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Aug 182014
 
Breksvice- Peach cookies

Breksvice- Peach cookies

 

If you live in a city that goes by the name Mile High city ( Denver for you English speaking people), you know that baking at high altitude comes with a lot of challenges. And for someone like me, who had not baked before I landed in the US, it just meant that for quite a while I did not even know what on earth was going wrong with my cookies. Like any enthusiastic novice baker, I would bake batches of cakes and cupcakes and muffins and brownies and cookies. While my cakes got better and better – so much so that one friend commissioned me to bake one for her wedding, my cookie baking skills were not improving. The fact that I baked them only once a year during Holidays might have a lot to contribute to it.

Breksvice

My friend Holly, who writes the beautiful blog, A Baker’s House is the inspiration behind me joining the cookie Exchange. It was because of her beautiful cookies that I decided to jump into the Creative Cookie Exchange. I may not make the best cookies yet, but I will be trying to make them every month. And If I fail, I will be amongst friends of the cookie exchange who will tell me a thing or two about cookies. It is a win win!

The theme this month is Creative Uses for the Summer Bounty! Why should cookies be left out from the summer harvest? They shouldn’t! If you are a blogger and want to join in the fun, contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links.

You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes–be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Since this month’s theme required that we make use of summer’s bounty, peaches instantly came to my mind. August is the perfect time to enjoy fresh and juicy Palisade peaches. And as soon as they start showing up here in Denver, I start with making a peach jam. Since my peach jam was ready, my first thought was to do thumbprint cookies  with peach jam.  But that would have meant that I took the road often traveled. So I decided to try out the  Breskvice – Jam Filled, Peach Shaped Cookies. Spiked with a little booze and home made peach jam, these were a lot of fun to make and a lot of fun to eat.

I sourced the recipe from Cafe Chocolada and made a few changes to make the recipe work for high altitude. If you don’t live at high altitude, do try the recipe from Cafe Chocolada.

 

Breskvice – Jam Filled, Peach Shaped Cookies

Breskvice – Jam Filled, Peach Shaped Cookies

Ingredients

    For the cookie dough
  • 400 grams of flour
  • 150 gms butter
  • 100 grams sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • For the filling
  • cookie crumbs from the carving
  • 1/3 cup peach jam
  • 1 tbs rum
  • 1 tsp coco powder
  • 2 tbs of chopped nuts ( optional - I did not use any)
  • For coloring
  • Two small bowls filled with 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp rum
  • Yellow and red food colors
  • Final process
  • fine grain sugar for rolling the cookies in - about 1/2 cup
  • Special Equipment
  • A food grade paint brush

Instructions

    Make the dough
  1. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add in the eggs, sift in the flour, salt and baking powder. Mix until combined. If the dough feels dry, add in a bit of water or milk.
  2. Cover and keep refrigerated for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375*F
  4. Make equal size round dough balls and line them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Try and get an even number because we will be joining pairs. I got about 40 singles and finally 20 cookies from my recipe.
  5. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes. The cookies won't brown at the top so check the bottom of the cookies for a light brown tinge.
  6. Allow them to cool slightly.
  7. Core out the center of the cookies from the bottom, Take care to not break them, I used an apple corer to core out the center from each cookie. Save the crumbs for filling.
  8. We will use the crumbs mixed in with the jam to fill the cookies.
  9. Make the filling
  10. Using a fork, crumble the cookie crumbs and mix it with all ingredients of the filling. This should be a little thick so the cookie halves can stick together.
  11. Assemble the cookies
  12. Fill in the cavities of the cookies and put two cookies together joining them into a sandwich.
  13. Color the cookies
  14. Mix a few drops red in one bowl and a few drops of yellow in the other.
  15. Divide the sugar, vanilla and rum and add them equally to both the bowls of colored water. Stir to mix well
  16. With a paint brush, first color the base of the cookies in yellow. This will be the bottom edge where they are joined.
  17. Then take the red paint mix and color all over.
  18. While the cookies are still moist, roll them in sugar.
  19. Allow the cookies to rest for a few hours at room temperature (covered) and then enjoy.
http://www.spiceroots.com/2014/08/breskvice-jam-filled-peach-shaped-cookies

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Mar 262014
 
Melonpan

melonpan

Just like there is no egg in eggplant, there is no melon in melonpan. Who would’ve thunk! As per the various blogs on the www, This much loved Japanese bread gets its name from the characteristic crosshatch shape the Japanese cut a melon in before serving. Here is a cute kiddie song that says there is anko (adzuki beans) in Anpan, Curry in Karepan but the melonpans don’t have any melons.

