Tuesday, April 28, 2015

VETTU CAKE / FRIED CAKE

Vettu Cake

T
his is a chayakada / tea shop special that I've eaten only in Kerala. I am sure it's available in other states but I have personally never seen it elsewhere. It's something that you can eat when it's raining outside. Anything deep fried counts as a rainy day food,right? Maybe not French fries as I've never eaten that as a snack for tea. Whenever we travel together as a family in Kerala, a stop at a chayakada in inevitable. A pit stop for tea will end up being a pit stop for a meal. We usually order one of every item displayed in those glass shelves so that we can taste everything. The last time I remember eating a Vettu cake was on our way to Kodaikanal,somewhere close to Munnar.I also asked the teashop owner to pack me some for the road.
Vettu Cake
We get some good rains here in Minneapolis and one such gloomy afternoon, I was craving for these fried goodies. I remembered Swapna chechy posting about it a while ago. So I pinged her on Facebook to check if it was the tender kinds,by which I mean not as hard as rock types. That's when she said that she's never had it in a tea shop. I trust her recipes so I thought of giving it a try . They turned out 100% the way I wanted it to be.
Vettu Cake

So I have some news for you. 2 bad news actually. The first one is that I didn't get through the scholarship contest and the second one is that I lost a dear Uncle a few days ago. The first news didn't bother me at all since it was just a competition but the latter did. Being so far away from my family doesn't help either.He was my Amma's second brother who lived in Pallikuttumma. Now, Pallikuttumma will not be the same anymore.

Let's move on to the recipe now.
VETTU CAKE
Vettu Cake
Ingredients:
500 grams all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
250 grams confectioners sugar
Approximately 1/2 cup water
Oil for frying

Method: In a bowl,whisk together flour,baking soda,salt and ground cardamom.
In another bowl, beat together eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the flour mix along with just enough water to form a tight / stiff dough. Cover the dough with a damp towel and set aside for 1 hour. Divide the dough into 4. Roll them out to form a cylinder. Flatten it out and cut out 1 inch squares or triangles. Slit the pieces as shown.
Vettu Cake
Heat oil to 350 F on medium heat and fry them till they are golden brown. Drain on paper towels, cool and store in an airtight container. It will stay fresh for 2-3 weeks!

These cakes are super addictive.You really cannot stop at one. Move aside potato chips!
When I was little, we would make doughnuts at home. It's not the same kind you get to buy outside. They were a little hard and dry. I am not sure how many of you can relate to me. It was something that my Grandaunt made for us.Mamma's sister-in-law Thankachi aunty. Then when we got the recipe, we would try it at home. Neethu, my cousin,made it once after she graduated from college and everyone made fun of her saying that she is trying to show off her 'Home Science' skills! I've heard that comment too since I took up Home Science in college. Trust me, we are not taught to become better home cooks instead a sensible cook who knows what goes into their meals. So there's a lot of science to it.

Anyway, these vettu cakes reminded me of those doughnuts I ate a long time ago. They are incredible. Do make it the next time it rains in your part of the world. You can thank me later!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

15 MINUTE HOMEMADE PUFF PASTRY

Before I begin with the post, I have some news for you. I am participating in a scholarship challenge held by the Institute of Culinary Education in New York for their Pastry & Baking Arts course. If you could take a moment to cast a vote for me,click here. It will help me a lot! You can vote everyday till March 28.If everything goes well as planned, I should join school this year.
15 Minute Puff Pastry
A few days ago I was searching the internet for a quick puff pastry recipe a.k.a rough puff pastry. I have made both of them previously and I never tire from making them. Who doesn't like Chicken Puffs & Egg Puffs? When I made them earlier, I reused my chicken curry to make the filling. This time I was aiming for an Egg Puff but I made some Palmiers with it. They are just like the Britannia Little Hearts. So addictive!The Rough Puff Pastry I made earlier was for the famous Bangalore snack called Dilkhush.
15 Minute Puff Pastry
Clotilde's recipe is so quick that you can make them in the last minute's notice.There is no chilling in between the rolling of the dough,which saves a lot of time. The end product was super flaky and buttery. Do not substitute butter for anything else as the flavour will alter if you do so. The bakery puffs we get back home is definately made with Dalda/Margarine. They taste greasy after a while. These,when made with pure sweet butter smells and tastes so good!
15 Minute Puff Pastry
I would suggest an egg wash to give them a golden colour but make sure you don't let the egg wash drip down the cut sides as it will prevent the pastry from rising to it's maximum. We do buy our puff pastry,occasionally. The convenience is great but the price isn't,especially when you have to entertain a crowd with it. Now that I have found the quickest and the best one, I don't think I would return to the frozen packaged ones for convenience sake. You can wrap it well and store in the freezer for upto a month. Thaw and use as needed.
15 MINUTE PUFF PASTRY
Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter,cubed
1/3 cup ice cold water

Method: In a medium sized bowl, add the flour and salt. Stir to mix.
Add the cubed butter to the flour and work it in using a pastry blender or knives till they are crumbly and when the butter is in uniform pieces all about the size of peas. Make a hole in the centre of the flour mix and pour in the water. Work it in using a fork to form a dough.
15 Minute Puff Pastry
Dump it onto a floured cutting board and pat to form a rough square. The dough might look crumbly,that's just the way it should be. Using a rolling pin,roll out the dough into a 10 inch long rectangle.Fold the bottom third of the dough over the middle of the dough. Fold the upper third of the dough over the middle of the dough.Rotate the dough one-quarter turn and repeat. Use additional flour to prevent sticking. Repeat the process atleast 6 or 7 times more. Wrap the dough well in plastic and chill for a minimum of 1 hour in the fridge. Use as needed.
This was well recieved by everyone who tried it. I made Ian some plain puffs and he loved it! You can use this for every recipe which calls for frozen puff pastry.

So, don't forget to vote for me! Here's the link!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

CHECKERBOARD MINI ROTI'S

Spinach Roti's
In our household,there's one person who needs to eat more greens.It's me.I have admitted to that fact that earlier in my life. It just doesn't go down well with me. I feel it tastes like Iron. Doesn't it? No? It could be just me then. Now that Ian is growing up to be a jolly good eater, I made sure that I should join the bandwagon,just to make sure his interest in food will stay intact. I started doing it by drinking green smoothies. They are insanely good just because it has a lot of fruits that I love! Pineapple,especially.
Spinach Roti's
Last year,when we went to Jobin's sister's house in Gwalior,her maid made us beautiful spinach roti's for dinner. I can eat roti's for 3 meals a day.And if there's a good non vegetarian curry,be it fish or meat, I can eat it 4 times a day! My love for kneading is also a reason why I like to make them. I love the entire procedure of making roti's. From mixing to kneading and to the final rolling. Some of my friend's say that they hate making them because it never turns out right. I personally feel that the dough should be soft and pliable. Add some more water and knead it well. I don't believe in kneading roti dough for like 10-15 minutes. I just knead it till all comes together. The consistency has to be right,that's the trick.
Spinach Roti's
Our weather has been so good for the last couple of day. It feels like Spring already! I was so excited about it that I wanted to try out something new for dinner. I am a bit weird,so many things have an effect on my cooking :-)
There was a packet of organic baby spinach lying in the fridge and it kept reminding me that I should eat more of it.That's when I thought about the spinach roti's we ate in Gwalior. So,I grabbed hold of the entire packet of spinach,pureeed it with just enough water and kneaded a soft dough for the spinach roti's. I also had some dough for the usual roti's,so Ian had checkerboard roti's for dinner.
CHECKERBOARD MINI ROTI'S

Spinach Roti's
Things you will need:
2 kind of roti dough
   a) Roti dough made with wholewheat flour and water
   b) Roti dough made with wholewheat flour and spinach puree (I just blended some spinach and enough water to make a paste)
Paring knife
Cookie cutter
Rolling pin
Extra  wholewheat flour

Method: Take 2 golf ball sized dough balls from the two different roti dough and roll them out using a rolling pin into a square/circle. Cut out thin strips using a paring knife.
On a lightly floured surface, weave the dough strips and then roll the rolling pin over it so that it flattens the dough and glues it in place. Cut them out into desired shapes, I used a round cookie cutter and cook them as you would with a roti dough.

Guess what? These don't taste like they have spinach in them! It's good news for me atleast. My mind is now working on other kind of dough's which can add more goodness to my diet. I felt so good eating it because I could feel that my meal was wholesome,especially when I pair it with a curry rich in protein.I felt like I was playing with play doh when I made the dough as it was bright green in colour. The colour will fade as it cooks to a dull green but the goodness remains intact!

Monday, March 2, 2015

PISTACHIO & ROSEWATER CAKE

Pistachio Rosewater Cake
Ilove the colour and flavour of pistachios.Growing up,Jogy Chachan and Mini Aunty,along with Appu,Tichu & Tia would come over to stay with us for every single holiday. When they came from Goa,tinned salted pistachios with shells on were one of the goodies they brought along with Bebinca,Bournvita Biscuits,Shrewbury Biscuits, Chocolates etc. I liked those Pista's mostly for it's salted shells. As a child, I would sneak into the dining room and drink salt water and add extra salt to my rice,for every meal. I just loved it. Everyone knew this habit of mine and they still talk about it. But, that habit of mine died over the last few years. I don't salt even my rice anymore!
Pistachio Rosewater Cake
Getting hold of unsalted,shelled Pistachio's in Kannur was impossible until a few years ago.It could be because they are always highly priced.When I wanted to make the Chocolate Pistachio Fudge (which I make every year as a part of our Christmas hamper)a few years ago, I bought some during a familt trip to Mysore. I still remember the happiness of holding that small packet of green nuts. Gone are those days of excitement because everything is in available in plenty in the US.
Pistachio Rosewater Cake
When I saw the recipe for a Pistachio & Rosewater Cake in NY Times, I immediately bookmarked it to try it for the coming weekend,as we had planned to celebrate a dear friend's birthday at home. We,as a family, believe in having quality friends over quantity.We make their special days a day of celebration for us! Our friend's birthday coincided with Amma's birthday,so it was extra special for me. Let me warn you, this cake is dense,like how it should be and it's an adult cake unless your kids are good eaters! It's chock full of nuts and other goodness and contains very little flour. It is flavoured with rose water and orange and iced with a simple glaze icing.
PISTACHIO ROSEWATER CAKE
Pistachio Rosewater Cake Makes one 8 inch cake

Ingredients:
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup finely ground unsalted pistachios
1 cup finely ground blanched almonds
Juice and finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon rosewater
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour

Glaze Icing:
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoon lime juice

Grated lime zest and chopped pistachios for decoration

Method: Preheat the oven to 350 F / 180 C and line the bottom of an 8 inch cake tin with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar till light and fluffy.Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the ground nuts and mix well. Add in the orange juice,zest and rose water and mix well. Fold in the flour,gently using a rubber spatula. Do not overmix.
Transfer the batter into a cake tin and bake until top is firm and golden brown,about 40 minutes. Cover the top loosely with a piece of foil and continue to bake till the cake is done,about 10 minutes.Allow the cake to cool in the tin for several minutes,then take it out and let it cool completely.

Icing: Mix together the ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the cooled cake. I garnished the top with grated lime zest and chopped pistachios. Let the icing set for a minimum of 1 hour ( which I didn't!) so that you can slice it beautifully.

*There are no leavening agents for this cake.

Like I said earlier, this is a very moist,fragrant,dense cake.You should really try it even if you like are into the fluffy cakes.Make sure you have the best quality ingredients. I source my rosewater and almonds from Kashmir, India. Jobin's sister sends it through his mom,when she visits us.A lot of rosewater lack flavour. Try to get the purest,if you can. It really make a big difference,just like a real vanilla extract.It adds character to your goodies.

These days, I am exploring new flavour combinations like this one and I must say, I am loving it! This cake was so good and our friends enjoyed it thoroughly. I had one too many glasses of wine that night,so cannot really remember if Ian took a bite of it! Our friend had brought in some Raspberry wine that his super talented friend makes,so you know,someone's got to taste it, right? ;-)

 

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.
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