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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 »

Daring Cooks make Sushi 寿司…….I make it Vegetarian

Posted by vivnidhi on November 18, 2009

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Top: Caterpillar Rolls , Bottom L: Nigiri Sushi and Bottom R : Spiral Roll

I have not been able to post earlier about the fabulous sushi Daring Cooks made this month. I love sushi and really had my fill making vegetarian sushi. I couldn’t say enough of ” This is so much better than store bought and I made so much so cheap” I found this month’s Daring Cook challenge the best so far. The instructions are quite precise so no chatter in this post.  I was supposed to post on the 14th, ah well here I am …………

The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.

Sushi (寿司 or 鮨 or 鮓) is much appreciated for its delicate taste and exquisite appearance. Sushi actually means vinegared rice, which is the essential ingredient in every sushi recipe. Sushi is simple and cheap to make at home, needs no special equipment and is an excellent way to use left overs.

Although sushi in various forms has been around for fourteen centuries, the modern version was invented in Japan in the 1800’s where a ‘hand-formed’ sliced fresh fish and vinegared rice ball was eaten as a snack food. Nowadays, sushi is made with various seafood, meats and vegetables, raw and cooked.

PART 1 : SUSHI RICE (makes about 7 cups of cooked sushi rice)

Preparation time: 1¾ hours consisting of :-
Rinsing and draining rice: 35 minutes
Soaking rice: 30 minutes (includes 5 minutes making the vinegar dressing)
Cooking and steaming time: 25 minutes
Finishing the rice: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2½ cups uncooked short grain rice
  • 2½ cups water
  • For superior results use equal volumes of rice and water

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Sushi Rice

Optional Ingredients

  • 3 inch (75mm or 15 grams) square dashi konbu (or kombu) (dried kelp seaweed) wipe with a damp cloth to remove white powder & cut a few slits in the sides of the kelp to help release its flavors  (I used Shimaya Instant Dashi Konbu powder …..I used only 1 tsp. in the water given……that’s what I got)
  • 2½ teaspoons (12.5 mls) of sake (Japanese rice wine)

Sushi vinegar dressing

  • 5 Tablespoons (75 mls) rice vinegar
  • 5 Teaspoons (25 mls or 21 grams) sugar
  • 1¼ Teaspoons (6.25 mls or 4.5 grams) salt

DIRECTIONS:
Rinsing and draining the rice

  1. Swirl rice gently in a bowl of water, drain, repeat 3-4 times until water is nearly clear. Don’t crush the rice in your hands or against the side of the bowl since dry rice is very brittle.
  2. Gently place rice into a strainer and drain well for 30 minutes.

Soaking the rice

  1. Gently place the rice into a heavy medium pot with a tight fitting lid (if you have a loose fitting lid use a piece of aluminum foil to make the seal tight).
  2. Add 2½ cups of water and the dashi konbu. (I used 1 tsp. instant powder)
  3. Set the rice aside to soak for 30 minutes, during this time prepare the sushi rice dressing.

Preparing the Rice Vinegar Dressing

  1. Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl.
  2. Heat on low setting.
  3. Stir until the mixture goes clear and the sugar and salt have dissolved.
  4. Set aside at room temperature until the rice is cooked.

Cooking the rice

  1. After 30 minutes of soaking add sake (if using) to the rice.
  2. Bring rinsed and soaked rice to the boil.
  3. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and simmer, covered, until all the water is absorbed, 12-15 minutes. Do not remove the lid during this process. Turn off heat.
  4. Let stand with the lid on, 10-15 minutes. Do not peek inside the pot or remove the lid. During this time the rice is steaming which completes the cooking process.

Finishing the rice

  • Turning out the rice

  1. Moisten lightly a flat thin wooden spatula or spoon and a large shallow flat-bottomed non-metallic (plastic, glass or wood) bowl. Do not use metallic objects since the vinegar will react with it and produce sour and bitter sushi rice.
  2. Remove the dashi konbu (kelp) from the cooked rice.
  3. Use the spatula to loosen gently the rice and invert the rice pot over the bowl, gently causing the cooked rice to fall into the bowl in one central heap. Do this gently so as not to cause the rice grains to become damaged.

  • Dressing the rice with vinegar

  1. Slowly pour the cooled sushi vinegar over the spatula onto the hot rice.
  2. Using the spatula gently spread the rice into a thin, even layer using a 45° cutting action to break up any lumps and to separate the rice. Don’t stir or mash rice.
  3. After the rice is spread out, start turning it over gently, in small portions, using a cutting action, allowing steam to escape, for about a minute.

  • Fanning & Tossing the rice

  1. Continue turning over the rice, but now start fanning (using a piece of stiff cardboard) the rice vigorously as you do so. Don’t flip the rice into the air but continue to gently slice, lift and turn the rice occasionally, for 10 minutes. Cooling the rice using a fan gives good flavor, texture and a high-gloss sheen to the rice. The vinegar dressing will be absorbed by the hot rice. Using a small electric fan on the lowest speed setting is highly recommended.
  2. Stop fanning when there’s no more visible steam, and all the vinegar dressing has been adsorbed and the rice is shiny. Your sushi rice is ready to be used.

  • Keeping the rice moist

  1. Cover with a damp, lint free cloth to prevent the rice from drying out while preparing your sushi meal. Do not store sushi rice in the refrigerator leave on the counter covered at room temperature. Sushi rice is best used when it is at room temperature.

* Tip: To make sushi rice: for each cup of rice use 1 cup of water, 2 Tbs rice vinegar, 2 tsp sugar, ½ tsp salt and 1 tsp sake. For superior results use equal volumes of rice and water when cooking the sushi rice since the weight of rice can vary. Weight of 2½ cups of uncooked rice is about 525 grams or 18½ ounces.

* Tip: While the rice is draining, soaking and cooking prepare your rice vinegar dressing, sushi fillings and toppings.

* Tip: Photo series on How to Cook Rice with a Pot
http://www.sushiencyclopedia.com/how_to_make_sushi/how_to_cook_rice_with…

* Tip: Photo series on How to Make Sushi Rice with Tools You Already Own
http://www.sushiencyclopedia.com/how_to_make_sushi/how_to_make_sushi_ric…

NOTES:
Sushi Rice – choose a short or medium grain rice. Do not use Arborio, long-grain, or parboiled white rice. Medium-grained calrose is a suitable rice. Rice expands (about 3 times) when cooked so make sure your pot is large enough. Washing the rice removes the rice flour that coats the rice and gives a fresh flavor and scent to the cooked rice. Look for rice that is labeled ‘sushi’ rice. Cooked sushi rice can be placed in plastic bags and frozen for 3 months, microwave when needed. Cooked sushi rice should be sticky, shiny and the individual grains of rice can been see. Price: AUS $4/KG.

Dashi konbu – or ( dashi kombu) – dried kelp, it looks like broad, leathery, wrinkly greenish ribbon often coated with a white powder. The darker green the leaves, the better the quality of kelp. Dashi konbu adds a refreshing light ocean taste to sushi rice. Price: AUS $1.50 for ten 3”(75mm) squares.

Rice Vinegar – this gives prepared sushi rice its unique clean, crisp taste. Do not use bottled “sushi vinegar” as it is too harsh and has a bitter after-taste. Look carefully at the label of the rice vinegar it should have NO SALT and NO SUGAR in the product. Apple cider vinegar is a good substitute if rice vinegar is not available. You can use mild white wine vinegar or mild red wine vinegar if you cannot find rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar. DO NOT USE NORMAL WHITE VINEGAR it is too harsh. Price: AUS $4 /500ml bottle.

Sake – Japanese rice wine. Do not use cooking sake or Chinese cooking rice wine, look for a reasonably priced drinkable sake. Refrigerate opened sake & use within two months. You can use vodka or a mild tasting gin if sake is not available. Price: AUS $10/500ml bottle.

Sugar – you can use mild honey or any other vegan substitute to give the equivalent sweetness.

 

PART 2 : Dragon Rolls (also called Caterpillar Rolls)

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus 1¾ hours to make the sushi rice
Cooking time: about 5 minutes (grilling the eel)

Yield: 2 inside-out (uramaki) sushi rolls

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 sheet 7”x8” (17.5cmx20cm) of toasted nori (dried seaweed sheets), cut into halves
  • 1/2 Japanese cucumber
  • 2 cups of prepared sushi rice
  • 3 slabs tofu (sliced, seasoned with salt & paprika and baked at 400 F for 20 minutes) 
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Red onion thinly sliced and broiled for 7-8 minutes
  • Vinegared Water – ½ cup of water combined with a dash of rice vinegar
  • Various small amounts of sauces to use as the flames of the dragon (or legs of a caterpillar)

Optional

  • A mix of crumbled toasted nori, toasted sesame seeds and sugar and salt

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Japanese Cucumber and salt paprika seasoned baked tofu

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Oiled & Broiled thinly sliced red onions

DIRECTIONS:
1.Cut cucumber into strips ¼ inch (6mm) x 7” (175mm) long, then salt, rinse & dry the strips.
2.Grill (broil) the red onions for about 2-5 minutes until bubbling. Bake sliced seasoned tofu. Apply or spray some oil before baking.

