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Daring Cooks First Challenge : Ricotta Gnocchi

Posted by vivnidhi on May 16, 2009

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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:-)

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

Daring Bakers Layered Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake

Posted by vivnidhi on April 27, 2009

Spatulla at 180 x 180 (largest)Oh Yeah, it was the E L Spatulla’s magic this month!

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Perfectly layered Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake

I must admit here that cheesecake is the ultimate dessert for me. Yes, I am extremely fond of custards and the like…..and if you bake it………I can eat it all the time. This is my all time favorite cake. And I had never eaten it all these years when I was in India! Ah! what a waste………I wish I could have eaten it without the guilt ……..calories…….look at yourself……..you still have 10 lbs to lose………look at all the plain sugars you are putting in your body!! UFF!!!  So, when now I baked it and placed it on the table……..in spite of the fact that I was pleased no end that the cake did not crack one bit and was layered exactly as I wanted………the husband’s look said something else.

“This is a calorie bomb…..fat, sugar, cheese………what kind of life will you have……. if you eat more of these”

“Well! when temptation rules, the mirror breaks, and I asked the husband to look the other way ….pleeeeeeeease….”

Ah! I so wish we did not have to fight this constant war against cholesterol and high blood sugar. As, I have so often admitted, the husband has to keep a check on his cholesterol and I have to worry about an eventual high blood sugar. And since I am still 10 lbs more than I was pre-second pregnancy, the threat is real for me. I am not overweight, just that I’d do my health and myself a favor if I lost these pounds.

Well! this blog is not about health rants (it so often becomes) ! I absolutely loved this cheesecake. I have baked cheesecakes before (coffee caramel remains the husband’s fav…….he can’t get over coffee and I chocolate)  but this is the best recipe. I had never tried layering the cheesecakes and since I got all daring ……….I tired it out!

Love you Jenny and your famous friend Abbey for sharing a great, easy recipe. The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

This is truly an easy recipe and I know this will be made again!

Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake:

crust:
1 3/4  cups / 240 g chocolate wafers

7 Tbsp. / 3 1/2 oz butter, melted
1/4 almonds ground

cheesecake:
3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
3 tbsp. Amaretto

7 oz. semi sweet chocolate

The recipe calls for 1 Tbsp of lemon juice, 1 Tbsp. of vanilla extract and 1 Tbsp. of booze. I replace all with amaretto.

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too – baker’s choice. Set crust aside.

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Crushed Chocolate Wafers, almonds and butter

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Chocolate wafer crust

My crust definitely had too much butter. I need to reduce it the next time. This did not compromise the taste but it would be better with lesser butter.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, amaretto and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

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Cream cheese on the left and creamed ingredients on the right

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3 cups plain Amaretto batter is removed and rest mixed with melted chocolate

I chopped the chocolate well and then melted it in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir the chocolate and check for lumps. Melt further in 15 sec or 30 sec intervals only if there are lumps. Keep stirring after every heating. Removed 3 cups of the batter separately and then added the melted chocolate to the rest of the batter. Mixed with a light hand so as to not overmix.

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On top of chocolate wafer crust goes chocolate layer and then sieved very finely ground almonds on top of it.

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Ready for the oven

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil “casserole” shaped pans from the grocery store. They’re 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.

Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!

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The end result! Perfect layers! Hurrah!!

Things I learnt: As I read more on the Daring Baker forum, I realized that my cake top got brown and it should not have browned at all for a perfect cheesecake.

Next My crust indeed got soggy , so I should have either used more foil or used a normal cake pan instead of spring form. Jacque of Daisy lane cakes has very beautifully demonstrated how to use regular pan for cheesecake in her post Sweet Potato Cheesecake.

Some variations from the recipe creator:

** Lavender-scented cheesecake w/ blueberries – heat the cup of heavy cream in the microwave or a saucepan until hot but not boiling. Add 2 tbsp of lavender flowers and stir. Let lavender steep in the cream for about 10-15 minutes, then strain the flowers out. Add strained cream to cheesecake batter as normal. Top with fresh blueberries, or make a quick stovetop blueberry sauce (splash of orange juice, blueberries, a little bit of sugar, and a dash of cinnamon – cook until berries burst, then cool)

** Cafe au lait cheesecake with caramel – take 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and heat it in the microwave for a short amount of time until very hot. Add 1-2 tbsp. instant espresso or instant coffee; stir to dissolve. Add this to the remainder of cream and use as normal. Top cheesecake with homemade caramel sauce (I usually find one on the food network website – just make sure it has heavy cream in it. You can use store-bought in a pinch, but the flavor is just not the same since its usually just sugar and corn syrup with no dairy).

** Tropical – add about a half cup of chopped macadamias to the crust, then top the cake with a mango-raspberry-mandarin orange puree.

** Mexican Turtle – add a bar of melted dark chocolate (between 3 and 5 oz., to taste) to the batter, along with a teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of cayenne pepper (about 1/8 tsp.). Top it with pecan halves and a homemade caramel sauce.

** Honey-cinnamon with port-pomegranate poached pears – replace 1/2 cup of the sugar with 1/2 cup of honey, add about a teaspoon or more (to taste) of cinnamon. Take 2 pears (any variety you like or whatever is in season), peeled and cored, and poach them in a boiling poaching liquid of port wine, pomegranate juice/seeds, a couple of “coins” of fresh ginger, a cinnamon stick, and about a 1/4 cup of sugar. Poach them until tender, then let cool. Strain the poaching liquid and simmer until reduced to a syrupy-glaze consistency, then cool. Thinly slice the cooled pears and fan them out atop the cooled cheesecake. Pour the cooled poaching syrup over the pears, then sprinkle the top with chopped walnuts and fresh pomegranate seeds.

Some variations from Jenny (from JennyBakes):

**Key lime – add zest from one lime to sugar before mixing with cream cheese. Substitute lemon juice, alcohol, and vanilla with key lime juice.

**Cheesecakelets – put in muffin tins, ramekins, or custard cups. Try baking 20-35 minutes, or until still a little jiggly, and cool as before.

I just melted some more chocolate and piped it lines on top. As I was in a rush, I did not paint the actual leaves with melted chocolate, instead just piped them freehand in leaf shape on wax paper. In the freezer for a quick 15 minutes and the leaves were ready. Remove from wax paper and decorate 😉 .

In spite of the mistakes, this cake was a hit. Loved it a lot and will make again. And guess what the husband visited New York for work and got me a Junior’s cheesecake. Now, I could compare mine against the best. And, I tell you mine was not far from the best. The junior’s cake crust absolutely bowled me over though. I have the junior’s cheesecake cookbook (borrowed from the library) and so I will note down their crust recipe and post when I try it.

If you want to have a look at what all can be done with a cheesecake , please visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll. See imagination and creativity at it best!

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Here’s a bite…….enjoy!

Oh, I forgot to list my expenditure:

Cream Cheese 3 (8 oz.) packs ..........$6.18.........from Meijer.......none left
Chocolate wafers ......................$2.50.........from Meijer......all eaten up
Semisweet chocolate....................$2.50..........from Meijer......all eaten up
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Total ................................$11.18

Posted in -Almonds, -Butter, -Chocolate wafer, -Cream, -Semisweet Chocolate, Amaretto, Cream Cheese, Eggs, Sugar | Tagged: , , , , | 31 Comments »

Lasagne Time

Posted by vivnidhi on March 28, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna – Daring Bakers March 2009 Challenge

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

#1 Spinach Egg Pasta (Pasta Verde)

Preparation: 45 minutes

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

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

Working by Hand:

Equipment

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

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

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

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

A sharp chef’s knife for cutting pasta sheets.

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

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

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

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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

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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

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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 »

Daring Baker’s February Challenge : Chocolate Valentino cake

Posted by vivnidhi on February 28, 2009

Feb_44

Chocolate Valentino Cake

Here is a flourless cake that is a breeze to make. Surprise Surprise! this month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was the easiest I have seen. Ready in 45 minutes total. This is one cake anyone can make ……..easy and sinfully rich and delicious. Just pair it with an ice cream, and you are done. Yes, this definitely needs some ice cream or whipped cream to cut some of the richness of the cake. My cake did not sink in the middle at all because I was careful while beating the eggs.

It was my first time making Ice cream, I have been to lazy to make ice cream at home before. Since the husband loved it, I now have reason to try some more this summer. I made it without any ice cream maker. I would make a lot of ice creams in India in my summer vacations. I wanted to try one of my old recipes but decided to just try David Lebovitz’s plain vanilla ice cream made with vanilla extract. I made a cherry caramel sauce to pair with the cake and ice cream. Result: This cake’s a fabulous dessert!

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE’s blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.
We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

February’s challenge is a Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Valentino, inspired by Malaysia’s “most flamboyant food ambassador”, Chef Wan. Recipe comes from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan.

Serve with – The original recipe calls for the cake to be served with whipping cream.  BUT we decided to make this more of a challenge and ask you to make your own Ice Cream – a first for the DBrs. You can choose any flavor you want and any recipe although we provided two vanilla ice cream recipes. But we are giving you a little freedom here and will allow whipped cream as a topping as well or of course non-dairy whip. Be as creative as you want with your topping. Any fruit puree or sauce would be lovely with this cake.
– Use your favorite chocolate – the finished cake will taste exactly like the chocolate you use. Be creative with your chocolate, if you like a sweeter cake use milk chocolate or a combination of the semisweet and milk chocolate. If you like bittersweet chocolate use that and add sweetness by mixing the semi sweet with bittersweet. If you are daring, try white chocolate. (Dharm used all bittersweet and Wendy used a half bitter/half semi sweet chocolate).
– A higher cocoa percentage increases the bitterness of the chocolate.
-Equipment – it is optional to use a heart shaped pan. For a real Valentino, bake it in a heart shaped pan or cut it out into a heart shape. You may use any shape pan that gives you an area of 50” – 6×8 or 7×7.  An 8” spring form pan works with great results as do smaller pans or ramekins.
-An instant read thermometer highly recommended.
Note on recipeThe recipe consists of 3 simple ingredients and how you interpret them is part of the challenge.

Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time:  20 minutes

 
16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.
Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Feb_39Feb_38

Microwave melted Chocolate & 8″ spring form pan

Feb_40

Ready for the oven

I used all semisweet chocolate and that was absolutely right for us. We couldn’t have liked it a bit more bitter than that. Milk chocolate would be good too cause the chocolate taste gets a little more intense in the cake.

David Lebovitz link for making ice cream if you do not have an ice cream freezer.
Links to helpful tips:
Folding video demonstration.
Egg Whipping video demonstration.

I used David Lebovitz’ vanilla ice cream recipe.

For the cherry caramel sauce, I heated up a cup of cherries with 1/2 a tsp. of sugar till they got tender. Then they went in a blender and pureed. I mixed it up with caramel sauce made from the earlier daring baker challenge and Voila…..Cherry Caramel sauce is ready.

Feb_37 Feb_74

Pitted fresh cherries and the making of cherry caramel sauce

Finally……

Feb_78

My chocolate cake sunflower with Tuiles

This is a cake that everyone (who is a fan of chocolate) should definitely try.

Expenditure:

Chocolate 1 lb ………$ 5.00 ………from Kroger……none left

Heavy cream 1 pint….$ 3.25……….from Kroger……none left

————————————————————————–

Total………………..$ 8.25

 

Posted in - Cherry, -Butter, -Cream, -Golden Syrup, -Semisweet Chocolate, -Vanilla, Chocolate, Eggs, Milk, Sugar | Tagged: , , | 12 Comments »

Sailing the Pink Seas

Posted by vivnidhi on January 29, 2009

j_97

Tuile Boats with whipped cream and strawberry cream

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

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

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

j_81

Local Strawberries

Light & Easy Strawberry Cream

The Recipe:

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

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

j_91

Light & Easy Strawberry Cream

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expenditure:

Parchment paper : $ 2.84 from Walmart lots left

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

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

Daring Bakers French Yule Log

Posted by vivnidhi on December 30, 2008

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

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

100_2836

Here’s my Log!

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

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

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

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

FRENCH YULE LOG OR ENTREMETS RECIPE by Flore of Florilège Gourmand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expenditure:

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

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

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

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

Posted by vivnidhi on November 29, 2008

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Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting

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

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

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

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

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First attempt………sugar and golden golden syrup

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

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Golden Vanilla Toffee

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All dressed up

Caramels Recipe:

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

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

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

The Recipe:

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

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

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

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

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Creaming Butter and sugar

Nov_35

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

Nov_37

Ready for the oven

Nov_44

Here’s the cake!

