Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Eggless Butter cookies

I am sure all of us remember the butter biscuits from the bakery. They are also called egg-biscuits due to the strong eggy flavour and smell. But they are such a melt in the mouth snack, that I would consume large quantities of it in one go. I came across this recipe for the eggless version on Anshruti's blog. Her photography and presentation skills are simply awesome. Please do not compare my version of the cookies to hers :)
I made some changes to the flavour and the oven settings.
Here are the changes I made to the recipe:
3/4 cup plain flour
2 tbsp cornflour (I used vanilla custard powder)
1/2 cup icing sugar (I pulsed 1 cup of granulated sugar with 2.5 tbsp of cornflour for 30 seconds, and scooped
out 1/2 cup from there)
1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp milk (I added only 1.5 tbsp)
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used pineapple extract)
Sieve the flour and the cornflour together into a bowl.
In another bowl mix in the butter and the sugar with a fork until smooth and creamy.
Put in the flour mixture, vanilla/pineaple extract and mix until smooth and there are no lumps. Add 1/2 tbsp of milk at a time to make the mixture creamy. Stop when you reach the right consistency.
Pre heat the oven to 170 degrees centigrade.
Put the entire mixture into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe into swirls on a lightly greased baking tin or a tin lined with baking parchment. Alternatively make small balls, flatten lightly with your palms and bake.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cookies turn golden brown at the edges. 

Verdict: The cookies turn out with a perfect melt-in-the mouth texture. This one is truly a hit with folks at home. and I see myself  baking this often with variations :).
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Saturday, 25 June 2011

Tomato Rasam

We don't use tamarind in our dishes as much as possible. This started with the requirement
for dad's diet, and I got used to it. After marriage, I realized hubby dear is not used to tamarind
at all and anything too tangy he simply refuses to eat/drink.

So we don't add tamarind for rasam either. The tanginess usually comes from a medium sized tomato.
Mom usually adds dal water and makes it taste so wonderful. I can never replicate mom's sambhar or
rasam even though we use exactly the same ingredients and follow the same procedure in the same kitchen ;).
She is just the best when it comes to south indian dishes.

When we don't make dal, then we go for slight variations with rasam. Sometimes we add a few drops
of lemon juice or puree the tomatoes.
Here is my version of tomato rasam:
Tomato - 1 large or 2 medium sized
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Water - 3 cups
Tadka (tempering):
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Whole urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Cumin (Jeera) - 1/2 tsp
Red chillies - 2 (broken in half) (optional)
Curry leaves - 6-8
Oil - 1 tsp
Cut the tomatoes in 4 and add it to 1 cup of water in a pan. Bring to boil and allow for 5 minutes. Allow it to cool. Peel the tomato mash it with hands. Add the spices powder, garlic paste and remaining water and bring to a boil for a few minutes. 

Heat the oil and add the tadka items, when they start to splutter, turn off the flame. Add the tadka to the rasam and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot as soup or eat with rice and papad.

Verdict: This is a sure hit. Make this anytime on a cold day and have it as soup.

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French toast

I am really hard pressed for good breakfast options. Hubby dear is not a fan of cereals, upma or any of the rava based tiffin items. I have very few choices - idli/dosa with sambhar (not chutney), paratha/chapati, bread omlette. So when I came across this frech toast recipe on joyofbaking.com, I was overjoyed :).
Mom used to make this for breakfast when we were young, but I had completely forgotten about this option.
There is a lovely video of Stephanie making these toasts on joyofbaking.

Here is the recipe:
3 large eggs
3/4 cup (180 ml) milk or cream (I used milk)
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional) ( I did not add this)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
6 slices of good quality, day old bread (cut into 1/2 inch slices) (1.5 cm)
Butter for frying

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, vanilla extract and ground cinnamon (if using). Transfer the egg mixture to a large shallow glass or ceramic dish. Dip both sides of each slice of bread into the egg mixture. 
Meanwhile, in a large non-stick frying pan, over medium to medium-high heat, melt about one tablespoon of butter. Fry the slices of bread until golden brown on one side and then turn and fry the other side. If not serving immediately, keep warm in a 250 degree F (130 degree C) oven. Continue frying the other slices of bread, adding more butter as needed.
Serve immediately with a dusting of powdered sugar and pure maple syrup or fresh fruit. Preparation time 10 minutes.
Serves 2-3.

I chose to serve this with maple syrup and fresh bananas and mangoes. 

Verdict: Well it turns out, the toasts though delicious were not that much a hit with hubby dear. He basically is not too fond of bread either :(. Anyway I shall keep trying various options.

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Friday, 24 June 2011

Simple Vegetable Pulav

Carrots, beans, green peas and potatoes are a boon when you want to make a healthy vegetable main course really quick. I plan a pulav or bisi-bele baath once over the weekend for lunch. It takes only half-an-hour preparation and a lot fewer dishes to wash, compared to a traditional sambhar, rasam and poriyal lunch.
Here is the recipe:
Large onion, sliced - 1
Carrots, Beans, Potatoes, chopped - 1 1/2 cup
Green peas - 1/2 cup

Ginger - 1 tbsp
Garlic - 1 tbsp
Green chillies (slit lengthwise) - 2
Chilli powder - 1/2 tbsp
Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
Jeera or Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp
Coriander and mint leaves for garnishing.
Rice - 1.5 cups (standard measuring cup for rice, not the 240 ml US measuring cup)

Wash the rice well and add 3 cups (rice measuring cup) of water. Don't count the vegetables and add extra water, else you end up with over cooked rice. 
Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed vessel. Add the onions and all the vegetables, fry for a few minutes until the raw smell is gone. Add the ginger, garlic paste and all the masala powder and continue frying for a few minutes. Add the soaked rice and the water mix well, taste the water and ensure the flavours are as per your choice (salt, chilli etc). Adjust the spices if you desire and close the cooker. Allow two-three whistles (the normal time to cook plain white rice) and turn it off. 

Garnish with mint and coriander leaves and serve hot with raita.

The spices and flavours are mild in this preparation and hence very much suitable for children. Except for the time taken for chopping vegetables, the recipe hardly requires any preparation time and is perfect for a quick main course meal.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Butter Chicken

Who wouldn't be tempted by the buttery flavourful chicken gravy that we so often come across at restaurants. Well I always assumed they add a lot of butter to get the gravy thick and creamy, but I was wrong. My microwave recipe booklet has this recipe for butter chicken that uses hung curd. I adapted the recipe from the booklet, except that I used the pressure cooker instead of the microwave.

Here is the recipe:

Chicken - 350 gms
Hung curd - approximately 300ml
Oil - 1 tbsp
Lemon juice - 1 tbsp
Grind together:
Onion - 1 large
Tomato - 1                                                        
Curry leaves - 10
Ginger paste - 1 tbsp
Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Chilli powder - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Cumin powder - 1 tsp

How to make hung curd: Take creamy thick curd (I used Amul masti Dahi - 400 ml appox) and filter out the water with a thin muslin cloth. Leave the curd in the cloth to drain out the water for about 20 minutes. Scrape the hung curd from the muslin cloth and store in a bowl.

To make butter chicken:
Wash and clean the chicken pieces and marinate in lemon juice for 15-20 minutes.
Heat the oil in a heavy cooker. Add the ground masala paste and saute till the raw smell is gone and there is good aroma. Add the chicken pieces and fry for a few minutes. Add the hung curds and cook the chicken pieces well. When done, garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rotis or rice

Verdict: The flavour is wonderfully buttery (all the milk solids from the curd) and thick. It is a definite hit with both rotis and rice.

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Sunday, 19 June 2011

Chicken cutlet

I love Chicken starters... Anytime at a Chinese or North Indian restaurant, I do not miss the opportunity to try some new chicken starter.

I've been planning to make chicken nuggets for a while now and been buying boneless chicken for the same, but just didn't find the time. So the boneless chicken would be made into some semi solid chicken fry dish :)...

Last weekend dad bought 1/2 Kg of boneless chicken as usual; I decided to make shallow-fried  chicken cutlet this time, in contrast to the deep fried nuggets...

I just tried this intuitively from my experience with vegetable cutlets.
Here is the recipe:

For the chicken filling:
Boneless chicken - 500g
Medium sized onions, coarsely chopped - 2
Large Tomato, coarsely chopped - 1
Ginger paste - 1 tbsp
Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Chilli powder - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Water - 1/2 cup
Wash and clean the boneless chicken breast and cut into large pieces. 
Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed cooker. Add the chopped onions and tomatoes and saute well. Add the ginger garlic paste, chilli powder, salt and garam masala and saute until the raw smell is gone and there is nice aroma. Add the chicken pieces and fry for a few minutes. There is very little fat content in chicken breast and hence you will not find oil separating from the meat. Add just enough water to cover the chicken pieces until halfway and close the cooker. Allow two whistles and turn it off. 

Once the pressure is gone, open the cooker and turn on the flame to let all the water dry out. When you get a semi-solid mass, turn off the flame again and let it cool down completely.

Pulse this entire preparation in a blender for 10-20 seconds. It becomes a soft light brownish paste. Make small balls the size of a lemon with this paste and keep aside.

To assemble:
Corn flour or Maida - 3 tbsp
Powdered rusk - 1 cup
Water - 1.5 tbsp

Mix the water and corn flour to make a paste. Take the chicken ball, flatten it and dip it in the maida/corn paste, then roll it over the rusk powder to coat all sides. Shape the cutlet as desired. 

You can shallow fry these cutlets in a girdle with 3 - 4 tbsp of oil. Heat the oil in a girdle and place three or four cutlets. The cutlets can easily break and hence you need to place them atleast an inch apart on the girdle. Wait until one side turns golden brown and then flip over to the other side and let them fry until golden brown. The second picture on top (right) is that of the shallow fried cutlets.
Alternately you can also grill them with the microwave-grill option. This uses very little oil and ensure even browning. Place the cutlets on a grill sheet and apply oil over both sides of the cutlets using a pastry brush. Place the tray on a high rack in the microwave; grill them on the microwave-grill option for 10 minutes. Midway through the grilling time, pause the oven and flip the cutlets. 

Here is a picture of one shallow-fried and one grilled cutlet.Serve with Mint chutney or Tomato Sauce.   Can be had as an evening snack with tea or as a starter. But remember that these are quite heavy and it is difficult to eat more than two at a time. This recipe makes 20 cutlets.         

 Verdict: Well this one was a winner, especially the grilled cutlets, but as I mentioned earlier, obviously we could not finish it between the 5 of us; We had my dad's friend joining us for dinner that night. So we sent some over to my friend who shares the same taste for chicken as I do ;) and put the left overs in the fridge for consumption with tea the next day.

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Monday, 6 June 2011

Condensed milk Pound Cake

I remember when milkmaid first came into the market in India. Mom would buy it for payasam or some other dessert, and under the pretext of helping her, I would lick most of the sweet droplets from the lid and the outer surface of the tin. It was a treat to have that can of sweet condensed milk at home. Nestle used to publish a select recipe on the milkmaid tins and we would watch out for a new recipe and immediately bring one such can home, eager to try the new dessert based on Nestle's recipe. It has been ages and I have almost forgotten condensed milk and related recipes. Having a diet conscious husband keeps you away from such ingredients in your kitchen, you see ;).

While going through Divya's blog, I came across this recipe for condensed milk pound cake and got nostalgic about milkmaid. Sis-in-law had purchased this nice two-in-one, 9" springform tin from IKEA when she visited this time and hence I decided to try out this cake in the tube-pan. It was my birthday this Sunday and I had decided to make this cake for that occasion. Does your schedule ever roll out as per your plan when you have a toddler to manage? Especially when the little one is coming down with a cold? If you've been there, done that, you know exactly what I'm talking about... I finally put my little girl down for her afternoon nap and started getting the ingredients together...

I followed Divya's recipe but had to scale it by 1.5 times, since I have a 9 cup tube pan.

Here is the scaled recipe:


All purpose flour or maida - 2 cups
Sweetened condensed milk - 1 1/2 cups [ I used Nestle Milkmaid]
Powdered sugar - 1 cup scant
Unsalted butter at room temperature - 1 1/2 cups
Eggs - 3
Baking powder - 1 1/2 tsp
Vanilla essence - 1 1/2 tsp
A pinch of salt

Sieve the flour and baking powder until well combined. I usually whisk it well in a bowl with two spoons.
Beat butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy. Then add the condensed milk and repeat for the same time, until well combined.

Whisk eggs in a bowl for 2 mins with a fork and set aside.

Add the flour to the butter-sugar-condensed milk mixture and mix until just combined without beating too hard. Add the eggs, vanilla essence and salt and combine well again.
Transfer to a greased cake tin or loaf pan and bake in a pre-heated oven at 150 degrees C for 60 mins. Insert a toothpick at the center to test if the cake is done.
Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes. Then invert the cake onto a wire-rack and let it cool completely.

Midway through the mixing part, my angel woke up crying :(. So I was holding her in one arm and beating the batter with the other hand. I am not sure I did a thorough job. I finally put the cake pan into the oven and settled down to give my little girl her lunch. I had a full one hour to do that, didn't I... Believe me, even that time interval is not sufficient to get these little ones to eat :(.

I finally had the cake out at the end out an hour. The cake turned out slightly crusty and cracked on the outside and over-browned. I am suspecting if it is because the condense milk did not combine well with butter sugar mixture. Please help with this query!

I usually do not frost cakes. But since this is an occasion I was in two-minds, whether to frost it or not. Moreover, hubby dear did a great favor, publicizing a) my birthday b) my plans to bake a cake to the neighborhood children. Through out the day I had children calling out from the kitchen window if I was baking the cake and when I am expected to have it ready... So finally I decided to make buttercream icing for the cake. The icing tasted  great! But I dare not post a picture of the decorated cake;) forgive me for my clumsiness and lack of creativity, added to the toddler tantrums I already mentioned :). The kids loved it nevertheless.

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