Crunchy Snack balls – Guest Post from Sridevi

coconutcraze:

This is my guest post for Vidya.

Originally posted on Traditionally Modern Food:

energy balls

Its day 5 and there is one more energy balls recipe, this time it is from Sridevi – Coconut Craze. During my Initial days of blogging I was checking my wordpress reader and saw Sridevi’s post notification, the word coconut intrigued me to visit her space, and from that day onwards her blog has become one of my regular blogs to visit. Her food pics speaks a lot, I adore her recipe collections some of her baked recipes are in my to do list. She is very friendly and gave me great support ever since my initials days and till date. Though she was busy when I asked for Guest post Sridevi allocated sometime and sent me this post. Crunchy snacks balls are waiting, over to Sridevi,

I have a sweet little treat as a guest post for Vidya Srinivasan of Traditionally Modern Food. Vidya, is a very enthusiastic blogger and has…

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Middle Eastern salad/Multi-grain Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh

Days are getting warmer and everything is looking brighter. Creatures that were in a death like dormancy have stirred into motion. Birds are busy with mating calls and building nests. The land around is waking up into vibrant greens, drenched in April showers. I wanted a big serving of green on my plate to start the season.

TabboulehTabouleh is a Middle Eastern salad mainly associated with countries like Egypt and Lebanon. It is a very popular herbal salad with vegetables and a touch of spices. I had this at a Lebanese restaurant and as it has familiar ingredients, I decided to try it at home.  The two most important things used are ripe tomatoes and tender cucumbers. Fresh vegetables impart their juicy tenderness and a delicate crunch.

In Arabian countries it is served as a side dish or as mezze, or appetizers. Mezze is selection of small dishes served at the beginning of all large scale meals.

It is a fresh salad of garden cucumbers, tomatoes, and sweet onion flavored generously with parsley. Bulgar wheat adds more substance to this salad. A dressing of lemon and olive oil completes the mix of flavours. It is really easy to prepare.

Parsley is the main herb used in large quantity and it shines through this recipe. I used to think of parsley as an inedible garnish that is on your plate to be discarded. For some reason I do not like parsley’s flavour. I know it is loaded with anti-oxidants and good to include in my food. In this dish, it becomes likable because of the magical transformation brought out by the olive oil dressing.

Traditionally, a small quantity of Bulgar wheat is added to this salad to enhance its taste. A small quantity of grain provides the necessary starch too. I gave it a gentle twist by adding multi-grains. Adding cooked red quinoa, barley, millet and amaranth seeds will surely increase its nutritional value.

salad and falafelFalafel is a companion that can add protein to this salad. It is made using chick peas, garlic onion and parsley and shaped into patties and fried. Barbequed meat mains can be served with this salad.

Ingredients.

  • 2 tbsp barley
  • 1 tbsp red quinoa
  • 1 tbsp millet
  • 1 tbsp amaranth seeds
  • 1 ripe tomato
  • half a cucumber
  • half green pepper chopped
  • 1/2 red onion chopped
  • a big bunch of fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  1. Cook barley in water until it is half done (about 10 minutes).
  2. Add red quinoa, millet and amaranth seeds and cook well.
  3. Drain the excess water from cooked grains.
  4. Cool it in a bowl and fluff grains with a fork.
  5. Dice tomato, cucumber, onion and green pepper and add to the bowl of grains.
  6. Finely chop parsley and toss with the other ingredients.
  7. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic, salt and pepper.
  8. Drizzle this dressing over the salad.
  9. Chill in the refrigerator and toss once again before serving.

Garden fresh saladGarnish with yogurt and red chilli powder. Serve with Falafel or grilled meat. It can be served in pita bread pockets as a complete meal.

This salad can be easily assembled anytime as all the ingredients are available year round. So enjoy a kick of fibrous greens from this salad. Come Summer, I will be eating a lot of it!

Posted in Appetizer, Brunch, Easy recipe, Salad, Side dish, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Steamed rice cake and chickpeas curry/Puttu and kadala curry

It is a shame if I don’t write about Puttu and Kadala. It is like bread and butter in Kerala. I have eaten it all throughout my life and can connect it with many stories, old sayings, humorous and real incidents that evoke laughter. In every Malayalee household morning revolved around making, eating and enjoying puttu in good old days. With changing times, it has been pushed aside due to the work involved but it is a beloved food even today. It is now simplified and considered a quick food when ready-to-use rice flour is used.

Puttu & curryPuttu is rice flour filled in cylindrical tubes and cooked by steam. Grainy rice flour rather than fine powder is used in this preparation. In olden days, villagers used to pound moist rice in a huge stone grinder using a wooden pounder that has an iron tip. This rice flour is sieved, gently roasted and cooled. I have seen my grandma get the flour ready the previous evening to make breakfast the next morning.  It was a pure labour of love!

Women using stone grinder and wooden pounder – Google image

In the morning, rice flour is made moist by sprinkling salted water. It should be a moist mixture that cling together but not wet. There is a special utensil to prepare Puttu, called Puttu kutti. It has two parts, a bottom pot that boils water and produces steam. There is a detachable top cylinder. A small sieve is placed at the bottom of the cylinder letting steam pass through and cook the flour but stopping the flour from falling down. Some people use bamboo cylinders giving it an organic touch.

puttu I use a pressure cooker to steam and insert the kutti on the top steam vent. Puttu is assembled for cooking by placing a bottom layer of coconut grating and a portion of rice flour filled loosely. Then there is coconut layer to separate, then flour and coconut on top. When closed with its lid the cylinder goes on top of the cooker with water boiling. It is to be steamed for 10-15 minuted on medium heat.

steamingI use raw rice flour to make Puttu. As we don’t sit down for breakfast often, I make this for dinner. Back home, when I mentioned it to a cousin, she considered it blasphemous! I call it convenience!

Puttu is normally accompanied by Kadala curry, a classic side dish. Kadala is dark brown Channa/Chick peas. This curry is made with a roasted coconut paste gravy.

Kadala curry Masala

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • few curry leaves
  • 3 dried red chillies
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
  1. Take oil in a frying pan and add all the ingredients and fry until coconut browns.
  2. Grind it to a fine paste after it cools down.

(Frying masala has to be done on a medium to low heat with utmost care. So play some soothing music or your favourite song because it take time. Wait till every coconut bit turns brown. Some tiny bits may turn deep brown but that doesn’t matter because that imparts a deep brown colour to the gravy. This is why cooking is an art! I totally admire it! Take care not to burn it as that will spoil the taste. Hang around stirring. Don’t take yours eyes off it, like watching a toddler.)

MasalaChick peas curry

  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1/2 tomato chopped
  • 1½ cup cooked black chick peas/Kadala
  • 3 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • few curry leaves
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • few coriander leaves
  1. Soak brown chick peas (Kadala) overnight and cook until it is tender. (I use a pressure cooker to get this done.)
  2. Heat coconut oil in a pan and add mustard seeds to splutter.
  3. Add curry leaves and red chillies.
  4. Fry chopped onions until it is golden brown.
  5. Add chopped tomato and fry till it is cooked.
  6. Pour the masala paste with little water and cook.
  7. Add cooked chick peas and some water from it.
  8. Boil this well until all flavours combine.
  9. Simmer for about ten minutes on reduced heat.
  10. Turn off heat and add chopped coriander leaves.

This is a country style preparation. You can enhance it by adding ginger, garlic paste and pepper powder. My mother-in-law used to fry some onion till it browns and add a little cooked chick peas and grind it. This is added to thicken the gravy.

Kadala curryPuttu and Kadala curry combination is a popular breakfast item in Kerala. You can find it served in most restaurants and food stalls in the morning. Green beans (mung beans) curry or just sugar and banana can also be paired with Puttu.

Puttu can also be made using millet flour, wheat flour and tapioca flour. Sweet puttu can be made when jaggery is added with coconut.

If you do not have a steamer that cannot stop you from enjoying this simple dish. Moist rice flour can be spread out on a clean cloth spread inside a steamer tray to make puttu. Sprinkle some grated coconut and allow steam to pass through the flour to cook it. Soft puttu will be read in 10-15 minutes.

Pour curry over Puttu, mix well and dig in for enough energy to start a day! It is a wholesome, simple food that is easy to digest.

 

Posted in Breakfast, Brunch, Coconut, Indian curry, Kerala recipe, Main dish, Side dish, steamed, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Spicy mushroom buns/Stuffed masala buns

Who doesn’t love buns? A perfectly shaped, cute bun is a precious feast for our eyes! Its  smooth, browned outside and soft inside will attract even a saint. I am still talking about food! Don’t be naughty!

Okay, it is bun time! Spicy masala bun is my special today! I don’t even remember when I tasted my first bun. It could be even before I learned the names of stuff. I love its compact shape and spongy texture. It is a regular snack sold in Tea stalls all over India. Some like to dip it in tea and enjoy it as a breakfast. I like to savour it in small bites sinking my teeth into its airy fluffiness.

1 buns-001 Before heating the oven we have to get the filling ready. It is a simple mix of mushrooms, red pepper, onion and tomato. This is easily perishable so I made half of the buns with the stuffing and the rest just plain. If you like more, just double the ingredients.

Ingredients for stuffing

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 small tomato chopped
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • a small piece of red pepper chopped
  • 6-8 chopped mushrooms
  • salt
  1. In a pan heat oil and fry chopped onion till they brown.
  2. Add chopped tomato and fry until all moisture evaporates.
  3. Sprinkle chilli powder and garam masala stirring well.
  4. Stir in chopped red pepper and cook.
  5. Add chopped mushrooms and stir well.
  6. Cook until the mixture is quite dry.
  7. Cool this mixture for filling inside the buns.

fillingIngredients for buns

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup water (1/4 + 3/4 separated)
  • 1 egg for egg-wash
  1. Take 1/4 cup lukewarm water in a cup and add 1 tbsp sugar.
  2. Add yeast and allow it to ferment and rise.
  3. In a large bowl, take 3 cups flour by measuring exactly by loosely filling each cup.
  4. Dissolve salt and sugar in remaining warm water.
  5. Pour fermented yeast in the middle and knead into a soft dough using warm water.
  6. Transfer the dough to a hard surface and knead squishing and rolling again and again with a little pressure.
  7. Continue kneading for 8-10 minutes until the dough becomes smooth, elastic and silky.
  8. Oil the bowl and put the dough in it to rise in a warm place to double in size.
  9. Punch it and shape it into small lemon sized balls.
  10. Shape the dough ball into a cup and place the filling in it.
  11. Close the sides and pinch it into a ball.
  12. Repeat with all the dough and place them on 2 baking trays sprayed with oil.
  13. Cover them with plastic wrap sprayed with oil and let it rise for 10 minutes in a warm place.
  14. Preheat oven to 450° F.
  15. Add 1 tsp water to egg and brush the top of all buns with it.
  16. Bake buns for 10-15 minutes until the top browns.
  17. Cool it on wire racks.

BUNSI had a total of 14 buns when I counted.  It depends on the division of dough into smaller portions. Half of them were filled with mushroom masala. I sprinkled some chilli flakes on top of the buns after brushing with egg. That was a bad idea! It started to burn when baking was in progress and the first whiff triggered the fire alarm. So avoid chilli sprinkles although they look pretty charming. As I am fond of mushrooms I used it for stuffing. Follow your fantasy and create new fillings too!!!

abAll buns are not equal portions because I was working fast and went a little wonky. There were pauses to take pictures and last minute additions like chilli flakes on top making it a complete entertainment.

abbuWhile baking, the smell of these yeasty buns will fill the air with a delectable aroma. It is sure to create serious hunger pangs.

bunThis bun is the star of the lot because it was baked to the desired texture and evenness. Finally, when I cut it open, this one had an even distribution of mushroom filling. It was not the same in all other buns though. The dough around the filling gets a bit soggy but that is allowed.

1b-001These buns taste amazing when warm. They can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days. Reheat them in an oven or microwave for a few minutes and they will regain a new feel of freshness.

Biting into it released a burst of flavours in my mouth. I would call it ‘one of a kind bun’!

Posted in Appetizer, Baked, Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, comfort food, Finger food, Pack-and-go lunch, Pack-and-go snack, Snack, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Spaghetti in white sauce/Pasta in béchamel sauce

Simple Spaghetti!

I was craving pasta a couple days ago. Sometimes it is the ingredients in your pantry that commands you to cook. It happened to me when I was blankly staring at the containers and jars for an inspiration and there was this unopened jar of artichoke hearts looking back at me. I don’t remember why I bought it but it was there! It was time for them to move into my bowl. I wanted it to shine through without any other ingredient submerging its delicate flavor.

SpaghettiNothing is satisfying, tasty and appealing to the eyes like a Spaghetti dish. To be honest, I did not know the difference between noodles and Spaghetti in the beginning. Then I realized they are continents apart in origin although very close in appearance.

Spaghetti is the first kind of pasta I tried way back in Kenya when I was slowly getting introduced to international foods. I had to tone down my expectations and re-train my taste buds that were previously hooked on spices. It was a learning experience to start relishing these simple flavors. Now my palate is better adapted.

I made this dish using a béchamel sauce which is a white sauce made with butter and flour (roux) and milk. I am used to pasta with tomato-based red sauces and a change was essential. I added zucchini and tomato pieces with artichoke hearts to make it a simple vegetarian version.

Ingredients

  • 200 grams Spaghetti
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 zucchini chopped
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 6-8 pieces canned artichoke hearts
  • salt & white pepper
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Boil  water in a large pan and salt it generously.
  2. Add Spaghetti to boiling water and watch it slowly sliding down into the water as it becomes tender.
  3. Cook pasta al-dente. (If you bite it it should not be hard but just cooked with a bite in it.)
  4. In the meantime, saute zucchini pieces in a little butter and keep aside.
  5. Heat a knob of butter in a heavy bottom pan, add a tablespoon of flour and stir until it is cooked to a cream colour.
  6. Add minced garlic and stir until fragrant.
  7. Add milk to it and boil stirring continuously until lumps disappear and sauce comes together.
  8. Sprinkle white pepper and salt.
  9. Stir in cooked zucchini, drained artichoke hearts and tomato.
  10. Transfer cooked pasta from the boiling water into the sauce using tongs.
  11. Turn everything well to coat in sauce.
  12. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Add salt with a little caution as canned artichoke hearts may be salted and Parmesan cheese is also salty. I was tempted to add chilli flakes but it will affect the gentle taste of this dish. This is supposed to be creamy and smooth without any heavy spices. So it is fit for very young children.

pastaThis is a no-fuss dish for lunch that you can make at home in 20 minutes. If there is a food emergency situation you can turn to this recipe and make it with very little effort.

Pasta in white sauceIt goes well with red wine. I had Vieux Chateau du Roi (VCR), a red blend which is full-bodied with oaky notes. My husband is into making his own wine but it is not completely made at home. He selects the juice and a winemaker blends it to perfection in his state-of-the-art facilities and ferments it for us. It comes home to complete its flavour development stage by resting for a few months. I will talk about that later in another post.

I used grated Parmesan cheese for it’s rich and sharp taste. There was no basil available or else it would have graced the occasion. I devoured a large portion of this Spaghetti. It was just plain delicious and I was thoroughly satisfied!

Posted in Baked, Brunch, Cheese, comfort food, Easy recipe | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Mini pizzas/Fruity pizzas

Dessert pizza medallions

Mini fruity pizzasLong weekends are always busy with many plans, visitors and a lot of cooking. This weekend was quiet and I have to make maximum use of it. Yesterday, I launched a cleaning campaign at home. Everyone chipped in to help me with the Spring cleaning, half heartedly in the beginning but completely involved as it took momentum. It was a thorough job removing furniture, carpets and washing all drapes. We could not do the windows so it is pushed to next weekend. Work was delegated and I enjoyed the confusion and screaming because it gave me a spotless home by lunch time. After the kitchen was cleaned, I delegated duties and slipped away to make lunch. To appreciate the hard work put in by family, I made them a special treat. I wanted my cleaning team to have a special thank you note!

I like to make pizza dough at home as I find it to my taste. When I make pizza dough, I immediately bake the crust and save them in my freezer for later use. Last time, I made two medium size pizzas and used the remaining dough to make some mini pizza crusts.  The extra dough was rolled flat and cut into small circles.

Pizza dough was made from a recipe in the book, ‘One crust 100 pizzas’. This crust recipe is easy and it turns out pretty good. I have used it to make my crust many times with satisfactory result.

Pizza dough

  • 2½ cups white bread flour/all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¾ cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  1. Sift the flour into a bowl.
  2. Make a well in the center of the flour and add yeast, sugar and salt.
  3. Mix oil, lukewarm water and pour into the bowl.
  4. Combine the flour into a sticky dough.
  5. Lightly flour your hands and the work surface to knead the dough for about 10 minutes, until it is elastic and smooth.
  6. After greasing the bowl, transfer the dough to it.
  7. Cover the bowl with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise for an hour in a warm place.
  8. When the dough has doubled in size, divide the dough into small balls.
  9. Take a ball and roll it into a thin circle.
  10. Using a cookie cutter or bottle lid cut small medallions.
  11. Roll the trims into a ball and cut circles again.
  12. Place them on a greased baking tray.
  13. Poke the center of the medallions with the tines of a fork.
  14. Preheat oven to 425° F and bake for 10 minutes or until the bottom turns golden.

I had plans to make bite size pizzas. So I froze the baked medallions in a plastic bag for future use.

Those mini pizza crusts were my inspiration for this dessert. My daughter suggested the cheese and fruit combination. I baked them into small dessert pizza medallions. It had a delicious serving of plums on a bed of fresh cheese.

Pizza assembly

IngredientsIngredients

  • slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 2 plums pitted and sliced
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • few drops of balsamic vinegar
  • 6 mini pizza medallions
  1. Preheated oven at 350° F.
  2. Take each pizza medallion and place a slice of mozzarella cheese.
  3. Top it with slices of plums.
  4. Drizzle honey, vinegar and sea salt.
  5. Sprinkle some dried basil and transfer to a parchment paper lined baking tray.
  6. Repeat with all and bake them for 10 minutes until cheese melts.
  7. Remove it from oven and serve them warm.

HoneyThe frozen mini crusts were very handy. I assembled the fruity pizza medallions and with another quick bake it was ready to be served.

Fruity pizzaThese pizza bites are a cheese lovers delight because of the melted mozzarella on top. My son was partial to that part of it. It is rich with its sweet, sour and salty mishmash of tastes.

Try it as a simple dessert for the weekend or to celebrate any special occasion. Consider it a finger food or appetizer for a change too.

three pizzasWhen served still warm out of the oven it tastes delicious. It is quite hard to resist eating just one. Cheers!

I would like to link this to party at Fiesta Friday #62

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Posted in Appetizer, Baked, Brunch, Cheese, comfort food, Dessert, Easy recipe, Finger food, Pack-and-go snack | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Olan/Ash gourd curry in coconut milk

Creamy coconut Kumbalanga curry!

Olan is a very simple Kerala curry with less cooking and a great, fresh taste. It has few ingredients and has a crunch very close to a salad.

olan Ash gourd and cow peas are the main ingredients in Olan. Ash gourd (Kumbalanga), also called winter melon, is an Autumn vegetable. It is a pumpkin like gourd with a greenish skin and white flesh. Ash gourd has great medicinal properties and valued highly in Ayurvedic medicine. There are many curries that can be made using Ash gourd. There are a few sweet dishes too prepared with it.

This curry is created combining Ash gourd and Cow peas which is also available around the same time. Kerala has a long coast line with coconut palms swaying in the breeze, heavy with sweet coconuts. Abundantly available coconut is crushed to extract its milk, to make the gravy of this curry.

I think, this is the simplest curry in the long list of curries. It is usually served to celebrate Onam, the harvest festival, in Kerala. It is also made for lunch during other community gatherings, festivals and in restaurants.

In olden days, the farming community that had less time to spare and more mouths to feed made Olan to celebrate their harvest bounty. Look at the size of that gourd! It needs a big crowd to finish off that huge ball of goodness.

I found Ash gourd in an Asian Market here and bought a sliver of it to make Olan. It is not very delicious when eaten raw as it has a typical gourd taste. Gentle cooking makes it desirable.

Ash Gourd - Yash - Product Image

Ash gourd – Google image

 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Cow peas/black eyed peas/ vanpayar
  • a piece of Ashgourd/kumbalanga
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • water as needed
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 bunch curry leaves
  • salt to taste
  1. Cook cow peas adding enough water until it is soft when squished but retains its shape.
  2. Drain the water and  save cow peas. (The drained water can be used to make rasam or other soups.)
  3. Grind coconut in a mixer adding very little water.
  4. Strain it and collect the thick coconut milk in a bowl.
  5. Add 1 cup water and grind the coconut and extract very thin milk.
  6. Chop off the skin from ash gourd and cut it into small pieces.
  7. In a heavy bottom pan, add thin coconut milk, 1 ½ cup ash gourd pieces and slit green chillies and cook on medium heat.
  8. Cook until ash gourd is tender but crunchy and not over cooked.
  9. Add cow peas and salt to taste and boil it.
  10. Gently pour thick coconut milk and turn off the heat as it will curdle on boiling.
  11. Garnish it with coconut oil, curry leaves and cover it with a lid for all the flavours to mingle.

It is now ready to serve. The addition of raw coconut milk at the end makes it a quickly perishable curry and needs to be refrigerated if there is leftover. It is best eaten warm off the stove. While cooking, it releases a delicious aroma that envelops the house and draws everyone. This has the subtle taste of ash gourd, green chillies and curry leaves which make it fresh and tempting.

Kerala olanIt goes well with boiled rice. This is normally an additional side curry served along with a main curry for rice.

Olan and riceIn any Kerala feast (Sadhya), food is served on a banana leaf with a number of curries. This is the seventh side dish served. I like this curry for its simplicity and great flavours. I attack this first in any Sadhya, be it a wedding feast or homely lunch!

I consider, this can be used like stew for other main dishes too. Make this and enjoy an authentic Kerala curry!

Posted in Coconut, Curry, Easy recipe, Indian curry, Kerala recipe, Side dish, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Puff pastry onion tart/Caramelized onion tart

Shiny onions on a pastry bed!

When caramelized onion meets rich puff pastry in an oven, only amazing things can happen!

This is a simple tart but the taste is buttery delicious!Onion puff

I have always baked with store bought puff pastry and recently I made a bold attempt to make some pastry at home.

To try that home made pastry dough, I baked  a tart. I took a 1/4 of the pastry made here: pastry from scratch. It was testing the quality of the puff pastry I made, patiently rolling, folding and chilling. This can easily be done using store bought puff pastry too. So don’t be disheartened if you do not want to go through the long process of making it at home.

This is a super easy tart with caramelized onions and a few more ingredients and is fit for kids and adults alike. I used only a small part of the dough so the amount of butter intake is decreased. Okay, that is no justification! This in fact, is a high fat treat…no doubt! Just find an excuse to indulge! Maybe invite those friends who hit the gym meticulously.

Ingredients for Caramelized Onion

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 large red onions
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  1. Peel skin of onions and cut them into halves.
  2. Slice them long and thin.
  3. In a heavy bottom pan add vegetable oil and cook onion by sprinkling salt and sugar.
  4. On constant stirring, onions caramelize and turn deep brown  (Good caramelizing takes 40-50 minutes on medium to low heat stirring frequently.)
  5. Sprinkle balsamic vinegar and mix well.
  6. Set the onions aside to cool.

Caramelized onionMaking the tart

Ingredients:

  • Puff pastry as needed
  • Caramelized onion divided
  • 1 egg mixed with 1 tsp water
  1. Take an appropriate amount of puff pastry dough to make 6 tarts and allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight or alternatively at room temperature for 2 hours.
  2. In the meantime, line baking tray with a parchment paper.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 ° F.
  4. Roll out dough that is at room temperature to a slightly less than 1/8 inch thick rectangle.
  5. Mark and cut the puff pastry dough with a very sharp knife, pizza wheel or sharp edged container into equal sized squares.
  6. Shape puff pastry by pressing the center gently with the finger forming a flattened center and slightly raised edge.
  7. Poke the center with the tines of the fork to prevent puffing.
  8. Put caramelized onion in the center and sprinkle with rosemary.
  9. Brush the edges with egg mixed with water. (This imparts a golden colour on baking.)
  10. Put oven rack in middle of the oven and bake pastry for 15-20 minutes until the edges brown.
  11. Check the pastries frequently because they become fully baked and browned in a short time
  12. Remove from oven,cool and release from parchment paper.
  13. Serve it warm.

shaping & filling Puff pastry tastes best when they are warm and fresh from the oven. This is a pastry distinguished for its lightness and flakiness. It has a signature elegance when baked. So this will become one of those recipes you will make again and again.

TartThis pastry puffed up too much. I should have rolled it into thinner pieces or reduced the number of folds. What do you think?

Onion tartsThe hardest part is waiting for this onion tart to cool down to start eating.

I think indulging in a tasty treat once in a while is no big crime as it goes ‘you only live once’. Enjoy!

I am linking this tart to party with Fiesta Friday #61

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Posted in Baked, Breakfast, Brunch, Celebration, comfort food, Finger food, Pack-and-go snack, Pastry | Tagged , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

Puff pastry dough/Puff pastry from scratch

Puff pastry myth busted!

There are many things I dread cooking and never venture to try. It is the fear of failure! Puff pastry is one such culinary process I feared. I was fascinated by flaky and airy, puff pastry from a very young age. Those puffs they sell in cinema theaters and bakeries used to taunt me. I have always admired puffs made online and on screen. But, I seriously thought it was not in my ability range.

One day, I woke up with the enlightenment that all fears need to be conquered. I decided to put this pastry making to test. Blogging has helped me to shed many kitchen fears and take a step to forge ahead. Of course, a challenge makes cooking exciting! I was certain, now is the time to take the bull by the horns.

I referred to many recipes and took notes. I shaped this puff pastry by adding some techniques I have understood and using some good reasoning to give it my personal touches. If I fail, I will learn a thing or two. Contrarily, it could even be a lucky break.

This is a long recipe because the process is a bit lengthy and time consuming. So please have some patients with me! Making Puff Pastry from scratch is not difficult at all but you need a Zen like calmness to execute it. Select a day when you have at least 4-5 hours time to devote when preparing this pastry.

Puff pastry is formed by placing butter inside flour dough. The dough is then repeatedly folded and rolled out to make the pastry layers. The French term for flour dough is détrempe and for the butter slab is beurrage. It is a very versatile dough used in many recipes like strudels, palmiers, sausage rolls, tarts, turnovers, puffs and cheese straws.

IngredientsI want to make it as simple as possible avoiding a lot of measuring. Only four ingredients here!

Ingredients

  • 3 ½ cup all purpose flour + some for dusting the surface
  • 2 cups cold butter (a block of butter, 1 lb or 454 grams)
  • 1¼ cup ice cold water
  • 1 tsp salt

Dough Making

Take flour in a bowl and add 1/4 cup butter and with hand or pastry blender cut it and mix well with the flour. (I used a potato masher to break butter into smaller pieces and then mixed with hand.)

MixingPour water little at a time and gather the dough into a ball.

Knead it lightly and quickly without transferring any warmth so that the butter does not melt.

doughWrap it in a plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour to chill.

In the meantime, take the remaining large chunk of butter and cut it in half and to smaller squares.

Place this on a butter paper drizzled with flour.

Arrange the squares of butter with small gaps in between. (It helps butter to expand when rolling into a block)

Dust with flour and place the butter between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound into a flat disc using a rolling pin and roll into a rectangle.

Wrap it in butter paper and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

butter

Now, remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator.

Using a knife make a cross on top of the dough. (This helps to roll it into a rectangle.)

Chilled doughRoll each division so it stretches and form a rough rectangle.

RolledRemove chilled butter from refrigerator.

chilled butterPlace the chilled butter in the center of the rolled dough.

Envelop butter in dough by bringing the sides to the center. Fold all the ends over it so that butter is completely encased in dough.

foldingRoll it gently into a flat slab with the enclosed butter, taking care not to let the butter break through the dough.

Fold the top third down to the center, then the bottom third up and over that.

This is the first folding.

1foldingWrap the long rectangle dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, hit the dough with the rolling pin to ease the butter and roll again into an elongated rectangle.

Next, fold into thirds. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and fold the shorter side to the middle and overlap with the other edge. This is the second folding.

2nd foldingWrap the dough again and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Repeat rolling and folding three more times, rotate the dough 90 degrees every time. After each folding and rolling, rest it for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

LayersFolding and rolling 5 times gives this dough multiple layers with thin layer of butter trapped in between. On baking, water content in butter turns to steam. This pastry expands when butter melts and pushes the layers apart.

Puff pastry dough is convenient as it can be stored in the freezer for a long time and it can be thawed before use. This pastry can be flattened and cut into smaller parts according to need.

Commercially made puff pastry available in stores use butter or other substitutes. This homemade pastry tastes far better with real butter melting and crisping the layers.

The proof of the puff pastry is in its baking. Next on the docket is a puff tart, so stay tuned!

Posted in Baked, Dessert, Not just for kids, Pastry, Side dish, Snack, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Sweet potato fritters/Vegetarian fritters

Flax Powered Sweet Potato Fritters

Sweet potato is natures way of making vegetables lovable. It is a bit too starchy when boiled, which was how I used to prepare and eat it earlier. Shredding it and adding some spices is an interesting way to enjoy it.

fritters sweetToday, I went on an outing to three different places. People there were very nice to me. It could be because I behaved well or I talked politely or change in the weather. It could simply be because they are just lovely people. This is Canada you see! I am proud to say that being nice is a Canadian thing! Overall, I had a very good day! Being the International day of happiness, I had every reason to call it a heart warming day.

A few days back, when we had fluffy snow I got out to clean it. Our snowblower could not be cranked up and stood still in the garage like a stubborn boulder. So I used a shovel to push the snow aside. It was fun for a while. Soon my hands were freezing as the temperature was dipping down. I took a short break half way through and went inside for a hot drink and then forgot time. On returning to finish the work, I found my drive-way was cleared up. I guessed one of my friendly neighbours had used his snowblower to complete the task. I did not even know who to thank. So I thanked my stars and everyone in general.

I can go on listing many such acts of generosity and consideration showered upon me. I try to do my best to reciprocate and spread the goodwill. Sometime it is very difficult to match!

When I started writing about sweet potato these are the sweet thoughts that rushed into my mind. Getting back to sweet potato fritters, these are easy to make savoury breakfast. A few fritters with coffee and some fruits will make a hearty breakfast.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds
  • few coriander leaves
  • salt
  • vegetable oil as needed

1 ingredients

  1. Powder flax seeds in a blender. (You may powder more seeds and take 1 tbsp powder.)
  2. Dissolve flax powder in 2 tbsp water and leave it to soak overnight or for 2 hours until it forms a gooey gel.
  3. Peel skin and grate sweet potato.
  4. Chop onion, jalapeno pepper and garlic into small pieces.
  5. Add chopped coriander leaves, flour and salt.
  6. Mix the right amount of flax gel to make a thick mixture.
  7. Heat a flat skillet or pan and add a little oil.
  8. Take a heaped spoon of mixture and add to the pan and flatten it.
  9. Cook on medium heat until one side is browned.
  10. Flip to the other side, drizzle oil and cook.
  11. Repeat with all patties.

I got 6 fritters with this mixture. Double the ingredients for a dozen fritters. Thin fritters crisp up easily and hold together. Remove seeds of jalapeno pepper if you like to reduce heat. These are very delicious fritters and can be eaten with ketchup if mild and with yogurt if hot.

sweetPowdered flax seeds in water act as a binder to hold all the ingredients in place. These fritters have a lovely sweet potato taste and all other flavours in a balance. Contrary to eggs in fritters, flax seeds do not impart an overwhelming taste or smell.

Sweet potato fritters I normally try any new recipe two or three time before I post it. First, I tried the same recipe using an egg instead of powdered flax seeds a few days back. It had an eggy smell with a spongy texture. All other flavours were drowned in it and sweet potato was not distinct as a main ingredient. Those fritters were thicker and heavier so I had to be careful in lifting them from the skillet. Both vegetarian and egg versions can be satisfying in their own ways.

sweet potato frittersCrispy caramelized sweet potato fritters can be a great addition to any meal. These are delightful when served warm.

I wish to share this recipe with the happy people at Fiesta Friday #60

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Posted in Appetizer, Breakfast, Brunch, Celebration, comfort food, Easy recipe, Finger food, Fried, Pack-and-go snack, Side dish, Snack, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments