Friday, February 27, 2015

PIDI ULARTHIYATHU

KOZHUKATTA ULARTHIYATHU
Watching a cookery show is one of my most favourite things to do,when I am doing something that does't require my full concentration.Maybe,I should rephrase it. Listening to cookery show is one of my most favourite thing to do, when I am cooking.It's usually for the background noise and at times, when my favourite show is on,I pay attention to see if it's a repeat show. If it is a repeat, then I just continue with my work . Otherwise, I stop everything that I've been doing and make sure that I soak up all the stuff they are demonstrating. Some of them stay on my mind,while most of it evaporate.

KOZHUKATTA ULARTHIYATHU
The other day, while I was browsing for some videos for Ian, I chanced upon a cookery show hosted by Mrs. Lakshmi Nair. She was one of the judges when I participated and reached the finals of Vanitha Pachakarani, back in September 2008,even before my food blog was born!I was just 22 then... very soon I'll be hitting a big number! Don't guess it, I'll tell you about it when the time comes ;-)That's when I made Mini Cheese Pasta Rolls,the only entry that I've shared on my blog.
KOZHUKATTA ULARTHIYATHU
Remember the Lamington Towers that I made for Jobin's birthday, long back? It was her recipe. It's one of the most popular recipes on my blog. It is one of my personal favourite too!

So, in that video she was showing a twist on our usual Pidi. She called it Kozhukkatta though. One thing that caught my attention was the ratio of rice flour to water that she used. She used 2:1 ratio for rice flour to water but I think it was a genuine mistake even though she mentioned it twice, because it would be mushy and almost soupy.

KOZHUKATTA ULARTHIYATHU
When I decided to give that recipe a try, I went ahead with the 1:1 ratio that we generally use for Kozhukkatta. Everything worked fine and the dish turned out very well. As such, I am a sucker for Mezhukkupuratti's,so this recipe is going to be one of my favourites! The aroma and flavour of this dish is,well,nothing short of amazing!Just like how she mentiones in her video, this would pair well with a Kattan Kaapi / Chaya on a rainy day.

PIDI ULARTHIYATHU
Serves 2-3

Ingredients:
1 cup fine rice flour / Idiappam - Pathiri podi
1 1/4 cup water
Salt to taste

4 -5 pearl onions /1 small red onion
3-4 cloves garlic
10-12 dried red chilies
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
1/4 cup coconut oil

Method: In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil along with salt. Add the rice flour and stir well it form into a dough. Turn off the heat and keep the saucepan aside. After 5 minutes or when it is touchable,knead the warm dough for 10-15 times or until it's smooth. Form them into 30 tiny dough balls and steam on medium high heat for 10 minutes.
In the meantime,crush together pearl onions,garlic and dried red chilies. In a saute pan,heat the oil and once hot, add the mustard seeds and let it pop. Add the curry leaves and let it sizzle for 10 seconds. Then,add the crushed paste and saute for a minute or two,till the raw smells goes off.Check for salt. Add the steamed Pidi's  to it and saute well, till the Pidi's are well coated with the crushed masala. Turn off the heat,cover it with a lid and let sit for a while for the Pidi's to absorb the flavours. Serve warm.
I served it for dinner last night and we enjoyed it. When I tasted them as soon as I turned the heat off, I felt there was something missing. No, it wasn't the salt.The Pidi's didn't absorb the flavour of the crushed masala. So I let it do it's own thing for a while. When I went back to it after half an hour,precisely after taking photographs for my blog, it tasted very different and so good!That's why I've mentioned in the recipe to let it sit for a while before eating it. Do give it a try when you are in a mood for a change. This is a classic dish with a twist!
  

Monday, February 23, 2015

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CAKE ... as we turn 5!

Chocolate Mousse Cake
It was our FIFTH wedding anniversary last Sunday! 5 years flew by so fast and I think the best thing to happen to us in the last five years is, Ian. For us, the second week in February is always special.Valentines day and our wedding anniversary falls back to back. So,as always the special meal for our anniversary is cooked on 14th evening and we go out for our anniversary celebrations on the actual day. This time, I made a delicious Beef Short Rib Ragu with Homemade Gnocchi & Baked Vanilla Bean Yogurt for dessert. It was insanely delicious!

Chocolate Mousse Cake
Aaaaannnnd for the cake.Let's talk about THE cake now. I made a Chocolate Mousse cake for us. It was a big cake and it was composed of some really good components. It took me a few days to bring it all together because I was working on a very slow motion mode that week. Even though it stole a few days from me, it was very rewarding! I think it ranks very high in the list of my- most- favourite- cakes that I've baked in my entire life! Decadent. Moist. Delicious. Not a crumb was spared.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

100% WHOLEWHEAT YOGURT BREAD (with no added gluten!)

100% Wholewheat Yogurt Bread
Ihad some free time yesterday and was wondering what to do with it.Ian was in his best mood and was busy with his train set. So I set out to trying something new. It was soup supper last night,so why not bake a new bread. We were out of bread anyway and I was planning on baking our staple white bread.So a new bread it was. A 100% wholewheat bread made with the addition of whole milk yogurt. There was no added gluten to the recipe which gave me the extra kick I needed to get started.
100% Wholewheat Yogurt Bread
The dough was made in a jiffy according to Dassana's recipe and was kept aside to prove. While the dough doubled in size, Ian took a nap. Then I took the dough out,punched it down, shaped it into a loaf and set it aside to double in size again. If you have never baked a bread before,be warned that it does involve a few steps and quite a bit of time for the dough to double up .It's mostly inactive time and you can utilize that time for something else,maybe crochet a scarf or read a book? I did nothing. I just sat on our blue armchair and checked Pinterest ;-)
100% Wholewheat Yogurt Bread
While the bread was baking, Ian woke up and started asking for food. I cannot blame him for that. The house was smelling really good because there was a huge pot of Cream of Asparagus soup simmering away and a bread baking in the oven. You cannot even imagine how good they can smell together! I had to pacify him with some cookies instead. Later in the evening,we all had a fat share of the freshly baked bread along with the creamy soup. We are a soup loving family so our last night's dinner was a total winner!

100% WHOLEWHEAT YOGURT BREAD
100% Wholewheat Yogurt Bread Makes one 9 X 5 inch loaf

Ingredients:
3 cups wholewheat flour / atta
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ghee/butter/oil
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
About 1 tablespoon heavycream for brushing on top

Method: In a small bowl, stir together warm water,yeast and sugar and set aside for 10 minutes till it turns frothy.
Meanwhile, mix together flour and salt.Once the yeast has been activated,add it to the flour along with ghee,yogurt and mix well to form a dough. Dump it onto your work surface and knead till it stretches without breaking apart,about 2-3 minutes. Dump the dough back into the bowl,brush some water over it,cover the bowl with a clean towel and let it rise in a warm spot until doubled,about 1.5 hours.
Once doubled,punch the dough down and form a log. Tuck the sides in and transfer it to an oiled loaf tin,cover with a clean towel and let it  rise for 45 minutes. Once risen,make a few slits over the top,brush with heavy cream and bake in a preheated oven at 220C / 425 F for 22-25 minutes or till the top is brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
Let it cool in the tin till warm to touch, then take it out of the tin and cool completely. Use as desired.
This is a very good wholewheat bread which you can make with the staples in your pantry. It does taste a bit of ghee and yogurt which gives it a very homemade taste. Usually wholewheat breads can be a bit dense,whereas this is a fluffy,soft bread. When I told Jobin that it was a 100% wholewheat bread, he really couldn't  believe it. Nobody will,unless you tell them.

The bread has a slight golden hue to it from the wheat flour. I used 'Golden Temple' brand of atta/flour for the bread. It has added bran in it so this one was a total winner! I am sure this is going to be a staple in our house from now on. Ian never really bothers if the bread is made with plain flour or wholewheat. So, I will be baking this again to satisfy my 'healthy' cravings :)
 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

CARDAMOM YOGURT CAKE

CARDAMOM CAKE
We are back in Minneapolis now,after an almost 3 month long vacation,second time in a year. It's very cold here. I really don't feel like stepping out of our house these days,except when we have to go buy our groceries.I just want to curl up on my favourite blue LazyBoy with our blue blanket and catch up on my favourite cookery shows on TV. Ian doesn't really seem to mind the cold,even though he returned from Kannur,where it was nice and warm,just the way I like it to be.
CARDAMOM CAKE
I had bookmarked this cardamom cake from Shyama's blog a few months ago. As much I love an iced cake, I love a plain cake too.Since there is no frosting,if the cake is not really good, it will show through. This cake was moist,buttery and delicious.When I read her post about this cake, it made me nostalgic.It could be one the reasons why I went back to it after all these months and baked one for us. It's a very basic cake batter with a touch of powdered cardamom,which gives a very,very mild Indian touch to it.
CARDAMOM CAKE
I've made a few modifications to the recipe. I've substituted yogurt for sour cream because that's what I had on hand and also,added some baking soda along with the dry ingredients. For me,whenever there is an acidic agent in the ingredient list,yogurt in this cake,the ingredient list should also have baking soda.The original recipe called for only baking powder,so please do as you please.
I was also not very sure about how I should present the cake here. Should I frost it? Should I dust confectioner's sugar over the top? Should I level the top off? I gave it some thought and then decided to present it the way it was. We are so used to seeing decorated cakes now. For a change lookwise and for a change calorie wise,I decided upon this look. Naked cakes are trendy now,right?
CARDAMOM YOGURT CAKE
Makes 2 X 6 inch cakes and 4 cupcakes OR 1 loaf cake

Ingredients:
200 grams all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
150 grams unsalted butter,softened
175 grams sugar
150 grams whole milk yogurt,room temperature
2 large eggs,3 if small
12 cardamom pods crushed and seeds powdered

Method:Preheat oven to 180C/350F and prepare your cake tins.
Sift together flour,baking powder,baking soda and salt.Keep aside.
In a medium bowl,beat together softened butter and sugar till pale and fluffy. Add the yogurt and beat till incorporated. Beat in the eggs one by one till they are well incorporated into the batter. If the batter looks curdled at this point,it is OK.
Fold the dry ingredients into the batter using a spatula.Finally,fold in the powdered cardamom seeds. Transfer the batter into a cake tin and bake till done.It will take about 55-60 minutes for the loaf cake.

Serve warm and enjoy it with a cup of tea!
Since most of my cooking and baking happens when Ian is sleeping,he had a little surprise when he woke up that evening. A little cupcake for him. It was still warm and I was not really sure how he would take to a cardamom flavoured cake. He just didn't seem to mind it and was happily munching on it saying 'Cupape! Cupape!'. We,the adults,enjoyed it equally.
 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A CHRISTMAS SPREAD - MEDIA MENTION

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It was just before I left for India this time that I saw an email in my inbox from Grihalakshmi, a fortnighty magazine from Kerala. They asked me if I was willing to do a Christmas menu spread for their magazine. Initially, I was not very sure if I would be able to do it because from the day I would land in India, a week long journey was planned already. Since the team was very flexible with their dates, I accepted the offer and the rest is history,as you see it. The shoot happened in our home, in Kannur and it was a fun filled, labour intensive one yet worth every drop of sweat shed!
This was published on 15 December 2014 but,since we were travelling I couldn't update you all earlier. It's better late than never, right?
Menu:
Rich Hot Chocolate
American Buttermilk Pancakes
Bell Pepper Tempura with Chili Garlic Sauce
Easy Quiche
Cheesy Cauliflower & Sweet Corn Mini Pie
Grilled Chicken & Pasta Salad
Mango Fizz
Mocha Truffles

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A CAKE FOR A BABY SHOWER - 4

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Honey is my soul sister. We were aware of each other's existence, thanks to our food blogs! We were friends on Facebook and that was pretty much what we knew about each other. On a rainy afternoon in June 2013,while Ian was fast asleep, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed,and a particular photograph caught my attention. It was a black and white photograph of rain and the building in the picture looked very familiar. That's when I read the caption which Honey wrote...rain watching in Minneapolis.

I  messaged her immediately,asking if she was free the next day, to meet up for coffee. Things took a turn and we met as a family for Brunch the next day, in one of my most favourite cafe's in Downtown Minneapolis,a few blocks away from our Condo.Ian was just 10 months old then and I must say, he really liked Honey.I am very glad that the feeling is mutual!
The rest is history and a very good one at that! We lived 4 blocks away from each other for a few months,till they moved to their own sweet home, 'Kilikoodu' which means Nest in Malayalam.
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When it was time for me to bake a cake for her Baby Shower, the only theme I could think about was a 'Kilikoodu'. It was a surprise shower and I was really hoping that they wouldn't bump into any of the other guests that we had invited. Luckily, everything went really smooth! It was a tall 6 inch Funfetti cake that I baked from scratch with a tinted Vanilla Buttercream. It was a good one, if I may say so myself.
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