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Archive for July, 2008

I am a Daring Baker too!

Posted by vivnidhi on July 30, 2008

This post is long.

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Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

You bet, I am a Daring Baker too! Otherwise why would anybody with such limited skills and equipment attempt this…………:). I am so glad I am a part of Daring Bakers now……..because I learnt a lot from one challenge itself and learning  is a lot of fun. So, this month’s challenge was hosted by  Chris of Melle Cotte and the challenge was : Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream. I was really glad that my first challenge turned out to be a cake. I love cakes, so I was really excited about making it.

Even though a little expensive, I wanted to try the recipe as is with hazelnuts. The husband remarked ” Didn’t we stop buying mixed nuts cause they have hazelnuts in them” Yeah! but nutella has plenty of hazelnuts. I had made my mind so we bought a pound:). Thankfully, the husband had dark rum and orange Curacao in his bar otherwise that would have added to my expenditure too……

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter

  1. 1 Hazelnut Filbert Genoise
  2. 1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
  3. 1 recipe Praline Buttercream, flavored with dark rum and Orange Curacao
  4. ½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
  5. 1 recipe Strawberry Glaze
  6. 1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using, flavored with Orange Curacao
  7. 3 tablespoons filberts (hazelnuts), toasted and coarsely chopped

The 1st day I prepared the sugar syrup, toasted and tried to skin the hazelnuts as much as I could and coarsely chopped the few I could. So item no. 2 & 7 were done. I toasted the hazelnuts in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Removed and immediately put them in a wet towel and rubbed to remove as much as I could. Not a lot of success there. Earned a blister too trying to take the hazelnuts skins off. What is with cakes and my blisters?

Day 2  Tried to skin more hazelnuts and I succeeded!! Thanks to a fellow Daring Baker who wrote about boiling them with Baking soda, skinning and toasting again. That worked, Phew!! So prepared the praline. Mine got darker than it should but it was so…….. good with the buttercream. Guess the praline flavor came out well because of the darkness.  Prepared the strawberry glaze.

Day 3 : The genoise day. Everything was fine until I dropped the butter I was trying to clarify. Not a lot fell but some did. So 2 Tbsp was the clarified butter and 2 Tbsp. was ghee I had at home. The cake took longer to come off the pan but thankfully it did, without breaking. Made the buttercream. Chilled the bowl in which I made the Swiss buttercream. This is the star!! The best buttercream I have ever made. Mixed with praline, its heavenly.

Day 4 : Finally, assembled the cake. Could not slice the layers uniformly. Used floss to cut the cake.  Whipped heavy cream, prepared the ganache. And yes, I got to pipe anything seriously for the first time. Not impressive but good for me:) . All is fun, that is fun when done, right ??

Here goes the detailed recipe with my comments in black:

Filbert Genoise
Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.
1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 large egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan.
Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds.  Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture.  You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process.  Set aside.
Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar.  It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step.  When finished, the mixture should be ribbony.  Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind.  Remove and set aside.
Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so.  Continue to beat for another ½ minute.
Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.
Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.*  Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds.   Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter.  Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.
With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon.  **If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter!  It will impede the cake rising while baking.
Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan.  Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes.  Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan.  Cool the cake completely.
*If not using the cake right away, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap, then in a plastic bag, then in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap in foil, then the bag and use within 2-3 months.

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Genoise:Straight out of the oven: surface becomes uniform as it cools

This Recipetips link is a very good help in understanding how eggs should be beaten for the cake. It would be a good idea to use parchment paper under the cake as it was difficult to take it out. I used a 9″ pan to bake the genoise.

Sugar Syrup
Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers
1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. dark rum or orange flavored liqueur

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake.  *Can be made in advance.

Praline Buttercream
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup praline paste
1 ½ – 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)

Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream.  Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine.  Blend in rum.

