Monday, April 19, 2010

White Chocolate-Pistachio-Cornmeal Biscotti

Biscotti are twice baked cookies and are very dry in texture but taste great dunked in coffee. In Italy it is served with a dessert wine called Vin Santo. 
I must admit that these are the best biscotti I have ever tasted partly because of the cornmeal used in the dough. The combination of Pistachio with White chocolate....Well lets just say it's marriage made in heaven.  You should easily get about 40 biscotti with the recipe below.  Do slather them in (melted) white chocolate and sprinkle with nuts for added luxury.
White chocolate-Pistachio-Cornmeal Biscotti (Adapted from Better Homes)
3/4 cup room temperature softened Butter
1/2 cup granulated Sugar
1 tsp Baking powder
1 Egg
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 cup Cornmeal
11/2 cups All purpose flour
11/2 cups Pistachios or Almonds (put the pistachios in a freezer bag and bash them with a rolling pin)
200gms White chocolate buttons
Preheat oven to 180C. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and baking powder and beat until combined, scraping the bowl. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Add the cornmeal and flour along with the nuts and half of the chocolate and stir. Shape the dough into two or three loaves. Place on a greased baking tray at least 3-4 inches apart and bake for about 20-25 min. Cool for about 30 min and then cut each loaf carefully using a serrated knife into ½ inch slices and carefully arrange them on the baking sheet. Bake them for about 8-10 min and turn the cookies and bake them for another 8-10 min. Cool on wire rack. melt the reserved white chocolate and dip the biscotti and sprinkle with nuts. Store them in airtight containers for up to 3 days.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Quick and Dirty Mango Chutney (Pachidi)

1 large Slightly Ripe Mango skinned chopped
3-4 tbsp brown/dark muscovado sugar or more if you like it sweet
4 slit green chillies
Salt to taste
1-2 tbsp Oil for seasoning
Nigella/Kalonji or mustard seeds for seasoning
Dries Neem flowers (Opt)
Cook the mangoes with green chillies and salt in a cooker or microwave with a few tbsp of water till done. Now add the sugar and let it simmer for a few minutes while you get the seasoning ready (You could add a few tbsp of Vinegar and lemon juice at this stage if you like your chutney a bit tart and want to store it longer.). Heat oil in a pan and splutter the kalonji seeds or mustard seeds along with neem flowers (if using) and add this to the mangoes. Mix well. You could adjust salt and sugar at this stage and transfer into a sterilized jar. This can be stored for about a week in the refrigerator. You could add a few tbsp of Vinegar and lemon juice if you like your chutney a bit tart and want to store it longer.
Note: Neem flowers give it a sort of bitter taste that I like and they look gorgeous in the chutney. Fresh neem flowers are found in abundance in India during summer and are rich in anti-oxidants. Fresh flowers can be dried just like herbs and stored. 
Traditionally this Chutney  or Pachidi is made with Jaggery which is an unrefined sugar. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lunch Box Treats - Paneer Tikka Rolls

Yummiest Khatti rolls..

5 whole wheat chapattis or whole wheat tortillas
Fresh lettuce chopped
Salt to taste
½ cup Mint-yogurt chutney recipe follows
For paneer tikkas
1 cup paneer cut into cubes
¼ cup yogurt
1 tsp ginger-garlic-green chilli paste
½ tsp garam masala
1 tbsp all purpose flour or gram flour
Fresh coriander and mint chopped for garnish
1-2 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
For paneer tikkas: Combine the paneer cubes with the rest of the ingredients except oil and garnish in a freezer bag and let this macerate for 30 min. Heat oil in a skillet and sauté the paneer  tikkas on all sides until slightly brown. Sprinkle the coriander and mint.
For mint yogurt chutney:
Handful of mint chopped
1 clove of garlic
1 green chilli
Dash of lime
Salt to taste
1 cup greek style yogurt
Blend all the ingredients except yogurt in a blender adding a tsp or two of water if required. Mix the mint chutney with the yogurt.
For the rolls:
Heat the chapattis or tortillas’ on a griddle and place on a chopping board. Apply the mint-yogurt chutney, add the paneer tikka filling and the lettuce and roll into a tight wrap. Cut into 2-3 inch long pieces and serve with mint or mango chutney.

