Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mixed Berry Jam

I was cleaning out my freezer recently and found a couple bags of berries - strawberries, raspberries & blueberries to be precise. I freeze these when we get them in abundance & typically use them to whip up smoothies... But now that the cold weather is upon us, smoothies are the last thing on my mind and so I decided to make a jam using them instead. It came together really easily and now i look forward to my breakfast of toasted whole wheat bread, jam & scrambled egg with a mug of ovaltine/boost. Btw, I owe the colour to the addition of blueberries - gave it a nice, deep & intense look.

MIXED BERRY JAM


Ingredients:

Strawberries - about 1.5 cups, chopped
Raspberries - about half cup
Blueberries - about half cup
Apple - half, peeled, cored & chopped into small cubes
Sugar - 1.5 cups (adjust based on sweetness of fruit)

Method:
1) In a fairly deep pot, combine the strawberries, raspberries & sugar and put it on the stove on medium heat until it comes to a boil.

2) Add the chopped apple & blueberries and continue boiling the mixture for about 20 minutes or so, stirring often until it reaches 220F on the candy thermometer. I like a bit of texture in the jam so mashed the fruit a bit with the back of the spoon and didn't make it smooth.

Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight (glass) container/bottle and refrigerating.

NOTE: I would highly recommend buying/using a candy thermometer because it's inexpensive (approx US$4) and takes out a lot of the guesswork about the right time to pull things off the stove.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sunday Supper

I can't remember the last time we all sat down and ate together... it must be atleast 6 months back. Last sunday however, we got an opportunity to do just that and the baby obliged as well and took a small 15 minute power nap during that time. Colder weather always makes me want to use the oven often because baking makes the kitchen and the house in general so much more warm and comforting so we had quite a few baked items.

On the menu were Sweet Potato Fries, Baked Potato Wedges, Hummus, Pita Bread, Roasted Broccoli, Pear Slices & Apple slices - a light and satisfying meal.


Baked Sweet Potato Fries:

Ingredients:
Sweet Potatoes - 3, cut into thick sticks
Chilli powder - to taste
Salt - to taste
Extra Virgin Olive oil - 1 tbsp

1) Preheat oven to 425 F. Toss the sweet potato with the seasonings and oil.

2) Spray a baking sheet lined with aluminium foil and lay the sweet potato as a single layer and bake for about 20 minutes or so, turning them over once in between until done.

They don't get super crisp but are very tasty and the spiciness from the chilli powder and sweetness of the potato go well together.

HUMMUS
Ingredients:Garbanzo/Chick peas - 1 (14 oz) can, drained and rinsed well
Garlic cloves - 1 medium or 2 small, peeled
Extra virgin olive oil - 1 to 2 tbsp
Tahini paste - 1 tbsp (I roasted sesame seeds and ground them with olive oil & salt with chilli powder)
Chilli powder - approx 1 tsp
Lemon juice - from half a lemon
Salt - to taste
Water - a few tbsp as required to get the right consistency

Method:1) Blend together the tahini, garlic, olive oil for a few seconds and then add the drained chickpeas, lemon juice, chilli powder, salt with water as required to make a paste.

This is a very versatile recipe and you can change the ingredients and texture to your preference. It will also be good to add some roasted red peppers or jalapenos for a spicy kick.
Serve with crudites or with toasted pita bread.
Finally, always a good sign at the end of the meal... :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Deepavali 2009 Treats

I know this post is rather late, but better late than never... This Deepavali, with my mother's help, we churned out quite a few savouries and sweets but almost all of them were made in small quantities except for the thenkuzhal. I have this unfortunate luck where if some sweet turns out good and I try to double or triple the quantities the next time, then it usually flops. We made Asoka Halwa, 7 cups burfi, karasev, thenkuzhal , mysore pak (from Lata akka's blog - though mine was not perfect like hers it was still the best mysore pak I've made so far) & jangri (from Raks' blog). I also tried making gulab jamun using milk powder which according to me was a super flop texturewise but my daughter and husband loved the taste.

My mother's recipe for thenkuzhal came out smashingly well and it was crunchy and had the perfect texture. The Jangri was also fairly easy to make, much to our surprise (and thanks to Raks' detailed pictures), that my husband who was initially skeptic and was pushing for badusha instead, couldn't get enough of the jangri and finished the entire thing in 2 days after which he wanted us to make more.... but by then I was sick of seeing copious amounts of sugar and ghee that goes into the making of practically everything and decided to give a few months before our next indulgence.


THENKUZHAL (Murukku)
This is the plain, salted version and if you want to spicy one please check out the recipe for Chaklis.



Ingredients:
Rice Flour (I used store bought) - 2 cups
Urad dhal flour - 1/4 cup (procedure give below)
Cumin seeds - 1 to 2 tsp (based on preference)
Asafoetida powder (hing) - few pinches
Butter (unsalted) - 1 tbsp at room temperature (not melted)
Salt - to taste (I used about 3/4 to 1 tsp)
Water - sufficient amount to bind into a dough
Oil - enough to deep fry


Method:

1) Procedure for Urad Flour: Dry roast about 1/4 cup of whole, skinned (white), urad dhal in a pan until very light brown. Allow to cool and grind to a fine powder. Sieve this urad dhal flour and then measure out the required 1/4 cup flour for this recipe.

2) In a bowl combine the rice flour, urad dhal flour cumin seeds, salt, asafoetida. Then add the butter and mix well. Slowly add water and make into a soft dough. If it's too hard, then it'll be really hard to press out the thenkuzhal and if too soft/watery, it will absorb too much oil.


3) Heat oil in a wide pan, test with a small piece of the dough and if it sizzles and comes right back up then it's ready. Press out the thenkuzhal (you need special equipment for this) directly in the oil, if comfortable or onto a piece of foil or wrap before transferring them into the oil.

4) Fry until the bubbles around the murukku almost disappear but ensure that it doesn't become brown.. it should be an off white. Adjust the temperature of the oil accordingly. Drain on a paper towel and store in an air-tight container when it has cooled down.

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JANGRI (south indian jilebis)


Ingredients:
For the dough:
Whole white urad dhal - 1/2 cup, soaked for 2 hours
Orange food colouring - a pinch
Salt - a pinch


Oil - to deep fry

A Ziploc bag

For the Sugar Syrup:

Sugar -1/2 cup
Water - as required to immerse the sugar
Orange colouring - a few pinches
Rose essence - if desired



Method:

1) For the Sugar Syrup: Boil water and sugar for a few minutes until the syrup thickens a bit. Add the orange colour and rose essence and keep this kind of hot and ready for the jangris.

2) For the Jangris: Grind the urad dhal with very little water to a smooth and fluffy dough (I used a wet grinder for this and followed the exact same procedure as for vadais). Add a wee bit of salt and food colouring and mix well.


3) Now spoon this into a ziploc bag and push it all to one of the lower corners and snip of the tip (a small one will do). Heat oil in a wide, but shallow pan - one inch depth of oil is sufficient - on a low flame. Oil should not be smoking hot.


4) Now squeeze the top of the ziploc while making circular motions directly in the oil to form the jangris (I know it sounds complicated but isn't all that bad when you actually give it a go). Please check out raks website for detailed pictures. I practised making a small one on a plate before trying it out in oil.

5) Flip them over and allow to cook on both sides & remove from oil (using chopsticks is recommended so as not to bruise them) and drop them in the hot sugar syrup for about 2 minutes or so before removing them onto a plate.
I would recommend letting them sit for a while before eating because they tasted better with time.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Kaara Vadai

My dad loves bajjis and always finds some reason or another to whip up a batch & enjoy. If it rains, it goes without saying that bajjis will most likely make it to the table :) So, one rainy evening we had bajjis on the mind but were out of kadalai maavu (besan). My mom decided to make these kara vadais (spicy vadais) instead which are pretty instant if you have idli/dosa batter on hand and we absolutely loved these spicy bites.

KAARA VADAI


Ingredients:
Idli/Dosai Batter - 1 cup
Rice Flour - 1/3 cup
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Onion - 1 medium to large, chopped
Green Chillies - 5, minced finely (reduce if you want make it less spicy)
Ginger - 1/2 inch, minced
Coriander leaves - few, chopped
Baking Soda - a pinch
Salt - to taste
water - as required to make a thick dough
Oil - to deep fry

Method:
1) Combine everything (except the water and oil) in a bowl and mix uniformly. Add water little by little (it doesn't require much) to make it pretty thick. It should NOT be too wet & watery.

2) Heat oil to deep fry (test to make sure it is the right temperature), add small bits of the batter and fry till golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels before serving with some hot tea.