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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Homemade White Bread

I  had been wanting to bake bread for a while. So, I finally decided to pick up some bread flour (well it made sense that bread would need bread flour) from my farmer's market. I came home and began my search for simple white bread. Now, I had heard that making bread is cumbersome and a laborious process, so I was prepared to find really long and daunting recipes. To my dismay, I did find several recipes, but none for simple white bread and even fewer that used bread  flour. After searching online for about an hour, I decided to call Mommy dearest.  And as usual I wasn't disappointed. I did refer to the allrecipes website too and between recipes there and my mom's help I baked a wonderful loaf of white bread.

I also made a fresh batch of strawberry jam. The combination was just scrumptious and both were ready just in time for our afternoon snack. My family really loved the bread and  I know for sure that I will be baking bread more frequently now. I plan to try all the different variations that I came across during my search.

1 packet (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1 tbsp and 1.5 tsp sugar
1.25 cups warm water
1 tbsp and 1.5 tsp canola oil
1.5 tsp salt
3-1/4 cups bread flour
1 tbsp oil to grease bowls

Heat the water in the microwave for a minute, or on the cooktop till its warm. To this add the sugar and yeast and set aside for 5-10 mins. This mixture will turn frothy after 10 mins. In a mixing bowl, take 1.5 cups of bread flour, add the salt and oil to this. Stir these ingredients well. Add the water and yeast mixture and mix well. The resultant mixture will resemble a mesh of dough, look frothy and will be very sticky. To this add the remaining flour about half a cup at a time and incorporate this while kneading the dough well. Once all the dough has been incorporated and the dough comes together in a ball, knead this for about 10 mins. Transfer this to a bowl which has been greased with oil and cover the bread dough with a moist towel. Set this in a warm place for about 1- 1.5 hours till the dough has risen and is double in volume.

Take this risen dough, deflate it and knead it turning it inside out for another 5-8 mins. Grease your baking tin or bread tin well and transfer the dough to this. Let the dough rise for the second time till it is double in size. At this point in time, you are ready to bake your bread. The second rise time can vary and it took me about 2.5 hours for the dough to rise.

Pre-heat the oven to 425 F and then bake the bread at 375 F for 30-40 minutes. It took me 40 minutes for the bread to look completely done. It was well browned on the top and sides as well.

The water-yeast mixture must be frothy before its added to the flour. This helps you gauge the effectiveness of your yeast if it is old. If it doesn't become frothy, you need a new packet of yeast. It is not easy to knead dough made from bread flour, as it is a hard wheat flour. However, the longer you knead it, the better the gluten bonds and the lighter your bread will be. You can assist the dough rising process by keeping the dough in your oven with the light on to provide a warm environment for the yeast.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tiramisu Recipe

Tiramisu is a fantastic dessert. I have read several recipes of varying degrees of difficulty in the last few years. The first time I made it, I used eggs and it was a complex process and I used mascarpone cheese. The next time I made the recipe, I decided to drop the eggs, since I was not comfortable with adding raw eggs to the dessert.

Thus far I had always made it using mascarpone cheese and the result had been light and fluffy and wonderful. I had a packet of cream cheese lying in my fridge a week ago and I was quite torn on how to use it. I thought about baking a cheesecake, but since I didn't have all the other required ingredients, I gave up on that idea and decided to try out my Tiramisu recipe, substituting the mascarpone with creamcheese. The end result was so delicious and decadent, that I think this is the recipe that I will stick to in the future.

So without much ado, here's the recipe. Note how simple and easy it is!!!

15-20 ladyfingers (use the hard ones which resemble cookies/biscuits, use the fresh baked ones which resemble angel cakes only if you cannot find the hard ones)
8 ounce cream cheese 
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1-1.5 cup confectioner's sugar (this can be adjusted to taste)
1 cup brewed coffee (you can either brew fresh coffee or use 2 scoops of instant coffee powder added to 8 ounces of hot water. Cool it to room temperature)
2 tbsp cocoa powder

Whip the heavy whipping cream till the cream is stiff and peaks can be formed. Whip softened cream cheese till its creamy. Fold in the whipped cream into the beaten cream cheese. Add the sugar a little at a time and mix it all together. The resultant mixture should not be overwhelmingly sweet. Adjust the sugar based on how sweet you want your tiramisu to be. Dip the ladyfingers one at a time into the coffee solution. Do not soak it. Arrange a layer of these coffee dipped ladyfingers at the bottom of a rectangular serving dish. Spread half of the cream cheese mixture over this layer. Add the second layer of coffee dipped ladyfingers next. Top it with the remaining cream cheese mixture. Use a sieve to dust cocoa powder on top of the assembled layers. Chill this for 2-4 hours. Your tiramisu is ready!!! Sprinkle additional cocoa powder before serving.

The whisk, bowl and cream should be cold so that whipping is faster and the cream stays stiff upon whipping. The cream cheese needs to be brought to room temperature before whipping. This can be done by keep the cream cheese outside the fridge for about 30 mins. Confectioner's sugar has some cornflour and this stabilizes the cream cheese mixture in the absence of egg yolks.Taste the cream cheese mixture after adding 1 cup of sugar. You may need to add more than 1.5 cups if you want it to be sweeter. Some rum can also be added to the coffee concoction in which the ladyfingers are dipped.

This is goes to the Thanda Mela and the Monthly Mingle too.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thanda Mela and Monthly Mingle

This is my first entry to the Thanda Mela and second one to the Monthly Mingle. I am submitting my Mango Ice Cream and Tiramisu recipes. Seems to be a great forum to exchange recipes! Hope to contribute more regularly to these and other such events.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mango Kulfi/Ice Cream

The first time I ate homemade kulfi, I figured this was probably a very complicated recipe (ice creams just seemed to be something to be bought not made). A friend finally shared her recipe and it turned out to be a very simple. I made some changes to the recipe she provided to make it a healthier.

Recently, I decided to modify this recipe even further to create the mango ice cream/kulfi recipe. I made this ice cream for a party recently and it was a culinary triumph. Summer is the season for mangoes and this is one cool recipe for those hot days ahead.

4 white bread slices
1 can or 1.5 cups evaporated milk
1 can or 1 and 3/4th cups of sweetened condensed milk
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
1 cup of mango pulp
1 mango diced into bite sized pieces
1 tsp of Powdered Cardamom Powder.
1/4 cup of sliced almonds and pistachios (optional)

Toast the bread lightly for about a minute or less on the stove or in the toaster. The bread should not change color. Cut off the edges of the bread. Once cooled the bread will become a bit harder and easier to grind down into  crumbs in the food processor or mixer. Whip the cream in another bowl till the cream is stiff and peaks can be formed by the whisk. In another bowl, mix together the condensed milk, evaporated milk, mango pulp, white bread crumbs, cardamom powder and whisk till all the components are blended well together. Fold in the whipped cream and then blend well to aerate the mixture. However, do not overmix after adding the whipped cream. Fold in the mango pieces and freeze this mixture.  After 4-5 hours, let this thaw a bit and again whip it and blend it well. Freeze again.

To whip up the cream, make sure the cream, the bowl and the whisk are all chilled.  This helps to whip up the cream faster. Do not over whisk else the cream can separate. Stop once the peaks can be formed. The mango pieces can be added when the ice cream is remixed before being frozen for the second time. The condensed milk quantity can be reduced or increased to adjust the sweetness of the icecream.

This is my first entry to the Thanda Mela and second one to the Monthly Mingle. I am submitting my Mango Ice Cream and Tiramisu recipes. Seems to be a great forum to exchange recipes! Hope to contribute more regularly to these and other such events.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Kolhapuri Misal Recipe - Phadtare Misal

This is a very popular recipe in Maharashtra. The city associated with this dish is Kolhapur. The misal from this region is spicy and delicious. The characteristic about misal from Kolhapur is the separate "cut/kat" or gravy that accompanies the misal. Bread is dipped into this gravy and eaten. This is a complete meal with brown mung, potato, gravy and bread.

I recently met my husband's aunt and had a chance to eat this delicacy after several years. I was very inspired by her and decided to try my hand at it. The recipe below is based on  a video I had seen where "Phadtare" misal recipe was demonstrated. This is a very popular misal joint in Kolhapur. I have adapted this recipe to serve 4-6 people.

For Potato Bhaji
1/2 red onion finely diced
2 medium potatoes boiled
1/8 tsp mustard seeds
1/8 tsp jeera seeds
1-2 green chillies to taste chopped
1/8 tsp turmeric
salt to taste (fine or regular salt)

For Matki Usal
2 tbsp oil
2 cups of sprouted matki/small brown mung
1/2 red onion finely diced
1/4 tomato finely diced
1 tsp dhana jeera powder (corriander-cumin powder)
1 tsp Bedgi chilli powder (this is mainly used for color)
1 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste)
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
2 cups hot water
salt to taste (coarse salt/"khade meeth")
1 tsp sugar

For the Misal "Kat" (Gravy)
1 tsp cumin
1 inch cinnamon piece
5 green cardamoms
2 big cardamoms (badi elaichi)
4 cloves
2 star anise
3 red chillies
1.5 cups of dessicated coconut grated (dry coconut)
6-7 garlic cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg -grated powder (use fresh instead of readymade powder)
1 inch ginger
1 red onion thinly sliced
1/2 tomato finely diced
1/8 tsp turmeric
1 tsp Bedgi chilli powder (red color again)
1 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
salt to taste (coarse salt/"khade meeth")
salt to taste (regular fine salt)
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp oil
5 cups hot water

To make the Potato Bhaji
Heat the oil. To this add the mustard and cumin seeds. Once you hear the mustard sputter, add the onions and fry till it turns light brown. Add the chillies and turmeric, stir this together, add the salt and the boiled potatoes. Stir and fry for another 2-3 mins. Set this aside. You now have the base or first layer of the misal.

To make the Matki Usal (brown mung bhaji)
Take 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Once its heated up, add the sprouted brown mung/matki to this. Stir fry it for a few minutes. Set aside.
In another pan, take 1 tbsp oil, to this add the onion and stir fry it. Once it turns pink and translucent, add the tomatoes to this. Fry this for a few more minutes. To this add the two chilli powders, dhana jeera powder and turmeric and stir. Add the hot water, the coarse salt, sugar and continue heating this mixture. Once it starts boiling, add the fried matki to this. This matki must be cooked till all the water evaporates and you are left with the matki bhaji.

To make the Misal Masala
Dry roast all the dry spices separately which is cumin, cinnamon, green cardamom seeds only, big cardamon seeds only (badi elaichi), cloves, and star anise. Roast the red chillies with a couple of drops of oil till they are crisp. The spices should not be over roasted or burnt. They should be roasted till you can start smelling the spice. Grind all these spices and chillies together till they are a fine powder. To this add the garlic, ginger, coconut, nutmeg and a little coarse salt. Grind this to a paste adding a little water at a time to facilitate the grinding process. The consistency of the paste should be like a chutney.

To make the Misal Gravy
Heat the oil, and add the onion. Fry this onion till translucent pink, starting to turn brown and add the tomatoes. Cook this for a few  minutes till the tomatoes soften. Add the Misal Masala made earlier, turmeric, both the chilli powders, coarse salt and a little sugar for taste. Stir fry this for 2-3 minutes and then add a little water to it and stir. Add the remaining water slowly and let it boil. This is the final gravy.

Ingredients - To assemble the misal
Potato Bhaji as described above
Matki Usal as described above
Misal Gravy as described above
Sliced white bread
Chopped onion
Finely chopped cilantro
Farsan which should consist of Papadi, Dal Muth, Shev and Gathiya

Method - To assemble and serve the misal
First take a tablespoon of potato bhaji in a bowl. Next layer is the matki usal. Add about a tablespoon of matki usal over the potato bhaji. Then add the misal gravy. Top this with chopped onion, cilantro and the farsan mixture. Squeeze a wedge of lemon over this. Serve with a couple of slices of white bread. The potato bhaji and matki should be submerged in the gravy. Also serve a cup of gravy along with the assembled misal so it can be refilled as needed.

The misal gravy is supposed to be very watery, so add additional hot water to this if it is too thick after boiling. If coarse salt is not available, you can just use regular salt. Coarse salt is also known as Kosher salt. The Bedgi chilli powder can be substituted with Kashmiri chilli powder or any other chilli which brings out the red color but is not very hot. Misal is supposed to be spicy and hot, and the above recipe will turn out so. Adjust the chilli powder proportions to make it milder.