April 27, 2010
Stollen is usually a holiday bread made with dried fruits and nuts and citrus peel.
When I say "usually" you might have gotten the drift. Yes, my recipe here is not the traditional one, neither is it holiday time, nor is it sweet.
I know someone in the far corner of this world is probably shaking their head, going... why does this woman have to twist up every single traditional recipe that ever existed!
Sorry, can't help it!
I do like the sweet kind, but once in a while I do like them savory especially when I load them with nuts like this one. Oh, those delightful little mixed nuts that come in a jar! What is your favorite kind of nut in the medley? Mine is hazelnuts. Why, oh why do they put so few of them in there?
But that said, not many can keep their hands off of the salty golden brown cashews in them.
Ahem... the cashews in the jar keep disappearing magically and ever so slowly in our household! Just when there are just a few broken lone peanuts left, the vanishing act stops. If that person is reading this, then I think its time to own up!
So, for this recipe I also used some roasted sunflower seeds (I always have a few of those and pumpkin seeds on hand.) Like I have mentioned in the past... Always keep nuts in the freezer (especially if you have a large quantity), this prevents the natural oils in them from turning rancid quickly. They stay fresh longer, and if you are worried that they might turn hard, not to worry...they do not freeze.
Nutty Stollen Wreath Bread (Whole wheat)
Whole wheat pastry flour - 3 1/4 cup
All purpose flour - 3/4 cup
Vital Gluten - 1 tbsp
Sea Salt - To taste
Baker's yeast - 2 tsp
Warm water - 1/4 cup (to activate yeast, more for making the bread dough)
Sugar - 1/2 tsp
Roasted sunflower seeds - 1/4 cup
Salted mixed nuts - 1/3 cup (Peanuts, Cashews, Filberts, Pecans, Hazelnuts, Walnuts, Brazil nuts)
Coarse chop them if they are too large.
Egg wash - For brushing on top (One whole egg, mixed with a teaspoon of water) You will not need the entire egg.
Mix warm water, yeast and sugar and let it sit for about 10 min. The water should not be too hot or too cold. The former kills the yeast and the latter fails to activate the yeast. Yes, it is a little tricky if you are a first timer.
After the yeast starts to bloom, add the flour, vital gluten salt and form a dough by adding more water. Just enough to form a soft loose dough.
Knead for about 15 minutes by hand or use a dough hook attachment and knead till it is soft and supple.
Oil a large bowl, and let the dough sit in it covered for about a couple of hours. This is the first rise.
After it has doubled in size, add the nuts and knead just enough to distribute the nuts evenly.
Time to pre-heat the oven to 375F.
Using a rolling pin, roll out to about 1/2 inch thickness and slightly elongated as shown in picture.
Roll the dough (just like you would roll the cake for a jelly roll)
Seal both edges by inserting one into another and making into a round wreath shape. The seam will be visible.
Let it sit for about 10 minutes on a baking tray that you are going to use to bake. This is the second rise.
Then, using a pair of scissors cut the wreath partially (not entirely) into sections. The round shape should still be intact.
Brush lightly with a egg wash if desired.
Bake at 375F for about 45-50 min till golden brown, and it should sound hollow when tapped.
Let it rest for 10 minutes. Serve with warm butter/spread. I like mine with a little dollop of jalapeno jam.
April 23, 2010
I like oats, especially in this cookie form. But I am not a big fan of eating it with milk and getting it all squishy and slimy early in the morning.
I found a way to incorporate them into breakfast crepes and started making Oats dosai.
So eventually I started making Idlis with Oats as well. I somehow never got that right, maybe because I used oats in its raw form without dry roasting or whatever, and ended up with squishy idlis every time. I could not resist trying out Usha's recipe for Oats idli, I really did not think it would work, but it did! I have a few more of my recipes up for posting, but I simply had to schedule this one first... this is so good.
It is soft, spongy and totally scrumptious. I have made it twice already and this is probably the only kind of idlis I am going to be eating for a while.
I added some wheat bran to give it more airiness and make it fluffier. It worked! If you don't have it, you can totally skip it.
If you are a breakfast person like me who
-likes to eat healthy
- is tired of eating rice-based breakfast dishes
-doesn't want to go anywhere near milk and bland oats put into a bowl and eating it for the sake of eating it
-have no time to get any kind of cooking done in the morning
...then this is the recipe for you.
The idli mix can be made well ahead of time, and used whenever you need it. So you are not scrambling in the morning to get everything together.
Only caveat is... if you are not into full fledged Indian cooking, then chances are you might not have the hardware, which is the idli maker. If you have one, print out the recipe and get going!
Instant Oats Idli (Savory steamed cakes) with wheat bran
Old fashioned Oats - 3 cups
Semolina flour - 1 1/2
Wheat bran - 1/2 cup (optional)
Fat free plain yogurt - 4 1/2 cups
Curry leaves - 7-8 leaves
Cilantro - 2 tbsp chopped
Broken Cashew nuts - 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tbsp
Urad Dal - 1 tbsp
Channa dal - 1 tsp
Ginger - 1 tsp finely chopped
Dry red chillues/Fresh green chillies - 1 tbsp finely chopped
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Baking soda - 1 tsp
Salt - To taste
Roast the old fashioned oats without oil in a pan for about 5 min on medium heat. It does tend to burn quickly if left unattended.
Cool completely and in a blender using the "pulse" mode grind it into a coarse powder and set aside.
