Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Heavenly Puff Pastries

Mom used to make these pastries quite often while we were growing up, and they disappeared quite fast too once they were out of the oven. They were that fabulous and everyone who came in contact with them loved them dearly. The dough that made them irresistible was easily available in any supermarket back in Abu Dhabi (the place I grew up in), I haven't been able to find them here in the city. My brother bought these when he came home recently from the Gulf, and I had a great time making these beautiful heavenly pastries.
So this is the ready made dough, remove it from the freezer a few hours before you start with the process. Now move on to your filling, I used three types of filling here... a vegetable one, a minced beef filling and a cheesy mushroom filling.
Getting started on the beef filling, saute chopped onions and green chillies in a pan...
Till the onions have turned translucent with a slightly brownish tint.

Drop in your cooked mince and give it a good mix. (The mince has been cooked with a little salt, ginger & garlic paste, little pepper powder, wee bit of garam masala and turmeric powder previously). Mix everything up... add enough quantity of salt.

Finally drop in some chopped coriander leaves and mix it up. Your beef filling is ready.
For the vegetable filling I used only capsicums and potatoes. First you saute onions and green chillies till they turn translucent.

Then drop in some chopped capsicums... I used coloured ones here, they look nice don't they? All the bright vivid colours... saute them along with the onions for a few minutes.

Now add pieces of cooked potatoes, salt, pepper and mix everything up. There you go, your veg filling is ready.
For the mushroom filling just follow the same steps of sauteing the onions and green chillies till they turn translucent, then drop in the chopped mushrooms. Cook it for a few minutes, then add pepper and salt and mix the whole thing up. Now your mushroom filling is ready.

This is the fun part... rolling out the dough and stuffing it. Make sure your workplace is clean and then sprinkle some flour on the surface. Roll out your dough, keep sprinkling flour in between to avoid sticking. Roll the dough out into a huge sheet and then cut it into smaller rectangles as shown.
Add the filling to these smaller sheets and pinch the edges close with a little water. The edges will stick easily enough if you dab one side with a little water.
To make a braided pastry, use a larger piece of rectangle and cut 2 inch strips along its edges.
Add some filling to the centre and gradually fold back the strips alternately.

First fold one strip, then dab a little water to its end and then fold the opposite strip over it. Continue this process...

Till the whole thing is braided up... then stick it in the oven till it attains a golden brown colour.
This is the cheesy mushroom filling, first you add the mushroom filling to the centre and then scrape some cheddar cheese over it. Dab water to the edges and close it up.
You can shape them any way you want...
This is the braided vegetable pastry. Place the pastries in an oven and bake them till they turn a nice golden colour. Then turn them over and bake for a few more minutes, till they achieve an even light brown colour all over.

Oh Boy! Here they are, just out of the oven... and smelling great.
The different types of pastries... they were all lovely.
This is the cheesy mushroom one.

You can see the cheesy filling here, glistening and looking so irresistible.
Well, I hope you loved going through this as much as I loved baking them. This is great food, invokes a lot of memories and fun times. You'll find that it makes people very happy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Spicy Beef Masala...

Here's an easy beef masala recipe. Tonio likes beef, in fact he's crazy about any kind of meat, and this spicy flavourful beef was over in no time at all. So getting started, in a pan heat some coriander powder, chillie powder, a little turmeric, pepper powder and garam masala powders. (Vary the amount of spice powders depending on the amount of meat.)
Here are the roasted spice powders...
Now grind the spice powders with ginger and garlic paste.
Just saute the beef in a pressure cooker, till they lose their pink colour. Then drop in the masala paste, add salt and enough quantity of water.
Pressure cook the meat till it's tender, about 8 to 10 whistles.
In another pan, heat a little oil and saute two or four onions, sliced. (I used extra onions cause I'm not fond of beef and the onions coupled with the nice spicy masala would make a great meal with chapathi.) Slow fry the onions till they are slightly caramelized or till they get a brownish tint, then add the cooked beef to it and keep stirring everything around till it thickens. I know it doesn't look all that great here, but keep stirring the goey mess on high flame till you get a nice almost dry beef masala as seen below.

There you go, some tasty spicy beef masala. This masala is awesome, the caramelized onions with the beefy masala was pretty good. And like I said, the beef vanished quickly... Tonio just kept chewing them away. Well, if you love beef then you have to try this out.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Indulgences

I love going through home decor magazines and wasting time at home decor stores, I can never get bored there. Sometimes I think we should have been born with tags like engineer, mechanic, driver, celebrity etc. to really know what we were meant to do in life. Mine would have read interior designer... of course I realised that quite late, and became an engineer who now dabbles in English literature. Anyway, I think everything works out for the best, God knows what He's doing.
Coming back to my indulgences, I picked up these two candle holders recently...

I love this one, light it everyday when we say the rosary at home...
This one is pretty too, but not all that useful... keeping it in the showcase.
This quilt was love at first sight... bought it a year back, but didn't feel like using it cause it's so pretty and soft and wonderful. Well, that's all for now.

Friday, August 05, 2011

A guilt Free chocolate cake embedded with chocolate pieces

Back when I was in college, I used to bake a lot of cookies, cakes and brownies. Can't believe that was about ten years back... college was horrible, it wasn't fun enough. You know how it is when you have all these ideas of how college life is supposed to be, and then when you finally enter college you are rudely shaken out of your senses. Yeah, that's cause I studied in a rural college, wouldn't have made much difference if I studied in Madras though. The colleges here are worse than the ones back home. Here in Madras it's as though they are forcing the students to become gay & lesbians with their homo glorying rules like boys should not talk/look at/or breathe the same air girls breathe in the campus. How absurd is that, doesn't that go completely against science! It's only normal for boys and girls to be attracted to each other... and if an educational institute cannot understand that, how lame is the whole education system here.

Anyway, getting back to focus... over the past ten years, I gradually cut down on all the cakes and cookies, for one simple reason: I still wanted to fit into my jeans. Before I got married, I used to work in a special school with special children and that was a blissful period. At school, we (the staff) were always running around... there was always some commotion happening somewhere with some kid. And weekends were pretty hectic too with doctor's visiting to check these kids and awareness classes for college students, and preparing special evaluation reports. After work I would go walking in the colony everyday and the air was always so clean and the place so beautiful, you could walk forever. Point is, it was pretty easy to stay in shape there... didn't really have to work for it. Now that I'm in a city that is bursting at its seams with vehicles and people, there isn't any place to go walking... which led to me giving up on ice cream, chocolates and the cake/cookies/brownie baking. But a few days back I was craving something sweet, so I made this cake. It's called guilt free, cause I cut down on the sugar & butter and substituted milk instead, to the original recipe... I would have given a link to the original recipe, but it's a recipe I wrote down in my book, under the heading 'This is some deadly recipe, it can bring about world peace... it's that awesome!' Yeah, I crack myself up...

Anyway, getting started, you will need...
Maida : 1 1/2 cup
Baking powder : 2 teaspoons
Baking Soda : 1/2 teaspoon
Salt : a pinch
Eggs : 3
Sugar : 1 cup
Cocoa: 1 cup
Butter : 100 gms
Vanilla Essence : 3 teaspoons
Milk : 3/4th cup
Chocolate pieces (preferably the fruit and nut variety, if you happen to be like me)

First lets work on the dry ingredients, sieve together the maida, baking powder, baking soda and a pinch of salt. Set it aside.

In another vessel put in the butter and powdered sugar.
Drop three eggs into it, and beat it up.

You'll get a nice creamy batter, add the vanilla essence and give it a whirl.
Sieve cocoa onto the maida and mix all the dry ingredients together.
Add batches of maida to the creamy batter and blend it in.
You'll get something like this, its kinda thick... not the right consistency for cake.
So drop in some milk and keep mixing till you get the desired cake consistency.
I had some chocolate at home, I love this fruit and nut variety. Roughly chop up the chocolate pieces.
Drop them into the batter and fold it in.

Lightly grease and flour your baking pan.

Pour the batter into it and stick it in the oven for 20 minutes or so till a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Well, here it is.... just out of the oven.

Now, this is not a cake you bake for others... it's not sweet enough, and that's the first thing they will point out. But if you want to eat a nice cake without feeling guilt, this is it. I think the sugar was enough, and those chocolate pieces you bite into... lends that element of surprise, you never know when you're gonna get one and then when you do it's lovely. I loved this cake, it was a pleasure to eat it, knowing that you are not contributing to clogging up your arteries. So if you are like me, then this is the cake for you... and if you happen to be like Kareena Kapoor or Kate Middleton then please check out Nigella's recipes, they are sinfully good and with a size zero body you don't have to worry about gaining weight. But Kate Middleton really has to eat... she needs some flesh on her cheeks to give her a softer look, she's starting to look scary when she smiles.
I seem to have rambled a lot today...

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Pretty easy Chickpea curry...

This is one easy chickpea (channa) curry, you don't have to go through the hassle of chopping onions or scraping coconut here. The chickpeas themselves are used as a thickening agent, giving this curry a nice creamy texture. So getting started...
Soak a few handfuls of chickpeas overnight in water, or if you are thinking of making them for dinner, then you will have to soak them in the afternoon. After they have soaked for 6 hours or more, drain the water and pressure cook the chickpeas with clean water and a little salt. Here you see, they have been cooked in a pressure cooker.

Now roughly chop up a few tomatoes (5 to 6 medium sized ones) and grind them to a pulp without adding water as seen in the picture.
Heat a little oil in a pan, and throw in some cumin (jeera) seeds. Let them crackle and give out a nice jeera smell...
Pour in the tomato puree and cover the pan, let this tomato puree cook on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, take little chickpeas in the mixie, add their own water to it (the water leftover in the pressure cooker). Grind it to a paste...

Here is the creamy chickpea pulp...

Now check your tomato puree, it will look like this. Put in a little sugar (bout a teaspoon or two depending on your taste) and mix it up, this is to remove the acrid taste. Now add necessary amount of salt. Taste the sauce, it should have a mildly sweet flavour.

Dump in the chickpeas and sprinkle garam masala on top, cover and cook for a few minutes, till the garam masala is infused into the curry and the whole things starts giving off a great smell.

Drop in the chickpea pulp and slowly mix it into the curry to make it creamy... taste to adjust the salt.
That's it, this wonderfully easy and slightly sweet chickpea curry is perfect for poori's and chapathi's. Because of the sugar, this dish has a distinctive tikka masala taste... like those sweet and creamy north Indian dishes. Women and girls will love this, that's what I've noticed... men tend to over think and grumble, they can't conceive of a curry that does not have the usual onion/chillie & coriander powders/ginger&garlic spices that they are used to. But, I love this... I've made it quite often and it really makes a wonderfully happy breakfast with poori's. So give it a try and see for yourselves...