Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Apricot Frangipane Tart

Partly baked sweet pie crust courtesy Dorie's Baking Bible

A layer of Dorie's almond cream

And a layer of poached apricots





















A gorgeous, sinful tart!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Living the French Life

Antonia, Jeremie and Pierre grew up eating crepes in France. Then they learnt to make crepes properly in Brittany. Luckily for Mumbai, their next step was to land up here and set up a downtown creperie called Suzette. Even more luckily for me, I was one of the first few to read the mail when Brown Paper Bag announced a crepe making class at Suzette. Looks like hundreds of people wrote in and I was one of the first 16 to sign up!

So 16 of us descended on Suzette this afternoon to be greeted by the three owners and the ever charming Mansi from BPB. Once we'd met the other "strangers" and had our first round of coffees, we were introduced to bilig - the cast iron griddle they use to make crepes. Antonia also showed up the wooden tool they use to spread the crepe batter. All of that requires tons of practice though so they had set up non-stick mini crepe making stations for us instead.

The class began with a lesson on making the crepe batter. They use the plain flour and egg batter for sweet crepes in Suzette and an eggless buckwheat flour batter for savory crepes. Since the flour batter is versatile and can be used for both sweet and savory versions, that's the one we set to make. A few minutes of frantic mixing and whipping later, three pristine bowls of batter were put aside to rest.

In the meantime, we made cream of tuna - one of the four crepe fillings we were to try. Then crepe making started in earnest. The crepe pan was wiped with a little bit of oil and the batter was poured in, spread out thin and cooked on both sides. My first crepe turned out to be a bit too thick, and others had too thin crepes but once we'd tried a few, most of us could proudly made perfect crepes.

And we did end up trying more than a few. First there was the one with cream of tuna. Then, another one with olive tapenade. The sweet versions came out next. The suggested combination was thinly sliced bananas with nutella and coconut. But I know I overdosed on nutella and forgot the rest of the plan. Then, because we were being so nice, Jeremie and Antonia brought us some dark chocolate ganache and a heavenly salted caramel sauce.

Finally, Antonia showed us her favorite. The simplest crepe, yet the best - sprinkled with caster sugar, topped with a squeeze of lime juice and left to caramelize on the griddle. All this while, the room was filled with chatter of people getting to know each other, but mainly getting to know each other's interest in food.

All in all, one of the most enjoyable afternoons I've had in a while.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Most Decadent Tart on Earth



Cookies have been used in tart bases for eons. There's the oreo crust and the graham cracker crust. I've used both to make pies. Then one day, I decided to use good day butter cookies to make crust. My! what decadence!

Good Day is a brand of rich butter cookies. I took 6 of those, put them in a plastic bag and beat them to crumbs with a rolling pin. Added 20 grams of melted butter and pressed the whole mixture onto the base and sides of a 3 inch tart pan. This I left to set in the fridge for an hour.

Once the base was set, I added a layer of caramel sauce. Chilled it for half an hour or so, then covered it with a layer of ganache. After some more chilling, I discovered the richest, most delicious tart I've tasted.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mulberry Nights



It's truly summer when frosty glasses full of ice cubes start showing up around the house. But this drink is super special.

Mulberries are such a rare commodity in Mumbai that I instantly gobble up any that I am able to get. Although they grow in nearby Mahabaleshwar, the fruit is so delicate that half of it gets overripe by the time it reaches the markets. Which is why I am always on the lookout for just-ripe mulberries. And which is why I ended up with a pack of underripe, tangy fruit instead.

So I made a mulberry syrup. Throughly washed a cup of mulberries, then put them in a pan with 3 tbsp caster sugar and 1/4 cup water. Cooked them until the mulberries got just a little mushy. Then, when they cooled down a little, I pureed them in the blender and passed them through a sieve.

To make the actual drink, I put a tbsp of this syrup in a champagne flute, sprinkled some rock salt, filled the glass with ice cubes and topped with plain soda (sparkling water). Now isn't that a gorgeous color to have around on a summer night.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tutti Frutti Buns



When I went home last time, papa bought a pack of sweet buns. Looks like he's been sneaking off one of those for a quick mid-morning snack, just like I would do when I was in school.

I told him I could bake him the buns that tasted just the same as the bakery version and that's what this is.

