Friday, January 30, 2009

Masaman Curry on White Rice

Thai cuisine is one of my favourites. In fact, we have a world class Thai restaurant in the city here that we frequent and love - largely because they offer so much choice in vegetarian food. Of course, I do make Thai food at home too, experimenting with various spices and sauces. My favourites are green curry, yellow curry, sticky rice, pad Thai, light summer rolls, dumplings, bananas in coconut cream, and of course the tasteful Thai chili sauce!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tuiles from the Daring Bakers

This month the Daring Bakers Kitchen set us a lighter challenge than those we have grown accustomed to in the last few months of 2008. It's the ultra light French cookies known as Tuiles!! 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.

Despite it being an unusually busy time of the year, I really was very excited about this challenge. And was even happier when I saw that a savoury version had been added. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, and so just the thought of a savoury alternative made me happy, more so as I knew that I would not really have the time to hunt for alternative recipes this month. The Savory Tuile recipe provided via DBK is from Thomas Keller The French Laundry Cookbook.

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (65 grams/2.1/4 ounces) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar 1 teaspoon kosher salt (= 2/3 teaspoon table salt)
8 tablespoons (114 grams/4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened but still cool to the touch
2 large egg whites, cold
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the softened butter until it is completely smooth and mayonnaise-like in texture.
  2. Using a stiff spatula or spoon, beat the egg whites into the dry ingredients until completely incorporated and smooth. Whisk in the softened butter by thirds, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary and whisking until the batter is creamy and without any lumps.
  3. Transfer the batter to a smaller container, as it will be easier to work with. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Make a 4-inch hollow circular stencil.
  4. Place Silpat on the counter (it is easier to work on the Silpat before it is put on the sheet pan). Place the stencil in one corner of the sheet and, holding the stencil flat against the Silpat, scoop some of the batter onto the back of an offset spatula and spread it in an even layer over the stencil. Then run the spatula over the entire stencil to remove any excess batter. After baking the first batch of cornets, you will be able to judge the correct thickness. You may need a little more or less batter to adjust the thickness of the cornets. There should not be any holes in the batter.
  5. Lift the stencil and repeat the process to make as many rounds as you have molds or to fill the Silpat, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between the cornets. Sprinkle each cornet with a pinch of black sesame seeds. Place the Silpat on a heavy baking sheet and bake for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the batter is set and you see it rippling from the heat.
  6. The cornets may have browned in some areas, but they will not be evenly browned at this point. Open the oven door and place the baking sheet on the door. This will help keep the cornets warm as you roll them and prevent them from becoming too stiff to roll. Flip a cornet over on the sheet pan, sesame seed side down and place 4-1/2 inch cornet mold at the bottom of the round. If you are right-handed, you will want the pointed end on your left and the open end on your right. The tip of the mold should touch the lower left edge (at about 7 o'clock on a clock face) of the cornet.
  7. Fold the bottom of the cornet and around the mold; it should remain on the sheet pan as you roll. Leave the cornet wrapped around the mold and continue to roll the cornets around molds; as you proceed, arrange the rolled cornets, seams side down, on the sheet pan so they lean against each other, to prevent from rolling.
  8. When all the cornets are rolled, return them to the oven shelf, close the door, and bake for an additional 3 to 4 minutes to set the seams and color the cornets a golden brown. If the color is uneven, stand the cornets on end for a minute or so more, until the color is even.
  9. Remove the cornets from the oven and allow to cool just slightly, 30 seconds or so. Gently remove the cornets from the molds and cool for several minutes on paper towels. Remove the Silpat from the baking sheet, wipe the excess butter from it, and allow it to cool down before spreading the next batch. Store the cornets for up to 2 days (for maximum flavor) in an airtight container.
I followed this recipe but I have to say that it did not work too well for me. For one, the batter consistency was not as I would expect to make Tuiles! Secondly, the oven baked Tuiles did not take a shape very well. They are more on the crisp side and broke rather readily. I tried several batches. Above are the ones I managed to save!! And finally, the taste just did not sit well on our palette :( Maybe I'll try the sweet cookie next time. Hoping for better luck then!!

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, January 24, 2009

Cheesy Hot Toast

Last weekend I visited a cheese shop in our parts and was delighted to see some lovely artisan cheeses on the shelves. The one that caught my eye was none other than a - hold your breath - three alarm cheese. With a name like that I just had to pick it up. A spicy mix of three different chilies lends its name to this cheese. And no more than the tiniest bite assures you that this cheese was made to live up to its name.

