Monthly Archives: June 2012

Naan

Naan

Naan

If you have ever been to an Indian restaurant you would probably have eaten at least one Naan. It is an Indian flat bread from North India. The dough , stretched, and then slapped onto the inside of a coal fired oven (Tandoor). Then oven is really hot  (much hotter than our home ovens can get) and a few minutes later out comes this baked bread that can then be brushed with butter and garlic. The Tandoor is also used to make Tandoori Chicken – that mouth watering treat where the chicken melts off the bone when done really well.

So you remember the pizza dough I made the last week. Well Janak’s dad actually decided to taste the pizza and really liked the dough and asked if I could just make the plain dough. So with the leftover dough I just stretched it and then baked it in the oven at 550F for 4-5 minutes brushed it with a mixture of garlic butter and it was smashing.

The only difference here is that I did not stretch out the dough that much. If you do stretch it out too much it will be really thin. However, try a few different thicknesses and see which one you like. You know the Naan is done when you have a few golden brown patches on the top.

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100 Cupcakes

I was very excited when my friend Aparna who is the director of Raksha asked if I would make cupcakes for them for Fathers day a whole 100 cupcakes. Raksha (for those of you who do not know the organization) is a non-profit South Asian organization that does amazing community work.

I did think about it overnight as I was a little apprehensive about making 100 cupcakes (mini cupcakes). However, what better opportunity to learn mass baking skills. So I did say yes (as there is obviously this story).

I started off with thinking I would do something simple 50 chocolate cupcakes and 50 vanilla cupcakes. However, I thought it would be nice to have something other than just simple chocolate cupcakes so I changed around the recipe to add a little bit of espresso and a little bit of this and that and came up with a wonderful tasting batter (yes I do taste my batters). Then I put the first batch in and they rose and continued – and looked like little muffin top and they continued to rise – hmm maybe my experiment went a little haywire with me being a little overzealous with the baking soda. On the flip side once they came out of the oven, had cooled and then fallen they tasted amazing. They just did not look like it. So I took the batter and just baked two cakes out of it.

I ended up making a Raspberry Chocolate Cupcake with Chocolate ganache and then Vanilla cupcakes with Lemon butter cream icing. Recipes to follow soon. Thanks Aparna and Happy Fathers day to all the dads out there.


Green Jackfruit Vegetable

Jack Fruit Vegetable

Jack Fruit Vegetable

Have you ever had a Jack fruit (and I do not mean Durian though it is in the same family) ? I love Jack fruit the variety from India. It has a spiny outer skin. If and when I buy them, I only buy half of one or there is simply too much (not to mention cleaning one). Don’t let that put you off, just know that if you do get a whole or a half oil you hands well, cover the counter top with news paper and start pulling the fruit out. The reason for the oiled hands is that the insides have a really sticky latex juice. The newspapers catch all the dripping stickyness. In India we have two types of Jack Fruit and I am not even going to try and name them. I only know how to say their names in Konkani and do not know the spell them. The difference between the two is that one has a harder fruit and the other a softer sweeter fruit. They both have a strong odor but nowhere near the odor of Durian.

I have made a curry of the ripe variety but here is a recipe that is made in South India using green Jack fruit. I used cans that I got in an Asian grocery store. I have made a curry with the ripe variety and it is smashing (will be posted later). I am writing this recipe as I was talking to  my Aunt in England the other day and she loved the mango curry recipe that I had posted and I said – hey I have a Jack Fruit curry recipe that I can post. This is a green variety so its quite different from the ripe variety and the mango curry but its really good.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of green jack fruit (each can about 250g dry ingredients)
  • 2 medium potatoes (cut into small cubes)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tomato (chopped)
  • 2 jalepenos (chopped fine)
  • 2 tablespoons cumin powder
  • 2 tablespoons chopped ginger
  • 2 teaspoons red chilli powder (use less if you do not want it too spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • oil

Method

Drain the can of jack fruit and chop the pieces into small 2cm cubes. Add the cumin powder, ginger, red chilli powder and turmeric. Mix to coat well and set aside.

Heat about two and a half tablespoons of oil. Add the mustard seeds and let them sputter. Add diced potatoes and fry stirring often for about 5 – 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes and green chillies and stir for about 2 minutes. Add the jack fruit mix and continue to stir for another 5 minutes. Add the sugar, garam masala, salt, lemon juice and ketchup and stir for another 2 minutes and then turn off the heat.

Serve it with hot rice or couscous.


Hummus Pizza

Pizza

Pizza

I used to make Pizza’s as a kid. In Kuwait we did not go to eat out much. I think a lot of people can relate to that.  Actually the only restaurants we went out to were either Indian or Chinese. We did not have any of the chains (well the US chains). I think the only place I saw pizza’s were when we saw them on the TV shows. I got my first recipe from a friend of my moms, she was an excellent cook. It was pretty simple (if only I could remember what it was – haha). I used to make it for quite a few get together’s  – well I would make a couple of pizza’s. The toppings were really simple just a few veggies mostly peppers, pepperoni and cheese. I think I even made them on baking trays because that was all we had at home. Not like today where there are so many specialty tools. I do remember kneading the dough (hand kneading for a skinny 12 year old kid) – but it was so much fun.

