Saturday, December 31, 2011
Saturday, December 3, 2011
This is the third pumpkin pie featured on this blog – click here for coconut and cayenne variations. It is also the sixth cheesecake I’ve presented – check out these peach, blueberry, lemon, berry, and almond mascarpone versions.
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin filling
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
5. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until well mixed.
8. Spoon pumpkin batter into base. Dot with dollops of reserved plain batter.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Today I’m featuring my first dish from Brazil, in honor of that nation’s Independence Day. One hundred and eighty-nine years Pedro, the eldest son of then Portuguese King João VI, declared freedom from Portugal. This happened on September 7, 1822 after 322 years of Portuguese rule. Pedro went on to declare himself Emperor of Brazil and was later briefly King of Portugal before abdicating in favor of his seven year old daughter.
Interestingly, these chocolate truffles also have a link to politics. They are named after Eduardo Gomes, a brigadier in the Brazilian air force who twice ran unsuccessful for the presidency of Brazil. Despite his political failure, Gomes was popular enough that this truffle was named after him.
Brigadeiros are popular at children’s birthday parties and other celebratory events.
Makes 18 truffles
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons cocoa, sifted or powdered hot chocolate
finely shredded coconut, finely chopped slivered almonds, colored sanding sugar, sprinkles or other garnish (optional)
1. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the first three ingredients over medium heat. Using a heat proof spatula, stir the mixture continuously to prevent it from burning at the bottom of the pan. Some burning may still occur; if it does, do not scrape the burned layer into your mixture.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil and immediately reduce the heat to low. Add cocoa and continue mixing well. Sifted cocoa is more likely to blend in without creating lumps. If you’re feeling unmotivated to sift, un-sifted cocoa or powdered hot chocolate mixture may be used.
3. Stir the mixture for 8-10 minutes until it thickens and pulls away from pan. It should be a dense fudgy batter.
4. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Then place in the fridge for 4-12 hours.
5. Grease your hands with butter or cooking spray and roll the batter into truffles.
6. If the batter is soft, place these in the fridge to harden.
7. If desired, roll the truffles in a coating of your choice. This will help to keep softer pieces in better shape.
8. Depending on consistency, place in the fridge or freezer to harden before serving.
Monday, August 1, 2011
My friend Preeta was recently in town and, as we had done many times in many cities, we cooked a meal together. She rarely uses a recipe and all her food comes out tasting wonderful. This fish curry was no exception. I decided to attempt to re-create that delicious meal. Even though this version tasted different, it was flavorsome.
I’ve used the term ‘curry’ to describe several dishes on this site. The word is an Anglicization of the Tamil word kari which means ‘sauce’. In old Tamil, kari meant chewing, eating or biting. Some suggest that the modern spelling was influenced by the Middle English word cury which came from the French word cuire, which meant to cook. An early surviving document from this time is the 14th century cookbook titled Forme of Cury.
The term kari was meant to describe vegetables in a sauce served with rice, but was applied by Europeans to describe a large number of such dishes throughout Asia. Variations of this term (such as kori and kerrie) are now used in French, Swedish, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Finnish and German.
In Britain, curry is the generic term used to describe South Asian entrees which are widely consumed throughout the country. One of the earliest British curry recipes appeared in the Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy (1747). Curries became popular during British colonialism and the subsequent migration from South Asia to Britain. Today curry is widely considered an integral part of British cuisine and experimentations with curry have resulted in chicken tikka masala and Coronation chicken.
Serves 4 people
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 shallots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
3 tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 to 1 lb green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 to 1 tablespoon brown sugar
7 ounces coconut milk
1 1/2 lb mild white fish filets (such as tilapia)
1. In a saucepan, sauté shallots and ginger in olive oil for 4 minutes.
2. Add garlic, tomatoes and green beans. Continue sautéing for 3 minutes.
3. Add curry paste and continue sautéing for 3 minutes.
4. Add fish sauce, brown sugar and coconut milk. Stir well and immediately add fish.
5. Sauté fish for 5-7 minutes until cooked.
6. Serve with rice.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
The last time I was in England I had lunch at Pret a Manger and finished it with a ‘Choc Bar’, a British treat often referred to as fridge cake or chocolate concrete. Interestingly, this confection is also known as tiffin, a British Indian word used to describe a snack, light meal, or packed lunch.
Tiffin is usually a combination of dried fruit, cookie pieces, nuts, and chocolate. Although it is virtually unknown in North America, Cadbury’s makes a tiffin chocolate bar.
Tiffin is the perfect treat for summer since it requires no baking. It is also an excellent way to use neglected items in your pantry. This recipe helped me to reduce stores of dried fruit, agave syrup, and pecans that we had purchased in bulk quantities during a short-lived dalliance with Costco.
5 ounces graham crackers (9 double crackers) or digestive biscuits, broken into small pieces (not crumbs)
5 ounces whole dried peaches (approximately 5), chopped into small pieces
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup agave syrup (can substitute corn syrup, honey or golden syrup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cocoa (for dusting, optional)
1. Line a 8 x 8-inch baking pan with plastic wrap.
2. In a large bowl, mix graham crackers, peaches and pecans. Set aside.
3. In a large pot over low heat, melt butter, chocolate chips, agave syrup and vanilla extract.
4. Add dry ingredients to chocolate and mix well.
5. Transfer to a baking pan and pat down with the back of a spoon.
6. Cool in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.
7. To serve either unmold and dust with cocoa or cut into individual squares in the pan and serve each slice with a dusting of cocoa.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Black Forest Cake is the English name for Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (literally “Black Forest cherry torte”). The cake is named after a key ingredient – Kirschwasser (literally “cherry water”), a colorless fruit brandy which is double distilled from whole sour Morello cherries. The brandy is produced in the Black Forest region of southwestern Germany. The liqueur is a critical ingredient in this recipe; in Germany the cake cannot be marketed as Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte without containing Kirschwasser.
The origin of Black Forest Cake is the subject of much discussion. Some claim the confection was created in the 16th century. More recently, two men claimed it as their own. Pastry chef Josef Keller asserted that he invented the cake in 1915 at Café Agner in what is now a suburb of Bonn. A conflicting story is that it was created in 1930 by Erwin Hildenbrand at Café Walz in Tübingen. The cake is first mentioned in writing in 1934; at the time it was particularly associated with Berlin.
Since this cake is fairly elaborate and rich, I decorated it with simple whipped cream instead of making a rich buttercream frosting.
Apparently, National Black Forest Cake Day is March 28, but I decided to post this recipe now rather than depriving you of it for another nine months.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
2 cups white granulated sugar
5 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups white granulated sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup Kirsch
2 15-ounce cans pitted cherries in syrup
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup Kirsch
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
chocolate shavings, for garnish
fresh or Maraschino cherries, for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour two 9-inch baking pans.
2. In a large bowl mix flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. Melt baking chocolate and 1/2 stick of butter together and set aside. Add milk to buttermilk and set aside.
4. In a large bowl beat remaining stick of butter and sugar together until fluffy.
5. Reduce beater to low and mix in eggs and vanilla.
6. Continue to beat and alternate additions of flour mixture and milk mixture until batter is well mixed.
7. Divide batter between pans and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake.
8. Remove cakes and cool at room temperature. Place cakes in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, use a long serrated knife to gently cut each cake horizontally into two layers. Separate layers with wax paper and put back into the fridge.
9. To make the sugar syrup, in a small saucepan bring sugar and water to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Cook for a further 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in Kirsch and set aside.
10. To make filling, in another saucepan bring pitted cherries to a boil in their syrup. In a small bowl dissolve cornstarch in Kirsch and add to the warm cherries. Whisk mixture for 2 minutes or until it thickens. Remove from heat.
11. Remove cake layers from the fridge. Brush the freshly cut surface of each layer with 1/4 of the sugar syrup. Allow the liquid to soak in for 30-60 minutes.
12. To assemble, place a cake layer on the cake plate with the cut surface facing up. Cover with 1/3 of the filling (about 1 cup) and top with another cake layer with the cut surface facing up. Repeat with filling and third cake layer also cut surface facing up. Repeat with remaining filling and place fourth and final layer with the cut surface down (so that baked surface is facing up).
13. To make frosting, whip cream on high speed and spread evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Garnish with chocolate shavings, fresh cherries or anything else you fancy.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
We had friends over a couple of weeks ago to celebrate the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo which has become an increasingly popular occasion in the United States. As I’ve described previously on this blog, this is a holiday I regularly celebrate.
Hot chocolate originated over 2,000 years ago with the Mayan culture which made a cold chocolate drink from cocoa seed paste, water, cornmeal, chilli, and other ingredients. When the Aztecs gained control over Mesoamerica, they created a bitter and frothy version that also included water, vanilla, and achiote seeds. Xocolatl, the Aztec word for this drink, is the likely origin of our word ‘chocolate’. In Aztec culture, chocolate had medicinal properties, sacred uses, and divine associations.
During the Spanish colonization of Mexico in the 16th century, xocolatl became a favorite of the conquistadors. Later it was introduced into the court of Charles V and became a popular drink among Spanish nobility and the European elite. By this time it was sometimes served hot; the Europeans removed the chilli and added cane sugar, cinnamon, and other spices.
At this time, drinking chocolate was the only form in which chocolate was consumed. In the 19th century, the Dutch created a press to separate cocoa butter from cocoa seeds. This allowed for the creation of solid chocolate which led to the manufacture of bar chocolate. The world has never been the same since!
This hot chocolate recipe uses a variety of spices to provide a rich and complex palette of flavors. Cornstarch thickens the mixture and approximates the consistency of the hot chocolate served in Spain and Mexico with churros.
Serves 4 to 6
5 or 6 cups milk
2/3 cup brown sugar (packed)
6-8 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in a little water (optional)
3/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cloves
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed cayenne or other chilli powder
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cinnamon sticks (optional, for garnish)
1. In a large saucepan or pot, heat first eight ingredients over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Do not boil and be careful that milk does not burn on the bottom of the pot.
2. Once the sugar has melted, remove from heat and steep spices for 30 minutes.
3. Return mixture to heat and simmer. Add cocoa and vanilla and stir vigorously until cocoa has dissolved.
4. Decant into mugs. Garnish with cinnamon sticks.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Lapsi is a sweet North Indian pudding or porridge similar to the semolina pudding (siro or sooji halwa) I featured previously on this blog. It seems to be most common in Gujarat but is also made in nearby Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
Lapsi is often prepared for Divali and other auspicious events such as birthdays, anniversaries, when opening a new business, or moving into a new home. In Hinduism, it is also made as prasad (Sanskrit for gracious gift), a religious offering to a deity which is then distributed and consumed.
Broken wheat is not refined, and as such maintains the nutrients that are present in whole wheat. It is a complex carbohydrate so particularly suitable for those with diabetes.
There is also a savory lapsi made with spices, chillis, and vegetables which I have never tried.
10 ounces unsalted butter ( 2 1/2 sticks)
2lb cracked wheat (also known as dalia, crushed raw wholewheat berry, broken wheat, bulgar)
1 cup fine sweetened dessicated coconut (if you can only find shredded coconut, pulse in a food processor until fine)
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
4 tablespoons golden raisins
8-11 cups water
1/8 teaspoon orange color powder
3 pinches saffron
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
slivered almonds and/or chopped pistachios, for garnish
1. In a large pot, melt butter. Saute cracked wheat and coconut over medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until fragrant. Do not increase heat as wheat may burn and become bitter.
2. Add fennel seeds and raisins and saute for a further two minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and add 8 cups of water. Be careful as the hot cracked wheat might splatter.
4. Add orange color and saffron and mix well. Cover pot and return to medium-low heat for 20 minutes.
5. Taste the lapsi to see if it has cooked. It should be neither chewy or mushy. If uncooked, add 1 or 2 cups of water and cover. Cook for 10 more minutes.
6. Again taste the lapsi. If it has not cooked, add 1/2 to 1 cup water and cover. Lower the heat if necessary. Cook for 5 minutes. Repeat until the lapsi is cooked.
7. Add sugar, cardamom and nutmeg. Note that lapsi will not cook further once sugar is added.
8. Garnish with almonds and pistachios and serve warm.
9. Lapsi can be stored in the refrigerator for one week or in the freezer for three months. To defrost leave in the fridge overnight. To reheat, add a little water and microwave in a covered dish or heat on the stovetop.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
I had planned on making sugar cookies for Valentine’s Day. However, the thought of dirtying my countertops, rolling out dough, baking multiple batches, and decorating the cookies with icing, tipped me towards a simpler solution. I just wanted heart-shaped cookies without the fuss, so I adapted a Martha Stewart shortbread recipe I had encountered several years ago.
I've loved shortbread for as long as I can remember. As a child, I coveted Walkers shortbread fingers in the red tartan box. Later, I baked shortbread in the form of petticoat tails and rounds. I also loved my mother’s nankhatai, a ‘Gujarati shortbread’ that contains cardamom and semolina. Here is a pistachio version and a chocolate swirl version. And here is a favorite shortbread recipe I made for Hanukkah.
Shortbread is a Scottish treat traditionally made with one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour. The modifier ‘short’ is an archaic synonym for crumbly; which is due to the high butter content. This is also the origin of the word shortening. Shortbread is baked at a low temperature to avoid browning.
The use of powdered sugar instead of granulated white sugar contributes to the incredibly delicate, melt-in-your-mouth quality of these cookies. This recipe makes just enough hearts for one or two people to indulge and it requires very little cleanup.
Makes 14 cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 drops red food coloring (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dried sour cherries or other dried fruit, finely chopped
1. Preheat oven to 325F.
2. In a large bowl, mix butter and powdered sugar with a wooden spoon. Add vanilla and food coloring and mix well.
3. Add salt and flour and mix until combined. Fold in cherries and mix well.
4. Transfer dough into a 9-inch square, ungreased baking pan. Pat dough with fingers until it is evenly distributed in the pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until shortbread turns brown at the edges.
5. Allow to cool for 20 minutes. Then cut out cookies using a 2-inch heart cookie cutter. The shortbread is very delicate. Use a sharp knife to gently trim stray cherries from cookie. Use a smaller cookie cutter for trimmings.
6. Store cookies and trimmings in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Noodle kugel is an Ashkenazi Jewish casserole usually served as a side dish or a dessert. It is often prepared for the Sabbath and holidays.
Kugels were originally savory cakes made with flour. Eight hundred years ago, the flour was replaced with noodles or farfel; dairy products were added to create a custard-like consistency. More recent versions may contain raisins and cinnamon.
Kugel comes from the German word ball, since the dish was originally baked in a round pan. Contemporary kugels are most commonly baked in square or rectangular dishes.
12 ounces egg noodles
16 ounces small curd cottage cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces sour cream
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 or 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)
1 cup corn flake crumbs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Cook noodles according to instructions on packet. Drain and rinse with cold water.
2. In a large bowl beat eggs and add cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, 1/2 cup butter, granulated sugar and vanilla. Beat well.
3. Gently fold in noodles, apples and raisins.
4. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 Pyrex dish.
5. In a small bowl mix corn flake crumbs, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add 1/4 cup melted butter and mix well. Sprinkle mixture on top of kugel.
6. Bake at 350F in a preheated oven for 75-90 minutes or until the topping is a rich golden brown.
7. Cool at room temp for 15 minutes. Serve warm.