 

So what is a Melonpan? A type of Japanese sweet bread. The bread is a soft bun encased in a Pâte sablee . The delicate cookie-like crust, is moulded on top of the dough rolls. Since the Pate Sablee is fragile, the dough is simply pressed down into a circle and then wrapped on to the dough balls and the base of the dough left uncovered so that the dough can expand while baking. The top is then scored in a crosshatch pattern to represent the Japanese way of cutting and serving a melon. When the baking process completes, the top of the bread looks a bit crackly, just like a cantaloupe.

Melonpan

It is interesting to note that the name Melonpan is not of Japanese origin but rather a combination of the English word melon and the Portuguese word pan, meaning bread. The bread is popular throughout Japan.

The bread dough is typically made with flour, yeast, and sugar. These ingredients are mixed with butter, salt, and milk powder. The pastry layer includes butter, sugar, and eggs mixed with cake flour and baking powder.

Melonpan

Since my in laws are visiting and they are vegetarians, I could not use eggs to bake this bread which is part of the “We Knead to Bake” hosted by Aparna. I ended up changing the recipe a bit to make it eggless.

I made an egg replacer with flax seeds and put that into the bread and the pate sablee. The resulting bread tasted great, baked wonderfully and was moist with a good mouthfeel. I do feel that if I had used eggs, the resulting melonpans would have gotten a better oven spring. But nevertheless these were great!

Melonpan – Cookie Covered Bread Rolls

Melonpan – Cookie Covered Bread Rolls

Ingredients

    Bread Dough
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp milk powder
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup cold milk
  • 45 ml flax seed egg replacer
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 25gm butter, at room temperature
  • For cookie dough:
  • 1 1/3 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • A large pinch of salt
  • 60gm butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 45 ml flax seed egg replacer
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Sugar for dusting

Instructions

    Make the bread dough
  1. Whisk together the flour, powdered milk, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix the flax seed egg replacer and milk together until thoroughly blended. Add this liquid to the flour mixture in the bowl.
  2. Using the dough hook, mix at low speed until the dough comes together. Once the dough comes together, Increase the speed, and mix at medium speed for about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Slowly add the sugar.You will need to reduce the speed before adding this in. Mix until the sugar is fully incorporated. The dough will soften a little at this point. Increase the speed to medium, and knead the dough until it is glossy and supple.
  4. Now add the softened butter. Knead until mixed in, 2 or 3 minutes. Ensure the butter is fully incorporated into the dough.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly-oiled bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  6. Make the cookie dough
  7. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as necessary. Add the flax seed egg replacer and vanilla, and beat until combined.
  8. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture, mixing at low speed just until combined. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate while waiting for the dough to finish its rise.
  9. Lightly grease a large baking sheet, or line with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and gently deflate. Divide the dough evenly into 8 pieces. Round each piece into a ball, and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
  10. Cover the dough balls loosely with lightly-oiled plastic wrap, and let sit at room temperature while you get the cookie covers ready.
  11. Unwrap the cookie dough, and divide it into 8 even pieces. Roll each into a ball, keeping unused pieces covered. Press each ball into a flat circle about, about 3 1/2 inches in diameter.
  12. Drape each piece of cookie dough over the bread dough, being careful not to deflate the rising dough. The cookie dough should encase the top and sides, but not the bottom, of each roll. With a sharp paring knife, score each round with a crosshatch pattern.
  13. Preheat the oven to 350*F. Let the dough balls rise for about an hour and then bake for 25 minutes, or until barely golden brown on top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Eat the same day for the best taste and mouthfeel.
http://www.spiceroots.com/2014/03/melonpan-cookie-covered-bread-rolls

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Mar 172014
 
Amaranth greens Saute

Sauteed Amaranth Greens

 

Sautéed Amaranth greens with green garlic and peppers. What is so special about this streaky leaf that doesn’t seem to be able to make up its mind if it is green or purple or red? Well for one it is easy to cook. If that isn’t reason enough, it is really delicious. And if you are greedy for more reasons – it is a Nutritional powerhouse with calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, riboflavin, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, and C. And here is one more – it’s fresh and cheap. You will find these at any Asian grocery store.

Amaranth Leaves Sautee-2

It’s a beloved green leafy vegetable across India and most of the methods of cooking involve sautéing or simmering in some kind of soup or dal. It is considered a herb or a weed depending on who you are speaking with. But for many cultures it is a green leafy vegetable. It is common in Malaysia, India, Mexico, China and parts of Africa. It is usually paired with onions, garlic, peppers and very few spices. As is with so many fresh greens, amaranth greens need very little help in the form of spices and other ingredients. So how does it taste? It is almost similar in taste to spinach but renders a deep flavor and better texture after sautéing.