Now, as almost everyone would agree, there is nothing quite like hot toast with tea on a freezing winter afternoon!! The only thing that can make it better is some spicy melted cheese on the top - Yum! And if you want something superlative, stick some tapenade on the toast just under the cheese.

4 slices honey wheat bread
1 tsp butter, softened
2 tbsp tapenade
4 tbsp 3 alarm cheese, grated (replace with
Jalapeno Jack for a milder taste)
2 tbsp mozzarella cheese, grated

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350F. Place the bread on the wire rack and toast until crisp and golden.
  2. Remove from the oven and butter each slice. Now thickly spread the tapenade on two of the slices.
  3. Mix the two cheeses, and spread equally on the 4 slices.
  4. Return to the oven and grill until the cheese melts completely.
  5. Carefully remove the toasts from the oven. Cut into squares or triangles. Serve immediately.
These mini-toasts are superb with a cup of tea or coffee. They are also great when served with wine. These spicy snacks are making their way to Pallavi @ All Things Yummy. Don't forget to visit Sunday Snacks this month, where you will find all things Hot n Spicy!!

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, January 6, 2009

BBD #15 Festive Breads: The Final Course

To anyone who has just joined in, this is the final lap of a Roundup of the monthly food event Bread Baking Day #15. You can find the first part of this roundup at A Roundup of Festive Breads: BBD #15 and the second at BBD #15 Festive Breads: Second Helping.

Here I being with Jude's contribution - Dan Lepard's Stollen Recipe via The Guardian. Jude says that this recipe for an extra moist Stollen may be lengthy, but they come together easily and there is very little kneading. What Jude loved best was placing the marzipan in the dough!! Do stop by at Apple Pie, Patis & Pate for a slice of this beautiful bread.

Location: Chicago, IL

Elizabeth prepared a lovely Festive Bread for Christmas breakfast. Elizabeth decided to skip the saffron in her bread this year and made a sweet six-strand bread to serve with hard-boiled eggs. for some wonderful tips on getting this bread right, stop by at Blog from OUR Kitchen.

Location: Toronto, Canada

Cheesy Herb Challah with Masala Cola!! Talk about tickling the taste buds and experimenting with food. That's exactly what Navita proposes to continue doing as she steps into the New Year. Find this lovely treat baked by Navita on her blog Zaayeka.

Hong Kong

Natalia's friend had her family visiting from England for the holidays. They asked Natalia if she could bake a Vegan Panetonne for them. And as Natalia adores challenges, that is exactly what she set out to do. Visit her blog gatti fili e farina for this recipe.

Location: Roma, Italy

Miriam baked a beautiful bread - Il Pandoro - Simili for Bread Baking Day #15! This is a perfect festive bread as it is not only pretty, but the Pandoro is a delicious bread. Its sure to please all your family and friends when they bite into it! For a more detailed recipe, do visit Miriam's blog at Chaosqueens Kitchen.

Location: Lübeck - North Germany

Stefan of Der Suppenkasper blog baked an exquisitely beautiful Neujahrsbretzel - New Year´s Pretzel. Do visit his blog for this and two other beautiful breads baked by him for the festive season this year - a Six Point Star, and a Hungarian Ring Bread!!

Location: Hessen, Germany

Temperance from High on the Hog shares her Grandma Skinner's Bread for All Occasions. Temperance says they would receive one of these beautiful prepared loafs from her every year for Xmas!! Now that she has the recipe too, Temperance bakes this bread annually in her own home on festive days! Peek in for a delicious recipe, perfect for sharing with friends and family alike!!

Location: Texas, USA

Jacqueline of Toxo Bread baked a truly festive Blueberry Cream Cheese Braid for dessert on New Year's Eve. She says that while this may not be a traditional holiday bread, it sure has great appeal. Her family loved it and I am sure we all give her the 'thumbs up' from too.

Location: Burlington, VT

And finally, my humble offering to this lovely food event. I baked a simple aniseed flavoured bread - the Vasilopita or St. Basil's Day Bread! For the beautiful story behind this bread and a recipe, join me at Annarasa.

Location: USA

Once again, thank you all for making this event such a success. I really enjoyed hosting BBD #15: Festive Breads. The next Bread Baking Day is hosted by Temperence of High on the Hog. Do visit her blog for the theme for January. I have covered all entries that made it to my inbox. If you did send me your entry and it is missing from this roundup, kindly alert me at annarasa[at]gmail[dot]com. and I will add your entry.

