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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 😉

 

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

Chef Joey’s Cupcake Creations

Posted by vivnidhi on November 1, 2009

We all  try to involve the kids in the kitchen activities but all of us Moms and Dads who have been putting off baking with kids…get Chef Joey’s Cupcake Creations. Illustrations by Jason Hutton make for a great visual appeal. All the kids will want to turn into a chef as the book is about Joey who was born an amazing chef 🙂 .

This book is baked up by Brenda Tuttle who along with her husband Joe were chefs and have now transitioned to food sales. The book also comes with an audio book download but I could not access it since it is still unavailable.

I have a 4 year old son and a 1 1/2 year old daughter. The illustrations are so enticing that my daughter likes to carry the book everywhere she goes. I wish it was a board book cause I do not think that this book will be able to last long with my daughter’s use. The book is about a very young chef Joey who bakes up cupcakes. This book  is an activity book in which there is no real recipe. The recipe is from the back of a chocolate cake mix and the frosting’s recipe is the true sugary stuff that the kids thoroughly enjoy :-).

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We completed this project when my son baked up cupcakes for a potluck with families at his preschool. I dare not use my own chocolate cake mix cause he made sure that he shop with me for the cake mix. We indeed had fun preparing the cupcakes. The sonny boy could not believe that he was allowed to stand so close to the mixer and feel like he is mixing 🙂 .

Everything was close to perfect (exactly matching what the book contained ) until the cupcakes came out of the oven. I showed them to him as they came out and then told him that they were really hot and he should stay away.  I placed them on the counter as I always do. My curious George could not contain his excitement and keep his eyes away from his creations. He got on a stool and got a neat burn on his chin which resembles a goatee !. Ouch! it hurt and…..one more (and probably most important) lesson learnt. I was quite upset with myself for undertaking this project in the first place and then being careless…….but I guess this is also a part of being a Mom. Ouch happens and soon it does not hurt that much 🙂 .

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I had been not sure of the frosting with 3 cups of powdered sugar yet it came out well. I then realized the power of sugar and how much kids adore it :-). Everybody at the preschool loved the cupcakes (although deep inside me, I thought of them as cardboard cupcakes ;-)….I know, I learnt my lessons too) and I also concurred that the cupcakes were indeed moist 🙂 .

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The pride that the boy felt when his friends and their parents picked his cupcake was enormous. He felt really happy and proud. That warmed my heart.  I like to call this entire book a cupcake project and this was totally worth it when I saw my son beaming at the preschool potluck. What I found genuinely lacking was the absence of the word of caution. I know, I know ………not just because the boy got burnt but in general I have found that the written word has a greater effect on kids. When there is no real recipe as such and its all about kids and the book is more about an activity….I wonder why the regular warnings were not mentioned. All the book says is …….”Chef Joey encourages you to find an adult to help you to make these cupcakes”. The regular general notes about safety and precaution must always be mentioned in a book like this.

Initially I wondered why this book was written in the first place. Why could I not buy a chocolate cake mix and have my son help me out with it (rather I help him with it 😉 )…and decorate the cupcakes. The good point about the book is that it is visually appealing which drives the kids and their parents to get out of the comfortable chair (or drag  their tired bodies…..) and complete another project ……..an accomplishment for the child.

This review was written for The Daring Kitchen and it is available on the website right now. I received the book From Tate Publishing via The Daring Kitchen website.

Posted in - Confectioner's Sugar, -Canola Oil, -Chocolate Cake Mix, -Cocoa Powder, Chocolate, Eggs, Milk, Sugar | Tagged: , , , | 2 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

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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 »

Daring Bakers Bake Dobos Torte

Posted by vivnidhi on August 27, 2009

Whisk at 180 x 180 (largest)presents

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My bejeweled Dobos Torte

The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus:  Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

So, what is the Dobos Torta (or Torte)?

The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel. (You may come across recipes which have anywhere between six and 12 layers of cake; there are numerous family variations!) It was invented in 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was a secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners’ and Gingerbread Makers’ Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.

