Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Refreshing Summer Salad


Watermelon, Feta and Black Olive Salad

This combination is so wonderful - both savoury and refreshing at the same time. Sure to become a regular feature of your summer dinning table.

Serves: 8

INGREDIENTS

1 small red onion
4 lemons
1½ kilograms watermelon, chilled
250 grams feta cheese
1 bunch fresh parsley, whole
1 bunch fresh mint, chopped
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
100 grams pitted black olives
Freshly ground black pepper

METHOD

  • Peel and halve the red onion and cut into very fine slices and put in a small bowl to steep with the lime juice, this will bring out the translucent colour of the onions.
  • Remove the rind and pips from the watermelon, and cut into approximately 1½ inch triangular chunks.
  • Cut the feta into similar sized pieces and put them both into a large, wide shallow bowl. 
  • Tear off sprigs of parsley so that it is used like a salad leaf, rather than a garnish, and add to the bowl along with the chopped mint.
  • Tip the onions, along with their pink juices over the salad in the bowl, add the oil and olives, then toss the salad very gently so that the feta and melon don't lose their shape. 
  • Add a good grinding of black pepper to top off. Serve chilled.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Perk up your Holi!

Thandai Ice Cream

Refreshing and so traditional for Holi, Thandai is a great base for many desserts. Here is a easy homemade recipe for ice cream that has no eggs nor does it need any fancy equipment. Enjoy this spring festival - and have a great time with friends and family.

Ingredients:

500 ml. Fresh Dairy Cream
1/2 tin Condensed Milk
1/2 cup Milk
2 tablespoons Thandai Masala (see recipe below or use store bought)
1/4 cup chopped Pistachios
1/2 teaspoon Saffron
1 tablespoon Dried, crushed Rose Petals (Optional)

Method:
  • In a pan, add half the cream, milk, saffron and thandai masala. Gently bring it to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. 
  • Once cool to touch, add remaining cream and condensed milk. 
  • Use a hand blender to whisk for 5 minutes till mixture is creamy. 
  • Fold in pistachios and rose petals if using. Pour the mixture into a freezer proof container or small earthen pots and freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight. 
  • Top with more pistachios before serving.

Thandai Masala


Ingredients:

1/2 cup Cashewnuts
1/4 cup Pistachio
1/4 cup Almonds
10 Whole Black Peppercorns
6 Small Green Cardamoms
2 tablespoons Melon Seeds 
2 tablespoons Fennel Seeds 
2 tablespoons Rose Petals
1 tablespoon Poppy Seeds 
15 strands Saffron

Method:

  • In a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle, grind together all the ingredients above into a smooth powder.





Monday, March 14, 2016

It's Quiz time!








Q.1 What does the term "blind baking" refer to?
    a) Baking without weighing any of the ingredients
    b) Baking a pie crust without its filling
    c)Baking cakes in an unusual French tin called a "blind"


Q.2 What is traditional ratio of sugar to butter and flour in shortbread?
    a) Two parts sugar, one part butter, two parts flour
    b) One part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour
    c)One part sugar, one part butter, one part flour

 Q.3 If you use eggs straight from the fridge when baking, what will often go wrong?
   a) The mixture will curdle
   b) The mixture will be lumpy
   c) The cake won't rise

 Q.4 What is a Bundt pan?
   a) A specialist kind of flan mould
   b) A German tin for making waffles
   c) A ring-shaped cake tin

 Q.5 Which one of these is not a traditional ingredient in a Yorkshire pudding cake?
    a) Orange zest
    b) Treacle
    c) Oats
    d) Ginger

 Q.6 What is royal icing?
   a) A rich icing made from chocolate and cream
   b) A soft icing made from sugar and butter
   C) A hard icing made from egg whites, icing sugar and sometimes lemon juice


Q.7 What kind of pastry are chocolate eclairs and profiteroles made from?
   a) Filo pastry
   b) Choux pastry
   c) Shortcrust pastry

Q.8 The outside of a loaf is called the crust. What is the inside called?
    a) The dough
    b) The bread
    c) The crumb


Q.9 What kind of flour will make your cake the crumbliest?
   a) all-purpose flour
   b) cake flour
   c) pastry flour
   d) cake flour

Q.10 Add baking powder to your cake and it rises. What is in baking powder that makes this happen?
    a) yeast
    b) baking soda plus cornstarch
    c) baking soda, an acid, and cornstarch

Q.11 About how much white flour can you swap out of the average recipe for the whole-wheat variety?
    a) one quarter of the white flour can be substituted for whole-wheat flour
    b) half of the white flour can be substituted for whole-wheat flour
    c) all of the white flour can be substituted for whole-wheat flour



ANSWERS
Q1- a
Q2- b
Q3- a
Q4- c
Q5- a
Q6- c
Q7- b
Q8- c
Q9- b
Q10-c
Q11-b

Friday, March 11, 2016

Refreshing Green Papaya Salad

To shred the green papaya, use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer skin, then cut the fruit in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds. Using the largest holes of a box grater, shred the flesh into thin shards.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 Thai red chili
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
Salt to taste
250 g green beans, trimmed
1 cup (180 g) cherry tomatoes, halved
1 green papaya, about 500 g, peeled and seeded
3 carrots, peeled

For the dressing:
3 garlic cloves
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt

Chopped green onions, cilantro leaves and roasted peanuts for garnish

Method:


  • Thinly slice the chili and place in a small bowl. Cover with the vinegar and set aside for at least 15 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
  • Fill a saucepan two-thirds full of water and bring to a boil over high heat. When the water is boiling, add 1 Tbsp. salt and the green beans. Blanch the green beans until bright green and crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the green beans, rinse under cold running water to cool and drain again. Thinly slice the green beans on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces and transfer to a large bowl. Add the tomatoes to the bowl with the green beans.
  • Shred the papaya and then shred the carrots. Add the papaya and carrots to the bowl with the green beans and tomatoes. Drain the chiles and add to the bowl with the vegetables; discard the vinegar.
  • To make the dressing, use a motar pestle/ food processor and combine the garlic, brown sugar, lime juice, soy sauce, vinegar and salt and process until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the dressing to the vegetables and toss to combine. Season with salt to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the green onions, cilantro leaves and roasted peanuts. 
  • Serve immediately, happy eating! 


Friday, January 15, 2016

Steamed Asparagus with Citrus Vinaigrette


Asparagus season is here! Fresh asparagus will be bright green with no signs of shriveling. The tender tips may have a purplish cast, but they should be firm and tight, never mushy. The cut end will be thick and fibrous—the plant’s reaction to the injury of cutting. This end is cut off before cooking (simply break the end at it's natural breaking point and you will get rid of the non edible part,) but if the shoots are fresh, you may lose only an inch.

Here's a simple way to put together this great seasonal produce without adding too much so that you are left to relish the natural taste of the vegetable.
 
Serves: Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1/2 kilo asparagus spears, trimmed
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste
Fresh pepper to taste


Method:

Steam the asparagus by placing them in the steamer basket or standing upright in a tall stockpot.

Steam for 3 to 4 minutes or until asparagus are tender.

Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Drizzle the vinaigrette over the asparagus and serve.



Sunday, September 13, 2015

Baking Quiz

With the cooking and baking season coming up, it's nice to know how to turn out homemade cakes, cookies, muffins and pies from scratch. Baking is part art, part chemistry. So the more you know, the better the end result.

Once you understand the basics, you can even stray a bit from your tried-and-true recipes without ruining them. So let's see what you know — you may be a better baker than you think!


1. What is the purpose of baking powder in a recipe?
A. Aids in browning
B. Helps the dough or batter to rise
C. Thickens sauces


2. What does cornflour do in a recipe?
A. Adds sweetness
B. Thickens sauces
C. Adds flavour


3. Why do recipes call for unsalted butter?
A. To control the amount of salt in the recipe
B. Unsalted butter is usually fresher
C. Unsalted butter has fewer calories
D. A and B


4. Define a "cobbler":
A. Fruit filling topped with a biscuit dough
B. A crunchy topping is crumbled over a fruit filling
C. A slice of cake covered with fruit


5. If the recipe calls for cake flour and you don't have it, what's a reasonable substitute?
A. For every cup of all-purpose flour, add 2 tablespoons of cake crumbs
B. For every cup of all-purpose flour, omit 2 tablespoons of flour, add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, and sift twice
C. For every cup of whole-wheat flour, add 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour


6. What if you don't have "self-rising" flour?
A. For each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix to combine
B. For each cup of all-purpose flour, add 2 teaspoons of yeast. Mix to combine.
C. There's no viable substitution


7. Besides adding sweetness, what else does granulated sugar do in baked goods?
A. It helps tenderize the dough or batter
B. When creamed with butter or shortening, it contributes to the volume of a cake
C. It aids in browning during baking
D. All of the above


8. What is cream of tartar?
A. Same as half-and-half cream
B. A Russian dessert using whipped cream and gelatin
C. An acid used as a leavening agent


9. If a cookie recipe calls for butter, and you decide to melt the butter first, what will happen to the cookies?
A. They will rise higher
B. They will take longer to bake
C. They will be flat, dark and greasy
D. A and B.


10. What can you do if you're making frosting and run out of powdered sugar?
A. Blend 1 cup regular sugar with 1 tablespoon cornstarch in the blender 2 to 3 minutes.
B. Borrow some from your most generous neighbor.
C. Serve it without frosting.
D. Make a glaze by adding about 2/3 cup of whipping cream to 1 pound of melted milk chocolate (or for a deeper flavor, bittersweet chocolate). Allow the mixture to cool and set up a little before using it on the cake.
E. All of the above.


11. True or False: You can safely store zucchini or banana-nut bread in wide-rimmed canning jar, just as you do canned fruit or jams. All you have to do is put on a lid as soon as it comes out of the oven.


12. The recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of vanilla. If you cut the recipe in half, how much vanilla should you put in?
A. 1 teaspoon
B. 1 1/2 tablespoons
C. 1 1/2 teaspoons


13. Which one of these desserts usually is better refrigerated several hours or overnight before serving?
A. Grand Marnier Souffle
B. Cheesecake
C. Crepes suzette


14. How can you tell if yeast is too old to leaven bread or rolls?
A. Toss it if it's one month within the expiration date
B. Mix the yeast with a little warm water and a pinch of sugar, and allow to sit for about 5 minutes to see if it starts foaming
C. Mix the dry yeast with a little flour. If it blends easily into the flour, it's still good to use.


15. If using a nationally published cookbook, what can you do to adjust the cake recipes to Ladak's altitude?
A. Add a little more "toughening" ingredients, such as egg or flour, to give the batter more structure
B. Reduce the amount of sugar slightly
C. Reduce the baking powder by 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon
D. Increase the baking temperature by 25 degrees to set the crust faster, so it doesn't rise too quickly and then fall
E. All of the above.


ANSWERS (Write out your answers and then compare them to these below)


1. B. Baking powder is a leavening agent that helps batters and doughs rise.
2. B. Cornstarch thickens sauces and dessert fillings.
3. D. If you use salted butter in a recipe that calls for unsalted butter and salt, decrease the amount of salt slightly.
4. A. A cobbler has a dough topping; a crisp has a crunchy topping crumbled over the top.
5. B. Cake flour has a softer, silkier texture than all-purpose flour, but this is a reasonable substitute in a pinch.
6. A. Self-rising flour has the leavening agent already added.
7. D. All of the above.
8. C. Cream of tartar is an acid powder that, when moisture is added, makes bubbles of carbon dioxide gas that causes the batter to rise. Besides its role in baking powders, a pinch of cream of tartar also stabilizes beaten egg whites and keeps homemade candy from going grainy.
9. C. Some margarine-type "spreads" will also play havoc with your baked goods because of the high water content. Choose CCDS Shortening if you want to substitute butter.
10. E. All of the above are viable options, depending on what ingredients are in your kitchen (and who your neighbors are). The "powdered" sugar made in your blender will be quite grainy but will work in a tight situation
11. False: You will have a vacuum seal. But this anaerobic (no oxygen) environment, with the food's low acidity and available moisture, is just right for growing C. Botulinum that can cause botulism poisoning, according to Dr. Charlotte Brennand, USU Extension food safety/preservation specialist. Don't home-can bread, and if someone gives you a home-canned quick bread product, don't eat it.
12. C. Three teaspoons equal a tablespoon.
13. B. Cheesecake improves with refrigeration. A souffle will fall flat if it sits very long, and crepes suzette are flamed, so both should be served immediately.
14. B. If the yeast starts foaming and bubbling by then, it's still "active" and can be used.
15. E. Most cookbooks are written for sea level. With the lower atmospheric pressure in high altitude areas, the carbon dioxide molecules expand and rise more, so the cake might flow out of the pan. If there's not enough structure in the batter to hold all these air bubbles, the volume collapses and the cake falls.


How did you do?                                                                                                                                


12 to 15 answers right: You're one smart cookie.                                                                                
8 to 11 answers right: You're a rookie cookie, with room for improvement.                                    
Below 7 answers right: That's how (and why) your cookie crumbles.                                                

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Monday, June 22, 2015

National Chocolate Eclair Day!

The weather is perfect to slave over these little darlings.


Ingredients


For filling (pastry cream):
3 egg yolks
4 tablespoons sugar (50g)
2 tablespoons flour (maida)
2 tablespoons corn flour
1 1/4 cups full fat milk (300ml)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract



For choux pastry:
¼ cup unsalted butter (57 g)
½ cup water (120 ml)
½ teaspoon salt (2.5 g)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon flour (75 g)
2 eggs



For egg wash for choux:
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water



For chocolate ganache:
55g Milk or Dark chocolate (Morde)
1/4 cup Amul cream (60ml)






Method


  1. In a heavy pan, add in unsalted butter, salt, and water. Over medium heat, melt the butter completely stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, sift flour and set aside. When the butter-water mixture starts to boil, remove the pan out of heat. Add flour all at once and with a wooden spoon, stir until mixed. When mixing, the flour starts to be cooked. Cook until it starts to form a ball. Let cool for about 5 minutes. 
  3. Put eggs into a bowl and whisk well. Add half of the egg mixture into the sauce pan and stir until combined. The dough and the pan should be sufficiently cooled because the egg should not be cooked in the pan. Then add in the remaining egg and stir until thick and shiny. When shaken the batter should drop off the spoon and the lining should be smooth. This is Pate a choux, choux pastry dough. 
  4. Take cooled pipe choux fingers in a pastry bag and using Wilton Tip#2A (http://ccdsshop.com/Cake-Decorating/Piping/Tips-tubes-nozzles/WILTON-TIP-2A) or cut a 0.5" cut on the bag; on parchment paper lined baking sheets. 
  5. Mix ingredients for the egg wash. Brush the choux with egg wash. This will make the top shiny and brown. Then on top of choux, score with a fork dipped in egg wash. 
  6. Bake at 200 C for 15 minutes. Then reduce to 180 C and bake for another 12-14 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. Melt the chocolate in a microwave, remove and add to it cream that has been scalded. Mix well.
  9. On the bottom of the ├ęclairs, make two holes with a tip of a small knife. With a Tip#5 or Bismark Tip (http://ccdsshop.com/Cake-Decorating/Piping/Tips-tubes-nozzles/TIP-230-BISMARK), pipe filling into one of the holes. Stop piping when pastry cream starts to come out of the other hole. You can make holes on top if you want. 
  10. Dip ├ęclairs into the ganache and remove excess chocolate. (Remember you can also use coloured white chocolate Ganache for a lovely colourful look.)