Swiss Buttercream
4 large. egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 ½ -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice
1 tsp. vanilla

Place the egg whites in a large/ bowl of a electric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved.  The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.
Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside.
Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become toooooo soft.*
On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute.  Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.
Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.
Wait! My  buttercream won’t come together! Reheat the buttercream briefly over simmering water for about 5 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful and do not overbeat. The mixture will look broken with some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Return the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed just until the cream comes back together.
Wait! My buttercream is too soft! Chill the buttercream in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and rewhip. If that doesn’t work, cream an additional 2-4 Tbsp. of butter in a small bowl– making sure the butter is not as soft as the original amount, so make sure is cool and smooth. On low speed, quickly add the creamed  butter to the buttercream, 1 Tbsp. at a time.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.

It helps to have the bowl chilled in which you make the buttercream.
Praline Paste
1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup Sugar

Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.
Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet.  Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals.  If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides.  Cook until the mixture starts to bubble.  **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor.  Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place.  Do not refrigerate.

Praline is easy to make, as long as you are patient. It gets burnt easily, thankfully mine didn’t even though it got darker than it should. The consistency of the praline paste becomes like peanut butter when processed. This is necessary so that there are no pieces in the buttercream and it is smooth enough to pipe with.

Strawberry Glaze
Good for one 10-inch cake
2/3 cup thick strawberry preserves
1 Tbsp. water

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.
Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm.  If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.

Ganache Glaze
Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake
**Ganache can take on many forms.  While warm – great fudge sauce.  While cool or lukewarm – semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled – can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid – the base of candied chocolate truffles.
6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreay, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ – 1 tsp. hot water, if needed

Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside.
Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.
Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil.  Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate.  Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ – 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!

Assembling Cake

Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake.  Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.
Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream.  Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake.  Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream.
Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake.  Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.
Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-inch blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely.  Chill while you prepare the ganache.
Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings.  Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center.  Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance.  The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”.  Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.
To garnish the cake, fit a 12 – 14-inch pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream.  Stating ½ inch from the outer edge of the cake, position the pastry tube at a 90 degree angle with the top almost touching the top of the cake. Apply pressure to the pastry bag, moving it slightly toward the center of the cake.  As the buttercream flows on the cake, reverse the movement backward toward the edge of the cake and finish by pulling the bag again to the center. Stop applying pressure and press the bag downward, then quickly pull the tip up to break the flow of frosting.  Repeat, making 12 leaves evenly spaced around the surface of the cake.
Make a second row of leaves on the top of the first row, moving the pastry bag about ¾ inch closer to the center.  The leaves should overlap.  Make a 3rd row, moving closer and closer to the center. Add a 4th row if you have the room. But, leave a 2-inch space in the center for a chopped filbert garnish. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.
Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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The last layer : Thinning out in the middle:)

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One last look, not too bad, eh!

Expenditure:

  • Hazelnuts- 1 lb $6.69 from Trader Joe’s (about 1/2 a cup left)
  • Cake Flour – $3.19 from Kroger Lots left
  • Unsalted Butter-$3.09 from Kroger half a stick left
  • Semisweet Chocolate 8 oz  $3.30 from Kroger 2 oz. left
  • Heavy Cream-$1.50 from Kroger
  • Lite Corn Syrup-$1.99 from Kroger lots left

Total: 19.76……not too bad.

Before I forget , this cake is dedicated to my mother whose birthday was on  the 18th and who loves cakes flavored with Rum. It just incidentally so happened that this cake had rum in it.

Even though I didn’t like the nutty texture of the cake initially, it matured on us and we liked it more after a day. It took us 11 days to finish the cake between the 3 of us and it was great till the last day. I know, sounds weird but it took us that long to eat it. I am glad I tried it.

Check out Daring Bakers’ blogroll for much more beautiful pictures and cakes.

