
Preparation time: 10 mn (+ optional 15mn if you make lace crepes)
Equipment: Small saucepan, baking sheet (if you make lace crepes).
Double boiler (or one small saucepan in another), wax paper, rolling pin (or I use an empty bottle of olive oil).
Note: Feuillete means layered (as in with leaves) so a Praline Feuillete is a Praline version of a delicate crisp. There are non-praline variations below. The crunch in this crisp comes from an ingredient which is called gavottes in French. Gavottes are lace-thin crepes. To our knowledge they are not available outside of France, so you have the option of making your own using the recipe below or you can simply substitute rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K for them. Special note: If you use one of the substitutes for the gavottes, you should halve the quantity stated, as in use 1oz of any of these cereals instead of 2.1oz.
If you want to make your own praline, please refer back to the Daring Baker Challenge Recipe from July 2008.

Ingredients for the Praline Feuillete:
3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) butter
2 Tbsp (1 oz / 30g) praline
2.1oz (60g) lace crepes(gavottes) or rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K
1.    Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.
2.    Add the praline and the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate.
3.    Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.

I did make my own praline, with almonds (skinned) this time but could not achieve a paste with it. It was more like a fine powder, again tasty nevertheless;) I used Special K for the feuillete as I did not have time to make gavottes. BUT my feuillete never really set. I made it twice and both times it was a crumbly mass and it fell both times. Anyway, I refrigerated it well the second time and I could get like big set pieces of it! This makes the final result so very delicious!

Element #5 Vanilla Crème Brulée Insert
Preparation time: 15mn + 1h infusing + 1h baking
Equipment: Small saucepan, mixing bowl, baking mold, wax paper
Note: The vanilla crème brulée can be flavored differently by simply replacing the vanilla with something else e.g. cardamom, lavender, etc…
Ingredients:
1/2 cup (115g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
½ cup (115g) whole milk
4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
0.75 oz (2 Tbsp / 25g) granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
1.    Heat the milk, cream, and scraped vanilla bean to just boiling. Remove from the stove and let the vanilla infuse for about 1 hour.
2.    Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).
3.    Pour the vanilla-infused milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well.
4.    Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking mold (whatever shape is going to fit on the inside of your Yule log/cake) with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.
Tartelette says: You can bake it without a water bath since it is going to go inside the log (the aesthetics of it won’t matter as much since it will be covered with other things)….BUT I would recommend a water bath for the following reasons:
- you will get a much nicer mouth feel when it is done
- you will be able to control its baking point and desired consistency much better
- it bakes for such a long time that I fear it will get overdone without a water bath
Now…since it is baked in a pan and it is sometimes difficult to find another large pan to set it in for a water bath, even a small amount of water in your water bath will help the heat be distributed evenly in the baking process. Even as little as 1 inch will help.
5.    Let cool and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.

I again added 1/2 tsp. of orange extract. Lovely. Mine cooked as per the directions and tastes very good.

Element #6 Dark Chocolate Icing
Preparation time: 25 minutes (10mn if you don’t count softening the gelatin)
Equipment: Small bowl, small saucepan
Note: Because the icing gelifies quickly, you should make it at the last minute.
For other gelatin equivalencies or gelatin to agar-agar equivalencies, look at the notes for the mousse component.
Ingredients:
4g / ½ Tbsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream (35 % fat content)
2.1 oz (5 Tbsp / 60g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50g) water
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1.    Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.
2.    Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling.
3.    Add gelatin to the chocolate mixture. Mix well.
4.    Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.

This is a great icing recipe. Changed nothing but did make 1.5 times the quantity specified. Had leftovers:)

How To Assemble your French Yule Log
Depending on whether your mold is going to hold the assembly upside down until you unmold it or right side up, this order will be different.
THIS IS FOR UNMOLDING FROM UPSIDE DOWN TO RIGHT SIDE UP.
You will want to tap your mold gently on the countertop after each time you pipe mousse in to get rid of any air bubbles.