3.Halve, pit and peel the avocado. Cut the avocado halves into thin even 1/8 inch (3 mm) slices. Fan out the cut avocado into a 7 inch (175 mm) overlapping pattern.
4.Cover bamboo mat with plastic wrap. Place a sheet of nori shiny side down, lengthwise, on the edge the mat.
5.Moisten lightly your hands in the bowl of vinegared water.
6.Place one cup of rice on the nori and gently rake your fingertips across grains to spread rice evenly. Do not mash or squash the rice onto the nori, the rice should appear loosely packed and be evenly distributed over the entire sheet, you should be able to see the nori sheet in a few places.
7.Flip the rice-covered nori over (so the bare nori is now on top) and place on the edge of the mat closest to you.
8.Slice tofu again in slices. Arrange sliced baked tofu across the length of the nori, not quite centred on it but a little closer to you. Place half the cucumber sticks & grilled onions next to the tofu.
9.Lift the edge of the mat closest to you with both hands, keeping your fingertips over the fillings, and roll the mat and its contents until the edge of the mat touches straight down on the nori, enclosing the fillings completely. Lift up the edge of the mat you’re holding, and continue rolling the inside-out roll away from you until it’s sealed. Tug at the mat to tighten the seal. If the rice doesn’t quite close the roll add more rice in the gap and re-roll using the mat to completely cover the inside-out roll. Place the roll on a damp, clean smooth surface.
10.Spread about 1 tablespoon of the optional sesame mix along the entire top of the rice-covered roll. Using the plastic covered mat gently press the fish roe so it adheres to the rice.
11.Slide a knife under one fan of avocado and transfer it onto the top of an inside-out roll. Gently spread out the avocado layer to cover the entire roll. Lay the plastic wrapped mat over the avocado-covered roll. Squeeze very gently to shape the roll.
12. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the roll. Slice the roll into 6-8 equal, bite-sized pieces, wiping your knife with a damp towel before each slice. Discard the plastic wrap. Repeat the above to make one more roll.
13.Arrange the cut pieces on a serving plate with the sauces so the finished dish appears as a dragon breathing fire and flames (or a caterpillar with many legs).

* Tip: The most common mistake is having too much filling the golden rule is less is more when it comes to making sushi it is easier to roll an under-filled roll than an over-filled roll.

* Tip: Dampen your knife with a moist lint-free towel before every cut – this prevents the sushi rice from sticking to your knife.

* Tip: Excellent videos on making Dragon Rolls
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQZGRohVNFQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fo55iBN9FQs&feature=related

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Caterpillar roll

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Caterpillar rolls with pickled ginger and wasabi

NOTES:
Bamboo mat (makisu) – A 10 inch (25cm) square mat made of thin slates of bamboo tied together with string.
Substitutes: a thin magazine cut to size wrapped in plastic wrap or a few layers of parchment paper cut to size about 10 inch (25cm) square.

Nori – Sheets of seaweed (laver) processed into thin sheets about 7 inches x 8 inches (17.5cm x 20cm) in size. Always re-toast the nori sheet over a gas stove on low flame for 5 to 10 seconds, or place nori on a clean oven rack and bake it in a preheated 350F-degree (180C) oven for 30 seconds. Nori should be sealed tightly in a plastic bag and used within a few months. It can be stored in the freezer. Nori will deteriorate if left out of its sealed package so use quickly.
Substitutes: Thin cooked egg omelette cut to same size as a nori sheet (7 inches by 8 inches or 17.5cm x 20cm). Also soya bean wrappers, rice paper, tofu wrappers, dosas, crepes or an overlapping layer of thinly sliced cooked vegetables.

Japanese Cucumber – Japanese cucumbers are thin-skinned, seedless and contain much less water than normal cucumber.
Substitutes: English or hothouse cucumbers which have been peeled, de-seeded and salted as above. If not available try matchsticks of your favorite crisp vegetable.

Avocado
Substitutes: If not available use slices of roasted capsicum (bell pepper), slices of roasted tomatoes, lightly cooked whole snap (snow) peas, slices of Japanese daikon radish or other cooked thinly sliced vegetables, or slices of ‘sushi’ grade fish such as tuna, yellow tail and red snapper; smoked salmon, pastrami, salami, various colour’s of fish roe, or various colour’s of sesame seeds.

PART 3 : Spiral Sushi Roll
This is easiest ‘decorative’ sushi roll.

Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus 1¾ hours to make the sushi rice

Yield: One Roll, cut into 8 pieces

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2½ cups prepared sushi rice
  • 2 sheets of toasted nori, each sized 7”x8” (17.5cmx20cm)
  • Six assorted fillings, each filling should be the size of a pencil (see note below)

DIRECTIONS:
1.Join 2 sheets of nori by moistening the adjacent edges and overlapping them about ½ inch (12mm).
2.Place this double sheet shiny side down on a rolling mat, part of the nori will extend beyond the mat.
3.Using moist fingers place 2½ cups of rice on the nori and gently rake your fingertips across grains to spread rice evenly, leaving ¼ inch (6mm) nori showing on the both ends of the sheet. Do not mash or squash the rice onto the nori, the rice should appear loosely packed and be evenly distributed over the entire sheet, you should be able to see the nori sheet in a few places.
4.Using your fingers form six grooves (in the same direction that you will be rolling the mat) at even intervals across the bed of rice. Make the first groove about 2 inches (50 mm) from the edge of the nori sheet. Form the grooves by pushing the rice away, do not mash or squash the rice, leave a loose one grain layer of rice in the bottom of the grooves. Level the areas between the grooves where you have pushed the rice.
5.Place your fillings in the grooves. Fill the grooves a little higher than the surrounding rice bed.
6.Then roll the sushi up from the edge closest to you, this will form a spiral pattern of nori, rice and fillings inside the roll.
7.Slice into 8 pieces with a very sharp wet knife, wiping the blade with a damp cloth after each cut.
8.Place the pieces on a platter and garnish.

NOTE:
Make each groove about a finger-width wide they will hold about 1-2 tablespoons of filling. Use fillings that compliment each other and are highly colored. Use parboiled vegetables cut into strips, seafood, left over eel, smoked fish or chicken, whole cooked beans, edible flowers etc….

I used baked seasoned tofu, roasted red bell pepper, carrots, salted and drained Japanese cucumbers, omelette and grilled onions. Grilled vegetables in sushi is absolutely fabulous. Take my word and try it.

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Spiral Roll

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Spiral Roll

 

PART 4 : Nigiri Sushi
Nigiri sushi is the type of sushi most often made in sushi bars. In Japanese, nigiri means “squeeze”.

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus 1¾ hours to make the sushi rice

Yield: 14-16 pieces of sushi

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups prepared sushi rice
  • 8 pairs of assorted toppings, 200 gms/7 ozs total of fish, meat or vegetables (see note below)
  • 1 tablespoon Wasabi (paste, reconstituted powder) or any other paste to adhere topping to rice

Optional

  • Garnishes such as Ginger (pickled), chilli strips, vegetables flowers etc
  • Thin strips of nori or vegetables (for tying topping on)

DIRECTIONS:
1.When handling sushi rice, make certain your hands are very clean. To keep the rice from sticking to our hands moisten your hands with vinegared water.
2.Form nigiri sushi by scooping up a small amount (about 2 tablespoons) of rice with your forefinger and second finger of your right hand and placing it in your cupped left palm.
3.Use the fingers and thumb of your right hand to form it into a long, narrow mound (about 2 inches x 1 inch wide or 50mm x 25mm) in your cupped palm.
4.Press enough to make the rice hold firmly together. Place the nigiri on a damp cutting board flat side down. Don’t let sushi touch or they’ll stick to each other. At this point, you can cover the sushi with plastic wrap, and they’ll keep at room temperature (not the refrigerator) for several hours.
5.Smear a thin line of wasabi on top of the rice and place the topping piece on it. You may need to press the topping down lightly with your fingers and adjust the shape of the rice accordingly to form an attractive piece of nigiri sushi. If your topping is very loose like fish roe you can place a strip of nori (higher than the rice) around the nigiri and form ‘battleship’ sushi. The cavity that the nori forms holds the topping so it does not fall off.
6.Garnish as desired and use strips of nori (or vegetable) to tie the topping to the nigiri if needed.
7.It is customary to make nigiri sushi in pairs, so make two of each variety.

* Tips: A great video on making nigiri sushi
http://www.howcast.com/videos/270-How-To-Make-Sushi
A great web page on slicing fish for nigiri
http://www.sushilinks.com/sushi-recipes/how-to-buy-fish/index.html

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Nigiri Sushi topped with vegetables

NOTES:
Seafood nigiri must use sushi grade (sashimi grade) fish. Try tuna, red sea bream (red snapper), yellowtail or salmon. Cooked shrimp, cooked crab, cooked meat can also be used! You can use any vegetable you wish try asparagus, pumpkin, carrot, avocado, cucumber, shiitake mushroom, tofu, thin sliced egg omelette, etc… Thinly slice or julienne vegetables, parboiling if necessary tie on with a thin (1/4” or 6mm) strip of nori or vegetable strip wrapped around the whole sushi if needed..

*MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE YOU MUST READ THIS* – If you are using raw fish or raw meat it must be ‘sushi’ grade (sashimi grade) ask your fishmonger or butcher for advice and if in doubt don’t use. Find your local Japanese market and ask them where the best sushi (sashimi) fish is. Maybe you can buy sushi grade fish at your local sushi bar. Purchase flash-frozen sashimi grade fish which is guaranteed to be free of all parasites. Only salt-water fish and shellfish should be consumed raw. Crab and prawn (shrimp) should always be cooked. Sashimi grade fish should have a clean cool smell if it smells fishy it is a sign that the fish is old and cannot be used. If you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system only use cooked ingredients. There is no need to use raw fish or raw meat in sushi.

Resources
Written instructions on making various forms of sushi can be found here http://homepage3.nifty.com/maryy/eng/sushi_roll.htm
http://www.sushiencyclopedia.com/index.html

 

Expenditure:

Sushi Rice………………………….$6.49 for 5 lb……………….HuaXing Asia Store ……….plenty left

Sake……………………………….$2.32 for 300 ml…………….HuaXing Asia Store………..plenty left

Instant seaweed powder……………$2.59 for 64 g……………….HuaXing Asia Store……….plenty left

Japanese Cucumber………………..$0.5 for 2 ………………….HuaXing Asia Store………..gone

Tofu……………………………….$2.49 for 2.65 lb……………HuaXing Asia Store………..plenty left

Sesame,nori mix……………………$2.49………………………HuaXing Asia Store………..half left

Wasabi powder…………………….$1.69………………………HuaXing Asia Store………..half left

Pickled Ginger……………………..$2.99 for 12 oz…………….HuaXing Asia Store…………half left

—————————————————————————————————–

Total………………………………$21.56

Now you know why sushi is so expensive. Anyway this much money will make many many servings till you really get your fill of sushi like me. And yes, this was not all, I bumped into another car on my way out of the store and so this sushi turned out really really expensive.

Daring Cooks Blogroll

Posted in - Red onion, --Pickled Ginger, -Avocado, -Carrot, -Cilantro, -Corn, -Dashi Konbu Instant powder, -Japanese Cucumber, -Nori Sheets, -Red Bell Pepper, -Rice Vinegar, -Sake, -Sesame seeds, -Sushi Rice, -Tofu, -Wasabi, Eggs | Tagged: , , , , , | 11 Comments »

This Halloween we decided to eat some sleeping swaddled Babies

Posted by vivnidhi on November 2, 2009

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

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

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

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

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Look at those hands……project totally worth it

The Recipe:

Tanta Wawa (Peruvian Bread Babies)

Makes 4 small loaves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 »

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

———————————————————————————————————————————————–

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….

————————————————————————————————–

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 »

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 »

Daring Cooks First Challenge : Ricotta Gnocchi

Posted by vivnidhi on May 16, 2009

flame_w180x180 presents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the pictures:

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Draining the ricotta, whey and the drained ricotta

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

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

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Orange Bell Peppers, now who would mind these?

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

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

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

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

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Pan Fried Ricotta Gnocchi with spices

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

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

Lasagne Time

Posted by vivnidhi on March 28, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna – Daring Bakers March 2009 Challenge

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

#1 Spinach Egg Pasta (Pasta Verde)

Preparation: 45 minutes

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

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

Working by Hand:

Equipment

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

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

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

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

A sharp chef’s knife for cutting pasta sheets.

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

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

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

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Pasta dough

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

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

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

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

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

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

#2 Bechamel

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Chopping & TVP in salted water

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Drained TVP and here’s my soy stew

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Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna

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Here’s a piece!

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

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

Expenditure:

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

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

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

——————————————————————————————–

Total ………………………………$ 7.77

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

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 »

Daanedaar Besan Ke Laddoo ( Sweet Gram Flour Balls)

Posted by vivnidhi on November 22, 2008

cNov_12

Celebrating with Daanedaar Besan Ke Laddoo

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

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

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

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

The Recipe: (Approximately  40 small laddoos)

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

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

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Gram Flour

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Gram Flour after addition of milk

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

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

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

cNov_12

Please try one!!

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

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

Cheers!!

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

Rajma (Red Kidney Beans Curry)

Posted by vivnidhi on November 12, 2008

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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 »

Lavash Crackers with Watermelon Salsa, Mutabal and Cilantro Hummus

Posted by vivnidhi on September 27, 2008

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Lavash Crackers

Another Daring Bakers Challenge. For the first time in 3 months, not that big a challenge for me as I am quite familiar with homemade crackers and have been working with yeast every day these days………..as “the bake your own bread” ghost has entered my body.  This has led to the husband going to the grocery store and snacking on some “store” bread and the 3 year old using his resources fully “If I will be a good boy, will you buy me sliced bread ?” Now who would have imagined that 3 year olds can be determined to be good …………for bread. Sounds like either I live on an uninhabited island or are an island myself. Well , a fabulous cook and bread baker is to blame for all this……….her book has enchanted me like no other………..More later.

Don’t worry about me rambling for no reason…….its been a month that I wrote anything at all and I am so full of things to say. Tackled this challenge really early this month but just didn’t write the post………so here I am up at 4:45 am in the morning determined to post on the specified date. Ah, determination, ………so much is brewing in my mind these days and I am so involved in the world matters ………..on my dining table…….. that its better that I do not post anything……..you can see ……….can’t you?

OK, I heard about Lavash and tasted this beautiful bread when a friend of mine brought it for me from the most authentic Armenian bakery in the bay area in California. This friend is Armenian and Armen is his name 🙂 . Armen is a wonderful structural engineer who helped me get conversant with the American Civil Engineering. I volunteered for him before I started working……..I have spent too many a fabulous evenings discussing the world with him and have learnt a lot from him. I know, if we’d meet again you would still wonder how I can drink decaf………. Someday, I hope to meet him again and introduce him to his grandkids. Hope you are keeping good health Armen, I have thought of you a lot as I prepared these crackers. Lavash bread is an amazing bread………it looks big and crackery but if you roll it in a wet towel………..it gets soft. Fill and roll. Makes amazing sandwiches.

Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl and Natalie of Gluten A Go Go hosted this month’s fabulous challenge. There is a great alternative baking side to the Daring Bakers ….its a great resource for all kinds of alternative baking. We always make them work too hard. This month’s challenge was hosted by that branch of daring bakers’ making some history and letting us eat the delicious results. A big thank you to them for letting us get so creative.

Here’s the Recipe:

RECIPE – Recipe Reference:  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.

Here’s a simple formula for making snappy Armenian-style crackers, perfect for breadbaskets, company and kids…It is similar to the many other Middle Eastern and Northern African flatbreads known by different names, such as mankoush or mannaeesh (Lebanese), barbari (Iranian), khoubiz or khobz (Arabian), aiysh (Egyptian), kesret and mella (Tunisian), pide or pita (Turkish), and pideh (Armenian).  The main difference between these breads is either how thick or thin the dough is rolled out, or the type of oven in which they are baked (or on which they are baked, as many of these breads are cooked on stones or red-hot pans with a convex surface)…

The key to a crisp lavash,…is to roll out the dough paper-thin.  The sheet can be cut into crackers in advance or snapped into shards after baking.  The shards make a nice presentation when arranged in baskets.

I do not like too thin a cracker otherwise I end up hurting my mouth somewhere with a sharp end…I know, I know :)), so I like mine with some substance without being bready.

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tbsp. (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
* 1 Tbsp. (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

I made 4 batches. Used whole wheat flour (American, store bought, from a local mill though) for 1 batch and 3 batches with Indian “Atta…..whole wheat flour” which is actually a finer grind of the same thing but not as fine as all purpose flour. I am not really aware of the gluten content of atta. I liked mine with the atta flour;)……….old habits die hard.

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Whole wheat flour and Atta dough before proofing

1.  In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball.  You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

I needed all the water and needed to knead and knead and knead. I was lazy , just used my hands as I didn’t want to wash the mixer but after 4 batches in one go……….I really questioned the wisdom of doing so. The good part was that my hands were in no condition to knead bread dough for a couple of days and the folks at home heaved a sigh of relief:).

2.  For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough:  Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter.  Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed.  The dough should pass the windowpane test (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bre … ong-Enough for a description of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled.  Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
or
2.  For Gluten Free Cracker Dough:  The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4.  For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough:  Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter.  Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour.  Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches.  You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax.  At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down.  Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes.  When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes.  Line a sheet pan with baking parchment.  Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment.  If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.
or
4.  For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper.  Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment.  Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches.  Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper.  Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf.  Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.)  Be careful with spices and salt – a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough.  You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking.  If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.
5.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

I tried all these seeds individually and pretzel salt individually and all in one. The sesame ones tasted best:). I failed to get the seeds to stick the first time around. With the rest, I would finish rolling out, keep the rolled dough aside, sprinkle the seeds on the counter and roll one last time to get the seeds to stick well. I also used the fork to mark the rolled dough. This prevents the crackers from puffing up, though it won’t puff up if you have kneaded the dough well. But, again its a habit:).

6.  When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.  You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

RECIPES – Toppings
You may use your choice of topping/dip/salsa/relish/spread for your lavash crackers as long as it is vegan and gluten free.

The first evening I was in a rush and had to finish a watermelon sitting in the refrigerator. The watermelon was not too sweet and so a salsa made from it really perked it up. Recipe is from “Watermelon Fire and Ice Salsa”  at allrecipes.com . Delicious!!

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Lavash Crackers with Watermelon salsa

Next I wanted to make an Armenian dip…….as authentic as I could make it:). Mutabal is similar to Baba Ghanoush and has chopped onions and cumin in it.

Mutabal Recipe:

  • Eggplant 1 big
  • Olive oil 1/2 tsp.
  • Tahini 1 1/2  Tbsp.
  • Garlic 2 cloves
  • Lemon Juice 1 Tbsp.
  • Onion 2 Tbsp. very finely chopped
  • Cumin powder 1/4 tsp. dry roasted
  • Salt to taste
  • Parsley 1 Tbsp. chopped fine for garnish
  • Olive oil 1 tsp. for garnish

Spread some olive oil on the shiny eggplant and use a fork to make some holes in it. Put the eggplant under the broiler and let it brown on all sides. I sometimes turn it and sometimes I don’t. Works both ways. Should take about 15-20 minutes.

Once the eggplant is cool enough to be handled. Peel the skin off and remove the big bulk of seeds, if there. I take the bulk of seeds out, if it is a seedy eggplant, a few always remain.

Next I mixed the eggplant flesh, tahini, salt, garlic and lemon juice in a blender. Came out creamy. Mix the onion it it , sprinkle with cumin powder and garnish with parsley and a tsp. of olive oil.

First bite into the mutabal with crackers was “yeah, not bad” and then I kept going back to it. Its addicting. I also made a cilantro hummus, but forgot to take a picture:) . Recipe from here.

These were sent off as a gift to a dear friend who has to sometimes suffer my baking escapades:).

Variety Lavash crackers with Mutabal and Cilantro hummus (ran away from the picture)

In addition to my usual crackers, these will be made often:). Thanks for  a  lovely challenge.

Now, who all of the daring bakers have made what……….lets check it out Daring Bakers Blogroll……..

Expenditure:
Whole wheat Flour : $ 1.68
Total $ 1.68
That’s neat……….isn’t it;).

Posted in -Caraway seeds, -Cumin seeds, -Poppy seeds, -Red chili powder, -Sesame seeds, -Whole wheat flour, Sugar, Yeast | Tagged: , , | 15 Comments »

Rasse ki Ghuiyan aur Kheera (Taro & Cucumber Gravy)

Posted by vivnidhi on August 10, 2008

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Cucumber and Taro root/Colocasia/Ghuiyan/Arbi

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

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

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

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

The recipe:

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

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

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

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Chopped Cucumber and Colocasia

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

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

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

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Rasse ki Ghuiyan aur Kheera

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

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

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