Tuesday, December 04, 2012


The best thing about any festive occasion is family/friends get-togethers. Since I live abroad away from my beloved family, every year we try to spend Christmas & other festivals with friends. Each of us make a dish and gather around, eating and drinking all day, playing games, watching some good old movies. Tasked as the official Baker, I bake batches of traditional fruit cake, along with festive favourites like panettone or stollen, christmas pudding, steamed ginger pudding. I make this bread every year and we like this for breakfast on holidays. Trust me , it is not as hard as it looks, do give this a go.
For the Biga*
200g strong breadfFlour
½ cup cool water
1/16 teaspoon instant yeast
Combine the flour, water and yeast, stirring with a wooden spoon to make stiff dough. Place the
dough in a lightly greased bowl, and allow it to rise overnight or until it become bubbly.

For the Bread:
300g strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting
2 whole eggs + 6 (med) egg yolks, beaten
2 sticks softened butter, plus extra to grease
½ cup caster sugar or mixed spice sugar
7g instant yeast
1/3cup jumbo golden raisins
1/4 sultanas
1/3 cup mix of cranberries, blueberries, sweet morello cherries & inca berries
1/4 cup candied peel, finely chopped
seeds scrapped from 1 vanilla pod
1 tsp vanilla extract
Lemon Extract 1tsp
grated zest of 1 large orange
grated zest of 1 lemon & 1 lime
¼ cup warm milk
1 tsp salt
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg & cinnamon
3 tbsp dark rum or brandy
1 tbsp Amaretto
1 yolk+1tbsp olive oil, beaten together for glazing
1 tbsp vanilla sugar to sprinkle on top
Soak the fruits in a bowl with both rum/brandy & amaretto. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with dough hook, combine all of the ingredients except the dried fruit. Knead the dough till it's combined; it will be very sticky at first, but should come together eventually as you knead. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and allow it to rest for an hour. Knead the raisins, sultanas and candied peel into the dough gently, until evenly distributed. Form the dough into a ball and place it in 8 inch springform tin or a ready-made panettone mould. Cover with cling film or towel and leave to rise for 2 hours in a warm place until the dough has tripled in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C. Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle vanilla sugar. Bake the panettone for about 40-45 minutes, covering it with aluminum foil for the final 15-20 minutes of baking if it browns too quickly. A skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean without any crumbs or wet dough. Allow panettone to cool and then brush with melted butter. Dust liberally with icing sugar on top before serving.
Note: Panettone can be served toasted with Zabaglione or with coffee. Stale panettone can be used to make bread & butter pudding or French toasts.
* Biga is a type of starter used to make traditional Italian breads. It gives bread a light, open texture with holes.
Note: Yeast & flour measurements are in grams to be precise.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Change... This 5 letter word is a biggie. Something that is hard to accept, but inevitable. You know its coming, but still afraid of it. This happens to me every year. The change sets in so quickly, it gets harder to accept Summer is no more. As I look out of the window on my drive to work,   it seems only yesterday the leaves turned from green to mellow yellow. But today its various shades of yellow, auburn, burnt orange and reds covering the ground. The days have gone shorter and the long sunny days replaced by chilly autumn evenings. The weather’s unpredictable, it’s cold one day and colder the next. Berrymania replaces the grocers by Pumpkinmania. And before you know it its Halloween. 
In the hope that Summer is not far-off, I embrace this change,  welcoming it with these Pumpkin cupcakes and more such cosy comfort food (soon to follow). 
I find comfort in food, so I know I will wade through this season with steaming mugs of home-made soup, freshly baked bread, these cupcakes curled on the sofa...staying cozy, safe & warm. 

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Cupcakes (Adapted from Martha Stewart)
2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1 teaspoon ground ginger 
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice 
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar 
1 cup caster sugar 
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled 
4 large eggs, lightly beaten 
1 can pumpkin purée 
Handful of white chocolate chips 
Preheat the oven to 180C & line the cupcake tins with liners. I have used gold here. In a bowl mix the dry ingredients and in another bowl mix all the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients slowly into the wet ingredients with the mixer running on low. Stir in the white chocolate chips. Carefully ladle the batter onto the liners and bake for 20-23 minutes. Cool Completely. 
1(300g) pack cream cheese (philadelphia) 
1 cup double cream 
Pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon & all spice 
1 tsp vanilla extract. 
Whisk everything together until smooth and has reached a soft peak stage. Either pipe or spread liberally on the cooled cakes.

