Category Archives: easy to make

The ‘We knead to bake’ project #11: Swedish Cinnamon buns -Kannelbullar / Kannelsnegle (cinnamon buns/snails)


Time flies when you’re having fun – so goes the saying. I never realized how relevant it would be to something so very different as this baking project that we started way back in January. Aparna Balasubramanian, the author of the blog ‘My diverse kitchen’ has led us through a fabulous journey through sweet and savory yeast  confections. It started out with the pull apart bread and wended its way through classic breads like Croissants to unusual cookies such as Torcettini de St. Vincent.

This years penultimate bread is the classic Swedish cinnamon bun, (yep, from the same set of those addictive treats you look forward to on a trip to Ikea). These buns are traditionally made on Oct. 4th to celebrate ‘The day of the cinnamon bun’ but then these are so addictive that they’re available all year round in Swedish bakeries. The Swedish version is a lot less sticky and sweet compared to the American version. I tried both the traditional swirled version as well as the ‘trouser twisted’ version. Here’s a You Tube video of the process:

 


Swedish Cinnamon buns -Kannelbullar / Kannelsnegle

You need:


Starter:

1 cup warm milk

2 tsp instant yeast

2 cups all-purpose flour


Dough:

All the Starter

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp salt (if using salted butter, otherwise 1 1/2 tsp)

6 to 8 pods cardamom, powdered

2 tsp orange zest

1/3 cup caster sugar

4 tablespoons butter, soft at room temperature


Filling:

5 tablespoons butter, soft at room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar, loosely packed

2 tsp powdered cinnamon

1/3 cup Almond meal (I used Uncle Bob’s Almond meal).


Topping:

1/4 cup milk (or egg wash if you eat eggs)

Pearl sugar or large sugar crystals

 

Combine all the ingredients for the Starter into a sticky dough, in a large bowl. Place the Starter dough in an oiled bowl and loosely cover it and then refrigerate it overnight.  The dough will rise quite a bit so use a container that has enough room for this. 

 Allow the dough to rest on the counter for about 1/2 hour the next day before starting on the cinnamon buns. Sift the flour, salt and the powdered cardamom into a bowl.

Tear off chunks of the dough and add it incrementally into the bowl of the Stand mixer. keeping the machine running, gradually add the sifted flour mixture, Orange zest and the sugar and allow the ingredients to mix well.
Lastly add the softened butter and knead into a smooth dough thats stretchy. If the dough feels a bit dry, add a few teaspooons of milk. Conversely, add flour if the dough is sticky.

Make the filling by creaming together the soft butter, brown sugar, almond meal and cinnamon with a fork or spoon into a spreadable paste.

 



Turn the dough over onto a floured surface and roll it out into a  rectangle about 20” by 12” in size.

If you’re making the spiral cinnamon rolls, spread the filling evenly over the whole rectangle


Roll the dough tightly in a jelly roll/Swiss roll style, gently pinching the edge to seal. Cut into 20 pieces using  a sharp knife and place them on a lined baking sheet (making sure to leave enough space in between), or on a cupcake case.

For the twisted version, spread the filling over  half the length of the dough as shown below. Fold over the half spread with filling and cut into 20 strips with a sharp knife. With each strip, cut a slit almost along the length such that the strip looks like a ‘trouser’.


Twist each leg as shown above, cross the ‘legs’ over and press the ends together under the uncut part of the dough. As with the spiral rolls,  place the rolls in a lined baking sheet  or in cupcake cases with plenty of space in between.

Allow to rise for about 15 minutes (the buns will look a bit puffy, not fully risen), brush with milk and sprinkle pearl-ized sugar (or egg wash). Place in a preheated 400 F oven to bake for 15 minutes until they appear golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.  If they seem to be browning too quickly, turn down the heat to 375 F.

Turn out to cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with a hot cup of coffee. These Kannelbullar freeze well, so store the extra away for a rainy day. Just heat one or two in a microwave whenever the craving strikes.



This post is being Yeast spotted.

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Thanksgiving treats: Cheeseless Pumpkin Cheesecake

 
As if to compensate for the dreary daylight saving change of time, the short day’s and the brown scattered leaves fluttering about in the cold breeze, Nature gives you glimpses of some pretty spectacular colors that are best appreciated in autumn, like this gorgeous sunset a couple of days ago

 I’m gracefully resigning my self to the crisp cold sunny  days of Fall, and beginning to look forward to the seasonal bounty that the season brings along, The bright colored winter squashes & pumpkins, the gemstone colored cranberries, Persimmons, pomegranates..and the list goes on.

The recipe for this post ironically uses none of these, relying instead on a canned ingredient. Yep, I’m referring to the good ol’ canned pumpkin that makes its appearance around now.

Its convenience lies in the fact that the texture and flavor is consistent and pleasantly enough it wasn’t too sweet, which meant that I could use the contents from the same can in a dessert as well as a savory spinach curry.

Back to the ‘Cheeseless’ Cheesecake: I’d first tried Raghavan Iyer’s recipe for the 10 lb Cherry Challenge that was hosted by Oxo . The dessert is basically a classic Bengali bhapa Doi , a steamed yogurt that is flavored with cardamom. This time around, I tweaked the recipe with the addition of pumpkin puree and a spice blend of cardamom, cloves and cinnamon.

Cheeseless Pumpkin cheesecake (Recipe inspired and adapted from  Indian Cooking Unfolded by Raghavan Iyer)

 You need:

2 1/2 cup plain low fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup Pumpkin puree
1 can condensed milk
1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon spice blend* (as per taste) -see the note below the recipe for instructions
18-20 strands saffron
8-10 Pistachios for garnish (optional, leave out if concerned about nut allergies)
9 ramekins (4.0 oz / 1/2 cup volume)
Plenty of boiling hot water in a kettle

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Combine the yogurt, condensed milk, spice blend and the pumpkin puree in a mixing bowl and whisk to thoroughly combine

Ladle the mixture evenly into the ramekins. Garnish each bowl with 2 strands of saffron and microplane the pistachio over the mix. Place the ramekins in a large baking pan. Fill the baking pan with about 3/4th inch of  the hot water.

Place the water bath into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool and refrigerate for atleast 2 hours prior to serving. Garnish with a piece of sugar glass ** and serve chilled.

 ** Sugar glass
 In a saucepan, combine  1 cup of sugar and 2 table spoons of water.
Bring to a boil to completely dissolve, keep stirring with a wooden spoon, lower the heat and allow the sugar to cook down beyond the hard crack stage. Keep 2 sheets of silpat silicone mats next to you on the counter. Once the sugar solution begins to turn a light amber, remove it from the heat. Allow the sugar to cease bubbling. Carefully dip the wooden spoon into the molten sugar and drizzle the liquid onto the silicone mats, making random criss cross patterns. Allow to cool completely before gently breaking the pieces. store the pieces in an airtight jar.

*Spice blend:
2 cardamoms pods (just the seeds)
4 cloves
1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon powdered nutmeg

Combine all the ingredients and crush to a fine powder using a mortar & pestle. Use the required quantity of the blend.

Bon appetit!

Inviting Light & Prosperity into our homes – Happy Diwali.

 Ever notice the best festivals & feasts usually occur towards the end of the year? I think it has everything to do with the days getting shorter. In South India the season kicks off with Krishna Jayanti in September, followed by Navratri, Diwali, Karthigai, Combined with Labor day in September, Halloween, Thanksgiving , Christmas & New Year celebrated in the US of A, thats a lot of festive days to look forward to. No wonder it gets dreary once January 2nd comes around, but then by that time, the days begin to stretch out longer again.

The concept  probably precedes religion, or co-evolved along with it. With the end of harvests, It was time to huddle up and and spend the cold months waiting for the seasons to change again. Festivals must have been a natural social response in the absence of  much to do and of course to dispel the invariable fright that darkness brings.

Well, I’m certainly not complaining, the plethora of opportunities to indulge in kitchen capers, the shopping spree for ingredients, whats not to love?
At home there are traditional dishes and then there are the creative ones, and the ones I like best, the healthy creative ones, the stuff that you can scarf down without having to worry too much about the amount of fat that went into it. This year the confection list included the decadent ‘T-B-A shortbread’
 

and a baked granola like chivda which I’ve been gulping down by the handful. This snack is common throughout India and has more than one name depending upon which state its made, Chivda, chevdo, chanachoor, mixture. Each state adds its own flavoring and ingredients. Raisins are common in the Maharashtrian version, plantain chips & curry leaves in the South Indian Mixture, Sugar in the Gujarati version and so on. The common thread in all these versions is that the final mix is invariably deep fried.Growing up in India, one of my favorite things about Diwali was savoring all the different versions that were exchanged between the neighbors and to this day, I cannot think of any one version that stood out. I loved them all with equal delight!

This weeks Diwali post combines all my favorite aspects of the chivda variants and makes it healthy to boot. The only deep fried part is the addition of broken purple potato chips. they make a beautiful contrast to the dried cranberries added to the mix.

Baked Granola Mixture

You need:
2 cups puffed brown rice cereal (the unsweetened type, I used Arrowhead Mills)
1 cup Rolled oats (Bob’s Red Mill has a great product)
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries or dried cherries, chopped
1/2 cup candied ginger, chopped
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
4 oz kettle cooked potato chips (the thick ones)

For the tempering:

4 tablespoons sesame or peanut oil
1 heaped tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 sprigs curry leaves finely cut into a chiffonade
1/4 teaspoon asafetida powder
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper powder
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons molasses

Line 2 cookie sheets with Aluminum foil. Preheat oven to 225 F.
Combine the puffed rice, oats, sweetened dried cranberries, ginger, pumpkin seeds and almonds in a large bowl.