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


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

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

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Have a bite!!

Expenditure:

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

Total…………………………………$ 15.98

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

Daanedaar Besan Ke Laddoo ( Sweet Gram Flour Balls)

Posted by vivnidhi on November 22, 2008

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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!

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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.

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Garden veggie pizza with Paneer

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Olives, spicy lentils, paneer and cilantro Pizza

The main thing is the pizza base.

The Recipe:

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

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

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

~ BASIC PIZZA DOUGH ~

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

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

Ingredients:

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

1 3/4 Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Instant yeast – FOR GF use 2 tsp

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

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

1 Tb sugar – FOR GF use agave syrup

Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

DAY ONE

Method:

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

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

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

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

Or

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DAY TWO

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

Or

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

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

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

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

Or

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

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.

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

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

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

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

Or

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

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

Or

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

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

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

Or

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

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

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

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

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Garden Veggie Pizza with Paneer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Olives, spicy lentils, Paneer and cilantro Pizza

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

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

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

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The Recipe:

Spicy Lentils:

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

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

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

Out form the oven and garnish with cilantro leaves.

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

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

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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 »

Chocolate Eclairs………….and the likes:)

Posted by vivnidhi on August 31, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Recipe:

(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé

Éclairs consist of 3 elements:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Chocolate Pastry Cream’s ready!!

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

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


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

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The making of the chocolate sauce

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

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

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

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

The son had a blast assembling these!!

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

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

Expenditure:

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

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

Now check out the Daring Bakers’ blogroll !

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

Rasse ki Ghuiyan aur Kheera (Taro & Cucumber Gravy)

Posted by vivnidhi on August 10, 2008

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Cucumber and Taro root/Colocasia/Ghuiyan/Arbi

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

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

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

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

The recipe:

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

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

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

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Chopped Cucumber and Colocasia

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

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

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

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Rasse ki Ghuiyan aur Kheera

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

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

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

Cucumber Parsley Focaccia with spicy whipped Butter

Posted by vivnidhi on August 5, 2008

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Parsley & cucumber for bread

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

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

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

The Recipe:

For the Bread:

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

For the whipped Butter:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Extremely fresh tasting and delicious cucumber focaccia is ready:)

Here’s a taste for the eyes:

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Cucumber Parsley Focaccia

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A small bite with spicy whipped Butter

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

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

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

I am a Daring Baker too!

Posted by vivnidhi on July 30, 2008

This post is long.

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Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

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

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

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter

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

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

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

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

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

Here goes the detailed recipe with my comments in black:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Assembling Cake

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

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The last layer : Thinning out in the middle:)

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One last look, not too bad, eh!

Expenditure:

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

Total: 19.76……not too bad.

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

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

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

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

Marbled Tea Eggs

Posted by vivnidhi on July 27, 2008

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Stained by Addiction: Marbled Tea Eggs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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All Cracked Up for CLICK…photography event hosted by Jugalbandi

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

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

Spicy Garlic Vegetarian Sausage Bread

Posted by vivnidhi on July 20, 2008

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

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

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

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Sesame Semolina Bread

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

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

Here it is …..The Recipe:

  • Hearty artisan bread sesame semolina /Italian/French loaf

For the spinach layer:

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

For the spicy sausage layer:

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

For the oil & vinegar :

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

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

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

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

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

Mix the oil and vinegar ingredients and set aside.

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

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

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

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

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Spicy Garlic Vegetarian Sausage Bread

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

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

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

ZZZZZ1111         QQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQ222222222222

Please go ahead and interpret as you like:) .

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

American Chop Suey

Posted by vivnidhi on July 14, 2008

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The “AMERICAN CHOP SUEY”

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

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

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

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

The recipe:  (4 servings)

For the Noodles:

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

For the Sauce:

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

For the Vegetables:

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

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

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Noodles on the baking tray

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

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

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Baked noodles, sweet & sour sauce and Chop Suey Vegetables

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

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

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

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

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