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
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