Saturday, July 19, 2014

Rice crepes with a Plum & salted caramel filling - The Kitchchenaid India Plum challenge.


As a kid, one of my favorite treats was this lacy rice crepe that my mom would make occasionally, a thin batter of rice, ground smooth. It was  referred to as 'verrum arisi dosai ('just rice dosai', if you care for a literal translation), a rather temperamental dish, which is probably why it wasn't made that often. Or more likely, It disappeared faster than the time it took to make them. The dish was invariably served up with a spicy, tart smoked eggplant dip (gothsu) and my mom would say that it was served that way to make up for the bland mild flavor of the crepes. Although I never voiced it aloud, I always wondered why it was never served in a sweet version.
Fast forward *** number of years, and the crepes still remain a firm favorite that I gobble down alternately as a sweet and savory version with myriad varieties of fillings, Mushrooms, squash, pears, peaches..the list goes on!

So, when the organizers of the Indian Food Bloggers Meet, along with KitchenAid India  threw open this challenge for posting dishes with plums, you bet I went crazy. Not just the thrill of creating a new dish, I love Kitchenaid & tend to collect their gadgets, from my measuring spoons onwards!

I must admit, I've neither tried many recipes with plums, or ever even thought about pairing the crepes with them, but a sweet/salty appetizer sounded intriguing. The crepe's are barely sweet despite the presence of honey and the salted caramel aspect of the plum filling makes this dish worthy of a delicious appetizer as much as a dessert.

 

I decided to make a couple of dishes, simply because working on just one of the ideas that come to mind is seriously shortchanging myself. I wanted to post the dishes together as a hot & cold pair of appetizer & dessert, but changed my mind. I will post the other dish on my other blog 'A dish a day', but here's a sneak peek of the plum sorbet dessert.


 My local farm had just started selling these absolutely divine sugar plums and the grocery store was stocked up on the larger variety. Of course, I never need any excuse to go produce shopping, so picked up large and the sugar plums of both colors. And then during the process of sampling them, promptly proceeded to snack on most of it. I was looking for the red fleshed fruits, but it turns out that the black skinned fruits could be either yellow or red colored inside.While there is no difference in taste, I preferred the darker fleshed fruit for making the filling. The filling is flavored with a single spice note, viz cloves.


Rice Crepes with a Plum and Salted Caramel filling


You need (For the Plum filling):

5 ripe plums peeled and quartered
1/3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 teaspoons orange zest
5-6 cloves lightly crushed



Heat the sugar in a skillet until the crystals melt and turn a golden color, carefully drop the butter into the sugar and stir rapidly to create a caramel sauce. Add in the cloves, orange zest and the plums, stir to coat the fruit, lower the heat and simmer till the fruit softens. Set aside. The filling can be prepared in advance by about a day and chilled in the refrigerator until needed.




Rice Crepes:
You need:

1 cup Basmati rice, rinsed and soaked overnight
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon  salt
2 teaspoons honey

Plain Seltzer or club soda as needed
a stick of cold butter for greasing the pan
Icing sugar for dusting & mint leaf chiffonade for garnishing

Add the rice and one cup of water into the blender. Blend down into a thick paste (not completely smooth, but with a very  fine gritty texture). Transfer the batter into a container. Now, add the second cup of water, rinse out the blender jar and rinse out the container as thoroughly as possible. Pour out this starchy water into a saucepan and bring it to a gentle simmer. When the water appears 'syrupy' and thick, pour it out slowly into the rice batter mixing it simultaneously to ensure that there are no lumps floating around. Season with salt and the honey. When you're ready to make the crepes, pour out some of the batter into another container and dilute with an equal amount of club soda. You don't want to dilute all the batter at once and lose the fizz from the soda.

Heat a non stick skillet (Yep, this is one of those occasions that call for the good quality non sticks I've stashed away) and brush it with the cold butter. Once the butter begins to turn golden in color, pour out 2 ounces of the batter into the skillet and swirl the pan around to evenly coat the surface.


Cover the skillet allow the batter to firm up on a medium high heat until the edges begin turning brown and start leaving the sides of the pan. Gently, VERY gently, release the edge of the crepe (I find that a flexible silicone spatula works best) and transfer it to a serving plate. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Spoon out the chilled plum filling in the center of the crepe, fold over twice as in the photograph,  dust with the icing sugar and garnish with the mint leaves. Serve warm. (the crepes tend to dry out when they cool down)



Bon appetit!



Monday, July 14, 2014

Breaking Bread with Friends - The Indian Food Bloggers meet & a recipe for Pain d'Epi


AAAH.. Summer holidays, the kids are out of school and my home looks like it gets hit by a daily tornado, that somehow magically manifests itself 2 1/2 minutes after I clear up a spot. On the bright side, The farmstands are all open with a bounty of fresh 'just picked' sun kissed produce. And, as my 8 year old phrases it, 'Mommy's going cuckoo about vegetables'. I need to keep him in my good books, since he is grown to be a valuable culinary consultant, with a near perfect sense of taste and flavors combinations.

Food seems to have drummed into me an alternate deep meaning to the term 'Home Sweet Home'. My vegetable patch (over ridden with weeds and seeds of plants that survived the intense winter last year) is almost like a pet that I look forward to taking care of every day, and there is a real tangible reward, a handful of strawberries, a couple of cucumber for the day's salad.

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Emotional attachment to the vegetable path makes it all the more harder to go on a short vacation, because I just know that a part of me is going to be thinking constantly at the daily harvests I'll be missing out on. But the bonus here is that I will be meeting up with some wonderful, talented bloggers from the Indian subcontinent. Yes, I will be attending the very first Indian Food Blogger's Meet in Bangalore, India early next month, and I have my cards from Moo.com all ready!



This stellar effort is being coordinated by Aparna Balasubramanian (My Diverse Kitchen), Arundhati Rao (Culinary Escapades), Nandita Iyer of Saffron Trail and Revati Upadhya of Hungry & Excited.
There are plenty of informative sessions & workshops planned over the course of two days, and I'm excited enough to actually say that my little kitchen garden may be moved to the back of my brain for that period of time! Especially looking forward to meeting Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal, whose recipe for a Date loaf, I've been craving for way too long!

Well, in the spirit of meeting old friends & making new ones, today's recipe is for a a bread, a rustic Epi. The bread was cobbled from multiple recipes, a bit from here , a bit from there with some of my carefully jotted improvisations in between. My son wolfed his way through a whole loaf by the end of the day. After all, he did suggest the rosemary & flaked sea salt addition.

I used Biga (pre ferment) from a recipe for this months 'We knead to bake' project and combined it with another adjusted quantities from a recipe from Yum sugar. Since the Biga was already made using bread flour, I decided to continue with that instead of using All purpose flour. The result was a chewy satisfying bread which wasn't exactly a sourbread, but had some of the tang.

Pain d'Epi with Rosemary & flaked sea salt. (Makes 3 loaves)

You need:

For the Biga (Pre ferment)

3/4 cups Bread flour
1/4 - 1/3  cups milk
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

For the bread

3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 cup warm water (plus extra if you need)
Milk for brushing
Dried Rosemary
Maldon flaked sea salt (or any other similar salt of your choice)

Combine the flour, milk and the yest for the Biga in a bowl. mix well with a wooden spoon, cover with plastic wrap and let the mixture rest overnight at room temperature. If you don't plan to make the bread the next day, refrigerate. The Biga stays viable for about 2 days. Just make sure that you bring it to room temperature before using.

The next day, combine the bread flour, yeast, salt and water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Keep the machine running and add the biga in small bits, allowing each piece to incorporate with the flour before adding the next. Once the Biga has been mixed in gradually add the water. Keep the machine running on a medium low speed and allow the mixture to combine into a smooth ball of dough that does not stick to the bowl. If the dough appears 'feathered' (little bits fraying), add a bit of water to allow the dough to shape itself into a smooth ball. Transfer the dough into a bowl cover and allow to proof for about an hour. The dough would have doubled in size by this time.

Transfer the dough onto a working surface and divide into three equal parts and shape each one into a smooth ball.


 Using the palm of your hands roll one of the balls of dough into a cylindrical roll about a foot long.



Using a pair of sharp kitchen scissors make 2 deep cuts at a 45 degree angle snipping the dough to about 1/4 inch from the base. Gently turn the piece of dough to the left forming a 'leaf'. Continue making parallel cuts alternating the pieces of dough to opposite sides. The end result should look like an ear of wheat.



Place the shaped loaves on a baking tray lined with parchment. Brush with milk and sprinkle the rosemary and salt over the surface, gently patting it down to 'embed into the leaf.


 Cover with plastic wrap and allow the loaves to proof in a warm spot for about an hour.


Pre heat the oven to 350 F. Place the loaves in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, until the top surface turns a golden brown in color. Using a pair of tongs, transfer the loaves to a wire rack to cool. 



Serve warm with fresh butter, cheese or jam. (or just rip the leaves off and scarf them down straight up!)


My favorite way is to smear the rolls with Brie or Camembert cheese and Fig preserves.

Remember that these loaves have no oil or fat to retain their moisture. They will become stale pretty quickly  if left out in the open. Wrap them in plastic wrap and store in a freezer for long term storage, and thaw out when the craving strikes.

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Dishes from my Other Blog - Pan fried Fingerling potatoes with Garlic Scapes (Day 189)


Potatoes.. how can ANYONE not fall in love with them in Infancy? On second thoughts. if there is an answer to that, the subjective self centered part of me does not want to hear it!
  Raghavan Iyer, A culinary idol of mine, recently mentioned that he was going to work on a book with Potatoes as the main ingredient, and this definitely kicked me out of my inherent laziness with working with these marble sized spuds (i.e, Peeling them after boiling) that had spent more than 2 weeks in my kitchen's Lazy Susan.
Summer is here, and so are the garlic scapes. I found these curly, wispy yet wiry beauties at my local Hillsboro farm. Garlic bulbs can be put aside for the winter, this is the time to relish the crisp garlicky flavor of these beauties. Simply dice and saute them lightly to bring out their flavor.

You need:
2 lb fingerling potatoes (I used a medley of Reds, Goldens & purple Peruvians)  boiled and peeled
3 tablespoons olive or sesame oil
1 teaspoon cumin
3 tender garlic scape stems cut at an angle
1 Serrano chile, diced
1 tablespoon ginger root julienned
Salt to taste
Juice of 1/2 a lime

Heat the oil in a cast  iron skillet and add the cumin when the oil just barely begins to smoke, once the seeds 'split', toss in the scapes, chile and the ginger. Give it a light stir and allow the flavors to bloom. Add the potatoes, and fold to allow the oil and the other spices to coat the potatoes. sprinkle salt and allow the spuds to gently crisp up and turn a golden color (at least the light color ones, the purple ones don't really have that swoon worthy appearance about them). Transfer to a serving dish, drizzle with lime juice and serve warm with dal & rice.


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