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Posted in -Butter, -Cake Flour, -Cream, -Hazelnuts, -Strawberry, Alcohol, Chocolate, Daring Bakers, Eggs | Tagged: , , , | 27 Comments »

Marbled Tea Eggs

Posted by vivnidhi on July 27, 2008

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Stained by Addiction: Marbled Tea Eggs

I am a big fan of Martin Yan, the celebrated chef of Chinese cuisine with his famous Yan Can Cook show on television. He taught me how to mince garlic and ginger in seconds. Anybody who visits me gets a performance by me:) . Yeah, yeah, I know I like to show off…….:). I used to love his show and I watched him so much that I actually learnt from him…..now that says a lot. A few days back I came across his book : Martin Yan Quick & Easy at the library. This book is a companion volume to his public television series. I couldn’t help but bring it home.

One recipe that I tried and liked a lot was marbled tea eggs. I had heard of tea eggs from my husband when he had an authentic Chinese meal at a friend’s place so I wanted to try it too.

In Taiwan, tea eggs are a fixture of convenience stores. Through 7-Eleven chains alone, an average of 40 million tea eggs are sold per year………….source Wikipedia

The best thing is that these hard boiled eggs keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. It was great for breakfast when we were out of home. These are interesting addition to a salad or soup too or just as a snack.

Here’s the recipe adapted from Martin Yan’s Quick & Easy:

  • Eggs 4
  • Spring Onion coarsely chopped
  • Ginger 1″ piece. minced
  • Soya sauce 1/4 cup
  • Regular Black Tea 2 bags
  • Dark brown sugar 1 Tbsp.
  • Ground cinnamon a pinch
  • Ground star anise a pinch
  • Ground cloves a pinch
  • Ground fennel a pinch
  • Pepper a pinch
  • Cinnamon Stick 1

Chinese five spice powder can be used in the recipe instead of the ground spices if available. It can be purchased ready made from an Chinese grocery store. Since I did not have it, I used the ground spices.

Place the eggs with cold water in a saucepan. Cover and bring to simmer over medium heat. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

Drain the eggs and rinse them with cold water. When cool enough to handle, gently tap each egg all over with a spoon until hairline cracks cover the entire shell.

Return the eggs to the pan. Add all the rest of the ingredients and some water to cover the eggs completely. Place over low heat, cover and simmer for at least 15 minutes or for up to 1 hour for a more intense color. I like to simmer only for 30 minutes, otherwise the eggs tend to get too tough for my taste.

Remove from heat, let eggs cool in the liquid and then refrigerate, still in the liquid, at least overnight or for up to a week.

Peel them just before eating. I like them best with some mayonnaise mixed with soya sauce and balsamic vinegar. Another interesting recipe for tea eggs is here.

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All Cracked Up for CLICK…photography event hosted by Jugalbandi

These marbled eggs are also on their way to Happy Love Strawberry’s 18th Birthday Party and the theme is Welcome to Wonderland. Have fun, everyone!!

Posted in -Cinnamon, -cloves, -Ginger, -Spring Onions, -Star Anise, Eggs, Tea | Tagged: , , | 16 Comments »

Spicy Garlic Vegetarian Sausage Bread

Posted by vivnidhi on July 20, 2008

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Can’t wait… Pieces disappearing from behind : Spicy Garlic Vegetarian Sausage Bread

Necessity is the mother of invention and creativity becomes a necessity if resources are limited. This is especially true in my kitchen.

I have to have the plan of dinner in my mind by late afternoon otherwise things start falling apart:) . With a young boy and a baby together, often most other plans end up only being in my mind. Dinner, lunch…….cooking is the first plan I execute cause not only is food important for all of us, cooking is a big stress buster for me. Couple of days back, I went grocery shopping without the dinner cooked at home. Returned home late and with an unplanned impulsive buy…………

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Sesame Semolina Bread

Yes, artisan breads are a big weakness for the husband and me. We bought 2 loaves cause we shop at Sam’s Club:) . These breads do not have a lot of shelf life and best consumed the day you buy. One of them could be frozen but something had to be done the other one. So, what did I have at home? Boiled garbanzo beans (for hummus) and I couldn’t see much else. The refrigerator had tomatoes.

