Thursday, March 31, 2011


Puttu Meen Curry
Icannot tell you how much I love Kannur Style Meen Curry/Fish Curry.It is such a simple recipe that even a child can make with adult supervision.I have to say, this is my first attempt at making this curry because Janu Chechy was an expert at it and it was her speciality. When I was growing up, I used to eat this at my childhood friend, Babitha's house. Asha aunty is an excellent cook! This curry was there, always at their house. So when I was cooking this curry, I couldn't help but think of all the fun we had as kids at Babitha's house.

We were a gang of 3 girls. Rechana, Babitha and myself. Rechana was elder to the two of us by 6 years or so but that didn't matter. We still enjoyed pretend play as any other kids would do. I used to be the cook flipping out dosas from my pan with a small 'chattugam'/flat steel spoon.Once in a while we used to fight and since we were 3, one of us were 'outside' the group during the fight as 2 of us paired against the other.
I clearly remember we 3 were enrolled for Indian Classical Dance classes which was held at a school very close by to our house in Talap. Finally we got our uniforms for the class which was a 'salwar kameez'. The kameez was off white and the salwar and dupatta were baby pink. We were super excited to have the uniform but myself and Babitha didn't go for the class after that...just being lazy, you know! :-D

So, one day, we had a fight...this time it was me and Babitha against Rechana. We were so angry with her (and I don't even remember why!) and we decided to pour water at her over my boundary wall when she went for the dance class. But it never happened as she was smarter than us :D
Meen Curry
When I look back at it, we were just being stupid and silly! I have such good memories with my childhood friends and the best part is we are still connected. Rechana got married 2 days before our wedding and Babitha was one of my bridesmaid. We live continents away but we are still in each other's thoughts!

Do you have such memories of how stupid and silly you were, when you were young? I have plenty of them. I was a single child till I was 8 years old, so I never liked sharing anything , mostly with my cousins (no idea why!). When my cousins used to visit us and if there were chocolates in the fridge, I used to run and hug the fridge so they they wouldn't open it, also thinking that they wouldn't know they were chocolates in it! Imagine how stupid I was!! :-D

That reminds me...I haven't told you how we 3 became friends right? It's funny, atleast how Babitha and I became friends. That's for another post...I hope I haven't bored you . Now let's move to the recipe :-)

My own recipe 

For Puttu:
Roasted Rice Flour* or Store bought Puttu Podi (Taste Buds, Avis,Nirapara, Double Horse are good brands)
Salt to taste
Water as needed
Freshly grated coconut as need

For the Meen Curry:
1 lbs/ 0.5 kg King fish (can use sardines, mackerel, shrimp etc)
1c freshly grated coconut
1 tsp turmeric powder
6 green chillies
1 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 lime sized ball of tamarind
1/2 c warm water
Salt to taste
3 tbsp coconut oil

For Puttu:
In a large bowl, mix together the salt and rice flour. Sprinle water to it and mix well.Start with half the qty of flour that you are taking.
When you press a ball of flour, it should hold it's shape and not crumble down. If you have reached that consistency, stop adding water. Pass this mixture through a sieve to remove the lumps.Leave it aside for 15 mins.
Take your puttu maker *, add some grated coconut followed by the rice flour mixture. Never ever press the puttu podi into the puttu maker, it just needs to be spooned in.
Bring to boil some water in a pressure cooker. When the steam comes, insert the puttu maker into the nozzle where the steam comes out. Let it steam till you can see steam passing through the puttu maker which will happen in less than 2 mins.
De-mould it and serve hot with Fish Curry.

Fish Curry:
Grind the coconut and turmeric powder. Add water to aid it in grinding.
Add the warm water to the tamarind and set it aside for 5 mins. Squeeze out the pulp and strain.
Add the red chilli powder, green chillies and salt to the tamarind pulp and mix.
Heat oil, add the ground masala and the tamarind pulp.
Once it comes to a boil, add the fish and let it cook.
If you think you need to add more water,add it and give it a boil.
Check for salt .

*The rice flour used for Puttu is not super fine, it has to be coarse. The super fine variety is used for Idiappam/String Hoppers. So make sure you have the right one.If you are in doubt, go for the store bought powder made specially for Puttu.
* Puttu maker usually comes in a cylindrical form but Amma always made it in 'Cheratta'/Coconut shells and her shells are as old as I am :) I wanted to get one here but in the last minute hurry all I could manage was this commercially made 'Aluminium' Cheratta. If you are using any other kind of puttu maker, please follow the manufacturers instructions.

* If you do not own a puttu maker, you can still make it by steaming it in a plate . Simple! But this time, you will keep it inside the cooker/steamer and not over it as I did :)

Verdict: It goes without saying how much I love this curry rather the combo! Try it and you will know why I like it :)

I am sending  the deliciousness to The Kerala Kitchen.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

YEASTED MERINGUE COFFEE we host the DB this month!

Yes, you read it right. Jamie and myself hosted the Daring Baker's Challenge for the month of March 2011. It was a fun ride all the way (for almost a year! )discussing recipes,calling up each other across continents and worrying about how we are going to finalise on everything when we wanted to do something with an Indian-American twist and put up the recipe on the forum. I think we worried much more than what was needed as it was not that difficult. Lis and Ivonne , the backbone of this baking group made everything seem like a dream! When you have the best people to work with, you don't have to worry about anything! Simple! :)
Yeasted Coffee Cake

This month's challenge was a 'Yeasted Coffee Cake' with a meringue filling which almost melts into the bread and makes it a very moist treat! It was really delicious and you can use it with a filling of your choice. I went ahead creating an Indian twist using 'Garam Masala' and Chocolate for the filling and I am so glad I did it because it is a deadly combo...we loved it! I also added a pinch of saffron to the dough which lends the dough a nice pale yellow colour and amazing fragrance!

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter.The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake
For the yeast coffee cake dough:
4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt
1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs at room temperature
10 strands saffron 
For the meringue:
3 large egg whites at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar
For the filling:
1 cup (130 g / 5 oz.) chopped cashew nuts
2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon garam masala (You can make it at home – recipe below - or buy from any Asian/Indian grocery store)
1 cup (170g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips ( I used Ghirardelli)
Egg wash: 1 beaten egg
Cocoa powder (optional) and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakes
Prepare the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.
In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted.Add the 10 saffron threads to the warmed liquid and allow to steep off of the heat for 10 minutes. This will give the mixture a distinct aroma and flavor and a yellowish-orange hue.
With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.
Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.
Prepare your filling:In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling if using. You can add the chopped nuts to this if you like, but I find it easier to sprinkle on both the nuts and the chocolate separately.
Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:
In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.
Assemble the Coffee Cakes:
Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper
Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling of choice evenly over the meringue (ex: half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate).
Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.
Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.
Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.
Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.
Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.
Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.

Verdict: Will I sound partial if I said this is one of my fave DB challenges so far? :) It is, really! The dough is silky smooth to work with and the filling complements it very well.  I can see myself using this dough with a savoury filling in the future.

Friday, March 25, 2011

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES...for the cookie monster

' I don't drown my sorrows; I suffocate them with Chocolate Chip Cookies. '
~Author Unknown~

Iam a cookie monster, yes, I really am! I love cookies,especially Chocolate Chip Cookies. Not those that you get in the packaged form, but the freshly baked ones. The ones which have a soft centre and caramelised edges. The ones that have melted chocolate chips inside. The ones that are so good that you can eat a bagful in one go! These cookies are exactly all that I just described above.
There's a cookie shop in the Skyway close to our apartment. I've tried their cookies once and that was when I went Christmas Shopping for Jobin , a few hours before we took off to Virginia to celebrate Christmas .I knew I would be late and he would be home by the time I got home with the gift and he would see it in my hands...but I had no choice, so I bought a cookie & munched on it while I shopped .

When I reached home, I tried to open the door as quietly as possible but he was right in right there...standing there right opposite to where I was standing! I put on the best acting suit that I had and pushed the gift into the closet and closed the door.He smiled a very broad smile and acted as if nothing happened. Later he asked me where I had been all this while. I told him that I just went for a walk in the Skyway (and he knows how much I hate to walk!) and ate a cookie. He smiled even more this time and said,' You walked all the way for a cookie? Someone went to buy me a gift!!'. Uh-oh! He knew it!'s was obvious! I couldn't help it :-)

Since then that Cookie Shop fascinated me and I wanted to bake those cookies at home.Therefore the hunt was on and almost after a month, I found these cookies and didn't let them go. I tried it and was very pleased with the results. No more Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe hunt for me :) If you like the slice and bake types, you can try my Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie...those were really good too!

Recipe Source: Alice from Sweet Savoury Life
(I halved the recipe and got 9 large and 9 medium sized cookies)

1 c unsalted butter
1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 c brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 3/4 c (12 oz) all purpose flour. Please weigh if possible.
1/2 tsp table salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 1/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Pre-heat the oven to 360 F and line 2 cookie sheets.

Cream the butter and sugar on medium high (for Kitchen Aid) or high (for hand held mixer) for 3 mins.
Add both the eggs and vanilla and beat for another 2 mins.
Add the dry ingredients and beat well to incorporate.
Add the chocolate chips and mix till well distributed.
The cookie batter should be somewhat thick, that is, you can shape it with you fingers easily.
Drop about 2 tbsp of cookie dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet with 1.5" gap between each .
Bake for 12-14 mins until the edges are nice and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the cookies be on the sheet for 2 mins. After that transfer them to a cooling rack to cool.
Once cooled, store in an airtight container.

Verdict: I think everyone should give this recipe a try, it's really good. The brown sugar plays an important role in the taste and texture of this cookie. As I said before, this cookie has a soft centre and caramelised edges which makes you want one more, everytime!

Just wanted to tell you guys how happy I am with my Christmas Gift, my camera, that I have not been editing photos at all! Is it just the camera or is it me taking better photographs? Whatever it maybe, I'm happy :) Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


The first batch of cupcakes that I ever tried baking were for my brother when he was as little as 6 or something. Now he is writing his 12th std board exams! Time sure flies!  I got a recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes from 'Hindu'(an Indian Newpaper) and I promptly cut that out and stuck it on my mother's recipe book since I didn't own one then. We didn't have cupcake liners at home then, so I made the whole thing as a cake. There was a recipe for a frosting too which called for 'cooking chocolate'. Even today, it's hard to find 'cooking/baking' chocolate in Kannur, so you could have imagined the situation 12 years ago! So, we went with my favourite chocolate, Cadbury's Dairy Milk  and tried melting it in the microwave. I had no idea that the chocolate will maintain it's shape unless we stir it...sadly it was burnt in the centre.
Vanilla Cupcakes
But, I didn't give up, I scraped out the good parts and made the frosting with it. It came out really good.He loved the cake and from that day on he used to ask me to bake the same cupcakes and I always ...always postponed it. I have made him so many other stuffs, but never got to baking those chocolate cupcakes as 'cupcakes'. I will bake it for him the next time I'm home :) You will see the recipe here, very soon! :)
Vanilla Cupcakes

Those cupcakes look cute, don't they? I made these cupcakes for Jobin to take to work last week. They smelt so good while they were baking and was even more tempting after I pulled it out of the oven. I really couldn't resist clicking a picture of these cuppiecakes!
Vanilla Cupcakes

I frosted them with a simple frosting which was so glossy that I could see my reflection on it. I kept everything simple even though I wanted to do those fancy swirls with the 1M tip, but then he would have had a hard time taking it to office . Actually, I would have given him a hard time saying, 'Keep the box straight, okay? No,no! Don't press on that! Argh! You are not going to keep the swirls in place...Just give that box to me...I told you not to do that!' Blah Blah!
Vanilla Cupcake

So to prevent all that, this the best frosting I could do. You let them set for a while and then it doesn't even stick to your fingers nor leave a mark on it unless you poke your fingers into it like I did later just to see whether the glossy frosting can yield at some point,atleast! :) The recipe for these cupcakes was in my recipe diary from a very long time, even before I started blogging and I have no idea where I got it from. I am sure it's from some aunts of mine :) Whoever it is, Thank you so much! I had used the same recipe for my Craisin-Orange Squarecakes where you also get to  see a step-by-step process of how these babies are made.

Recipe source for frosting- Alice Medrich (She calls it Fast Fudge Frosting)

2 c all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt (omit if you are using salted butter)
1 c sugar
1/2 c unsalted butter ,room temperature
2 eggs
1/2 c milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Glossy Frosting: (I made only half the amount and I still had some left over)
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 c granulated sugar
1 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 c heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Salt (omit if using salted butter)

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F and position the rack in the centre.
Prepare a 12- cup muffin tin by placing the cupcake liners in it.

Sift the dry ingredients together, if possible, thrice.
Cream the butter and sugar for 3 mins.Add in the eggs one by one and beat it will for 1 minute after each addition.
Next with the motor running,add the flour and milk alternately starting and ending with flour.
By now the batter should be light and fluffy.
Spoon it into the cupcake liners, about 2/3 rd's full, which will be about 2 1/2 tbsp.
Bake for 20-25 mins or till the top is lightly golden brown in colour and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from the tin immediately and let it cool completely before frosting.

In a saucepan,melt butter. Stir in the sugar and cocoa. Gradually stir in the cream.
Heat over medium heat, stirring till everything is mixed well and is smooth and hot but not boiling.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and a pinch or two of salt, to taste.
Set aside to cool. Dip the cupcake upside down in to the frosting and let the excess drip off.
Turn the cupcake and place it on a plate/rack and let the frosting set.

Verdict: Very soft buttery cupcakes! The frosting is such a charm to work you perfect shiny results every time you dip the cupcake into it! :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Beef Biriyani

Have you heard of 'Kalyani' before? No, I didn't mean the girl 'Kalyani' but the biriyani which is sold by the name 'Kalyani' in Hyderabad? It's nothing but a biriyani made with beef. I've never heard of it until I got married. Jobin used to mention about Kalyani every now and then and how much he loves it.So I thought of making some at home. Amma used to make Beef Biriyani once in a while but Chicken Biriyani was the most preferred at home, since my brother likes it and the rest of us didn't mind :) Looks like this month is a Biriyani month for the two of us...with the Afghani Ruz Bukhari making an entry into our lives, this is the second one for this month.
Beef Biriyani

This is a very simple and easy biriyani recipe with delicious results. You can substitute Mutton/Goat meat for Beef (or even chicken, but cooking time will vary) because I know a lot of people especially Indians, don't eat beef due to religious reasons.I made the meat and rice separately as always and this time I used a Pressure Cooker to fasten up the process and I must say I will be using that step for all biriyani's now saves a lot of time especially when you are hungry! Well, that reminds me of the 'Cooker Biriyani' Amma makes...I should get the recipe from her.
Beef Biriyani

You can use boneless meat or with bones, the choice being yours. Personally I feel meat with bones tastes better as the juices from the bones add to the taste. Sorry, vegetarian folks, this might sound way too much detailed for you :)

My own recipe
Serves 8

For the rice:
3 1/2 c basmathi rice, washed and drained (no need to soak)
1/4 c ghee/oil / unsalted butter
1 stick cinnamon
4 pods green cardamom
3 cloves
Salt to taste
7 cups water

For the beef:
2 lbs/ 1 kg beef , cut into 2 inch cubes
2 big onions, sliced fine
10 green chilles, slitted (or to taste)
2 medium size tomatoes, chopped small
4 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (this is optional if you don't want it to be too spicy, but I added it)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 c yogurt, whisked
1 bunch coriander leaves/ cilantro , chopped
1 bunch mint leaves ,chopped
Salt to taste
Lime/lemon juice to taste
5 tbsp ghee/oil/unsalted butter

Wash and clean the rice.Drain out the excess water.
On medium- high,heat oil, add the spices and after 30 secs add the rice.
Fry the rice for 3-4 mins, stirring constantly. Add the water and salt to taste. Cover it and let it come to a boil. As soon as it boils, reduce the flame to medium- low and cook covered for 15 minutes.
After 15 mins, switch off the heat and fluff up the rice with a fork.

Heat the oil in a pressure cooker or a pan with tall sides. Add the onions and saute till soft and translucent.
Add the green chillies and saute till it is soft. Next, add in the tomatoes and cook till they become soft.
Add in the ginger garlic paste and mix well.Add the powders and mix well for a minute or 2.
Add the meat and mix well.Now, add in the whisked yogurt,herbs,salt and water if needed. Mix together for one last time and close the cooker with the lid. Cook for 5 whistles (It totally depends on how tender or how tough your meat is, I needed 5).Let the pressure go down on it's own. Open the lid, stir, taste and see if everything is alright.
If there is too much gravy, cook and reduce it. If you need it to be a bit tangy, add some lime/lemon juice.
When I opened the cooker, it was perfect, the oil could be seen on top and the meat was cooked completely.
You will not need a lot of gravy or else the biriyani might taste watery after you assemble it. Make sure you have gravy to the level of meat.

Take a pan with tall sides. Brush the bottom and sides generously with ghee/oil.
Put a layer of meat , cover it with a layer or rice. Then you can sprinkle some fried onions, garam masala and some turmeric water/saffron over it for colour.
Repeat the process one more time. Cover with a tight fitting lid and let it simmer for 30 mins.
When you serve, dig all the way down to the last layer of meat so that you get all the goodness the way you layered it.
Serve hot!

* I personally feel any biriyani tastes good the next the flavours get mixed very well over time.

Verdict: This was very well received and we had a very delicious Sunday Dinner :)
I'm sending the biriyani to The Kerala Kitchen event hosted by Magpie.

Monday, March 14, 2011



I don't know how many of you have heard of  non -veg pickles, but I have and I LOVE them! I have eaten only beef ,fish and prawn pickle until I got married. When Jobin's mom visited us last year,we got to taste some delicious pork pickle. The last batch was getting over and Jobin suggested me making some more, to replenish the stock :-) Me as usual wanted to try something new and thought about pickling some chicken and chicken pickle it was!
Chicken Achar

My first pickle was a Stuffed Green Chilli Pickle and it was delicious. If my memory is correct ,it was followed by a garlic pickle. Now, after almost 3 years I am back with pickling something.I am making another 3 batches's really good, really addictive!

I had a recipe with me for sometime now but cannot recollect it's source.The best thing with this recipe is that, it's very easy and the only time you need is to fry the chicken and in the meantime you can prep the rest of the ingredients. It's a breeze! It tastes so good that it can be a good substitute for your Chicken curry :)
Chicken Achar

I have to hunt for empty bottles now...all these months I have been hunting for bottles to store my Homemade Grape Wine and now I have plenty of them :-D Our friends still ask me if I need bottles for wine and now I say,'No, thank you!' as I have to find storage space for them :-) If you are re-using bottles like I do, make sure you wash it very well and let it dry completely otherwise you will have weird looking white stuff growing over your pickle :)


1/2 kg boneless chicken,cut into 1" pieces
1 tsp pepper powder
1 tsp mustard seeds
1c shallots/chumnulli sliced fine
2 tbso ginger, chopped
2 tbsp garlic,chopped
2 sprigs curry leaves
Salt to taste
3 tbsp red chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp asafoetida powder
1 tsp fenugreek powder
1 1/2 tsp garam masala

1 c gingelly oil ( I used canola oil)
Vinegar to taste

Wash,clean and drain the chicken .
Add salt and pepper powder and let it marinate for 1 hour.Deep fry till the pieces are crisp &brown in colour. If you fry it crisp, shelf life will increase. This will take about 20 minutes.Reserve the pieces.
In the same oil, pop the mustard seeds. Then add shallots,ginger, garlic & curry leaves one by one, giving a minute gap between each. Saute well.
Lower the flame and add the powders and mix well till the raw smell goes.
Add the deep fried chicken pieces to it and mix.Add vinegar to taste. Check for salt. Once it is cooled, transfer it to a clean bottle and use after one week.

* If at all you need more gravy, add some boiled and cooled water. 

Verdict: Absolutely delicious! Make a big batch because you are going to need it!

I am sending this to The Kerala Kitchen hosted by Magpie of Magpies Recipes. This time we are having a small challenge for those of you who are interested in Kerala make my 12- layered Chatti Pathiri. So if you are ready, write to us at magpiemails AT gmail DOT com.

Friday, March 11, 2011

LEMON SQUARES... so tangy that it will make you smile!

Having never tried a Lemon Bar before I greedily happily reached out for one when Becky offered. I love whatever she cooks/bakes. Mike and Becky (who is a ballerina and is busy writing her first book!) are our friends in Minneapolis, who are more like family to us. We are there for all American Holiday dinners and we are fed upto our nose ! Their whole family talks about food all the time...just like the way I like a conversation to be! :)
Lemon Squares

On the way to their house, Cory, their son mentioned to me that Becky had baked the most tangiest lemon bars ever and that it was really really good! I couldn't wait till I reached their house :-D My eyes lit up as soon as I took a bite as it was really tangy that I got some weird sensation crawling up my jawline...the exact same one when I suck on a piece of Tamarind.I went for another was really good. It has a lovely buttery shortbread base topped with a tangy lemon layer. It had a beautiful yellow colour too...very pretty!
Lemon Squares
Becky mentioned she got the recipe from 'Byrely's' book and she was so gracious to share it with me. They are such a fantastic bunch of people. Becky has been trying out some of my recipes, one being the popular Chatti Pathiri and the other one being the Apple Chips. She's tried a Pear version too, which is equally fab! You just wouldn't miss munching on Potato Chips when you have Apple Chips!
So without much talking (any further), let me share that delicious recipe with you. I couldn't stop licking the lemon layer which is sticky and it will stick to your fingers when you are cutting and transferring them to a plate.

Recipe source: Becky the Ballerina
Original recipe: Weekend Baking  by Sarah Randell

Shorbread crust:
3/4 c all purpose flour
1/4 c powdered sugar ,plus extra for dusting
5 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

Lemon layer:
3 large eggs
1 1/3 c sugar
Zest of one lemon
2/3 c lemon juice, freshly sqeezed
1/3 all purpose flour

Oil a 7 inch square tin. Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
Place 2 wide strips of baking parchment from one side of the pan to the other so that they form a cross (to aid in lifting out). Place a square of baking parchement on top of the strips as you would normally to line bottom of a pan.

Put flour, sugar and butter and mix together with fingertips to resemble breadcrumbs. Tip the mixture into the prepared pan and press down firmly with your fingers. Poke holes in it with the tines of a fork and bake for 12-15 mins or until golden brown.

Lemon Layer:
Beat the eggs, sugar and lemon peel together for a minute.Gradually pour in the lemon juice while the beaters are still on.Stir in the flour* and pour over the baked shortbread base.
Lower the oven temperature to 300F and bake for 45 mins. The lemon layer will be set with a crust on it.
Let it cool completely. Cut them into 16 squares and dust with powdered sugar.

*I think I stirred quite a lot after adding the flour which created some foam over the batter. I think that's the reason why my crust is so pronounced.So don't get very excited like me and stir like there's no tomorrow. Here, moderation is the key ;-)
Lemon squares

Verdict: We simply love them! That's it! :)

My heart goes out to all the Tsunami & Earthquake victims in Japan. I hope all of you who are living on the Pacific coast takes necessary precautions and stay safe!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

CINNAMON ROLLS...tops my current fave list!


I've always complained about American goodies having a lot of Cinnamon sprinkled on them. Whatever I pick to eat, it has cinnamon. Whatever I order to drink, they sprinkle cinnamon over it. I used to tell Jobin it was one of the most misused spice here and there was a phase that I just couldn't bear it anymore.I used to frown at anything with Cinnamon in it, except for when it is used in Indian cooking,which is subtle.

2 weeks ago, we had gone to a lovely cold place called Duluth and on the way we stopped by Tobies ,a restaurant cum bakery in Hinckley,MN. We were told by a person in church that they are the best place to stop for brekky and that they also sell Cinnamon Rolls and Caramel Rolls if we needed a quick grab. I frowned again. Too much Cinnamon, I say! Anyhow, we reached there and I was bowled over by their food! It was so old-fashioned.The waitresses were all 80+ and they were so kind and the entire restaurant was filled with the aroma of freshly baked breads, rolls, cookies, cakes and deep fried doughnuts! I was immediately transported to the Enid Blyton's Famous Five Era...all those homemade stuff she mentioned in her books had me drooling all these years, even today!
Sin-a-mon rolls
On the way back, we stopped at Tobies once again for a late lunch. I couldn't hold on to it anymore, I had to taste some of their baked stuff.When I went to the counter, I could see a long line of waiting customers who came to buy their Cinnamom Rolls and I thought,' Now what's with this Cinnamon Rolls everywhere?Maybe these people like the strong Cinnamon flavour because they must have grown with it!'.
Anyhow, the foodie in me persuaded me to go join that line to buy their famous Cinnamon Rolls. I was so hesitant to take a bite thinking I might end up having a headache...but boy! I was proved SO wrong! They were so so good that me and Jobin were literally fighting over that one roll. It got over even before we got onto the highway!
From that day on, it haunted me...Cinnamon was sprinkled over my dreams too! I had to make it somehow and the other day, I finally did.I'm so glad that  I have a recipe now to look upto when I crave for these yummy rolls.
Recipe source: All Recipes

1/2 c milk
1/2 c water
2 tbsp butter
3/4 tsp salt
3 c all purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1/4 c sugar
1 egg

3 tbsp butter, melted
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 c sugar 

  • For the frosting:
  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tbsp milk

In a saucepan , heat milk,water and butter till very warm.
Mix together the dry ingredients and break the egg into it. Pour the milk mixture and stir to form a sticky dough. You can just break up the egg while you mix everything together. Let it rest till the dough doubles in bulk (about an hour or so).
Punch down the dough and roll it out into a rectangle (keeping it parallel to the counter edge) on a floured surface. It will be a long rectangle and that's how we want.
Mix together the cinnamon and sugar.
Pour the melted butter over the rolled out dough and spread it out using your fingers. Slather it!
Sprinkle over the cinnamon sugar,evenly.
Roll the dough in a jelly/jam roll fashion from the longer side towards you.Pinch the ends together. Cut them into circles and lay them flat on an 8"square baking tray.Let it rise for 45 mins or almost doubled.
Pre-heat the oven to 375 F and bake the rolls until golden, 20-25 mins.
Meanwhile make the frosting by mixing all the ingredients together.
Once the rolls are baked and are out of the oven, let it cool for 10 mins. Pour the frosting over it.

Verdict: My fingers,toes and eyes were crossed when I was making it because I really wanted to replicate that same thing in my house.I didn't eat the first one, I made Jobin eat it and hear what he had to say. I was standing by his side and pestering him to tell me if it tastes like Tobies and he said ' Athinte ezhu aiylokkathu koodi poyitilla'! (it has not even gone anywhere close to it).
Then he smiled and said,'It's good!'. I was a happy girl! When I had mine, I wanted that fresh out of the oven feeling, so I microwaved it for 15 seconds and boy! It was really really good!!

Try it if you have tasted one before and liked it.Try it if you have never tasted one before but always wanted to.Just simply try it, you will like it for sure!

I must mention that your house will smell like a bakery when you bake these soft,delicious cinnamon rolls!
These rolls are Yeastspotted!
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