Friday, October 30, 2009

Pesto and Mushroom Calzone

For you can't have pizza for breakfast...

And because I had a pot of pesto lying in my fridge...

And some mushrooms too....

I made calzone instead. Now, that's not pizza, right? All it does is start with the basic pizza dough - 1/2 cup warm water, 1 tsp yeast, 1/2 tsp honey and 1/2 tsp olive oil mixed and kept aside for 10 minutes. Then kneaded with enough flour to make a soft dough (and a pinch of salt somewhere along the way).

Once it doubles, you punch it down, pull out a golf ball of dough and roll it. Here it is spread with pesto, sauteed mushrooms and grated cheddar.



Then folded over, and pressed down with a fork:



Left to rise again for 10-15 minutes. And finally, baked at 270C (or as high as your oven goes) until it browns.



Now that's what I call breakfast.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Feet


Macarons? That's something I had written off as "not in this lifetime" recipe after two failures in the past year. But then daring bakers came up with macarons as the October challenge. Partly because you can't miss two challenges in a row, and possibly because I just finished reading Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, I had visions of Lisa and Ivonne in full regalia pointing at me. "You there, you are banished from the daring bakers kingdom forever".

So I dutifully aged one egg white for two days, ground some almonds and sifted them with icing sugar. The next part is tough. You beat the egg white to stiff peaks and then fold in the almond/sugar combo. Practically every possibility - underfolding, overfolding, even breathing - can result in your macarons coming out flat and without the coveted "feet".

Macaron gods must be looking over me this morning for when I looked in 2 minutes before end of baking time, my plain vanilla macarons had developed at least some skirts around them if not real feet. They did stick to the parchment though. Here's where our macaron guru Helen comes to rescue. She always says to sprinkle a drop of water below the parchment and the macarons come out clean.

I sandwiched them with some ganache (equal quantities of cream and dark chocolate melted in the microwave) and now I'm off to heaven to celebrate. I think it must be the sugar rush.

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Chocolate Sandesh for the Hindi Bindi Club


I really hesitated before I bought my copy of the Hindi Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan. That was a year or so ago, and I thought the book looked and felt the same as the Joy Luck Club. Immigrant mothers and American daughters, so similar yet so distant - the basic theme of the two books is the same. But I loved the Hindi Bindi Club so much more. Because it was so familiar, and because I know and I can relate to the Marathi Meenal, Punjabi Saroj and Bengali Uma so much more. Also to their daughters who grew up in an alien culture and no longer know what's right versus wrong.

This second time, when "This Book Makes Me Cook" picked the book for October, I thought I'd just go back and pick a recipe (there's one at the end of each chapter). But I got drawn into the story and ended up reading it all over again. The Meenal-Kiran duo gets the most coverage in the book, but my favorite of the lot is Uma the rebel. Who understands her daughter Rani way better than the other two. Or maybe I just like her independent streak.

When it came to picking a recipe, I wanted to pick one from the Uma-Rani repertoire. Not to mention something that showcased their combined cultural influences. So I picked Rani's chocolate Sandesh truffles - the delicate, traditional sandesh presented as you would a truffle.

Rani's recipe uses homemade chhena and cocoa powder. I converted it to use store bought paneer and melted chocolate (never use cocoa when you can use chocolate!).

So first, take 100 grams paneer and knead it lightly will your palms until the grains disappear and it turns very smooth. In a microwave safe pan, melt 70 grams semi-sweet chocolate. Do it in 30 second bursts i.e. heat it for 30 seconds, whisk with a fork, back in the microwave for 30 seconds until melted and smooth. Add the kneaded paneer and mix well. Pop it back in the microwave and cook on high, again in 30 second bursts and stirring each time, until the mixture loses most of the moisture and thickens. It took 2 minutes in mine.

Let cool to a temperature where you can handle it but it's still warm. Shape into balls with a cookie scoop or between two spoons, then roll to smoothen out the truffles. Roll in coarsely ground almonds and let cool.

Looks like I am not the only Uma fan in our book club. Aparna made chocolate sandesh truffles too, complete with a chocolate drizzle.

Ann picks an Uma recipe too and makes Bengali Grilled Salmon. Also check out her review.

Aqua made Saroj's Punjabi samosas.

And finally, Jaya makes Meenal's kheer.

Next month, we are reading Bread Alone by Judith Ryan Hendricks. Leave a comment here if you want to join us and I will get back with more details.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Warm Potato and Bean Salad


I think the biggest reason I love taste & create is because it's almost like a treasure hunt. Every month, when Nicole pairs me with another partner website, I end up going places I would have never been to on my own. This month, my partner is hungrywoolf who in her own words is a British transplant living in Columbus Ohio.

Her blog's a roller coaster ride of the food events and restaurant visits in Columbus (don't miss her taco truck nights). Then there are her visits to farmer's markets that I loved reading about. All peppered with some great recipes. Hungrywoolf had plenty of fall options for me to pick from, but Bombay still feels like summer. Which is why it's a salad I picked from my partner blog.

Boiled baby potatoes and steamed beans tossed with basil, onions, capers and a tangy dressing that's got all my favorite elements (lemon juice, mustard, garlic), this salad made a great dinner last night.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Choko-La

Did I ever tell you about this little secret of mine? I travel often to a city that has a connecting flight through Delhi. But I rarely ever book the connections the airlines give me. What I always do instead is find a flight that leaves me with a couple of hours of roaming time in Delhi. All for this cafe-restaurant called Choko-La.

Set in the sprawling market next to Priya Theatre, Choko-La is a chocoholics heaven. Just like the Harrods Chocolate Bar in London, they sell single origin chocolates that you can drink hot or cold. I always order a hot chocolate that comes in a tall glass of not-too-sweet, milky goodness. While they are getting your chocolate ready, you can stroll over to their baked goodies counter and tell them to warm you a cinnamon roll. Light as air, it's the best cinnamon roll I've eaten anywhere, ever.

Or you can order potato wedges that come with a great aioli. Or a grilled vegetable sandwich.

But remember that these nibbles are just a side show. The star, the chocolate, is what draws me back every single time to my favorite table by the window.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Happy Diwali


Here's wishing you a festival full of lights, warmth and sweet goodies.

Bombay Foodie's festive sweetness comes from Alka's Nariyal Barfi. I loved it when she got some for us at the blogger's meet so I thought I'd make some for diwali. Just a little twist though; I added a bit of citrus flavoring when boiling the sugar syrup and topped the barfi with candied orange peel.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Like all good things...


My travels with the trio of bakers from A Year in Bread have come to an end. Back in February, and simply on an impulse, I decided to bake the breads Susan, Kevin and Beth baked in 2007. From March that year to February 2008, they picked ten themes and each of them baked a bread for each. I gave two of the themes a miss, but the other eight were a phenomenal success. I might not bake Susan's white sandwich bread that often and have found another recipe for pizza but some, like Beth's Wheatberry Bread and Susan's Carrot Rolls are now staples.

I think the experience made me a better baker. And I never thought I'd say this, but just like Beth, I no longer measure out ingredients when making a pizza. I've also found depths of flavors I never thought possible in a bread - like Beth's Pesto Rolls or this last one, Kevin's Gougeres.

The last theme was bite sized breads. Susan sat this one out; Beth made Onion Cheddar Breadsticks. And Kevin made something that's been on my mind a lot lately - the buttery, cheesy, gougeres. It's eclairs dough, which means you cook water, butter, flour then beat in the eggs, mix some gruyere cheese and let the steam puff it all up.

A fitting finale to a great year!

Gourgeres are my entry to High Tea Treats, this month's edition of Meeta's monthly mingle hosted by Aparna.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mom!


It's my mom's birthday today. And birthdays call for cake, even if the birthday girl is too far away to enjoy this one.

I've perfected my chocolate cake a long time ago, but plain vanilla cake has so far eluded me. Not any longer. I've heard and read about Dorie Greenspan's perfect party cake so many times. And perfect it is. I can't find Dorie's book in India, but the Tuesdays with Dorie gang made this cake a while back and I turned to one of them for inspiration.

Esi made two 4.5 inch layers with her recipe, so I knew this will be perfect for my 9X7 pan. I also knew that I am not going to frost the cake so ten minutes into the baking time, I brought the cake out and scattered dried cherries on the top.

Rich and moist with hints of vanilla and notes of lemon, this is cake that's hard to share. I only hope I manage to save some for my lunch party tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mushroom and Mint Risotto


I promise this is the last risotto you will hear about, for a while. But this was too good not to share. This was the first time I made a risotto with homemade mushroom stock rather than the cubes and let me tell you this, the difference is mindblowing.

I heated 1 1/3 cup of the mushroom stock I'd made the day before and left it at a low simmer. In a pan, I heated a tsp of olive oil and sauteed 8-10 mushrooms, chopped into thin slices for a couple of minutes. Added 1/3 cup of arborio rice and stirred for a bit to coat it with oil. Poured in a glug of white wine. When the wine dried off, I added 1/2 cup of stock. It simmered away at a medium heat and I continued to add more stock, 1/3 cup at a time until the rice was done. With the last addition, I also added salt.

Once the last instalment of stock had dried, I took the rice off the heat and poured it into a serving dish. Then topped it with parmesan, fresh ground pepper and mint leaves. Earthy, cheesy, minty - rice this flavorful is hard to find.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Not your standard mushroom stock


At first I was intimidated by the Alinea cookbook recipes. Then I thought it couldn't be true. After all, Ultra Tex 3 can only belong to food in science fiction. But the more I read the book, the more I realized there was no need to make these recipes as is. Most recipes in the Alinea cookbook come with sub recipes that hide gems like vanilla pudding and cheese sauce. Or in this case, mushroom stock.

The last time I made vegetable stock from a cookbook, it made me decide stock making wasn't worth the effort. This time, the Alinea recipe has sworn me off stock cubes forever. It's such a simple recipe. Chop half a pack of mushroom, a carrot and an onion coarsely, then pulse them in the food processor. Bring to a simmer with parsley, thyme, bay leaf and a litre of water. Simmer for 45 minutes, then strain and return to the saucepan. Simmer again until halved. Strain again. Cool.

I don't know how it tastes yet because I made the stock for something I am cooking tomorrow. But the whole house smells of mushrooms and herbs and something very, very nice this whole has become. I think I will make this again just for this smell.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Yet Another Stash


I thought you will be bored of seeing what I bring back from my shopping excursions. But so many of you asked to see my London shopping that I finally thought I will put this up.

At least the part that lets me talk about my favorite market. Set in the heart of Central London is Covent Garden Market. It's a mishmash of artists selling handicrafts, plenty of local food and some permanent yet extremely interesting shops. Think of things like candy stores selling almost extinct traditional English sweets. Or Whittard, where almost all these mugs come from. Whittard is a tea and coffee store, which means they sell several types of teas, numerous coffees and everything in the equipment/crockery department you need to enjoy these beverages. The first time I went there, I wanted to buy the entire store. As an added bonus, they had a 50% sale this time round so I got me that lovely harlequin hand painted kettle that rests on top of a matching cup. The cute little striped cups are hand painted too. And do you see that nursery rhyme cup - the hare rests with a cup of tea while the smart tortoise makes it to the finish line with a cupcake.

The one mug that doesn't come from Whittard comes from my other favorite place in London. My friend had seen these penguin mugs with names of books on them and wanted one, so I went to the best place for everything bookish - the Charing Cross Road.

What you don't see here is my big huge stash of groceries. I think I bought a year's supply of everything you can't find easily in India. So if you are in Mumbai and craving something you can't buy here, give me a shout.