Varo

Its no secret that I LOVE to bake; but did u know that I can barely make a decent cuppa tea. I usually throw my hands up at the mere mention of regular cooking- NOT because I dont enjoy it but because It almost never turns out the way its supposed to be:(

Which is why I was mighty thrilled to make the desi praline- VARO.

Many of us South Indians have had a version called Chikki. My love for these nutty sweets were stroked after my father in law started bringing home some everyday for my sis-in-law and me , almost everyday after his morning walks. Crunchy, sweet and nutty…this is without doubt a lovely sweet!

Thank you Alka for a great recipe..you can find the original recipe here.and thank you Srivalli for the Indian Cooking Challange that lets me learn new things.

Varo – Sindhi Sweet Treat (Diwali Special)
Ingredients:

Assorted Nuts (I used Almonds, Pistachios and Cashew nuts) – 1 Cup
Poppy Seeds / Khus Khus – 2 tbsp
Cardamoms – 4 -5
Sugar – 1 Cup
Ghee Clarified Butter – 1 tbsp

Method:

Slice all mixed nuts into medium sized pieces. Powder the Cardamom seeds.

Grease a flat plate or the back of a plate.

In a heavy bottomed pan, add ghee and sugar. On low heat melt the sugar without stirring too much until it turns light and then a deep brown shade. Working fast add in the nuts, poppy seeds and the cardamoms. Mix until the nuts are well coated(just a couple of seconds) and transfer the mixture to the prepared plate. Flatten using a rolling pin.
Let cool and harden.

Cut into pieces using a knife..it might be a bit hard to break but u can use the rolling pin to hammer in the knife..

ICC- April

Its white , wriggly and wonderfully different…
Yes! its that time of the month again when we don our Indian caps and put the kitchenware lying right at the back to good use.

Very good use.

And this month Srivalli mail read Javvarisi/Sago/Sabudhana Murukku as this month’s ICC challenge I was skeptical as this really didn’t look like my cuppa tea..esp with warnings of possible sago explosions:)
but alls well that ends well …and here they are ,my white headed crispy snacks( honestly I’m not even sure if they are supposed to look like this)

Javvarisi/Sago/Sabudhana Murukku

Ingredients

Rice Flour(Arisi Maavu) – 2 cups
Besan flour(Kadalai Maavu) – 1/2 cup
Fried gram flour(Pottukadalai maavu) – 1/2 cup
Sago(Javvarisi) – 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Curd – 50 gms (1/4 cup)
Chilli powder – 1/2 tsp or as per taste

Special Utensil
Murukku Achu

Directions

In the buttermilk, soak the sago for about two to three hours until it doubles in size and gets translucent. If the sago is not soaked for enough time, it might tend to burst while frying the murukkus.

In a bowl, mix all the flours together. Heat about 50 gms oil, mix it along with the flour salt and chilli powder. Slowly add the buttermilk soaked sago and knead to make a smooth dough.

In a heavy bottomed vessel, heat oil for deep frying. In the murukku achu, add enough quantity of dough. When the oil gets hot, slowly press the murukku using the achu and deep fry on both sides until it turns golden brown in color.

Cook on medium flame to ensure the muruku is cooked well.

Store in an airtight container.

Last Minute Kachori for ICC

Seriously guys, what is it about a family wedding that can throw your life so out of gear.
I went home to Kerala for just 4 days for a cousins wedding. But it was 4 days of pure frenzied madness. I can’t really pinpoint what it was that has me feeling so distraught! Was it the fact that my baby cousin actually got married ( I felt sooo OLD), or was it the awful heat of Cochin coupled with the outrageous amount of jewelry I was made to wear,
or was it the million comments I had to hear about my weight( ranging from aunts asking if I was pregnant; to cousins asking me if I had balloons hidden under my clothes. One man(may he have a thousand sleepless nights….even asked me if the Himalayas have moved to Cochin!
All my excuses of thyroid related weight gain were met with incredulous looks! Anyway I am so glad to be back home in Goa………

Kachori- Fried Indian Snack


Kachori…forgive my poori-like horrible picture (it was taken just an hour before we left) but I must tell you these fried snacks were delicious ( I know what you are thinking…NO I just had a bite..a teeny weeny bite…)My kids LOVED them and I will definitely try them with different fillings sometime later…so here’s the recipe I used…

First make the dough:
Ingredients:
All Purpose Flour/Maida – 2cups
Oil/ Ghee – 1/4cup
Salt – 1/2tsp
Water for kneading

Method:

* Mix the flour and salt, Add the oil/ghee and mix till you get a bread crumbs texture.
* Slowly add water and make a soft dough. Knead well for about 8 minutes.
* Cover and keep aside to rest for atleast half hour.

Special Tips / Notes for the dough:

* Keep the dough covered at all times, if not it will dry up and not puff up when frying. If the dough is made right wet cloth can be used if not just a towel.
* The dough could spring back for many reasons:
* Dough is too cold (If wet cloth is used)
* Dough is not soft enough.
* Not kneaded for enough time.
* Oil is less.
* Not rested enough.

For the onion filling:
Onions – 2 cups
Nigella Seeds (Kalongi) – 2tsp
Fennel seeds (saunf) – 2tsp
Bay leaves – 2
Green chillies – 1 1/2tsp finely chopped
Bengal gram flour (besan) – 2tbsp
Coriander (dhania) powder – 2tsp
Chili powder – 2tsp
Garam masala – 1tsp
Coriander leaves – 3tbsp, finely chopped
Oil – 2 tbsp
Salt – to taste

Method:

* Heat the oil in a pan. Add the nigella seeds, fennel seeds, bay leaves, green chillies and onions and sauté till the onions turn light brown in color.
* Add the gram flour, coriander powder, chilli powder, garam masala and salt and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.
* Add the chopped coriander and mix well. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Allow the mixture to cool completely.
* Divide into 12 equal portions and keep aside.

Assembling the Kachoris:

* Make a small ball from the dough. Roll out into a 2 inch diameter circle. Or flatten the ball using your fingers having the center thick and sides little thin.
* Place about 1.5 tsp of the filling in the center of the rolled dough.
* Cover the filling with the dough by slowly stretching it over the filling. Seal the ends and remove excess dough. Repeat with all the balls and keep aside for 5 -7 mins.
* Then using your palm, flatten the balls by lightly pressing it, as using the rolling pin will make the filling come out. (See notes below). Keep aside covered. Repeat with the remaining dough.
* Meanwhile heat some oil for deep frying. The oil should not become smoking hot. Test to see if the temperature is right by dropping a tiny ball of dough and see if it is rising slowly to the top.
* Drop the kachoris in batches of 3-4 gently into the oil. It should rise up slowly. If you don’t want to use lot of oil, use just enough for two or three at a time and fry them.
* After it rises up (about 2 minutes), turn it over.
* Cook for about 6 to 10 minutes till the side down gets a golden brown color.
* Turn and cook the other side for another 6 minutes or till its golden brown in color.
* Remove when done, cool and store in airtight container.
* Serve with coriander chutney and tamarind chutney

Special Tips / Notes for making the Kachoris:

* You can fry 3 kachori’s at a time.
* The oil should be at a heat when you drop some dough it should come up slowly, if the dough comes up too fast the oil is too hot, if it does not come up then the oil is cold.
* It will not be crisp if the oil is too hot.

Delicious Party Salad

Dinner parties are a regular part of the Navy Way of Life. We invite and get invited to NUMEROUS such parties, and since Goa is a rather small base its almost always the same group of people you meet at every party.
Although this has helped forge some great friendships ; most parties CAN and DO get BORING BORING BORING. Just imagine having to discuss how much the maid gets paid at 3 parties in a row!!!!

So it was an understandably refreshing change when we had friends from out of town visiting us. Since we were in any case cooking for 4, I added 2 more families to the list and it was only after all the invites were sent out that I realized that we had 20 people in all !!

The menu was the regular fare- a chicken curry and a Paneer curry and a cauliflower bake which my cook made. I made a Palak Kofta(I shall post the recipe later..It was really good) and the Apple Cake with Ice cream( which ALWAYS earns me praises and gushes and oooh’s and aaah’s and wows!!!

I also decided to try out this wonderful salad that I found on Aparna’s blog. She in turn adapted the recipe from here. Aparna is a fellow Palakkad-ite and a fellow Goa-dweller whose fantastic blog I often turn to for delicious vegetarian fare. Try this colourful scrumptious absolutely delicious salad..It will earn you praises…..

Ingredients:

125 gm paneer
1 ½ tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp vinegar
1 ½ tbsp honey
1 tbsp water
½ tsp garlic paste
80 gm uncooked penne or anyother chunky pasta
1 medium sized red bell pepper, chopped into fairly big cubes
1 medium sized yellow bell pepper chopped into fairly big cubes
1 medium carrots, sliced
2 medium tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
8 green bean, cut into ½” pieces
1/2 cup frozen sweet corn

Dressing:
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp red pepper flakes
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil

Mix up all these to make a dressing.

