Sunshine time

I’ve been sent some sunshine by Shalini the blogger behind Tale of Two Tomatoes. (Thanks Shalini! And apologies too, this has been long overdue)

It’s a grey and wet day here today so thank you for the warmth that the Sunshine Award brings with it. :) I’m very touched.

If any of you are hankering after Iddiyappams or Kottayam fish curry or Pongal Payasam head over to Tale of Two Tomatoes and discover these and other gems from Shalini’s Keralite kitchen.

So what is this Sunshine Award? Here are the rules. All but the last are easy to follow.

sunshine-awardRules Of The Sunshine Award
• Display the award on your blog.
• Show your gratitude and link back to the person who nominates you with the award.
• Nominate up to 10 of your favourite deserving “bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”.
• Link the nominees in your post and let them know they have been awarded.
• Write 10 interesting things about yourself.

A few of my favourite bloggers are listed here. These are blogs that I keep going back to to discover interesting ideas or perspectives and I always come away with a big smile on my face. So in no particular order, here they are.

1. Shailaja V from Diary of a Doting Mom: Shailaja’s blog has become my go-to parenting site for her wisdom and for the fun ways in which she is bringing up little miss G.

2. Vidya Sury from vidyasury.com : I head to Vidya’s blog when I’m feeling a little low and need a pick me up. She has never failed me!

3. Cristina Trinidad from Filling my Prayer Closet : Cristina writes on religion, family ties and relationships, all peppered with some fabulously real pics. All I will say is that it makes for a pretty compelling read. Head over to find out for yourself.

4. Corinne Rodrigues from EverydayGyaan : Corinne, I think, is a mind reader. Motivation, inspiration and a reality check – I find all this and more at Corinne’s blog when I need it the most.

5. Sunila Vig’s posts on yoga, meditation and living a peaceful life really resonated with me during the A-Z Challenge. You can find her at Between you and me.

6. Tulika Singh from ObsessiveMom : Love reading? Would you like to know a little more about the men and women behind the literary works you love? Meet them on Tulika’s blog.

7. Kajal Kapur – For me, Kajal’s Movie Massala is my imdb and movie wiki rolled into one. Nuff said!

8. Eli E Zachariadis from Expatliv – armchair traveling with a special Mumbai bias, makes me love her blog even more.

 

And now, as per the rules, here are a few things you may not know about me.

1. I’ve done the world’s highest bungee jump.

2. I can’t ride a bicycle. (Yes, it’s true.)

3. I love dark chocolate.

4. Wine makes me sick. :(

5. I’d rather wash the floors and do the dishes than iron clothes or sew buttons.

6. My favourite way to relax is through yoga and of course, pottering around the kitchen.

7. I used to read 3-4 books a week until I became a mommy. Now I read 3-4 pages per day.

That’s quite enough about me. Go on and explore the wonderful blogs I’ve listed above. You can thank me later. :)

 

Posted in About the weekend Baker | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

Summer in a glass

Summer has been a mixture of sunshine and rain so far. I’ve had fruits ripen too quickly and needed to be used up before they went off. On one such scorching day, I had a melon and some strawberries that were begging to be finished.

Here’s the MelBerry Smoothie that they turned into.

It doesn’t need a recipe really. Throw in a combination of coolers like melons or cucumbers, flavour with berries or mangoes or any other fruits you like. And there you have it – summer in a glass.

Summer in a glass

Summer in a glass

Ingredients:

1.5 cups cantaloupe, cubed

about 1.5 – 2 cups of strawberries

Honey or sugar to taste (optional)

Ice cubes

Method:

1. Whizz all the fruits in a blender.

2. Add sweetener, if required.

3. Add some ice cubes to a tall glass and pour the smoothie over.

4. Add a hammock and a good book and you’re all set to enjoy the summer.

 

How do you beat the heat? Do share your summer secrets through the comments box, below.

 

Posted in Drinks | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Strawberry Summer Pops

Sunny summer days and strawberry picking go hand in hand. Last weekend was a perfect day out with the little man, picking these luscious red berries. All you could see and smell were perfectly ripe strawberries begging to be eaten.

Our two year old pitched in happily and gathered a whole basket by himself. Consequently, we left slightly redder and stickier than we had arrived, but that I suppose is part of the deal.

The best bit, however, was coming up with options for what to do with them, other than just eating them straight out of the trug.

And so this is what we did to celebrate the arrival of summer – Strawberry summer pops!

 

Strawberry summer pops

Strawberry summer pops

Ingredients:

1500 grams of strawberries, washed and hulled

3/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet or tart the berries are)

Equipment:

a large saucepan

popsicle cases

Perfect for a summer picnic

Perfect for a summer picnic

Method:

1. In a clean pan, on high heat, tip in the sugar.

2. When the sugar starts to caramelise a bit add the strawberries and cook for 10-12 minutes. The juices that run out will help soften the berries and make their flavour more intense. No water or liquid of any sort is required.

3. Once the berries have turned dark and syrupy, take them off the heat and cool.

Strawberries in their syrup

Strawberries in their syrup

4. Once cool, fill the popsicle cases generously with berries and the syrup. Freeze.

5. Unmould and enjoy!

 

Notes:

1. I enjoyed the texture of these pops. I don’t really like the crunchy ice versions. These had no water in them other than the juice of the berries so they were firm but not hard.

2. I used the leftovers to fill some ice trays. I’m sure they will come in handy to add to lemonade or simply to enjoy as mini pops.

Strawberry ice cubes

Strawberry ice cubes

 

 

 

Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

Focaccia with sea salt

Another winner from Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake. This focaccia is much easier to make than I anticipated. As with all bread, I find it most relaxing to make it on a day at home, when I am not anxiously watching the timer or waiting for it to rise.

Perfect for a Saturday lunch. It’s difficult to make it last till dinner if you bake it in the day. :)

I’ve adpated the recipe slightly, omitting the herbs and reducing the quantities of olive oil and water.

Ingredients:

500 grams strong white flour

10 grams salt

10 grams yeast

80-100 mils, olive oil

300 mils cool water

fine semolina for dusting

Sea salt (for finishing)

Focaccia cooling on a wire rack

Focaccia cooling on a wire rack

Method:

1. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour with salt to one side and yeast to the other. Add 40 mls of olive oil and mix it in. Make a well in the centre and add in about 270 mls of water. Mix well until the water and oil are well incorporated in the dough. You may want to add more water if your dough is a bit dry. What you need is a wet and soft dough. Knead lightly until you get a rough dough.

2. In a large and wide pan or on a clean surface, add some olive oil. Tip the dough onto it and knead well for about 10 minutes. Try not to add any flour. The oil will combine with the dough to give you a smooth and elastic ball of dough.

3. Divide the dough into two equal balls. Put them into an oiled tub or bowl and cover with cling film. Leave for at least an hour until the dough doubles in size.

4. Line 2 baking trays with parchment and grease them well with the oil.

5. Put some more olive oil on your work surface and dust with fine semolina. Now tip one ball of dough onto the surface. Working very gently stretch it to an even and flat (about 1.5 inches high) piece. Repeat this for the other ball of dough.

6. Cover each tray very loosely with cling film and let rest for an hour. The dough will double in size again.

7. Heat oven to Gas 7 (220 C).

8. Push your fingers down in the focaccia all the way to the bottom. This gives you the lovely dimpled surface that you see on a focaccia. Drizzle olive oil generously and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until the top is lightly pinkish golden. Tap the bottom of the focaccia. A hollow sound indicates that it is done. Cool on a wire rack.

If you are baking each tray separately, repeat step 8 for each tray.

Sunny focaccia

Sunny focaccia

Notes:

1. Best eaten fresh. Dip it in olive oil or smother it with butter.

2. You can also choose to sprinkle dried herbs in step 8, along with the salt. You could also add olives or sun dried tomatoes. Embed these in the dough, in step 8.

 

 

 

Posted in Baking, Bread | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Crusty loaf

This is the recipe for a Cottage Loaf from Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake.

Of course, my version looks nothing as professional as the original but the taste is to die for. If you like a light airy bread with a thin crust, all you need is a dab of butter to transport you to bread heaven.

Crusty loaf

Crusty loaf

Ingredients:

500 grams strong white bread flour, a little more for dusting

10 grams salt

10 grams yeast

30 grams unsalted butter, softened

330 mils cool water

Oil for kneading

Method:

1. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour with the salt on one side and yeast on the other. Make a well in the centre and add in the softened butter and two thirds of the water. Mix well. Adding a little water at a time continue to mix just until the dough comes together. You want a soft loose dough but not too wet. You may not need all the water.