1)    Line your mold or pan, whatever its shape, with rhodoid (clear hard plastic, I usually use transparencies cut to the desired shape, it’s easier to find than cellulose acetate which is what rhodoid translates to in English) OR plastic film. Rhodoid will give you a smoother shape but you may have a hard time using it depending on the kind of mold you’re using.
You have two choices for Step 2, you can either have Dacquoise on the top and bottom of your log as in version A or you can have Dacquoise simply on the bottom of your log as in version B:
2A)  Cut the Dacquoise into a shape fitting your mold and set it in there. If you are using an actual Yule mold which is in the shape of a half-pipe, you want the Dacquoise to cover the entire half-pipe portion of the mold.
3A)  Pipe one third of the Mousse component on the Dacquoise.
4A)  Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
5A)  Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
6A)  Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
7A)  Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
8A)  Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
9A)  Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight eidge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
10A)  Close with the last strip of Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.
OR
2B)  Pipe one third of the Mousse component into the mold.
3B)  Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
4B)  Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
5B)  Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
6B)  Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
7B)  Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
8B)  Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight edge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
9B)  Close with the Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.
If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN with TWO pieces of Dacquoise the order is:
1)  Dacquoise
2)  Mousse
3)  Creme Brulee Insert
4)  Mousse
5)  Praline/Crisp Insert
6)  Mousse
7)  Ganache Insert
8)  Dacquoise
If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN with ONE piece of Dacquoise on the BOTTOM ONLY the order is:
1)  Mousse
2)  Creme Brulee Insert
3)  Mousse
4)  Praline/Crisp Insert
5)  Mousse
6)  Ganache Insert
7)  Dacquoise
If you are doing the assembly RIGHT SIDE UP in a springform pan the order is:
1)  Dacquoise
2)  Ganache Insert
3)  Mousse
4)  Praline/Crisp Insert
5)  Mousse
6)  Creme Brulee Insert
7)  Mousse
8 OPTIONAL) Dacquoise
THE NEXT DAY…
Unmold the cake/log/whatever and set on a wire rack over a shallow pan.
Cover the cake with the icing.
Let set. Return to the freezer.
You may decorate your cake however you wish. The decorations can be set in the icing after it sets but before you return the cake to the freezer or you may attach them on top using extra ganache or leftover mousse, etc…
Transfer to the refrigerator no longer than ½ hour before serving as it may start to melt quickly depending on the elements you chose.

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That’s for December………..2009 will be beautiful!

Mine has dacquoise on top and bottom and one crisp insert. Overall, the almond, chocolate and orange flavors merged so well that this cake tasted absolute top rate. IN SPITE of my mistakes. This should be tried (even by the faint of heart) cause it will be delicious! A big thank you to the hosts! Wanna see more of these…….check it out here Daring Bakers Blogroll

Expenditure:

  • Confectioner’s Sugar 2 lb. ……………$2.19 from Kroger……..tons left
  • Sugar 4 lb………………………….                    $2.25 from Kroger………..yes left but we will eat it up!
  • Dark Chocolate 8 oz. (Bakers)…..    $2.50 from Kroger……..couple of oz. left
  • Heavy cream 1 Quart………………        $5.99 from Kroger …………hardly any left:(

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That’s it…………………………                                                $12.73……….ah,I know how much I spent!

Posted in - Confectioner's Sugar, -All Purpose flour, -Almonds, -Butter, -Cocoa Powder, -Corn Syrup, -Cream, -Dark Chocolate, -Milk Chocolate, -Vanilla, -White Chocolate, Cereal, Chocolate, Eggs, Gelatin, Sugar, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 24 Comments »

Daring Bakers: Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting & Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels

Posted by vivnidhi on November 29, 2008

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Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting

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Golden Honey Vanilla Ginger Caramels……They really are delicious…

The mood is really really somber as I write this post. This month was so full of fun……..if only Mumbai was not attacked. The cowardly act has left me anxious. It was extremely sad to watch the city I so adored, terrified like that. I grew up in a town close to the Financial Capital Mumbai. I was always in awe of the Metro and a little scared too….if this small town girl would ever be able to walk as fast as the rest of Mumbaikars. As Luck would have it, I got to work in a Mumbai suburb and I could not believe that the city was so welcoming. Felt like I belonged there. I could walk as fast (or faster) as the Mumbaikars.I, too have walked past the Taj Mahal Hotel and felt a sense of pride, awe. All the politicians have left a sour note by their behavior and power politics. The complete lack of moral value in the politicians of India is shameful. The security forces, firemen and the Doctors have done us Indians proud. If only these people were supported by the “RULERS”. I was absolutely stunned to hear one of the State Ministers call themselves “RULERS” I didn’t know we had “RULERS”, some years back they called themselves Public Servants. Not one of the Indian politician has shown any leadership.Life is getting back to routine for Mumbai residents as we all mourn the deaths of innocents. I can only hope that the security forces are further strengthened and equipped in the days to come as these threats become more real everyday. That would be a fitting tribute to the brave men who have laid down their lives.

Daring Bakers were back to sweet celebrations this month & completed two years on Nov. 19. Charche Chauke Ke turned one year old too this month. So, sweet treats ruled the month. The recipe is by Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater (http://eggbeater.typepad.com/) and her signature caramel cake. Alice Medrich’s Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels were an optional challenge. This month’s challenge was hosted by Dolores (http://culinarycuriosity.blogspot.com/), Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo: http://blondieandbrownie.blogspot.com/), Jenny of Foray into Food (http://forayintofood.blogspot.com/) and helped by Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go (http://glutenagogo.blogspot.com/) for gluten free version of the recipe.

I tackled the caramels first as I have never made candy. First I bought an inexpensive candy thermometer. I am extremely impressed by the results. The caramels were just delicious. The hubby and son loved it. I have made it twice. The first time round, I had printed the recipe incomplete and so after the addition of cream…….I just did not heat the caramel mixture:). Yeah….that’s typical me;). So, I waited all night for the caramels to firm up………which they never did………..Result……..I had the most delicious caramel sauce I have ever eaten. Alice Medrich……..I love you. Honestly……if you want the best caramel sauce……..use her recipe and use Golden syrup. It’s the best!!! You will feel like throwing the store bought caramel sauce the moment you taste this. Anyway, I scraped half the mixture back in the pan and heated it back up to 260F and Voila………I had some delicious toffee. Incredible. Now I had a bottle full of caramel sauce and delicious toffee. No more salivating for Alpenliebe :). Well , I made caramels again…….this time it was half honey and half golden syrup. I added ginger while heating the cream and strained it later. I had increased he cream by 2 tablespoons as I thought some would be absorbed by ginger. Anyway, the net result was fabulous. Thank you for this incredible challenge. I would have never made candy otherwise.

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First attempt………sugar and golden golden syrup

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Result…………..The BEST Caramel Sauce Ever!!

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Golden Vanilla Toffee

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All dressed up

Caramels Recipe:

Recipe Source: Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich, Artisan Press, Copyright 2007, ISBN: 978-1579652111

GOLDEN VANILLA BEAN CARAMELS
- makes eighty-one 1-inch caramels -
Ingredients
1 cup golden syrup
2 cups sugar
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons pure ground vanilla beans, purchased or ground in a coffee or spice grinders, or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened
Equipment
A 9-inch square baking pan
Candy thermometer
Procedure
Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F. Meanwhile, combine the cream and ground vanilla beans (not the extract) in a small saucepan and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot.
When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°F for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F; for firmer chewy caramels.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using it. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm.
Lift the pan liner from the pan and invert the sheet of caramel onto a sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the liner. Cut the caramels with an oiled knife.  Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane.
Variations
Fleur de Sel Caramels: Extra salt, in the form of fleur de sel or another coarse flaked salt, brings out the flavor of the caramel and offers a little ying to the yang. Add an extra scant 1/4 teaspoon of coarse sea salt to the recipe. Or, to keep the salt crunchy, let the caramel cool and firm. Then sprinkle with two pinches of flaky salt and press it in. Invert, remove the pan liner, sprinkle with more salt. Then cut and wrap the caramels in wax paper or cellophane.
Nutmeg and Vanilla Bean Caramels: Add 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg to the cream before you heat it.
Cardamom Caramels: Omit the vanilla. Add 1/2 teaspoon slightly crushed cardamom seeds (from about 15 cardamom pods) to the cream before heating it. Strain the cream when you add it to the caramel; discard the seeds.
Caramel Sauce: Stop cooking any caramel recipe or variation when it reaches 225°F or, for a sauce that thickens like hot fudge over ice cream, 228°F. Pour it into a sauceboat to serve or into a heatproof jar for storage. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for ages and reheated gently in the microwave or a saucepan just until hot and flowing before use. You can stir in rum or brandy to taste. If the sauce is too thick or stiff to serve over ice cream, it can always be thinned with a little water or cream. Or, if you like a sauce that thickens more over ice cream, simmer it for a few minutes longer.
(recipe from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert)

Next comes the Caramel Cake. I should admit, overconfidence led to a bitter caramel syrup…and I made the cake with it. Again thankfully, the cake tasted great…..no extra sweetness. Just right……but the leftover caramel syrup is not of much use. I had only made half the caramel syrup recipe given here. I took time to like the cake and the frosting. And I believe that I did not do a good job of it. Next time, I have to be more careful.

The Recipe:

EQUIPMENT: For Cake/Icing: Stand mixer with paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer, or mix the old-fashioned way), 9-inch cake pan (or whatever size/shape you choose), cookie sheet or sheet pan, stainless steel saucepan, pastry brush, whisk, sieve.

RECIPE SOURCE
Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon (
http://eggbeater.typepad.com/), as published on Bay Area Bites (http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/).

CARAMEL CAKE WITH CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature
Notes from Natalie for those of you baking gluten-free:
So the GF changes to the cake would be:
2 cups of gluten free flour blend (w/xanthan gum) or 2 cups of gf flour blend + 1 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1/2 – 1 tsp baking powder (this would be the recipe amount to the amount it might need to be raised to & I’m going to check)
I’ll let you when I get the cake finished, how it turns out and if the baking powder amount needs to be raised.

Preheat oven to 350F
Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.
Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.
Sift flour and baking powder.
Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}
Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.
Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.
Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

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Creaming Butter and sugar

Nov_35

Addition of Caramel Syrup…….I know that’s dark;);)

Nov_37

Ready for the oven

Nov_44

Here’s the cake!

CARAMEL SYRUP
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for “stopping” the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.
When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.
Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}
Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.


CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste
Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.
Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner’s sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner’s sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.
Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light
(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)

The cake was moist with a distinct caramel flavor. I used crushed up vanilla toffee on top.

Nov_50

Have a bite!!

Expenditure:

  • Sugar 5 lb ………………….$ 2.50 from Kroger……lots left
  • Heavy cream 1 Quart………. $ 6.50 from Kroger………..very little left
  • Golden Syrup 12 oz. ………..$4.99 from Cost Plus ……..finished
  • Candy Thermometer…………$ 2.99 from Walmart

Total…………………………………$ 15.98

Posted in -All Purpose flour, -Butter, -Cream, -Golden Syrup, -Vanilla, Herbs, Milk, Sugar | Tagged: , , | 10 Comments »

Daanedaar Besan Ke Laddoo ( Sweet Gram Flour Balls)

Posted by vivnidhi on November 22, 2008

cNov_12

Celebrating with Daanedaar Besan Ke Laddoo

It has been 1 year since I published my first post. Yes, Charche Chauke Ke turned one!! Even though it has been difficult at times to find time to blog, it has been a lot of fun.

Ch Ch Ke………what………is a regular question ?? “Yeah, that’s a blog I write, it is about my discussions of the urban Indian kitchen ” I almost always reply with a cheeky smile. It is about my experiments in the kitchen and some random thoughts. Sneaky tidbits as I watch my kids grow. The smile is cheeky cause I know there are far better cooks and writers than me almost everywhere. But here is my journey as I learn to cook better, healthier and more wholesome everyday.  My attempt here is to chronicle what is important and interesting to me. I write about what I know, have seen my seniors do and learn more as I go about. It is very satisfying to know what you think cause it is a very important part of Charche Chauke Ke.

A big thank you to all who have visited this blog in the year past. Finally the resolution: That I will continue blogging as much as I can into the coming year as well. One step at a time:) . So, please pick a laddoo up virtually and join me in marking the first year of this blog.  Pick that glass of water up and clank it with mine….”Cheers” :))

Besan Ke Laddoo can be made in several ways. Here’s my Nani’s (maternal grandmother’s) recipe, only it is using a little lesser amount of ghee (clarified butter).  I like my laddoos simple, no nuts etc. though they can be added if you desire.

The Recipe: (Approximately  40 small laddoos)

  • Gram flour (Besan) 3 cups
  • Ghee (Clarified butter) 3/4 cup
  • Castor Sugar (Bhoora)  1 cup
  • Milk 1/4 cup (Can be whole milk or even skim milk if you want)
  • Cardamom powder (Elaichi) 2 tsp.

Take besan and ghee in a wok and keep the heat to medium high. Keep stirring till the besan starts to brown a little . Next take a Tbsp. of milk in your palm and sprinkle all over the besan which is frying. Keep stirring till the milk is absorbed well by the gram flour. Repeat till all milk is absorbed by the gram flour. This is an important step. Not only does this make small grain like texture in the gram flour but it also makes the laddoo less dry. Besan Ka Laddoo made in less ghee would otherwise taste quite dry.

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Gram Flour

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Gram Flour after addition of milk

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The ghee separates……indication that the besan has fried enough

Keep stirring till the ghee separates as in the photograph above. Turn the heat off and let the besan cool a little. When the besan mixture is warmer and can be handled by bare hands, add sugar to the mixture. Grainy castor sugar is a good alternative to the traditional boora. ‘Boora’ was prepared by heating sugar with water and drying it completely till the normal white sugar would reconstitute itself into grains. Its quite a tardy process and I am glad I had some store bought boora from India;) to add to the laddoo.

Mix the cardamom powder to the mix. Pick out fistfuls of besan mixture and compress it till it feels like one mass. Then compress it further to make  a perfect round. Lastly a technique is used to get a smooth, shiny round which is quite easy to adopt if seen. Unfortunately I do not have any pictures so I will try my best to explain in words. The fist is opened with the compressed besan in the center of the palm. The hand is then shaken continuously and the besan round is allowed to move in the hand. Slowly, the entire round becomes smooth and shiny. Laddoos are ready!

cNov_12

Please try one!!

Aparna (another Daring Baker…….and Daring Bakers also turned two years old on 19th November!!) of My Diverse Kitchen is also celebrating her first blog anniversary with Sweet Celebrations image . Here Aparna……pick a laddoo up……..to us…………:)) .

These laddoos are also on their way to Joelen of Joelen’s Culinary Adventures who is hosting Devon Ave. Indian-Jewish Adventure this month.

Cheers!!

Posted in -Cardamom, -Ghee, -Gram Flour, Milk, Sugar | Tagged: , , | 13 Comments »

Hot Hot from the oven……Pizza…….

Posted by vivnidhi on October 30, 2008

A very happy Deepavali to my readers!!  Had a fabulous festival of lights, cooking for Diwali was a very satisfying experience this year with just a  few hitches..:)

As I had not tried this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge early enough this month, I am a day late in posting this month. This month’s challenge was hosted by the benevolent Rosa of Rosa’s Yummy Yums. This challenge is also a tribute to the memory of Sher of What Did you Eat who passed away suddenly in July. She was to host this month’s challenge along with Rosa and Glenna of a Fridge full of Food.

Here are the pizzas I made up without much pre-planning.

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Garden veggie pizza with Paneer

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Olives, spicy lentils, paneer and cilantro Pizza

The main thing is the pizza base.

The Recipe:

EQUIPMENT: Stand mixer with paddle and dough hook attachments (optional, see recipe), cooking thermometer, baking sheet, parchment paper, cooking oil, plastic wrap, pizza peel/scraper, pizza stone or pan.

RECIPE SOURCE: “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread” by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Copyright 2001. ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.

***************

~ BASIC PIZZA DOUGH ~

Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

Ingredients:

4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled – FOR GF: 4 ½ cups GF Flour Blend with xanthan gum or 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup corn flour, 1 cup oat flour, 1 ½ cup arrowroot, potato or tapioca starch + 2 tsp xanthan or guar gum

1 3/4 Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Instant yeast – FOR GF use 2 tsp

1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)

1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)

1 Tb sugar – FOR GF use agave syrup

Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

DAY ONE

Method:

1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.

The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.

Or

2. FOR GF: Add the oil, sugar or agave syrup and cold water, then mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.

