Sunday, April 29, 2012

#205 Puff Pastry Dough that will keep for 6 months

What is flaky, buttery and can be made ahead of time without too much effort? What can be rolled out and stuffed with your desired savory or sweet filling when you want to treat yourself to something special? What comes in handy when unexpected guests stop by for afternoon tea?
The answer is "Puff Pastry Dough" --something I always hold very close to my "taste buds". You can pull it out of the freezer, roll it out and stuff with beef to make a beef wellington, with apple pie filling to make a pastry anytime or wrap some mushroom and cheese to indulge in an appetizer craving you may have:)

1 pound flour (3 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound( 4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups ice water
 a squeeze of lemon juice

How to make and freeze the pastry dough:

Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl(I used the kitchenaid since I find it easier than using cold butter and my fingers). Mix together 6 tablespoons of butter. Bind to a fairly soft dough with as much ice water as you need, adding the lemon juice and kneading lightly. Roll into a 12 inch square.

Form the remaining butter into an oblong block. It should be soft but firm. Place on one half of the pastry square and fold the pastry over to close it, sealing the edges with a rolling pin. Rib by pressing the rolling pin across the top at intervals. (Mine resembled an empanada without the edges crimped. But the rolling pin helps spread the butter block out inside the pastry like a filling)

Turn the pastry so that the fold is to the right, and roll out into a strip three times as long as it is wide. Fold the bottom third upward and the top third downward evenly. Seal the edges and chill in a plastic bag for 30 minutes. (I chilled in the refridgerator)

Repeat this process five more times, always keeping the fold on the right side. Chill overnight or for at least 1 hour before the final rolling. The pastry is noe ready to use.
I made the time to roll my pastry and later packed it in wax paper and a ziplock bag. The versatility of the pastry adds flexibility for me. Now I can freeze it until I am ready to create my own hearty recipes and I will be back soon with more grub......

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

#204 Does Sushi always have to be about Raw Fish?

Instead of takeout, make Makizushi or Kappa Maki Rolls at home. Inside out sushi rolls made with cooked rice on the outside with nori and filling inside, then decorated with tiny beads of roe or sesame seeds.  Doesn’t that make you want to take a bite and enjoy the crunchiness of the vegetables? If you’re searching for a healthy meal Japanese Food fits the bill, but as sushi becomes more mainstream in the US cream cheese, tempura flakes, mayonnaise and fried fish creep in as popular ingredients. But, if you replaced the rice with fish and cucumber, you could save some extra calories. Personally, I don't like to serve raw fish at home, better to leave that to the pros. However, it does not stop me from enjoying sushi at home made my way. Salmon with horseradish mayyo in sushi may sound mysterious to some folks, but the kick from the horseradish and the mayyonaise complimented the nori adding a piquant tasting replacement for rice in my 'rolls'. Along with red pepper, avocado, mango and a bamboo mat to help in the rolling process the sushi began to take shape. The nori has good instructions on the back of the package so feel free to follow them for the best results. With cooked asparagus and any other veggies the combinations are endless so have fun with it!!

Nori- 2 sheets
A can of Cooked Salmon- 1/2 cup
Mayyonaise- 1 Tablespoons.
Horseradish sauce- 1 tspn
Cucumber sliced into thin sheets.
Mirin- 1 Tblspn
Sugar-1/2 tspn
soy sauce and pepper to taste.
Red pepper strips- a few
Mango sliced into strips- a few
Cooked asparagus spears- a few
Avocado sliced thin-  a few
Wasabi paste- 1 Tspn
Salmon Roe and Sesame Seeds (optional)
Salmon wrap without rice

1. Take the drained salmon in a bowl, toss with 1 tblspn mayyonnaise, and Horseradish sauce.
2. Place a bamboo mat on a chopping board.  Place a sheet of nori followed by thin cucumber slices.
3. Scoop a Tablespoon of the salmon and spread in evenly onto the nori(pre-prepared according to instructions).
 leaving about a cm at the top bare.
4. Press down a small wedge lengthwise in the centre add a small dab of wasabi paste along this wedge.
5. Now, toss the mirin, sugar, soy sauce and pepper with the sliced vegetables and place a handful of veggies in the middle.
6. Remove fingers and continue to roll tightly but gently squeezing until the two edges of the nori meet.
7. Cover the roll with the mat and give it a squeeze to make a neat roll.
8. Remove the bamboo mat and refrigerate for an hour.
9. Take a sharp knife and wet it with a little water, Slice the roll into six equal pieces.
10. Sprinkle or roll over salmon roe gently and sesame seeds for a garnish. Serve with pickled ginger and the rest of the wasabi.
11. Cook Sushi rice with mirin and use that instead of the salmon for a regular vegetarian sushi roll following the same steps.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

#203 Not your Mother's Meat Loaf--this one is Stuffed with Mushrooms

Meat Loaf served with mashed cauliflower, gravy and steamed asparagus. What a really satisfying low-carb meal for those of us who need a short break from high-glycemic foods for a while.  Now, we all associate 'meatloaf' with something typically unappetizing!! But I have the key to the most moist meatloaf -rather a secret some of my close friends shared with me and it really works!! How do you moisten a meat loaf? A half cup of any liquid like water, barbecue sauce, milk or wine can make a major difference and moisten the driest meat loaf and you can enjoy the juiciest moist slice in a sandwich.  While in elementary school my daughters loved meat loaf sandwiches, so this was my  way of sneaking in those vegetables that they avoided eating:)

Today, I figured I could make a vegetarian version by offsetting with a meat substitute, but I have this notion of using a little bit of meat for any meatloaf to be true to the name!  Meat loaves loaded with grated vegetables and old fashioned oats add extra nutrients and just makes me feel better! In addition, they also display pretty flecks of color and look phenomenal, so feel free to add cooked spinach or peas if you like.  Who wouldn't love individual meat loaves stuffed with mushrooms and cheese? and if you slather some tangy barbecue sauce all over it will make a perfect dinner for close friends or become an alluring way to make your children eat their vegetables.

So here's a moist, colorful stuffed meat loaf...........
Jimmy Dean Sausage Roll- 1 pkg
Ground Turkey or Ground Vegetarian Crumbles- 1 Cup
Carrots-2 small
Celery- 1 stalk
Onions- 1/2 a Spanish onion
Flat Leaf Parsley- 1/4 cup chopped
Dried Oregano- 1 Tspn
Garlic- 2  cloves chopped fine
Old Fashioned Oats- 1 cup
Egg beaten- 1
1/2 cup cold water
Sliced Mushroon Can 7 oz- 1
Grated Cheddar cheese- 1/2 cup
Barbecue Sauce (storebought)- 1 cup
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a food processor, grate carrots, celery, onions and garlic. Toss in a large glass bowl.
2. To the glass bowl, add the sausage and turkey meat, eggs, salt, oats, parsley, oregano,
salt and pepper to taste and mix gently with clean hands add a half cup of water or milk and mix.
3. Divide the mixture into four to five portions or balls.
4. I turned them into mini meat loaf shapes.
5. Flatten each meat loaf in your hands and place a tspn each of cheddar cheese and mushrooms
right in the middle. Very carefully cover this filling completely by moving the meat mixture all over
until the filling is completly engulfed in the center of the meatloaf.
6. Place each mini meat loaf on a baking pan leaving an inch between them.
7. Using a kitchen brush, apply the barbecue sauce all over each meat loaf.
8. Bake in a 375 degree F oven until the juices flow clear and meatloaves are cooked.
9. Serve each with vegetable of your choice and mashed potatoes w/gravy.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

#202 Memories of Ambalapuzha Payasam with a twist

Ambalapuzha Krishna temple is a sacred place for Kerala Hindus. The payasam served there cannot be beat for its creamy and sweet texture. I am recreating a payasam recipe(a rice and milk dessert)that is served as the renowned prasadam at one of the most sacred Krishna temples in the state of Kerala.
There are many who pay a heavy price for the authentic payasam from this temple to be mailed overseas on this auspicious day called Vishu. The nostalgic memories of this payasam brought me to make a version of this dessert with basmati rice and fresh dates only to tranform this year's Vishu into a bright New Year for my family. If you have the original 'Nellu kuthiya Ari' that would be ideal but I settled for the Basmati from my pantry. Last year  here's how I celebrated my one hundreth post Vishu 2011.
Happy New Year to all Malayalees!!

Ambalapuzha Palpayasam with Dates
1/2 cup basmati rice
1/2 cup sugar
20 fresh dates chopped
3 cups whole milk
1 Tblspn each raisins and cashewnuts
1 Tblspn Ghee
1/2 to 1 tspn Cardamom powder

1. In a pressure cooker add the washed rice, sugar, dates and 2 cups milk.
(Do not add water to avoid a watery payasam).
2. Cook the rice until very soft. Turn off cool, and remove the lid.
3. Place a small saucepan over the fire, and add ghee followed by raisins.
4. When the raisins plump up remove from ghee. Add cashews and roast until brown.
5. Remove from fire.
6. Take the rice mixture in the pressure cooker and stir well. Smoothen or blend part of
the dates into the milk to thicken. add more milk if necessary or cook down to thicken
the payasam. When the consistency is thick and creamy add the nuts, raisins and cardamom
powder along with the ghee in the saucepan. Serve warm or cold.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

#201 Yorkshire Gingerbread

"Cooking with the two fat ladies" is another great cookbook by Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson. Just the other day I ran into a copy of it,  only to be completely enticed by one of their dessert recipes-as you may remember I have a sweet tooth!! Both the ladies have given credit for this recipe to Anne Willan of La Varenne Cookery School who is from North Yorkshire and the gingerbread is from her book 'Real Food'.

Easter Sunday just passed us and we enjoyed a cosy easter meal at a friend's home. Easter Sundays have been rather quiet these days for R and I. The days when we purchased egg decorating kits and I helped the girls decorate so many eggs are all bygone .....but the need to use eggs in abundance today made me bake this gingery spiced bread. The very first bite had an instant kick of ginger which we found to be incredibly tasty,  and not being overly sweet I served each wedge with whipped cream and ginger syrup.  If you do not like the flavor of ginger, then this is not for you:)

What you would need:
1 2/3 cups self-rising flour
2 Tablespoons ground ginger
1 Tablespoon ground allspice
1/2 tspn salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup(1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup black treacle or molasses (I used molasses)

How to make it:
Sift the flour, ginger, allspice, salt and baking soda into a bowl. In another bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until very soft. Beat the eggs one by one, then mix in the molasses. Gently fold in the sifted ingredients.

Pour the misture into a greased pie plate and bake in a pre-heated oven at 325 degrees F for about 50-60 minutes. or until the top springs back when pressed,

Cool in the pan, then remove. According to the book store the bread for a few days in an airtight tin before eating. But it was so decadent and luscious that I could'nt resist the temptation and served it up the same day alongside whipped cream and ginger in syrup.. The cake can be served in slices spread with butter, or clotted cream and ginger in syrup.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

#200 A Desi breakfast with a Continental Shake

Malli's Mint and Mimosas just passed about 200 recipes today. I am no 'Iron Chef',  so I can hardly believe I've made it to my 200th mark on published recipes!!. A big achievement over the past two years?  'Neh', I feel like I still have a long way to go and a lot more to accomplish on that route.  The fact that there
are about 30-40 visitors to my site everyday puts a big smile on my face and I feel very fortunate that people stop by to read my thoughts. I've cherished many moments on this little space I call my own, although it has been very tedious after the demands of my daytime job, to be able to come home and work right here for you. Every time I return, I'm anxious to read each of your constructive comments, to chuckle over some, and  can't wait to put up photos of the next new recipe from my kitchen.  And to all of my readers- I promise to keep posting even more exciting recipes to keep your tastebuds tingling! Thank You

On my 200th post, I'm remembering my Mom, who paved my culinary journey with a pinch of advice.
Mom always said "you shouldn't leave home without a hearty breakfast". But what my Mom doesn't know is that there is no time for a 'sit-down' breakfast these days, and that I grab a quick breakfast and a smoothie to go!! Here's to you Amma - I added a small portion of Amma's Upma along with a healthy smoothie!

Upma is a South Indian breakfast in origin and it has widely spread to the rest of India. A perfect combination of fresh whole spices and onions roasted with Semolina/Rawa/Cream of Wheat in ghee.  Breakfast is like a sacred ritual for me. Add a soy milk, almond milk or yogurt based fruit smoothie and it will keep me going until lunchtime without the urge to snack in between!! The Semolina can be roasted the day before or even stored in the fridge for a week. I measure a portion into a cereal bowl with twice as much water and cook in the microwave with a little salt for a fresh bowl of upma in the morning.

Vegetable Upma and Blueberry oats Smoothie

For the Vegetable Upma
Carrots and Potato- 1 each cubed fine
Onion- 1 chopped fine
Green chillies- 2 chopped
Ginger chopped- 1/2 tspn
Cilantro- 1/2 cup chopped fine
Cream of Wheat- 1 1/4 cup
a pinch of turmeric for color
Ghee/clarified Butter- 2 Tblspoons
Water- 3 cups
Mustard and cumin seeds- 1/2 tspn each
1 red chilli broken and 1 sprig curry leaves
Salt to taste

1. Place a skillet on the fire and add 1 Tblspn of ghee. When the ghee is hot enough, add the
mustard seeds, red chili,followed by the cumin seeds and let them slutter and toast.
Now, add the curry leaves and lower the flame, toss in the onions and green chillies, ginger and saute.
2. When the onions become translucent, add the cream of wheat, turmeric and the rest of the ghee. Roast
this by stirring the mixture constantly until a beautiful fragrance is given out and the grains just start turning to a light brown color.
3. Remove the mixture to a bowl and place the same skillet back on the fire. Lower the fire.
4. Add the water to the skillet along with carrots, potato and salt and allow to boil.
5. When the water comes to a boil, add the roasted mixture into the water very slowly, stirring fast enough not to form lumps. Garnish with cilantro leaves. If desired add more ghee and grated coconut.

For the Smoothie
1. Place 1/2 cup blueberries in a tall container. Add honey, Soy milk and 1 Tbspn of Oat Powder.
(I may have mentioned that I keep toasted and ground Old fashioned Oats in the pantry)
2. Using a hand blender, mix together until the smoothie is frothy and smooth,
3. Serve in a glass drizzled with extra honey and enjoy.

Print Friendly

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF