When I started this blog my focus was an attempt to collect, put together and share the recipes from our traditional Palakkad Iyer cuisine. All the recipes on this blog have been tried out in my kitchen and largely reflect our preferences.
It is Bread Baking Babes bread of the month time again and this month I picked the bread we all baked. Easter is celebrated this weekend so it seemed fitting to choose an Easter bread. I picked Ciambella Mandorlata, an Italian Easter bread. Ciambella Mandorlata originated in Bologna in the Emilia Romagna region. It is typically baked in the shape of a twisted ring. The ring shape of the bread is supposed to represent the unity of the family.
The name is self explanatory if one knows Italian. Ciambella describes any ring shaped cake and Mandorla is the word for almonds. So this ring shaped bread has a soft brioche-like texture and is decorated with a crunchy sweet cinnamon spiced almond topping. Though baked for Easter, it is generally eaten throughout the year, and mostly at breakfast.
This recipe for Ciambella Mandorlata is adapted from my copy of Ultimate Bread by Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno. It is an enriched yeast dough and really quite easy to make. Traditionally, the dough is shaped into two long ropes and twisted together. The ends are pinched together to fashion a ring shaped bread. I did see a couple of Ciambella that were braided into a ring as well.
This bread can also be baked as a loaf. According to Guiliano Hazan, his grandmother always baked her Ciambella as a loaf. Apparently there’s a saying in Italian and quoting Hazan, for when things don’t always work out, “non tutte le ciambelle riescono col buco, meaning “not all ciambelle come out with a hole.” He also says that Ciambella keeps well for as long as a week.
This recipe makes a largish ring or loaf of Ciambella, ot two smaller rings. The full recipe is a bit too much for the two of us but luckily, I have family living very close by. They’re always happy to share my bakes. A half recipe would make a ring that would see us through two days.
Beth Hensperger suggests having this bread with jam and Italian Roast coffee. We topped our slices with strawberry jam and had it with a cup of Indian filter coffee and it was pretty good. My husband was asking me the next morning if there were any leftovers that he could have with his evening coffee!
The recipe below is the adapted version of the original. I used a little less butter (100gm instead of 9 tbsp) and reduced the eggs from 3to 2. I used all-purpose flour instead of bread flour. The book suggested blanching and toasting the almonds which I didn’t bother with. It seemed too much work especially since the almonds were getting baked anyways.
I added 1/2 tsp each almond extract and lemon extract to the dough for a deeper flavour. Instead of using an egg wash which I don’t like, I used a mixture of cornstarch and water. Then I sprinkled the cinnamon sugar and chopped almonds over this. Lightly pressing in the almonds made sure they stuck to the dough.
Let me also add a few words about proofing times. The recipe says the first rise will take 4 hours. Summer is here and my days (and nights) are quite hot. My dough had doubled in 2 hours. So you might want to make adjustments depending on the ambient temperature where you live. Finally, there is the possibility of the bread browning very quickly while baking. If this happens, tent the bread with aluminum foil to prevent the top from burning.
The Bread Baking Babes (BBB) is a closed group, but you’re most welcome to bake with us as a Bread Baking Buddy. Bake this month’s bread using the above recipe. Post it on your blog before the 28th of this month. Mention the Bread Baking Babes and link to her BBB post in your own post. Then e-mail Tanna with your name and the link to the post, or leave a comment on her blog post with this information.
A ring shaped festive brioche like Easter bread from Italy topped with a crunchy mixture of cinnamon, sugar and chopped almonds.
You can knead the dough by hand or in a machine. As always, I use my food processor on low speed and finish off the kneading by hand.
Mix the yeast and the milk in a small bowl. Let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes till frothy. Mix the flour, salt, sugar, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the butter, eggs, extracts and dissolved yeast.
Mix in the flour from the sides of the well. Add the water, a little at a time, till a soft, sticky dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead until the dough is smooth, springy, and elastic.
Shape into a round, and place in an oiled bowl, turning it to coat well. Cover loosely and let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 4 hours (See my note above, about rising times). Deflate the dough gently, cover and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each piece into a 16-inch-long rope. Twist the two dough ropes together.
Place the dough rope on a parchment lined baking sheet. Shape it into a ring by bringing the two ends of the rope together. Pinch them well to seal and cover loosely. Let the dough rise again until doubled in size, about 11 ⁄2 hours (once again, a reminder about my note on proofing times).
For the Topping:
Mix the cinnamon, sugar, almonds, and egg yolk in a bowl. Use a rubber spatula or brush to spread the mixture evenly over the top of the ring. If you don’t like using egg on top of your breads like me, leave out the egg yolk. Instead brush the cornstarch mixture on top of the ring. Then evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar nut mixture over this. Gently press in the nuts using the tip of your fingers. Be careful not to deflate the dough.
Bake at 200C (400F) in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, until it is golden and hollow sounding when tapped underneath. Check after 15 minutes. If the bread is browning too quickly, tent it with aluminum foil.
Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Serve with jam and coffee.
Easter is here and I’m once again tempted to make decorated cookies. I’ve said this many times before, that I don’t particularly like cookies. I do however, enjoy making decorated cookies and there are plenty of examples on this blog. Check these out. This year I’m adding these Whole Wheat and Oat Cutout Easter Cookies to my collection here.
This time though, I’m more excited about the actual cookie itself than the decorating the cookies. I think it shows in the way the cookies look. The decorating efforts are less than perfect. My cookies usually have a better finish. This time my creative mojo seems to have taken a vacation.
I tend to avoid posting less than perfect food on the blog. You could blame that on the way social media is these days or my personal hang up with good food photography. This time though, I liked these Whole Wheat and Oat Cutout Easter Cookies so much that I had to blog them. In fact, I ate quite a few of them before I even got around to decorating them.
As I mentioned before, cookies are really not my thing. I would probably eat a couple if they’re not very sweet or chocolate or lemon/ lime flavoured. I decided to make these Whole Wheat and Oat Cutout Easter Cookies because they’re mostly whole grain.
They’re quite different from decorated cookies I’ve made before. These are made with whole wheat flour, a bit of all-purpose flour and coarsely ground rolled oats. This gives the cookies a very nice texture and nuttiness. I also added allspice to the cookie dough because I like spiced cookies. I think here it does cut into the sweetness of the icing.
The whole grain in it does not make it healthier or anything. It couldn’t with the butter and sugar in the dough. It does however make for very interesting sugar cookies that are different from the usual. I have, personally discovered my favourite sugar cookie recipe.
These cookies are not very soft but they’re not crisp either. The dough does not need refrigerating before you can roll it out. To my mind, that’s a plus because you can make these cookies in shorter stages. I like slightly thicker cookies so I roll them out to 1/4” thickness but you can roll them out a little thinner. Just remember you’ll need to bake them for a little less time. The cookies do not spread in the oven though, while baking. They need only about 8 to 10 minutes to bake. So I made the dough on one day, baked them the following day and decorated them after 2 days.
I chose to use Royal Icing with egg because it dries harder. I also didn’t need to go egg free with this recipe. If you are looking for an egg free sugar cookie and icing try this or this recipe of mine.
Whole Wheat and Oat Cutout Easter Cookies
Egg shaped Easter cutout cookies made with whole wheat flour, coarsely powdered rolled oats and allspice, and decorated with royal icing.
Grind the rolled oats into a coarse powder. It should not be too coarse but not fine either. Sift together the whole wheat, all-purpose flours and baking powder. Keep aside.
Beat together the butter and sugar till fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla till smooth. Add the oats, sifted flours, allspice, and salt and mix together into a dough.
Divide the dough into two pieces, shape into flat discs and wrap in cling wrap. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes at least, so the dough becomes easier to work with.
Work with one piece of dough at a time. Dust your working surface with a little flour and roll the dough out to 1/4” thickness. Using a 3” egg shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies. Place them on parchment lined baking sheets. You can place the cookies close to each other as they will not spread.
Gather the scraps and re-roll to cut out more cookies. Refrigerate them for about 15 to 20 minutes before baking. Bake them at 180C (350F) for about 8 to 10 minutes until they’re a light brown on the edges. Repeat with the other piece of dough.
Let the cookies cool on a rack. They will crisp up a little once they cool down. Store in an airtight container till you’re ready to decorate them.
For the Royal Icing:
Beat the egg whites till frothy. Add the lime juice and the icing sugar a little at a time. Beat till smooth and thick. This consistency should be good for flooding cookies.
If you feel it is too thick, add a tsp of water and mix well. For thicker consistency, mix in a little icing sugar as needed. Colour portions of the icing as needed for decorating. Until then, transfer the white Royal Icing to a bowl, cover with cling wrap so it doesn’t dry out. Refrigerate till required..
Avocado on Toast is something that’s probably been to death by now. So I’m sure that my Avocado and Hummus on Toast is getting blogged a tad too late. However, I think it is worthy of being blogged about at least once. Avocado on some form of bread (read tortillas) has been eaten by natives of Central and South America where the fruit is grown, for hundreds of years. It seems people in the San Francisco Bay area have been eating it since the late 1800s. It is only in this decade that the concept of Avocado on Toast has become a trend worldwide. The hashtag #avocadoontoast alone throws up over 25,000 hits on Instagram!
So what is it that has people so in love with the idea of Avocado on Toast? I think, perhaps first on the list is the fact that avocado has suddenly gained a super food status. It has a creamy texture that seems to be very popular with avocado lovers. Best of all, Avocado on Toast is a filling meal and something that just about anyone can put together with very little effort.
I personally don’t really like avocados and rarely buy them. I made some good cake with it a few times. Last year I found it makes really creamy gelato/ ice-cream but that’s been about it. My mother used to love them. Her favourite way of eating them was straight out of the shell with a dash of lime juice and sprinkling of salt.
My daughter discovered it in a big way on toast during her year in the UK. It was her love for it that inspired this post. I’ve found that avocados are a bit bland and so pair up with just anything else quite well. I’ve now figured that I have discovered a certain level of tolerance for avocados. I can eat them if they’re disguised well enough and this particular sort of Avocado on Toast works for me.
At the most basic, Avocado on Toast is just that – avocado and toast. My Avocado and Hummus on Toast adds one of my favourite foods to it. If you’re new to this, I would suggest using sourdough bread for making this. Otherwise use thick slices of whole grain brown. I would suggest crusty thick slices of white bread as a last resort. It must be toasted, of course. Then it’s all about the avocado. Find one that is ripe and just perfect. Everything else you want to add to the Avocado on Toast is entirely up to you.
You can make Avocado and Hummus on Toast (or any variation of it) for breakfast, lunch, a filling snack or a light and early supper. If you cut the toast smaller, you could even serve this as appetizers. I doubt anyone would need a recipe for Avocado on Toast, but here’s one for reference just in case.
Avocado and Hummus on Toast
A simple, healthy and filling meal of sliced avocado, hummus and tomatoes garnished with fresh oregano on whole grain toast.
The summer is here, once again. It is hear earlier than usual and much warmer as well. We’ve just started April and the weather department has been telling us it’s about 5 to 6 degrees C hotter than it should be. I don’t have to tell you that the kitchen isn’t my favourite place right now. This is when meals like this Chilled Cucumber Yogurt Soup are a saviour. It’s just the thing for a hot summer day.
When I think of soups, I think of cooking, blending, and cooking some more. That‘s definitely what I don’t want to be doing right now, not until two months down the road. So this Chilled Cucumber Yogurt Soup ticks all the boxes. There’s no cooking, just some blending and the soup is ready. It’s made with cucumbers, yogurt and mint so it’s cooling. The yogurt makes the soup creamy but light as well. What more could one want from a summer soup?
You could make this with any cucumber really, but choose a variety that doesn’t have too many seeds. I find English cucumbers work the best for this recipe. If you use English cucumbers, you don’t need to peel them. They’re sweeter too. If using other cucumbers, peel the cucumbers thin so that you lose only the peel and not much of the flesh. You can adjust all the seasonings to your taste.
This soup should be lightly salted and peppered with a hint of sweet and tang. You can thin it down some more with chilled water, adjust for taste and serve this soup as summer cooler as well.
Chilled Cucumber Yogurt Soup
A light, creamy and chilled cucumber and yogurt soup that's a perfect blend of salt, spice, sweet and tang. Just what a hot summer day calls for.
Cut the cucumbers in chunks. Blend together the cucumber chunks, garlic paste, mint leaves, yogurt, lime juice, and honey till smooth. Add the water and blend again.
Season with salt, pepper and a little more lime juice if necessary. Chill until ready to serve. Stir well before serving, and ladle into bowls. Garnish with a little finely chopped onion, walnuts and a sprig of mint.
Serve with crisp plain or herbed flatbreads.
Alert – This is a longish blog post inspired by a travelogue I read. The food comes a little later so please scroll down further if you want to get to recipe. Today’s offering is Moroccan K’sra and Chickpea Soup. K’sra is a Moroccan aniseed flavoured flatbread. It is generally made with flour and semolina but sometimes with barley flour as well. I’m serving it with a Moroccan style Chickpea Soup and the combination is perfect. The Moroccan K’sra and Chickpea Soup were inspired by a book I bought recently titled The Caliph’s House.
It’s a beautiful piece of non-fiction especially if you enjoy travelogues. It is for you if stories, colours and smells of a different world or era excite the hidden adventurer in your heart. What would Morocco say to you? I have never been there but have a read a lot about it. So I see souks bursting at the seams with intricately worked carpets, metal and wooden artifacts waiting to be bargained for. Noisy markets are full of colour and filled with the aroma of exotic spices and street food. I see beautiful Islamic architecture and calligraphy in the mosques and other buildings. My eyes see beautiful colours and patterns on the Moroccan zellige or decorated glazed tiles. There are sweet meat vendors selling delicious pastries and people enjoying mint tea while watching the world go by.
The Caliph’s House is the true life story of a man who is passionate enough to uproot his wife, young daughter and a 3 week old baby from the dreary climes of England. They travel to Morocco to “let his delusions of grandeur run wild” in a crumbling Caliph’s mansion somewhere in a shantytown in Casablanca?
Tahir Shah is a British travel writer of Afghan origin on his father’s side. He and his Indian wife decide that the warm sun in Morocco and “market stalls are a blaze of color, heaped with spices — paprika and turmeric, cinnamon, cumin and fenugreek”, irresistible after dreary and grey London. His ancestry and memories of family vacations in Morocco made the decision for him. So they impulsively bought the Dar Khalifa or Caliph’s House, a crumbling mansion. They find leaving the security of life at home and restoring the old mansion to its former glory not as easy as they first thought.
There’s nothing romantic about Shah’s year in Casablanca. He finds the house he bought is uninhabitable and completely taken over by Jinns. Jinns, central to the Moroccan way of life, are magical mischievous spirits who love to live in empty houses and spaces.
The book goes on to tell us his having to deal with everyday problems. These include dealing with the plumbing, unsuccessfully trying to renovate the Caliph’s house, trying to get his employees to work, fight the Jinns and managing his rather tenuous income! The book makes for an entertaining read.
The recipe for K’sra (pronounced K’shra) is from Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Traditions from Around the World by Alford and Duguid. According to the authors of the book from which this recipe comes, there is an easy way to find the bakeries in Fez, Morocco. just follow the children who carry cloth covered trays on their heads, around eleven in the morning. They would be carrying dough rounds to be baked in the neighbourhood bakery ovens. These children would return around noon to pick up and take home the baked bread for lunch.
This aniseed flavoured flatbread is soft and slightly chewy which pairs beautifully with spiced preparations. The texture makes it great for mopping up gravies and dunking into soup. It usually accompanies a Moroccan tagine meal. You can even slit it with a knife and fill it to make a slightly different flavoured sandwich.
This post has been updated with text and images since it was first published in October 2010.
Though this Moroccan K’sra and Chickpea Soup was originally inspired by a book, I revisited the bread again as The Bread Baking Babes chose to bake it this month. The Bread Baking Babes (BBB) is a closed group, but you’re most welcome to bake with us as a Bread Baking Buddy. Bake this month’s bread using Kelly’s recipe and post it on your blog before the 28th of this month. Mention the Bread Baking Babes and link to her BBB post in your own post. Then e-mail her or leave a comment on her blog post with details about your post.
Moroccan K’sra and Chickpea Soup
A Morocccan flatbread made with whole wheat flour and semolina, flavoured with anise seeds. It is served with soups and stews.
To make the soup, start by heating the olive oil in a large pan, add the chopped onion and celery. Saute, on low heat, till the onions turn soft but not brown. Add the powdered cumin and the chilli flakes and cook for about a minute, stirring once or twice.
Now add the tomatoes, and saute for another couple of minutes. Add the vegetable stock, all the chickpeas except the 1/2 cup kept aside, the sugar and salt. Mix well, turn up the heat and bring the soup to a boil.
In the meanwhile, take the 1/2 cup of chickpeas which was kept aside and mash it using a masher or a hand blender till the chickpeas is mushy and a bit lumpy but not a purxe9e. Add this to the ingredients in the pan and mix till well blended.
Turn down the heat and allow the soup to simmer for about 20 minutes, till it is not so watery in consistency and the flavours have blended well. Add the lemon juice and the chopped coriander and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
Serve hot with the K'sra or flatbread of your choice. This recipe serves about 4.
To make the K'sra, put the water in a large bowl dissolve the yeast in it. Stir in the whole wheat flour and semolina until a smooth batter is obtained. Cover this and set aside for about 30 minutes or up to 3 hours, according to your convenience. I left mine for 1 1/2 hours.
The batter would have fermented. Sprinkle the aniseed and the salt on it and add 2 cups of all purpose flour, a little at a time, mixing/ kneading after each addition.
Turn the sticky dough onto a floured work surface and add more flour, as required, and knead well for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft and elastic and just short of sticky. Resist the temptation to add too much flour or the bread will be tough.
Put the dough in a clean bowl, loosely cover and allow it to rise till almost double. This should take about 1 1/2 hours. Take the dough out and knead lightly for a minute or so. Then divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Shape each portion into a smooth ball.
Take each ball and place on a lightly floured surface. Using your palm, evenly flatten the ball of dough into a 6u201d circle. Using your fingers, further press out the circle evenly till it is about 8 or 9 inches or about 1/2 inch thick.
Dust your baking tray with coarse semolina and put the breads on it. Cover them loosely, and allow them to rise for 30 to 45 minutes. Prick the breads with a fork in about 10 places evenly across the surface of each of the breads.
Bake the Ku2019sra or flatbreads at 230C (450F) for about 15 to 20 minutes or till golden. You can either bake them all at once or in batches, without any problems. Tap the bottom of the bread after it is baked. If it sounds hollow it is done.
Slightly cool the K'sra on racks and then wrap them in towels so the crust softens. To serve, cut each K'sra or flatbread into 4 quarters/ pieces. This recipe makes 3 approximately 8 or 9 inch flatbreads.
North Indian cuisine is very well known for its flatbreads. These include the roti/ chappathi, deep fried pooris, , leavened naans and pan fried parathas. These flatbreads were originally brought in to India by traders and invaders from Persia and thereabouts. With time, they have evolved becoming truly Indian in flavour. They can now be found in restaurants and little eateries across the country. Today’s recipe is for Aloo Parathas or Potato Stuffed Flatbreads. This is perhaps the most well known of Indian stuffed flatbreads.
Parathas are made with whole wheat flour, a little salt and mixed into a pliable dough with water. Balls of this dough are rolled out thin and cooked on a griddle with a little oil. Parathas can be made either plain or stuffed with a variety of fillings. The plain parathas are usually layered with fat while folding and rolling them out. This makes them soft and very flaky. Another kind of paratha is where vegetables are grated and mixed directly into the dough with spices and then rolled out and cooked.
Stuffed parathas come in a variety of fillings. Most fillings are spicy and savoury but some are sweet and filled with mawa/ khoya (milk solids) and nut. More popular varieties of stuffed parathas include Gobhi Paratha (cauliflower), Paneer Parathas (soft Indian cheese), Mooli Paratha (Daikon radish), MMethi Paratha (fenugreek greens) and Mixed Vegetable Paratha.
Aloo Parathas or Potato Stuffed Flatbreads are a favourite here and have gone to school in my daughter’s lunchbox a lot. They are reasonably easy to make but the process for making them can be broken into smaller steps if need be. When I make them for my daughter’s lunchbox, I make the potato filling the previous night and refrigerate it. I also knead the dough and refrigerate it to make things easier for myself. Then I just put the filling into the dough next morning, roll them out and cook them.
These Parathas are usually served with plain or seasoned yogurt or Raita, raw onion rings and pickles. Plain parathas are served with these and a curry of some sort. You can refrigerate the leftovers if any, but not for more than a day. They keep longer if you freeze them. To refrigerate parathas, just wrap them well in foil. Reheat them on a griddle with a little oil. Freeze them by stacking them with parchment paper or aluminium foil squares between each, and put them in a Ziploc bag. Pull out as many as you need and re-heat them on a skillet.
This post has been updated with text and images since it was first published in February, 2010.
Aloo Parathas or Potato Stuffed Flatbreads
Aloo Parathas or delicious stuffed Indian flatbreads filled with a spicy filling of mashed potatoes that are cooked on a griddle.
First prepare the filling. Peel and cook the potatoes till they're very soft. Mash them very well so there are no lumps left and it is smooth.
Heat the oil in a pan and add the ginger, garlic pastes and chopped onion. Saute everything till the onions soft and translucent. Add the spice powders and saute, over medium heat, for a minute. Then add the green chillies, potatoes, salt and chopped coriander.
Mix everything well and then take off the heat. Allow to cool and divide the mixture into 12 equal portions. Roll the portions into balls.
Then make the dough. Put the whole wheat flour, salt and oil in a deep bowl and whisk together. Add the water about 1/4 cup at a time and knead until your dough is soft (but not sticky) and elastic. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll each into a ball.
Now make the parathas. Take ball of dough and roll it out into a 3" circle lightly dusting with whole wheat flour if necessary.
Place a ball of mashed potato in the centre of the dough circle. Bring up the sides of the dough circle around the potato ball and enclose it completely, pinching dough on top to close and seal the filling.
Flatten it slightly, dust lightly with whole wheat flour, and roll out into a 1/4 u201cthick circle. Make sure that the filling doesnu2019t come out while rolling. Use the rolling pin lightly when rolling the paratha out.
Cook the paratha on a hot tawa/ skillet over medium heat till light brown spots appear on side. Cook similarly on the other side. Brush lightly with oil and again cook the paratha on both sides till the brown spots deepen a bit one.
Repeat with remaining dough balls and potato filling.
Serve hot with fresh thick plain or seasoned yogurt (home made, if possible), thin slices of raw onion and pickles.
I’ve done a lot of crazy things for food, as you will realize when you read this post. This Easy Cape Gooseberry Preserve is the result of one such crazy food story. We spent much of the latter half of December and the first half of this month travelling. Early this month we were back in Goa for the wedding of our friends’ daughter. We decided to turn the trip into a short vacation, catching up with family and friends.
This time of the year is the best for the cooler weather and the variety of produce especially fruit. One of things I miss about Goa is the beautiful variety of winter fruit and vegetables. When I visit Goa, and Panjim in particular, I always make a trip to the market there. I shopped there regularly, for over 15 years, and my connection with the market is very strong.
This time was no different and the fruit especially had me salivating emotionally. I’m not lying when I tell you I was tempted to cart half the market back home! Since that was an impossible feat, I decided to bring back some stuff I don’t get here in Kochi. So I brought back the usual Goan chillies, kokum, cashewnuts, tirphal (similar to Szechaun pepper), etc. I also carted back some fresh figs and Cape Gooseberries.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Cape Gooseberry, it is a fruit that looks somewhat like the tomatillo. The Cape Gooseberry is also known as Physalis, Ground Cherry, Goldenberry or Pichuberry. It is native to Peru, about the size of a cherry tomato and golden yellow in colour with a thin papery cover. The fruit is sweet and slightly tart when ripe. It grows in the Northern parts of India as well and locally known as Rasbhari.
I love Cape Gooseberries and have missed them these past couple of years. You can eat them as they are, bake with them or use them to garnish desserts. My favourite thing to do with Cape Gooseberries is to make them into preserve. Actually, I find this is a good way to keep the fruit around for longer.
This preserve is very easy to make. Halve the fruit and cook it till soft. I like to cook them in unsweetened orange juice. You can use water instead. Add the sugar and some vanilla. I also like using allspice instead of vanilla. Add a little bit of butter to the cooked preserve and let it cool. The butter adds a nice shine to the preserve. That’s all it takes.
I typically make small batches of jam because we don’t eat a lot of it. You can double, triple or quadruple the ingredients for a larger batch.
Easy Cape Gooseberry Preserve
An easy recipe to cook cape gooseberries, physalis or ground cherries into mildly citrus flavoured and golden fruit preserve.
Start by removing the papery covers from the Cape Gooseberries. Wash them and then halve each fruit. If you want to make jam, you can run the fruit in the blender and then make the jam.
Put the halved fruit, the orange juice and the water in a thick walled pan. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat. Stir occasionally and let the fruit cook till it is soft. Add a little more juice or water if you feel it is required to cook the fruit.
Add the suagr and vanilla to the cooked fruit. Stir to dissolve the sugar and cook till the fruit mixture thickens and reaches a jam like consistency. Turn off the heat. Stir in the butter and let the preserve cool down.
Transfer to a strile glass jar and cover with airtight lid. Refrigerate if necessary.
I’m a latecomer to roasting cashewnuts at home for myself. I’ve had a pretty good excuse to buy them till a couple of years back. I lived in Goa which is native cashewnut country. I used to get the best cashewnuts I’ve eaten there. The locally available salted and roasted cashewnuts weren’t all that expensive. We Indians love cashewnuts and you can find them in a really good variety of flavours, mostly savoury. Whether plain salted or spiced, crisp cashewnuts air really well with a hot cup of tea, especially on a rainy day.
When we moved to Kochi, I discovered that salted and roasted cashewnuts available here were ridiculously expensive. It’s ridiculous because it doesn’t take all that much to roast cashewnuts at home. The best part of doing this at home is you can decide exactly what oil and how much of it and salt you want in them. You can also flavour the nuts any way you want.
I personally like my cashewnuts plain with just a little salt. For some different flavour variations on this basic recipe, please see the next paragraph. You can use olive oil but I prefer to use either a little coconut oil or ghee to roast the cashewnuts. A small handful satisfies my cravings. The recipe below is for a small batch of cashewnuts. They can burn quickly while baking so do keep an eye on them.
Flavour Variations :
Salt and Pepper Cashewnuts : Add some fresh crushed black pepper to the salt and oil. Toss the nuts in this before baking them.
Spicy Cashewnuts : Toss the Oven Roasted Cashewnuts wth a little red chiili flakes when they’re still hot. Add some fine brown sugar as well for a sweet and spicy flavour.
Indian Masala Cashewnuts (Masala Kaju) : Add some curry leaves to unsalted cashewnuts while baking them and then toss them in a little bit of black salt (kaala namak) and chaat masala.
Garlic Rosemary Cashewnuts : Mix together as much as you need of garlic powder, fresh chopped rosemary (or dried), red chilli flakes, a little brown sugar and a couple of tbsp of oil. Toss the salted roasted cashews in this and serve.
Honey Roasted Cashewnuts : Toss the cashewnuts in a mixture of oil, salt, a little cinnamon, and honey before baking them.
Pizza Flavoured Cashewnuts: Toss the Oven Roasted Cashews in a mixture of garlic powder, red chilli flakes, mixed Italian spices and finely grated Parmesan cheese.
Oven Roasted Cashewnuts
Easy recipe for home made oven roasted cashewnuts using three ingredients. Also options for roasting cashewnuts in a variety of flavours.
I’m a little late to the Bread Baking Babes party, but better late than never. The Babes are celebrating 11 years baking together this month. Tanna at My Kitchen in Half Cups got hooked to the Great British Baking Show recently and picked Paul Hollywood’s Chelsea Bun Christmas Tree for us to bake. I didn’t want to miss out baking the anniversary bread and made some Egg Free Chelsea Buns instead.
So what is a Chelsea Bun? The Chelsea Bun is a squarish shaped currant bun of English origin similar in looks to the better known American cinnamon roll. It was first created in the 18th century at the Old Chelsea Bun House in Chelsea which also catered to nobility. Chelsea Bunns are typically made from a rich yeasted dough to which lemon zest and mixed spices are added. They’re filled with butter, brown sugar and currants, and glazed with a syrup of sugar and water after it is baked. Please see this post for more historical information on the Chelsea Bun.
Since February also means Valentine’s Day, Tanna suggested that we could adapt the month’s recipe around that. I took a look at Paul Hollywood’s recipe and thought it had too much going on. As mentioned earlier, Chelsea Buns are all about currants, raisins and some spice. So I decided to stick to that and keep it simple. Please see Tanna’s recipe if you want to bake the more festive one.
We don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day, so I chose to forego that theme. Also, we just lost our sister-in-law to cancer and weren’t really into celebration of any sort. So I picked another Chelsea Bun recipe, worked with that making some changes as I went. I did deviate abit from the chosen recipe but I did stay true to the spirit of it. A few members of my extended family don’t eat eggs so I made it egg free as well.
There’s lemon zest in the dough and it’s a great add to the buns. I kept the filling simple with just butter, some sugar, powdered cinnamon and allspice with black and golden raisins. No one here likes candied fruit much and to my mind it doesn’t sit well in these buns anyways. I left out all the nuts as well.
We aren’t strict vegans anymore but it has become second nature for me to use milk substitutes where I can. This time I used soya milk instead of milk. I did some research on how these buns are finished. I mean, are they glazed, or brushed with syrup, topped with sugar or with icing? It turns out Chelsea Buns should be sticky and shiny. Some versions have sugar sprinkled over this. They’re glazed drizzled with a mixture of sugar dissolved in water while still hot. This makes the water evaporate leaving the top of the buns sticky and shiny. I deviated a bit from this tradition and drizzled a little sugar icing over my Egg Free Chelsea Buns.
The Bread Baking Babes (BBB) is a closed group, but you’re most welcome to bake with us as a Bread Baking Buddy. Bake this month’s bread using Tanna’s recipe and post it on your blog before the 28th of this month. Mention the Bread Baking Babes and link to her BBB post in your own post. Then e-mail Tanna with your name and the link to the post, or leave a comment on her blog post with this information.
Egg Free Chelsea Buns
Egg free soft, buttery and sweet Chelsea Buns flavoured with lemon zest, and filled with raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon and allspice.
You can mix and knead the dough by hand or machine. As usual, I use my food processor and then finish the kneading by hand. Put the 2 1/2 cups of the flour into a large bowl. Add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other side.
Warm the milk and butter in a small saucepan until the butter is melted and the mixture is lukewarm. If the mixture is hot, let it cool till lukewarm. Pour this into the bowl. Add the sugar and lemon zest and knead the dough, adding as much flour as necessary a little at a time. The dough will be a bit sticky. Knead further by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic and just short of sticky.
Place the dough into an oiled bowl, covered loosely, to rise hour until doubled in size. This should take about an hour and a half or so.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Lightly deflate the dough and roll it out into a rectangle about 20cm in x 30cm.
Spread the soft butter all over the surface, uniformly. Mix together the sugar, powdered cinnamon and allspice and sprinkle it uniformly over the butter to cover the surface. Sprinkle the currants and golden raisins evenly over this.
Starting from the long side closest to you, roll tightly towards the other side in Swiss roll or jelly roll fashion. Seal the seam well, with a little water if needed, so it doesn’t open up while baking. Trim the ends to neaten.
Cut the roll, with a sharp knife, into 9 pieces of equal width. Arrange the rolls s on a well greased or parchment lined tray (21cm x 21cm or 8-inch x 8-inch) at equal distance from each other.
Cover loosely and allow the shaped dough to rise for about 30 to 40 minutes. They should have puffed out and will be touching each other on the sides.
Bake them at 180C (350F) for about 25 minutes till golden brown. Check after about 15 minutes. If they’re getting too brown, cover them with foil and then finish baking them. Remove the buns from the oven and let them cool slightly before transferring them from the tin to a cooling rack.
In the meanwhile, mix together the icing sugar and water to make an icing that’s thick and of pouring consistency. Once the Chelsea Buns have cooled, drizzle the icing over them. Serve once the icing has set.
I first ate Dutch Crunch Bread in Portugal many, many years ago. We came across it in the bread aisle while shopping for groceries. It was labeled Pao Tigre (or Tiger Bread) and so pretty to look at, I had to buy it. A beautifully textured light and brown cracked crunchy crust is the hall mark of this otherwise soft bread.
Dutch Crunch Bread is also known as Tijgerbrood/ Tijgerbol in the Netherlands. Simply put, that means Tiger Bread. It is called Dutch Crunch Bread only in the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. because that’s the only place this bread is well known. The bread gets its name from the typical pattern of the crust. The pattern supposedly resembles a tiger’s stripes. It looks more like a leopard’s or giraffe’s pattern to me. I do believe it is called Giraffe Bread in the UK! For this bread, regular bread dough is shaped into a round and covered with a yeasted rice flour paste. This topping cracks and crisps up when the bread rises and bakes in the oven.
Dutch Crunch Bread is soft and slightly sweet and the crisp, crunchy topping provides a nice contrast. It’s not very difficult to make. The bread is typically made as a single oval shaped (bloomer) or sometimes around loaf but can also be made into smaller buns or rolls. Buns or rolls make excellent sandwiches. This bread is best eaten the same day it is baked. If you live in humid conditions as I do, you’ll find the crunchy crust tends to soften the next day. My bread is an adaptation of this recipe. I had first baked this bread way back in 2009 and posted it on this blog. My post disappeared unfortunately, somewhere between moving hosting platforms and now. This is a repeat posting of that, with updated text and images.
The paste for the crust typically uses sesame oil. I’ve found other oil works fine and I like using coconut oil in particular. I like using a little whole wheat flour in a lot of my breads. If you don’t, just substitute that with an equal amount of all-purpose flour. Take care with the crust. Apply the rice paste generously but not too thick. Apply it too thick you will be left with a very strong flavor of rice flour every time you take a bite. If it isn’t thick enough, then you won’t have a good crust.
Dutch Crunch Bread
A soft, mildly sweet bread that is topped with a rice flour topping which bakes into a cracked crunchy crust that resembles tiger stripes or giraffe spots.
You can knead by hand or use a machine. As always, I use a food processor and then do the final kneading by hand. Put the yeast, warm water and sugar in a small bowl. Mix to dissolve the yeast and let it proof for about 10 minutes, till it is frothy.
Put the proofed yeast mixture, oil, milk, salt and whole wheat flour in the bowl of the processor. Also add about 2 cups of the all-purpose flour and knead to a smooth and elastic dough. Add as much more of app-purpose flour as necessary to achieve this consistency.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead for a couple of minutes more. Roll into a ball and place in a well oiled bowl, turning to coat well. Cover loosely and let it rise for about an hour and a half or till it has doubled in size.
Lightly flour your counter and turn the risen dough out on it. Lightly knead to degas the dough. If making into rolls, divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Shape into a smooth boule or rolls. Place on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet and cover loosely. Let the dough rise for about 20 minutes.
In the meanwhile, mix together all the ingredients for the topping. It should have a thick batter-like consistency that will spread easily and not drip off the dough. Let it sit while the shaped dough is rising. The topping should look “puffy” after this time.
Once the dough has risen, brush a generous (but not overly thick) layer of the topping over the bread (or bun/rolls), covering the top and sides well. Let it rise for another 20 minutes.
Bake the dough at 190C (375F) for about 25 minutes or till the bread is done and the crust is a deep brown. Let it cool completely on a rack.