Amaranth Leaves Sautee

Eat it with some plain boiled long grain basmati rice. The red tinged amaranth leaves make a beautiful reddish hue around them when sauteed and it looks beautiful when paired with white rice. We also had a side of Gujarati dal to go along. Yes, I know. Many of you have been asking me for my family’s recipe of Gujarati dal and since the MIL is visiting, I have it ready for you in my next post.

Sauteed amaranth Greens

Till then Happy eating. Stay Healthy. Keep Smiling!

Stay Blessed!

Ansh

 

Sauteed Amaranth Greens

Sauteed Amaranth Greens

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups Washed and chopped Amaranth leaves ( Packed)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
  • 1/2 c chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbs green garlic chopped (or use 2 tsp regular garlic)
  • 2-3 Thai Green chillies, sliced length wise ( keep seeds in for more heat, else remove the seeds)
  • 2 Anaheim peppers cut into roundels
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes (optional)
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil, add in cumin and wait for it to crackle.
  2. Add in the onions and garlic and saute until translucent.
  3. Add in the tomatoes, peppers, green chillies, turmeric and sautee until slightly cooked.
  4. Now add in the amaranth leaves, salt and stir to combine and cook until completely wilted and the moisture dries up.
  5. Sprinkle the chili flakes if using, mix in and serve.

Notes

It is recommended to not heat the Amaranth leaves once cooked. So if you want to eat it hot cook it just before serving. they do taste great cold as well.

http://www.spiceroots.com/2014/03/sauteed-amaranth-greens

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 Posted by on March 17, 2014 at 4:16 PM
Mar 092014
 
Sweet Potato and Black Bean salad

Sweet Potato Salad

For those busy days when time seems to fly, I rely heavily on salads. Especially a salad like  sweet potato and black bean salad. Filling, nutritious salads that look lively and feel like a smile on a plate are the ones I feel pulled towards. I love eating root vegetables and while I do make simple, everyday Indian curries out of those, I also love to use the root veggies in Salads. They are quick to cook , can be cooked ahead of time and the salads can be made ahead of time.

In addition to the root vegetables being really flavorful they are chock full of nutrition. The sweet potato and black bean salad with avocado lemon cilantro dressing is a quick grab and go meal that is also nutrient dense.  I usually keep a few sweet potatoes baked or boiled in the fridge and put together a dish using them, especially on busy days.  For this salad I  add in some creamy deliciousness of an avocado and earthy beans, some smoky cumin and let them have some fun together. Then bring in some lime, cilantro, salt and chillies and you have a lip smacking dish that you would be proud to present to company. Only that you may not always want to share.

Sweet Potato Salad

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 C red onions diced
  • 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Thai green chilli
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 c cooked black beans
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Avocado diced
  • 1/2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp roasted ground cumin

Instructions

  1. 1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put sweet potatoes and onions on a large baking sheet, drizzle with 1/2 tsp coconut oil (warmed) , toss to coat and spread out in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Roast until potatoes begin to brown and are tender inside, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven; keep on pan until ready to mix with dressing.
  3. 2. Put the cilantro, chili and the olive oil in a blender add in lemon juice,some salt and pepper and the cumin. Process until blended.
  4. 3. Put warm vegetables in a large bowl with beans; toss in the dressing . Add in the avocado just before serving and toss once more.
http://www.spiceroots.com/2014/03/sweet-potato-black-bean-salad

 

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 Posted by on March 9, 2014 at 11:11 PM
Mar 062014
 
Apple Tart

Apple Tart

 

You don’t have to do everything from scratch. Nobody wants to make puff pastry! Ina Garten

As much as I love to make things from scratch, there are times when one must NOT make things from scratch. Like when you have a bunch of friends coming over for a light lunch and all you want to do is to have fun. For times like those, I love recipes like these. Recipes that can be modified to be semi home made and yet equally delicious. Like this delicious Apple Tart by Ina Garten.

You stay happy because you made a great dish or two without having to look like you just came out of a roller coaster and you actually get to enjoy the company of your friends because you are not oh so tired from all the work you have done. With   Julia Child recommending 73 layers for regular pâte feuilletée and 730 layers for pâte feuilletée fine (in Volume II of her Mastering the Art of French Cookingtextbook) , grab those car keys and buy some frozen sheets. Else it will be a long haul in the kitchen.

Apple Tart

The are a couple of attributions to who created the Puff Pastry. Also called the pâte feuilletée in French, Its invention is often credited to Claude Gelle, a 17th-century landscape painter and amateur cook. However, some say puff pastry was first created by Feuillet, the chief pastry chef of the Grand Condé, while the Italians claim Florence as its birthplace.

So what do you think about that? Who originally did invent the puff pastry? While you are mulling over that question, let’s take a look at what our Ina Friday friends have made for Desserts.

 

Apple Tart #Ina Fridays

Ingredients

  • 1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • 4 small (6 ounce) Granny Smith apples
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, small-diced
  • ¾ cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
  • 3 tablespoons rum

Instructions

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 400 F.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Roll the defrosted pastry sheet. I simply cut it out where it was folded and rolled it long
  4. Transfer to the baking sheet.
  5. Prick the crust every with a fork to prevent air pockets from forming while it bakes. I left the sides without pricking to give it the air pocket structure.
  6. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  7. Cut apples in half through the stem. Remove stems, core and slice the apples crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
  8. drizzle some lemon juice over apples to prevent oxidation.
  9. Place the slices of apples slightly overlapping each other.
  10. sprinkle the sugar over apples, the dices of butter.
  11. Bake for 40 minutes and allow the apples to brown a bit.
  12. Remove from the oven. Brush with the Jelly mixture.
  13. Make the jelly Mixture
  14. Warm up the apricot jelly and the rum until bubbly.
  15. Eat warm.
http://www.spiceroots.com/2014/03/apple-tart-ina-fridays



 

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 Posted by on March 6, 2014 at 11:59 PM
Mar 062014
 
Spicy Mint Lemonade

Pudina Paani - Minty Lemonade

 

The blazing, glaring sun appeared to have decided that that was the day it was going to burn everything down. The air was arid and the child, all of four years old, needed water. Having spilled the last remaining drops from the bottle, she was feeling the impact of the hot sun. The car was without an air conditioner. Most cars in those days in India were. At least the one I could afford then, definitely was. The highway driving and the scorching Hyderabadi sun was adding to the discomfort. It must have been a holiday of some kind as the very few shops we passed by were closed.

The little girl was doing everything in her power to not cry and beg for water. But I could see her in my rear view and I knew the look. She was really thirsty. And she was trying to be a good kid who doesn’t yell in the car while mommy is driving. But she was almost at the verge of being done with the good kid routine. My friend was trying to keep her interested in activities but I had to find water. And I had to find it fast.

Spicy Mint Lemonade

A few minutes later we passed by a small village and a road side cart. The vendors, a couple were standing under a blue plastic shade with rows of codd neck bottles filled with soda, rows of lemons and a big earthen pitcher. I hoped that the child would not see them But she did. She had been vigilant and she squealed – paaaaaniiii ( waterrrrrrrr .. yes exactly that way).

I worked my mind as fast as I could. What were the chances this vendor will have any water to drink. I knew she wouldn’t drink the soda, but I didn’t know if the guy had any packaged water for sale. By the time I arrived at a conclusion (I didn’t) the good kid had lost the patience and was now screaming. So I stopped the car, and told her that we will go ask the good people if they had water to sell. And if they didn’t we would move on. She agreed.

We turned back (it took a few moments to not arrive at a conclusion) and drove up to the cart. Before I could say anything, the kid spoke in her best voice, “Uncle, paani hai?” ( Do you have any water, uncle?) The vendor did have bottled water. What he also did have was the soda and the spiced mint and tamarind water. None of us had ever had that concoction. The couple told us that the spiced water helped with the heat and we must try it.  They were however a bit reluctant to have the kid have some.

So we gave the kid a small sip and she was over the moon. Oh Mirchi ( chilli) paani! Yummy! Four pairs of eyes were looking at the kid with wonder. It was spicy with heat from green chillies and she was drinking it with pleasure. When offered the bottle of water from their small cooler, the kid refused and insisted she wanted the Mirchi paani. The couple was so enthralled with her that they smiled big bright smiles and filled her bottle with some spiced mint water for free. The kid had a big bright smile on her face even when she dozed off a little later in the car on the way back home.

This was the beginning of a tradition for the kid and me. We had to stop at a similar vendor’s to drink ‘mirchi paani’ or eat some Paani puri every Sunday after swimming. Now that the vendors are in a land far far way, the little big girl asks for this every now and then. The bonus is she does all cleaning afterwards.

Though technically this is more salty and spicy than sweet, but since it has lemons and sugar it does sort of fall into a spicy mint lemonade category. The teen still calls it “Mirchi Paani”.

Try it at your own risk!

Spicy Mint Lemonade – A Hyderabadi Thirst Quencher

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon/lime
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind pulp
  • 1/2 c mint leaves
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 thai green chili
  • 1/2 tsp roasted ground cumin
  • 16 oz cool water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black salt.

Instructions

  1. Blend the tamarind, water, mint, sugar, cumin and green chilli.
  2. Divide up into two glasses. Add in juice of half a lemon in each. Add in salts. Stir and Sip.

Notes

This is an acquired taste. consider yourself warned.

http://www.spiceroots.com/2014/03/spicy-mint-lemonade-a-hyderabadi-thirst-quencher

 

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 Posted by on March 6, 2014 at 1:27 PM