Equipment

  • 2 baking sheets
  • 9” (23cm) springform tin and 8” cake tin, for templates
  • mixing bowls (1 medium, 1 large)
  • a sieve
  • a double boiler (a large saucepan plus a large heat-proof mixing bowl which fits snugly over the top of the pan)
  • a small saucepan
  • a whisk (you could use a balloon whisk for the entire cake, but an electric hand whisk or stand mixer will make life much easier)
  • metal offset spatula
  • sharp knife
  • a 7 1/2” cardboard cake round, or just build cake on the base of a springform tin.
  • piping bag and tip, optional

Prep times

  • Sponge layers 20 mins prep, 40 mins cooking total if baking each layer individually.
  • Buttercream: 20 mins cooking. Cooling time for buttercream: about 1 hour plus 10 minutes after this to beat and divide.
  • Caramel layer: 10-15 minutes.
  • Assembly of whole cake: 20 minutes

Sponge cake layers

  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner’s (icing) sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)
  • pinch of salt

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) caster (ultrafine or superfine white) sugar
  • 4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favorite dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.

Caramel topping

  • 1 cup (200g) caster (superfine or ultrafine white) sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
  • 8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)

Finishing touches

  • a 7” cardboard round
  • 12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
  • ½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts

Directions for the sponge layers:

NB. The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.

1.Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).
2.Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9″ (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn’t touch the cake batter.)
3.Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner’s (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don’t have a mixer.)

4.In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner’s (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.
5.Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8″ springform pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task.)

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Whipped egg whites and yellows whipped with sugar

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Divide the egg whites in 4 parts

First pic: first part of egg whites mixed in Second pic: Folding in of the last part of egg white

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First pic : Folding in flour & second pic: 3/4 cup cake batter in a spring form pan

 

Directions for the chocolate buttercream:

NB. This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.

1.Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.
2.Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this.
3.Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.
4.Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.
5.When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2 tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.

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Chopped chocolate and eggs with sugar

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Whipped eggs and boiling water ready for cooking

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Cooking buttercream on double boiler and the finished product

 

Directions for the caramel topping:

1.Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.
2.Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-colored caramel.
3.The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn’t just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time and the cake layer was cold and the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.

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Preparation for caramel layer

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Assembling the cake

I brushed hazelnut coffee(unsweetened) on the layers as I found the buttercream a tad too sweet

 

Assembling the Dobos

1.Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.
2.Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.
3.Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.
4.Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavor.

I used ground cashews and pistachios for topping. I even topped the caramel layer with these nut powders and then caramel or chocolate on top.

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Well! It’s been cut

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Here’s a slice…..The top layers are our favorite……:-))……you won’t like it if you do not like sticky, chewy….the sonny and I do :-))

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My favorite picture : Just playing with caramel

Verdict :

The cake overall tasted pretty good. I am not sure if I will make it again.

Too many eggs 🙂 . The sponge layers were easy to work with but would not have tasted good without some liquor brushed on it.

The buttercream is quick and easy but again I found it less firm than other buttercreams I have worked with. I don’t think I would make it again.

A lot of daring bakers did not like the lemony sticky chewy caramel. I LOVED it. The son and I can’t get enough of it. Of course I let him eat it cause I should not ….right 😉 . I will make this a lot of times 🙂 .

I may have made better components of this cake but all assembled together and chilled well, we all really enjoyed the cake. Thanks a lot Angela and Lorraine.

Expenditure:

Bakers semisweet chocolate (8 oz.) …….from Walmart…………………$2.88

Butter (1 lb.)………………………….from Walmart………………….$1.98

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Total…………………………………………………………………….$4.86

Not bad at all for such a delicious end product. Do not forget to check out the other daring bakers on the blogroll. Outstanding cakes….you will be surprised.

Posted in - Confectioner's Sugar, -Butter, -Canola Oil, -Cashews, -lemon, -Pistachios, -Semisweet Chocolate, -Vanilla, Eggs, Sugar | Tagged: , , , , | 9 Comments »

Matariya Aloo (Spicy Pea like potatoes)

Posted by vivnidhi on August 19, 2009

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It’s been a while since I posted anything North Indian on the blog. I have barely been able to post about the Daring Kitchen challenges. But, I am trying and here is a fresh, new authentic recipe 🙂 .

Pea like potatoes, not peas and potatoes. This is about the very new smallest potatoes that you can find. Even in India, folks would be really pleased if they could lay their hands on fresh small potatoes. You can get very very tiny ones there. Spring and summer months are usually the best bet to find them freshest. Its difficult to find really tiny ones here but Farmer’s Markets usually carry fresh baby potatoes. These have very tender skins and are never peeled. On our visits to the Farmer’s Market, the husband does not like to pass by these without buying cause potatoes are his favorite vegetable 🙂 . In my grandmother’s house, ‘aloo ka rassa’ or (potatoes and water with spice should be the correct description :-)) ) was made every day…..every day for 30-40 years……can you believe that? Now that I have finished describing our undying love for potatoes, let me proceed to the recipe. It is an easy one and requires very little preparation.

The Recipe:

  • Baby Potatoes (smallest you can find) washed and scrubbed 1/2 Kg
  • 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 1/2 tsp.
  • Turmeric  powder 1 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 tsp.
  • Cilantro leaves torn 1/4 cup

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Washed scrubbed baby potatoes

The most important step I believe in these potatoes is the grinding of coriander seeds. In a wok, dry roast the coriander seeds till they turn aromatic and lightly brown in color. Set them aside. When they are cool enough to handle, grind them pretty coarse. This one ingredient will enhance the taste of the potatoes.

Heat oil in the wok (not a great idea to skimp on oil if looking for best taste……I must admit, I most often do 😉 ) add cumin seeds, asafoetida and turmeric powder. When the spices seem to be frying a little, add half the ginger and green chilli (if using). These do taste good when a little spicier than usual.

Next add the scrubbed potatoes, sprinkle the salt, mix and cover the wok. Reduce the heat to medium low. Let it cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. When the potatoes become tender, add the coarsely ground coriander powder, remaining amount of ginger, garam masala and amchur. Mix well and cover again for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and finally add the cilantro leaves and mix well.

Spicy baby potatoes or Matariya aloo are ready! Try these and I bet, these won’t last for long. These can be eaten on their own, as a side dish or with paranthas.

I would like to send these potatoes to Laura of The Spiced Life. It’s my grandmother’s recipe. This is indeed a simple, treasured recipe enjoyed by all at home. The spiced Life

Posted in - Turmeric, -Asafoetida, -Baby Potatoes, -Canola Oil, -Cilantro, -Coriander, -Dry Mango Powder, -Garam Masala, -Ginger, -Green Chillies, -Red chili powder | Tagged: , , | 8 Comments »

Daring Cooks make Rice with mushrooms, Tofu, Potatoes and artichokes

Posted by vivnidhi on August 14, 2009

Vegetarians Win!! Yeah well, I should not rejoice so much. My expertise at preparing any non-vegetarian food is pretty bleak………and if I have to cook seafood, its worse. I (with the husband’s help 😉 , of course ) can handle salmon well now ….and we know when it is done, but the rest of the stuff leaves me shivering. I tried making scallops thrice and only once did I get it right, rest of the times the family could not eat leather. So, this time we attempted squid…..and I FAILED ……….and hence, everybody ate vegetarian…….YEAH!!

Before I say anything about what I made and what happened, I must mention the accompaniment. This month I learnt to make allioli (the traditional way) and it is just phenomenal. No garlic lover should not – not try it.  To me , it was like tasting sheer bliss. I LOVE garlic. I can eat allioli with bread, pasta, roti, parantha, of course rice , just about anything (OK, spare the desserts 😉 )

This month’s challenge was hosted by Olga of  Las Cosas de Olga and Olga’s Recipes . . She chose a delicious Spanish recipe, Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes by José Andrés, one of the most important Spanish Chefs at the moment. The recipe is from his US TV show Made in Spain.  (Please note Olga’s tips (2) and (3) at the bottom for alternative cooking).

Allioli is my favorite and so lets begin with that. I made it the traditional way and just loved it. This will be made a lot in my house. A lot of people find it strong, but for this spice accustomed tongue, it was just great!

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Allioli…..the traditional way

 

Allioli (Traditional recipe)
Cooking time: 20 min aprox.
Ingredients:

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh lemon juice (some drops)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (Spanish preferred but not essential)

Directions:

  1. Place the garlic in a mortar along with the salt.
  2. Using a pestle, smash the garlic cloves to a smooth paste. (The salt stops the garlic from slipping at the bottom of the mortar as you pound it down.)
  3. Add the lemon juice to the garlic.
  4. Drop by drop; pour the olive oil into the mortar slowly as you continue to crush the paste with your pestle.
  5. Keep turning your pestle in a slow, continuous circular motion in the mortar. The drip needs to be slow and steady. Make sure the paste soaks up the olive oil as you go.
  6. Keep adding the oil, drop by drop, until you have the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. If your allioli gets too dense, add water to thin it out. This takes time—around 20 minutes of slow motion around the mortar—to create a dense, rich sauce.

José’s tips for traditional recipe: It’s hard to think that, when you start crushing the garlic, it will ever turn into something as dense and smooth as allioli. But don’t give up. It’s worth the extra time and effort to see the oil and garlic come together before your eyes. Just make sure you’re adding the olive oil slowly, drop by drop. Keep moving the pestle around the mortar in a circular motion and keep dreaming of the thick, creamy sauce at the end of it all.