DAY TWO

8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

Or

8. FOR GF: On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the number of desired dough balls from the refrigerator. Place on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with a gluten free flour. Delicately press the dough into disks about ½ inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil. Lightly cover the dough round with a sheet of parchment paper and allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

Or

10. FOR GF: Press the dough into the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter – for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough).

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.

During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping.

In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.

You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter – for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

Or

11. FOR GF: Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

Or

12. FOR GF: Place the garnished pizza on the parchment paper onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.

Or

13. FOR GF: Follow the notes for this step.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

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Garden Veggie Pizza with Paneer:

  • Tomato 1 sliced thin
  • Shallots 2 sliced
  • Garlic 2 cloves minced
  • Ginger 1/2 inch piece minced
  • Roasted Red Bell Pepper 1/2 sliced
  • Paneer 1/4 cup sliced
  • Sea Salt 2 tsp.
  • Chat masala 1/4 tsp.
  • Cilantro leaves 10-12 for garnish

Since sauce and toppings both were a MUST according to the rules…………my sauce for this was a very unusual one………if it can actually be called a sauce;)

Mix ginger, garlic and tomatoes. Add salt and let the whole thing sweat for 5-10 minutes. After we have some liquid in the mixture…….this becomes our sauce;). Spread this on the pizza base. Add shallots, roasted bell pepper and paneer.

In the 500F oven for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with cilantro leaves immediately and sprinkle with chat masala.

The result was absolutely delicious:) A great quick fix if you have pizza base ready.

Note: Chat masala can be bought at most Indian Stores. It is basically a tangy spicy mix.

Olives, spicy lentils, Paneer and cilantro Pizza

Kaheen ka eenth, kaheen ka roda………..Bhanumati ne Kumbha joda

(bricks from somewhere and pebbles from somewhere else, Bhanumati somehow made a house………….)

Diwali had some leftovers too:) Made Kachoris for Diwali and the (peethi) spicy lentils were left. They are a big favorite in my house as you must have seen in my previous posts:) Peethi Bhara Daal ka Dulha, Peethi ki Paronthi……….;)

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The Recipe:

Spicy Lentils:

  • Urad daal/ split black lentils without skin 1 cup
  • Ginger 2″ piece chopped fine or grated
  • Oil 2 tsp.
  • Green chili 2 chopped fine
  • Red chili powder 1 tsp.
  • fennel seeds/saunf 1 Tbsp.
  • cumin seeds/jeera 2 tsp.
  • Fenugreek seeds/methi 1/2 tsp.
  • Garam masala 1 tsp.
  • coriander powder/dry cilantro powder/dhaniya 1 Tbsp.
  • Asafoetida/heeng powdered 1/2 tsp.
  • Dry mango powder/Amchur 2 Tbsp.
  • Salt to taste
  • Trader Joe’s Mixed Olive Bruschetta
  • Paneer 1/4 cup crumbled
  • Cilantro leaves 10-12 for garnish

For the spicy lentils, the lentils, ginger and green chillies are ground coarsely. They are then fried in oil with the rest of the spices.  These can be stored in the refrigerator for upto two weeks.

Bake the pizza crust for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Spread the bruschetta mix , top with spicy lentils and paneer. In  the oven again for 6 minutes.

Out form the oven and garnish with cilantro leaves.

The son just loved this one. This is a strange combination but delicious………..trust me:)

By the way, here’s the snap of me trying to toss the dough. All rules satisfied;) I don’t think I know how to toss the dough at all but it was fun.

toss100_2578

That’s my flying Saucer……..

Thank you for a fun challenge Rosa. Have you checked other Daring Bakers’ posts on pizza as yet or not?? Don’t be late like me;)

Expenditure:

  • Bread Flour $ 2.68 ………from Kroger…………lots left
  • Paneer $ 4.49 …………from Indian Store ………………lots left
  • Total ………….$ 7.17 …………not bad at all:)

Posted in - Bread Flour, -Asafoetida, -Cilantro, -Coriander, -Cumin seeds, -Dry Mango Powder, -Fennel seeds, -Fenugreek seeds, -Garlic, -Ginger, -Olive Oil, -Olives, -Red Bell Pepper, -Red chili powder, -Tomato, Daring Bakers, Paneer, Shallots, Sugar, Yeast | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

 
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