Bread Horns | Baking

So I’ve been working on my sourdough bread which turned out to be disaster, last week. Yes the sourdough starter is live and kicking but the bread was another story. Will elaborate on that in another post soon. So when your bread has failed, you are miserable, and you feel like you suddenly don’t know how to cook / bake etc…. it’s time to go back to the basics (for moral boosting) with a twist….well literally eh !!



Over the weekend I baked Bread Horns. They are such a delight to look at !! Perfect for parties and a sure shot crowd pleaser. I used the basic dinner roll recipe for these cuties and filled them with chicken mince. You can obviously let your imagination run wild and will with whatever you like. Though a nice prawn salad or a refreshing corn and cucumber salad will be good ideas 🙂



Bread horns come with an added advantage of being guilt-free, unlike their Cream Horn look alikes (well almost), which are made of puff pastry so full of butter and lard and cream….ummm yummm !!!

Bread Horns

Ingredients

250g All Purpose Flour
2 tsps Dry Active Yeast / Instant Yeast
1 tsp Sugar
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
Luke warm water as required

For The Filling

500 g chicken mince
2 spring onions
1/2 a red bell pepper
1/2 capsicum
1 tbsp oil
White sauce / cheese sauce.
salt to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper powder



Directions

1. Prove the yeast with a teaspoon of sugar and lukewarm water.

2. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and add salt and olive oil. Mix well with your hands

3. Now add the cultured yeast and the warm milk. Rub well, till the yeast and milk are completely incorporated in the flour.

4. Now start kneading the dough and use the push-n-fold method. You’ll need to knead this till the dough is elastic enough and absolutely smooth, about 10-12 minutes.

5. To check if the dough is well kneaded, roll it into a ball and press it gently, if the springs back, the dough is ready. If not, knead it a little more.

6. Rest the dough in a big bowl and cover with cling wrap. Keep it to prove for 1-1.5 hours, till it doubles in size.

7. Once the dough has doubled itself, punch it down and divide into 12 equal portions. 

8. Now roll each ball into a long strip (the way we used to play with our playdough and make snakes) and wrap it onto the horn moulds. Make sure you pinch them at the bottom to seal them.

9. Place them on a baking tray covered with parchment.

10. Brush with the milk and sugar glaze or the egg wash and let it rest for another 20 minutes.

11. In the mean time preheat your oven to 220 degrees C and bake the bread horns for about 20 minutes.

12. Remove from the oven, transfer on the cooling rack and let them cool down completely.

The filling

1. While the horns and baking and cooling make the filling.

2. Saute` onions in a pan, add the chicken mince and cook through. Now add the bell peppers and capsicum and saute` for another minute. Finish off with salt and pepper.

3. Mix in the white sauce / cheese sauce, adjust the seasoning and let it cool down completely.



Once both the horns and the filling is cooled completely, fill the horns with the chicken mince and serve.
you can either warm them slightly or serve them as it is. This depends on your preference as well as the kind of filling !

Happy Baking !!

Making Sour Cream at Home | How To Series| Kitchen Hacks

When you love to cook, especially everything from scratch, learning about these small but important things is not only imperative but also gives me a high.

Making Sour Cream at home is just so simple. Just so amazing !! And again costs you one fourth of what you buy from the market.
Homemade Sour Cream stays happy in the refrigerator for a month and it gets thicker and thicker and better and better with time.
Please make sure that both the cream and the buttermilk are at room temperature when you are making sour cream. This is important for best results. If the ingredients are cold, the sour cream will take much longer to thicken or may not thicken properly.
A lot of friends and my readers have been asking how to make sour cream at home. Finally, here it is:

Sour Cream
Ingredients
2 cups or 400 ml Light Cream, at room temperature
2 tbsps cultured Buttermilk, at room temperature
Procedure
1. Place the cream in a medium sized glass bowl.
2. Add the buttermilk and mix well.
3. Cover tightly with cling wrap and keep in a warm place for 24 hours, until thickened to a custard like consistency.I keep it inside my microwave.
4. After 24 hours keep the bowl in the refrigerator for atleast 24 hours before using the sour cream. The sour cream may continue to thicken in the refrigerator.

How To Make Buttermilk 


Take one cup milk at room temperature.
Add 2 tbsp of Vinegar and let it stand for 10 minutes.
Buttermilk is ready. 
Use it for beads, scones, cakes, sour cream etc.

Happy Exploring !!

Condiment Series | Capsicum-n- Celery Dip | Dip


I recently did a series of 30 days 30 dips and it was a huge success. I loved it and people, my readers loved it too. This is a dip which was supposed to be a part of that series but it left me in two minds so I skipped it at that time, however after all these dips, this particular dips still remains close to my heart.


Capsicum-n-Celery Dip, this is where it all started. After this there was no stopping me. When I started making my own dips at home for parties a few years back, this was one of the first dips I made. To my surprise then, it was an absolute winner. 
Capsicum in my mind is the only vegetable equivalent to a herb…. as fresh and as fragrant !! It has the ability to add that extra zing to a dish.


This is a simple dip where, I not just use the celery stem, but also the leaves. The celery leaves have a much stronger spicy fragrance. You would need to chop the leaves really fine though. 

Serve this with whatever. It’s a crowd pleaser, the bowls are wiped clean 🙂

Capsicum-n-Celery Dip




Ingredients

1/2 cup Quark or Hung Curd

1/4 cup cold milk

1 small Capsicum, finely chopped

1 clove of Garlic, minced

1 stem and leaves of Celery finely chopped

1/2 tsp Black Pepper

Salt to taste

Direction

1. Whisk the quark till absolutely smooth and creamy. Add the milk and whisk some more.

2. Now add the capsicum, garlic and celery. Mix well. Add the salt and pepper. Give it another stir till everything is well blended. If you find the dip a little thick, add a little more cold milk.

3. Transfer in a serving dish and serve with your choice of appetizer.

Happy Dipping !!




Condiment Series |Szechuan Sauce | Dip

Day 30 !!



Yay !! I did it. Making dips and shooting them and writing about them for 30 days continuously !! And I loved every bit of it !! I had a wonderful time creating these dips, some were originals, some inspired and some learnt from others with minor modifications !! 
Do leave your comments to tell me how you liked this series and which was your favourite dip. I love to hear from all of you as it gives me a chance to connect with my readers.
But hey…don’t go away..there is another surprise tomorrow……under this series only !! Look out for this space…..


Coming back to the dip of the day -the Schezwan Sauce, a very popular one in Asian countries, especially India !! It gets its bold flavours from the red chillies, garlic and the unique sichuan peppers. 
The sauce gets its name from it’s origin in the Sichuan region of Southwest China.


It is one of the most popular sauces of the Chinese Cuisine here in India where some like it really hot, some like to just have a hint of it…some like to get a little greedy about it (like me….I can have an entire meal with only noodles and szechuan sauce)

So here I am with an authentic szechuan sauce recipe for the 30th day of the 30days30dips Series. Though this is not the grand finale`….look out for this space tomorrow for the grand finale` of the 30days30dips Series. Till then…..

Szechuan Sauce


Ingredients

20 dry red chilies

1 small onion, finely chopped

15 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 inch ginger, finely chopped

2 to 2 ½ tbsp water for grinding 
the red chilies

½ cup water to be added later

1 tbsp rice vinegar or white vinegar

3 to 4 sichuan peppers (skip if you don’t have)

½ tbsp finely chopped celery

1 to 2 tsp brown sugar (If you like your sauce to be sweeter, add 3 tbsps)

½ tsp black pepper powder

½ tsp soy sauce

3 to 4 tbsp sesame oil or any vegetable oil

Salt to taste

Directions

1. Soak the chilies in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain.

2. Blend them to a fine paste. Add a little water to make a smooth paste.

3. Crush the Sichuan peppers coarsely in a mortar-pestle.

4. Heat sesame oil or any other vegetable oil in a pan.

5. Add the garlic and ginger first and sauté till their raw aroma goes away. Don’t brown them.

6. Add the chopped onions and sauté` them till translucent.

7. Add the ground red chili paste and stir.

8. Then add the crushed Sichuan pepper. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes more till you see oil on the sides of 
the sauce.

9. Add ½ cup of water and give a stir again. Simmer for 2 minutes.

10. Add salt, pepper, soy sauce and vinegar. Also add celery now.

11. Stir and continue to cook for 5 to 6 minutes more.

12. Adjust the season if required.

13. Transfer in a serving dish and serve or store in the refrigerator. It stays happy in a refrigerator for upto 3 weeks.

Use as a sauce to add to chicken or vegetable or even rice dishes or simply use as a dip.




Happy dipping !!

Condiment Series | Harissa | Dip

Day 28

Harissa for the brave heart or err…. for the brave tongue !!!


This is a Tunisian Hot Chili Peppers Sauce, but now making inroads into the Moroccan Cuisine. It is a combination of various types of chillies. Both fresh and dried. Traditionally Harissa uses roasted red peppers, serrano peppers and other hot chilli peppers. however the recipe goes on evolving according to the region you are in, and the availability of the the types of peppers. Actually not just the region, it varies from household to household too. Some like it smooth as a paste, some like is coarse, and some like a specific variety of chilli flavour more than the others.

Harissa works as a hot sauce, a dip or a marinade. If you are someone who can handle a tad bit of spiciness then go ahead try it in all its pureness as a dip or else, mix it with cream cheese, or honey or mayo as you like it. We at home can handle that kind spice though I like to use another dip or spread as a base and use the harissa as a garnish.

 

Harissa

Ingredients

1 Red Bell Peppers

2 Fresh whole red chillies (the fat varieties – the ones used for pickles)

2 Dried Kashmiri Deghi Mirchi ( the thin crinckled chile, deep red in colour)

2 Dried  Tarvati (the thin smooth dried red chilli with a bright red colour)

1 Dried Reshampatti chillies ( the dried fat chilli with a thick fleshy skin)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup Boiling Water

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tbsp Olive Oil



Directions

1. Put all the dried chillies in hot water and let it soak for 20 minutes, till they soften. Reserve the cilli water.

2. Once the chiles are softened, put them in a blender along with the fresh chillies, red bell peppers, salt, garlic and lemon juice. Blitz till you get a smooth puree`. If it looks a little too thick for your liking, add the reserved chilli water to thin it down a bit.

3. Now slowly dribble the olive oil and blitz a little more.

4. Transfer in a jar and refrigerate or use immediately.


Serving suggestions

– Mix with mayonnaise
– Mix with hung curd
– Serve as it is

Spice it up !!

Condiment Series | Sour Cream Onion Dip | Dip

Day 24


It’s here….the Sour Cream and Onion Dip !! Yummilicious and Simple !!
This is a super simple dip. Probably the simplest so far….. It’s best friends are salsa and guacamole if you like mexican !! Tastes heavenly with nachos or burritos or enchiladas or cornbread or tacos….oh ! the list is endless.
This is one dip that again goes with anything. I even love it with my seekh kebabs !! Yeah talk about fusion foods.


I often serve with ‘diet chips’. That’s what I call smart cooking or being a domestic goddess !! Put up something together so quickly which tastes yumm and leaves people wondering ‘how did she do this?’ 😛

Sour Cream and Onion Dip



Ingredients

1 cup of Sour Cream

2 Spring Onions finely chopped (including the green stems)

1/2 tsp Garlic Powder

1/2 tsp Salt

Directions

Whisk the sour cream. Add the onions, garlic powder and salt. Mix it well. Transfer in a serving bowl and serve.
Yes it’s that simple !!

Note:
I used homemade sour cream. (will share the recipe soon).
Bottled sour cream is readily available in supermarkets and cheese stores.


Happy Dipping !!




Condiment Series | Honey Mango Dip | Dip

Day 22


I’m on a dip roll these days and I must confess that while I have made a lot of them, many a times over, many dips are new to me. I’m learning them, making them, enjoying them as I go along my series of ’30days30dips’ !! And I’m loving it !! 

Like my father rightly said, this is the only way to get me to blog as often as I am doing now, otherwise I invariably get stuck in the rut of life and my blog takes a back seat. 
Guess what…..writing and religiously making a one dip like this everyday and hearing from so many friends is addictive !! Let’s hope I remain as dedicated and active with my blog as I am now, during this series. I promise I’ll try to with all my heart……



Generally in our minds, a dip means a savoury sauce !
What is a dip ? What is it’s purpose ? Essentially a dip is a dipping sauce in which one dunks their appetizer / finger foods before eating ! We have a dip along with our finger foods to add that extra punch of flavour then why not a sweet dip ! It works as well, sometimes even better !! 
Especially if it is a mayo based fresh fruit dip.

With the Mango season around, what better fruit could I choose for my fruit dip than the mango !! Yes it is a Fresh Mango dip which lends a completely new dimension to your appetizers. My personal favourites with this dip are chicken strips or bread sticks, though of course you can have it with whatever you like. 

Honey Mango Dip








Ingredients

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup fresh mango pieces

2 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves

1 tbsp honey

Pinch (small) curry powder

3-4 drops Tabasco


½ tsp fresh lemon juice










Directions

1. Blitz all ingredients in a blender till well blended.

2. Transfer in a serving dish and serve or bottle it and store in the refrigerator. It stays happy for up to a week.

Happy dipping !!



Shepherd’s Pie | Savoury Baking

July is special.
It’s my birthday and it’s KJ’s birthday too !!! So on KJ’s birthday it was a cozy evening with great company, good music and some comforting food. The spread included Chicken Stroganoff, some homemade Dinner Rolls, Aubergine Parmesiana, Greek Orzo Salad and Shepherd’s Pie. And of course Chocolate Truffle Cake for dessert.

To my surprise the star of the spread turned out to be the Shepherd’s Pie while the chocolate truffle was a close contender :-))

Shepherd’s Pie – a great British classic is a little different from other meat pies. Also known as Cottage Pie, it is a pastry less or base-less pie.
While lamb mince is used in the classic English Shepherd’s Pie, in parts of America beef mince is also used to make this pie.

The top layer of the pie is a golden crust of mashed potatoes. 🙂
It’s just the thing you want on a wet rainy night with some warm dinner rolls. The perfect comfort food. It’s juicy, its scrumptious and its easy to cook. It wins hearts 🙂

Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

500g Lamb Mince
2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 stalks of Celery – chopped finely
1 large Onion
2 Carrots – diced finely
1 clove of Garlic
400ml of Tomato Puree
Worcestershire Sauce
Fresh or dried Thyme
Fresh or dried Rosemary
300 ml of Chicken Stalk
Salt to taste
Nutmeg

For the crust
8-10 boiled Potatoes
1 Egg
150 ml of Milk
1 tbsp Butter
Parmesan cheese

Directions

1. Heat oil in a deep pan.

2. Add the onions and garlic and saute` till they sweat.

3. Now add the celery and carrots and saute` further for 5 minutes.

4. Add the mince to the sauted onions-garlic-celery-carrot. Stir and mix well to break down the mince and to make sure there are no lumps. Soon you will see the meat will start leaving its own water. Keep frying till the water dries out. This may take upto 15-20 minutes. As the water starts drying out, the mince will ooze its own fat. Keep roasting the mince in its own fat. You should be able to hear a crackle, that’s when the meat and onions start to caramelise a bit. This is important because this is what imparts the flavour. Carry on roasting….As Marco Pierre White says give it that extra 7-10 minutes of roasting.  Here the technique is more important than the recipe. You can always adjust the proportions of the ingredients as per your liking.

5. Add the worcestershire sauce. Mix well.

6. Add the tomato puree. Mix well and let it cook while stirring continuously for about 5 minutes.

7. Add the chicken stock.

8. Season with salt and grate one nutmeg. Also add the rosemary and thyme. Give it s good stir and cook on simmer till the consistency is a bit liquidy but not runny. And not not dry as well.

9. While the mince is cooking on sim, prepare the potatoes. In a food processor, add the potatoes, egg, milk, cheese and salt to taste. Give it a good whisk.

10. Remove the mince from the flame and let it cool a bit.

11. Transfer in a ceramic or glass pie dish. Smoothen the top and layer with with the mash potatoes and dot it with butter ( for a nice golden crust).

12. Bake in a preheated oven at about 220 degree C for about 20-30 minutes till the crust gets a lovely golden brown.

13. Serve warm with breads of your choice.

Happy Cooking !!

Valentine Love and Homemade Pasta – from Scratch !!

While I’m the flowers -n-chocolate kinda romantic, KJ has his own quirks to show his love 🙂 and yet again this Valentine’s day I was surprised with not flowers or perfumes or chocolates or cards but a Pasta Maker. Something I had been eyeing to buy for a while !! He always knows what truly gives me pleasure, what I would so dearly treasure !!

I got the delivery of the pasta maker in my office and by the time I got home it was late, but I was sure I wanted to try it out there and then. With actually an empty refrigerator and few basic ingredients in the larder, I braved making my first home made pasta with the pasta maker. For once while the pasta was made from scratch, the final dish did have some easy convenient store bought ingredients which are ever so handy on days nights like these (when you return late from work and don’t want to order out).

Rolling out the first sheet of pasta was magical…really !! How a small ball of dough about 4 inches in diameter turns into a silky smooth sheet which is more than a meter long….
The more you roll the pasta, the silkier it gets. The standard cutter attachment with my new toy was the fettuccine.
Making Pasta at home is quick and simple. As Jamie Oliver says eggs and flour are always a little different, so if it feels a little wet add a little flour and if it feels a bit tight / hard add a little egg.
The thumb rule is 1 egg to every 100 g of pasta, though like I said earlier you can adjust the proportions. The idea is to get a smooth elastic dough.
Here goes the recipe:

Pardon the pictures, they are all clicked with my phone camera and this was not a planned shoot / post but I couldn’t resist sharing this with all of you 🙂
There was too much excitement in making the pasta and these photographs suddenly were incidental !

Fettuccine in Marinara Sauce:

Ingredients for the Pasta

Flour 200g
Eggs – 2
Salt to taste

Direction for making Pasta

1. Make a well in the centre of the flour and break 2 eggs in it. Add the salt and mix. Using a fork break down the egg and mix it in the flour  and now knead it into a smooth dough. DONOT ADD WATER WHILE KNEADING. If the dough gets too tight, you could add half an egg more.

2. Wrap in cling film and let it rest in the refrigerator for about 40 minutes.

3. Remove from the fridge and divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Re-cover the three balls and work with one at a time.

4. Flatten the ball slightly with the palm of your hand and run the dough through the thickest setting on your pasta machine, 3-4 times. This makes the sides of the pasta fill out to the full width of the pasta machine.

5. Repeat this through the settings changing it to the thinner setting every time, till the pasta sheet is about 1-1.5 mm thick.

6. Pass it through the cutter attachment of the machine – I used fettuccine. Dust the pasta with a little dry flour so that it doesn’t stick together and make bunches and keep aside.

7. Repeat the same procedure with the other three balls.

8. Once the required quantities are ready, boil water in a large pan, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1tsp of salt. Once the water comes to a boil, add the pasta and boil till done.

9. While the pasta is boiling, ready the sauce.

Ingredients for the Sauce

10 Clove of Garlic (I like my pasta nicely garlicky…. you could reduce it to 7 cloves)
400 ml of Tomato Puree – ( I used Dabur)
1 tbsp of Chilli Flakes
1 small Onion – finely chopped
2 tbsps Olive Oil
Black Olives for garnishing
Parmesan for garnishing

Directions

1. While the pasta is boiling, start working on the sauce. Heat olive oil in a pan, add chilli flakes. Once the aroma rises, add garlic. Once garlic turns golden, add the onions and saute` till onions become wet. You don’t need to brown them. Now add the tomato puree, cook for 2 minutes on medium heat.

2. Now in the mean time the pasta is boiled. Strain the pasta , drain out all the water.

3. Transfer the pasta into the pan with the marinara sauce. Toss it well and serve.

4. Once plated up, garnish with black olives and parmesan shavings.

Serve.

  Happy Cooking !!

A Granddaughter Remembers…

I was all of seven when one day she asked me to help her make tea in the kitchen. I was excited. I’m going to do something that elders do!! She was sure, I could do it. I could make a cup of tea when I was only seven.

And soon after, she taught me how to knead dough for chapatis (Indian flatbread)….. from the basic steps and instructions like “always make sure your hand and nails are clean before you knead the dough”, to finer nuances like “always round off the dough with a teaspoon of oil for a smooth glossy look” or  “you have to knead it and knead it well till your hands are absolutely clean” or “wash the pulses 5 times before you cook them”. Believe me I still do that and also see merit in it.

That’s how my romance with cooking started. My grandma, extremely fond of cooking, took great pride in initiating her 7 yrs old grand daughter in it too.

While ma used to be away for work, it was then that this friendship blossomed!!
From story telling to cooking and even teaching me how to embroider, she was a great learning curve for me. She taught me all about the Indian Mythology by way of stories, she shared life experiences as I grew up.

Granny had lived in many parts of the country due to the transferable nature of dada’s job. And she picked up lots of minor and major favourites from each stay. Gulab Jamuns however always remained her crest on a list of Indian ethnic delicacies.

Gulab Jamun was her signature dish which verged on being the family pride. It was served with a lot of flourish and originality. Sometimes topped with a layer of fresh malai.

Gulab Jamuns were always made from scratch, which means that the main ingredients being Paneer and Khoya were never ever outsourced. On occasions when the end product fell short of perfection, it was the doodhwala (milkman) who bore the brunt and was admonished for the lesser quality of the milk. He was even made to eat the less perfect Gulab Jamuns.

We lost her last week. She was 86 and all active and full of life till almost the end.
This is my tribute to the lady who is responsible for my romance with cooking. 🙂

Here I share the recipe of her infamous Gulab Jamums that I never formally learnt from her but have literally grown up with the recipe.





Granny’s Gulab Jamuns

Ingredients:

1 litre Full Cream Milk to make Khoya (milk reduction) – makes about 200g of khoya

1 litre Full Cream Milk to make Paneer (cottage cheese) – makes about 125 g of paneer

3 tbsp of all purpose Flour

Oil for frying

3 Cups of Sugar

1 1/2 Cups of Water

Directions:

1. With 1 litre of full cream milk make paneer.
1.a Let the milk come to a boil in a sauce pan, while it is about to boil squeeze the juice of 1 fresh lemon in it and let the milk simmer for about 2-3 minutes. Turn the gas off and let it stand for 5 minutes. Now strain in a cheese cloth.

2. With the other litre of the full cream milk make khoya.
2.a Take a heavy bottomed wok or kadhai and boil milk in it. Once it starts to boil, reduce the flame and stir. Keep it on low flame and keep stirring occasionally to make sure that it doesn’t boil over. Keep repeat this, and soon you’ll see the milk reducing in quantity and becoming pretty thick. The khoya is ready now.

3. Mix the khoya, paneer and flour well. and knead it like you would knead dough. The idea is to smoothen the mixture. There should be no granules or coarseness to the mixture. This takes about 10-15 minutes.
4. Once the mixture is completely smooth, roll into equal sized balls.
5. Heat oil in a pan for frying. Once the oil is hot start frying these balls. Make sure the oil is not very hot or the Gulab Jamuns will not cook properly from inside. Keep the flame on medium initially and then reduce to low.
6. While the Gulab Jamuns are being fried, in another wide pan put sugar and water and let it boil. Keep cooking the sugar syrup till it is little thick in consistence and sticky to touch.
7. Once all the Gulab Jamuns are fried, put them in the sugar syrup, give it a gentle boil and let it rest in the syrup itself for atleast 2 hours before serving.
8. Serve the Gulab Jamuns either hot or cold. I like mine hot.

Happy Cooking !!