Heat the oil in a cast iron pan. once it begins to shimmer, add the mustard seeds. Once they’ve ‘popped, add the cumin seeds. (Cumin fries much faster than mustard and thats why I add it after the mustard). Once the cumin seeds ‘split’, lower the heat and add the curry leaves. Stand back since they tend to sizzle and spatter oil around, thanks to the inherent moisture. Turn off the gas or remove the pan from the heat  and then add the cayenne, salt and asafetida. Last, add the Molasses (it helps to use a spoon coated with oil, to ensure that all the molasses just drips off the spoon without sticking).

Pour out the mixture into the center of the bowl with the other ingredients. Fold gently to coat evenly.

Distribute the mix evenly between the two baking sheets into a thin uniform layer.

Place into oven and bake for 20 minutes, making sure to stir the mix every 10 minutes. At the end of the 20 minutes, increase the heat to 250 F and bake for 10 minutes more. This ensures that the almond slivers get nice and crunchy. remove the trays from the oven and allow to cool completely. Crush the potato chips lightly and blend into the mix. Store in an airtight container once cooled completely.

Wishing everyone prosperous times ahead. Happy Diwali!

A piece of cake – Victoria sponge with orange zest.

As many of you who’ve been following my blog know.. I’ve been known to run away from eggs. Run, literally scamper out of the way. Just as an individual with a Parietal cortex stroke, my brain effortlessly used to come up with the most ridiculous of excuses to avoid buying them when my son asked me. It finally hit my head that it wasn’t fair to my son that I should deprive him of a food he was curious to try, and I began to gradually bake cakes. Yes, I still clear out the counter around the ‘future’ cracked eggshells like a bomb disposal squad clears out curious onlookers and for once, I’m extremely prompt in clearing up and washing the dishes that the eggs have been in contact with, just to ensure there is no trace of any ‘eggy’ odor. And for helping me get over my neurotic aversion, I have my Food52 friends, Cynthia, (the Solitary cook) & Mrs. Larkins, (a.k.a the Scone lady) to thank, they were instrumental in getting me out of this crazy loop.

My go to book for cake recipes is this magazine promotional book from Australia, published in 1985.  Yes, I used to bake way back then, with the same trepidation, but had mommy’s hand to hold on to for support, so the  fear never became apparent. Getting such books in India in the 80’s was a luxury and it was by sheer luck that my mother spotted this book at the local stationery store in Chembur, Mumbai. Each and every recipe I’ve tried from this book has been a straight forward success and I will post more recipe as I make them, with full credit to the source.

The only addition I’ve made to this recipe is the addition of orange zest,For the sandwich filling, I personally like warming up some marmalade and slathering it in between the layers, but chocolate ganache will work splendidly too.

Victoria sponge: (Recipe from Great Cakes, a magazine promotional book from Womans Day (Australia) & white wings brand Flour)

You need:
  2 cups (280 grams) Self raising Flour (I used the King Arthur brand)
2 sticks + 2 tablespoons (18 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs lightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1.5 heaped tablespoons finely minced orange zest.
Confectioners sugar for dusting.

For the filling:
1 cup warmed, melted orange marmalade
OR
1 cup chocolate ganache

  • Preheat oven to 375 F.

 

  • Cut out 2 nine inch circles of parchment paper. Grease the bottom & sides of 2 circular baking tins with butter. Carefully press down the parchment paper onto the base of the tins.
  • Measure out the flour and add the salt. Sift to combine.
  • In a stand mixer add the butter and Vanilla extract.Keeping the speed at the lowest setting, beat the butter until soft. Add the sugar gradually along with the orange zest, (increasing the speed slightly) and continue beating the mixture until it turns light and fluffy.

 

  • In the meantime, crack the 4 eggs into a bowl and whisk them. Add the mixture very slowly into the creamed mixture of butter and sugar. (adding the eggs quickly  causes the mixture to curdle). In case the mix does curdle, dont worry, simply add in a bit of the flour that you’ve measured out for the cake. Once the eggs are incorporated, gradually add in the flour and mix gently until all the flour (including the bits sitting on your paddle attachment) is well combined.

  

  • Divide the dough equally between the two baking tins and smooth over the surface using a large offset spatula.

  • Place in the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 30 – 35 minutes until the center of the cake feels ‘springy’ to the touch of your finger tips.
  • Remove the cakes onto a cooling rack. Once the cakes are completely cool, sandwich together using either the warmed marmalade or the chocolate ganache. Dust the top with confectioner’s sugar as per your preference. Cut into wedges and serve with afternoon tea.

My kids & I decided to use the cakes from an earlier baking session to try our skills at decorating..  

Bon appetit!

Garlicky Herbed Lentil & Carrot Pilaf:

I hate negativity, I’d much rather spend my time in the Lab doing what I love best, running my experiments, taking measurements,  analyzing & visually recording  the results. Or, in blogger-speak, create a recipe, clear my kitchen counters,  prepare the dish, take photographs & then tuck into my creation. I’d rather not have written up my last post, my response to Martha Stewart, but there was something so smug about her tone in the interview, non verbal, that my pre-frontal cortex just had to sit back and support my lower brain in lashing out. It was not easy, for every 2 sentences I put down, I had to erase one. It was a learning experience, one that made me determined to never let my self imposed guard down when it came to to the quality of the recipes I post and never be stingy on listing references & inspiration, however insignificant or indirect.

 Today’s recipe was both an example of something hurriedly cobbled together into a one pot dish that had a healthy proportion of carbohydrates, protein & vegetables, as well as a dish inspired by someone else’s recipe. The combination of herbs was the brainchild of Liz Larkin, a.k.a The scone lady. and it was for a recipe of Pan fried Fragrant Cauliflowers that I discovered on Food52.

The flavoring from this ‘masala paste’ left such an imprint that it begged to be tried again, despite the obvious lack of a resident cauliflower, in fact, the lack of any other convenient vegetable, except for a bag of bunny food,viz carrots. Combined with some lentils (I have 1/2 a dozen varieties sitting in my pantry, neatly labeled) & cooked Basmati, The two dishes, compared side by side, have no relation to each other, and yet, the root flavoring is the same.

Since I had hurriedly cobbled up the first batch and the family polished off every morsel of it, I went back & recreated the dish before the combination of spices & tastes slipped out my my brain & food memory. The results were identical the second time around as well. the combination of lentils & rice is reminiscent of the Middle Eastern dish Mujaddara, accompaniment of choice for Mujaddara is yogurt, and the same works perfectly for the ‘carrotty’ version as well.

Garlicky Herbed Lentil & Carrot Pilaf:

You need:
2 cups Basmati rice
4 cups boiling water
1/2 cup whole lentils (I used the green French Puy lentils)
2 large carrots, cut into sticks
2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 dried bay leaves,
 Salt to taste.

For the paste:
2 heaped tablespoons minced or chopped ginger.
2 serrano chiles, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnishing

Rinse the lentils in plenty of water. add to a saucepan along with 2 cups of water, bring to a boil and allow the lentils to cook until soft, retaining their shapes and not mushy. Drain and set aside.

Rinse the Basmati rice until the water runs clear. In a heavy bottom pan, add 2 tablespoons of ghee, and ‘toast’ the rice until the grains begin to turn opaque. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt along with 4 cups of boiling water. Stir to dislodge all the grains sticking to the bottom of the pan, cover and lower the heat to the lowest setting. allow the rice to cook until all the water is absorbed. Uncover, allow to cool slightly & fluff with a fork to separate the grains.

Combine the cilantro, serrano chile, garlic and ginger and blend to a paste.  I used a Mexican mortar & Pestle, the molcajete, just so that I could have some irregular texture in my blend. (plus there’s something so relaxing in using manual tools, just builds a connection to your food.)

Slice the carrots into thick ‘coins’ at a diagonal angle. Then stack up 3-4 of these  coins and cut into little ‘sticks.

Heat the remaining ghee and the oil in a large skillet once the oil/ghee mix gets hot, add the nigella and fennel seeds along with the bay leaves. (No particular reason for adding these spices, Mrs. Larkins recipe doesn’t use ANY spices for the cauliflower. I just happen to love the nigella fennel combination). Add the cilantro/chile/ /ginger/garlic paste to the tempering and fry until the paste begins emitting a divine aroma. Add the carrots and saute until the carrot softens slightly (they should still retain a ‘crunch’) and then toss in the  cooked lentils.

Season with salt (remember the Basmati already is salted, so adjust accordingly), allow any remaining moisture to dry up.

Add the lentil mixture to the rice and fold in until the carrots and lentils are evenly dispersed. Garnish with the remaining cilantro and serve warm.

 with a side of yogurt, Raita or Tzaziki.

Bon appetit!

Recreating flavors (or at least trying) – White turnip stew with toasted Chana dal.

Kootu or vegetable stews are an integral part of South Indian cuisine. Just about any vegetable, be it a root, shoot or fruit, bud, blossom or bean, doesn’t matter, chances are that a South Indian has already made a kootu out of it. The kootu is a low maintenance recipe, vegetable of choice, boiled with a pinch of turmeric, thickened with either a paste of coconut, chile & cumin or cooked & mushed up dal. A shot of sizzling tadka (with mustard, Urad dal, a single arbol chile, a pinch of asafetida and Curry leaves) and voila, a nutritious stew, all set to be served up with steaming hot plain rice.
Asafetida takes the place of onion & garlic in South Indian food, especially dishes from the Brahmin community. Yea, we were born to be a bunch of nerdy geeks whose grandmothers shuddered at the mere mention of those smelly bulbs that incited base, scandalous emotions. They usually added cinnamon & Fennel to the list as well. And God forbid, you were ever cheeky enough to mention that asafetida was in fact a byproduct from a variety of fennel,  you’d be thrown out of the kitchen, if not the house with a glowing piece of firewood or coconut fiber broom, whichever is nearby!
Dealing with Asafetida in its raw form is not for the faint of heart. To put it mildly, it stinks, until it meets a pool of sizzling hot oil. Then just as a fairy tale troll changing into a prince by the kiss of the sizzling oil, it blooms, blooms into a magnificent aroma of onions & garlic frying. Yep those South Indian ‘maamies’ (aunties) certainly knew how to get around food restrictions!
The preferred dal for kootu  is usually tuvar (pigeon peas) or mung, but this particular recipe calls for toasted split chana dal (the smaller version of the garbanzo bean/ kabuli chana). Toasting the dal brings out a nutty aroma that complements the assertive aroma of the fried curry leaves. The soft mellow turnips  balances these assertive flavors with their mild sweetness. I first tasted this dish at Chennais flagship South Indian restaurant ‘Dakshin’ at the Park Sheraton Hotel, and have been making it rather regularly ever since.

Turnip ‘Kootu (Stew) with toasted Channa Dal

You need:
2 cups peeled and  cubed white turnips (~ 8 small turnips)
1/4 teaspoon Turmeric
Salt to taste
1 cup split chana dal
2 green chiles, slit or cut into pieces
For the tempering:
2 tablespoons Oil
1 teaspoon Black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon Split Urad dal
1/4 teaspoon Asafetida powder
1 sprig curry leaves, torn
1 red arbol chile
 
Toast the chana dal until it turns a light golden brown color, Rinse in adequate quantities of water, combine with 2 cups of water  and 1/8 teaspoon of turmeric  and cook till soft in a pressure cooker (about 7-8 whistles for a traditional Indian cooker). Allow the cooker to cool, open the lid, and mash to a smooth paste using the back of a spoon or an immersion blender.
Add the turnips to  just enough water to submerge them, along with the remaining turmeric and chiles. Bring to a boil. Add salt, lower the heat and cook until the turnips are fork tender. Add the mashed dal, taste for salt and simmer until the flavors combine (~ 10 minutes on a low flame).
 In a cast iron pan heat the oil until it sizzles. Add the mustard, Urad dal and Arbol chile. Once the mustard sputters and the Urad dal turns golden, lower the heat and add the asafetida and torn curry leaves. Allow the leaves to curl and fry up lightly and then pour the entire contents of the cast iron pan into the stew. give it a good stir, cover and allow to cool slightly before serving  with steamed rice.
Bon appetit!

The ‘We Knead to Bake’ project 2013 : Baked Doughnuts



Doughnuts.. There are those who claim that America runs on these yeasted goodies from a certain international chain. And they may not be completely off the mark. Its hard for me to think of anyone who’s been able to completely resist these deep fried rings of dough, especially if they carry the label ‘Krispy Kreme’ ( the lighted ‘hot doughnuts’  sign on the storefronts has been known to elicit pavlovian responses in those that are fortunate to pass by it)

Thanks to my extended break from the kitchen, this post is technically a month late. It was originally supposed to be posted in June, (June 1st happens to be ‘National Doughnut day’), but then, as with all good things, Its a classic case of better late than never!Aparna from ‘My diverse kitchen’ picked this recipe from Lara Ferroni’s book  ‘Doughnuts’ and the primary reason for choosing this particular recipe is that its a baked version, instead of a deep fried one. I opted to keep it simple this time and just dunked the finished doughnuts in cinnamon sugar and coated in chocolate sprinkles.


 Baked Doughnuts: 
(Recipe by Lara Ferroni, adapted from her book ‘Doughnuts’)

You need:

1/4 cup superfine sugar
1 cup warm milk (45C/115F)
3/4 tbsp instant yeast (or 1 tbsp active dry yeast)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour (or 1tbsp cornstarch + enough all-purpose flour to make up to 1 cup)
1.5 1/2 to 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
100gm cold butter, cut into 1 inch cubes

For the topping:

 melted butter for brushing
1 cup superfine sugar + 2 tbsp powdered cinnamon as per taste
Sugar glaze (combine 1 cup of icing sugar with 2 tablespoons of boiling water.)
Chocolate sprinkles 

Method:

Combine the sugar, milk, yeast salt and vanilla in the bowl of the food processor and pulse about 5 times to mix all the ingredients. Gradually add the cake flour and about 1 cup of the All purpose flour. Process the dough, gradually adding the flour until the dough thickens and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
At this point, add the pieces of butter one at a time. Process until there are no large chunks of butter left at the bottom of the bowl. Continue adding flour until the dough becomes soft and pliable, but not overly sticky.


 




Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently until the dough no longer sticks to your hands. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased large mixing bowl., turning it to coat well. 



Cover with a damp towel and let it rise till double in volume. This should take about an hour.




Punch down the dough and roll out to a thickness of 1/2″ thickness. Cut out doughnuts using a doughnut cutter or whatever you have on hand to cut out 3” diameter with 1” diameter holes. Place the doughnuts and the holes on parchment lined or lightly greased baking sheets, leaving at least 1” space between them.




 

 Save the little balls cut out from the center of the doughnuts. They bake up into perfect little doughnut holes.



Re-roll the scraps and cut out more doughnuts. Allow the dough to rise for about 20 minutes or till almost double in size and then bake them at 200C (400F) for about 5 to 10 minutes till they’re done and golden brown. Do not over bake them.

Take them out of the oven and immediately brush them with the melted butter and then dip them into the cinnamon sugar mixture. To cover the doughnuts with chocolate sprinkles, allow them to cool completely, dip them in glaze and immediately dunk them into the chocolate sprinkles.






Bon appetit!



This recipe is being Yeastspotted.

Adapting from Classic Recipes: Israeli couscous & Beluga Lentil ‘Khichdi’

 This has probably been the longest gap between posts for me. A Kitchen renovation project that stretched over 3 weeks and the consequent restocking which took longer than I had imagined. How I managed with ingredients stored in plastic bags & the packaging it came with, I have no idea. I had to make many multiple trips to pick out bottles, containers and little organizing shelves in order to accommodate all the ingredients that have become pantry staples. but in the end the effort was well worth it. The last count, I had about 60 different herbs, spices & blends, but that’s for another blog post!


During the BlogHer Food 13 meet, I had the chance to meet professionals from a number of food companies, one of them being Adam Shapiro of the Peanut Butter & Co. During the course of discussing how Peanut butter figured in Indian cooking, he told me about this spicy variety that they were introducing and offered to send me a sample. When I received a jar of ‘The heat is on‘ a couple of weeks later,  I was hooked onto the spicy taste. It was hard to wait till I had a working kitchen to start creating dishes with this absolutely delightful ingredient.

 

The fresh peanut flavor combined with the heat from Cayenne pepper & chili powder is rather addictive. Although the ingredients listed include vinegar, there was hardly any trace of it even to my vinegar averse sensitive palate, and I almost longed for a tangy complement to the flavor. When it came to looking for dishes to incorporate the peanut butter in , I realized that a number of recipes from the western Indian state of Maharashtra use roasted & crushed peanuts as a finishing ingredients. And thus came about my brunch earlier today, a twist on the classic Sabudana (Sago/tapioca pearl) Khichdi. The tapioca pearls have been substituted with Israeli Couscous (or Fregola).

 Israeli Couscous & Beluga Lentil ‘Khichdi’

You need:

1 cup Israeli couscous
1/2 cup beluga Lentils (feel free to substitute  any regular whole lentils)
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 a jalapeno chili deseeded and diced
1/2 cup diced red onions or shallots
7-8 fingerling potatoes
salt to taste
2 heaped tablespoon PB & Co’s spicy peanut butter OR
1 heaped tablespoon each of the crunchy peanut butter and the spicy variety.
Chopped cilantro for garnish.
Juice of 1 lime

Fill a saucepan with cold water and add the lentils along with the fingerling potato. Bring the water to a boil and cook the lentils for about 15 minutes until soft. (the fingerling potatoes should be done  in this time as well). Drain the water, peel the potatoes and cut into 2 pieces each. Set aside.

Refill the same pan with more water, add salt and bring the water to a boil. Add the Israeli couscous and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain the water and set aside.

In a  large skillet, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the mustard and cumin seeds. Once the mustard sputters and the cumin ‘splits’ add the deseeded jalapeno and the onion. Saute until the onion turns translucent.

 Add the lentils and the potatoes, lower heat and saute for about 5 minutes.


 once the potatoes begin to turn golden, lower the heat (you  want the peanut butter to stick to the lentils & potatoes, not to the bottom of the skillet!) and add the couscous along with the peanut butter (adding a mix of the spicy and the crunchy varieties ensures that the heat is balanced and there are bits of nuts to bite into for a texture variation). Stir to coat the lentils,couscous and the potatoes evenly. At this time taste and adjust the amount of salt according your personal preference. Cover with a lid, turn the heat to the lowest level and allow the flavors to combine.Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with chopped cilantro and finish by drizzling the lime juice as per your preference.

Bon appetit!

Validations, and a recipe for Berbere flavored Peas Pulao

 I’ve often been asked why I chose  into food blogging with a niche idea of redesigning and tweaking Indian dishes instead of plunging full fledged into classic recipes that I had grown up with. I had serendipitous stumble upon the best possible answer I’ll probably ever get, thanks to Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s new memoir ‘Yes Chef’.

There was one paragraph that practically leaped out of the book searing itself into my mind :


 Who lied? Who started the lie that France had the greatest food in the world? That question ran through my head every time I bit into something new and that changed my notions of what “good food” is. Then that question was replaced by a second: Who’s going to make the people realize that food dismissed as “ethnic” by the fine-dining world could be produced at the same level as their sacred bouillabaisses and veloutes” – Marcus Samuelsson, Yes, Chef!

I could not ask for a better validation beyond this paragraph. In time, I’ve come to realize that my kitchen truly represents ‘Panfusine’ a space where spices & ingredients from all over the world are crammed next to each other, giving me the absolute freedom to pick and choose, without the limitations that cultural biases impose. This freedom has also given me an increased appreciation for the classic dishes and ingredients I grew up with, whether it is to lovingly prepare a ‘Pongal’ the traditional slow cooked way (albeit in a Le Creuset Risotto pan), savoring the burst of aroma emitted by the crushed curry leaves, ginger, Cumin & Pepper tempered in ghee, or savor the musky heady aroma emanating from an old box that I use to store my blocks of asafetida.

Speaking of asafetida, One of the most spectacular dishes I’ve seen this pungent spice used in was in a pineapple salsa,  Ammini Ramachandran’s recipe in Zester Daily. Simply follow the link and give this a try, you’ll love it!

Sweet & Spicy Pineapple Salsa


The only hitch most people have with pineapples is the prepping. The cutting through the scaly peel and then scooping out all the ‘eyes’. Well, discovered that OXO has an answer to that. A nifty ratcheting pineapple slicer, As  someone who loves prepping difficult fruits, I was initially skeptical about how this implement was going to take care of peeling, coring AND slicing in one shot, but believe me, it does, and beautifully so. 




and if you still want further proof, just watch the video!


I paired the Salsa with a spiced rice that I put together a casual weekend dinner. The intention was to make a simple spiced Peas Pulao spiced with garam masala, but as is usually the case, I always end up including a spice blend from almost anywhere else in the world, and the result is always delighful. This time it was Berbere (bayr – beray) , the Ethiopian spice blend, an amalgam of over a dozen spices according to Marcus Samuelsson,  (Coriander, Cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, chile pepper, salt, peppercorn, allspice, garlic, cinnamon, fenugreek and ajwain).


 I deliberately kept the vegetable list confined to peas, in order to keep the dish simple.



Berbere flavored Peas Pulao:




You need:
2 cups fresh cooked Basmati rice
2 tablespoons Clarified butter (Ghee)
1 tablespoon Cumin seeds
4 whole cardamoms
6-8 cloves
1 2 inch stick cinnamon
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 -2 tablespoon Berbere spice blend (depending upon how spicy you like it)
1 cup frozen peas
Salt to taste
Chopped cilantro or Dill for garnishing

  • Add the cooked rice into a large mixing bowl and fluff to separate the grains.
  • In a skillet, heat the ghee until almost smoking and add the Cumin, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaf. 
  • When the Cumin seeds split, add the garlic and saute until it turns limp (you may choose to remove the garlic if you want a milder flavor at this point or let it be for a more pronounced garlic flavor).
  •  Turn the heat to medium low and introduce the Berbere spice blend to this mixture. allow the blend to ‘bloom’ in the oil until the aroma is released.
  • Add the peas along with the salt, cover and cook on low  until the peas are soft. 
  • Remove from heat and add this mix to the rice. 
  • Fold gently from the edges of the bowl to the center, taking care to coat each grain. 
  • Garnish with chopped Dill or cilantro and serve along with the Pineapple Salsa and toasted Papad.


 A big Thank You goes to OXO for letting me try their wonderful Pineapple slicer. I’ve had readers buying it even before I wrote up this post.

Bon appetit!

The ‘We Knead to Bake’ Project 2013 – Bialys (with toasted shallots in a Tamarind relish)


One of the things I love about the ‘We Knead to Bake’ Project is that Aparna Balasubramanian , the brains behind this endeavor, lets the group have a free hand in experimenting with variations on the monthly theme (either that or, she’s given up on me!). This month’s bread is a New York Classic, the Bialy.
For those who’re wondering what in the world this is.. Its simply a roll with poppy seeds & caramelized onions in the center, the kinds that invariably leaves you with a strong onion breath. Yes, the kind of breakfast one normally avoids before stepping out for an important meeting or interview! But be aware, one bite into the chewy warm bread will leave you addicted for life. For  about 3 years in graduate school, A Bialy with cream cheese and a cup of coffee from a vending cart on 1st Avenue in New York City was my staple breakfast. It remains a nostalgic comfort food to this day.


The name Bialy comes from Bialystocker Kuchen which translates as “bread from Bialystok” which is in Poland. According to Mimi Sheraton,  the author of the the book ‘The Bialy Eaters’, Bialys are rarely seen or made in Bialystock these days, an unfortunate consequence of World War II, when most of the Jewish Bakers that had honed Bialy making to an art were killed during the Holocaust.



In the early 1900s, many Eastern Europeans, including the Polish, immigrated to the US and settled down in New York. Naturally, they also brought their Bialy making skills with them and that is how the New York Bialy became famous. 

Inspired by a line by the Chinese poet-statesman Lin Yutang from Mimi Sheraton’s book ” What is patriotism but the longing for the foods of one’s homeland?”  (and here, I shamelessly justify my rather delicious fusion Bialy recipe), I decided to pair the mandatory toasted onions with a traditional South Indian Tamarind relish, the ‘Pulikaachal’. 



This spicy & tangy relish is the flavoring behind the iconic Tamarind rice and many a South Indian emigre to the US of A and all over the world are guilty of smearing their toast with a dab of this umami laden relish. (I’ll post the recipe for the relish in an upcoming post,  but its readily available in most Indian grocery stores).


Bialy’s with toasted Shallots in a Tamarind Relish (Pulikaachal Bialy)-Makes 8-10 Large sized Bialys


You need:

For the dough:
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/4 cup water
3 cups King Arthur Bread FLour (the higher gluten content yield a chewy texture)
1.5 teaspoon salt
Oil for coating the dough during proofing
Milk for brushing the dough

For the Filling

1 cup Finely diced Shallots
1 tablespoon Sesame seeds
Tamarind relish as per taste.
1 tablespoon sesame oil


Combine the yeast, sugar, salt and flour in a kitchen Aid Stand mixer. Using the balloon whisk runa t the lowest setting for about a minute to mix. Replace with the dough hook and then add the warm water in a steady stream. Knead until the dough comes together as a mass and then let the dough rest for 10 minutes. This will help the dough absorb water. Knead again, adding a little more water or flour (not too much) if you need it, until your dough is smooth and elastic but not sticky.
Shape it into a ball and put it in a well-oiled bowl, turning the dough till it is well coated with the oil. Cover and let it rise till about double. This should take about 2 hours. If you’re not making the Bialys right away, you can refrigerate the dough overnight at this point. When ready to make them, keep the dough at room temperature for about half an hour and then proceed with the rest of the recipe.


While the dough is proofing, heat the tablespoon of oil in a skillet and add the sesame seeds once they barely begin to ‘hop’ around in the hot oil, add the shallots and saute until they are translucent. Cool and combine with the tamarind relish as per your taste preference. The shallots will brown further to perfection when baking.



Sprinkle your work surface lightly with flour and place the dough on it. Divide it into 8 – 10 equal pieces and shape each one into a roll by flattening it and then pinching the ends together to form a smooth ball.  Place the rolls on a lightly greased baking sheet and cover them with a towel. Let them rise for about one hour (about  1 1/2 to 2 hours for refrigerated dough)  till pressing with a finger on the top leaves a dent. 

Work on one piece at a time, while you keep the others covered so they don’t dry out. When the rolls are ready, pick them up one at a time and using your fingers, form the depression in the middle. Hold the roll like a steering wheel with your thumbs in the middle and your fingers around the edges. Pinch the dough between your thumb and fingers, rotating as you go and gradually making the depression wider without actually poking a hole through.

Remember not to press on the edges, or they will flatten out. Once shaped, you should have a depression about 3” in diameter with 1” of puffy dough around the edge, so your Bialy should be about 4” in diameter. Prick the center of the Bialy with a fork so the center doesn’t rise when baking. 


Spiced Tamarind & Shallot (r) & sauteed Leeks with Za’atar seasoning (l)


Place the shaped dough on a parchment lined (or greased) baking tray leaving about 2 inches space between them. Place the caramelized onion filling in the depressions of each Bialy. Brush the outer dough circle with milk. 

Filled with Leek & Za’atar seasoning, brushed with milk and waiting to be baked.

Bake the Bialys at 230C (450F) for about 15 minutes till they’re golden brown in colour. Cool them on a rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. I found that the Bialys keep well in an airtight container for a day or two and just need to be warmed up slightly before serving with a generous dollop of fresh Cream Cheese.


Alternate fillings:

finely slice a cleaned leek (just the white and light green parts) and sautee until translucent in one tablespoon of olive oil. Add 2 tablespoons of Za’atar to the leeks and season with your preferred amount of salt. Allow to cool and fill the Bialy’s as per the recipe.

Bon Appetit!. & yes, this recipe is being Yeastspotted