Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Super soft dinner rolls

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These rolls are really soft and so easy to make. You'd have most of these in your pantry and even with prooving time, you still can sort this out within 2.30 hrs or so. I decided at around 4pm that i needed to make dinner rolls and these were out of the oven before 7, and just in time for dinner.

Makes 12 rolls (Recipe adapted from here)
Whole milk- 1 cup, warm
Active dry yeast- 1 tbsp
Caster sugar- 2 tbsp
Salt- 1 tsp
Oil- 3 tbsp
Egg- 1, medium
Bread flour- 3 cups (plus 2 or 3 tbsp more)

Egg- 1 ,small beaten (or milk is also fine)
Butter- 1 tbsp, melted
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Into the bowl of a free standing mixer add the warm milk, yeast, sugar, salt, oil and egg. 
Whisk lightly to incorporate it all together.
Add about 2 1/2 cups of flour and using the dough hook attachment for the mixer start kneading on low speed.
Once the initial mixing is done, turn the speed on to medium and add the remaining half of the flour and continue kneading on medium speed for about 5 minutes.
The humidity of the place will determine if you need more flour. In all likeliness you'd need the extra 2 or 3 tbsp of flour to get a dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl, but take a call and add accordingly.
The dough is on the wetter side, but definitely not sticky, so aim to get a consistency like that. Dust your palms with some flour if needed to tackle the dough.
Oil the same mixing bowl and place the dough into it, spreading some oil on it to prevent drying.
Cover with a kitchen cloth and leave to rise for about an hour and half.
I preheated my oven to 25C, turned it off but with the light on and left the dough in there.

After about an hour or when the dough has risen to double its size, punch it down and scoop out of the bowl (on to a lightly floured surface if needed. I didnt need to use any) on to your kitchen counter.
Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. (I am a bit mental when it comes to sizes in baking so i actually measured out the portions each weighting approx 65gms)
Make a smooth ball out each portion and transfer them into a lightly greased baking tray and leave covered for another hour or till doubled in size. I placed them back into a warm oven with just the light on.
They will touch each other when they rise, and that's absolutely fine.
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When ready to bake, preheat oven to 175C.
Brush the tops of each roll with an egg wash or milk wash and bake for 16 minutes. 
Make sure you dont over bake them.
Remove from oven and immediately brush with some melted butter.
Serve warm with some butter on the side

Notes: Cool completely on a cooling rack and store in plastic bags or cling wrap the rolls if using it the next day.
Store at room temperature, but microwave for about 20 seconds on high before using.
You can do the entire kneading process by hand, just make sure you knead till you get the desired non-sticky consistency.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Kerala fish fry

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Serves 2 as part of side dish 
Fish fillets- 350 gms, sliced (around 4 big pieces). I used Basa fillets. King fish or any firm fish would be ideal.
Chilli powder- 3/4th tbsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Fennel powder- a generous pinch
Ginger garlic paste- 1/2 tbsp
Lime juice- 1 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Oil- enough to shallow fry
Curry leaves- a sprig (optional)
Lemon wedges and sliced onions to serve

Make a paste with all the ingredients except oil.
Add a wee bit of water if required, but make sure its not too loose.
Apply the marinade generously on all the fish slices and keep aside for about 15-20 minutes.

Heat oil in a frying pan and slide in the fish slices, in batches if needed.
Keep the heat on medium and shallow fry, flipping it over after a while.
Once the fish has browned on both sides and cooked well, remove and drain on paper towels.
Don't over cook the fish or it will become hard. 
Throw in some curry leaves while frying for some extra flavour.
Serve with lemon wedges and sliced onions.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Brioche French Toast

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Serves 3 as part of breakfast
Whole milk- 1 cup
Double cream- 1/4 cup
Eggs- 3
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp
Dark brown sugar- 1/4 cup
Salt- a pinch
Brioche bread- 6, one inch thick slices
Butter- 1 1/2 tbsp

Whisk together the milk, double cream, eggs, vanilla brown sugar and salt in a bowl until well combined.
Arrange the brioche slices in a high rimmed baking tray, without overlapping each other
Pour the milk-egg mix over the bread slices, making sure all the pieces are soaked.
Cover with a cling film and leave in the fridge for about an hour.
Remove after 2 hours and flip the bread slices over, carefully.
Cover with cling film and place back on the fridge for another hour.
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When ready to cook, place a frying pan over medium heat and melt about 1/2 tbsp butter.
Fry the bread slices till they turn golden brown on both sides. 
Do them in batches of 2, as its easier to manage. Make sure you dont burn them. 
After each batch, add more butter, 1/2 tbsp at a time and continue frying.
If you feel the butter is getting burnt, use a kitchen towel to wipe off the burnt butter before proceeding with the next batch.
Dust some icing sugar on top and serve with honey, maple syrup or golden syrup and fruit on the side.
If you would like to try a butterscotch brioche bread pudding, you can find the recipe here

Notes: Add 1/2 tsp cinnamon or a pinch of nutmeg to the batter for another version.
Soaking the bread till all of the liquid is used up is ideal, but if you are short of time, you can leave it for just half an hour or so just till the bread slices are pretty well soaked.
I fried the bread in my Le Creuset cast iron pan and it worked wonders because of the heat retention.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Stuffed Welsh Rarebit

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Serves 4
For the cheese sauce
Grated mature Cheddar cheese- 1 heaped cup + enough to top the slices of bread
Goats cheese- 3 heaped tbsp
Double cream- 1/2 cup
Milk- a generous splash
Paprika- 1/2 tsp (optional)
Mustard- a generous pinch
Worcestershire sauce- 1/2 tsp
Pepper- to taste

4 slices of chunky bread
Leftover roasted chicken- 3/4th cup, shredded (or any chicken, I've used breaded ones from the supermarket)
Thyme leaves- a sprig, to garnish

Mix together all the ingredients for the cheese sauce in a saucepan.
Keep the heat on medium and keep cooking till all of the cheese is melted and the mixture becomes thick. 
Keep stirring at intervals to make sure the sauce doesn't stick to base, and keep scraping the sides while you go.
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Simultaneously, toast the slices of bread either in a toaster or under the oven grill. Make sure you don't burn them.
Place the toasted slices in an oven proof tray or a cast iron skillet and top them with shredded chicken.
Pour the cheese sauce on top of the chicken and bread slices, to cover them quite generously. Its ok if the sauce drips along the sides.
Grate some more cheese on top, sprinkle some thyme leaves on top and place under the oven grill for about 5 minutes, just to melt the cheese and warm the chicken a bit.
Dig into this devilishly decadent dish  straight out of the oven and with a salad side if needed.

Notes: You can use any cheese of choice. I once tried it with spicy Mexican cheese and it was bloody brilliant. 
The goats cheese is also purely optional, but that little bit does make a difference in taste.
Stuff it with any meat of choice, pulled pork would be a great alternative as will be prawns.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Kerala duck roast

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Serves 3 as a side (Recipe loosely adapted from Flavours of the Spice Coast by Mrs. K M Mathew)
Duck legs and thighs- 500 gms (with skin on)

To marinate and pre-cook
Coriander powder- 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder- 1 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Ground pepper- 1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds- 1/4 tsp
Cinnamon- 1 inch 
Cloves- 4
Cardamom pods- 2
Vinegar- 1/2 tbsp
Ginger- 1 inch piece, peeled and roughly chopped
Garlic- 4 pods, peeled and roughly chopped
Salt

For the roast masala
Oil- 1 tbsp (coconut oil is ideal)
Shallots/ small onion- 1/2 cup, finely chopped
Curry leaves- 1 sprig + a few to sprinkle
Ginger- 1 inch piece, peeled and grated
Garlic- 4, peeled and grated
Green chilly- 1, slit
Chilly powder- 1/2 tsp
Ground black pepper- 1/2 tsp + 1/4 tsp to sprinkle
Coriander powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt- to taste
Potato- 1 large, par boiled and cut into big chunks
Thick coconut milk- 1/4 cup
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*Please do refer notes before you get started.

Grind together all the ingredients under the 'marinate' section. It wont be smooth and paste like, but its ok to add a wee bit of water and make it into a paste like consistency if you prefer that for marination. 
Marinate the duck with the ground mix and keep aside for about half an hour or till you prepare the masala for the roast.

Peel and par boil the potato chunks and keep aside. I did this in the microwave.

When ready to cook, transfer the marinated duck along with 1 cup of water to a pressure cooker and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Wait for the pressure to release on its own. Open the lid, and if there is more than half cup of liquid, put the cooker back on high heat and boil away some of the liquid. You should have a thick gravy.
Keep aside till ready to use.
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Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan and sautee the shallots with curry leaves, ginger, garlic and green chillies.
Cook till the onions turn golden brown.
Throw in the chilly, coriander and pepper powder along with salt, and continue sauteeing for a few minutes till the raw smell of the masala disappears. If you think its sticking to the bottom, then add a teaspoon or two of water and mix well.
Pour in the cooked duck meat along with all the juices, and the par boiled potatoes into this mix and on medium heat roast it all together for about 10 minutes, stirring at intervals. Make sure you dont break the meat or the potatoes.
Add the thick coconut milk and continue to roast on low- medium heat till all the gravy sticks to the meat pieces and the oil starts to slowly separate.
Add the 1/4 tsp ground pepper and some fresh curry leaves, give one final mix, switch off heat and cover and keep for about 15 minutes.
Best served with rice, appam, idiappam or porotta.
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Notes: I sliced the leg and thigh pieces into smaller portions and used for this prep.
I was a bit wary of the game-y taste that duck meat usually has and so i washed the pieces in a bit of lime juice and yoghurt, drained and then continued with marination. Of course this step is purely optional.
You can of course slow cook the duck in a heavy bottomed pan, but i pressure cooked it for convenience.
If you are in doubt about the pressure cooker timing, then keep releasing pressure and checking the meat by trying a small piece. If they are not chewy and easily fall off bone consistency you are good to go. If not put it back on and cook for 2 more whistles, check again and proceed. Dont under cook it or else it would be chewy. Over cook it and it shreds. It definitely takes more time than chicken but similar to that of mutton, in terms of cooking times.
For some gravy, add 1 cup water along with the coconut milk, but dont bring to a boil. Continue cooking on medium till the oil gets visible. If after cooking the duck there is enough liquid, then you can use that instead of adding the water with the coconut milk.
Its a roast that is medium spiced. Add one or two chillies more for that authentic spice kick this curry deserves.
I used my Le Creuset cast iron dutch pan for this prep and i cant stress how wonderfully it worked.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Kerala Tuna thoran

Tuna thoran (serves 4 as part of a main meal)
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A staple in most of the Kerala households, a thoran is nothing but a vegtable of choice cooked with basic ingredients like turmeric and chilli and finished off wwith freshly grated coconut that takes this dish to its delicious level. Mostlly had as a side to rice.
PS: Made in a Le Creuset shallow casserole.

Coconut oil- 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Dried red chillies- 2
Curry leaves- a sprig
Shallots- 1/2 cup
Ginger- 1 tsp, grated
Garlic- 1 tsp, grated
Green chilli- 1, slit
Red chilli powder- 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Meat masala- 1 tsp
Ground pepper- 1/2 tsp
Garam masala- 1/4 tsp
Salt- to taste
Canned tuna- around 250 gms (2 cans), drained
Grated coconut- 1/4 cup

Heat oil in you frying pan and add the mustard seeds.
Once they splutter add the red chillies and curry leaves, stir for a second and then throw in the shallots.
As soon as the shallots become slightly brown, add the green chilli, grated ginger and garlic and continue to cook till it no longer tastes raw. 
Add all the masala powders and salt to taste and stir it all together and cook till no longer raw.
Stir in the tuna and cook on medium heat for about 5 to 6 minutes.
If it becomes too dry, mix in a spoon or two of water.
Finally add the grated coconut and cook for a further 3 to 4 minutes, just to get the flavors in.
Turn off the heat, close with a lid and keep aside for 5 minutes.
Serve as a side to rice, roti or even as a sandwich filling (its great with mayo).

Friday, 2 December 2016

Festive cooking: Chicken cordon bleu croissant wreath

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Its DECEMBERRRR! Shrieks in excitement!
As usual this year also flew by so fast. A brand new nephew (who i will meet in a weeks time), a good couple of breaks for Chaiparty, an interesting business preposition, a new house and a pretty decent year if you ask me. Really thankful for all that has been bestowed upon us this year.

Christmas is going to be at home in India with family this year and I'm thoroughly looking forward to it. Baking is on in full swing, to gift to neighbours and friends and this lil number right here was served at a pre Christmas party at mine a few weeks back. Christmas is the time for a table stunner of a dish and i think this Chicken Cordon Bleu croissant wreath will definitely give the guests something to talk about.
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I was lucky enough to attend a session with Maille at their flagship store in Piccadilly circus and got to taste some of their amazing flavoured mustard and must say I'm hooked on to them. It goes into my pasta's, bakes and with meat and I've also got the husband (a not so big mustard fan) hooked. I have also bought a few favourites like the mustard with carrot, with truffle and the one with garlic as gifts for family back home. They make lovely Christmas gifts, especially for those inclined to cooking.

A while back Maille sent me a gift hamper with their most popular products-  Dijon Originale, Honey Dijon and Wholegrain mustard and I've been thoroughly putting them to good use. They also sent me 2 recipes to use for the festive season, but i just couldn't resist making the cordon bleu wreath where mustard as a product would be put to its full use. Not to worry, I am definitely going to try the zesty carrot cake sometime soon and blog it too. I mean a cake that uses mustard, that should be pretty interesting I'm sure.

Do visit Maille for more festive inspiration including recipes, gourmet mustard flavours and gifts. The core range of delicious Dijon Originale, Wholegrain and Honey Dijon Mustards are available for purchase at most major retailers.
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The Dijon Originale and Wholegrain have been used in this recipe, and its such a great addition. They bring forth the mustard presence, but not in an overpowering, annoying sort of way and you still get the other flavours coming through. The honey Dijon has been making its way through to many salads and its perhaps my most favourite of the three. So darn tasty, i can actually eat it on its own :)

I dont think i'd get to update the blog till i get back from India, so here's wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas.

Serves- 3 to 4 as part of a main meal
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For the filling
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs- 450 gms
Salt - to season
Pepper- to season
Garlic powder- 1/2 tsp

Maille Original Dijon mustard- 1 tbsp
Mayonnaise- 2 tbsp
Ham slices- 4 to 5, cut in cubes

1 Jus Rol Bake-it-Fresh Croissant can
Parmesan or Swiss cheese- 1/2 cup, grated
Milk- 2 tbsp (for glaze)

For the mustard cream sauce
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Butter- 1 tbsp
Plain flour- 1 tbsp
Milk- 1 cup
Maille Multigrain mustard- 2 tbsp
Thyme- a sprig
Parmesan cheese- 2 to 3 tbsp*
Salt- to taste
Pepper- to taste

Cut the chicken thighs into small bite size pieces and cook in a saucepan with salt, pepper, garlic powered and a dash of water.
Cook till done and keep aside till slightly cool.
(You can also cook chicken on the bone, and if doing so, shred it into small pieces once cooked and cooled)
Once cool, stir in the Dijon mustard, mayo and ham slices.
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Preheat oven to 180C and line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Pop open the croissant can and lay out the croissants like a star, overlapping each other and as symmetric as possible. Make sure there aren't any gaps between the croissants.
Place the filling all around the ring and top with cheese.
Fold the croissants over and tuck under the wreath if possible or else, trim a bit and pinch the edge you fold over.
Give the wreath a milk wash and chuck into the oven for about 20 minutes.
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While the wreath is baking, get on with the sauce.
Melt butter in a saucepan on medium heat, and add the flour. Cook for about 2 minutes.
Add half the milk and whisk with the flour to form a smooth paste.
Pour in the remaining milk, the multigrain mustard, thyme, salt and pepper and  stir continuously until thickened.

Once the croissant wreath is out of the oven, cool on a cooling rack for a couple of minutes after which pour the mustard cream sauce over generously, slice and serve.
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Notes: You can do a veg version of this with beans, carrot, corn or even add spinach or kale to the chicken and do a non cordon bleu version.
I have also tried the same with puff pastry, and its equally delicious, but its a pain to get it as a wreath.
The filling can be made a day ahead
I used cheddar cheese as i was out of parmesan

With thanks to Maille for the fabulous hamper.