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Archive for August, 2008

Chocolate Eclairs………….and the likes:)

Posted by vivnidhi on August 31, 2008

This month’s Daring Bakers challenge was the chocolate eclairs. Thanks to Meeta of What’s For Lunch, Honey? and Tony Tahhan of Olive Juice, who were hosting this month’s challenge.

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Mini Eclairs basking in the sun……….not for long though;)

Many many years ago, I had bought a French eclair (it looked so good) at a bakery in India…….cause I was celebrating something. It was a celebration, cause I was using my first hard-earned paycheck to pay for it. One bite into it and I was like “OK, this ain’t my typpa dessert” ………so I kept away from eclairs from  that day on until August 13th. Meeta and Tony had challenged me to make it and I had to……….. The recipe was from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme .

I thought maybe the bakery in India really didn’t do a good job of making the eclair! I would certainly do better;). Ha , the innate optimism one has!! I think I did a fair job of it and I don’t think the Indian bakery I ate the eclair at……did a bad job either. Conclusion on 31st August…….its a great dessert, some people should like it……BUT “it ain’t my typpa dessert:)) ”

Anyway, it was truly a fabulous experience to learn about Pâte à Choux. As you will read ahead you will realize that I played too much!! A big thank you to the DB’s for yet another fabulous lesson:).

I prepared for the eclairs when the husband was away and the eclairs were kept ready for him when he returned:). He loved it!! My job’s done , right;). Here’s the detailed recipe with my experiences in black:).

The Recipe:

(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé

Éclairs consist of 3 elements:

Pâte à Choux, also known as Choux Pastry or Cream Puff Dough
– Pastry Cream
– Chocolate glaze

• Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm
1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by
positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with
waxed or parchment paper.
2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough.
Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers.
Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff.
The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.
3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the
handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the
oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue
baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking
time should be approximately 20 minutes.
Notes:
1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

For my first batch, I used my pastry bag without the tip. Felt that the eclairs were too fat and turned up really huge after baking. Baking times are not really perfect in this recipe, would certainly need tweaking. My fat eclairs needed a lot of time to bake otherwise they would be under baked and would deflate. I did not use the wooden spoon in the oven door method. I always baked one tray only at one time.

I also made some gougeres and for that I used a normal ziploc bag, the dough just started oozing out from all places as I was piping it.

For my last batch in which I made mini eclairs …….I used a heavy duty bag……and it worked beautifully. Who said “Third time’s the charm” ?

Ok, if anybody tries to bake these babies, heed my advice. Use a baking tray filled with water at the bottom rack to aid baking the eclairs. Begin with 400F temperature. Bake for 18 minutes. Rotate the pans and lower the temperature to 375F. Poke each eclair with a skewer for moisture to escape and bake for another 5 minutes till it is crisp and brown. Leave them in the oven only to cool with the oven door fully open. Learnt from the fabulous Vera of Baking Obsession!

Assembling the éclairs:
• Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)
• Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)
1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the
bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.
2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40
degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of
the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the
bottoms with the pastry cream.
3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms
with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream
and wriggle gently to settle them.
Notes:
1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water,
stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create
bubbles.
2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)
• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature
1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the
boil.
2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium
and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very
quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You
need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough
will be very soft and smooth.
3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your
handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time,
beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough.
You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do
not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you
have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it
should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.
4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.
Notes:
1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.
2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking
sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the
piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

This was certainly eggy in taste. Since I did not have any idea about the choux pastry, I stuck with the recipe and used as specified. With chocolate pastry cream and chocolate glaze , one doesn’t notice the egg one bit though!

Chocolate Pastry Cream
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by PierreHermé
• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil.  In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.
2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.
3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled.  Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.
4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it  remains smooth.
5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.
Notes:
1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.
3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.

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Chocolate Pastry Cream’s ready!!

This is the best! No doubt about it, if anyone wants to try the Chocolate Pastry cream for anything, this is the recipe and so easy too!! Don’t change a thing.

Chocolate Glaze
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1 cup or 300g)
• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature
1)In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.
2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.
Notes:
1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly
 in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.
2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104  F) when ready to glaze.


Chocolate Sauce
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)
• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup (250 g) water
• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar
1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly.  Then reduce the heat  to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.
2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.
Notes:
1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or  a double boiler before using.
2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.

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The making of the chocolate sauce

I did not like the chocolate sauce much and even  the chocolate glaze was ok. Too much effort for the result. The ganache used in the filbert gateau here is a better glaze and tastes great too!

I made some gougeres too……….with the choux pastry and fine gruyere cheese. In ultimate fusion food………had the gougeres with cilantro chutney:)).

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Individual paris brests with chopped hazelnuts……….I found these the best!

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Some Ugly ducklings here sitting on kiwi paper and sweetened creme fraiche filling……

The son had a blast assembling these!!

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Ultimate fusion food……..Gougères with Chutney!!

With the gougeres recipe, I did not add garlic, wanted the original cheese taste. Thankfully, I did not attempt anymore pastry types or glazes otherwise this post would be longer:)).I had coffee in mind but decided to stick with the original at the last minute. Now, you really need to thank me:) .

Expenditure:

  • Unsalted butter : $ 2.74 from Walmart…. 1 stick left
  • Semisweet Chocolate: $ 8.30 from Kroger 1 oz. left
  • Heavy cream: $ 2.50 from Kroger some left
  • Sour Cream : $ 1.19 from Kroger some left
  • Gruyere cheese: $ 4.83 200 g.  from Morgan & York very little left

Total: $ 19.76…………..somehow I make it to the amount of $ 20. The expenditure would have been less had I not made 3 attempts. Justification: I did not exceed my budget:) Hope I am better in September.

Now check out the Daring Bakers’ blogroll !

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Posted in -All Purpose flour, -Butter, -Cream, -Hazelnuts, Chocolate, Eggs, Sugar | Tagged: , , | 13 Comments »

Rasse ki Ghuiyan aur Kheera (Taro & Cucumber Gravy)

Posted by vivnidhi on August 10, 2008

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Cucumber and Taro root/Colocasia/Ghuiyan/Arbi

I am having a tough time describing ‘Rassa’ in English. I call it a gravy but rassa is not exactly a gravy.It is a thin watered down version of gravy.Another popular word for it in Hindi would be ‘jhol’.

As the title would suggest, this is not the sexiest of recipes.”Rasse ki Ghuiyan aur Kheera” is no competition to “Chhole” or “Rajma” or “Butter Chicken” & the spicy likes. But, on days when comfort food tops the list and one is tired of spicy food, this is what I make. The more I pay attention to what people are eating these days……I realize that simple, blandish food is not cooked in Indian homes anymore. I grew up eating the most bland and simple food in my house as I also previously mentioned……I used to be completely tired of bottle gourd, bitter gourd, cucumber, potato and hardly any spices…….. Spicy food was only made on weekends or if we had visitors. My parents have always been too careful of what they ate and the other reason was that my grandmother (who lived with us)did not even eat onions and garlic. So, it was plain food on the table every day. But nowadays I realize that I am done with enjoying the spicy food I missed and now I miss the simple dishes that my mother mostly served.

This recipe used to be a favorite of my grandmother who was quite a good cook. I didn’t see her cook too much but she was quite knowledgeable.

Colocasia or Ghuiyan in India can irritate the throat at times so it should be cooked well. In the USA though, I have not encountered the variety that causes the irritation. Though I think the taro I have mostly found here is much drier than the ones eaten in India. There are a lot of varieties of this starchy sticky root:). Cucumbers used for this can be the bigger ones too. Big cukes do not make flavorful salads but just fine in this recipe:) .  Please do not skip the carom seeds and dry mango powder in the recipe.

The recipe:

  • Cucumber 1 chopped
  • Taro root/Arbi/Ghuiyan 6-8 boiled, peeled and chopped
  • Vegetable Oil 1 tsp.
  • Carom seeds/Ajwain 1 tsp.
  • Asafoetida 1/4 tsp.
  • Cumin seeds/Jeera 1/4 tsp.
  • Turmeric /Haldi 1/2 tsp.
  • Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp.
  • Salt to taste
  • Dry mango powder/Amchur 1-2 Tbsp.

Boil the colocasia root in a pressure cooker till tender but not too mushy. One whistle would be enough. Peel it and chop.

Chop the cucumber. Discard the big seeds, if any.

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Chopped Cucumber and Colocasia

Heat the pressure cooker and add oil to it. Add cumin seeds, asafoetida, carom seeds, turmeric and red chilli powder. When the mixture starts sizzling, add the chopped vegetables to it.

If you like a thicker gravy, saute the colocasia till you get a thin film at the bottom. Add 1 cup water. Traditionally, water is added right after the vegetables, cause the gravy is quite thin. Add salt and close the lid of the pressure. After 2 whistles, open the pressure cooker and add the amchur powder. Mix well. If you want a thicker gravy at this stage, a couple of pieces of colocasia can be mashed in the gravy. Adjust salt, chilli and amchur as per your taste.

Rasse ki Ghuiyan aur Kheera is ready. Hardly any fat and delicious. I must say that this is an acquired taste though. Its not spicy at all but quite tangy. My  son is fond of this vegetable precisely for this reason. Too easy to make and goes fabulously with paronthis/paranthas :). A side of greens or a salad with fresh paranthas would make a fabulous meal.

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Rasse ki Ghuiyan aur Kheera

This is my contribution to  Cooking 4 all seasons, ‘Curry Mela’. Wonderful Srivalli is so great in hosting her melas that you just can’t miss it. So, here we come ‘Curry Mela’.

I would also like to contribute this recipe to ‘Eating with the Seasons- August’ hosted by Maninas: Food Matters. The seasonal item here is definitely the cucumber. If you have a bounty from your garden, this is the recipe:).

Posted in - Turmeric, -Asafoetida, -Carom seeds, -Colocasia, -Cucumber, -Cumin seeds, -Dry Mango Powder, -Red chili powder, The staple | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

Cucumber Parsley Focaccia with spicy whipped Butter

Posted by vivnidhi on August 5, 2008

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Parsley & cucumber for bread

Yes, cucumber focaccia. Unusual, but delicious:). Focaccia (pronounced foe-ca-chia) is a popular flatbread which was originally made without a leavening agent but now some small amount of yeast is added to it. More history here.

Did you know that a full refrigerator actually cools more efficiently than an empty one. Here’s a link  that says so and I know it for sure:). 2 pickle cucumbers, for which I even paid more; froze in my fridge cause the refrigerator was full. It had hardly been a day that I bought them and I felt quite sad looking at them. I wanted to eat bread that day and this bread just happened but it tasted really great.

Pickle cucumbers are the normal ones in India but called pickling cucumbers in the USA. This is certainly among the best breads I have baked.

The Recipe:

For the Bread:

  • Cucumber puree 3/4 cup
  • Curly Parsley 1/2 bunch washed and minced (cut really small, I used my small food processor)
  • All Purpose Flour 1 cup
  • Whole wheat flour 1 cup
  • Instant dried yeast 1 1/2 tsp.
  • Honey 1 1/2 tsp.
  • Cumin powder 1 tsp.
  • Oregano 1/4 tsp.
  • Salt 1 tsp.
  • Olive oil 3 Tbsp.

For the whipped Butter:

  • Butter 1/4 cup
  • Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp.
  • lime juice 1 tsp.
  • salt to taste

Peel and puree the cucumber.Do not throw the cucumber water away. Mince the cleaned and dried parsley. Keep cucumber and parsley aside.

In a big bowl, mix the flours together and make a well. In the well add yeast and honey.

Warm the cucumber a little more than lukewarm. Add the warm cucumber and the rest of the ingredients. Knead really well. The dough will be sticky in the beginning but keep working on it. It will dry up and become elastic. Remove the dough, oil the bowl with an extra tsp of oil , place the dough in  the bowl and cover with cling wrap. Keep in a dark draft free place for 1 hour. Let it rise till almost double in size.

Punch the dough after 1 hour. Prepare a round 9″ cake pan by spreading a Tbsp. of butter on it and then adding some dry flour on it. Spread the dough with your finger tips till covers the pan. Brush some olive oil on the top of the dough. Cover with cling wrap and leave it to rise again for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the ready cake pan into the oven and bake for 25-28 minutes till the top of the bread turns golden.

For the spicy butter, whip all the ingredients well. First taste without adding any salt if you are using salted butter and then adjust the salt per your liking.

Extremely fresh tasting and delicious cucumber focaccia is ready:)

Here’s a taste for the eyes:

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Cucumber Parsley Focaccia

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A small bite with spicy whipped Butter

My cucumber parsley focaccia is on its way to image Original Recipe organized by Culinarty .

And, my bread will be well packed for the picnic basket to image Waiter There’s Something in my……….Picnic hosted by Johanna of thepassionatecook. I love the name:)

Posted in -All Purpose flour, -Cucumber, -Cumin seeds, -Oregano, -Parsley, -Whole wheat flour, Yeast | Tagged: , , , | 9 Comments »