Method:
Cut the paneer/tofu into 1/2-inch cubes, and dab using paper towels to remove excess moisture.

Mix the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, water and the garlic paste. Marinate the paneer in this mixture for at least an hour or even overnight. Keep tossing the paneer so it gets all marinated.

Place the paneer on a greased tray and bake at 200C for about 12minutes or till the paneer cubes start to brown at the edges.

In the meanwhile boil water with a pinch of salt.Throw in the beans, carrots and sweet corn and blanch for about 2 minutes.Drain but keep the water.
Now in the same water cook the pasta.Be careful not to over cook. Drain.
Add to the blanched veggies and also add the paneer and bell peppers and tomatoes. Pour in the dressing and season with salt and pepper.Mix well and serve at room temperature…or chilled if you prefer it that way. YUMMMMY!!!!

When I saw Blue…and then Red!


Source:clipart

I was just SHOCKED(well, that was just the first emotion..it just got worse from there on) when I walked in on my son typing out the words BLUE FILM on Google search the other day!

I felt faint, depressed and well , very very confused!

I mean, he’s only 6 , for crying out loud! What the hell was he doing!!!!!!!!!!
What had I done wrong!!!

I walked up to him and asked him what he was doing. My question came out as a series of bummbling blurs..i mean, what do you expect I had just caught my oldest baby(well, he IS just a bit older that a baby!) checking out porn!

“Amma” he tells me all cute and innocent faced, when I had to repeat the question, “ All my friends were telling me that the movie BLUE was shot in Hollywood and I just wanted to see what it was all about”
Well, well, well!!! Turns out he was trying to see pictures of the Hindi movie BLUE….and yes! all you skeptical people I TRUST him and totally believe his explanation.…..

Internet access for children in India,or atleast in most families I know of, is pretty much unrestricted and unmonitored…I have now learnt my lesson.

But I shudder to think of the explaining I would have had to do had he actually PRESSED that enter button.

WHEW!!!!!!

Apple Jam

Here’s some Apple Jam I tried out…never thought I would actually attempt something like this ..but its not that hard and gave me quite a sense of accomplishment!
I adapted the recipe that i found here.

You will Need:

4apples
1 orange
10 big spoonful sugar
2 cups Water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp
Any Fruit essence/color-few drops(optional)

Directions:

Peel, core and cut the apples into slices.

Put the slices in a Pan and pour water.

Cover the pan with a lid and cook on a slow flame until slices become tender.This might take you 15 minutes.

Now take off flame and let cool .Puree coarsely in a blender.

Put back on stove and add sugar and cardamom powder slowly and stir. Add the lime juice as well. Keep stirring .
You will notice that it is slowly becoming a thicker mass.

Add the fruit essence/ colour and continue stiring until it becomes a jam-like thick crystallized mass.The aroma will knock you off…just lovely!

Cool well and then refrigerate in an air-tight jar!

Apple Preserve

Voila! Now wasn’t that easy-peasy!!!

ICC-Chegodilu

I came this (picture me holding my thumb and index finger REAL close) to NOT doing this months ICC challenge….
It seemed too difficult

I don’t have a kitchen no more…
The navy has decided we don’t need to live in ugly kitchens anymore so they are REBUILDING the kitchen..i mean just breaking down the whole thing. Its such a pain in the ..er…neck. But i guess its also overdue( the work i mean, not the pain) ..Its been like 60 years since these navy houses have been largely untouched by any form of maintainable.

So the entire kitchen, has been shifted to one of the bed rooms. I feel like i am living in a refuge camp. On second thoughts i think they are probably better off.

Hence, making these Andhra-specialty snacks seemed like Mission Impossible.

And when i did manage to make the dough it seemed like a gonner- too brittle.

Thankfully after a few SOS mails to srivalli i did manage to salvage the situation.

My final verdict is that they were worth all the effort….a great tea time savory….thanks Srivalli for a great selection.


Chegodilu / Chekodilu – Recipe 1

Ingredients Needed:

Rice Flour – 1 cup
Water – 1 cup
Split Yellow Moong dal / Pesara pappu / Mung Dal / Pasiparuppu – 1 1/2 – 2 tblsp
Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
Sesame Seeds – 1 tsp
Chili powder – 1 tsp
Ghee or oil – 1 tblsp
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

Method to prepare:

Making the dough:

Soak moong dal in water for half hour to 1 hour.

In a deep bottom pan, boil water, then add salt, ghee and moong dal. Bring it to boil, simmer and slowly add the rice flour. Using a rolling pin or the ladle, mix the flour with water by stirring it well. When the flour is mixed and done, turn off the heat immediately. Cover with lid and keep aside for 10 to 15 mins.

Once the dough is cool, add chilli powder, sesame seeds, cumin seeds and mix well. Knead till you get a smooth dough. Adjust the salt and spice depending on your preference.

Frying the Chokodi:

Heat a pan with oil, enough to fry 3 -4 at time, if you conscious of not using too much oil. Simmer once it gets hot. The temperature should not be smoking hot.

Grease your fingers with oil and pinch out a small lemon size ball and roll between your palms to form a thick rope. Bring the two ends to together and press to form a rope. Ensure the ends are firmed pressed as not to give out during frying.

Continue with the rest of the dough until you are done with the entire batch. You can either cover it with a plate or a cloth to prevent the dough from getting dried.

Check if the oil is in the correct temperature, by dropping a tiny bit into the oil. Then gently slide the rings or the chakodis in batches of 4 -5. The flame has to be on high until the chakodis come up to the surface, then lower the flame to medium and cook till you get a golden colour on the chakodis.

When the chakodis are golden all over, using a slotted ladle, remove to a kitchen towel and cool. Store in an air tight container for longer shelf life.

Notes: Remember to turn the heat to medium to high and high to medium for getting the chakodis to golden colour and also to be cooked evenly. Only this way you get crispy chakodis. These should not be cooked on low flame as they will absorb more oil and can turn soggy also at times.

Variation: Instead of Cumin and Sesame seeds, 1 tsp of Ajwain or Omam can be used along with chili powder.

Indian Cooking Challenge

The World is Flat…But I am Round….
muruku

Technically its still the 30th so here’s my entry to the ICC. Presenting to you the crispy rice and urad dal based favourite ‘Southie’ snack- Muruku. Although my family eats a whole lot of these, I’ve never ventured into making these circular savory snacks for the simple reason its just so much simpler to just hop into the store next door , buy and eat the. I do not stand corrected. I STILL feel they are quite complicated to make at home – am not gonna try powdering the rice at home again!! Whew! but the twirling out part was definitely fun and I got the hang of it pretty soon. The recipe was great but remember these are extremely addictive; M, my boys and I wolfed down the entire lot in one sitting!
Anyway without much ado here the recipe

Jantikalu or Muruku!

Preparation Time : 20 – 30 mins
Cooking Time : 20 – 30 mins
Makes : app 250 kg of Muruku
Cuisine: Andhra & Tamil Nadu

Utensils needed:
Muruku /Chakli Press.
Kadai

Ingredients Needed:

Raw Rice – 4 cups
Urad Dal – 1 cup
Water – app 1/2 cup or more

For Seasoning

Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Sesame seeds- 1 tsp
Asafetida/ Hing – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Butter – 75 gms

Method

Wash and drain the rice. Shade dry the Rice for 1/2 hr. Dry roast the Urad dal to light brown. Allow it to cool.
If you are using more quantity, you can get it ground in rice mil, else use your mixie to grind both Rice and Urad dal.

First grind rice into a fine flour, keep it aside. then grind the urad dal to fine powder.

In a wide vessel, take both the flours along with salt. Mix well. Add cumin, Sesame seeds to the flour, mix well.

Whether you use Asafetida powder or the solid ones, you got to mix it in water, make sure it is dissolved before adding to the flour. If its not dissolved properly, when deep frying the muruku, there are chances for the hing to burst our due to air bubbles.

Mix in the hing to the flour and finally add the butter. Gather everything well and you will get more of a crumbling mixture. Now slowly add water and knead a dough which is little more softer than the puri dough.

Heat a frying pan with oil enough to deep fry. Once the oil is hot enough, simmer to low flame.

Take the Muruku Aachu, wash and wipe it clean. Then divide the dough into equal balls. Fill the Muruku maker with the dough. You can either press it directly over the flames or press over a paper and gently slide it down the hot oil. But since the quantity mentioned here is less, you can press it directly over the kadai.

Cook over medium flame, using a slotted spoon, turn it over to other side to ensure both sides turn golden colour. You will know by seeing the colour that its cooked. Remove to a kitchen paper and store it in a air tight container.

This normally stays good for weeks, provided you forget about these which hardly happens!

I am a Daring Baker-Vol-Au-Vents

Chocolate cream Vol au vents
Who doesn’t love a good challenge once in a while? I too am no exception and joining the Daring Bakers group is one of the best things I did to ensure that I get my monthly dose of it.

This months Challenge is also very special for 2 reasons. One- it’s my very first!! Whoohoo!! And secondly the reveal date also happens to be my birthday.

Although I knew I was going to take part a long while earlier- the excitement and anxiousness gnawing and eating into my thoughts; it wasn’t until yesterday that I finally decided to start work on it.

I started work on this beautiful layered creation early last evening, turning and chilling (this needed a LOT of chilling as its HOT HOT HOT here in Goa) and watching the very helpful video a million times.

Thankfully it turned out fine- no dishes were thrown in exasperation, no lumps of hair yanked out in frustration and no kids thrown out in anger(though I did come really close when my son accidentally switched off the refrigerator for a good part of the day) Anyway as they say All’s well that ends well and I’m pretty satisfied with the results as they tasted so light and delicious even though they didn’t rise as much as as they were supposed to. Also i think i forgot to press and attach to ring to the base so they turned out as two separate entities……Nevertheless i proudly present to you my very first DB entry!

The chocolate cream vols-au-vent.

This month’s Daring Bakers‘ challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

Puff pastry or vol-au-vent [ vóllō vaaN ] (plural vol-au-vents) is called mille feuilles, or “a thousand leaves” or “flight in the wind”. It is said that to create a good puff pastry, you need a cool room, a flat work surface and several hours to devote to rolling, folding, turning and chilling the dough. In the end, you should have roughly 730 microscopically slender layers of dough and 730 layers of fat. Its hard work but well rewarded and its no wonder that these miniature masterpieces are called the queen of pasteries.

Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough
From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan

Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough

http://video.pbs.org/video/1174110297/search/Pastry

Ingredients:
2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
4 sticks (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter
plus extra flour for dusting work surface

Mixing the Dough:

I halved the ingredients as I feared the worst. Also since cake flour is not available I used its subs-plain flour and corn flour.

Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers.
Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that’s about 1″ thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter:

Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10″ square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with “ears,” or flaps.
Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don’t just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8″ square.
To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns:

Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24″ (don’t worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24″, everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).
With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.
Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24″ and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

Chilling the Dough:
If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you’ve completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.
The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.
dough
Helpful notes

-Keep things cool by using the refrigerator as your friend! If you see any butter starting to leak through the dough during the turning process, rub a little flour on the exposed dough and chill straight away. Although you should certainly chill the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns, if you feel the dough getting to soft or hard to work with at any point, pop in the fridge for a rest.
-Not to sound contradictory, but if you chill your paton longer than the recommended time between turns, the butter can firm up too much. If this seems to be the case, I advise letting it sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to give it a chance to soften before proceeding to roll. You don’t want the hard butter to separate into chuncks or break through the dough…you want it to roll evenly, in a continuous layer.
-Roll the puff pastry gently but firmly, and don’t roll your pin over the edges, which will prevent them from rising properly. Don’t roll your puff thinner than about about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick, or you will not get the rise you are looking for.flaky
-Try to keep “neat” edges and corners during the rolling and turning process, so the layers are properly aligned. Give the edges of the paton a scooch with your rolling pin or a bench scraper to keep straight edges and 90-degree corners.
-Brush off excess flour before turning dough and after rolling.
-Make clean cuts. Don’t drag your knife through the puff or twist your cutters too much, which can inhibit rise.
-When egg washing puff pastry, try not to let extra egg wash drip down the cut edges, which can also inhibit rise.
-Extra puff pastry dough freezes beautifully. It’s best to roll it into a sheet about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick (similar to store-bought puff) and freeze firm on a lined baking sheet. Then you can easily wrap the sheet in plastic, then foil (and if you have a sealable plastic bag big enough, place the wrapped dough inside) and return to the freezer for up to a few months. Defrost in the refrigerator when ready to use.
-You can also freeze well-wrapped, unbaked cut and shaped puff pastry (i.e., unbaked vols-au-vent shells). Bake from frozen, without thawing first.
-Homemade puff pastry is precious stuff, so save any clean scraps. Stack or overlap them, rather than balling them up, to help keep the integrity of the layers. Then give them a singe “turn” and gently re-roll. Scrap puff can be used for applications where a super-high rise is not necessary (such as palmiers, cheese straws, napoleons, or even the bottom bases for your vols-au-vent).
bakedvols

Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent

Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent
In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need:
-well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)
-egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
-your filling of choice

Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled. (If you are looking to make more vols-au-vent than the yield stated above, you can roll and cut the remaining two pieces of dough as well…if not, then leave refrigerated for the time being or prepare it for longer-term freezer storage.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.
(This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut square vols-au-vents using a sharp chef’s knife.) For smaller, hors d’oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)
Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.
Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.
Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)
Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the center “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.)
Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature . Put in filling.
vol au vents
Filling
I used a chocolate cream filling and used melted white chocolate to drizzle lines on it.

Chocolate Pastry Cream
Source: About Baking
Prep Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

* 2-1/4 cups milk
* 4 egg yolks
* 2/3 cups sugar
* 1/4 cup cornstarch
* 1/4 cup flour
* 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
* 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
* 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted

Preparation:

Boil 2 cups of milk. Beat yolks with sugar and remaining milk. Whisk until smooth. Add cornstarch and flour until combined. Gradually whisk hot milk into egg mixture. Return to saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture boils and thickens. Reduce to low and stir for 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and melted chocolates. Pour into a shallow disk. Cover with plastic wrap. (Make sure wrap touches surface to prevent a skim from forming.) Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. Makes approximately 3 cups.
vol au vent chocolate cream filling

Idli Overdrive

My dad and I are suckers for spicy food..and I mean HOT!!!We eat raw green chillies with our lunch and dinner. My husband on the other hand grew up as a proper Defense kid. Bland English food, using a fork to eat dosas(eeoww!!)- you get the picture.

A few days after we were married we visited an uncle whose love for spicy food is legendary in my village. We still laugh at how my husband actually had pails of water coming out of his eyes and nose after eating the SUPER spicy Mutton curry. My uncle, still not realizing why the husband was acting weird continued to top up his plate. What a riot it was!!!

This ulli chamandi , as its called down in South India is a simple and delicious but deadly-spicy accompaniment. Please adjust the red chillies as per your tastes. Don’t blame me later!!
ulli chamandi

Small onions (a Kerala specialty), I reckon you can use the large ones as well 10
Red chillies- 4
Salt
Mustard seeds 1 tsp
Curry leaves few
Small Onions

Grind the small onions, red chillies and salt together into a fine paste. In a saucepan add some oil. Once the oil is hot throw in the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds crackle add the curry leaves and the ground chilli mixture. Fry for about 3 minutes. This is to remove the raw oniony taste. Serve with idli/Dosa. This recipe goes to the Think Spice Event Originally started by Sunitha of Sunitha’s World.The reigns of this months event are with Kitchen Chronicle

The other Idli dish I have lined up for you is one that I tried from Madhurams Eggless Cooking site. It has some awesome eggless goodies. You must check it out.
I started out trying the Cocktail Idlis which I thought were so exotic to look at. But somehow mine didn’t turn out too good. What a bummer!! Cocktail IdlisWhat happened was that I added mint leaves to the coriander to make the green chutney and they turned out an ugly shade of green. Then I realized I didn’t have red chillies for the red chutney and decided to use red chilli powder and a pinch of food colour.
Now, one thing about me is that I HATE using these artificial, synthetic things and as soon as I put the Idlis to cook I felt miserable. I kept imagining what horrible things might have been added to these colours. SO I took the idlis out in-between and they whole thing was all the wrong texture…Sigh!

Lesson learnt:-Follow instructions…they are there to be followed. Atleast they are tried and tested. I will definitely try them again and follow the recipe next time.

Next I decided to try the Roasted Stuffed Idlis. These were a hit with my kids. Even my 2 year old gobbled them up. And they are so easy to prepare. I did have some leftover vegetable curry so that’s what I used.
Stuffed and Roasted idlis
Ingredients
Idli batter as needed
Potato curry also as needed
Oil 1 tablespoon
Idli powder as per taste
Salt as per taste
Procedure

Pour idly batter for half measure in the idly plates.
Put a tablespoon of the potato curry on it and cover it with some more batter.
Steam the Idlis for 10 minutes or until done.
Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the idlis in it and drizzle some idli powder or curry over it.That’s it-a quick snack ready to be eaten.