2. Oil a large pan or baking sheet. Place the dough on it and knead for about 10 minutes until you get a smooth even looking dough. Put this into a large oiled bowl. Cover loosely with cling film allowing the dough enough space to double its size. This can take at least an hour but you could leave the dough to rise for 2-3 hours too.

3. Dust your pan or baking sheet with some flour. Place the dough on the pan. Fold it on itself a few times, massaging the dough to rid it of as much air as possible. When you fold it self for the last time, place the seam side down and divide into two balls, one twice as big as the other. Smooth the larger ball with your palms in an up and down movement shaping it into an even ball and tucking the edges under it as much as possible. Repeat this with the smaller ball. Then place the smaller ball on top of the larger one.

4. Dust your index finger with flour and push it right down the centre through both balls. Do this twice. Then lift the loaf carefully and make vertical cuts with sharp knife across the top and bottom balls.

5. Place the loaf on a baking tray lined with paper. Again, cover with cling film very gently and ensure that you leave enough space for this loaf to double in size. This takes an hour.

6. Heat your oven to Gas 5 (375 F or 190 C). Fill a pan with hot water and place at the bottom of the oven. Put the loaf in the oven to bake for about 35 minutes. It should be golden to look at and sound hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack so that the bottom doesn’t turn soggy.

Our daily bread

Our daily bread

Notes:

Enjoy fresh. I’m not sure how long this keeps. If it lasts beyond tomorrow, I’ll update these notes.

Posted in Bread | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

‘With bread all sorrows are less’

Those are the words of Sancho Panza speaking to Dapple, his ass, in Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.

Sancho Panza was a man after my own heart. By now, you’ve probably discovered that I find it difficult to steer clear of carbs. So, May is dedicated to bread in a variety of shapes and forms.

As we turn our back on April and its indulgent offerings, we look to a calmer but equally interesting May.

Come along on this journey and discover new ways to appease your palate when nothing but bread will do.

Who doesn't love baguettes?

Who doesn’t love baguettes?

First up, this weekend, is a crusty loaf from Paul Hollywood’s ‘How to Bake’

Watch this space for more as I make up my mind on which bread to bake.

Decisions, decisions!

1. Crusty loaf

2. Focaccia with sea salt

Posted in Bread | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

A momentary lapse of reason

I signed up to the A-Z challenge in a momentary lapse of reason. It seemed like a brilliant idea at the time. And with my inspired planner’s hat on, I could see neat rows of excel sheets detailing what I would post and when. The trouble when you write a baking blog is that writing a post also needs you to bake in advance! Yeah, minor detail.

April has flown past and not only did I survive the A-Z Challenge 2014, I will definitely be coming back for more.

A-Z Challenge Collage

30 days of madness, excitement and more calories than can be burnt in a month.

Here’s my recipe for surviving and staying sane through the A-Z Challenge.

Ingredients:

1 Momentary Lapse of reason

1 good friend who inspires you to sign on

A handful of panic attacks

A generous amount of enthusiasm

A great bunch of fellow bloggers, egging you on

An A-Z melting pot of FB support group, posts and comments (to vent your feelings)

and most importantly,

1 supportive husband (love of photography – optional)

Method:

1. Read friend’s announcement about A-Z Challenge. Sign up, yourself.

2. Read about co-bloggers’ comments and panic about how much catching up is involved.

3. Mix enthusiasm with too many ideas. Discard ideas and start afresh.

4. Chew nails, almost quit.

5. Let husband’s rational brain reason calm your emotional mush. Repeat through the month.

6. Stir in large doses of enthusiasm through the weeks. Mix well with late night testing and tasting recipes and scheduling posts.

7. Explore co-bloggers posts and pepper with comments. Repeat for 30 days or more.

8. Look back on the month with pride and joy and gratitude.

9. Look forward to A-Z 2015!

Notes:

1. This recipe yields: new friendships, great reads and a month of excitement. (Here’s a link to the A-Z posts of my fellow bloggers and A-Z Challenge participants. If you’ve missed them, I’d highly recommend reading and bookmarking these pages and blogs. Inspiring, informative, mind-expanding, wonderful!)

PS: In sum, all I’d like to say is that everyone needs a few momentary lapses of reason in their life and a bestie to see them through it.

