Category Archives: easy to make
The ‘We knead to bake’ project #11: Swedish Cinnamon buns -Kannelbullar / Kannelsnegle (cinnamon buns/snails)
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.
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.
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)
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.
2 cardamoms pods (just the seeds)
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.
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
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!
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)
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
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..|
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:
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.
Turnip ‘Kootu (Stew) with toasted Channa Dal
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.
(Recipe by Lara Ferroni, adapted from her book ‘Doughnuts’)
Save the little balls cut out from the center of the doughnuts. They bake up into perfect little doughnut holes.
This recipe is being Yeastspotted.
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’
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.
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 deliberately kept the vegetable list confined to peas, in order to keep the dish simple.
- 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.
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).
|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.
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