Friday 30 December 2011

2011 Wrap-Up

Another year comes to an end and it’s time to look back and see how the year was.... 2011 was a fantastic year for my little blog as It got its own domain, a year I blogged the maximum; 100 posts this year from me!, featured four times on the Foodbuzz Top9, a year many of you tried my recipes in your kitchen and send me feedback via comments, messages and e-mails about how you and your family enjoyed those dishes; I got maximum messages for my Kerala Christmas Fruit Cake and Wines...... I am thankful to all of you for trying these recipes and also to all who have suggested my recipes to your friends, readers and family members.... This year I tried out a lot of new recipes and techniques, and took a major step by joining Daring Bakers which opens a window to try out completely new and intricate recipes. I hope next year also I will continue this spirit of blogging...... I am thankful to all my readers, friends and family for having faith in me and encouraging me to come up with more recipes..... This year I thought as a wrap up I will post some of your favorites based on comments I received and some of my personal favorites......

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Sourdough, Letting Nature Do the Work ~ December 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge

Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create Sour Dough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with Sour Dough recipes from Bread Matters by Andrew Whitley as well as delicious recipes to use our Sour Dough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food!

I am pretty good at baking yeast bread at home, but never tried Sourdough bread. Sourdough is made without adding any yeast or leavening, so we’ll be fermenting our own sourdough ‘starters’. The natural yeasts in the flour do the work of making a lovely loaf of bread. It is a 4+day process and I tried French Country Bread. My starter smelled yeasty and bubbling on the 4th day.... I baked two loafs of French Country Bread and we had it with Shepherd’s Pie... Loved this month’s challenge as it was a completely new technique for me to make your own starter at home and then bake the bread.... I will try this recipe again as somehow I felt it didn’t come out perfect... Thank you Jessica for the challenge :)....

French Country Bread

(Servings: 1 large loaf plus extra wheat starter for further baking

Wheat Starter - Day 1:
4 1/2 tablespoons (70 ml) (40 gm/1 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour
3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
Total scant ½ cup (115 ml) (3 oz/85 gm)

1. In a Tupperware or plastic container, mix the flour and water into a paste.
2. Set the lid on top gently, cover with a plastic bag, to prevent messes in case it grows more than expected!
3. Set somewhere warm (around 86 F if possible). I sometimes put mine on a windowsill near a radiator, but even if it’s not that warm, you’ll still get a starter going – it might just take longer.

Wheat Starter - Day 2:
4 1/2 tablespoons (70 ml) (40 gm/1 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour
3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
scant 1/2 cup (115 ml) (3 oz/85 gm) starter from Day 1
Total scant cup (230 ml) (6 oz/170 gm)

1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 1, cover, and return to its warm place.

Wheat Starter - Day 3:
4 1/2 tablespoons (70 ml) (40 gm/1 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour
4 teaspoons (20 ml) water
scant 1 cup (230 ml) (6 oz/170 gm) starter from Day 2
Total 1⅓ cup (320 ml) (230 gm/8-1/10 oz)

1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 2, cover, and return to its warm place.

Wheat Starter - Day 4:
3/4 cup plus 1½ tablespoons (205 ml) (120 gm/4 ¼ oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup less 4 teaspoons (100 ml) water
1⅓ cup (320 ml) (230 gm/8 oz) starter from Day 3
Total scant 2⅔ cup (625 ml) (440 gm/15½ oz)

1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 3, cover, and return to its warm place. At this point it should be bubbling and smell yeasty. If not, repeat this process for a further day or so until it is!

French Country Bread
Stage 1: Refreshing the leaven
1 cup less 1 tablespoon (225 ml) (160 gm/5 ⅔ oz) wheat Leaven Starter
6 tablespoons less 1 teaspoon (85 ml) (50 gm/1¾ oz) stoneground bread making whole-wheat or graham flour
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons (250 ml) (150 gm/5 ⅓ oz) unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
Production Leaven Total 2¾ cups plus 4 teaspoons (680 ml) (480 gm /1 lb 1 oz)

1. Mix everything into a sloppy dough. It may be fairly stiff at this stage. Cover and set aside for 4 hours, until bubbling and expanded slightly.

French Country Bread
Stage 2: Making the final dough

3/4 cup less 1 teaspoon (175 ml) (100 gm/3 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour, plus more for dusting
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (510 ml) (300gm/10 ½ oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons (7½ ml) (7 gm/¼ oz) sea salt or ⅔ teaspoon (3⅓ ml) (3 gm/⅛ oz) table salt
1 ¼ cups (300 ml) water
1 ¾ cups (425 ml) (300 gm/10 ½ oz) production leaven – this should leave some (1 cup) for your next loaf.
Total 6 cups less 2 tablespoons 1415 ml (1007 gm/35 ½ oz/2 lb 3½ oz)

1. Mix the dough with all the ingredients except the production leaven. It will be a soft dough.

2. Knead on an UNFLOURED surface for about 8-10 minutes, getting the tips of your
fingers wet if you need to. You can use dough scrapers to stretch and fold the dough at this stage, or air knead if you prefer. Basically, you want to stretch the dough and fold it over itself repeatedly until you have a smoother, more elastic dough.
See demonstration here:

3. Smooth your dough into a circle, then scoop your production leaven into the centre. You want to fold the edges of the dough up to incorporate the leaven, but this might be a messy process. Knead for a couple minutes until the leaven is fully incorporated in the dough. See my demonstration here:

4. Spread some water on a clean bit of your work surface and lay the dough on top. Cover with an upturned bowl, lining the rim of the bowl with a bit of water. Leave for an hour, so that the gluten can develop and the yeasts can begin to aerate the dough.

5. Once your dough has rested, you can begin to stretch and fold it. Using wet hands and a dough scraper, stretch the dough away from you as far as you can without breaking it and fold it back in on itself. Repeat this in each direction, to the right, towards you, and to the left. This will help create a more ‘vertical’ dough, ready for proofing. See my demonstration here:

6. Heavily flour a banneton/proofing basket with whole wheat flour and rest your dough, seam side up, in the basket. Put the basket in a large plastic bag, inflate it, and seal it. Set aside somewhere warm for 3-5 hours, or until it has expanded a fair bit. It is ready to bake when the dough responds to a gently poke by slowly pressing back to shape.

7. Preheat the oven to hot 425°F/220°C/gas mark 7. Line a baking sheet with parchment, then carefully invert the dough onto the sheet. I like to put the baking sheet on top of the basket, then gently flip it over so as to disturb the dough as little as possible. Make 2-3 cuts on top of the loaf and bake for 40-50 minutes, reducing the temperature to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 after 10 minutes.

8. Cool on a cooling rack.

Sunday 25 December 2011

Fondant Icing Recipe (Eggless)

"May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,

The gladness of Christmas give you hope,

The warmth of Christmas grant you love."

Merry Christmas to all.....

As a tradition every year, I make Christmas Fruit Cake and decorate it with icing. Earlier I have posted another fondant icing recipe and in the last couple of years I was using the same icing for my Christmas cake. But a lot of my readers expressed concern about using raw egg white and so this year I thought of using another recipe I found in Vanitha magazine, which has no egg in it. It came out very well …. Also please note that I am not a trained cake decorator and have not taken any cake decorating courses ….. So my cake decorations are not perfect … :D

Fondant Icing Recipe (Eggless)

Gelatin-1 tsp
Water- 1 oz
Liquid Glucose- 1 tbsp
Glycerin- ¼ tsp
Icing sugar- 300-400 gms

  • In a saucepan mix liquid glucose and water. Add gelatin and keep the pan over a big pan of boiling water and melt this mixture.
  • Remove and add glycerin and icing sugar and make a smooth, soft and pliable dough.
  • Add desired colour according to the design you want to make.
  • Always keep the fondant dough in an airtight container.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Banoffee Slice Recipe

Recently on a visit to a book shop, I grabbed a copy of Australian Women’s Weekly… I am a huge fan of AWW and I couldn’t resist this "Little Squares and Slices" book which has a collection of heavenly indulgences, some are very rich and some are very healthy ....  All are completely irresistible recipes.... and as you know, naturally, I will go for the rich desserts first... So I made this Banoffee Slice, as I love Banoffee Pie which I have posted earlier.... both these two recipes are almost same, the only difference is in the method of making Dulce the Leche .... If you have not yet decided on what dessert to make on Christmas, this will be a perfect dessert to include in your menu .... after all it’s Christmas and you can overload yourself with this rich, luscious and decadent little slices without any guilt ;) ;).....

Sunday 18 December 2011

Diamond Cuts Vilayichathu / Diamond Cuts coated with Sugar Syrup

This is another snack Kerala Christians make during Christmas time. It is a diamond shaped deep fried snack coated with cardamom flavored sugar syrup. It was a regular snack at home when we were kids; and I always used to pick up and eat the ones that are fully drenched in the sugar syrup :)..... Even without coating in sugar syrup it is a great snack especially with drinks....

Friday 16 December 2011

Tips for making Homemade Kerala Wine

Homemade Kerala Wine

Since I get a lot of messages and e-mails expressing doubts and seeking clarifications on wine making, I thought of sharing these tips that should help while making wine at home. I am not a trained wine maker or chemist...... These are tips learned from books and several years of wine making......

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Homemade Nellikka Wine Recipe / Amla Wine / Indian Gooseberry Wine Recipe (with out yeast)

How are your Christmas preparations coming up? Have you made any wine or baked your Christmas cake yet? I plan to bake my fruitcake tomorrow... Today’s recipe Nellikka / Gooseberry wine is very familiar to most Keralites.... It is a very common wine like Grape wine back home.... Like my earlier Grape Wine, this is also a “No Yeast” wine.... so it is very mild.... if you desire you can add 1 teaspoon of yeast to make it strong..... However since gooseberry has a lot of medicinal value I prefer to avoid using yeast...  I made this just before Christmas last year.... so it’s got a really nice colour with age.... Do try it if you get hold of gooseberries.....

Sunday 11 December 2011

Erachi Unakkiyathu / Sundried Beef with spices & Unakka Erachi Chammanthi Podichathu (Thoran)/ Dry Beef Chutney Powder

Unakka Erachi or Sun dried beef is a specialty of Kerala cuisine especially among Kerala Christians but not as popular as unakka meen / sundried fish that is easily available in shops. My grandmother and aunt used to sun dry beef and we used to always get a share of it. With that mom used to make these awesome side dishes that goes very well with boiled rice and kanji (rice gruel) which is undoubtedly an ultimate comfort food. Also these Unakka Erachi side dishes are excellent as short eats with alcohol and Kallu (Toddy)..... I am sure if I have any male readers, they will totally agree with me on this :).....

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Bakery-Style Cinnamon Bursts Recipe

Whenever I ask my son what would he like to have when he gets back from school, I always get an answer like cinnamon rolls or doughnuts! He loves cinnamon flavored buns/ rolls..... So I am always on the look-out for similar recipes..... When I saw these cute Cinnamon Bursts at Betty Crocker’s site I knew he would love them.... it’s tastes very similar to the Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread I posted earlier..... Kids will love this cute flowery shaped buns..... Ideal for a kid’s birthday party..... If you plan on trying these for a birthday party I would suggest making them in 24 muffin cups instead of 12 in the original recipe.....
I was not able to participate in the Sweet Punch challenge for the last couple of months. This month’s Sweet Punch challenge was to bake your choice and I selected this Bakery-Style Cinnamon Bursts as my entry :).... 

Monday 5 December 2011

Mutton Biriyani Recipe / Atterachi Biryani Recipe


There are plenty of ways to make biriyani and every household has their own unique recipe for the same. This recipe was used by my mom and I have always followed it for mutton or beef biriyani. It’s easy, can be prepared ahead of time and baked just before serving. It’s a great dish especially when hosting a party or if you are cooking for the weekend ahead of time like me…

Friday 2 December 2011

Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Tomato Cream Sauce & Fresh Mozzarella

I first tried Gnocchi during our recent visit to Italy and fell in love with it … after coming back I searched for the recipe and tried a couple …. but nothing came close to the taste we enjoyed in Rome & Venice… finally I found this recipe in Lucy’s Hungry Carvings which tastes exactly like what we ate in Italy! In the last 4 months I have tried this recipe several times and every time I got soft pillow like gnocchi… Uncooked Potato Gnocchi’s can be make ahead of time and frozen…