Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The 'We Knead to Bake' project 2013 : Baked Doughnuts



Doughnuts.. There are those who claim that America runs on these yeasted goodies from a certain international chain. And they may not be completely off the mark. Its hard for me to think of anyone who's been able to completely resist these deep fried rings of dough, especially if they carry the label 'Krispy Kreme' ( the lighted 'hot doughnuts'  sign on the storefronts has been known to elicit pavlovian responses in those that are fortunate to pass by it)

Thanks to my extended break from the kitchen, this post is technically a month late. It was originally supposed to be posted in June, (June 1st happens to be 'National Doughnut day'), but then, as with all good things, Its a classic case of better late than never!Aparna from 'My diverse kitchen' picked this recipe from Lara Ferroni's book  'Doughnuts' and the primary reason for choosing this particular recipe is that its a baked version, instead of a deep fried one. I opted to keep it simple this time and just dunked the finished doughnuts in cinnamon sugar and coated in chocolate sprinkles.



 Baked Doughnuts: 
(Recipe by Lara Ferroni, adapted from her book 'Doughnuts')

You need:


1/4 cup superfine sugar
1 cup warm milk (45C/115F)
3/4 tbsp instant yeast (or 1 tbsp active dry yeast)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour (or 1tbsp cornstarch + enough all-purpose flour to make up to 1 cup)
1.5 1/2 to 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
100gm cold butter, cut into 1 inch cubes

For the topping:

 melted butter for brushing
1 cup superfine sugar + 2 tbsp powdered cinnamon as per taste
Sugar glaze (combine 1 cup of icing sugar with 2 tablespoons of boiling water.)
Chocolate sprinkles 

Method:

Combine the sugar, milk, yeast salt and vanilla in the bowl of the food processor and pulse about 5 times to mix all the ingredients. Gradually add the cake flour and about 1 cup of the All purpose flour. Process the dough, gradually adding the flour until the dough thickens and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
At this point, add the pieces of butter one at a time. Process until there are no large chunks of butter left at the bottom of the bowl. Continue adding flour until the dough becomes soft and pliable, but not overly sticky.



 





Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently until the dough no longer sticks to your hands. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased large mixing bowl., turning it to coat well. 



Cover with a damp towel and let it rise till double in volume. This should take about an hour.





Punch down the dough and roll out to a thickness of 1/2" thickness. Cut out doughnuts using a doughnut cutter or whatever you have on hand to cut out 3” diameter with 1” diameter holes. Place the doughnuts and the holes on parchment lined or lightly greased baking sheets, leaving at least 1” space between them.






 

 Save the little balls cut out from the center of the doughnuts. They bake up into perfect little doughnut holes.





Re-roll the scraps and cut out more doughnuts. Allow the dough to rise for about 20 minutes or till almost double in size and then bake them at 200C (400F) for about 5 to 10 minutes till they’re done and golden brown. Do not over bake them.

Take them out of the oven and immediately brush them with the melted butter and then dip them into the cinnamon sugar mixture. To cover the doughnuts with chocolate sprinkles, allow them to cool completely, dip them in glaze and immediately dunk them into the chocolate sprinkles.






Bon appetit!




This recipe is being Yeastspotted.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Adapting from Classic Recipes: Israeli couscous & Beluga Lentil 'Khichdi'


 This has probably been the longest gap between posts for me. A Kitchen renovation project that stretched over 3 weeks and the consequent restocking which took longer than I had imagined. How I managed with ingredients stored in plastic bags & the packaging it came with, I have no idea. I had to make many multiple trips to pick out bottles, containers and little organizing shelves in order to accommodate all the ingredients that have become pantry staples. but in the end the effort was well worth it. The last count, I had about 60 different herbs, spices & blends, but that's for another blog post!



During the BlogHer Food 13 meet, I had the chance to meet professionals from a number of food companies, one of them being Adam Shapiro of the Peanut Butter & Co. During the course of discussing how Peanut butter figured in Indian cooking, he told me about this spicy variety that they were introducing and offered to send me a sample. When I received a jar of 'The heat is on' a couple of weeks later,  I was hooked onto the spicy taste. It was hard to wait till I had a working kitchen to start creating dishes with this absolutely delightful ingredient.

 

The fresh peanut flavor combined with the heat from Cayenne pepper & chili powder is rather addictive. Although the ingredients listed include vinegar, there was hardly any trace of it even to my vinegar averse sensitive palate, and I almost longed for a tangy complement to the flavor. When it came to looking for dishes to incorporate the peanut butter in , I realized that a number of recipes from the western Indian state of Maharashtra use roasted & crushed peanuts as a finishing ingredients. And thus came about my brunch earlier today, a twist on the classic Sabudana (Sago/tapioca pearl) Khichdi. The tapioca pearls have been substituted with Israeli Couscous (or Fregola).


 Israeli Couscous & Beluga Lentil 'Khichdi'

You need:

1 cup Israeli couscous
1/2 cup beluga Lentils (feel free to substitute  any regular whole lentils)
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 a jalapeno chili deseeded and diced
1/2 cup diced red onions or shallots
7-8 fingerling potatoes
salt to taste
2 heaped tablespoon PB & Co's spicy peanut butter OR
1 heaped tablespoon each of the crunchy peanut butter and the spicy variety.
Chopped cilantro for garnish.
Juice of 1 lime

Fill a saucepan with cold water and add the lentils along with the fingerling potato. Bring the water to a boil and cook the lentils for about 15 minutes until soft. (the fingerling potatoes should be done  in this time as well). Drain the water, peel the potatoes and cut into 2 pieces each. Set aside.

Refill the same pan with more water, add salt and bring the water to a boil. Add the Israeli couscous and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain the water and set aside.

In a  large skillet, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the mustard and cumin seeds. Once the mustard sputters and the cumin 'splits' add the deseeded jalapeno and the onion. Saute until the onion turns translucent.


 Add the lentils and the potatoes, lower heat and saute for about 5 minutes.


 once the potatoes begin to turn golden, lower the heat (you  want the peanut butter to stick to the lentils & potatoes, not to the bottom of the skillet!) and add the couscous along with the peanut butter (adding a mix of the spicy and the crunchy varieties ensures that the heat is balanced and there are bits of nuts to bite into for a texture variation). Stir to coat the lentils,couscous and the potatoes evenly. At this time taste and adjust the amount of salt according your personal preference. Cover with a lid, turn the heat to the lowest level and allow the flavors to combine.Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with chopped cilantro and finish by drizzling the lime juice as per your preference.



Bon appetit!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer Grilling - Grilled Halloumi with herb/avocado spread and pineapple


Depending upon cultures, its interesting to see how people react to the advent of summer. In India, It was to confine yourself indoors for the fear of getting a dark tan, stepping out with an umbrella to shield oneself from the intense sun and a host of 'cooling' foods such as Yogurt rice, and chilled fruits. The very idea of grilling anything out in the blazing sun would send a shudder down the spine. Grilling over coals was confined to cooler months and the rainy season when vendors would stroll the streets with carts full of corn to be roasted in a 'Sigri' (a Coal oven made of sheet metal).





In sharp contrast, With the advent of Memorial Day in the US of A, there's a scramble to get the grills and barbecues readied for cooking foods the way our   cave men ancestors used to. Meat, Meat & more Meat, with a tiny footnote for grilling veggie burgers and marinaded vegetables. 

Well, if you can't beat 'em, Join 'em!

While that rallying cry is theoretically motivating, the practical limitations of not having an open outdoor set up manifest themselves once the Cast iron grilling pan is set on the biggest burner of the stove. (well , my kitchen isn't exactly a designer one, more like the basic contractor set up), the hazy diffusion of smoke that filters out of the vent tends to make me reluctant to take to this method of cookin, but when I do grill, I tend to fully go all out. Lunch, a couple of weeks ago was a feast of grilled Quinoa & refried bean burgers redolent with a meaty aroma, with a creamy mint & roasted Jalapeno spread  made with avocadoes. For an added shot of flavor, I layered it with slices of grilled Halloumi cheese.




But it was the leftovers that completely bowled me. Sounds rather corny to scarf down on appetizers after a hearty dish of the burger washed down with a Ginger Pineapple Mojito, but that is exactly what I did, (nudged ever so gently by the fact that I froze the extra burgers for the family and had some extra grilled Halloumi that I didn't want to toss out.)

OXO had sent me a set of fruit tools to test and I'm having a blast using them. Along with the fabulous  ratchet pineapple slicer that effortlessly cores and slices the fruit without a single cut to the tough outer peel, was a pair of fruit scoops that are meant to scoop out flesh from large fruits such as melons & smaller ones like Kiwi. Even before the scoop came face to face with a kiwifruit, it was the perfect implement to effortlessly scoop out avocadoes for the piquant, almost mayonnaise like herb and avocado spread that is the recipe du jour.

Grilled Halloumi with herby avocado spread and pineapple:

You need: 
1 1/2 lb block of Halloumi cheese, sliced 
1/2 cup olive oil (ideally, mint infused) 
tiny diced pieces of pineapple and slivers of tomato.
Smoked Ancho chile powder for dusting

(for the spread)
1 ripe avocado
1 bunch Cilantro (Leaves and tender stems)
1 packed cup mint leaves
1 roasted jalapenos, deseeded)
1/2 cup sour cream or Labneh (kefir cheese)
juice of 1 lime
1.5 tablespoon honey
2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt to taste




Combine the Cilantro, garlic and mint in  food processor and pulse about 6-8 times, until the leaves are coarsely minced. Add the Jalapeno, avocado, lime juice, honey, sour cream (in a pinch, use some plain greek yogurt).



Blend together and combine into a smooth spread with the consistency of mayonnaise


Cut the  Halloumi cheese into 1/4 inch thick slices and drizzle liberally with the Olive oil. Heat a grill pan until smoking and gently place the cheese on the surface. Allow to grill until the char marks form (about 3 minutes) and then flip over carefully to grill the other side. Cut into small squares. Arrange on a platter, spoon a 1/4 teaspoon of the Avocado spread onto the cheese. Top off with a sliver of pineapple and tomato and a sprinkling of ancho chile powder.



Bon Appetit!

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