Tried and Tested , this is a wonderful event being hosted this spetember by Poornima’s Tasty Treats.Zlamushka, the original brain behind this event spotlights a blog each month. This months star is Madhuram’s Eggless Cooking.
t_t_september_egless_cooking

Ragda Pattis

One of the amazing things about life in the Navy is the camaraderie one forms with people from different parts of the country. I mean, I have friends from Assam, Calcutta, Pune, Punjab..name it and I know someone from that part of the state. Isn’t that absolutely awesome?

Anyway getting to the point…the other day I visited an ex-neighbour and very very good friend.She had so sweetly prepared Chaat for my kids(though i ate most of it). She’s this really cute thing and a great friend. In fact she sort of inspired me to try my hand out in the kitchen. When she lived next door she used to keep churning out these amazing and creative dishes…my son used to ask me… “What’s R aunty making today”. And not ‘what do WE have for dinner/lunch etc’! Just imagine!

She keeps a beautiful house too- designing her own curtains etc…she’s one of those people who turns everything they touch into gold..ANYWAY, there I go again…Back Back Back to the point….I just wanted to share the recipes for this Maharashtrian Fast Food recipe that she so gracefully gave me, with you.

This quick-to-prepare snack can also be converted to a snap one-dish meal .Each component is simple and delicious and the taste teases and tempts our taste buds.

These ‘chaats’ are part of the ever popular Street Food Menu one can find different versions all over India. You can make all of these items days ahead.
So all that remains to be done, is the assembling.

Ragda Pattis

Pattis
pattis

Potatoes 2, cooked and mashed
Carrot 1, boil in water for few minutes till soft
Onion 1 small, chopped
Tomato 1 chopped
Cumin powder 1tsp
Coriander powder 1 tsp
Ajwain
Salt
Bread 2 slices

Mix all the above ingredients and roll into lime-size balls. Fry these pattice(as they are called) on a flat pan with very little oil and fry both sides until they turn golden brown and crispy.

Ragda
 ragda
Chickpeas 1 cup, soak overnight

Cook this along with water, cumin seeds turmeric and a big pinch of asafetida. In a pressure cooker this should be about 5 whistles. Now grind part of this cooked mixture to rough paste and mix with the rest of the chickpeas so that it forms a thick gravy.Garnish with onions and chopped coriander leaves. That’s it!

Now for the sauces/Chutneys
chaat-chutneys
Mint Chutney

Mint leaves – 1 bunch
Coriander leaves 1 cup
Cumin seeds 1 spoon
Green chillies 2
Jaggery ½ tsp
Ginger 1-inch piece

Grind all of this to make a fine thin paste, adding a bit of water if necessary.

Tamarind Chutney

Soak tamarind and few dates overnight. Boil the tamarind in a cup of water for about 10 minutes. Cool and extract the pulp from the tamarind and strain to remove seeds and fiber. In a heavy bottomed pan cook tamarind pulp and grated dates. Add 1 tsp (depending on how sweet you want ‘em) of jaggery . Let cool. You can store this in the refrigerator for weeks.

Dahi Chutney

Mix cumin powder, sugar and salt with a bowl full of curd. Mix well to combine.

Now let’s assemble this spectacular treat….sadly don’t have any pictures of the final product because I was too busy gobbling it all up…

• Place 2 warmed patties in individual bowl; pour a tablespoon or so of hot ragda over it.bhel
• Green chutney, tamarind chutney, chopped onions and coriander, beat curd, crushed fresh cumin, salt.
• Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the tangy tamarind chutney, 1 teaspoon of the mint chutney and 1 teaspoon of curd chutney.
• Drizzle some sev over it all.
• Garnish with coriander and chopped onion and chopped tomatoes and serve hot!

Yumilicious!!!

Of Spain and Tapas

I often think of the weekend trip I took to Spain with a good friend. It was fantastic. The architecture, the people,the cuisine..ooh the cuisine. It was divine to say the least.

Good food, socializing and conversation are an inherent part of the Spanish experience and we thoroughly enjoyed our visits to various bars in Spain where we
never encountered a dull moment. One classic dish served in bars all over Spain and which I absolutely love is the TAPAS.

