Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Torcettini di Saint Vincent

This month Aparna decided to bake yeasted cookies by "We knead to bake" group. These are soft as well as slightly crispy cookies coated in sugar. The recipe is adapted from A Baker's Tour by Nick Malgieri.

Warm Water-1/2 cup(about 110F)
Active Dry Yeast-11/4 tsp(Instant Yeast-1 tsp)
All-purpose flour-11/2 cups
Salt-1/4 tsp
Lemon Zest-1 tsp
Unsalted Butter-40gms(cold and cut to small pieces)
Sugar-1/3 cup(for rolling the cookies)

1. Dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside.
2. In a large bowl mix the flour and salt for couple of times. Add butter pieces and mix until the flour- butter mixture looks powdery.Add lemon zest to this and mix.
3. Add yeast mixture and mix till everything comes together as a ball.Do not over process/knead.
4. Place the dough in a oiled bowl,see that the dough is well coated in oil.Cover the bowl, and let the dough rise quite a bit.
5. The dough looks puffy after an hour or so. When you pinch off a bit from top you can see the interior looks like honeycomb.
6. Press down the dough and deflate it, wrap it in cling film and refrigerate it for atleast an hour or up to 24 hours.
7. When ready to bake cookies, Lightly roll the dough into a 6" square. Cut  the dough into four strips of equal width using a pizza cutter.
8. Cut each strip to 6 equal pieces, by cutting across, making a total of 24 pieces.
9. Roll each piece into a pencil thick rope about 5" long. Sprinkle little sugar on surface and roll rope on it so sugar crusts the dough uniformly.
10. Form rope into a loop crossing it over before the ends.
11. Place them on parchment lined baking sheets, leaving 11/2" between them. Leave them for about 20 minutes or so till they rise/puff slightly.
12. Bake them at 325F for about 25 minutes, till they are nice golden brown.
13. Cool cookies completely on rack. Store them in air tight containers at room temperature. Makes 24 biscuits.

1. Dry yeast can be replaced with 1 tsp instant yeast.
2. To make chocolate torcettini, replace 2 tbsp all purpose flour with 2 tbsp cocoa powder and lemon zest by orange zest. You can add 1/2 tsp instant coffee powder to the flour.
3. Do not knead the dough too much.
4. While making torcettini cutting the dough to 24 pieces is not really needed. Its to get 24 equal shaped dough bits.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mango CheeseCake

With dark fluffy clouds, fierce winds and occasional snows my part of world is still in the clutches of winter...Everyday sun tries to make an effort to shine high and bright but immediately it is attacked by cold and dark clouds that it goes unnoticed. With all these dull stuffs happening here I was eager to bring in some sunshine to the hearts of my loved ones. It was at that time Baking partners group decided to bake cheesecake and this bright and summery cheesecake was in there. Immediately seeing mango I fell for them and decided to go for it. It was all perfect, delicious and an eye catchy stuff  and very easy to put together with no baking included. This recipe was suggested by Sweatha adapted from Divine Taste. Now lets move on to the recipe...

For Crust:
Digestive biscuits/any plain sweet biscuits-11/2 cups(160 gms, crushed)
Butter-1/2 cup(100 gms, chopped)

For Filling:
Fine sugar/powdered sugar-1 cup(160gms, add more if needed)
Thick full fat yogurt-3 cups(800gms)
Paneer Cheese-2 cups(400gms)
Water-11/2 cups(375ml)
Agar Agar/china grass-15 gms
Mangoes-2 nos/1 cup(peeled, chopped, pureed)
Pure Vanilla Extract-1 tsp

For Mango Glaze:
Mango-1 nos/1/2 cup(peeled, chopped, pureed)
Water-2 tbsp
Sugar-2 tbsp
Lime Juice-1 tbsp

Method of preparation:
Preparing thick yogurt:
1. Place the yogurt in a cheesecloth and let drain to a colander overnight. The quantity will reduce to half (400 gms or 11/2 cup)next day.

Preparing Crust:
1. Place the biscuits in a zip lock bag and crush it to powder using a rolling pin.
2. Add this powder and the cubed butter into the food processor and process till the mixture is well mixed.
3. Remove the mixture and press it on to a 8"/9" springform pan.
4. Chill in freezer for 15 minutes or in refrigerator for half an hour.

Prepare Filling:
1. Break and soak the  china grass in 11/2 cup water for 10 minutes until it becomes soft.
2. In a food processor blend the paneer and thick yogurt to smooth and  creamy mixture. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Heat mango puree in a saucepan over medium heat. Do not allow it to boil.
4. In another pan, place the china grass and water mixture and stir on low heat until it melts completely, about 5 to 6 minutes. Do not allow this to boil.
5. Once the china grass melts completely, pour the hot china grass mixture into hot mango puree, stirring all the while.
6. Slowly add mango mixture into yogurt and cheese mixture, stir in the sugar and vanilla extract and beat well with a wire whisk until well blended.
7. Pour this mixture over the prepared crust, level with a spoon and chill in refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours.

For mango glaze:
1. Place all ingredients for glaze in a pan and  cook over medium heat.
2. When it begins to boil, reduce heat and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more. Let it cool to room temperature.
3. Spread it on cheesecake with spoon.
4. Allow the glaze to set over the cheesecake for 2 to 3 hours or more before slicing it.

1. You can use cottage cheese instead of paneer. In that case let the water drain completely before using. The cheese should be dry to get a perfectly set cheesecake.
2. Blend the paneer to puree here.
3. China grass should be completely melted to set properly. Do it on low heat.
4. Break the strands of china grass to small pieces  before soaking it.
5. While mixing the china grass mixture let both the liquids used to mix be hot, so that it sets properly.
6. If china grass sets before u mix to another mixture, then reheat till it melts completely.
7. The sugar mentioned here is just sweet. If you have a sweet tooth then add about 1/4 to half cup more. Applies if your mangoes are sour too. Taste the mixture to check it before setting.
8. You can use the mixer to powder the biscuits too.
9. You can make the cheesecake as individual servings too.
10. I have used graham crackers for the base.
11. I  used 9" springform pan.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Chutney Podi/Chutney powder

Chutney podi using coconut is something I have never tried or I should say that Idli podi is the only one I have ever done. When Nagalakshmi said this recipe for cook along in Kerala Kitchen I was eager to try it out and glad that I could make it. We have been using it with rice, breakfast till now and it goes very well with the spicy and very slight(barely noticeable) tangy taste. If you are planning to try this you might want to reduce spice if planning to feed kids. I used store bought coconut powder to prepare it and it tasted real good. The time required to make it was less as the coconut powder was dry. Go ahead and try this.

Coconut-2 cups(grated/dry grated powder)
Dry red chilies-10 nos(add more or less according to preference)
Ginger-2" piece(sliced)
Curry leaves-3 strands
Urad dal-2 tsp
Black pepper-1 tsp
Shallots-1/2 cup(sliced)
Asafoetida-1/2 tsp
Tamarind- Small piece
Salt- 2 tsp

Method of preparation:
1. Heat a pan on low heat and fry the coconut,dry chili,ginger,curry leaves, urad dal, black pepper,shallots till coconut turns brown.

2. When done turn off heat and add asafoetida, salt and tamarind and give a stir. Set aside to cool.
3. When cooled, grind this to fine/coarse powder and store in a airtight container.
4. Serve as side for rice,dosas,idlis.

1. See that you don't burn the coconut powder instead of browning.
2. Add dry chili as needed for heat.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Soya Chunk Masala Curry using Coconut milk

I never liked soya chunks as a kid and even my initial experiments with them were a disaster. As time went I kind of understood that it is my not so good way of cooking that ruined its taste. Then I started frying it with spices...ummm that was immediately accepted by my family. Then I started to experiment with them so much that we enjoy them in all forms these days.Here is how they can be prepared to a delicious curry using coconut milk.

Soya chunks-1 cup
Onion-1 small(chopped to small pieces)
Green chili-2 nos
Tomato-1 medium(chopped to small pieces)
Turmeric-1/2 tsp
Chili powder- 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder-1 tbsp approx.
Salt to taste
Meat Masala-1/2 tsp
Oil-2 tsp
Garlic-2 cloves(crushed)
Coconut milk-1/4 cup
Coriander leaves for garnish.(finely chopped)

Method of preparation:
1. Boil some water in a pan and add the soya chunks into it. Once they swell completely, turn off the heat and drain the water.
2. Squeeze maximum amount of water from the soya chunks by pressing it. Set aside.
3. Heat oil in  a pan and add the crushed garlic. Fry for a second and add the onion into it.
4. Fry till onions turn translucent and light golden. Add green chili and mix well.
5. Add the tomatoes into it and mix well. Wait till tomatoes turn slightly mushy and then add the chili,coriander,meat masala,turmeric powders into it and mix.
6. After few seconds, add the soya chunks and mix.
7. Then add about 2 cups of water,salt  and cook on medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes, increase heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes..
8. Then add the coconut milk and cook on low till it simmers  and starts to boil. You can boil it for a minute and then turn off the heat.
9.Add coriander leaves and serve with rice.

1. Maximum water should be removed from the soya chunks before putting it to gravy.Else it wont absorb much spices and flavor and will be bland.
2. Cook for good time in the flavorful spice gravy, so that its absorbed by soya chuks.
3. Add more chili powder if needed. This is on low spice level with above mentioned amount.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Parippu Vada/Lentil Fritters

Some snacks holds tons of memories in it..This is one such thing..Its been the part of so many wonderful years of train travel's that I cherish..These are easy to prepare and delicious to munch on..

Chana Dal-1/4 cup
Toor dal-1/4 cup
Fennel Seeds-1/4 tsp
Pearl Onion-4 nos
Green chili-2 nos
Asafoetida-2 pinch
Ginger-1 tsp finely chopped.
Curry Leaves-1 sprig
Salt to taste
Oil to fry.

Method of Preparation:
1. Soak chana dal and toor dal for min. 3 hours. Wash and drain the water.
2. Set aside about 2 tbsp of dal and then grind the remaining to coarse pieces along with pearl onions, chilli, ginger, fennel, curry leaves, asafoetida and salt.
3. See that the dal is just pulsed to bits and not to paste.
4. Transfer to a clean dry bowl, add the 2 tbsp of dal and check for seasoning.
5. Heat oil in a wok.Take a small round ball of dough and lightly press between the palm to flatten it.
6. Deep fry in medium low heat so that the inside gets cooked and outer covering is crispy and browned.
7. Serve hot with tea.

1. You can grind the lentils and then crush the other ingredients and mix it separately instead of grinding/pulsing together.
2. Shape them according to how you want them, If you need crispy vadas make them thin discs, else thicker ones.
3. The oil should be on medium heat, if too hot they will turn dark and wont be cooked inside.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Hope everyone had a great start for the month April and are looking forward for another beautiful month. Here this part of world is still cold and windy though I see a small change in the ice that covered the lake...hmmm ya its slightly melting giving way to the hidden water to reflect the sky...To boost up the mood with climate made some sweet treat and ya sweet does wonders..:)

Rasgullas-10  nos(I made at home)
Sugar syrup of rasgullas-3/4 cup
Milk-2 1/2 cup
Milk maid/condensed milk-2 tbsp(optional)
Saffron- a pinch mixed with warm milk.
cardamom seeds-1/4 tsp(crushed)
Pista-2 tbsp
Nuts for garnish(I used pistas)

Method of Preparation:
1. Squeeze the liquid out of rasgulla and flatten it a bit while squeezing. Set aside.
2. Boil milk with condensed milk(if using) and cook it till it turns thick and to half. Then add sugar syrup and cook for some more time say about 15 minutes.
3. Add the nuts, saffron,cardamom and cook for few more minutes.
4. Add the flattened rasgullas to it and cook for 5 more minutes on low so that it absorbs the milk mixture.
5. Turn off the heat and chill the mixture and serve with additional nuts.

1. You can increase the amount of condensed milk and reduce the sugar syrup. This helps the milk to thicken fast and reduces the cooking time.



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