 

A-to-Z Reflection [2014]

 

Posted in Challenges and competitions | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments

Zis for Za’atar spiced pita chips

Love pita chips? Make your own! Add some zing with za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice mix.

Can’t find Za’atar easily? Make your own with this easy recipe.

These baked pita chips are one example of where you can use store bought ingredients and assemble them to add your own special touch.

Munch away or serve them with hummous or any dip of your choice. I dunked mine in peri -peri hummous.

Za'atar spiced pita chips

Za’atar spiced pita chips

Ingredients:

2-3 tablespoons za’atar spice mix

2-4 tablespoons olive oil

salt to taste

4-5 pitas

 

sesame, sumac, oregano, marjoram, cumin, salt and pita chips

sesame, sumac, oregano, marjoram, cumin, salt and pita chips

Method:

1. Preheat oven to Gas 4 or 350 F.

2. Using a pair of kitchen scissors open up the layers of the pita and then cut them into pieces. This should give you pieces slightly thicker than a tortilla.

3. Grease 2 baking trays and arrange the pita pieces on them.

4. Drizzle the pita pieces with olive oil and then sprinkle the za’atar spice mix and salt.

5. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until the pitas look nicely toasted and crispy. Halfway through the baking process, using a spatula move the pita pieces around on the tray. Alternatively, rotate the trays from back to front.

6. Cool. Munch and crunch your way through them.

 

Notes:

1. The spice quantities are approximate. I like mine lightly dusted. My husband likes to see his pita chips covered in the spices.

2. You can try the same with chapatis or tortillas. The baking time will vary with the thickness of the chapatis/tortillas.

 

Posted in Appetisers and Nibbles, Baking, Savoury | Tagged , , , , , | 33 Comments

Y is for Yeast risen Baguettes

Home baked baguettes has been a long held dream but I’ve never mustered up the courage to attempt these in my little oven. And then, imagine my joy when I came across this ‘baguettes for Dummies’ version on the Food52 site.

The A-Z Challenge offered the perfect excuse to dip my toe in.

Home baked baguettes

Home baked baguettes

I can’t possibly do a better job of the step by step pictorial instructions so here’s the link to them. I have, however, reproduced the recipe text below.

As I type this, I’m waiting for my beloved baguettes to cool so that the husband and I can have a mini midnight snack.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups tap water, heated to 115° F
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
3 1/4 cups all–purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I have reduced this from the original quantity.)
Canola oil, for greasing bowl
1/2 cup ice cubes

Method:

  1. Whisk together water and yeast in a large bowl; let sit until yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes. Add flour, and stir with a fork until dough forms and all flour is absorbed; let dough sit to allow flour to hydrate, about 20 minutes. Add salt, then transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Transfer dough ball to a lightly greased bowl, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and place bowl in a cold oven or microwave. Let dough rest until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  2. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and shape into an 8-inch x 6-inch rectangle. Fold the 8-inch sides toward the middle, then fold the shorter sides toward the center, like a T-shirt. Return dough, seam side down, to the bowl. Cover with plastic again, and return to oven. Let sit until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Remove bowl with dough from oven, and place a cast–iron skillet on the bottom rack of oven; position another rack above skillet, and place a baking stone or upside down or rimless sheet pan on it.
  4. Heat oven to 475° F. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and cut into three equal pieces; shape each piece into a 14-inch rope. Flour a sheet of parchment paper on a rimless baking sheet; place ropes, evenly spaced, on paper. Lift paper between ropes to form pleats; place two tightly rolled kitchen towels under long edges of paper, creating supports for the loaves. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let sit until it doubles in size, about 50 minutes.
  5. Uncover; remove towels, and flatten paper to space out loaves. Using a sharp razor, knife, bread lame, or scissors, slash the top of each baguette at a 30–degree angle in four spots; each slash should be about 4 inches long. Pull out the oven rack with the stone or baking sheet on it and, using the corner of the parchment paper as a guide, slide the loaves, still on the parchment paper, onto the baking stone or pan. Place ice cubes in skillet (this produces steam that lets the loaves rise fully before a crust forms). Bake the baguettes until darkly browned and crisp, 20 to 30 minutes; cool before serving.

Notes and my learnings from the baguette making experience:

1. This is a recipe for a lazy Saturday at home. It needs to chug alongside your other activities where you can tend to the baguette process in between and then carry on with whatever you are doing.

2. Although the actual active time is not much, the waiting time needs patience and a timer.

3. It is a labour of love and SO worth it. Who doesn’t love a good baguette?

Who doesn't love baguettes?

Who doesn’t love baguettes?

Enjoy!! I did. And I’m now looking forward to making them again next Saturday.

Posted in Baking, Bread, Breakfast | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

X is for Xmas cookies, Greek style

These Xmas cookies, known as Melomakarona, are to a traditional Greek Christmas what Christmas pudding is to an English Christmas.

We were first introduced to them a few Christmases ago by our Greek friends (but of course). I can’t believe I have waited these many years to make them.

Don’t be fooled by the mile long list of ingredients or the number of steps below, which, quite honestly, is what intimidated me. These cookies are really quite simple to make.

Olive oil, honey and citrus notes make these cookies very different from the usual butter, sugar and vanilla versions.

The rich taste makes them a delicious dessert too.

Melomakarona

Melomakarona

Ingredients:

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
20 mls whiskey
2/3 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of salt
300 grams flour
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

Dipping syrup:
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
1 small cinnamon stick (about 2″)
3-4 whole cloves
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/3 teaspoon lemon juice

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4 or 350 F.
  2. Rub the orange zest and sugar together to make a fragrant orange sugar.
  3. Mix the orange juice and the whiskey together. Add in the orange sugar and whisk till dissolved.
  4. Add in the oils and whisk together till they are well integrated with the juice, whiskey and sugar. Keep aside.
  5. In a large bowl, sift together the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  6. Slowly, add the liquid mixture to the flour and mix till you get a loose dough and wet dough. Stop mixing once all the flour has been incorporated.
  7. Make small balls, the size of walnuts with the cookie dough. Shape them into ovals. Flatten them lightly with a fork.
  8. Place the cookies on a parchment paper covered baking tray.
  9. Bake in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes until lightly golden – brown.
  10. While the cookies are baking, prepare the syrup: Mix together all the ingredients for the syrup, except the lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a boil then simmer it for about 10 minutes. Discard the cinnamon, cloves, and lemon zest. Stir in the lemon juice.
  11. When the cookies are baked and while they are still warm, dip them in the syrup so that they absorb it on top as well as the bottom of the cookie.
  12. Remove them from the syrup and scatter the walnuts over the cookies, pressing them in lightly. The sugar syrup will prevent the walnuts from falling off.
  13. Serve immediately or store them in an airtight container.

    Melomakarona studded with walnuts

    Melomakarona studded with walnuts

Notes:

  1. The olive oil helps keep the cookies longer than regular butter cookies.
  2. This recipe has been adapted from a few different recipes to make a smaller batch of cookies and the sugar and honey quantities have been reduced. (The original version can be found at http://greekfood.about.com/od/cookiescakes/r/Melomakarona-Spiced-Honey-Cookies-With-Walnuts.htm)
Posted in Baking, Cookies, Festive food | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

W is for Whole wheat Thins

After a nearly a month of desserts and cookies, I was craving a healthy snack. No cheese or chocolate or walnuts this time round.

I scouted around and found this one that I hadn’t come across before. The unusual combination of ingredients made me stick to the recipe and to the ingredients, for once. (Well, almost.)

So here’s to another recipe from Two Peas and their Pod.

These wheat thins are a little sweet,  a little salty and quite perfect.

Ingredients:

75 grams whole wheat flour (I used Pillsbury atta)

14 grams sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon paprika

30 grams of butter

1/8 cup water

1/8 teaspoon vanilla

Method:

1. Preheat oven to Gas 6 or 400 F. Grease and paper a baking tray and keep aside

2. Whisk all the dry ingredients together – flour, salt, sugar and paprika – to combine.

3. Cut the butter into chunks and mix it thoroughly with the dry ingredients. I used my hands and mixed the butter in till the mixture resembled breadcrumbs. (You could also use a food processor or pastry hook attachment.)

4. Add the vanilla extract and the water and continue to mix until you have a smooth dough. If it feels too try dry add a couple of tablespoons of cold water.

5. Once the dough is smooth, divide into 2 equal balls. Roll them out as you would a tortilla or a chapati. (It won’t be as smooth a process, just aim for an evenly thick disc, of sorts.) When you have rolled it slightly thicker than a tortilla, cut into pieces. I cut these into diamonds with a pastry cutter.

How thick can the wheat thins be?

How thick can the wheat thins be?

6. Lay these pieces onto the baking tray and bake for about 7 – 9 minutes, keeping a watch over them and taking the tray out of the oven once they are golden brown.

7. Continue steps 5 and 6 until you have used up the dough.

8. Cool the wheat thins and store in an airtight container.main thins

Notes:

1. These go well with a cheesy dip. Equally nice cracker style with a slice of cheese.

2. If you are a fan of the Britannia 50-50 biscuits, you will love these. I guarantee it.

 

Posted in Appetisers and Nibbles, Baking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

V is for Vataane Pattice (Green Peas and Potato Patties)

Green peas are known as vataane in Marathi or as matar in Hindi. I love peas in all forms but this is one of my favourites. You bite into the potato casing and experience a burst of flavours – peas, cumin, coconut, ginger, coriander with a hint of mint…. bliss.

If you like mash and peas, I’m sure you’ll like these peas and potato cakes.

Serve them hot on a rainy day and chase away those blues.

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 large potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
  • 1 1/2 cups green peas
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped coriander
  • 5-6 mint leaves, chopped fine
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1″piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 green chilli, slit in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of ghee
  • a pinch of asafoetida (optional)
  • 5-6 tablespoon of semolina (or breadcrumbs)
  • 2 tablespoons of oil in a small bowl

Method:

1. Add the ghee to a pan. When it is hot add the cumin seeds and wait till they splutter. Now add the asafoetida, chilli and ginger. Once the oil is fragrant, add the peas and salt and cook them through.

2. When the peas are done, turn off the heat and add the coconut, coriander and mint. Keep aside and cool.

green peas with the works

green peas with the works

3. Add some salt and paprika to the mashed potatoes and mix well. Divide the mash into equal portions and then roll each to a size a little larger than a golf ball.

mashed potato with a dash of paprika

mashed potato with a dash of paprika

4. Grease your palms with oil and flatten a ball to about 4 inches in diameter.

5. Place a heaped tablespoon of the peas mixture onto the centre. Seal the edges and shape into a patty.

filling the patties

filling the patties

6. Continue until all the patties are filled with the peas mix.

Patties filled with peas

Patties filled with peas

7. Pre heat the oven to gas 6 (425 F) with a baking tray in it, for about 15 minutes.

8. Dredge the patties in the semolina and brown them on a hot greased skillet, about 6 minutes on each side. Keep aside.

9. When all the patties are golden brown and crisp on the outside, place them on the baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Ready to be served

Ready to be served

Serve hot with a dip or a coriander chutney.

 

Notes:

These are great appetisers to make ahead for a party. You can make them upto the skillet stage and then bake them in the oven just before serving. The baking process makes the patties much crisper on the outside.

 

Posted in Appetisers and Nibbles, Baking, Savoury | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

U is for Upside down Blueberry Cobbler

For those unfamiliar with fruit cobblers, think of sweet and juicy fruit in a large baking dish covered over with batter or pie crust before being baked. The fruit juices run into the batter making it a colourful and sweet dessert. You could also make a savoury cobbler, but that’s for another day.

Today’s cobbler is an upside down version with the batter going into the dish first, sprinkled over with fresh blueberries. The berries are too pretty to be hidden under a blanket of batter. I’m sure you will agree that this upside down version makes the cobbler a treat for the eyes.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • a generous pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 175 grams blueberries, or any other berries you may prefer
  • 25-30 grams butter

Method:

1. Preheat oven to Gas 5 (375°F).

2. In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add in the vanilla and continue to mix. When it is nicely combined pour in the almond milk.

3. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

4. Gradually, add the dry mix into the wet mix, a few spoons at a time whisking it together to combine.  When all the flour has been mixed in you should have a smooth but thick batter of pouring consistency.

5. In a greased baking dish, pour the batter making sure it covers the base of the dish.

Batter - thick but pouring consistency

Batter – thick but pouring consistency

6. Scatter the blueberries over the batter.

Blueberries scattered over the batter

Blueberries scattered over the batter

7. Bake for about 40 minutes.

8. The blueberries should sink halfway into the batter during the baking process.

Upside down blueberry cobbler

Upside down blueberry cobbler

Voila, you have an Upside Down Blueberry Cobbler.

