January 29, 2009

Tuile, or No Tuile, That's the Question! Daring Baker Challenge January 2009


It's the end of another month, we've (as in the Daring Bakers) have been set yet another challenge and now you see the results this challenge has produced in kitchens from every part (well almost) of the world!

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

Our challenge this month was to make at least one version (or all three, if we were upto it) of tuiles along with a simple and light accompaniment of our choice. We had to follow the recipe for making tuiles but were otherwise free to flavour, shape and serve our tuiles as we wished.




So, what is a tuile? That's what I asked myself.
A tuile (from the French word for tile) is a thin, crisp and light cookie which was traditionally shaped to resemble slightly curved roofing tiles. This cookie is made by spreading the batter as thin as possible and then baking it. It is then placed over a slightly curved surface (a bottle on its side will do) while still warm and it will cool to take that shape. Tuile cookies can also be moulded into fortune cookies, little cups or flowers or rolled into cylinders and be made in a variety of flavours, both sweet and savoury.
Tuiles can be used to decorate desserts or serve frozen desserts, mousse or even as delicate mini-tart cases.


My tuile making adventure:

Armed with all this knowledge and having referred to the a lot of pictures, I had plans to shape my tuiles so many different ways. Unfortunately, my plans remained just that. Plans!
Ever heard of the straw that broke the camel's back? Well, this challenge was the straw to my camel!! This challenge brought to me down to my knees, not just figuratively but literally. But do read on.

Having had some success with doing an almost egg free challenge last month, I decided to do the same with this month's challenge too. I discovered a great post on VeganYumYum with a step-by-step tutorial and some wonderful pictures to make eggless tuiles.
I halved her recipe as I didn't want to waste stuff in case my tuiles didn't turn out right. In retrospect this was a great idea!
I made some stencils out of party paper plates, and just followed the recipe and instructions to the last letter. Looking through the glass window of my oven, I could see my tuiles bubbling and a sort of oily separation on top. After the stipulated baking time, I took the tuiles out. I let them cool a bit and tried lifting one tuile off the cookie tray. It just tore!
So I let the others cool a little bit more. This time when I tried taking the tuiles off the tray, they broke!! And that was the end of that batch of batter and my patience.

A week later, I thought it wasn't quite Daring Bakerish to give up so easily. After all, other DBs were turning out beautiful tuiles, even those who used the recipe I did reported success.
So I made another half batch of tuile batter and set to work. This time, they came out just right. My tuiles looked so pretty and they behaved so perfectly. Until I started to shape them, that is. Every time I tried to shape them, all I ended up with were broken pieces of tuile! This wasn't fair!! Where were the tuile "Gods" when I needed them? AWOL obviously!!
Since I couldn't bring myself to throw away the little bit of leftover batter so I stuck it in the fridge.

Then last weekend, I remembered that batter and decided to give it one last attempt. There was just enough batter to make 4 tuiles. I added cocoa powder to about 2 tbsps of the batter and used that to decorate my round tuiles. They baked perfectly and I actually managed to shape them into the traditional tile shape. I decided not to get adventurous with shaping as there was very little batter. This was definitely not the time for experimenting.
I couldn't believe I had done it! I had finally made the tuiles!
Now I don't know why, but I had a feeling that I ought to take pictures of my tuiles before doing anything else and it turned out to be a good thing that I did.

We were having fruit salad with custard (eggless, made with custard powder) and I thought I could serve it in the tuiles. That's when disaster struck again! The box of tuiles slipped out of my hand and landed on the floor, with the lid intact. I told you this challenge had me on my knees, didn't I?

I opened the box to find my tuiles in little pieces. So I just chucked the stuff into the bin and we had a thoroughly enjoyable dessert minus the tuiles. Of course, unlike those legal cases which get thrown out of court due to lack of evidence (that's what comes from spending a lot of your younger years reading Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason among other books), I at least have my pictures to prove I made those tuiles.

According to Stephanie Jaworski (Joy of Baking), in her Tuile recipe post, her cooking instructor told her that the test of a perfect thin tuile is to drop one to the floor, after it has baked and cooled. If the cookie shatters into small pieces it is thin enough.
So I guess my tuiles made the grade even though they didn't make to the plate.


I still couldn't bring myself to admit that this challenge got the better of me. So I decided to make the chocolate tuiles. Tempering chocolate was something I had done many times before. Not that having done something many times before guarantees you success in a DB challenge, as many experienced and seasoned DBs will tell you.

I followed the instructions but used half and half of semi-sweet and milk chocolates to make the tuiles. Instead of using stencils, I spread the melted chocolate-toasted almond sliver mixture into circles on aluminium foil squares with a spoon. When the chocolate had cooled a bit, I draped each chocolate covered aluminium foil square over a greased bowl to shape the chocolate into bowls.

Strawberry Kulfi graced these chocolate tuile bowls, garnished with chopped pistachios. (The kulfi in my picture had started melting!)
Kulfi is a traditional eggless Indian ice-cream made of sweetened and thickened milk usually flavoured with cardamom, saffron and nuts and sometimes fruit. Kulfi can also be made with condensed milk but I find this too sweet.
Traditional kulfi does not use any thickening agent and is made by simmering and reducing full fat milk which gives this ice-cream its creamy texture and characteristic milky taste. Reducing milk takes a lot of time and I have used cornstarch here as a short cut but the traditional method gives you the best tasting kulfi.



My recipe for the Strawberry Kulfi:

Ingredients:

500ml milk (I used 3% fat)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup strawberry coulis*
1 tsp vanilla extract


Method:

*Strawberry Coulis (I haven't specified quantities, as you can proceed according your taste):

Mix hulled and chopped strawberries well with sugar, a tsp or two lemon juice and 1/4 tsp salt. Keep aside for 30 minutes. Now puree the strawberries into a smooth mixture. Put this mixture in a pan and cook on medium heat (about 2 minutes) till it thickens slightly into a sauce. Add some vanilla extract and mix well. Cool and refrigerate. Use within 3 or 4 days.
To make the Kulfi:
Keep aside 1/4 cup of milk and heat the rest and sugar till it boils. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Dissolve the cornstarch in the 1/4 cup cold milk and add to the simmering milk stirring constantly to ensure no lumps are formed. Take the milk custard off the heat and cool a bit. Add the vanilla and strawberry coulis and blend well.
Pour into a plastic or metal container and freeze. The kulfi should not freeze very hard but should have the consistency of a gelato.



Verdict:
I don't really qualify to give an opinion this time. We did, however, taste the broken pieces and didn't find them quite to tour taste. I found the tuiles too buttery to be enjoyable.
As for the chocolate tuile, I'm not sure it is a tuile but more of thin slab of choclate with slivered almonds. We love chocolate so of course, we liked it.

Please do not let my sob story dissuade you from taking a look at the creative tuiles in Daring Bakerdom.



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January 28, 2009

Easy Vegetable Khaman Dhokla


Dhokla is a steamed savoury cake. This healthy and low fat dish from Gujarat is usually served as a snack at teatime, or as part of a Gujrathi thali (an Indian style meal made of many different dishes all served together on a large steel plate). Traditonally, dhokla is made by soaking rice and lentils (the types of lentils depend on the variety of dhokla you are making) overnight and grinding this into a batter which is then steam cooked.

Dhokla made from Bengal gram lentils/ chana dal (or the yellow coloured dhokla) is referred to as Khaman Dhokla whereas that which is made from black gram lentils/ urad dal and uses yogurt (curds) which gives it a tangy taste is called Khatta Dhokla.
Dhokla comes in many varieties (depending on what's in them) such as Moong Dhokla, Corn Dhokla, Methi (Fenugreek Leaves) Dhokla, Sooji (Semolina) Dhoklas to mention just a few.





This version, using chickpea flour, isn't very authentic but doesn't take much time or effort to make and the result is very crumbly and tasty dhokla. I wrote this recipe down, a long time back, from my cousin and the additions of carrots and beans are mine though I have seen a similar recipe in Tarla Dalal's book, so maybe that's where it originally came from.

Easy Vegetable Khaman Dhokla
 
 

Ingredients:


For the batter:

1 cup chickpea flour (besan)

1 1/2 cups semolina (rawa)

1 tsp lemon juice

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp green chilli ginger paste

3 tbsp grated carrots

3 tbsp very thinly sliced green beans

3 tbsp sweet corn (I used frozen)

1 1/2 tsp Eno's fruit salt/ one 5gm sachet*

salt to taste (remember the fruit salt has some salt in it)


For tempering:

1 tbsp oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp white sesame seeds

2 green chillies, chopped

a pinch of asafetida powder

a sprig of curry leaves

1 tbsp water

For garnishing:

1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

1 tbsp grated coconut



Method:


Mix all the ingredients given for batter, except the Eno's fruit salt, using enough water (about 1 1/2 cups – this is just an estimate) to make a thick batter. The batter should thickly coat your spatula. Keep aside for about 15 minutes. The semolina will absorb some of the water in the batter, so the batter will become thicker after standing for 15 minutes. Adjust the consistency with a couple of spoons of water before steam cooking.

On the stove top, get your steamer (whatever you use for steam cooking food) ready. Once the water is boiling and the steam is rising well from the steamer, add the Enos' fruit salt to the batter. Sprinkle a little water over the fruit salt. It will start bubbling and frothing.

Stir the batter well enough to mix in the fruit salt. Pour the batter into a well oiled round (9" or 10")or square cake tin (8" by 8") or a thali (a round steel plate with high sides) and steam cook for about 10 to 12 minutes or till a skewer comes out of the dhokla clean.

For the tempering, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When they start to splutter, add the sesame seeds, chopped chillies, asafetida and curry leaves. Add the 1 tbsp of water and pour this over the steamed dhokla. Garnish with coriander and coconut.
Cut the dhokla into squares and serve warm or at room temperature with green chutney or if preferred with tomato ketchup. This recipe serves 4 to 6.
 

This is my contribution to Harini's Food In Colours where this month is Yellow and to Srivalli who is hosting the Seventh Helping of Susan, The Well seasoned Cook's My Legume Love Affair.


*Note:

This recipe calls for Eno's fruit salt which is normally available in India at most pharmacies, in single use sachets or bottles. It is supposed to be effective as an antacid, but I really have no idea whether this claim is true. However, Eno's does work magic in this recipe and is preferable to baking powder here.

What is Eno's fruit salt?
According to this source, it is a mix of Sodium Bicarbonate (46.4%), Citric Acid (43.6%), Sodium Carbonate (10%). GlaxoSmithKline makes this product. It is not as sensitive to food formations as straight Sodium Bicarbonate plus it does not have that "aftertaste" that Sodium Bicarbonate has.



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January 25, 2009

Chocolate Chip Covered Eggless Vanilla Cupcakes


I made these cupcakes for Akshaya to take for a school trip last week. Their lunch was taken care of by the school but the kids had to carry food for snacking on. So apart from stocking up on all sorts of junk food (she and her friends had actually planned out in advance who was bringing what!), Akshaya wanted some cupcakes to take along "just in case of an emergency if lunch turns out to be terrible" . She was also particular that she wanted "plain" vanilla cupcakes (no frosting, please) because she hadn't had any in a long time.




I adapted Wilton's Basic Yellow Cupcakes by leaving out the eggs and increasing the milk a bit. These cupcakes turned out to be very soft with a lightly crusty top and were just perfect. After I had spooned the batter into the cupcake liners I thought that they looked a little too plain and wanted to jazz them up a bit. So I sprinkled some semi-sweet mini chocolate chips on top of the cupcakes before baking them.



For someone who was looking for "plain" cupcakes I didn't hear any complaints from my daughter. In fact, the next day morning (a Sunday), she had a three part breakfast where the first and last part consisted of one each of these cupcakes!
As for me, I now have a perfect "plain" cupcake recipe which I can adapt according to my requirement.



Ingredients:


1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups milk

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

3 cups cake flour

about a tsp of mini chocolate chips for each cupcake



Method:


Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and keep aside. (If cake flour is not available use all purpose flour. For each cup of flour used, put 1 tsp of cornstarch in the measuring cup and then top up with all purpose flour to make a cup of flour).

In a bowl, using an electric beater, cream the butter and sugar till light. Add the vanilla extract to the milk and add the milk and flour alternately to the creamed mixture, beating well after each addition. After the last addition, beat well for a minute.

Line muffin/ cupcake tins with paper liners and spoon enough batter into each cupcake liner till it is 2/3rds full. Sprinkle about a tsp of chocolate chips over each.

Bake at 180C for about 25 minutes till a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. When done, the cupcakes will be very lightly golden brown around the top edge.
Cool completely on a rack.

This recipe gave me 24 medium sized cupcakes. The Wilton recipe says I should get 12 cupcakes with this recipe and I'm wondering how big their cupcake liners/ moulds are!





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January 23, 2009

Cheddar Cheese And Onion Pretzel Bread


After doing a lot of baking last month, I had given my oven (and myself) a two week baking break. It wasn't easy to ignore the way my oven seemed to be asking me when I was going to get back to keeping it company. So I finally gave in and baked some Grissini, and that was it.
However, the looming deadline for Bread Baking Day this month (how could I miss that?) got me back to thinking about this month's BBD theme which is "Bread with Cheese". I chanced on a recipe for Cheddar Cheese Pretzel Bread on a discussion forum and it sounded perfect to me.





There are two ways of making pretzel bread, it seems. One way is to make them like pretzels by making pretzel shaped rolls putting them into boiling water to which baking soda has been added and then taking them out to bake them like bread.
The other way, which I have used here, is to shape the dough into a big pretzel and then bake it. It would also be difficult to follow the pretzel making method here because of the size of this bread.





I halved the original recipe and made a few additions and subtractions to suit our tastes. This includes leaving out the egg, adding some crushed black pepper and substituting one and quarter cups of flour with whole wheat flour. I am reproducing the halved recipe below.
Cheddar Cheese And Onion Pretzel Bread
 
(Adapted from here)
 

Ingredients:


1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1 1/2 tsp butter

2 tsp dry active yeast

1 1/2 tsp sugar

3/4 cup warm water

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 tsp dried Italian herbs, crushed

1 1/2 tsp crushed black pepper

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp coarse salt or some white sesame seeds (optional)



Method:


In a pan, sauté the onions in butter till soft but not brown. Keep aside to cool a bit.
Add the sugar and yeast to the warm water, stir and allow to prove. In a mixing bowl (or processor bowl), put the sautéed onion, cheese, flours, Italian herbs and salt. Mix (or pulse) a couple of times and add the yeast mixture.

Knead very well, adding more water if necessary, till a moderately stiff dough which is smooth and elastic is obtained.
Shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl, coating the ball with oil by turning it round in the bowl. Cover and allow the dough to double in volume (about an hour or so).


 

Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, letting it rest for 10 minutes. Roll the dough out into a 24" long smooth rope. Place it on a greased baking sheet and shape into a large pretzel shape. Moisten the ends of the pretzel and tuck them underneath to seal.
Cover and allow to rise till almost double (about half an hour). Brush the top of the bread with cold milk and sprinkle coarse salt or white sesame seeds if preferred.

Bake at 190C for about 40 minutes till golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped. If the bread is browning too much, cover it loosely with aluminium foil during the last 20 minutes in the oven. Cool completely on a rack.
The original recipe says this should make 10 servings. I wasn't counting and all I know is that we finished the bread off between the three of us!

It is important to use a sharp cheddar cheese to make this bread for the flavour of the cheese to really come through in this bread. Baking this bread not only guarantees a bread full of flavour but an added bonus of heavenly aroma of warm cheese and bread baking in your oven.

This bread goes to Temperance of High on the Hog who is hosting BBD #16 and to Susan for YeastSpotting.


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January 21, 2009

Dal Panchratan ( A Five Lentil Gravy Preparation)


This is one another of those many recipes I have collected over the years from I don’t know where! The one thing I do know is that this dal is delicious. My picture may not look mouth wateringly tempting (my apologies) but you can take my word for it that it is tasty, filling and very comforting, like most dals.

“Panchratan” means five jewels and here refers to the five different lentils in this preparation. They are red gram lentils (tuvar dal), Bengal gram lentils (chana dal), moong lentils (moong dal), whole black gram lentils (sabut urad dal) and whole puy lentils (sabut masoor dal).




I am not very sure where this preparations has its origins (I do know it is not from the southern part of India) but a generous bit of ghee gives this dal a very rich taste. I have reduced the amount of fat a bit and substituted the ghee with oil here.
These lentils are cooked into a very soft, somewhat smooth and creamy texture but has just the right balance of spice. This dal is also very easy to make. All it requires in the way of preparation is soaking of the lentils a little ahead of time.




Ingredients:


½ cup mixed lentils (dals) - 1 tbsp each of red gram lentil (tuvar dal),
Bengal gram lentil (chana dal), moong lentil (moong dal),
whole black gram lentil (sabut urad dal) and whole puy lentil (sabut masoor dal)

2 tsp oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

¾ tsp garlic paste (or finely chopped adjusted to taste)

¾ tsp finely chopped/ grated ginger

¾ tsp coriander powder

¼ tsp turmeric powder

2 to 3 green chillies, slit (or as required)

½ tsp garam masala

salt to taste

1 ½ tsp lemon juice

1 tbsp chopped coriander



Method:


Soak the lentils (dals) in water for 3 to 4 hours. Cook the lentils (dals), in the water in which they were soaked, till they are very soft.

Heat the oil and sauté the onions till golden. Add the garlic, ginger and green chillies. Sauté for a couple of minutes till the raw small disappears. Now add the coriander and turmeric powders and stir for about half a minute.

Add the cooked lentils (dals) and the water in which they were cooked. Add the salt, mix well and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium and allow the lentils to simmer for a couple of minutes. If the dal is too thick, adjust to required consistency with water, but make sure the dal is on the thicker side and not watery.

Stir in the garam masala, lemon juice and chopped coriander just before serving. Serve warm with chappathis, naan, or rice. This dal also makes a filling soup with bread.
This recipe will make 3 to 4 servings.

This Dal Panchratan goes to HOTM where January is the month for healthy “slimming” food.


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January 18, 2009

A Taste of Red: Strawberry Stracciatella Gelato


Bill Blass is supposed to have said, “Red is the ultimate cure for sadness”. If this so, then we are an extremely happy family right now. My kitchen has been taken over by the season’s fruits and vegetables and strawberries (and red winter carrots) rule here at the moment. Another three weeks and strawberries will start disappearing from the market to return only a year later.




I don’t remember liking strawberries very much. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that they were so expensive when we were last in Goa or that I never saw them in the last four years (they weren’t available in Kochi). They are cheaper now and I do enjoy the sensation of biting into a sweet and juicy strawberry and am exploring different ways to eat them. Gelato (I won’t call it ice-cream because it has no cream in it) was an automatic choice as we’re always game for ice-cream. It’s January and very pleasant here but not really cold. In fact, out here its ice-cream weather all the year round!

As I was making the gelato it struck me that chocolate pairs excellently with strawberries and I also remembered a stracciatella gelato I had seen a while back at Angela’s blog, A Spoonful of Sugar. She used an ice-cream maker while I don’t have one and am not likely to buy one either. When I asked her she sent me the procedure to make stracciatella without the ice-cream maker (even though making it in an ice-cream maker would result in a better texture) and that’s how I did it.




But what is stracciatella?
In Italian, “stracciato” means “torn apart” and normally describes a soup into which egg is incorporated such that it forms shreds/ stracciatelle in the soup.

It also refers to thin bits of chocolate in gelato which is what this recipe is about. Stracciatella gelato is made by finely drizzling melted chocolate onto frozen ice-cream (usually vanilla). The chocolate solidifies into thin pieces when it hits the cold ice-cream. This is broken up by lightly stirring the ice-cream. The result is a smooth ice-cream/ gelato with the slightest crunch/ crackle of chocolate and a wonderful experience.


Ingredients:


3 cups finely chopped strawberries

½ cup granulated sugar (adjust as required)

¼ cup honey

1 tbsp lemon juice

¼ tsp salt

500ml milk (3% fat)

3 tsp custard powder/ cornstarch

1 tsp vanilla extract


For the stracciatella:

75gm semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

25gm milk chocolate, chopped

2 tsp oil



Method:


Put the chopped strawberries in a bowl and add the sugar, honey, lemon juice and salt. Mix well and refrigerate this for about 30 minutes.

In the meanwhile, boil the all the milk except half a cup. Once it starts boiling, turn the heat down to medium. To the half cup of cold milk, add the custard powder/ cornstarch and mix well to dissolve it. Add this to the boiling milk and keep stirring till the milk thickens to a custard consistency. Take off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, while stirring the custard frequently to prevent a skin from forming.

Take the strawberry mixture out and puree it. Add the vanilla extract and the milk custard and blend well. Pour into a plastic or metal bowl, cover it and freeze.

Then follow Angela’s advice to me which follows.

“Pour it into a plastic freezer box , cover the surface with clingfilm, put a lid on and freeze. Thereafter re-mix with a fork every 30 minutes until it reaches the right consistency. The ice cream should be eaten within 3 weeks; before serving, remove it to the main body of the refrigerator for 20 minutes to soften.

When you think the ice-cream has almost reached the right texture, then melt your chocolate & oil together over hot water. Let it cool slightly and then quickly drizzle a little over the surface of the ice-cream. It should set on contact and then you need to quickly stir the chocolate into the ice-cream, breaking up any long strands of chocolate into small pieces. Keep repeating until the chocolate is used up. You may need to pop the ice-cream back in the freezer during this process if it starts to melt.”
It is important to drizzle the chocolate in a thin stream and this can be done using a fork. That would give you the perfect texture. I’m afraid my drizzling technique left a lot to be desired, and I did get a few slightly larger pieces of chocolate in my gelato but we enjoyed it all the same.

In fact, I made the gelato to serve after lunch but my husband and our daughter decided they were having it for dessert after breakfast! Of course, I joined them. Who can resist the lure of chocolate and ice-cream?
Never had dessert after breakfast? Try this gelato on a Sunday, it’s quite an experience.

Bee and Jai are colouring it “Red” at Click this month and the first picture in this post is my entry there.



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January 15, 2009

Grissini (Crisp Italian Breadsticks)


Grissini are crisp and crunchy breadsticks which are supposed to have origins in the Italian city of Turin during the 17th century. There are many stories about this but the most popular story attributes the invention to one Antonio Brunero who was the court baker to Carlo Emanuele II, the then Duke of Savoy.

Apparently, the Duke’s son, Vittorio Amadeo di Savoia, was unwell and not able to digest food very well. So the Duke summoned his baker and asked him to make a light, crisp, and easily digestible bread. The result was the “Ghersino” which was a smaller version of the “Ghersa” which was a long, thin Torinese bread. The ghersino soon became Grissini, and the two most popular types today are the Grissini Stirato (straight grissini) and the Grissini Rubata (hand rolled grissini).



There are now many variations to the original recipe and Grissini can be very crisp or a bit soft like bread and be flavoured with a variety of seasoning including sesame seeds, cumin seeds, herbs, pepper, cheese or even caramelized onions. The original Torinese Grissini however is handmade, thicker and longer with a texture that is more like bread.
Grissini are an intrinsic part of Italian meals and served as appetizers, with wine, or soup or as a snack.

There seem to be different ways of shaping these bread sticks. One is to pinch off small bits of the dough and roll them out into thin ropes. The other way is to cut the dough into slightly thicker strips which are stretched out a bit to make them thinner. Otherwise the dough can be rolled a little thinner and then cut into narrow strips which are baked as they are without further shaping. To give the breadsticks an uneven and rustic look they can be twisted slightly before baking.




All recipes for Grissini have flour, water (or milk), yeast, salt and a little bit of oil. All the other ingredients are variations depending on who is making them. So here is the recipe I put together with my own variations.



Ingredients:


¾ cup warm milk

1 ¾ tsp active dry yeast

1 tsp sugar

1 ½ cup all purpose flour

¾ cup whole wheat flour

2 tbsp olive oil

1 ¼ tsp salt

1 tsp mixed dried Italian herbs

freshly crushed black pepper

white and black sesame seeds

cumin seeds

nigella seeds



Method:

Add the sugar and yeast to the milk, mix and allow to prove.
Put the flours, olive oil, salt, and herbs in the food processor bowl. Add the yeast mixture and pulse a few times till a soft and elastic dough forms. Add more a milk (or water) if required. The dough can be kneaded by hand too.

Divide the dough into 2 and place in a well oiled bowl, coating both balls of dough. Cover and allow the dough to rise.

Remove one ball of dough and place on a lightly oiled surface. Roll out into a thin rectangle (as thin as you can comfortably roll out; the thinner the better). Alternatively, to make rolling out the dough easier, you can divide the ball of dough into two again and then roll out each into a small rectangle about 9” to 10” by 5” to 6”. This is what I did.

Lightly dampen the top of the rectangle with water and sprinkle with crushed black pepper and seeds of your choice. Lightly run the rolling pin over the dough rectangle to push the seeds into the dough. If you use egg, brush the grissini with lightly beaten egg and then sprinkle the seeds/ herbs on as this will ensure they stick to the grissini.

Using a pizza cutter cut the dough lengthwise into strips which are one third an inch wide. Place the strips on a greased sheet and allow them to slightly puff up (about 10 to 15 minutes). If you would like to you can slightly twist each strip before placing on the grease sheet. This makes prettier looking grissini/ breadsticks.

Bake the grissini at 210C for about 15 minutes till they are nice and golden brown in colour. Cool on a rack. Store the grissini an in airtight container. This recipe gave me about 3 dozen 9” long grissini.

Serve with soup or a dip or eat them just as they are. For me they are the perfect evening snack to satisfy my cravings for savoury and crunchy food without the calories!

My Grissini are on their way to feature in Susan’s YeastSpotting at Wild Yeast.



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January 11, 2009

Beans Molakootal/ Molagootal (Beans Cooked With Lentils And Coconut) and Parippu Thogayal (Lentil and Coconut Chutney)


T he “Mulagootal is a very typical preparations of the Palakkad Iyers. A “Mulagootal” is made usually using one type of vegetable (traditionally amaranth leaves, raw banana, yam, pumpkin, ash gourd or snake gourd though nowadays beans, cabbage, carrots, etc are used; this list of vegetables is not exhaustive) and occasionally a combination of two vegetables like raw banana and yard long beans.





The vegetable is cooked with red gram lentils (or sometimes split moong lentils) in a coconut gravy but no chillies or pepper is used making this rather bland yet very tasty. I , however, like to add a green chilli (the less spicy variety) while grinding the coconut paste as this lends a nice flavour without the “bite”.

Since a mulagootal is bland, it is always served in combination with a spicy and tangy preparation like a thogayal (recipe follows in this post) or a puli pachadi (made with tamarind) or a thayir pachadi (made with yogurt) or a pulikyatchal ( a very spicy and tangy chutney made from green chillies, ginger and tamarind). If one is feeling lazy and not upto preparing a second dish, then a spicy pickle or a podi would do just as well.





Here, the vegetable in my mulagootal is beans but you can make this with a vegetable of your choice following the same recipe.
Beans Molakootal/ Molagootal
 
 

Ingredients:


2 cups, thinly sliced green beans

1 cup cooked and mashed red gram lentils (tuvar dal)

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

salt to taste

1 sprig curry leaves


For the paste:

3/4 cup freshly grated coconut

1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp black gram lentils (urad dal)

1 green chili (optional)


For the tempering:

1 1/2 tsp coconut oil (or sunflower oil)

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 1/2 tsp black gram dal (urad dal)



Method:


In a pan, put in about ¼ tsp oil and put in the 1 tsp black gram lentil (for the paste). Sauté till it starts turning golden. Add the cumin seeds and sauté till it just till it gives off an aroma. Do not brown it. Grind the sautéed lentil and cumin seeds with the coconut and green chilli, adding just enough water to obtain a smooth paste.
Keep aside.


 

In the same pan (or another one), put the green beans, turmeric powder and salt along with 1 ½ cups of water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer till the beans are well cooked.

Alternatively, you may cook the beans in the microwave till done and then put it on the stove with turmeric, salt and about ¾ cup of water and bring this to a boil. Then turn down the heat to medium.
This is what I do. I find it quicker and also like it that the beans retain their green colour.

Now add the mashed red gram lentils and the curry leaves. Mix well and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the coconut paste, stir again and allow to come to a boil. After about 2 or 3 minutes turn off the heat.
Pour the mulagootal into a serving bowl.

In a small pan, heat the 1½ tsp oil for tempering. Put the mustard seeds in and when they splutter, add the black gram dal and stir till it becomes golden in colour. Pour this into the mulagootal.
Stir before serving.
 
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January 8, 2009

Green Tomato Pickle


I have mentioned before that we love green tomatoes and I have been seeing them regularly at the market now for the past month or so. The grocers at the market get huge boxes of tomatoes which are usually green or half ripe as they keep longer while they ripen. So while other people pick out the ripe red tomatoes to buy, my grocer recognizes me as “that woman” who specially asks for the green ones! Of course, he’s too nice to say anything. He has been selling me vegetables and fruits for so many years now that he knows what I want.

No one seems to buy or cook green tomatoes here, or even back home but I am always very happy to see them. In fact, I just bought 2 kilos of them today. For once, my daughter was happy as she is slowly discovering a liking for tomatoes, especially the green kind.

Normally, Akshaya tells her dad that it isn’t safe to “let me loose at the market” as I am like a kid at the candy store. I cannot begin to describe the thrill of seeing a market full of fresh and colourful vegetables and fruit. Do I sound weird?
Luckily for all of us, other than at the market, shopping is generally not my favourite thing to do.




I have previously posted a Green Tomato And Onion Curry and a Green Tomato Khorma. Now it’s the turn for my Green Tomato Pickle. You can adjust the amount of chilli powder you add to the pickle. The powdered jaggery is added to balance the tartness of the tomato so you can adjust that too but the pickle shouldn’t taste sweet.
Here’s how I make it.


Ingredients:


10 large green tomatoes

¼ cup sesame seed oil

5 tsp (adjust to taste) Kashmiri chilli powder

(or ordinary chilli powder)

2 tsp mustard seeds

¾ tsp fenugreek powder

½ tsp asafetida powder

½ to 1 tbsp powdered jaggery (or sugar)

2 to 3 tsp salt (or to taste)

2 sprigs curry leaves



Method:


Cut the green tomatoes into quarters, and each quarter into half. Add the chilli powder and salt and mix well. Keep aside.

Now heat the oil in a wok. Add the mustard seeds and when they splutter, turn down the heat to medium. Add the asafetida powder and curry leaves and stir once ensuring they don’t burn. Immediately add the tomato pieces. Stir well and allow the tomatoes to cook for about 5 minutes. They should soften without losing the skin or becoming mushy.
Add the fenugreek powder and jaggery and mix well. Allow to cook for another minute or so and take off the heat.

Allow to cool, bottle and refrigerate when not using. This pickle will keep in the fridge for a week. This recipe makes about 1 large jam jar of pickle.



This pickle goes to Lore's Original Recipes Round-Up.


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January 6, 2009

Strawberry Shortcakes : Starting 2009 On A Sweet Note!

W
hat’s new in the New Year? Not too much really. Life is much as usual (and that’s comforting) except I now have to remember that I need to write/ type out 2009 instead of 2008!
I’ll start the New Year here on a sweet note with Strawberry Shortcake. We had this for dessert on New Year’s eve.




It’s winter here too, and the weather in India ranges from freezing through very cold to pleasant depending on which part of the country one lives in. I’m lucky to be where it is pleasant and this is the time for those fruits and vegetables that are available only in the winter months. And it is time for strawberries too.

In the excitement of seeing them at the market after such a long time, I came back with too many strawberries. We ate some and I made strawberry shortcake with the rest. Strawberry shortcake is a popular summer layered dessert in the United States, made with buttermilk biscuits/ scones filled with strawberries and whipped cream. The juice in the strawberry mixture keeps the biscuits/ scones moist. There are some versions made with sponge cake instead of scones.




Since these biscuits/ scones taste best fresh, they need to be made the same day you serve them. This is not difficult as they’re easy to make and don't take too long either.
I used the recipe at Joy of Baking for reference to make these as I had never seen or eaten Strawberry Shortcakes before. That recipe uses cream stead of buttermilk. Cream is supposed to result in flakier biscuits/ scones.


Strawberry Shortcake
 
 
 
Ingredients:
 

For the buttermilk biscuits/ scones:
 

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar )

2 tsp baking powder

75 gm butter, chilled

1 egg (I used 1 tbsp powdered flax seed + 3 tbsp warm water)

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract



For the strawberry filling:
 

2 small cartons of strawberries (about 2 to 3 cups when chopped)

½ cup sugar (adjust to sweetness of fruit)

¼ cup orange juice



For the cream:
 

200 ml chilled (for at least 24 hours) cream (I used 25% fat)

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp sugar



Method:


For the Shortcake:
 

This can be done by hand or in the processor. Put the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar into the processor and pulse a couple of times. Otherwise put in a bowl and whisk together.

Add the cold butter and process only till the butter and flour mixture takes on a appearance of largish crumbs. Otherwise, do this using your fingers to ensure the butter doesn’t melt.

Empty the flour-butter mixture from the processor into a bowl. In another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, vanilla, egg (or flax seed mixture). If substituting the egg with the flax seed mixture, whisk the flax seed powder and warm water and keep aside till slightly thick in consistency).

Add to the flour butter mixture and mix till it all just comes together as a dough. Do not knead the dough very much as it will result in tough biscuits. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and pat into a circle about 1” thick. Cut into 3” circles.
For a more rustic looking shortcake, lightly shape the dough (floured hands) into 8 circles, like I did.

Place the biscuits/ scones close together, leaving very little space in between, on a greased tray and bake at 210 C for about 20 minutes till lightly brown. Let them cool slightly on a rack.


The filling:
 

Chop the strawberries. Put about one third of the chopped strawberries in a blender to just break them down. Do not puree.

Now put all of the strawberries, sugar, orange juice and vanilla in a bowl. Mix and refrigerate for about an hour. I stay in the fridge for too long the strawberries will become mushy.


The cream:
 

Whip the cream, vanilla extract and sugar using an electric hand mixer till stiff. Refrigerate till needed. It will stay in the fridge for a few hours.


Assembling the shortcake:
 

The biscuits/ scones can be made a few hours ahead and warmed slightly before assembling.

Cut each warm biscuit/ scone into half. Place the bottom half on a plate and place some strawberry mixture, along with some syrup, on it. Top whipped cream and place the other biscuit/ scone half over it. Top this with whipped cream and top with some more of the strawberry mixture.
Serve immediately. This recipe serves 8.

 

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