Sunday, August 30, 2009

♥Chicken Cutlets♥ Crispy all the way ♥





Chicken cutlets are my idea of comfort food. The crispy outside and soft and juicy inside can make any dull day of mine better! And I am really glad that I learnt to replicate Amma's cutlets :)

These are fixed for any Kerala Christian family menu. It is served at lunch ,as a snack in the evenings for tea, as an accompaniment for dinner . They are a must at all the Kerala Christian wedding lunch menu.


There are different versions of it. Some add crushed dry red chillies too. Whichever form it is made I just LOVE cutlets, chicken especially.

Chicken Cutlets
Recipe by my mom

Ingredients
Chicken, minced- 500g
Onions- 3, finely chopped
Ginger garlic paste-2 1/2 tbsp
Garam masala-1 1/2 tbsp
Green chilli - 4-5, finely chopped [depending on your spice level]
Potatoes-3, big, boiled and mashed
Oil-4-5 tbsp
Salt and pepper to taste
Egg-1, slightly beaten
Breadcrumbs-for rolling[ We usually make fresh bread crumbs at home, they are much better]
Oil for deep frying

Method:
  • Heat oil, saute the ginger garlic paste till you get a nice aroma.
  • Add the onions,green chillies and saute till the onions are soft and transparent.
  • Add garam masala and mix well.
  • Add the minced chicken& potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cook for 5-6 mins or till done.
  • Take it off fire and let the mixture cool
  • When cooled, divide them into balls, flatten it in your palms. You can shape them into squares, small balls, ovals, rolls etc.
  • Dip them in beaten eggs and roll in the breadcrumbs.
  • Deep fry in hot oil. Drain and serve hot!

These can be made ahead and froze for a month. Thaw and deep fry them.
You can make vegetable cutlets using the same recipe substituting carrots & beans for the chicken, but omit ginger.


That's the pineapple from our garden, it was grown in a flower pot [Amma's brilliant idea :D]


We had a short & sweet trip to Kuttanad,[my motherland 2 days ago] on our way to pick up our new car. Below are the few glimpses of the most beautiful place I have ever been to.


Coming soon!!



Thursday, August 27, 2009

♥Silky Chocolate Custard Biscuit Pudding♥ Perfect Dessert! ♥




Whenever I get a chance to make a sweet treat, I never let it go. This chance came upon suddenly when my parents invited my Aunt and family over for lunch. They live in the US and had come visiting us after 3 long years.


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I had eaten a pudding which my Aunt had made during my visit to my 'Motherland' in July for my nephew's birthday. I really liked it and so I had written it down in my diary. So thought of giving that recipe a try.

Usually my mom doesn't eat cakes/desserts especially if it has chocolate/ pineapple. BUT this one made it's way to my mom's heart through her stomach :D She kept eating bits of whatever was left after the lunch and I must say that gives me the hint that it was a huge success with her. It's very difficult for a dessert/cake to get into her good books ;) This one definitely did! :)
It is a very simple and easy recipe which can me made in less than 20 mins FLAT! And it sets so beautifully well.

Silky Chocolate Custard Biscuit Pudding
Recipe source :Mini Aunty

Ingredients:

Condensed milk:3/4 th of a 400g tin
Milk:1 tin [condensed milk tin measure]
Dark Chocolate:150g, cut into small bits
Egg yolks:4
Cream-200 ml
Biscuit:10-15
Strong black coffee- 1 cup or as needed.

Method:

  • Dip the biscuits in coffee and line a pudding dish.
  • Melt chocolate.
  • Mix rest of the ingredients together ( including chocolate) except cream and make a thick custard by either double boiling it or if you are confident enough, directly over the flame. [I chose the latter , not that I was confident but I hate double boiling!! It seem to take ages! :P]
  • Pour the thick custard over the biscuit layer. Let it set.
  • Beat the cream real thick and you can spread it or pipe out rosettes.
  • Serve chilled.



It was a HUGE hit! The custard was absolutely delicious and silky. It was rich and lush! We all had 2-3 helpings and by the end of our lunch, there was only a tiny bit left. And my Uncle, a big foodie told me 'Once you are married and come to the US, I will send you 4 tickets every year to come to my place [Boston] and cook for me' :D I am thinking of taking it as a career now!LOL! ;) Imagine your housemaid 'flying' down! LOL! :P

If you think you need a rich,easy and highly appealing dessert... try this! I guarantee you that this will be a HIT!

Have a good weekend!!


Update: I have lost count of how many times I must have made this pudding because of it's goodness. My cousin shared this recipe with her friend in Dubai, who was participating in a Dessert Competition. And guess what? She won first! So, do I need any better testimonial! Here's the pic of what she made:
Isn't that pretty? ?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

♥Daring Bakers Bakes a Dobos Torte♥ My 5th Daring Experience♥


When this month's DB Challenge was announced, I was so thrilled because this was the first cake for me with the DB's. So I started planning ahead as to how to go about it. My cousin Roshini was coming down for a week and she doesn't blog. So I thought of keeping my excitement down for a while so that I can get her also in it. And we did bake together! :)





The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel. (You may come across recipes which have anywhere between six and 12 layers of cake; there are numerous family variations!) It was invented in 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was a secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners' and Gingerbread Makers' Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.

Dobos Torte

Sponge cake layers

· 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

· 1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided

· 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract

· 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)

· pinch of salt


Directions for the sponge layers:

NB. The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.

1.Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).


2.Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9" (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn't touch the cake batter.)


3.Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.)

4.In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.


5.Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8" springform pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task.)


Chocolate Buttercream

· 4 large eggs, at room temperature

· 1 cup (200g) caster (ultrafine or superfine white) sugar

· 4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped

2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature


Directions for the chocolate buttercream:

NB. This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.

1.Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.


2.Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this.


3.Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.


4.Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.


5.When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2 tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.


Caramel topping

· 1 cup (200g) caster (superfine or ultrafine white) sugar

· 12 tablespoons (180 ml) water

· 8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice

· 1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)


Directions for the caramel topping:

1.Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.


2.Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.


3.The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.

Assembling the Dobos

1.Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.

Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.
Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavour.


My daring experience:

The slice above looks good BUT we were disappointed!!

1.The layers cheated on us. It turned out to be a yummy crunchy biscuit without any traits of a cake in it and it was stuck to the parchment. So I made a whole sponge cake with the rest of the batter instead of individual layers. Then I cut the whole cake into 3. And they were crumbly :(

2.The buttercream took ages to thicken and when spread on the cake layers, they got soaked up!

3.Our butter was RANCID! EEKS! But there was no foul smell/discolouration. We realised it only when we served it to our guests! IMAGINE!! :(

4.The caramel was so chewy and it got stuck to our teeth. So we kept that aside and tried to taste the rancid buttercream and sponge.It tasted OK (with the rancidity n blah! )


All in all...this would be my first n last attempt at this torte. It wasn't rewarding enough for me!

But my other lovely DB friends did have a great experience with this recipe. So in case you were thinking of giving it a try... please go ahead! Never know ... I must have lost my mojo! :)




Tuesday, August 25, 2009

♥ Tandoori Sausage, Roasted Bell Pepper and Corn Pizza♥


My cousins were home for dinner last night , so we had a spread ready for them. This pizza was meant to be one amongst it .Alas! there were only 2 wedges left by the time they reached! :D Luckily it was enough for the 2 of them! :D
I wanted to make a different topping from the last time. And that's when I thought of the Tandoori Masala that I had with me for a while, a small bell pepper & also some sweet corn kernals that's been freezing to death in our freezer :D
So I finally got the stuff ready for the topping while the dough for the pizza was proving. It was a breeze actually, just had to get everything together and pop it into the oven!
Tandoori Sausage,Roasted Bell Pepper and Corn Pizza

Things you'll need:

Base - 1 no , I used this fave recipe of mine.
Topping- Tandoori sausages, Roasted Bell Pepper and Sweet corn kernels
Pizza Sauce- 2 1/2 tbsp
Cheese- 100 g ,grated

For the topping:

Tandoori Sausage:

Chicken Sausage - 4 nos.
Tandoori Masala- 1 1/2 tsp [I used Baker's Tandoori Masala]
Red Chilli Flakes- 1 tsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Curd- 1 tsp
Oil-2 tsp

Method:
Thaw and cut sausages into small roundels.
Marinate them with tandoori masala, red chilli flakes,salt and curd for 30 mins.
Heat oil in a pan and saute the sausages till done.
Reserve.
Roasted Bell Pepper:

Bell Pepper- 1 no.

Hold the pepper using a fork and roast it over the flame till the skin gets blackened.
Rub the black skin off and discard the seeds.
Cut them into bite sized portions.
Assembly:

Roll out the pizza base as directed here.
Spread 1 1/2 tbsp of Pizza sauce over it.
Sprinkle roasted bell pepper, 3-4 tbsp of sweet corn kernels and sausages.
Spread another 1 tbsp of sauce over it.
Grate the cheese over it as even as you can.
Bake them in a pre-heated oven ( at the max.temp) for 10-12 mins.
Cut into wedges and serve!
I don't think I need to talk about how lovely the base was! It was outstanding!! You can see how well it has worked for me everytime I made it. Check this for more! As usual my one & only younger bro was ready to attack it as soon as it was baked! But for some reason he had the patience to wait till I click some pics of the pizza![This is true only in the case of pizza's and few others! :D]

And then started the begging session by my bro for more wedges! He even called me 'pishukki' which means 'stingy'!! ACK! I was just trying my best to save 2 wedges for my cousins! And at the end of it, my mom was kind enough to share a bite with me! Yes! That's all I got, a bite of it!

No complaints! I should have made more!! :D But I try not to make excess, they are always pushed around and wasted!


This pizza of mine is Yeastspotted!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

♥Praline Vanilla Sponge Gateau♥ A Cake baked without an oven♥


Yesterday afternoon we were sitting outside our house post lunch and we were free together after LONG! Yes, I quit work last Friday BUT I really din't get time to even breathe properly except for those 8 hours that I sleep :) It's because Amma had a huge order for desserts and juice. So I was helping her out with it.
I remember Amma baking cakes in Pressure Cooker many moons ago and I tried to re-create those sometime ago and it was a HUGE failure! LOL! So recently I reminded her that it's been a while since we both baked together ( she is a caterer by profession so she is busy with TONS of orders everyday :D ) .This cake is one that reminds me of my 4th std -5th std years. Amma used to make this cake very often then. And this was long before my town Kannur had a decent cake shop. And finally when they opened one...they had the same cake displayed! But no matter what they can never beat this homemade version. Trust me,it's real good!

So this is what we baked together yesterday! :)
Praline Vanilla Sponge Gateau
Recipe by my Mom

For the sponge

Flour-100g
Sugar-100g
Eggs-3
Vanilla- 1 tsp

Method:
  • Beat eggs and sugar till thick and creamy and falls in thick ribbons when poured from a height ( approx. 8-10 mins).
  • Then add in flour ,vanilla and beat till it forms a real thick batter which is almost mousse like(approx.4-5 mins) [I know that for a sponge we should be very careful not to let the air escape and we need to fold in the flour little by little. BUT for this cake this method works like a charm! :) ]
  • Pour into a prepared round tin and bake in an empty pressure cooker sans the weight for5 mins on high flame and then reduce the flame to medium high and bake for 20 mins. [You must put in a steel ring/holder and then place the cake tin on it.]
  • Open the lid and do a skewer test to see if the cake is done.
  • Take the tin out of the cooker and let it cool in tin for 10 mins.
  • Remove the cake from the tin and let it cool completely on a wire rack.

You can bake the same in an oven at 180 degrees for 25-30 mins or till done .
Basic Butter Icing:
Unsalted butter, softened-75 g
Icing sugar-140 g
Milk-1-2 tbsp ( optional)

  • Mix butter and powdered sugar to a smooth paste like consistency.
  • Add milk if you need to make it a bit more loose.
  • If you like your icing to be thick , double the recipe.

Praline:
Butter-1 tbsp
Cashewnuts-2 tbsp
Sugar-3 tbsp
  • Caramelise sugar on a medium flame till golden brown.
  • Add nuts & butter to it and mix well.
  • Pour onto a butter/tissue/parchment paper and let it cool completely.
  • Crush/powder them into tiny bits.
Assembly:

  • Cut the cake horizontally into 2 or 3 [I cut it into 2]
  • Sandwich each layer with 3-4 tbsp of butter icing.
  • Sprinkle some praline in between the layers (optional)
  • Spread the remaining icing on top and sides.
  • Sprinkle the crushed praline on top and on sides.
  • Cut into wedges and serve.
My bro booked the second slice even before his first! And the foodie in me couldn't resist it anymore...I ate 3 huge slices! [I felt like I committed a sin because it's been 4 days since I ate anything sweet...you know the 'gym' effect! ;D] But I don't mind doing a few more counts of excerise to eat another slice ;) There is some more left and I am going to attack it as soon as I am done with this post!

Hope y'all had a great weekend!♥♥

Thursday, August 20, 2009

♥The Ultimate Shortbreads ♥ The best shortbreads ever ♥



When I say 'the ultimate' it means that there is no other competitor for this simple & humble basic shortbread. The recipe called it 'shortbreads' but I felt it was the 'ultimate' and hence the name :)

This recipe is from a book which my grandmother handed over to me...it's a fab book! This is such an easy recipe and you need nothing more than just 3 ingredients!
But let me warn you ahead...if you are planning to make this for your loved ones be prepared to make it for them every now and then . I made that mistake sometime back :D
Ultimate Shortbread
Recipe adapted from The Cookery Year by Readers Digest

Ingredients:

Flour:125 g
Rice flour: 25 g
Butter:100g
Salt:a pinch
Caster Sugar:50 g

Method:
  • Sift flour,rice flour and salt into a bowl.
  • Add sugar & grate butter taken straight from the fridge into the dry ingredients ( I keep butter in the freezer for easy handling )
  • Work the mixture with fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Press the mixture into a 7" straight sided tin* and level the top.
  • Prick it with fork all over and mark it into 8, cutting through to the base.
  • Chill it for one hour and then bake in the centre of the oven at 180 degrees for 1 hour or until pale straw coloured.
  • Cool it in tin and then over the wire rack and break it into wedges.

* I have been using a round tin for a while so for a change used a rectangular tin and cut them into bars.
Warning!! This recipe yields high satisfaction & addiction! But it's good to surrender to it once in a while ;)



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

♥ Chicken Biriyani ♥ Simple & Tasty ♥




Malabar is known for it aromatic biryani's and 'Paris' in Thalaserry, 'Zaines','Paragon'&'Sagar' in Calicut are typical examples for it. But when it comes to making biriyani at home, people have some misconception that it is a difficult task and is laborious and time consuming.


But me and Amma on the other side consider this to be the most easiest ,highly appealing dish that can be made in less than 30-35 mins of cooking time! I din't realise why people consider it to be laborious until I started reading other recipes where they call in for lot ingredients in tiny amounts, grinding ,powdering etc. This realisation dawned on me on a Sunday when I told Amma that we shall try some different type of a biriyani. I scanned through many but came up with nothing quick & easy so dropped that plan and resorted to our ever fave Amma's Chicken Biriyani !


The best part is...it has no tomatoes! I hate tomatoes in biriyani! :)




Chicken Biriyani
Recipe from my mom


For the rice:
Rice:1 kg (5 cups) [We use small grain rice]
Water:10 cups
Ghee/Oil: 1/2 cup
Cardamom:3-4 nos.
Cloves:4
Cinnamon:2" stick
Salt:to taste
Lime:juice of 1 lime


For the masala:
Chicken:1 kg
Curd/Youghurt:1/2 cup
Coriander leaves:1 small bunch
Mint leaves:1 small bunch
Onions:750g
Green chillies:15 [trust me! It's not going to be too spicy,onions will balance it]
Ginger:50g
Garlic:50g
Salt:to taste


For assembly & garnishing:
Raisins:20g
Cashewnuts:10-15 nos.
Fried onions:1/2 to 1 cup
Garam masala:3-4 tsp
Turmeric powder:1 tsp diluted in 1/2 cup water








Method:
For the rice:
  • Heat oil/ghee in a heavy bottomed vessel.
  • Add the spices to it and fry it for 30 secs.
  • Add the washed rice. Fry it stirring well till slightly crisp. (Do not make it too crisp otherwise you will have to add more water)
  • Boil water separately and add it to the rice. Stir and add salt( Salt should be a wee bit extra because only then will it be enough when cooked completely.
  • Add lime juice ( its helps the grains to stay separate)
  • Let it cook. Stir in between.
  • Cover and cook till done.
  • If it is slightly undercooked, sprinkle some water and let it cook covered for 3-4 mins.


For the masala:
  • Grind ginger, garlic and green chillies together.
  • Heat oil , saute the ground masala.
  • Add onions and saute till soft. Sprinkle some salt to fasten the process.
  • Add the chicken pieces and mix well.
  • Add youghurt & herbs.
  • Check for salt.
  • Cook till the chicken is done. There will be some gravy left behind, but let it be there. It will all be used up during layering.
Garnishing:
  • Fry some raisins & cashewnuts in ghee .
  • Drain and reserve them.
Assembly:
  • Take a large vessel with tall sides. Grease it with oil/ghee.
  • Make the first layer with chicken and some gravy. Top it with rice in such a way that it covers the chicken beneath it.
  • Sprinkle the turmeric powder +water mix on it.
  • Sprinkle some raisins, cashewnuts and fried onions.
  • Sprinkle some garam masala.
  • Repeat. The topmost layer should be rice.
  • Repeat garnishing.
  • Close the vessel with a lid and cook on low flame for 4-5 mins.
  • Serve it after 10-15 mins. ( You can serve it immediately BUT if you can keep it aside for 10-15 it will let the gravy to mingle better with rice :D )


Hope y'all enjoyed the Chicken Biriyani as much as we enjoy everytime... even last night :D




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