Real Vanilla Cupcakes with White chocolate Ganache

These cupcakes are utterly divine and I call them real Vanilla cupcakes because I use scrapings of a vanilla pod (you can see specks of black beans) as well as good vanilla extract. I topped them with White chocolate ganache although they are super moist and heavenly without the frosting. Although I did drizzle some warm Vanilla simple syrup before Icing them.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Totally Chocolate-cupcake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting

I made these totally chocolatey and addictive cupcakes for a Sunday picnic with my friends and their little ones. It was a fun day out and surprisingly the weather was sunny and bright. So we planned easter trail for kids and a little treasure hunt for the adults. But the part we were so looking forward to was the food. What would a picnic be if there were not packed food? All of us packed a big bag of goodies with Sand-witches,Crisps and loads of chocolate. I made Chocolate cupcakes and Real Vanilla cupcakes with White chocolate ganache for a sweet treat in the end (using the chocolate buttons and cocoa I bought recently from my trip to Hotel Chocolat). I still cant stop dreaming about the chocolate pasta they sell ;-).
I think the chocolate cupcakes really need the fudge Icing. I find them a little bland without Icing. The recipe below makes 15-17 mini cupcakes.
Chocolate Cupcake
1/3 cup room temperature Butter
1/3 cup regular white Sugar
1/3 cup light brown Sugar
1 large Egg
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
½ cup Buttermilk
¼ cup Sour cream
½ tsp instant coffee dissolved in 1 tbsp water
¾ cup+2 tbsp all purpose Flour
½ cup good quality Cocoa (unsweetened)
½ tsp Baking soda
¼ tsp Baking Powder
Pinch salt
Preheat oven to 190C and line mini cupcake tins with paper liners. Sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Cream the butter and both the sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla and continue whisking until pale about 3-5 min. Stir in the buttermilk, sour cream and coffee. Mix in the dry ingredients and gently fold until well mixed. I tend not to use the beater after adding the flour as you get a bit denser cupcakes if you do so. Scoop into the tins using an ice-cream scoop and bake for about 17-20 min. Cool on wire rack and when completely cooled ice the cupcakes.
Chocolate Fudge Icing (Adapted from Nigella's Fudge Icing)
½ cup softened Butter
90-100gms Dark Chocolate (I used Hotel Chocolat's dark chocolate buttons)
½ tsp Vanilla Extract
½ cup sifted Icing sugar
Sugar flowers to decorate
Melt the chocolate in a bowl placed over a small bowl of simmering water and cool. Beat the butter and Icing sugar until pale, light and fluffy. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla extract and mix until the icing is glossy. Ice the cupcakes using a spatula and decorate with sugar flowers.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Cheese Bread

Last weekend we went on an impromptu trip to Chester and I went berserk shopping specialty food. Now that’s the thing I like about getaways. You’d be surprised by how tiny little shops store amazing specialty food. I always make it a point to buy goodies wherever we travel. So my first stop was at Hotel Chocolat..Just couldn’t get enough of chocolates displayed there and  ended up buying a big jar of dark & white chocolate buttons and good cocoa powder. I was eyeing the chocolate pasta…(yes such things do exist and it’s not a myth) when my hubby interrupted my thoughts (I was already imagining the things I could do with it ;-)) and said “you are not buying that are you?”. Ughhh! Might have to make a secret trip to Chester again and buy a pack or two of that pasta.
Next stop, an amazing Italian deli.  I had to buy a bottle of Lemon-Olive oil and a block of Pecorino Romano cheese. I already pictured myself making my favorite cheese bread with a combination of Pecorino Romano, Vintage cheddar and Parmesan. If you are not happy to use my eclectic mix of cheeses use all Cheddar or any other cheese. I also like a combo of Cheddar and Gruyere. The sharpness of cheddar works very well with the nuttiness of the gruyere.
Adding cheese to the dough gives it a rich, soft texture and I love to make burger buns with the same dough. The resulting bread has a gorgeous golden exterior with a soft, rich interior. This bread toasts really well and is great for grilled sandwiches. I make grilled Paneer scramble or caramelized onions and peppers grilled sandwiches.
3 cups bread or AP flour (I used a mix of both)
3 tbsp butter (can substitute this with oil)
1tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
¾ to 1 cup warm milk, scalded
1 egg+1 for brushing
1 tbsp instant yeast
1 cup grated cheese (cheddar or any combination)
Extra flour for dusting
Combine milk, butter, sugar and salt. Add warm milk, yeast and egg. Add flour slowly 1 cup at a time and add the cheese. Knead the dough for 10 min or so adding 1 tbsp of flour if the dough gets sticky. Knead until the dough springs back if you press it. Place into a greased bowl and let it rise undisturbed for 11/2 hours or until doubled in bulk. (I keep it in a microwave or oven as its warmer here). Dust the work surface and punch down the dough. Shape into a ball if using a round sandwich tin like I did or long roll if using bread tin and place it in a greased tin and let it double in bulk for 11/2 hours. Bake at 190C till the bread is well risen and golden brown for about 25-35 min. Allow to cool completely and then slice.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Pomegranate-Mint Raita

2 cups Greek- style yogurt
Seeds from ½ a pomegranate
Handful of mint leaves chopped
Salt to taste
Pinch of coriander and cumin powder
Pinch red chilli powder (Optional)
Pinch chaat masala (Optional)
Bash the pomegranate with a rolling pin to get the seeds and the juice out into a bowl and add the yogurt. Mix in the seasoning ingredients and stir in the chopped mint. Serve this with Biryani or just as a summer cooler.
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