I started with 1/3 cup milk, a tsp of vegetable oil and a tbsp of sugar. Heated all of these in the microwave for 30 seconds until the sugar dissolved in the liquid. By then, the milk was quite hot so I let it sit for a while to cool back to lukewarm. Sprinkled half a tsp of instant yeast , waited a couple of minutes, then added enough plain flour to make a soft, sticky dough. I used a little more than half a cup of flour but it really depends on the type of flour, the weather and your stars!

Gather then dough into a ball and put in an oiled bowl to rise. Once it doubles, punch it down. Add about a tbsp of tutti frutti - not too much because in the bakery version, you literally have to hunt for the sweet red bits - and mix it well into the dough.

Split into 2-3 parts depending on how large you want to make these rolls, and shape into round buns. Let rise for an hour or so. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 220C. Bake the buns until they turn a golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

These buns would make papa happy as is. Read on for my decadent school day treats. Sit down first, specially if you are one of those diet conscious souls who are easily shocked.

Split the buns in half and toast them. Spread a generous layer of salted (Amul) butter and sprinkle caster sugar all over. Then, if you are eight years old, enjoy. If you are me, enjoy but start planning the fruit and salad diet you will start tomorrow!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A cheese called quark



Every month, the food blogging world gets abuzz with an event called Tried and Tasted. The host for the month picks their favorite blog and invites other bloggers to cook a dish they like from the chosen site. I've been an occasional participant in the event, but I just couldn't stay away this month when Jayasri picked Deeba, my favorite baker.

When you first visit Passionate About Baking, you can't help getting impressed with Deeba's sweet goodies. But the moment I saw the announcement, the only thing I thought of was quark.

Deeba got enamored with this curd cheese a couple of years back. I make Neufchatel frequently as a cream cheese substitute so I've often wondered how quark will stand up. This is finally my chance.

All this needs is milk and buttermilk. And a lot of patience; two whole days worth of it. The end result is a delicious product that's part sour cream, part cheese. At some point, I'd amble over to Deeba's blog again and pick a recipe to use the quark. In the meantime, I've been enjoying it with honey and granola.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Lure of Frozen Yogurt

After resisting the charms of frozen yogurt chains Cocoberry and Fro Yo, I've fallen prey to the newest kid on the block. Set among the plethora of cafes and eateries off Bandra's Carter Road, Yogurtbay is just a tiny nook. In fact, I doubt two customers could enter the place at once.

Thankfully, the place was empty of any customers when I walked by. Except for a punk rocker enjoying his yogurt who then turned out to be the guy running the place.

Yogurtbay has three soft serve machines churning out frozen yogurt and a few dozen toppings on the counter (fruits, nuts, chocolates, everything under the sun). I got confused by the options and asked the guy to suggest. Which was a good thing because his bestselling topping was hidden under the counter. So the little tub I got is called frozen blueberry cheesecake. First he put some cake crumbs in the tub. Then a rather large serving of blueberry frozen yogurt, a topping of canned blueberries and finally some more cake crumbs. Move over icecreams and gelatos, this is a truly delicious affair.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Paneer and Onion Rolls



It feels good to bake bread after a hiatus. In the past months, great bread started to sell at my neighborhood bakeries so I haven't had an incentive to bake. But the aroma circulating in the house reminds me why it's a bad idea to buy bread. No matter how good the product, it won't make your living room smell this nice.

And aren't I amazed at how brave I've become. When I started baking, I was scared of yeast. I'd take recipes with me to the kitchen, and stick to them faithfully, not changing even a gram of an ingredient. For this one, I merely took Pioneer Woman's cinnamon roll as a starting point and fearlessly converted it to a savory version.

To make the dough, put 1/2 cup milk and a tbsp of vegetable oil in a large microwave safe bowl. Heat until it's a little warmer than lukewarm. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp yeast. Wait 5 minutes, then add a cup of flour to the bowl. Stir together, then cover and let rise for an hour.

After an hour, add 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 tsp salt and half tsp of baking soda. Mix everything well, then pop the dough in the fridge for an hour.

In the meantime, make the filling. Crumble 100 grams of paneer. Add a small red onion, chopped finely, a handful of mint leaves, salt, pepper and 1/2 tsp ajwain.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour. Take your dough out of the fridge and stretch to form a rectangle. Then roll the dough as thin as you can, maintaining a rectangular shape. Spread the filling over the dough and roll it up into a log. Cut the log into one inch rolls - although you can see I made mine a bit larger. Brush the top with milk and scatter some mixed seeds.

Let the rolls sit for 20 to 30 minutes to rise, then bake at 220C until light golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes.