Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Piquant & Sweet: A Lemon-Chocolate Yule Log via The Daring Bakers Kitchen


And so it is the end of 2008. What better way to celebrate the sweet and piquant memories of the year past that with lemons and chocolate!! This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.

I was a little alarmed when I saw the length of this recipe. My primary concern was the number of eggs that make an appearance therein. We do eat eggs here but they are really not our favourite food. I do bake with eggs and where possible eliminate the yellows and I dislike the smell and taste of the same. I have tweaked this recipe as per our tastes and have made several substitutions along the way. This recipe is excellent and tweaks and will it yields a beautiful and utterly delicious dessert.

Lemon-Chocolate Yule Log
While the complete December Challenge can be found at SaffBlue's Google Group , my experience with this recipe is blogged below. Firstly, i have to say that I chose to half the recipe at the outset. To this end I chose a small loaf pan top assemble the dessert.

Element 1: Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake) with Lemon
I followed the recipe and added some lemon zest and extract into the batter just before baking. I got a beautifully golden, moist, melt in the mouth cake.


Element 2: Eggless Dark Chocolate Chantilly
Again I followed the recipe here substituting the milk chocolate with the dark chocolate. The taste was spectacular!

Element 3: Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert
I followed the recipe as given - only the butter I used was salted.


Element 4: Praline Feuillete Insert
Things were going well and so I got adventurous and decided to make the Gavottes or lacy crepes myself. I found the recipe really simple, skipped the vegetable oil, and baked the crepe for around 25 minutes to get the desired level of crispness. Then I make some fresh almond praline and voila a dark chocolate crisp insert!


Element 5: Lemon Creme Brulee

Ingredients:
2tbsp granulated sugar
2 heaped tbsp cornflour
2tbsp cup water
1 cup soy milk (I used light version of vanilla soy sense)
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
1tsp lemon extract

Warm the water soy milk. Blend the cornflour and sugar into it taking care to eliminate all lumps. Place on a low heat and cook stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, let the cream cool, then add the lemon zest and extract. This is a variation on a recipe that I have long used to get using for custards and pastry creams!!

Element 6: Dark Chocolate Icing
I followed the original recipe by substituting agar-agar instead of the gelatin.

The Grand Finale
I prepared all elements of the cake on the same day. I kinda got on a roll once I started and became excited about the final result. Once all the elements were ready, I lined the loaf pan with some cling film and then some acetate. the layering for this cake is as follows:

Dacquoise Biscuit
Dark Chocolate Mousse
Lemon Creme Brulee
Dark Chocolate Mousse
Praline Feuillete Insert
Dark Chocolate Mousse
Dark Chocolate Ganache
Dacquoise Biscuit


I stuck the cake in the freezer, and I will ice it when we eat it. As it has been festive season, we are currently OD'ed on sweets and it just did not seem right to dive into it immediately. But having tasted virtually every element as I prepared it, I am assured that this cake is going to be delightful!!!! I will update this post in a few days when I intend to serve this for dessert. Meanwhile enjoy the photographs of the cake in preparation.

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Savoury Vegetable Puffs

Last week we received in the range of 17 inches of snow over two days!! Pretty much everything was buried under it, and I could not even see where my beautiful kitchen garden had existed barely a couple of months ago! Barely a speck of green was visible and I could almost hear some of the tree branches groaning under the weight of the snow that had come to rest on them. Winter in all its beauty and wonder had arrived.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Spicy Lima Bean Curry


Finally I got time to do some real cooking. I had been tied up in some writing last week. So we were making do with quick dinners. But by friday morning I was really beginning to miss the kitchen. The frigid temperatures and the heavy snow we have been experiencing for the last few weeks also made the warmth of the kitchen really inviting:) And so I set out to prepare some of my favourite recipes - spicy, fragrant, and deliciously warming.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Special Dinner

A very special dinner prepared by my partner in life!! Yes, we celebrated our anniversary today and he cooked dinner - a mixed dal, parwal bhaji, and rice. Doesn't it look just perfect:)

P.S. It was delicious - must be all the times he was looking over my shoulder while I was in the kitchen LoL!!

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bread Baking Day #15: Festive Breads

Baking bread has been a passion of mine. Its one I’ve followed across the world as I travelled. Apart from baking every so often I have collected a treasury of recipes from family and friends, even bakeries that I have found tucked away in cities I ventured into. On the other hand, this is the first time I am guest hosting a food event. I am taking the baton from Boaz who guest hosted BBD #14 @ Grain Power. Themed Coloured Breads, the roundup can be found at BBD #14: The Roundup.

All the foodies who follow and participate in BBD need no introduction to Zorra @ 1x umrühren bitte. Bread Baking Day is her brainchild and has become a route by which so many bread baking enthusiasts on the web share their incredible enthusiasm, original skills, and fabulous recipes. What a wonderful way to celebrate that most basic of all foods that graces our plates at every meal – bread.

This month it is my honour to host this well followed food event. I had originally intended to make this announcement on 6th December 2008. However, as Zorra and I both discovered Boaz had already completed her colourful roundup, it was decided to advance the announcement to today.

Though December is the last month of the year is also the time for festivals, holidays, and celebrations! Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Tohji-taisai to mention a few, all fall in December. Holidays and festivals bring together families and nothing quite spells togetherness than preparing a festive meal and eating with our loved ones. This year I encourage you to bring your family together for a great bread bake-off. Choose one or more festive breads for the holidays, take some time out, and create a holiday tradition of baking with the family, telling the story of the bread, and its significance for the festival. It could be traditional bread baked by your grandmother, one that you learnt from your travels and always wanted to try at home, or one that is typical to the country you now call home. BBD #15: Festive Breads welcomes them all.

In short, for BBD #15, bring your family and friends together and bake some festive bread for your holiday table. Then share the recipe you chose, why you chose it, and if you were able to make it a family event. The bread can be any shape and size, it may be dry or moist, spicy, savoury or sweet, filled with fruits, nuts, chocolate, almond paste, custard, with icing on the top, flavoured, coloured, its all your choice. Just one request: As this is a vegetarian blog, I would like to ask that all recipes be vegetarian (eggs are OK). Vegan, gluten-free, allergy-friendly recipes are welcome!

After you post your festive bread baking experience on your blog, send your entry to me, at annarasa AT gmail DOT com, with the following information:
  1. Subject line of the email should begin with BBD15.
  2. Kindly include in English the following details:
    Your name
    Your location
    Your website’s name and URL
    Your bread’s name and URL of the posting the bread(s) you chose to make
  3. Finally, attach a 250-pixel-wide photo of your creation.
  4. If your blog is not in English, then please send me a translation of your post in English or create the BBD post on your blog in English.
  5. If you do not have a blog but would like to be a part of this event, please send me your recipe and write-up (with picture, if possible) and I will include it in the round-up.
The deadline for submissions is January 1st, 2009.

I can’t wait to see your entries and I am sure you will have no trouble choosing from the wide variety of festival breads that are prepared annually across the world. There’s Stollen from Germany, Panettone from Italy, Kringle from Denmark and Iceland to name a few well-known ones. But did you know that for Christmas, an anise-flavoured Christopsomo, or ‘Christ’s bread’, is baked in the Mediterranean countries, while Julebrod which combines the sharp fresh flavour of citron with sweet raisins and cardamom can be found in many Norwegian homes. The Swiss celebrate with Birnbrot, a pear-and-nut bread that is laced with kirsch, and the Finnish bake Pulla – a cardamom-spiced bread, along with their famous Joululimppu, a rich, rye bread that contains molasses, fennel, anise and a hint of orange zest. The French break out their Provencal Christmas Bread or Pompe à Huile which is delicately flavoured with orange flower water and confectioners’ sugar and the leaf-shaped, herby while yeasty Fougasse takes centre-stage on many tables. In Sweden and parts of Eastern Europe, St. Lucia Buns & Wreaths bring in the festival of lights, Vanocka is a Czech holiday braid prepared from as many as 7 strands of dough, and aromatic Saffron Buns are served in India. The very fruity brioche-like bread called the Cake of Kings is found in much of the English speaking world, while a rich Christmas bread Pan de Pascua is baked in Chilean homes, and the world famous Romavaya baba or Rum Baba can be found in every bakery in Russia. Then there is Sweet Challah Bread, Streusel topped Babka, and Bolo Ring Bread for Hanukkah, and Herbed Corn Bread and Pumpkin Bread for Kwanzaa. I could go on but I’ll leave the rest to you :)

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Happy Birthday Annarasa!


My blog Annarasa is celebrating its very first birthday today. Yes, Annarasa was born a year ago today and I am delighted to share this beautiful milestone with friends and family. A big Thank You to all my visitors and everyone who has encouraged me along this journey :)

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Gajar Koshambir Ver 1.0 | Carrot-Peanut Salad

Apart from their nutritive value, carrots are a crunchy, tasty, and deliciously sweet vegetable. Carrots are ideal for snacking, desserts, bhajis, and salads. The wonderful thing about carrots is that they take on flavour very well. Gajar Koshambir or Indian-style Carrot Salad is a great salad to add to an afternoon meal. Its fresh citrusy flavour is superb in adding balance to any curry, vegetable, and even rice. Here's how I make Gajar Koshambir.


More Raw Carrot Recipes @ Annarasa:
Gajar Koshambir Ver 2.0 | Carrot Yogurt Salad
Gajar March No Sambharo | Fresh Carrot Green Chile Pickle
Gajar Adrak Chatni | Carrot & Ginger Chutney

Ingredients:
3 large carrots
3 tbsp peanuts, roasted
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp cilantro, chopped fine
1 green chilli, chopped fine
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp sugar

Method:
  1. Grate the carrots and place in a mixing bowl.
  2. Crush the peanuts coarsely. Mix in the peanuts with the salt, sugar, cilantro, and green chilli.
  3. Squeeze the lemon into this mix. Blend well.
  4. Pour into a serving bowl. Chill for at least an hour before serving.
This recipe goes to The Cooker who is hosting JFI: Carrots this month. JFI,the brainchild of Indira of Mahanandi blog. It also goes out to Mansi of Fun & Food Cafe who is hosting a Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipe Carnival.

Vegan Recipe, Dairy Free Recipe

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007-2013. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Warm Broccoli-Spinach Pesto Pasta Salad

The one vegetable I always have in my refrigerator is broccoli. Interesting, some might say weird, but its true nevertheless!! I use broccoli in vegetables, salads, pastas, stocks, stir-fry - well you name it!! Today I tried something different with this vegetable - a warm pesto. This is pesto with a twist - it combines broccoli with spinach and pine nuts to give a nutritious and tasty alternative to regular pesto.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Saibhaji | Dilled Mixed Vegetables and Lentils


I picked up a bunch of Dill on my weekly grocery trip with the intention of making Saibhaji. Pressed for time, I ended up ignoring the refrigerator for most of the week. On Thursday, however, I could not stop myself - the urge to whip up something quick yet delicious was overwhelming. What else, but the simple but very special Saibhaji could satisfy the taste buds!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Herby Oven-Baked Chips

With Thanksgiving round the corner, I am sure that everyone is drawing up a special menu for the meal that forms the centre piece of the day. While its great to have all the traditional favourites, vegetarians can sometimes face a bit of a challenge. And it can take a tremendous amount of self-education, thoughtfulness, and care if you are expecting friends who follow a vegan or gluten-free diet or are simply allergic to multiple ingredients that are a part of the treats prepared for the day.

My contribution to this effort is as humble as it is simple. Herby oven-baked chips are one of my very favourite recipes and I hope that they would appeal to all the above diets!!

Ingredients:
6-8 baby red potatoes
1/2 tsp mixed Italian herbs
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp crushed pepper
1/4 tsp dehydrated garlic powder
1 tsp olive oil

Method:
  1. Wash the potatoes and do not peel. Cut each potato in half lengthwise. Then slice each half lengthwise once again slices just under 1/2 " thick.
  2. Once all the potatoes are cut, wash once again in cold water, drain, and place in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the olive oil on the potatoes. Next sprinkle the herbs, salt, garlic powder, and crushed black pepper.
  3. Mix well to coat the potatoes well. Place them on a cookie or jelly-roll pan.
  4. Bake at 425F in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the slices are well cooked, and browning around the edges.
  5. Remove and serve warm.
These chips are soft on the inside, but really crispy and crunchy on the outside. I found that while they are already very flavourful, adding the garlic gave them a lot of added punch. They can be made in advance. Just place them in an ovenproof dish and leave in a warm oven until ready to serve. Though these chips are great for a quick snack, I often combine them with a hearty soup. They are a great substitute for bread. But they do make a simple, easy to put together, colourful and spicy addition to any Thanksgiving table:)

This recipe goes out to Allergy Mom @ The Allergic Kid who is hosting the 'Thanks for "Nothing" Thanksgiving Roundup.

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007-2013. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Way of the Daring Baker: To Mix, To Knead, & then To Toss....


This Daring Bakers Challenge involved an excellent choice of recipe. It comes from Peter Reinhart's: The Bread Baker's Apprentice. This recipe Pizza Napoletana is simply lovely - and as described by Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums yields a beautifully tasty, thin, crispy, yet chewy pizza crust.

The Challenge
This challenge required the Daring Baker to try and use the tossing method for at least 2 Pizza Crusts. of course, a switch to the rolling method was permitted, but tossing was the key to the challenge. And the moment of the toss as it were had to be captured on film for all posterity!!!! Talk about taking it up a notch....

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Masala Chana Dal Vadas | Spicy Lentil Fritters

This year I decided to make some typical and traditional treats for Diwali. Apart from the sakarparas and namakparas, I thought it might be a good idea to have some nice food from the South for Choti Diwali and something from Delhi for Diwali. So I made tamarind rice, masala vadas, and sambar on the 27th! And while I often make tamarind rice from scratch at home, I usually make my sambar using MTR sambar masala. I always plan to make the sambar masala at home but just never get round to it. So this time I decided I just had to make the masala at home and I did. And I have to confess - the sambar was the best I have ever tasted. Well, enough said about my adventures with masalas and onto the Masala Vadas!! (And of course, you might well ask: what did you make for Diwali? Keep tuned for some delicious Delhi Chaat!!)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Diwali

Wishing you a very HAPPY DIWALI and a prosperous NEW YEAR!!

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Paneer Bread Pakoras | Crispy Battered Bread & Cottage Cheese Fritters

Bread Pakoras are a ridiculously indulgent treat. Fresh bread, dipped in a batter of spicy chickpea flour is deep fried and served hot with a choice of spicy sauce. Its an all time favourite, sold at busy city spots by street vendors, often in day old newspapers!!!! As a kid I remember many a birthday party where bread pakoras made an appearance. And more recently, I was pleasantly surprised to see them at an Indian restaurant here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Strawberries with Saffron-Cardamom Yogurt

Yes, it is the end of the summer, and we are in the pushing into autumn. But here's the last of the blush of summer in a really delightfully simple dessert. We love the lovely combination of textures and flavours that come together here: the tart strawberries, the thick yogurt, the fragrant cardamom, and incredible saffron. I hope you will love this one too :)

Ingredients:
2 cups Greek yogurt
2 cups fresh strawberries
1/2 tsp cardamom, powdered
1/2 tsp saffron strands
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp brown sugar, divided equally

Method:

  1. Warm the milk for 30 seconds in the microwave. Drop the saffron strands in the milk. Stir, cover, and set out for 5 minutes.
  2. Place the yogurt and sugar in a large glass bowl. Whip the yogurt for 5 minutes. Add the cardamom powder and mix well.
  3. Strain the saffron extract and pour it into the yogurt. Mix well and then cool in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  4. In the meanwhile, hull the strawberries and slice them. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of brown sugar. Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  5. Assemble the desert in individual bowls. Place a tablespoon of the saffron-cardamom yogurt in the bowl. Cover with two tablespoonfuls of the berries. On these berries, add a layer of the yogurt so that it covers the berries completely. Spoon two more tablespoons of berries on the yogurt and finally top with a spoonful of yogurt.
  6. Repeat for all bowls. Serve immediately.



P.S. If you can't find any fresh strawberries, fresh frozen ones work just as well. Just follow the thawing instructions on the packet!!

This original recipe goes out to the Original Recipes Round-Up #4 hosted by Culinarty at Culinarty: The Art of Microwave Baking. This is a really interesting and unique event and I would encourage all readers with desire to create and learn to drop by and view the previous and current round-ups:)


All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007-2013. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Chewy Muesli Bars

Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. And yet how many of us just pop out of the house in the morning thinking - 'I'll have more time tomorrow', 'I'll buy it on the way', 'I'm not really hungry', or the worst excuse of all 'I'm not a breakfast person'!! Supermarkets offer all kinds of breakfast options, and while the best breakfast might actually be oat or wheat porridge, its nice occasionally to jazz it up. These Muesli Bars do the trick!!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup oats
1/3 cup oat bran
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup dark raisins
1/3 cup almonds
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup grated coconut

Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 320F.
  2. Place the butter in the microwave for 11/2 minutes or until completely melted.
  3. Remove and add the sugar. Mix well until it is well blended.
  4. Add all the remaining ingredients to the the butter-sugar mix, and blend well. It mixture well just about bind together.
  5. Spoon this mixture onto a greased cookie sheet, spread, and the press down with a large flat spoon. You can do this with your fingers too, but beware, the mix might be too hot.
  6. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Cool on the sheet. Slice or cut into squares. (Note: at this stage the baked mix might be quite firm. Take care when cutting).
These Muesli Bars are yummy on their own, with a glass of cold milk, or your morning cuppa ( tea for me)!! Packed with whole grain goodness, I find that the coconut, almond, and pecans all add to my energy levels and keep many cravings at bay till lunch. I always make a fresh batch of these bars on Sunday. These bars also make a great snack especially during long-distance travel. They are really easy to carry and very satisfying after a nice long hike or bicycle ride. Try them once, I promise you will not look back!!!!


These wholesome whole grain bars go out to Suganya at Tasty Palettes who is hosting JFI - Whole Grains this month. And as these grains make a great breakfast, these bars go to Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen. She is hosting Weekend Breakfast Blogging, the theme for which is Grains in My Breakfast.

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007-2013. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Garden-Fresh Salad

My patio vegetable patch has been yielding some lovely cucumbers and plum tomatoes this week. These are great for snacking, but I occasionally toss them into a bowl for a salad. The salad here is a simple salad, but it packs a great punch when accompanied with a nice heavy desi-style lunch. Alternately pair it with Spicy Paneer-Filled Rolls or a Pilaf for a complete meal!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Lavash Crackers: A Vegan & Gluten Free Challenge

A new frontier for the Daring Bakers opened up this month with a vegan and/or gluten free challenge. Two Alternative Daring Bakers : Natalie from Gluten A Go Go and Shel of Musings From the Fishbowl are hosting this challenge. And with great delight I found that the challenge this month was savory. The aim was to make Lavash Crackers from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice (pp 178 - 180).

The Challenge: From Natalie & ShelMake Lavash Crackers and create a dip/spread/salsa/relish to accompany it. This challenge allows for large helpings of creativity and personality, with the crackers, your flavor choices for the crackers, and with your dip/spread choice. You can create your own dip/spread recipe, use one of your favorites, or use one of the recipes we’ve provided at the bottom of this post. Get crazy ! Just be sure to post the recipe along with your challenge crackers so we can see what you made and how you made it (so we can try it, too!).

The Rules:
You have so much freedom! You can make the Lavash Crackers either with all purpose wheat flour or you can try making them gluten free. You may use any variety of spices/seeds/salt to top the crackers. All dips/spreads/
relishes/salsas must be vegan and gluten free.

The Definitions: Vegan - no animal products of any kind (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veganism); Gluten Free - No wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, and triticale, as well as the use of gluten as a food additive in the form of a flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agent. For the purposes of this challenge, we are also excluding oats, even though there are gluten free oats available in some parts of the world. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluten_free)

Heads Up :
* You can do so much to make this recipe your own – adding dried herbs or roasted garlic, etc., to the dough, using gourmet spices-salts-seasonings-seeds to sprinkle on top, etc.
* Read carefully ! The following recipe includes directions for both gluten-free crackers (à la Natalie !) and traditional AP flour crackers.
* The key to crispy crackers is rolling out the dough as thinly as possible. We noticed that the crackers turned out better if you divide the dough in half before rolling. You’ll roll out the dough as per the directions, decorate and cook the crackers in two batches.
* We’ve included some links with examples of the finished Lavash at the bottom of the post. J

RECIPE - Recipe Reference: The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Copyright 2001. ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.

Here's a simple formula for making snappy Armenian-style crackers, perfect for breadbaskets, company and kids...It is similar to the many other Middle Eastern and Northern African flatbreads known by different names, such as mankoush or mannaeesh (Lebanese), barbari (Iranian), khoubiz or khobz (Arabian), aiysh (Egyptian), kesret and mella (Tunisian), pide or pita (Turkish), and pideh (Armenian). The main difference between these breads is either how thick or thin the dough is rolled out, or the type of oven in which they are baked (or on which they are baked, as many of these breads are cooked on stones or red-hot pans with a convex surface)...

The key to a crisp lavash,...is to roll out the dough paper-thin. The sheet can be cut into crackers in advance or snapped into shards after baking. The shards make a nice presentation when arranged in baskets.

Ingredients:1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
1 tbsp (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
1 tbsp(.5 oz) vegetable oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp water, at room temperature
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

Method:1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

or

2. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.

or

4. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

What I Did:I chose to make the non-gluten free crackers. I prepared the dough and then divided it into 2 parts. In one I mixed some onion seeds and in the other Italian herbs. I baked the onion seeds dough in sheets and the one with the herbs I cut into circles. The crackers came out really crisp and crunchy. They were very tasty and also very light as munchies. I served mine with home-made Baba Ghanoush (recipe to follow). All in all, this recipe is a keeper.Though it really is an effort to roll the dough out to the requisite thin-ness, the results are well worth it!!

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Spicy Panner-Filled Rolls

Paneer or Indian-Style Cottage Cheese makes a delicious filling for these quick and easy bread rolls. Paneer is usually made with buffalo milk and is rich in calcium and contains upto 500mg calcium in a serving of a single cup. Quite simply, its good for you. These rolls taste delicious warm or cold. They are perfect as a snack, great for a party, but throw in a salad or soup and you get a yummy meal that's nutritious at the same time.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lemony Chickpea & Macaroni Chaat

Here's another original from my kitchen - Chickpea & Macaroni Chaat!! As all my friends and family know, I love to be creative in the kitchen. So, when we got home last Saturday, exhausted after some biking, we couldn't wait to get some lunch. Well, it was closer tea time and the breakfast we'd eaten had long been digested. Of course, we could have eaten out. But our new mantra is to avoid eating out as much as possible - primarily with the aim of avoiding unnecessary calories from restaurant food and hence to replace any such meal with a healthier home-cooked alternative.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mini-Appams for Onam

I decided to make some appam for Onam this year. I had just bought a packet of double roasted rice flour to make Palappam or Vellaiappam!! Its the first time I saw it at my local desi store. I was really excited until I found that all the instructions for use were in Malyalam!!!! After much deliberation, I decided to experiment and here is the recipe I used to make some delicious Vellaiappam. To make sure the experiment would work, I made these a few days before Onam.

However, I had quite a bit of batter remaining, which I promptly refrigerated. I am happy to report that it did quite well under refrigeration. I could not do much cooking for the last few days, anyway, as I was completely out of action with my cut finger. This morning when I pulled the batter out, I was delighted to find it usable. I decided to go creative and make something different, and as it turned out, even more delicious with them. And so the Mini-Appams came into being. These turn out crispy on the outside and wonderfully spongy on the inside. They retain their ability to mop up any curry and have a great taste too. They are a treat on their own, and can be served as a heavy snack with chutney. But I think they will be perfect for a party where you have many guests - a sort of cross between an idli and an appam!!!!

For Appam Batter:2 cups rice flour
1 tsp yeast
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1 tsp sugar
1 cup coconut milk
Extra milk as needed

Method:
  1. Warm the milk and water in a pan. Add sugar, dissolve. Then sprinkle the yeast. Let it sit for a few minutes or until you see it frothing.
  2. Mix well, and add it with the coconut milk into the rice flour. Add extra milk if needed to get a dropping consistency.
  3. Let the batter sit overnight in a warm place.
  4. The batter will rise and become frothy and will be ready to use in the morning
  5. Keep tuned for the Appam method in a following post!
For the Mini-Appams:
2 cups appam batter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 green chilli, minced
1 tbsp cilantro, minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
Oil, as needed
Salt to taste


Method:
  1. Mix all the ingredients into the batter.
  2. Heat the Uniappam pan. Pour a very small amount of oil into the cavaties.
  3. Pour spoonfuls of batter till the rim.
  4. Fry on medium heat.
  5. Turn the mini-appams halfway through cooking.
  6. When done, remove and place on a kitchen towel. This will help drain away any excess oil.
  7. Serve hot with a curry of your choice.
These lovely Mini-Appams are my contrinution to Festival Food - Onam Celebrations, hosted this month by notyet100 of Asan Kahna. To read more about Onam and see the treat that's cooking in celebration for this colourful harvest festival, visit Asan Khana.







All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007-2013. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

An Injury, a Tag, and a Time to Give Thanks!

While cooking is my passion, I had a rather unfortunate encounter with a kitchen knife this weekend. I injured my finger as I attempted to chop some really tough coconut. This has put me out of action for the last few days:(


Well, the good news is that after 4 days of concern, the cut is now well on its way to healing, and I am able to type without much pain!! I thought I'd take this time to pen a non-recipe blog. To begin with, I have been encouraged this last month by several words of appreciation from fellow food bloggers. These are displayed on the left margin of this blog. I would like to thank http://simpleindianfood.blogspot.com/and http://kitchenflavours.blogspot.com/ for their thoughtfulness:)

Kitchen Flavours also tagged me with the job of presenting my most unspectacular quirks (odd habits). Funny how one never really thinks about such things.

1. Fresh fruit is a great treat after a meal.
2. Shopping is a chore.
3. A daily swim is refreshing.
4. Whenever I go to the ice-cream shoppe, I get always try a new flavour.
5. Sunday papers are a fun read.
6. I like cloth kerchiefs!

Here goes the rules for the game:
1. Link back to the person who tagged you
2. Mention the rules on your blog.
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours.
4. Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them.
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they have been tagged.

I would like to invite the following bloggers to share their unspectacular quirks via this tag:

Easycrafts
Rashmi
Srivalli
Mythreyee
Jayasree
Red Chillies

Have a great day everyone!!

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Methi-Kanda Pakoras | Fenugreek-Onion Fritters

Something for a rainy day? How about pokaras? A tea-time staple, these Indian-style fritters are quickly rustled up and served with tea especially when there are unexpected visitors. Loved by kids and adults alike, pakoras come in all shapes and sizes. Vegetables of choice are cut in bite-sized portions and covered with seasoned chickpea flour and deep-fried. In my home we love onion pakoras. I usually make them on a really rainy day and serve them hot with a steaming cup of sweet tea!!

Methi-Kanda Pakoras or fenugreek-onion fritters taste divine. The somewhat bitter taste of fresh fenugreek leaves combines very well with the sweet flavour of the onions. I usually use the red onions as they turn out more crispy when fried. I have found that the white or yellow onions are more watery that the red ones and do not acquire or retain the desirable crispness when deep frying.

Ingredients:
1 cup fenugreek leaves, tightly packed
1 medium onion, chopped fine
3/4 cup chickpea flour
2 green chillies
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
Salt to taste
Water, just enough to make a batter
Oil, for deep frying

Method:
  1. Place the chickpea flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the cumin seeds, chilli powder, and salt. Sift together.
  2. Now add just enough water to make a batter. Make sure that the batter is completely free of any lumps.
  3. Chop the fenugreek leaves coarsely, mince the green chillies, and mix with the onion. Pour this into the prepared batter and blend together, making sure that all the vegetable has a coating of the batter.
  4. Heat oil for deep frying in a heavy bottomed wok. Reduce heat to medium. Gently drop spoonfuls of the onion-fenugreek batter into the oil. Fry on medium heat until the pakoras are well cooked and golden brown in colour.
  5. Serve hot with fresh green chutney.
This delicious treat goes out to Herb Mania hosted this month by Red Chillies.

Vegan Recipe

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007-2013. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Besan Laddoos & Sabudana Khichiri


Besan Laddoos make a beautiful and tasty naivedyam. Its also one sweet that stays well and stores well too. This year I decided to make besan laddoos for Ganesh Chaturthi. This is a really tasty recipe - and makes a delicious festival food.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ganesh Chaturthi

Vakratunda Mahakaaya, Suryakoti Samaprabha, Nirvighnam Kuru Mey Deva, Sarva Kaaryeshu Sarvada

Salutations to the supreme Lord Ganesha, whose curved trunk and massive body shines like a million suns and showers his blessings on everyone. Oh my lord of lords Ganesha, kindly remove all obstacles, always and forever from all my activities and endeavors.



Happy Ganesh Chaturthi!! Our offering to Lord Ganesha: Besan Laddoo & Sabudana Kichiri.
*Recipes to follow.

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Back With a Puff: Chocolate Eclairs with a Daring Baker


Chocolate Eclairs, for me, are melt in the mouth Choux Pastry that brings with it an explosion of the cream puff, fresh cream filling, and the very fudgy chocolate glaze!! Its a recipe that I picked up sometime in high school and have many happy memories of seeing the joy it has brought to everyone I have shared it with. Needless to say, I was delighted when I found that Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé was the recipe chosen by Meeta and Tony for the August Daring Bakers Challenge!!

The recipe as posted on the DB Challenge shows Éclairs as consisting of 3 elements:- Pate a Choux, or Choux Pastry or Cream Puff Dough, Pastry Cream, and Chocolate Glaze. The detailed recipe is as follows:

Chocolate Éclairs @ Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
makes 20-24 Éclairs

Making the Cream Puffs:
  1. Take one portion Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm
  2. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds bypositioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets withwaxed or parchment paper.
  3. Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough.Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers.Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff.The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.
  4. Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.
  5. The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.
Assembling the Eclairs:
  1. For this you need the Chocolate Glaze (see below for recipe), the Chocolate Pastry Cream (see above for recipe), and the cooled Eclairs.
  2. Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.
  3. The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.
  4. Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.
  5. If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water,stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create bubbles.
  6. The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.
Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough Ingredients & Recipe:
½ cup (125g) whole milk
½ cup (125g) water
1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, at room temperature
  1. In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil.
  2. Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. Yaounde to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.
  3. Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your hand mixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time,beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough.You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.
  4. The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.
  5. Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately. You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.
Chocolate Pastry Cream Ingredients & Recipe:
2 cups (500g) whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tbsp (75g) sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  1. In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.
  2. Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.
  3. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.
  5. Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.
  6. The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream. Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.
Chocolate Glaze Ingredients & Recipe:(makes 1 cup or 300g)
1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature
  1. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.
  2. Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.
  3. If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.
  4. It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.
Chocolate Sauce Ingredients & Recipe: (makes 1½ cups or 525 g)
4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (250 g) water
½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
1/3 cup (70 g) sugar 1)
  1. Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.
  2. It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.
  3. You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.
  4. This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.
What I Did:

I followed the recipe for the Cream Puffs as per Herme, though I made only half the quantity. The dough was really easy to make and came together very well. I used my especially purchased piping bag to pipe out the eclairs. The size of my eclairs was around 11/2". I baked them for around 24 minutes total following the method above, but found it was just simpler to bake in the middle rack of the oven. The Choux Pastry turned out beautiful, firm, and sounded hollow when I gave it a gentle tap.

When the puffs cooled down I filled them with fresh whipped cream, and covered the tops with the chocolate glaze. Simple, beautiful, and delicious!!
All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Khatta-Meetha Nimboo Achaar | Sweet-Sour Lemon Pickle

Lemons are a plenty in the market, and its the perfect weather to enjoy them. Lemons are tremendously versatile and just add great flavour to food. I always keep a great stock handy for all those lovely dishes that come alive with a squeeze of lemon. Amongst our favourites are chilled sweet lemonade, margaritas, salad dressing, granita, and needless to say pickle!!

A drop of lemon pickle makes a perfect accompaniment to any meal. Try this lovely home made pickle with rice, paratha, crackers, toast, you name it!! The explosive combination of tart, sweet, and hot makes it finger-licking good:)

Ingredients:
8 lemons, quartered
1 cup canola oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 cup dry red chillies
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp asafetida
1/2 cup sugar
Salt, to taste


Method:
  1. Heat the oil in a deep, heavy bottomed pan. Add the mustard seeds.
  2. When they begin to pop, add the asafetida. Stir and cook for a minute. Next add the lemons.Take care not to splash the oil as it will be very hot at this point.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the lemons well, until all the water they release is evaporated and the oil begins to separate from them. Remove from the heat.
  4. In a separate non-stick pan, dry roast the fenugreek seeds and the red chillies separately. Cool. Dry grind these together.
  5. Now add this spice mix to the cooked lemons with the salt and sugar. Mix well. As the oil is warm, the sugar will melt.
  6. Once the pickle is cool, store in clean, dry glass bottles for at least a week before serving.


This lemon pickle goes to AFAM Lemon. A monthly event, it is being hosted this month by Easycrafts at Simple Indian Food. AFAM or A Fruit A Month event was started by Maheswari of Beyond the Usual blog. This recipe also goes to Sunita at Sunita's World food blog. Sunita's food event Think Spice... carries the theme Think Spice... Think Favourite this month. This is because this fabulous event is celebrating its very first anniversary! Great going Sunita - and wishing you all the best!! Quick note on my favourite spice which is fenugreek seeds. Fenugreek seeds are a staple of Indian cooking and they add great flavour to vegetables, pickles, and chutneys alike. Fenugreek, roasted and crushed is a vital ingredient of pickles. Its flavour though initially bitter plays a significant role in the maturing of the pickle. Here's to my favourite spice - fenugreek seeds!!!!

Vegan Recipe

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007-2013. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Watermelon Slurpee with Nat King Cole

Watermelon Slurpee - just the sound of that on hot August afternoon is inviting!! Yes, what in these parts are called the 'dog days of summer' are here again. The heat index is through the roof with high humidity and not a cloud in sight. The garden is green, and I noticed this morning (as I have been the last month or so) that the plump yellow and black bumblebee is back and busy sucking nectar from the bright yellow cucumber flowers.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bean & Walnut Macaroni

Yup!! We have all tried mac & cheese. Undoubtedly a delight for any kid, I have known many adults to succumb to this wholesome and hearty dish. But hey, macaroni is not just for kids. And melted cheese is key to the comfort food that I believe is best set aside for a cold winter day!!

Pasta and innovation just go hand in hand. So here's another original for you from my kitchen. The story behind this is that this year I have created for myself a lovely kitchen garden!! I decided to do this a bit late in the season, so I am enjoying the lovely vegetables a bit later that they would normally have appeared. At present, I have beautiful yellow, almost golden plum tomatoes, yellow wax beans, basil, and cilantro.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Moongachi Usal | Sprouted Mung Bean Bhaji

Maybe one of the most widely eaten legumes across the world, the Mung Bean is as tasty as it is nutritious. Packed with fibre, calcium, protein, and potassium - this bean makes a wonderful part of a healthy diet. Now sprouted Mung Beans simply pump up all this nutritional content! Indeed, sprouts are rich in protein quality, energy, vitamins A,B,C, and E, minerals, essential fatty acids, and beneficial enzymes.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Palak Ke Parathe | Spinach Flatbread

My earliest memories of parathas come from seeing them in my school lunch box. My Mum is a genius with dough, and when I was in school, and she would create the most amazing parathas, make rolls with them with vegetable filling, and place them in our lunch boxes. This always a made a very tasty, filling, and nutritious lunch, and needless to say - much in demand amongst my friends.

I like to think I am as experimentative as her as creating with new tastes and flavours is something I adore. The great thing about these spinach parathas, apart from the fact that they are delicious, is that they taste great hot or cold. They can be prepared in advance, wrapped in foil and served hot with lime pickle, sliced cucumbers and yogurt. And as they travel rather well, they can be cooled after cooking, and used to make rolls with whatever filling you fancy, foil wrapped individually for a nice healthy picnic lunch. Either way, they are yummy!!

Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup spinach cooked
1/2 onion chopped fine
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 green chillies, chopped fine
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp oil
Ghee, as needed
Extra flour as needed



Method:
  1. Sift together the flour, salt, chilli powder, and cumin seeds. Add the oil and rub into the flour with the palms of your hands.
  2. Once the spinach has cooled, puree it.
  3. Next add the onions, garlic, green chillies, and the pureed spinach to the flour mix, and using water if needed make into a semi-soft dough. Knead it for 2 minutes.
  4. Cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into golf ball sized portions. Using the extra flour to dust the kneading board and roll out the dough into discs 4 inches in diameter.
  6. Heat a non-stick griddle. Reduce the heat to medium, and place one paratha. Cook, then turn over and cook the other side.
  7. Remove from the griddle, brush with ghee, and place in foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  8. Serve these nutritious parathas with yogurt and chutney.
These Spinach Parathas are my contribution to Joanna's Heart of the Matter HotM - Picnics!! Interestingly, Johanna of the food blog The Passionate Cook has chosen the theme of picnics for this month's WTSIM. I hope I can tempt at least some summer picnics with these Spinach Parathas!!

And as greens (yes greens!!) are my favourite foods, these parathas also go out to Easycrafts at Simple Indian Food for her wonderful event WYF - Colour in Food!

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007-2012. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Vegetarian Chilli Con Soya

Vegetarian Chilli? Sounds contradictory, huh? Well, not really. Soya Granules or what is sold in many health stores as texturised vegetable protein makes the perfect substitute for this spicy dish, the original recipe of which is Chilli Con Carne or chilli with meat and calls for minced meat.

This is a recipe that I put together after I discovered a box of soya granules in the pantry of our home on returning from my travels. My husband had seen them at our local desi (Indian) store and as he remembered them from his childhood, he purchased them on a whim! This happened a couple of years ago and since then I have discovered that vegetarian cilli is actually a very popular dish. However I have been both surprised and excited to see the number and types of ingredients that are used as a substitute for the meat. These include chilli with mixed vegetables and beans, firm tofu, lentils, potatoes, beets, and grape nuts!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Spinach & Ricotta Manicotti

My friends and visitors to this blog are already familiar with the fact that I really don't enjoy using raw egg in my recipes. I try as far as possible to avoid them and where necessary replace them with relevant alternatives. All the recipes that I have come across for manicotti tend to use egg in the filling, I believe to bind together the ingredients. When I set out to make this recipe egg free, I was not quite sure how the filling would hold up. I was really pleasantly surprised to see it turned out perfect!!


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Aloo ke Samose | Potato Samosas with Phyllo

Samosas = party!! Every special occasion deserves a treat and the samosa somehow makes an appearance at birthdays, office parties, picnics, marriages, well everywhere!! I still remember a great Mithai (Indian Sweet) shop near my grandparents home in Delhi which made the most divine Shingharas or Bengali version of samosas. They were so popular that one had to make a special order to make sure you got your hands on them!!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Strawberry Cardamom Milkshake

June is typically strawberry season in our parts. But due to the extended winter and the snow on the ground, strawberries here did not make an appearance until mid-June, so the season extended itself into mid-July. This year we went strawberry-picking to an amazing farm which was growing multiple varieties of strawberries, but more on that later.

I love strawberries in every way, but I have to say that strawberry milkshake was never my favourite. The tartness of the berries just don't seem to sit well with the sweetness of the milk. But, as it is one fruit milkshake that my dear husband truly loves, I blend it in different ways in order to bring some more balance to the flavour. One spice I find goes beautifully with strawberries is crushed green cardamom. It adds a certain je ne sais quoi to this blend which I recommend serving without ice and chilled.


Ingredients:
3/4 cup strawberries, hulled
11/2 cups fat free milk, chilled
1/4 tsp cardamom powder

Method:
  1. Place all the ingredients in the blender and whick until smooth abd frothy.
  2. Pour into tall glasses and serve immediately.
This deliciously sweet milkshake is also my contribution to Linda of Got Milk? who is spreading awareness about World Breastfeeding Week which is celebrated annually in the first week of August.

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007-2013. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Pretzels with Nigella Seeds

There is nothing that can beat the smell of fresh baked bread. Fresh bread is my weakness. I love granary rolls, rye bread, multi grain bread, french loaves, sourdough, Irish soda bread - hey where do I stop?? A current favourite in my home is the pretzel. My very first memory of pretzels is buying them off a roadside cart in Munich and chewing them ever so slowly as I walked round the city and the famous English Gardens. Shortly after, I encountered them at Munich's famous Hofbrau Haus, once a royal brewery for the Bavarian court, where they accompany beer!! Needless to say these were king sized versions of the one I'd been munching.

What I loved about the pretzels was their soft yet chewy texture and the coarse salt crystals on the top which just added a great crunch. Ever since I have wanted to try them at home and today with a small tweak to the basic recipe I did just that.

Ingredients:
1 tsp Yeast
1 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tbsp softened butter or softened margarine
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp nigella seeds to sprinkle on pretzels before baking
1 tbsp baking soda mixed in 4 cups water


You will also need:
1 pair tongs
Greased baking sheet


Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Put yeast, sugar, and salt into a cup and pour in the warm water. Mix until the yeast starts to froth.
  3. Place the flour into a mixing bowl, rub in the butter, and then stir in the yeast mixture. Bring together the flour with this mix to make a dough
  4. Knead the dough until it is smooth. Place in a bowl in a warm area until it rises to double of its original height.
  5. Grease the baking sheet. Then prepare the baking soda-water mixture in a saucepan that is not aluminium, and bring to a boil on stove. Leave to simmer.
  6. Once the dough is ready, knead it once again for a minute. Next divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Roll it with your fingers into 12 inch long rolls. Shape these into the pretzels.
  7. Place the shaped pretzels on a parchment paper for 3 minutes. Then using a pair of tongs place them in the boiling water-baking soda mixture one at a time.
  8. Let the pretzels boil for a minute on one side, then turn them over with the tongs and boil on the other side for another minute.
  9. Remove form the water, drip excess water off them, and then place them on the greased baking sheet. Repeat this for all the pretzels, then sprinkle them with the nigella seeds.
  10. Bake for 14-15 minutes or until the pretzels are golden brown.
  11. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Let stand for 30 seconds. Use tongs to pick the pretzels off the sheet, and place on wire rack to cool.
  12. Serve warm or cold.
These pretzels are great just on their own or with a bowl of your favourite soup. The nigella seeds gives them a distinct flavour. My entire kitchen was fragrant with the heady smell of fresh bread and nigella! The boiling step ensures that their skin remains firm, enriches their texture and enhances their flavour. You can skip the boiling step, but I certainly recommend it unless you like pretzels that rise and taste like white bread. Its very easy to do and lends that touch of authenticity to the pretzel.These Pretzels with Nigella Seeds are my entry for Bread Baking Day #12: Small Breadshosted this month by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen.

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007-2013. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Protein Rich Snack: Acaraje

Acaraje or a bean fritter comes from a fusion of African and Brazilian cuisines. It is a kind of street or fast food that is served with a spicy vinegary sauce!!Typically the acaraje fritter or patty is made with black-eye beans which are then deep fried in palm oil. Delicious, but I wanted to do something different with this recipe - mainly try to make a more healthy version of it. I made this acaraje with red kidney beans, and shallow fried them with very little oil.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Swiss Treat: Green Pea and Saffron Risotto

Swiss National Day - Red, white or Swiss

This one's for Zorra to help her feel at home and celebrate 'Swiss National Day'. After much deliberation, I decided to go with a Risotto and a Gratin. Both turned out to be really easy to make and were bursting with flavour!!!!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Chikoo Milkshake | Sapota Milkshake

Chikoo is one fruit that is seen in plenty in early summer across India. As a child I remember shopping for Chikoo from roadside vendors. The ripe ones would be washed and go straight into the refrigerator. Once they were chilled, we'd peel and quarter them and serve them for dessert after lunch. Heaven - the simplest yet most delicious dessert.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Creamy Cucumber Curd Rice


I usually head to the local farmer's market on Saturday mornings. This morning I lingered a little too long there as I got into a really interesting conversation with a local farmer who is growing edible flowers!!!! But more of that a post to follow. While the conversation was both fun and educative, the heat index was not!! And by the time I got home with some really beautiful sugar snaps, zucchini, and cucumber, I knew that I had caught a touch of the sun.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hot and Spicy Black Bean Fusili

The great thing about pasta is that its just so so versatile. I simply love to be innovative with it and every time I decide to make some, I try to work with ingredients in my refrigerator and pantry. Last Sunday, after a beautiful and very fun day out, I was rummaging in my pantry when I suddenly felt a craving for black beans. I love black beans in Vegetarian Tacos, acaraje, and salsa. But I have never tried them with pasta. So I asked myself - why not? And below is the result :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Multi-Grain Banana Bread


I am always on a lookout for healthier alternatives to everyday treats. So when I saw Manasi's announcement for Healthy Cooking - A Cookbook Giveaway Event, I decided to go right ahead and try a new recipe that I put together last week, while considering a healthier approach to Banana Bread. Now, Banana Bread is a great favourite in my home and we adore it warm with hazelnut-cinnamon coffee!! But as we all know, Banana Bread is addictive and can become an adorably sinful if delicious treat.

I had, in fact, been toying with the idea of turning my favourite recipe for this yum cake around for a while and I have to thank the Healthy Cooking challenge for giving me the push that I needed to venture forth!!!! So, this is how I went about it: Firstly, I decided to substitute all-purpose flour with whole wheat, and a combination of grains including cornmeal and triticale. Next I dropped the white sugar and replaced it with soft brown sugar and some molasses. And finally, I replaced the butter in the recipe with canola oil. The result was a highly textured, dense, and moist banana bread with a rich malty-banana flavour. Absolutely and utterly delicious.


While this is also know in our home as the disappearing cake, I find that this cake stay best when stored in a refrigerator in an airtight storage box. Cut only as much as you are serving and enjoy it with your favourite beverage or with a lite soft cream cheese spread. Yummmm, and without further ado here's my recipe for Annarasa's Multi-Grain Banana Bread.

Ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup mixed grains (cornmeal, soy, rye, triticale, rolled oats, wheatgerm, flax meal)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Canola Oil
3/4 cup soft brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups mashed very ripe bananas

Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325F. As I like to make smaller loafs, I used 2 samll loaf pans. But a larger pan will work just as well. Grease the pans well.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the flour and the grains. Blend in the salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the oil, eggs, vanilla extract, molasses, and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Now add the flour-grain mixture, and the mashed bananas, and mix well using a spatula.
  5. Pour the prepared batter into the loaf pans. Bake for around an hour or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in the pans for around ten minutes.
  6. Turn out and allow the loafs to cool on the wire rack.
Enjoy :)

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007-2013. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Indian Street Food: Rice Plate Chole | Chickpeas with RIce

Now that's an unusual name for a recipe isn't it? Not if you've been to University in Delhi, Bombay, or many of the other metros in India. When I was completing my Masters in Delhi, I spent long long hours soaking up books in the library. Reading often gave way to a ravenous appetites and late after the local cafes and canteens closed doors, it was the corner shops and street stores that catered to the hunger of budding professionals. I remember stepping out of the library with some buddies, turning a quick corner, and ordering a steaming hot Rice Plate. Quite simply this comprised a plate heaped with rich and served with a deliciously simple curry, usually either chole (chickpeas) or rajma (red kidney beans). At what can only described as a nominal price, each plate served was always enough food for two!! Filling, satisfying, and nutritious, it was an excellent motivation to go back and hit the books.


This is my version of the very same chole made to go with rice. I add cinnamon, star anise, and nutmeg as they impart a delicately sweet flavour to this otherwise spicy curry. Here's to some great memories of Delhi, University, and the ubiquitous corner shop with a Rice Plate menu!!

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups chickpeas, soaked overnight
2 onions, chopped fine
3 tomatoes, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1" piece ginger, minced
6-8 curry leaves
1" piece ginger, minced
1 black cardamom
2 points star anise (from 1 flower)
1/2 tsp cumin
6 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
A few shavings nutmeg
Small stick cinnamon
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
Salt, to taste
2 tbsp oil

Method:
  1. Drain the chickpeas, and pressure cook with with some fresh water, the cinnamon stick, black cardamom, star anise, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, peppercorns, bay leaves, a few shavings nutmeg, a pinch of salt, and ginger.
  2. In a deep frying pan, add the oil. Once it is heated, add the cumin, the curry leaves, garlic, ginger and onions. Fry until the onions are golden brown, then add the tomatoes, salt to taste, turmeric, chilli powder, and 1/4 cup water. Cook until the tomatoes are soft and you have a semi liquid curry.
  3. Pour the chickpeas with the liquid they were cooked in into the tomato-onion paste. Stir, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Check for seasonings and adjust according to taste.
  4. Serve hot with plain rice, or for a treat enjoy with Zeera Chawal (Cumin Rice). Enjoy!!
I am sending this recipe out to Sri of Cooking for All Seasons for Curry Mela. This will be my very first entry to her Mela series :)

I am also sending this out to Aparna My Diverse Kitchen who is hosting this month's Think Spice, Think Nutmeg.

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007-2013. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.
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