*I have used home-made roasted pumpkin purée. The result is a much sweeter & dark coloured purée.
*Chuck in some pecans for added texture & flavour.
I also made made these from the leftover puree. 

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Butter Cookies and Mac & Cheese very grown-up style

I am really truly disappointed that I was unable to get any spare time, in the past few months, to do a blog post :-(. I so wanted to, but working full time equated to it being really impossible. I am in the process of organizing work + studies in the next few weeks, which means I can find more time to update the blog with some interesting posts. I did manage to bake some cookies for a 14 month old angel & some cakes for work/friends that I never got a chance to click! I made these butter cookies recently, a fairly straight forward recipe, but you can jazz it up as cookie kisses by sandwiching them together with butter cream or melted chocolates; A very chic after dinner coffee nibbles. I also have to share this very grown up Mac& Cheese I made for dinner on a Friday, with veggies and chilli cheese for a spicy kick . I know what you'd think when I say Mac & Cheese..but this one you've gotto like. Its baked in a very cheesy white sauce with a bread crumb topping that turns crispy and golden on baking! Finally, I have also included a Biscotti recipe that is definitely a keeper, turns out awesome every-time! Happy Long Weekend and Happy Baking!!

Butter Cookies
Ingredients (Adapted from Donna Hay)
175g Butter
1/4 cup Icing Sugar
1tsp Vanilla
1 cup Flour
1/4 cup Corn-starch
Pinch Salt
Preheat oven to 180C. Beat the butter and sugar till light and fluffy and gently fold in the vanilla & flour. Put the dough in a piping bag with star nozzle and pipe rosettes onto a baking tray lined with silpat. Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes. Let it cool. Once cooled store them in an airtight container or if you wish to sandwich them together, pipe a little  butter-cream onto two matching cookies.
Lime-Vanilla: Fold in some lemon zest into the above mixture.
Coffee-Kisses: Add a tsp of espresso powder to the above mixture and pipe some  butter-cream with a dash of espresso in it as well.
Chocolate: Add a tsp of cocoa to the mixture and sandwich them with some melted chocolate or chocolate ganache.
Raspberry/Strawberry: Add a tsp of freeze dried raspberry/strawberry powder to the mixture and sandwich them with vanilla butter-cream.
Grown-Up Mac & Cheese
Cooked Macaroni according to packet instructions (I use 75g per person), tossed with a little olive oil
Mix of vegetables like carrots, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, corn..
1 clove of garlic chopped
For the cheese sauce:
75g Grated Chilli Cheddar Cheese
100g Vintage Cheddar
75g Parmesan
Salt to tast
500ml Milk
80ml Cream
Bay Leaf
Pinch Nutmeg
1tbsp Flour
1tbsp Butter
Preheat oven to 190C. Heat some butter in a pan and stir in the flour and cook till the raw smell is out. Slowly whisk in the milk, bay leaf, nutmeg and cream. Let thicken. Stir in the grated cheese. Toss the pasta and the vegetables into the sauce and sprinkle some bread crumbs and extra cheese on top. Bake in a greased tin/bowl for 20 minutes until its bubbly and golden. Serve with a crunchy salad.

Vanilla-Almond Biscotti
250g flour plain or wholemeal or a mix of plain & cornmeal
180g caster sugar/vanilla sugar
11\2 tsp. baking powder
150g blanched almonds
2tsp vanilla extract or 1 tsp vanilla paste
3 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 180C. Mix everything together in a hand mixer or with a wooden spoon. It will be sticky dough, just dust the kitchen top with flour and knead the dough slightly and form 2 logs. Bake them for 40 minutes. Allow to cool completely and then cut them using a sharp knife and bake the slices again for about 15 minutes. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.
For the coffee-chocolate-hazelnut Biscotti
Use 220g flour, 1tsp instant coffee and 30g cocoa & used a handful of dark chocolate chips. Replace the almonds with hazelnuts.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Carrot Cake

I am not a big fan of carrot cake but there are worshipers here who absolutely love carrot cake. One of them happens to be S, who loves only this cake in the whole world. Even the sexiest of chocolate cake doesn't make him go week-on-the-knees. I make the carrot cake every year for his birthday with little variations, but since the past few years, I've been making it with whole-meal flour. I make them with fresh pineapple & frost it with toasted coconut cream cheese icing or a simple carrot cake with hazelnuts/walnuts/pecans (like here) & lemon cream cheese icing. This year I adapted Donna Hays recipe and the cake was fabulously moist and perfectly balanced. This one is for keepers!!
Carrot Cake
220g brown sugar
185ml vegetable oil 
3 eggs 
225g whole-meal or AP flour 
1½ teaspoons baking powder 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
½ teaspoon mixed spice 
½ teaspoon ground ginger 
About 5-6 med sized carrots grated 
60g chopped pecan /hazelnut or walnut 
60g sultanas 
Cream Cheese Icing 
250g cream cheese/mascarpone, softened 
3-4 tbsp icing sugar, sifted 
zest & Juice of ½ a lemon or 1-2tbsp lemon curd 
Preheat oven to 180°C . Place the sugar and oil in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 2–3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, mixed spice and ginger over the sugar mixture. Add the carrot, nuts and sultanas and mix until just combined. Pour into 2 greased 8 inch-round cake tin lined with non-stick baking paper and bake for 35-40 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool in tin. 
 For the cream cheese icing: Beat the cream cheese in a food processor until smooth. Add the icing sugar and lemon juice/lemon curd and process until smooth. Spread frosting on the cooled cake as desired. I simply used it to sandwich the layer and just on top.

Friday, March 09, 2012

The Chablis Challenge Menu

I was recently sent 2 bottles of chabilis and the challenge was to pair it with the kind of food I would serve typically with the wine. I am not a big wine-cheese-food pair-er but do generally serve light creamy food with whites and tomato based food like pasta with reds. 
A little about the wine:
Product details: Domaine Bois d’Yer Chabilis 2007
Style: Dry
Grape variety: Chardonnay
Country of origin: France
The wines from this region of France, are a touch more austere mainly as the soils here are composed of light, sandy topsoil with the Kimmeridgian (limestone-rich) subsoil. The cool climate produces wines with more acidity with a beautiful fresh minerality which makes them the best wine with seafood. The wine has a pale yellow-green tinge, plenty of lovely green apple fruit on the palate, with notes of smokiness & zesty lime but still crisp. 
Product Details: Chabilis J. Moreau & Fils 2009
Style: Dry 
Grape variety: Chardonnay 
 Country of origin: France
 These grapes grow on Portlandien limestone plateaus which is essentially a cool, cloudy climate. Hence the wine is golden in color, tangy with flavors of green apple and honeydew. Very fresh, lite bodied and round mouth with a tangy and lightly spicy finish.
 I paired the Chabilis J. Moreau & Fils 2009 with cheese & the Domaine Bois d’Yer Chabilis 2007 with risotto.
 Cheese Platter with Cheese Ball, Grapes and Wine (Chabilis J. Moreau & Fils 2009)
 The cheese ball forms a perfect hors d'oeuvre along with crunchy vegetables,bread & cheese crackers. It is packed with flavors from mustard & herbs and has the crunch from chopped nuts.
For the Cheese Ball
Ingredients  1 tub of cream cheese/drained greek yoghurt
 mix of cheese or a sharp vintage cheddar
 (I have used a mix of Goats cheese, Pié d’Angloys, Camembert)
 50-80g butter
 1tsp of dijon mustard or horesradish
 touch of honey if using horseradish or any spicy mustard
 a little grating of garlic
 chopped fresh herbs like basil or chives
 grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
 toasted walnuts
 Bring all the ingredients to room temperature and whip together in a mixer until light & creamy. Wrap in a cling and place into a deep bowl and refrigerate for a couple of hours before un-moulding. Serve with sour dough/rye bread along with cheese crackers and some fresh grapes or figs.
Chabilis-Butternut Squash Risotto
 Yes, I used chabilis instead of the usual wine and absolutely loved the result. The general rule is to use the wine that you'd drink  to cook . Instead of standing & stirring the risotto, I baked it (tip from Donna Hay) as I enjoyed my wine with the cheese board.
 For the Risotto

 1tbsp butter
 300g carnaroli or arborio (i used carnaroli)
 1 onion and a clove of garlic, chopped
 500g chopped butternut squash
 one glass of chabilis or any white wine
 700ml of stock
 couple of sage leaves
 zafferano a pinch
 freshly grated parmesan
 20g butter
 touch of cream
 salt & pepper to taste
 Preheat the oven to 200C. Heat a heavy bottomed pan saute the onions & garlic in the butter. Add the rice, zafferano & sage leaves and coat well till transparent. Now add the wine and stir till it has evaporated. Now transfer the contents to a oven safe pot and pour the hot stock. Season well, give it a stir and bake for about 30min. At this point the risotto will look watery but put it back on heat and add the butter, parmesan & the cream and simmer for 5 minutes. It should be ready tender & creamy but the grains still firm in the center. Serve with more grated parmesan, fried sage leaves & wine.
We finished the meal with a very light but very decadent Deconstructed Eton Mess with berries. Meringue topped with dollops of thick and light cream and fresh berries.
 For the Deconstructed Eton Mess

 2-4 meringue
 handful of fresh berries
 creme fraiche/sour cream/cream/greek yoghurt
 vanilla extract
 some chopped pistachios or grated chocolate
 Whip the creme fraiche/sour cream/cream/greek yoghurt lightly, with vanilla. I used a mix of creme fraiche and diary free cream. Place the meringue onto a plate, spoon the cream mixture and serve with fresh berries, nuts/grated chocolate and a drizzle of honey, just enough to sweeten the palate. 

Disclosure: I am not a wine expert or sommelier and all my views  on the wine-food pairing, are my idea of how it works best for me. I was sent 2 bottles of the wine mentioned here as a part of the challenge. Many thanks for sending the wine.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Daring Bakers: Quick Breads - Herbed Soda Bread

The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lis stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.She gave us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.
I chose to make a Herbed Irish Soda bread. Whipping up this baby in my kitchen aid (one of the best purchases I've ever made) was a breeze. 
Herbed Soda Bread (adapted from Rachel Allen)
500-550g wholemeal bread flour
50g mixed seeds like sunflower, linseed, sesame, pumpkin
1tsp salt
1tsp baking soda
1tbsp mixed herbs like rosemary,oregano, thyme
25g butter
275-300ml buttermilk
1 egg
I used the dough hook attachment of my kitchen-aid. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles bread crumbs. Slowly pour the buttermilk and the egg, until it all comes together. The dough should be soft but not very sticky. Dust the kitchen top with flour and scrape the dough onto it. Form into a round about 4-5cm and slit a deep cross. Bake in an preheated oven 200C for 30-45 minutes or until it sounds hollow. Cool on a wire rack.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Kesar/Saffron Scented Rasmalai

Celebrations!!I love all kinds of it, be it festive or birthdays or anniversaries. I love making everything special, although S is not very keen on partying or making a show. Its his Birthday tomorrow and I am so hyper about all the things I have planned. When I asked what he would prefer as a sweet treat he sheepishly said "RasMalai". He has a sweet tooth and has a thing for good home-made Indian desserts. I am also making good old Carrot Cake that I bake every year. Carrot Cake happens to be his only favorite and every year I try to make it different and he likes it more than the yester-year.
Rasmalai is a very popular milk-based Indian dessert served in weddings & get-togethers. This sweet has two components: one a very rich milk cream scented with cardamom & saffron and gnocchi like flattened balls made out of milk cheese similar to ricotta. I reckon you could use ricotta hung in a cheese cloth for 3 hrs instead of making paneer from scratch. I have used ricotta instead of paneer here before and it worked well. You could use store bought Rasgullas and just make the milk cream at home for a quick recipe. Hopefully I will be able to post the carrot cake pics+recipe, that is if get a chance to click!!!

Kesar/Saffron Scented Rasmalai
For the Malai/milk-cream
3 cups whole milk 
1 can evaporated milk
1tsp saffron
2-3 crushed cardamom pods
1/2 cup sugar or as per taste
a pinch of powdered cardamom
handful of finely chopped pistachios
Bring both the milk to a boil until reduced to half, along with cardamom & saffron. Keep stirring occasionally and add the sugar. Fish out the pods and add some powdered cardamom & pistachios. Leave to cool & refrigerate until needed.
For the Rasgullas
4-5 cups whole milk
1-2 lemons, Juiced 
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups water
Boil the milk in a wide pan and add the lemon juice. Once it sepates, collect the cheese curd to a sieve or cotton cloth and drain well. I left it for 2 hours. Now pulse the drained cheese in a processor until smooth. Meanwhile boil the water in a pressure cooker or a wide mouthed pan and dissolve the sugar. Shape the processed cheese into flattened balls and drop into the boiling sugar water slowly and let it simmer for 5-10 min or until double in size.
L addle out the rasgullas and let it cool. Squeeze excess liquid off them and place onto a serving dish and pour over the malai/milk cream. Serve chilled, decorated with silver leaves and more pistachios.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