Serve warm with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Notes:

Don’t omit the vanilla nor the salt – they add lovely base notes to the cobbler.

 

Posted in Baking, Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

T is for Tortas

It was love at first bite when we were first introduced to these beauties by a close friend of ours.  We are now indebted to him for life. If you are ever in Spain, look out for the Ines Rosales tortas and I can guarantee you will be hooked.

If you have never come across tortas before, imagine crisp wafer thin crackers flavoured with aniseed and sprinkled over with shiny crystals of sugar. Cracker heaven!

I’ve adapted these from Crackers & Dips by Ivy Manning.

This recipe makes about 12 crackers abut 4″ in diameter.

Ingredients:

100 mls of water

2 teaspoons aniseeds

1 cup flour + 1 tablespoon for dusting

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 tablespoon orange zest

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons caster sugar

 

Method:

1. Add 1 teaspoon of the aniseeds to the water and heat it until it is hot but not boiling.

2. Strain the aniseed water, measure and keep aside about 55 mls to cool slightly.

3. Preheat the oven to Gas 4 ( 350 F). Grease and paper 2-3 baking trays and keep aside.

4. In a bowl, mix the flour, salt and caster sugar.

5. In another bowl mix together the warm aniseed water, olive oil, yeast and orange zest. Add this to the dry mixture.

6. Mix well and and knead for about 4-5 minutes until you have a smooth dough. Cover the bowl with cling film and let this dough rise in a warm place for about an hour.

7. Divide the dough into 2 equal balls. Then divide each ball further into 6 smaller balls.

8. Using a rolling pin, roll each ball into an evenly flat circle, dusting with extra flour as necessary. This is like rolling out chapatis or tortillas.

Rolling out the dough for the tortas

Rolling out the dough for the tortas

9. Transfer the circles onto the baking trays. You will probably need to do this in 3-4 batches.

10. Combine the sugar with the remaining aniseeds. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over each circle. Press the sugar and the aniseeds into the circle with the back of a spoon or the base of a flat cup.

Tortas prepped for the oven

Tortas prepped for the oven

11. Prick the circles with a fork and bake for about 7-8 minutes until they are golden brown. Keep a watch as your oven may work differently. These crackers are very thin and can go from golden to burnt in a few seconds.

Crispy tortas ready to be munched

Crispy tortas ready to be munched

12. Cool the crackers and enjoy fresh.

Notes:

1. You could make these in different flavours. I’ve tried a lemon zest version, cracked black pepper with sea salt and even one with chopped green chillies. For these other versions, just use 55 mls of warm water without infusing it with the aniseeds. Omit the sugar in the savoury versions.

2. They may store well for a few days but ours don’t last more than a couple of hours so I can’t be sure….

Posted in Appetisers and Nibbles, Baking, Cookies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

S is for oven roasted Squash

I’ve recreated this from a recipe I used to enjoy as a child – crispy fried red pumpkin slices.

The squash mimics the sweetness of the pumpkin and oven baking it makes it crisp like the fried version I remember.

Give it a go. It makes a lovely and colourful side dish.

Crispy oven baked squash

Crispy oven baked squash

Ingredients:

350 grams butternut squash or red pumpkin sliced

1.5 teaspoons turmeric

1.5 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon sambhar masala* (or cumin – coriander powder)

salt to taste

1/3 cup rice flour (approx.)

2-3 tablespoons oil plus more for greasing the baking tray

Oven roasted squash

Oven roasted squash

Method:

1. Marinate the slices of squash with all the spices and salt. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to Gas 7 (425 F) for about 10-12 minutes. Grease a large baking tray.

3. Dredge the slices of squash in the rice flour and lay them flat on the baking tray.

4. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until the slices are crispy on the outside and the edges are slightly singed. (Bake for longer on a lower heat if you want them really crispy.)

5. Serve hot.

Notes:

1. These are best eaten hot. They turn a bit chewy when cold.

2. They go well as a side with a rice and curry. Equally good as appetizers with a dip.

3. Sambhar powder is a spice mix akin to Garam Masala but unique to the Pathare Prabhu community. (You can read more about the PP community and their cusine at varan-bhaat.com) You could substitute this with cumin-coriander powder or garam masala although the taste will be altered.

Posted in Appetisers and Nibbles, Baking, Savoury | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments