Heaven on a Dessert Plate


Although I had decided to give this months DB challenge a go , I did a complete turnaround when I read that 2 of my favourite bloggers were this months hosts…..
Nothing could stop me.
Not the never ending guests we had this month, not the diet I was on, not the painting deadline that was inching so close.
Nothing!!

And I’m so happy I did try this lovely dessert that lives up to its name. It was delicious. Really!
I usually distribute everything I made to near and dear and not so dears..but this one we polished off on our own! I mean actually licked the plates clean!!!!It was excellent!!

I made the dessert over a period of 1 week…made the Savoiardi(Ladyfinger Biscuits) first, then the mascarpone cheese(I can NEVER thank you enough Deeba) and then yummy sauces.
hmmmmm….HEAVEN!!!!!!

TIRAMISU

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

(Recipe source: Carminantonio’s Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )
This recipe makes 6 servings

Ingredients:
For the zabaglione:

2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For the vanilla pastry cream:
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup/175ml whole milk

For the whipped cream:
1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract

To assemble the tiramisu:
2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed
1 teaspoon/5ml rum extract (optional)
1/2 cup/110gms sugar
1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese(see below)
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (see below)
2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder

Method:
For the zabaglione:
Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the pastry cream:
Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the whipped cream:
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.

To assemble the tiramisu:
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8″ by 8″ should do) or one of your choice.
Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.

Now to start assembling the tiramisu.
Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row.
You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.
Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.

Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.

To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve.

HOME MADE MASCARPONE CHEESE

Ingredients:
474ml (approx. 500ml)/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.

LADYFINGERS/ SAVOIARDI BISCUITS
(Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2″ to 3″ long) ladyfingers.

Ingredients:
3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons /75gms granulated sugar
3/4 cup/95gms cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons /50gms confectioner’s sugar,

Method:

Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5″ long and 3/4″ wide strips leaving about 1″ space in between the strips.
Sprinkle half the confectioner’s sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

Irresistible Spinach and an Award

Ever since I laid my eyes on Sias blog I was hooked. It’s got some witty write-ups and absolutely gorgeous pictures.
And the recipes.Man! the recipes! I have tried a few with stupendous success and wish to share with you one such.

But wait!!

Before that I would like to thank…with all my heart…Sumi for bestowing me with the following award…..and since I have already spilt the beans on 7 unknown facts about me ..all I need to do now is pass on this to 7 other wonderful bloggers…

The rules of the award goes like this:

Copy the award to your blog.
* Thank the person giving the award.
* Place a link to their blog.
* Name seven things people don’t know about you.
* Nominate 7 bloggers.
* Place a link to those bloggers.
* Leave a comment to those bloggers letting them know about the award.

Meeso of For the Love of Food
Sapna of Sapnascuisine
Saee Koranne-Khandekar of myjhola
Ranjani of wakeupandsmellthemasala
Shaz of Testwithskewer
Deepa of Foodlyrics
Holly of phenomenon..
These are awesome blogs..Go check them out..

Anyway BACK to my recipe here’s a list of ingredients you will need.This easily serves 6 .

3 bunches Palak/Spinach, chopped
1 cup Milk
3 Onions, finely chopped
5 Potatoes
4 slices of Bread
1/4 cup Green Peas
1 inch Cinnamon
2-3 Green Cardamom
3 Green Chillies
1 inch Ginger, minced
1 tsp Chilli Powder
1/2 tsp Turmaric Powder
1/2 tbsp Amchur/Dry Mango Powder
1 tbsp Garam Masala
2 tbsp Cashew nuts,ground into a paste
2 tbsp Butter/Oil/Ghee
2-3 tbsp of Gram Flour
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

Method:
For Koftas:

Pressure cook potatoes,peel and mash thoroughly.
Soak bread in water, squeeze and add to the potatoes.
Mix with 2 tbsp of the finely cut onion, chillies, cooked green peas, coriander leaves, garam masala, salt, amchur powder, cashew paste and small amount of finely chopped palak.
Mix well and prepare small balls.
Make a paste of the gram flour and water.
Dip these balls in the gram flour paste and deep fry in hot oil.

Keep aside.

Now the Gravy:

Heat a tsp of oil in a pan and fry the palak with a little sugar added to it(this apparently is to retain the green colour)

Sprinkle little water if necessary.Cook until soft.
Once cool grind to a smooth paste.
Heat butter in a pan and add cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.
After 1 minutes add the chopped onions and fry till it turns transparent.
To this add ginger, ground palak with milk, salt, chilli powder, amchur, turmaric, and garam masala.
Mix well and cook it till the gravy thickens in a medium flame.
Add Koftas just prior to serving.

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!!!!

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