MacAttack 27: Salted Peanut Macarons with Chocolate Ganache

Inspiration, I found it for these macarons, in a very special treat we used to have back home as kids, chikki. Its made out of jaggery & peanuts sometimes with cashews, puffed rice, sesame seeds, poppy seeds... the list is pretty much endless. I particularly love the peanut and sesame ones to bits. I remember buying a big chunk for 25 paisa ( a paisa equals 1 ⁄ 100 of an Indian Rupee) during our school lunch breaks and devilishly biting into the hard candy. Mum used to make it for karthigai . She used to make it without any fancy candy thermometer, by simply boiling jaggery & little water to the candy consistency, add the peanuts/puffed rice and sometimes with cardamom. She used to then roll it into a ball while the mixture was still hot (asbestos hands must say) and we would happily snack on them.
Anyway,  the other day I was visiting a friend and she offered me some chikki with coffee and I just couldn't stop eating them. She was polite enough to say that she would box some for me to relish later(and boxed it away instead :-(!!!). That triggered childhood memories.
So when MacSweethearts wanted MacTweeters to create something truly extraordinary, worthy of a special fete, for Macaron Day, with a totally new creation, big or small, savory or sweet, something ready for a party  I instantly knew this flavor combo of peanuts and bitter chocolate ganache would be perfect. Feel free to use milk chocolate if you feel the dark chocolate is too much. I have used salted peanuts for the recipe.

Salted Peanut Macarons with Chocolate Ganache 
Italian Meringue
150g caster sugar
55g egg whites (I used only 50g and it still turned out well)
1g egg white powder
38g water
75g ground peanuts
75g ground almonds
150g icicing sugar
55g egg whites
Method:Pulse the almonds,peanuts and icing sugar in a processor until fine. Sieve twice. Mix one part of the egg whites to this. Meanwhile whisk whites till frothy. Bring the sugar and water to boil and let it reach 115-118 C in a candy thermometer. Add this to the whites and whisking all the while on high as you pour till it form glossy peaks. Mix a part of the whites to the almond mixture gently folding it. Mix in the remaining whites till you get a smooth mixture that forms ribbons when lifted. Do not over-mix as the mixture will turn liquidy and difficult to pipe. Fill a piping bag with the mixture and pipe onto a baking sheet with silpat/ non-stick sheet. Leave the macarons to form a skin for 30 minutes. When you touch them they should not stick to your hand at this point, if they do leave them for some more time. Preheat oven to 140C and bake the macarons for 15-18 min depending on size. They should come off the sheet once cooked. Transfer to wire rack and cool. Pipe desired filling and sandwich the macarons. 
Chocolate Ganache
Dark Chocolate chopped – 100 gms
Heavy Cream – ¼ cup
Heat the cream and whisk in the chocolate and butter until smooth and glossy. 
Using a piping bag, pipe a tiny amount of ganache on the flat side of the macaron, and sandwich with another of the same size. Sandwich them, squeezing gently. Leave to set in fridge for at leasts 24 hours for flavours to work together.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day with Red Velvet Cakes/Beet-Rose Choc Cakes

Instagram photo
I have a confession...I am a hopeless romantic! But somehow , the whole idea of reds and heart shaped things drive me mad. I mean why does it have to be strawberries dipped in chocolate, heart shaped chocolate, bright red velvety roses, champagne, diamonds to profess love.
Now romance has a new meaning for me. Its in simple things like a fresh peck on my cheek while I was half asleep this morning. Ironed clothes for me ready to wear or the loaded dishwasher. Gone are the days when I used to sulk if I didn't get a V day card/gift in return. I do still follow the same tradition of making a nice meal for us as I recollect the oh-so-romantic-moments of our life. I still do give 'S' duly-signed-with-love-bold-red-valentines-day-card. What do you do for Valentine's Day??
Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!

There is no better way to express your love than these moist and almost fudgy Red-Velvet /Beet-Rose chocolate cake my way. I call it so as the cake gets its dark pinkish red from the beetroot, naturally.
For the cake follow the recipe here  I baked them as cupcakes (makes about 12) (bake them for about 20min). 
For the Nutella-Dark Choc Ganache, simply warm 1/3 cup of heavy cream and stir in a good tablespoon worth of nutella and 120g dark chocolate. Stir everything till smooth and velvety. This cake is so fab and moist on its own but a real treat with the ganache.
Instagram Photo

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Creamy cauliflower soup – DHSPC #5

When I think of Cauliflower, I can hear in my head my mum saying “Oh no..no English vegetable today”. I don’t know what to call us but I guess orthodox vegetarian seems just right,( but then again here, in UK I am not considered a vegetarian as I eat milk products). Makes me think should I call us convenient vegetarians??Anyways, back home, vegetables like carrot, cabbage, cauliflower etc were called “English vegetables” probably because they are grown in hilly areas where English settlers lived in pre-Independent India. Apart from egg free, meet free diet English vegetables was a part of indulgent meals only allowed on certain days. I never got to know why but I was happy at least they were allowed.My granny never ever used any of these. She didn’t even use onions or garlic. I guess since my parents were raised in post-independent India, they ate these special vegetables but only on occasions. The not-so-humbl- cauliflower & dishes like cauliflower curry/bhaji, cauliflower paruppusili, cauliflower manchurian ..hold a very special place in my heart. So when the spud guy calls it a drab- white- cruciform vegetable, as I order my spud with cauli & cheese, I wonder how much, where we are raised makes a difference on what we eat!!
I wanted to join the Donna Hay Styling and Photography Challenge for a while now and the minute I saw the soup I knew I had to make it. My suggestion is make a double batch to keep you warm through the bone chilling nights. 
The original photo is by  Ben Dearnley and styling is done by Justine Poole. The recipe comes from DHM #51. I too struggled in finding the right balance of light as there was too much light on the day I shot this. In the original the light is from the right,  while I had diifculty in creating a dark atmosphere on bright sunny day. I tried covering the window and used dark absorbers. Moreover I had no props in blue so had to improvise with the black ones I had. I couldn't fold the black material to form crease as it was bulky. I crumbled some parmesan to replicate the marks in the original. I am glad at least I tried :-). Thanks simone for finding such challenging images and simple recipes for the DH challenge. It keeps me going.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup
From Donna Hay Magazine
§ 25g butter
§ 1 brown onion (chopped)
§ 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
§ 1 bay leaf
§ 1,5 head cauliflower (or 1,5 kg, chopped)
§ 500g potatoes (starchy potatoes, peeled and chopped)
§ 750ml veg stock
§ 500ml milk
§ 125 ml single cream
§ sea salt
§ cracked white pepper
§ 4-6 sprigs fresh thyme 
Parmesan cauliflower crumbs 
§ 100g cauliflower (chopped)
§ 2 tablespoons olive oil
§ 20g parmesan (finely grated)
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the onion, garlic, thyme and bay leaf and cook for 5-8 minutes or until onion has softened. Add the cauliflower, potato, stock and milk, increase heat to medium and cook for 25-30 minutes or until cauliflower and potato is tender. Remove from the heat and, using a hand-held blender, blend until smooth. Stir through the cream, salt and pepper.
While the soup is cooking, make the parmesan cauliflower crumbs. Place the cauliflower, oil and parmesan in a bowl and toss to combine. Heat a non-stick frying pan over high heat. Cook the cauliflower, oil and parmesan in a bowl and toss to combine. Heat a non-stick frying pan over high heat. Cook the cauliflower, stirring for 2 minutes or until golden and crisp.
Top soup with cauliflower crumbs to serve.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's BACK TO BASICS: SCONES with Daring Bakers

Cream Tea, a quintessential English tradition, is incomplete without freshly baked scones slathered with lashings of clotted cream and jam. In North American, scones are mostly triangular, have a slightly crisp crust usually covered in sugar, a soft interior crumb and sometimes laced with dried fruit. In Australia and England, these baked goods  are called “rock cakes” (since they are usually made to look like “rocky” cakes) and Scones respectively, eaten with butter and jam, with cups of tea or coffee. 
Scones are a type of quick bread made with white flour dough, raised using chemical agents, usually baking powder and/or baking soda. Basic Scones contains flour, raising agent(s), butter (or shortening or lard), salt, and milk (or buttermilk or soured milk or cream). Most recipes just instruct to “rub the fat into the flour” then combine the dry and wet ingredients until “gathered together” and then “lightly knead” the gathered mixture until a soft dough forms. Then “roll or pat” out this dough, “cut” out rounds and bake them in a hot oven. 
Audax Artifex was our host for  Daring Bakers’ January 2012. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (aka biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our kitchen!
I have followed the basic recipe but used Wholemeal, buttermilk and freeze dried raspberries powder in one and Wholemeal-Ricotta-Orange(zest)-Pumpkin seeds-fresh raspberries for the other. Savory ones with mature cheddar and dill made up the third.
 Buttermilk-Raspberry Scones & Ricotta-Orange-Raspberry Scones with pumpkin seeds
 Buttermilk-Raspberry Scones & Ricotta-Orange-Raspberry Scones with pumpkin seeds
(The challenge Scones recipe has been specially formulated by Audax Artifex after a large amount of research).
Basic Scones
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) (⅓ oz) fresh baking powder
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) salt
2 tablespoons (30 gm/1 oz) frozen grated butter (or a combination of lard and butter)
 approximately ½ cup (120 ml) cold milk
optional 1 tablespoon milk, for glazing the tops of the scones 
1. Preheat oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.
2. Triple sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If your room temperature is very hot refrigerate the sifted ingredients until cold.)
3. Rub the frozen grated butter (or combination of fats) into the dry ingredients until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces if you want flaky scones or until it resembles coarse beach sand if you want tender scones.
4. Add nearly all of the liquid at once into the rubbed-in flour/fat mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed). The wetter the dough the lighter the scones (biscuits) will be!
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, lightly flour the top of the dough. To achieve an even homogeneous crumb to your scones knead 
 the dough very gently about 4 or 5 times (do not press too firmly) until it is smooth. To achieve a layered effect in your scones knead very gently once (do not press too firmly) then fold and turn the kneaded dough about 3 or 4 times until it forms a smooth texture. (Use a floured plastic scraper to help you knead and/or fold and turn the dough if you wish.)
6. Pat or roll out the dough into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle by about ¾ inch thick (15¼ cm by 10 cm by 2 cm thick). Using a well-floured 2-inch (5 cm) Scone cutter (biscuit cutter), stamp out without twisting six 2-inch (5 cm) rounds, gently reform the scraps into another ¾ inch (2 cm) layer and cut two more scones (these two Scones will not raise as well as the others since the extra handling will slightly toughen the dough). Or use a well-floured sharp knife to form squares or wedges as you desire.
7. Place the rounds just touching each other on a baking dish if you wish to have soft-sided scones or place the rounds spaced widely apart on the baking dish if you wish to have crisp-sided scones. Glaze the tops with milk if you want a golden colour on your Scones or lightly flour if you want a more traditional look to your scones.
8. Bake in the preheated very hot oven for about 10 minutes (check at 8 minutes since home ovens at these high temperatures are very unreliable) until the Scones are well risen and are lightly coloured on the tops. The Scones are ready when the sides are set.
9. Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process, serve while still warm.
Variations on the Basic recipe
Buttermilk – follow the Basic recipe above but replace the milk with buttermilk, add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda, increase the fat to 4 tablespoons, in Step 3 aim of pea-sized pieces of fat coated in flour, in Step 5 fold and turn the dough, rounds are just touching in the baking dish, glaze with buttermilk.
Cream – follow the Basic recipe above but replace the milk with cream, add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda, in Step 3 aim of beach sand sized pieces of fat coated in flour, in Step 5 knead the dough, rounds are just touching in the baking dish, glaze with cream.
Cheese and Chive /herbs– follow the Basic recipe above but add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda, after Step 2 add ½ teaspoon sifted mustard powder, ¼ teaspoon sifted cayenne pepper (optional), ½ cup (60 gm/2 oz) grated cheese and 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives or herbs into the sifted ingredients, in Step 3 aim of beach sand sized pieces of fat coated in flour, in Step 5 knead the dough, rounds are widely spaced in the baking dish, sprinkle the rounds with cracked pepper.
Fresh Herb – follow the Basic recipe above but after Step 3 add 3 tablespoons finely chopped herbs (such as parsley, dill, chives etc).
Sweet Fruit – follow the Basic recipe above but after Step 3 add ¼ cup (45 gm) dried fruit (e.g. sultanas, raisins, currents, cranberries, cherries etc) and 1 tablespoon (15 gm) sugar.
Wholemeal – follow the Basic recipe above but replace half of the plain flour with wholemeal flour.
Cornish Clotted Cream

Design © 2011 Laura Jane Designs