Tapas have their origin ingrained into the history of Spain where the story goes that people put pieces of bread over their glass of sherry to keep the dust and flies out. This bread was often topped with ham, sausage or cheese and eventually these pieces of bread-snacks gained popularity and the rest, as they say, is history. According to another legend the credit for the origin of this popular snack goes to Castile’s king the wise Alfonso X. Apparently he owed his recovery from an illness to eating small snacks alongside his drink.But whatever the story the fact remains that tapas are delicious , economical and wholesome food. Any food is susceptible of becoming a tapa and there are innumerable varieties of this simple flexible dish- Boquerones en Escabeche, Patatas bravas, boquerones en vinagre, gallinejas, entresijos, mollejas and callos amongst other limitless varieties and combinations.

These mini-meals may be cold (such as mixed olives and cheese) or warm (such as puntillitas( fried baby squid).Today I have prepared the common, yet deliciously spicy “Patatas Bravas” or Fierce Potatoes as they are so often and rightly known as. This tomato sauce based recipe is simple ,quick and flexible. You can easily adjust the quantity of chilli according to your taste and even convert these lip-smaking miniature morsels into a whole meal.

Ingredients

FOR THE SAUCE

3 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion , chopped
3 garlic cloves , chopped
240 g can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée
¼ tsp chilli powder
Sugar a pinch
chopped fresh parsley , to garnish
FOR THE POTATOEScut into even cubes evenly
2 tbsp olive oil

Preparation and cooking times
Prep 30 35 mins

In a saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is soft.. Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, chilli powder, sugar and salt and bring to a boil, stirring. Simmer for 15 minutes until soft and pulpy.
Keep this aside.

The Potatoes

Toss the potatoes with the seasoning. Roll the potatoes in the oil until well coated, Place in a roasting tin and roast in a preheated oven at 180 C for 1 hour or until crisp and golden. Alternatively you may also fry the potatoes in olive oil until crisp. I chose the baking method for obvious reasons.

Assemble

Mix the potatoes with the sauce immediately before serving to ensure that the potatoes retain their crispness. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve warm.

Enjoy with white wine.
Blazing Hot Wok

I am submitting this recipe in my maiden entry to the Regional Recipes Event hosted by blazinghotwok.

Healthy Combo Salad-Cabbage and Apples!

Red Cabbage and Apples-Salad
This is a baked salad that tickles your taste buds. It’s tangy, spicy, low-fat and fun to assemble.

Ingredients

900 g red cabbage, shredded
450 gms onions thinly sliced
450 gm apples peeled and thinly sliced
½ tsp seasoning( I used taco, you could try it with anything that suits your palette)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp brown sugar
Salt and pepper
Grated rind of 1 orange
1 tbsp orange juice
50 ml apple juice
2 tbsp vinegar

Preheat oven to 150 C. cover the base of a casserole with a part of the shredded cabbage.

Place a layer of the onions and the apples over the cabbage.

Sprinkle a bit of the cinnamon, sugar, the mixed spice and salt and pepper.

Drizzle a little of the orange and apple juices and a small portion of the orange rind.

Repeat all of the above until all the ingredients are used up. Pour the vinegar evenly over it all.

Cover and bake for 2 hours until cabbage is tender. Stir occasionally. Serve warm with a dollop of hung curd and freshly ground black pepper.

Tried and Tested – Baked Chickpeas

Baked Chickpeas

Its Tried and Tested time again. One great thing about these blog events is that we get to see such spectacular blogs and amazing fellow-bloggers. One such blog is yasmeens health nut and this months blog is Gangas A Life Time of Cooking . It’s really a must-see blog with a mind-blowing variety of recipes and some stunning pictures as well. I chose to make the chickpeas salad for 3 reasons. One, I did have a jar full of them eyeing me the last few weeks and the second reason being that it is a family favourite pulse. The third reason was that it involved baking, and anything that involves heating up the oven is good by my book. The end result was a spicy, crispy, nutritious any-time snack that my family gobbled up in one sitting.

1 can chickpeas(cooked)
1 – 2 Tblspn olive oil
sea salt
black pepper
2 tspn cumin seed
1 tspn sambar powder or other spicy mix

Method

Soak chickpeas for a few hours beforehand. Dont soak them for longer than 12 hours, or in the fridge for 24, because they will begin to ferment – you can tell by the smell. They must still smell fresh, and give them a rinse under running water before you cook them.

Rinse the chickpeas, drain them and dry them well.

Place in a bowl with olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, cumin seed and sambar powder. Mix until well coated.

Empty the mixture into a baking dish Cook in a preheated 200C oven for 20 – 30 minutes until crispy and golden on the outside.

Relish!!

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