Re-heat the same pan, add oil and when it is hot, add mustard seeds. Let it splutter.
Add urad dal, channa dal, ginger, chillies, curry leaves and cashews and roast well.
Now add the semolina on top of this and roast till it changes slightly in color (say a very light brown). Add salt and keep mixing.
Allow that to cool and transfer into a mixing bowl. Add oats powder and wheat bran.
This may be stored in an air tight container for later use. If you are using it the very same day, then add the yogurt and mix well. Add water if need be to loosen the batter a little bit. I had to do that.
Just before pouring them into idli mould, add the baking soda and mix thoroughly. Ladle the batter a little more than halfway and steam in a cooker or use a microwave idli maker.
Allow to rest for 5 minutes after steaming. Scoop out, and serve hot with chutney or chilly powder (molagai podi)
Yields 24-26 medium sized idlis.
April 12, 2010
A cake could look stunning by the way you decorate it, but this is the first time I have seen a cake look beautiful from the inside. There are multiple versions of zebra cake on the net, I chose to go with Farida's recipe, and it turned out beautifully.
I initially tried making it with whole wheat pastry flour and the stripes totally did not stand out. Though I am not a fan of a.p. flour, I had to stick with the recipe one more time. I did use skim milk (I know that only does not constitute healthy eating), but this is one indulgence that compensates with its beauty. I might try dividing the recipe in half and use whole wheat pastry flour for the chocolate part of the batter next time. It is a lot of work, but I am curious to see if that would work. Or maybe a different kind of flour...
I added vanilla essence only to the chocolate batter since it dulls the white if added to the entire mixture.
I used Dutch-processed cocoa and unsweetened cocoa powder on two different occasions. The unsweetened cocoa gave a very light color to the chocolate stripes. I would definitely go with the Dutch kind. The black and white contrast is very prominent, just the way it should be.
After baking my cake cracked on the surface a little bit, but was not structurally damaging or anything. If yours breaks on the top, do no panic. All is beautiful inside!
This is probably one of the most elaborate posts I have done so far. So, here we go!
Zebra stripe cake
All purpose flour - 2 cups
Dutch-processed Cocoa powder - 2 tbsp
Baking powder - 1 tbsp
Canola/Vegetable oil - 1 cup
Large eggs - 3
Sugar - 1 cup (Sugar is considered a wet ingredient, don't ask me why)
Skim Milk - 1 cup
Pure vanilla essence - 1 tbsp
Sift the all purpose flour and baking powder together and set aside. This is to aerate the flour.
In a mixing bowl, using a hand mixer combine oil, eggs, sugar, milk for about two minutes till creamy. Do not add vanilla essence.
Divide the mixture into two equal halves and to one half mix the cocoa powder and vanilla essence and mix using a hand mixer. Do not add vanilla essence to the white half of the mixture.
Grease a 8" round cake pan with non-stick spray. Preheat oven to 350F.
Use separate equal size ladles for each half of the batter. Ladle the white batter first, then immediately add the brown batter as shown in the picture. It should automatically spread out in the pan, there is no need to wait or tilt pan.
Keep alternating batter until you have exhausted both batters.
Bake in a pre-heated 350F oven for about 45 min or till a toothpick when inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let it rest for about 15 min in the pan.
Invert and cool on a wire rack.
Enjoy the cake with your favorite frosting/whipped cream or just keep it plain. It is gorgeous the way it is.
April 4, 2010
There is no "one" way, right way or a wrong way to make pasta. It is so versatile, the kind of pasta, the shape of pasta, the long array of sauces, vegetables, the list and combinations are endless.
This is just one way of making it. I like to use whole wheat hearty pasta (if you have not tried it yet, you totally should give it a go), and with homemade basil pesto sauce, and mixed fresh veggies it makes it my ideal wholesome meal.
As much as I would like to say that I prepared my sauce from scratch... I did not. Did I mention I killed my lush basil plant by letting it sit outdoors in the cold weather for weeks together?
No more plants till I can promise myself to take care of the next one.
So, getting back to the pasta dish, my favorite, no over-the-top sauces. Just plain, simple but packs a lot of heart.
Whole wheat Rotini with roasted veggies and feta in basil pesto sauce
100% Whole wheat rotini - 1 box (Use any kind of pasta you like, I would not recommend the flavored ones for this recipe)
Fresh basil pesto sauce - 1/4 cup
Fresh veggies - 3-4 cups (Carrots, Snow peas, Asparagus, Bell pepper, Water chestnuts, Cremini Mushrooms)
Spring onion - 1/2 cup chopped
Fat free Feta cheese - 1/2 cup
Olive oil - 2-3 tbsp
Garlic - 4-5 pods
Salt - To taste
Red chilly flakes - 1 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Cook pasta according to package directions. I like mine a little al dente. Reserve half-a-cup of pasta water. (Do not rinse pasta in cold water.)
Transfer to a large bowl and set aside away from the heat.
Simultaneously, stir fry the veggies in olive oil, season and add to the pasta.
Pan roast the mushrooms with garlic, season and add to the bowl.
Add the rest of the ingredients - salt, pepper flakes, feta cheese, spring onions (I do not like to saute them), and the basil pesto. Toss together with light hands. Remember to add the reserved pasta water to bring it all together.
This recipe will make plenty of pasta. Halve the recipe if it makes things more manageable.