Allioli a la moderna (Modern recipe)
Cooking time: 3-4 minutes
Ingredients:

  • 1 small egg
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (as above, Spanish oil is highly recommended)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 Tbs. Spanish Sherry vinegar or lemon juice (if Sherry vinegar is not available, use can use cider or white vinegar)
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Break the egg into a mixing bowl.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the garlic cloves, along with the vinegar or lemon juice.
  3. Using a hand blender, start mixing at high speed until the garlic is fully pureed into a loose paste.
  4. Little by little, add what’s left of the olive oil as you continue blending.
  5. If the mixture appears too thick as you begin pouring the oil, add 1 teaspoon of water to loosen the sauce.
  6. Continue adding the oil and blending until you have a rich, creamy allioli.
  7. The sauce will be a lovely yellow color.
  8. Add salt to taste.

José’s tips for modern recipe:
(1) If you do not have access to a hand blender, you can use a hand mixer (the kind with the two beaters) or a food processor. If you use a food processor, you must double the recipe or the amount will be too little for the blades to catch and emulsify.
(2) What happens if the oil and egg separate? Don’t throw it out. You can do two things. One is to whisk it and use it as a side sauce for a fish or vegetable. But if you want to rescue the allioli, take 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water in another beaker and start adding to the mix little by little. Blend it again until you create the creamy sauce you wanted.

Why did I FAIL? OK, I am a bit of a purist when it comes to food. If a recipe calls for an ingredient and that ingredient is within my means, I try and go the extra mile. Well! in this case several extra miles around the town and just would not find the short grain Spanish rice. I went crazy and really could not believe that I could not find it. (I saw it at Kroger after I had finished all my experiments.) Anyway, I got short grain brown rice !!! Guess what I cooked sea food till the brown rice got tender. now who could eat what I had dished out? The husband, who could not believe his ears (and was really pleased) when I told him that I would be buying squid for him, asked me to never buy that stuff again :-)) . So all ate my vegetarian basmati version 🙂 . 

Here is the recipe:

Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Equipment:

  • 1 Chopping Board
  • 1 knife
  • 1 medium saucepan
  • 1 Paella pan (30 cm/11” is enough for 4 people. If not available, you may use a simple pan that size)
  • 1 Saucepan

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 4 Artichokes (you can use jarred or frozen if fresh are not available)
  • 12 Mushrooms (button or Portobello)
  • 1 or 2 Bay leaves (optional but highly recommended)
  • Tofu 1 block cubed and baked at 400 F for 15 minutes
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 1 Potato  cubed
  • “Sofregit” (see recipe below) (pronounced so-frito)
  • 300 gr (2 cups) Basmati rice – about 75 gr per person ( ½ cup per person) Please read this for more info on suitable rices.
  • Water or Fish Stock (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice)
  • Saffron threads (if you can’t find it or afford to buy it, you can substitute it for turmeric or yellow coloring powder)
  • Allioli (olive oil and garlic sauce, similar to mayonnaise sauce) – optional

Directions:

  1. Add 1 or 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and put the tofu cubes in the pan.
  2. If you use fresh artichokes, clean them as shown in the video in tip #7. Cut artichokes in eights.
  3. Clean the mushrooms and cut them in fourths.
  4. Add a bay leaf to the tofu and add also the artichokes,potatoes and the mushrooms.
  5. Sauté until we get a golden color in the artichokes.
  6. Put a touch of white wine so all the solids in the bottom of the get mixed, getting a more flavorful dish.
  7. Add a couple or three tablespoons of sofregit and mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with the sofregit.
  8. Add all the liquid and bring it to boil.
  9. Add all the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in heavy heat.
  10. Add some saffron thread to enrich the dish with its flavor and color. Stir a little bit so the rice and the other ingredients get the entire flavor. If you’re using turmeric or yellow coloring, use only 1/4 teaspoon.
  11. Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than “al dente”)
  12. Put the pan away from heat and let the rice stand a couple of minutes.

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Sofregit ingredients: Onion, tomatoes, green pepper, garlic and mushrooms

Sofregit (a well cooked and fragrant sauce made of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and onions, and may at times
different vegetables such as peppers or mushrooms)-

Cooking time: aprox. 1 hour
Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 5 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup of button or Portobello mushrooms, chopped (optional)
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • Salt
  • Touch of ground cumin
  • Touch of dried oregano

Directions:

  1. Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft.
  2. Taste and salt if necessary (maybe it’s not!)

Sofregit tastes superb with just about anything.

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Sofregit’s ready!

Olga’s Tips:
(1) In Spain, rice is not stired as often as it is when cooking Italian risotto. You must stir it once or twice maximum. This tip is valid for all Spanish rice dishes like paella, arròs negre, arròs a banda…
(2) When cooking the alternative style you can change the cuttlefish or squid for diced potato.
(3) If you can’t find cuttlefish or squid, or you’re not able to eat them because of allergies, you can try to substitute them for chicken or vegetables at your choice.
(4) Sofregit can be done in advance. You can keep it in the fridge or even freeze it.
(5) For more information on how to clean and remove the heart of artichokes, please watch this video
(6) To watch how Jose Andres cooks this dish click here.
(7) To tone down the taste when you do it by hand in a mortar, then add an egg yolk. If you want to tone it down in the alternative way use milk or soy milk. Anyway, the best alternative way is the original oil and garlic alone.
(9) Allioli must be consumed during the preparation day and preserved in the fridge before using it.
(10) For help on conversion on metric to imperial, visit this page.

My first attempt at cooking Spanish food apart from Sangria and we had a lot of fun in spite of the failure. The husband made  some sangria and I made flan. Thanks for a good meal Olga. Dinner’s ready!!

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Rice with mushrooms, tofu,  potatoes and artichokes

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Some Crema Catalana too…. (Olga’s recipe)

Expenditure:

Artichokes 2………………………..from Meijer ……………..$ 3.34 (I had bought some from Randazzo for 59 c each…..ah supermarkets)

Mushrooms 1 lb……………………..from Kroger …………….$ 1.00 (deal, deal)

Short grain Brown rice 1 lb…………from Arbor farms market $ 1.69

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Total……………………………………………………………..$ 6.03

Posted in - Bay Leaf, -Artichoke, -Cumin seeds, -Garlic, -Green Bell Pepper, -lemon, -mushrooms, -Olive Oil, -Onion, -Oregano, -Potatoes, -Saffron, -Tomato, -White Wine, Alcohol | Tagged: , , , | 13 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….

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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 »

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.

100_3189

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.

100_3193

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.

100_3181 100_3182

Chopping & TVP in salted water

100_3186 100_3188

Drained TVP and here’s my soy stew

100_3194

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna

100_3202

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 »

Winter Squash Puli or Coconut Stuffed Gulab Jamun

Posted by vivnidhi on March 12, 2009

Mar_18

Wish you all a very colorful & Happy Holi

Yesterday was the festival of colors Holi. In India, almost every household would be full of unrecognizable children colored with every shade in the spectrum. My Kids here in Michigan managed playing with dry colors and still coloring the kitchen walls and their clothes :-). If you want to know more about Holi this wikipedia article is great! I have written too many essays on “My Favorite Festival” on Holi and the Wikipedia article is quite comprehensive.

One cannot welcome the coming of spring (  😉 Summer in India) without sweets. I wanted something simple and was happy when I discovered a GITS Gulab Jamun pack in the cupboard. Gulab Jamuns are very soft fried dumplings made of milk solids. The milk solid could either be dried milk powder or more traditionally Khoya (very thick milk, almost solid). I find the GITS mix to be the easiest and the best. There are very few things that I use from a premade mix but Gulab Jamun mix is definitely one of those. Its quite foolproof whereas in homemade ones, a little change in ratio can result in the sugar syrup not reaching the center of the sweet.

My relationship with making Gulab Jamuns is very old 😉 . I made Gulab Jamuns for the entire class & the teachers as a team leader in class 8 (part of work experience). You bet that did wonders to my confidence as a cook :-). Then onwards I have made Gulab Jamuns very often. At potlucks I am always asked to get these. While I oblige, I am bored of making more of the same. ( I get bored of cooking the same thing very very easy 😉 ) Now, don’t talk about Roti & Arhar ki Daal, that’s the staple 😉

OK, First though I am rewriting the recipe as per what I did with it, full credit for this recipe goes to Sury’s Ranga Alur Puli of (Lima) Beans and Delhi Cha(a)t and Indira’s sweet potato Gulab Jamuns of Mahanandi. I remembered reading on Indira’s blog (I have read her’s back to front 😉 ) about some sweet potatoes and gulab jamuns so I went back to hers and checked out Sury’s too.

Give all the food bloggers 1 recipe and you will find unimaginable variations as results. That is what happened with me. Now , Ranga Alur Puli in Bengali should certainly mean colored potato sweet treat. I started working on Sury’s and Indira’s recipe and here’s what I ended up making. I don’t know what to call it and don’t care how it looks but it tastes absolutely fabulous. The husband commented that it tastes like coconut laddoo rolled in a gulab jamun :-).

 

Mar_30

What do you want to call it?

Fried pumpkin pie with coconut , anyone? ………..well Stuffed Gulab Jamuns is good enough!

So, I used butternut squash in the mix with Gulab Jamun mix and of course some spices. Stuffed it with coconut, almond, raisin, milk mixture and dunked it in sugar syrup with cardamom.

The Recipe: (Makes 35 large stuffed gulab jamuns )

For the Jamuns/Pulis/Gujiyas (what do U want to call it?)

  • GITS Gulab Jamun mix 250 g (any other brand would be fine, GITS is my favorite)
  • Butternut squash 125 g (cut in half, bake for 1 hour, cool, peel and puree)……….yeah………..that’s it 😉
  • Ground Cinnamon 1 tsp.
  • Ground nutmeg 1 tsp.
  • Canola Oil 2 Tbsp.
  • Oil for frying 3 cups

For the Stuffing:

  • Sweetened flaked Coconut 4 oz. (1/2 cup)  or substitute Fresh grated coconut
  • Fat free Evaporated milk 8 oz (1 cup) or substitute whole milk
  • Raisins 1/2 cup
  • Ground almonds 1/2 cup

For the sugar syrup:

  • Sugar 800 g / 3.5 cups
  • water 1 liter/ 4 cups
  • Cardamom 5 powdered

1. So, one day before making the gulab jamuns, I cut the butternut squash in half, removed the seeds and baked it for approximately an hour till the flesh was really soft. After it cooled , I peeled it and pureed it in a blender. Smooth, silky puree is ready. This puree could be used for soups or gravies also. Baking increases the sweetness of the squash and hence this method. A sweet pumpkin would be a great substitute too. This puree helps make rich gulab jamuns without the use of ghee.

Mar_07 Mar_16

Butternut squash before baking and after baking

2. Mix all the stuffing ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for a total of 6 minutes. Microwave in 1 minute / 30 seconds intervals initially and mix. When the mixture is sticky and not liquidy, the stuffing is ready.

Mar_13

Coconut stuffing ingredients

3. Mix the gulab jamun mix with the spices and mix well breaking any lumps with the hands. Add the pumpkin puree and mix. The dough will be quite sticky. Take the 2 Tbsp. oil and spread it in the palms of your hands and try to bring the mix together into one mass. Break off 35 pieces from the dough of equal size. Use more oil for the hands as required to avoid the stickiness. Make a thin round from the broken dough pieces using the tips of the fingers. Add 1/2 Tbsp. filling in each round and fold the round into a semicircle. Any shape that pleases the heart would be good. I made it into a semicircle based on Sury’s description and then just raised the edges for some pattern. Make sure there are no cracks on the surface. Cover with a moist towel to prevent drying up of the prepared jamuns.

Mar_23

Stuffed Gulab jamuns…..ready for frying

4. Add the sugar syrup ingredients in a deep vessel and let it heat up on medium heat till the sugar dissolves and then reduce the heat to very low.

5. Heat oil in a fryer or a wok as the sugar syrup is being made.When a very small piece of dough dropped in oil does not stick to the bottom and bubbles up immediately, the oil is ready. reduce the heat to medium. Add the stuffed prepared jamuns one by one slowly and continuously turn them with a very light hand making sure that it does not get broken.

Mar_24

Stuffed Gulab Jamuns frying

6. They should be fried well and reach a dark brown color. Transfer them to the slightly simmering sugar syrup. Fry the next batch as the earlier batch soaks in the syrup. The jamuns increase quite a bit in size as they soak. Remove them on a different plate if there is crowding in the vessel with syrup and transfer them all back to the vessel once all the gulab jamuns have soaked. Put the heat off under the sugar syrup when all the jamuns have finished soaking. Some syrup should remain in  the end and it should not be very thick.

Mar_30

Mar_38

Stuffed Gulab Jamuns

Posted in -Almonds, -Butternut Squash, -Canola Oil, -Cardamom, -Cinnamon, -Evaporated Milk, -Nutmeg, -Raisins, Sugar, Sweets | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Broiled Cauliflower

Posted by vivnidhi on March 1, 2009

Feb_13

Broiled Cauliflower

I have not written anything besides Daring Bakers challenges for the past 3-4 months. Finally, I am back to writing something cause it does not involve any recipe. Just an idea!

I do this very often when I am in a hurry. Most vegetables get under broiler when I cannot dress them better…….most root vegetables ……and ah delicious onions. Almost any type of onion tastes amazing after a trip under the broiler.

Do you remember that I received frozen strawberries from Rena Basch of Locavorious. Well ! I also got a lb of frozen cauliflower. Yeah! thanks a lot Rena!! Cauliflower is a favorite of everyone in the house.

Before I go ahead with the minor detail of what I did with it, I must talk of asafoetida. I know its not a very pleasant smelling Indian spice but it’s almost irreplaceable with cruciferous vegetables. Even though packed with vitamins and minerals, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are notorious for their gas causing tendencies. Asafoetida (Heeng, a digestive aid ) used in very small quantities, nulls this effect and adds a wonderful aroma to the vegetables. Hardly a vegetable gets cooked in my kitchen without asafoetida. Asafoetida has a very unpleasant smell when it is raw but when it is cooked, the smell becomes quiet smooth and it is an integral part of Indian food and specially the lentils.

I will confess, I was not a fan of this spice for the longest time. My mother would often have to make a separate tadka (spices fried in oil) for me cause I would not eat asafoetida and my grandmother would not eat her daal without it! I never had a sibling but I am sure, my grandmother’s and my squabbles would have made my mother not miss having two kids :-). 

Fast forward to my kitchen, where I ruled after my wedding, I craved the authentic taste and asafoetida had to be there. I had brought with me from India the actual whole gummy asafoetida chunk and it was an effort in collaboration indeed when the husband and I would sit and break it using his weights 🙂 . Now, I have settled down to using the store bought powders (which are mixed with some grain or the other) but I do not mind it much. Garlic is a good substitute, if you do not want to use heeng, just use garlic. I believe it is a good idea to use either asafoetida or garlic when cooking cruciferous vegetables and greens.

The Recipe:

  • Cauliflower 1 lb. (about 4 cups broken flowerets)
  • Oil (Olive, Canola or vegetable) (avoid using extra virgin olive oil for this) 2 Tbsp.
  • salt to taste
  • Red Pepper flakes/ground black pepper 1/4 tsp.
  • asafoetida 1/4 tsp. or substitute 2 cloves minced garlic
  • Cilantro leaves for garnish a handful

OK, so I just like to break the cauliflower into big flowerets , if its frozen, that’s done for you too. Put the oven on for the top coil or the broiler. Adjust the rack to about 6″ from the top coil.  Mix all the ingredients well, except the cilantro.

To make cleaning easier , I line the baking tray with aluminum foil. Spread the cauliflowers on a baking tray. Keep checking the cauliflowers every 5 minutes or so to see if they are done. The cauliflowers should be ready in 10-15 minutes.  These can actually be seasoned as one pleases. Can be eaten as a snack or as a side dish to almost anything. Or these can then be wrapped in a spicy curry. Choices are endless.

This afternoon , I just used salt and asafoetida and that was delicious.

Feb_11  Feb_17

Perfect Lunch: Cauliflower with daal, rotis, yogurt and Papad

Posted in -Asafoetida, -Cauliflower, -Cilantro, Oil | 2 Comments »

Rajma (Red Kidney Beans Curry)

Posted by vivnidhi on November 12, 2008

100-2681.jpg

Dried Red Kidney Beans

Rajma or Red kidney beans were rarely made in my house in India. It was a treat made, like, once in 6 months and that too……..with potatoes like a vegetable;) . My grandmother had a grave dislike for kidney beans for its flatulent tendencies. She also believed that its ‘taseer’ was hot. Now, that means that it was one of the foods that would cause excess heat in the body when eaten. The flatulence part of kidney beans cannot be disputed but I really don’t know much about “hot” and “cold” foods :). Anyway, kidney beans are quite a favorite with people from Punjab and Delhi. I believe that it is not that commonly eaten in Uttar Pradesh. I got a request a few days back from Lavanya, who wanted me to tell her how I made Rajma. Thank you for considering my recipe worthy enough to know. Well! this is how I make Rajma,it is mostly liked by all who have had to eat it. Try it out and let me know what you think. This blog is nearing its first anniversary which is BIG for me cause it’s hard to believe that I am still blogging:).

I ate Rajma a lot when I was suffering from Gestational Diabetes. This is one of  the few foods that women who suffer can eat without worrying about the numbers, as it has enough protein and folate AND is also filling:).One can have  2 servings, 1/2 cup each and that would equal approximately 30 g. carbs. At least this paired with 1 thin roti 6″ in diameter along with LOTS of lettuce and cucumber worked very well for me. This is when my lunch was restricted to only 45 g. carbs.  Since, I have gone through the pain of gestational diabetes and am a good candidate for diabetes in the future , I try to eat as much sugar as I can eat now:))…………………….NO, I am careful of my diet and I am sending this recipe to all diabetes conscious people:)  Sangeeth’s  Eat Healthy Fight Diabetes Contest of Art of Cooking Indian food and Raulillo OK’s Blogg Event: Gastronomical adventure 2008 on the occasion of World Diabetes Day on November 14th.

I have learnt to make decent Rajma from my Husband’s  Aunt who makes Rajma quite well. Never really sat and jotted down this recipe from her but I believe that mine turns out quite like hers now:).  The key points in a good rajma recipe is that the kidney beans should be well cooked (one should not need to apply pressure to break the beans (hey, we don’t want a paste either…..somewhere in between) ) and the gravy should not be watery.

The Recipe:

  • Red Kidney Beans 1 1/2 cups soaked for at least 4 hours or overnight
  • Vegetable oil 1 Tbsp.
  • Bay Leaf 1
  • Cinnamon stick 2″ piece
  • Onion 1 big chopped very fine
  • Ginger 2″ piece minced
  • Garlic 5-6 cloves minced
  • Green Chillies 2 chopped fine (add less for less heat, though this results in medium hot)
  • Cumin seeds (Jeera) 2 tsp.
  • Asafoetida (Heeng) 1/2 tsp. (optional)
  • Turmeric powder (Haldi) 2 tsp.
  • Coriander powder (Dhaniya) 2 Tbsp.
  • Salt to taste
  • Tomato puree/Tomato sauce 1 1/2 cups or about 4 medium sized tomatoes chopped fine
  • Water 3 cups
  • Garam Masala 1 Tbsp.
  • Kasoori Methi 1 Tbsp.
  • Cilantro leaves for garnish 1/2 cup

I used to boil the kidney beans prior to adding it to the gravy but now I have learnt that it is not a necessary step. With the help of a pressure cooker, a well soaked kidney beans gets cooked quite well in the gravy itself. Hence all the masalas can be directly fried in the pressure cooker itself. This recipe makes quite a lot of curry, but then who minds rajma leftovers?

Heat oil in the pressure cooker. Add asafoetida (which I add in addition to garlic to reduce the flatulence tendencies of the beans), cumin seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and turmeric powder. Add finely chopped onion, ginger,green chillies and garlic. Fry it well, when this mixture starts to brown, add coriander powder, salt and tomatoes. Fry a little more till this mixture starts to dry out and one can specks of oil on the masala. If you are using fresh tomatoes, the tomatoes should be all mushy at this stage. In case the masala starts sticking to the pan, you can add 2-3 Tbsps. of water to it and stir well. Next add the kidney beans and the water. Close the pressure cooker. Keep the gas on high flame till you can hear the pressure being built up (approximately 2-3 minutes), then reduce the flame to medium low. I tend to cook until I hear 4 whistles (approximately 30 minutes).

When the pressure cooker can be safely opened, open it and check the salt. Add more if needed. If the curry is dry, one can add some warm water to the rajma or add plain water and heat the gravy well again. Now add the Garam masala and Kasoori Methi. Its a good idea to crush the kasoori methi between your palms as you add to the curry. Add fresh cilantro leaves just before serving.

Rajma Chawal (Red kidney beans with Rice) is quite famous and pairs beautifully but the last time I made Naan with it and so the rice had few takers:). In fact, the best quality of rajma is that it can be paired well with almost anything………roti, parantha, tortilla, bread…………:) Save leftovers in the refrigerator. This is ideal for freezing too, lasts a good couple of months in the Freezer and the taste remains the same. And yes, if you are short on kidney beans, by all means, add a potato to this recipe………..I sometimes do that just cause I want my mother’s rajma:)

nov-21.jpgEnjoy………Rajma

Posted in - Bay Leaf, - Turmeric, -Asafoetida, -Cinnamon, -Coriander, -Cumin seeds, -Garam Masala, -Garlic, -Ginger, -Green Chillies, -Kasoori Methi, -Onion, -Red Kidney Beans, -Tomato, -Vegetable Oil | Tagged: , , | 6 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.

garden100_2580

Garden veggie pizza with Paneer

peethi100_2582

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.

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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 »