Well I bought myself a pizza stone a while back. It was on sale at Home goods and I kept meaning to try making a pizza but never got around to it until recently. Well since I did not have my tried and trusted recipe that I had used, I scoured the net looking for a pizza recipe to start off with. I read quite a few including Jamie Oliver’s who uses 7 cups of flour. I wanted to make Pizza but it was just going to be for 3 people with leftovers (you simply must have pizza for breakfast!). I finally settled on this one. I did not really make any changes to the recipe besides using less olive oil. The dough was simple a delight to work with and the pizzas were smashing.

I also decided not to go for the tried and true tomato based sauce but make something different. So I made a hummus based spread. It turned out rather delicious. I think the next one I want to try is an Indian pizza with spinach and panner (cheese).

Ingredients

Sun Dried Tomato Hummus

  • 1.5 cups of dried chick peas (soaked overnight and then cooked) or 2 cans of chick peas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup of sun dried tomatoes in oil
  • juice of 1 small lemon
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Caramelized onions

  • 1 large white onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt to taste

additional toppings

  • basil leaves (as many as you want – i used about 12)
  • cheese (I used the Mexican queso cheese)

Method

Caramelize the Onions

Heat a frying pan on medium high heat and add the oil. When hot add the onion slices to it and add stir to coat with the oil. Then add the salt. Stir occasionally until the onions are all lightly browned. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir well. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Turn your oven to 550F (or as high as it will go – your cooking times will vary depending on your oven temperature).  Put your pizza stone in on the middle shelf of the oven.

Make the Hummus

Puree the chick peas, jalapeno, cumin, oil, salt, lemon  juice and sun-dried tomato in a blender. Add more oil if you do not have a spreading consistency. As always taste and add more cumin/salt if you feel you need it.

Dust your hand liberally with flour and start working on your first piece of dough. It should be nice and puffy at this time. If it does not lift easily from the parchment paper you can use a dough scraper. It should be really soft and you can use any method you want to stretch it. What I did was lift one palm higher than the other, then did a quarter turn using my forearm as a resting place and sliding the dough around (now this explanation makes sense to me but feel free to ask me for more info). Once I had it stretched out to the size I wanted, I lay it back down on the parchment paper and then used my hand to just flatten the edges.

Now spread the hummus and then put on your toppings. I then slid the parchment paper onto a wooden cutting board. When the oven was ready (and had been on for a little longer to make sure my stone was nice and hot I then opened the oven and slid the parchment paper on to the stone (now your parchment paper will brown on the ends). I set my timer for 6 minutes and watched the pizza ends start to puff and the center start to sort of bubble.

When the 6 minutes were done, out it came. I did lift the pizza at one end to  look underneath it at the 5 minute mark.  I wanted it done just a tad bit more so my timing of 6 minutes worked out great.


Milk and White Chocolate mousse

Black and White Chocolate Mousse

Milk and White Chocolate Mousse

This is something you can throw together in a pinch if you have someone coming over. It simple easy and who does not like chocolate. Well I actually do know a couple of people who do  not really care for chocolate – shocking but true. I have been making chocolate mousse for a number of years and doing it in a variety ways. this one is by far the easiest. This version does not use eggs at all. You can make multiple layers using chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa (which I tend to like more). The more the cocoa the better the chocolate is for you :-).

Janaks classmate (for 12 years in school) was coming to Atlanta for a wedding and said they would drop in for a visit.  Well their daughters love desserts and since I was swamped  at work and home, so I decided on something simple and something chocolate. Well when I did serve this their eyes lit up. Isn’t that the first best compliment that you can get. The excitement in someone’s eyes when they see something that they like. The second is the look of  sheer delight when the bite into that first morsel. Well both the girls were thrilled. We had a wonderful visit with Paresh and  his family even though it was a short one and we look forward to their next visit – which will hopefully be longer.

Ingredients

Makes 4 mini cups

  • 2.5 oz milk chocolate chips
  • 2.5 oz white chocolate chips
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1.5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon rum (optional)

Method

Heat a 1/4 cup of the cream (to hot not boiling) and pour over the white chocolate and let it sit for about 2 minutes and then stir to dissolve. In this method I leave the white chocolate partially melted so I still have some chunks. Set this aside to cool.

Melt the milk chocolate in the microwave or on a double boiler. The double boiler method is easier and you are sure to melt the chocolate evenly. For the microwave method put the chips in a bowl. Heat for 10 seconds stir. Repeat. On the second stir the chocolate should flow more easily. Then do it for 5 seconds and stir. You may have to do this one more time but make sure you stir well because the heat from the melted pieces will help the rest of the pieces melt. Set this aside.

Whip the remaining heavy cream and as it starts to thicken pour in the sugar. Keep whipping until you get soft peaks (that is if you lift your whisk out of the cream you will get a peak that will gently flop over). At this point you can add your vanilla extract and rum and gently fold in.

Use half the whipped cream and fold into the cooled white chocolate mix. Fold in completely. Use the other half to fold into the cooled milk chocolate. Layer the milk chocolate mousse into your cup and then top with the white chocolate mousse. Sift some cocoa powder on top and then top with a dark and white chocolate chip.