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, January 5, 2009

BBD #15 Festive Breads: Second Helping

Welcome back to a second helping of Festive Breads via Bread Baking Day #15. You will find the first part of this roundup at A Roundup of Festive Breads: BBD #15.

Live :: Love :: Laugh :: Eat! is the delightful name of Kim's blog. Kim's resolution for the new year is to try new things and baking bread is one of them! She has made a truly spectacular start with the Ginger-Orange Quick Bread that she baked for her co-workers for Christmas. Here's to experimenting with more bread recipes in 2009. For a great tip on where to find candied ginger and a whiff of the warm aroma of ginger-orange, drop by at Kim's blog.

Location: Portsmouth, Virginia, USA

Emma of Gustoto baked a traditional camp fire bread from Australia for BBD #15. She says that when this bread is seasoned with chives, basil, and semi-dried tomatoes, the Damper turns into a truly festive treat!!

Location: Brisbane, Australia

Toby from Foolish Poolish Bakes has a treat for us all - a gorgeous Panotenne. Read the story of an adventure spanning no less than four months to achieve this result. Just a quick peek at the bread - its colour, texture, and taste all make the effort worthwhile. Hats off to Toby for his dedication and persistence.

Location: UK

Bejgli is a traditional Hungarian Christmas Bread and Dulmina from Dulmina tündérkonyhája or 'Dulmina's Fairy Kitchen' has baked a more vegan-friendly version of this bread. She has used whole wheat for the bread which she filled with walnuts and poppy seeds. This bread is not only beautiful but easy to create too!!

Location: Szeged, Hungary

How does Hot Cross Buns with cocoa sound to you on a chilly winter morning? Natashya chose these traditional buns from Nick Malgieri A Baker's Tour as her contribution to BBD #15. Visit her blog Living in the Kitchen with Puppies for a look at this fragrant spicy bread with the surprise ingredient of chopped dried apricot!!

Location: Ontario, Canada

Gine from i dolci fanno felici baked an exquisite Austrian Nut Bread for the holidays. Eaten in Austria and German homes around Christmas is easy to put together, full of flavour, and a real delight to serve - just look at all those lovely almonds!!

Location: Berlin, Germany

Teresa of Discovering Sourdough chose her famous Festive Hawaiian Rolls to serve with coffee on Christmas morning. Beautiful sourdough is filled with a coconut, nut, and cinnamon paste, slashed, and then baked to perfection. Can you just imagine the aroma wafting through her kitchen?

Location: Tokeland, Washington

Panfrutto is a popular fruit flavoured bread baked around Christmas in Italy. It is a favourite of Cinzia of Cindystar who says that this is a very easy recipe to create, stays well, and can be pulled out of the pantry in a snap should you find unexpected guests knocking at your door!!

Location: Bardolino, Lake of Garda, Italy

Glenda of Domesticated Engineer has sent in her own special recipe of Glenda's Christmas Bread. A wonderful recipe for a home made bread, it uses whole spelt flour, shredded zucchini, pomegranate juice, and walnuts! Glenda shaped this versatile dough into a tree and a wreath.

Location: Wichita, Kansas

The famous German Dresdner Stollen was Preeti's choice of bread for BBD #15. Though Stollen is a staple in German supermarkets at this time of the year and Preeti purchases one every year, this year she decided to bake one herself. Follow Preeti's very first attempt to making a delicious loaf of Stollen at My Kitchen Stories.

Location: Hamburg, Germany

Judy from Judy's Gross Eats took the All Purpose Holiday Bread recipe from Peter Reinhart's Crust & Crumb, and fashioned it into a lovely Christmas Bread! She says she loaded the dough with sliced almonds and finely chopped dark chocolate and made Boules!! Simply beautiful. Thanks Judy for finding the time in your busy schedule to join it the festivities. Find her recipe at All Purpose Holiday bread.

Location: Ventura, California, USA

Ulrike of Küchenlatein shared her recipe for a celebratory New Year's Pretzel. Ulrike notes that a pretzel is the symbol for infinity and is also considered to be a a good luck charm or blessing. In parts of Germany, the sharing a New Year Pretzel with friends and family is said to bring good luck and well-being!!

Sarah from What Smells So Good? baked a fragrant Vanilla-Apple Honey Challah on the first night of Chanukah!! Sarah says the holidays are filled with her baking all kinds of goodies and even though she thought she was done for this year, she chanced upon a recipe she had saved some time back!! Encouraged by her Mom, she tweaked the recipe to add Kamut flour, applesauce and vanilla to create a beautiful and golden loaf.

Location: Oshawa, Ontario

Keep reading for the final part of this Roundup!!

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

A Roundup of Festive Breads: BBD #15

In the last month of 2008, it was my delight and joy to host Bread Baking Day #15. This is a monthly event for enthusiastic bread bakers who eagerly drop in from across the world to try their hand at a themed bread baking event and share their lovely results with us all. The brain child of Zorra of 1x umrühren bitte, Bread Baking Day is guest hosted every month by one amongst an ever-growing pool of contributors to this event. As the new year 2009 begins, I pass on the baton to Temperence of High on the Hog. Do visit her blog to know the theme of BBD #16!!

The theme for BBD #15 was Festive Breads keeping in mind the many festivals that grace December. I was delighted to see the enthusiasm of my many foodie friends towards this theme and was overjoyed at the response to the event. In total, I received over 30 entries. To do justice to each entry, I have decided to do this round-up in two parts. Part 2 follows shortly. Kindly note that the entries are organised in the order that I received them. Before I proceed I would like to say a big thank you to each and everyone who participated :) December is a busy month and I appreciate your contribution!!

Uma of Essence of Andhra set the entries rolling by baking a colourful Cranberry Bread with Pureed Fruit. Though skeptical about cranberries in the beginning, she combined them with some semi-sweet chocolate chips to get a fragrant loaf. Uma also used a mashed banana in place of eggs for this recipe and was astounded at the beautiful result.

Location: USA

Sweatha of Tasty Curry Leaf sent in two beautiful entries. The first - Clover Leaf Rolls are attractive dinner or breakfast rolls that are prepared on special festival days. The shape of the cloverleaf is believed to represent the Holy Trinity. Though they are traditionally made with Brioche dough, Sweatha used tofu and soy milk as egg substitutes for these pretty rolls.

Festive Julekage is Sweatha's next entry for BBD #15! A Scandinavian Christmas Bread that is popular in Denmark and Norway, Julekage is essentially a spiced sweet bread filled with nuts and candied fruits. Sweatha tried this bread with and without a sugar icing and loved it in both versions!

Location: New Jersey, USA

Lien a busy mum of two young kids still finds the time to bake an Italian Christmas bread annually to share with her Italian class. This year, she decided to go with the Pandoro, a beautiful golden toned bread that comes from the city of Verona. Baking it at the very last minute ensured that the bread was still warm when Lien cut it for her class. Needless to say there was applause and the bread was a big hit. You can find Lien's recipe at her blog Notitie van Lien.

Location: The Netherlands

Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka kochtopf baked a Christstollen this holiday. The recipe comes from Backer Supke, a German baker whose blog she follows. Having successfully attempted a couple of his recipes, Zorra was encouraged to try the Stollen recipe this Christmas. Chock-full of rum-soaked raisins, candied fruits, and flaked almonds, this recipe yields a beautiful sweet festive bread that tastes best after a week!! Don't think I could wait that long!!

Location: Spain

Soma and her family have always celebrated the holidays and the spirit of sharing. Every year they decorate a beautiful tree, get ready for Santa Claus, and Soma bakes some festive goodies. This holiday Soma baked a traditional anise flavoured Greek Christmas Bread or Christopsomo . Read more about the religious significance of this bread and the tasty outcome of Soma's endeavours at ECurry.

Location: Texas, USA

A Fougasse is a flat bread that is typical of the south of France. Priya has creatively combined dry fruits and orange flower water to bake a Chirstmas Dryfruits Fougasse! Priya says this bread is easy to bake and is delicious to boot. Find it at Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes

Location: Paris, France

Boaz from Grain Power tasted Stollen once at a San Diego local farmer's market. Since then, he has had this festive bread on his 'to bake' list. He followed Andrew Whitely's recipe for Stollen from Bread Matters as the recipe allows for whole wheat flour. Boaz filled his bread with dried fruits and home made marzipan and dusted it with some powdered sugar for a stunning result.

Location: Israel

Elle from Feeding My Enthusiasms says that potluck dinners are a part and parcel of the holidays. And what better way to pitch in than to prepare healthy, warm, and yeasty dinner rolls. Oats Whole Wheat and Barley Rolls are just perfect for any such occasion. Following a recipe from Marion Cunningham's The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, Elle found that you can easily prepare between 24-30 pull apart dinner rolls in under 15 minutes!

Location: Northern California

Mary prepared the favourite Dresdener Stollen this Christmas. Mary does true justice to this beautiful bread which is studded with raisins, almonds, and peel, and filled with a sweet almond paste. Visit One Perfect Bite for the touching story behind this bread.

Location: Eugene, OR

Aparna tells us about the origin of the Kugelhopf - the favourite festive bread of Europe on her blog My Diverse Kitchen. She baked her Kugelhopf in a bundt pan and glazed it with a delicious orange glaze! Just look at the wonderful colour of the bread!!

Location: Goa, India

A Braided Fruit Challah is the bread of choice for Yasmeen at Health Nut. She served it with home made Cranberry Preserve. What a very festive combination!! And in the spirit of giving this festival season, Yasmeen brings to notice the work of Blogger Aid to raise money for the World Food Programme.

Location: Cleveland, OHIO, USA

More of the seasonal cranberries but this time with crunchy pine nuts and fennel! Susan of Wild Yeast served a Cranberry Semolina Crown with Pine Nuts and Fennel for Christmas dinner. If you love baguettes, you will love this crusty bread, says Susan. You can also save this bread for later as it tastes wonderful toasted with coffee or a smear of goat's cheese.

Location: California, USA

You will find Part 2 of the roundup at BBD #15 Festive Breads: Second Helping :)

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.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Vasilopita or St. Basil's Day Bread

In Greece New Year's Day is also known as St. Basil's Day. St. Basil was the father of the early church and it is in his honour that Vasilopita is shared amongst family and friends at the stroke of midnight in many Greek homes! The tradition of cutting the Vasilopita on the first of January is said to bless the house and bring good luck for the new year. Traditionally the first piece is offered to the saint himself, the second piece distributed amongst the poor, and the third piece goes to the senior most member of the family.

Typically the the baker hides a coin in the Vasilopita, and the person who gets it is deemed blessed for the year. Of course in the old days there was a reason why the coin was hidden in this festive bread and why indeed this bread is baked!! Vasilopita is made in honor of a wonderful act of charity by St. Basil to the poor of his flock. St. Basil wanted to ensure that the needy would have enough money for necessities. But he was also aware that they were proud people and would not accept money. St. Basil asked his church members prepare some sweet bread with coins baked into them. In this way he was able to give them money without demeaning them.

Despite its distinctive simplicity, this bread is very rich. But it is also beautifully fragrant and tasty. As I searched for recipes for BBD #15, an event started by Zorra , which I myself am hosting this month and for my very first entry for YeastSpotting hosted by Susan, I kept finding recipes that asked for anything from 6-12 eggs and a kilo of all-purpose flour!! I could not even begin to tackle reducing these quantities but I did want to bake this bread - simply because it was not too sweet and because I adore anise!!

So after much searching I came about a recipe that I felt could be tweaked to our requirements here while keeping with the original taste and texture of the bread. The original recipe is at the bottom of this post. What follows here is my version of this traditional New Year's Bread!!

2-2 1/4 cups flour
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp candied lemon peel
1 tsp anise seeds
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp sugar
Pinch of salt
2 egg whites
1 tsp sesame seeds

To Glaze:
1 tbsp orange juice


  1. Sift together 1 cup of the flour, yeast, lemon peel, and anise seeds.
  2. In a separate saucepan, heat the milk, butter, sugar, and salt until all the butter is melted.
  3. Add the heated milk mixture to dry ingredients, and the add egg whites to this mix. Blend well.
  4. Stir in the remaining flour to form a soft dough. Knead this dough on a lightly floured surface for around 7 minutes.
  5. Place the dough in a greased bowl. Coat the top of the dough with some butter.
  6. Cover the bowl and let it rise in warm place until it has doubled. This may take a couple of hours.
  7. When it is risen, punch it down. Divide it into half. Flatten one half of the dough in greased loaf pan. Shape other half into 3 ropes. Braid them. Seal the ends and then place on top of the dough in the pan.
  8. Glaze the top of the loaf with the orange juice. Sprinkle generously with sesame seeds.
  9. Let the loaf rise in warm place until double, around 45 minutes.
  10. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove the loaf, cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool thoroughly.
This bread tastes delicious on its own, and even better when it is toasted. Serve with a a pat of butter and a dollop of your favourite jam or conserve!! Here's to a Happy New Year and blessing to one and all.

Recipe Source: Festive Bread Book, The by Kathy Cutler, Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 1982.

All content, text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007 - 2011. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.