So, the freezer came to rescue. People avoiding boca burgers …convert! Out of the freezer came boca burgers and spinach. The daughter and husband had given me 35-40 mins for coming up with something after which they would both be tired of each other and …………so, I had to just start cooking:) .Finally, what I made had us licking our fingers, scratching the aluminum foil the bread was cooked on and……fighting for leftovers the next day.

Here it is …..The Recipe:

  • Hearty artisan bread sesame semolina /Italian/French loaf

For the spinach layer:

  • Chopped Frozen Spinach 1 cup/Fresh spinach 1 1/2 cups chopped
  • Garlic 2 big cloves minced
  • Olive oil  1 tsp.
  • Salt 1/8 tsp.

For the spicy sausage layer:

  • Frozen Boca Burger/ Garden Burger 2 cooked OR Nutrela granules soaked in hot water and drained.
  • Olive oil 2 tsp.
  • Cumin powder/Jeera powder 1 Tbsp.
  • Turmeric 1/2 tsp.
  • Dry coriander powder / Dhaniya 2 Tbsp.
  • Garam Masala/ Curry powder 2 tsp.
  • Chhole masala 1 tsp. (optional)
  • Garlic 2 big cloves minced
  • Ginger 2″ piece minced
  • Tomato (big) 1 chopped small
  • Yogurt 1 Tbsp.
  • Garbanzo Beans/ Chickpeas 1 cup (soaked in water for 6 hours and boiled or from a can)
  • Salt to taste
  • Tomatoes 2 cut in slices

For the oil & vinegar :

  • Olive oil 1/4 cup
  • Balsamic Vinegar 1/4 cup
  • Garlic 1 minced
  • Sugar 1 tsp.
  • Basil 1/2 tsp.
  • Oregano 1/4 tsp.

In a saucepan, heat the oil and add 2 cloves minced garlic. Add spinach and saute for a minute on medium heat. When the spinach is wilted, remove from pan and set aside.

Cook the burgers either in the microwave or on a griddle. I made a slit in the burger and cooked for 2 minutes, turned and cooked for 1 minute in the microwave.  Remove from the microwave and cut in very small pieces when cool enough to be handled. Nutrela can be substituted for this though the boca burger tastes great! I have heard there is something called boca sausage too, perhaps that can be substituted too.

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Chopped ginger, garlic, boca burger and cooked spinach and garlic

In the same saucepan, heat oil and add cumin seeds powder ,dry coriander powder, turmeric and garam masala. Once these get mixed with oil, add ginger and garlic. The ginger adds a lot of flavor. Next add the chopped tomatoes and yogurt. Mix well and keep stirring on medium heat till the mixture starts to dry out a little. Add garbanzo beans and the chopped boca burger. Add Chhole/ Chana masala at this point. Cover and cook for 5 more minutes on low heat.  Leftover Chhole would also taste good, I think. Mash the garbanzo bean, veggie sausage mixture a little and turn off the gas.

Mix the oil and vinegar ingredients and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the bread in half lengthwise and then five slices of each length. It helps to cut the bread in bite size pieces so it becomes easier to eat.

First layer the pieces with the spinach. Next comes the garbanzo sausage layer topped with sliced tomatoes. Lastly top the slices with the oil and vinegar mixture.

Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes till the sides become crisp. Out comes a very delicious bread. If one remotely likes curry, this is going to be a hit! These are very addictive too!!

I should mention the recipe which was the inspiration for this recipe. And that is Papa Felicos Garlic Sausage Bread from http://allrecipes.com/.

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Spicy Garlic Vegetarian Sausage Bread

This recipe is off to the wonderful Mother Daughter duo of Equal Opportunity Kitchen for their image Tried, Tested and True…Take Two event . Their event has an Organ Donation cause attached to it as well. There is spice in this recipe but its quite a healthy recipe full of protein and fiber and uses olive oil. This event is being judged by Christine Cushing , just the fact  that a professional chef will look at my recipe and photograph is making me jittery. But, anyway, this does please anyone who tastes it.

So, fellow bloggers, if you haven’t posted for this event, hurry up, bring your best recipe out , the deadline’s tomorrow!

Oh, I forgot………I better not, my two year old’s message to the readers is:

ZZZZZ1111         QQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQ222222222222

Please go ahead and interpret as you like:) .

Posted in - Turmeric, -Basil, -Coriander, -Cumin seeds, -Garbanzo Beans, -Garlic, -Ginger, -Oregano, -Spinach, -Tomato, -Yogurt | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

American Chop Suey

Posted by vivnidhi on July 14, 2008

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The “AMERICAN CHOP SUEY”

Almost all restaurants serving Chinese food in India boast of the “American Chop Suey”.

American Chop Suey (also American Goulash, Chili-Macaroni, Chili-Mac, Mac ‘n Beef, Macaroni and Beef, or simply Macaroni) is an American pasta dish. The preferred name and recipe varies by region, for example, the name American chop suey is most prevalent in New England. Commercial preparations of this dish are commonly marketed as Macaroni and Beef. Classic American chop suey consists of elbow macaroni and bits of cooked ground beef with sautéed onions and green peppers in a thick tomato-based sauce. Though this decidedly American comfort food is clearly influenced by Italian-American cuisine, it is known as a chop suey because it is a sometimes-haphazard hodgepodge of meat and vegetables.………….source Wikipedia

Food historians generally agree that chop suey as we know it was invented in the United States in the mid-1800’s, possibly by one of the Cantonese immigrants who flooded California searching for work. Constrained by the lack of Asian vegetables, and trying to produce a Chinese dish palatable to westerners, a Cantonese cook stir-fried whatever vegetables were handy, added some meat or chicken, and served the finished product on a plate of steamed rice. He christened his creation, chop suey, which is the English pronunciation of the Cantonese words “tsap seui” (“tsa-sui” in Mandarin) which means “mixed pieces”. …………source Chinesefood.about.com

Anyway, American chop suey is quite a favorite of a lot of people and its quite wholesome and delicious too.  Here is a recipe that I learnt from a professional cook Mrs. Minocha in Aurangabad , India.

The recipe:  (4 servings)

For the Noodles:

  • Maggi/Ramen/Mama noodles  2 Packs (200 grams)

For the Sauce:

  • Garlic 7 cloves (minced)
  • Tomato sauce/Ketchup 1 cup
  • Soya Sauce 1 tsp.
  • Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp.
  • Sugar 1 1/2 Tbsp.
  • oil 1 tsp.
  • Corn starch 1 Tbsp. (called corn flour in India)
  • salt to taste

For the Vegetables:

  • Onion 1 sliced lengthwise
  • Green Bell Pepper/Capsicum 1 sliced thin
  • Cauliflower 3 Flowerets chopped
  • Carrots 2 sliced like matchsticks
  • Green Beans 7-8 french cut(lengthwise)
  • Soya sauce 1 Tbsp.
  • Crushed Black Pepper 1/2 tsp.
  • Oil 1 Tbsp.
  • Salt to taste

The actual recipe called for Mama noodles first boiled in salted water and then deep fried. I used Maggi masala Atta (whole wheat) noodles (available in Indian grocery stores) . Ramen noodles can easily be substituted. I did not use the masala sachet i.e. the seasoning. I sprayed the noodles with oil spray and put them in a preheated oven. 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Make sure to keep moving them every 3-4 minutes to avoid them getting burnt.

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Noodles on the baking tray

For the Sauce: Heat the oil and fry the garlic for 1 minute.  Add tomato sauce, red chilli powder, salt , soya sauce and sugar. Add 1- 1/2 cups water. Let the whole thing come to a boil. Mix the corn starch with 1 Tbsp. cold water and add it to the sauce. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1 more minute. Orange color is added in Indian restaurants but I have never felt the need to do so.

For the vegetables: First par boil cauliflower in a little salted water. I used the microwave for 1 minute. Heat oil in a wok and fry onion for a minute. I use high flame for the vegetables. Next add the capsicum and cabbage. Next add carrot, green beans and cauliflower. Mix well. Next add salt, soya sauce and crushed black pepper . Mix well and turn off the heat. The key is to keep the vegetables quite crunchy.

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Baked noodles, sweet & sour sauce and Chop Suey Vegetables

To assemble: First make a layer of the vegetables. Add fried noodles on top and pour the hot sauce on top of the noodles. Indianized American Chop Suey is Ready!!

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Dinner’s ready. The crunchy noodles had to be hidden cause the son couldn’t keep his hands off them!

This Indian-Chinese “American Chop Suey” (Shouldn’t we be thankful it does not involve more countries;) ) is headed to DK of DK’s Culinary Bazaar for AWED Chinese. This is the main course……….a complete meal in itself. Hence it is also headed to Archana of Archana’s Kitchen for Monthly One dish Meal event. Enjoy!!

Preparation time for this would be about 20 minutes and cooking time would be 25 minutes.

Posted in -Cauliflower, -Garlic, -Green Beans, -Green Bell Pepper, -Onion, -Tomato Sauce, -Whole wheat flour | Tagged: , | 25 Comments »

Soya Aloo ki Sabji (Fresh Dill and Potatoes dry curry)

Posted by vivnidhi on July 11, 2008

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Soya Aloo ki Sabji

In Hindi, Dill is called soya.  Wonder why, huh. Anyway, fresh dill is quite a favorite with me. The most common preparation in my house is the one with potatoes as the picture says. Another great snack is when you mix dill with rice flour and coconut, make small flatbreads and pan fry. Sindhi Sai Bhaji needs Soya. Another most common use in north Indian homes is to knead it with whole wheat flour and make paranthas/flatbreads with it. And yes, it pairs pretty well with Methi/Fenugreek leaves too. The husband loves salmon with a side of dill dip.

Soya Aloo ki Sabji: (2 servings)

  • Potatoes 1 large or two medium chopped
  • Fresh Dill/soya 1/2 bunch cut fine
  • Ginger 1/2 ” piece minced or grated
  • Green chilli 1 cut fine
  • Oil 1 tsp.
  • Asafoetida 1/4 tsp.
  • Cumin seeds/ Jeera 1/2 tsp.
  • Turmeric powder/ haldi 1/2 tsp.
  • Red chilli powder 1/4 tsp.
  • Coriander powder/Dhaniya 1/2 tsp.
  • Dry mango powder/ amchur 1/2 tsp.
  • Garam Masala 1/4 tsp.

A cast iron skillet is great to cook potatoes in. It gives the potatoes a great crust which makes the dish delicious, so use it to cook the potatoes in if you can. Heat the skillet and add oil. Add asafoetida, cumin seeds, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and coriander powder to the oil.

When you hear the sizzling sound, add the green chilli and ginger. Saute briefly for 30 seconds and then add the potatoes and the dill. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the skillet. Let it cook like that for 15-20 minutes till the potatoes look like they are done. You can stir a couple of times in between.

Lastly add dry mango powder and the garam masala. Mix well with a light hand. And soya aloo ki sabji is ready. This makes a fabulous side dish, whether with lentil soup or even a spicy curry. Its delicious to just snack on them too:). Tastes great with rotis, paranthas or even rice.

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Simple lunch: Soya Aloo ki sabji, daal, yogurt and rotis

I forgot to mention that we lost power for almost 34 hours last week. It was a nightmare, I had to heat milk on a candle for my son in my apartment. After 2 meals outside, we were tired of eating out and guess what, we fired our charcoal grill for an impromptu BBQ on 3rd July. The son was craving regular roti sabji………….so I realized I could cook up an entire Indian meal on our small grill. It was just fantastic……tandoori rotis and Rajma………..and potatoes with dill:).

Just mix all  the ingredients listed above in an aluminum foil. Make a sort of a pocket which holds all the ingredients and close it. Put it directly among the coals. In 15 -20 minutes, the potatoes are ready! You will open up to an aroma of asafoetida when you open the packet. Some may not like that but in a few minutes, the smell reduces and then the potatoes taste really good. This is on its way to Joelen’s Culinary adventures Grilled recipes.

This is also on its way to Sweetnick’s ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday cause this is certainly antioxidant rich:).

Posted in - Dill, -Cumin seeds, -Ginger, -Potatoes | Tagged: , , | 15 Comments »

Imli ke Bade (Lentil Fritters in Tamarind Sauce)

Posted by vivnidhi on July 1, 2008

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Imli ke Bade

Barely any time to say anything. Coming steaming hot from an American kitchen which has roots in Uttar Pradesh, India.

The Recipe:

For the Fritters: (Makes 18 medium size badas)

  • Black Gram lentils/Urad daal 1/2 cup
  • Ginger 1″ piece
  • Green chillies 2
  • Oil for frying

For the Sauce:

  • Tamarind concentrate 1 Tbsp.
  • Jaggery / Gud 2/3 cup
  • Fat free Yogurt 2 Tbsp.
  • Salt 1/2 tsp.
  • Oil 2 tsp.
  • Asafoetida powder/heeng 1/2 tsp.
  • Cumin seeds/Jeera 1/4 tsp.
  • Mustard seeds/ rai 1/2 tsp.
  • Turmeric powder/Haldi 1/2 tsp.
  • Fenugreek seeds/ methi 1/4 tsp.
  • Fennel seeds/ saunf 1/4 tsp.
  • Green chilli 1 minced
  • Ginger 1 ” piece minced or grated
  • Cilantro to garnish

1.Wash and soak black gram lentils in water for 2-4 hours.

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Black gram lentils before and after soaking.

2. Drain the water from the lentils completely. Grind with ginger and green chillies. Start with no water and keep adding 2 Tbsp. of water till you can grind very fine. Keep grinding and cream if possible. To test that the lentils are ground properly, take a cup full of water. Make a small ball of the ground lentils and drop in  the water. If it floats, the lentils are ground well. If the ball of lentils sinks to the bottom, the fritters are going to hard, so grind more, maybe add a little more water to facilitate grinding. Grinding the lentils properly is the most important step.

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Lentil ball floating in water: the lentils are ground well.

3. Now heat the oil to high in a saucepan. When the oil is ready, lower the heat to medium high and fry the fritters. Let them turn golden brown.

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Fried lentil fritters

4. Mix 1 tsp. of tamarind concentrate with 2 cups water. Remove the fried fritters on a paper towel and put them in the tamarind water. Let them soak for a while till they have softened. Remove them when soft and press lightly with your hands to remove the water. This just helps further soften the badas. These can be refrigerated like this for a couple of days. This can be done ahead and kept.

5. Soak jaggery in 2/3 cups of water for 10-15 minutes. Press with your hands, and mix jaggery well with the water. Strain the water so that no dirt comes in the sauce. Blend this jaggery water with yogurt. Mix well.

6. Heat the saucepan again and add the  2 tsp oil. Add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, asafoetida, turmeric fenugreek seeds and fennel seeds.  When all this sizzling, add ginger and green chillies. To this add the jaggery yogurt mixture and 2 cups water. The water used to soak the badas is ideal. Add salt and stir well initially. Cook for 5- 10 minutes on medium heat till the whole thing comes to a rolling boil.  Put the gas off, add the badas and cover. In 10 minutes the Imli ke bade are ready!  Adjust the salt, chilli, jaggery as per your liking. Add red chilli powder and roasted cumin seeds powder if you want it hotter and spicier. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Tastes best with rice, even though Rotis are always made along with it in my house. It can also be eaten like a snack.

The Imli ke Bade are rushing to Sig hosting the JFI – Tamarind this month which was started by Indira of Mahanandi. I hope I make it in time. Huff, puff, bye everyone!

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Deliciously sweet & sour : Imli ke Bade

Posted in -Cumin seeds, -Fennel seeds, -Fenugreek seeds, -Ginger, -Tamarind, -Urad daal/ black gram, -Yogurt | Tagged: , | 12 Comments »