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Thursday, December 2, 2010

***Daring Bakers Challenge : CROSTATA****

This is my first Daring Bakers Challenge. For November, 2010 the challenge was hosted by Simona from briciole. The challenge was to make Crostata.

Crostata is an Italian baked dessert tart or form of a pie. It is traditionally prepared by folding the edges of the dough over the top of the filling. Crostata doesn't have a regular circular shape, it has more of a rough looked edges. The filling is usually jam or marmalade.Crostata is also made using fresh cut fruits or cream as filling.

Not only was this my first Daring Bakers challenge, it was also my first time baking Crostata or a pie. I was all excited to see the end result.



The filling I used for the Crostata was fruits which included fresh apples and pears. You will need the following ingredients:

- 13/4 cup of all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar (used powdered sugar)
- 1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons) - room temperature
- pinch of salt
- 1 large egg and 1 large egg york
- grated zest of half lemon
- Thinly sliced fresh fruits

To make the Crostata we need to start with the pasta frolla. Making the frolla:
1. Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl.
2. Cut the butter into small pieces and add into the mixture. Mix well until its well blended.
3. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour the beaten eggs. Also add the lemon zest to your    mixture.
4. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid and then use your hand to knead the dough.Knead it until the dough can be made into a ball.
5.Cover the dough in a plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 2 hours.

Assembling the Crostata:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
2. Butter a flat bottom pan which is about 12 inch.
3. Roll out the dough to somewhere between a quarter and a half thick. It should be rolled out enough so that it covers the whole pan. Cut out the remaining dough for cutting decorate strips for the end.
4. Transfer the rolled out dough into the prepared pan. Prick holes with a fork on the dough.
5. Now layer the fruits in circular manner or anyway you would like it to look.
6. Reroll the extra dough which was set aside. Cut out thin strips and layer them on top of the fruits. Its like covering the pie. You can make the net impression. After layering, create a small ring around the rim of the Crostata. It gives a finished look.
7. Now brush some egg wash on the top of the pie. I also added some peanuts on top.
8. Bake the Crostata for about 30 mins or until it turns golden brown.


You have the Crostata ready. I was not really found of pies but really liked this one. Try out this and post your comments on how it turned out.

Thank you to Daring Bakers Challenge for this one. Looking forward for more challenges.


ENJOY!!!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

****Diwali Special****



Diwali popularly is one of the most famous festival of our country India. Known as the festival of lights it depicts the driving away of darkness and imbibing the light of knowledge. On this day houses are lighted with diyas welcoming Goddess Lakshmi.

I remember celebrating Diwali back home with fire crackers, lighting our house with diyas and having lots of sweets. This Diwali was special to us since it was first one after we bought our little nest this year. I was so particular that we light the lamps in our house. Even though it was little, we lighted about 15 lamps. Our little nest looked beautiful.

For my blog I wanted to try out some sweets for Diwali which I have never made. Laid my hands on Milk Peda. Who wouldn't like pedas. Had this notion that it was time consuming to make them, but I got this recipe where in 30 minutes you have pedas ready. This recipe was adapted from Hetal and Anuja.



Here you go with the recipe :

Ingredients: (Makes about 20 Milk Pedas)
Milk Powder - 2 cups
Unsalted Butted - 1 stick (about 8 tablespoons)
Condensed Milk - 1 small can

Method:
-- Melt the unsalted butter in microwave in a large glass bowl. Make sure you don't over heat the butter. It      just need to be melted.
-- Measure 2 cups of milk powder and mix it with the melted butter.
-- To the mixture add the condensed milk and mix well.
-- Microwave this mixture for 3 minutes. After each minute stir the mixture well and continue to microwave. This is to cook the mixture.
-- Keep the mixture aside to cool for 10 minutes. Once cooled, grease your hands to make the balls.
-- Flatten the balls a little so that it gets the same of the Peda.
-- Grease the serving dish, so that the peda doesn't stick to it until set.
-- Decorate the peda with nuts, badam or pista. I had made impressions on top of the pedas with flower cutters.

Let the peda set for sometime and refrigerate it. when serving bring it to room temperature.

Enjoy the tasty treat!!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

****Spring Rolls****



Spring rolls are famous Asian appetizers. There are different variations to this in the east Asian countries. In China, Spring rolls are made during their annual Chinese New Year, called Spring Festival and this is were it gets its name. Usually made out of the fresh vegetables from their first harvest, later on it was added with meat.

My love for spring rolls started during college days. I was so fond of this appetizer, we would go to our favorite restaurant just to have the vegetable spring rolls (why vegetarian, because my friend is a veggie). Never bothered to find out how its made. It was a long time ago. When I started missing those yummy spring rolls, decided to check out how its made. And now I can say that am an expert making that. Dont get scared by the simple elegance they show off, spring rolls are easy to make.

And here you go with my own version of the recipe....This recipe makes about 15 spring rolls.

Ingredients:

- Pre-made Frozen wrappers
- 1/4th Cabbage (shredded)
- 1 Carrot (shredded)
- 2 spring onions (chopped)
- 1 cup Boneless chicken (cooked and shredded)
- 1 cup Rice noodles (cooked) - optional
- 2 tablespoon soya sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Salt  (to taste)
- Oil for stir fry and deep frying

This recipe is of non veg spring rolls. Avoid the chicken for the vegetarian. However you are free to add different kinds of meat and veggies according to your preference.

Method: 

- Pour 2 tablespoon oil into a wok or frying pan and heat it at medium to high. Once the pan is hot enough, add the shredded cabbage, carrot and spring onions. Stir fry for a min until the vegetables are soften a little.
- Add soya sauce, sugar and salt to this. Mix well for another min and remove from heat.
- Add the rice noodles and shredded chicken to this mixture. Blend all this together.
- Next step is to assemble the spring rolls. Thaw the frozen wrappers. Once you take the wrappers out of its packet, make sure to cover the rest of it with a wet cloth while you are working with one wrapper. Otherwise the wrappers drys off and would tier off.
- Place once sheet on a clean surface. Take 1 tablespoon of the filling and place it at one corner of the sheet. Spread the filling in length wise. The step by step method of folding the sheet is shown below:



-To secure the rolls, wet the tip with water and pasting it shut.
- Now prepare the wok for deep frying. make sure the oil is very hot before placing the spring rolls. Deep fry them until golden brown.

Your spring rolls are ready to serve. ENJOY!!!



Try out this wonderful snack and do leave a comment on your experience.....

Sunday, October 17, 2010

***Cutest Cake I Ever Baked***

My love for baking started a very long time ago. Each time I visit a bakery, used to wonder how these beautiful cakes were baked and looked so perfect. My mom never baked so always thought it was difficult and couldn't make one at home. Later on when I was on my own and into experimenting all kinds of cooking, did some research on baking. Started trying out different kinds of cakes, realized it was not so tough. Now I am all into baking and cake decoration.

About 2 weeks back we got an invite for a baby shower of our friends Mary and Ruben. They are having a baby boy. We wanted to do something special for them and it was Briji's idea to bake a cake with the little baby boy theme. We got excited on the project and did a lot of research. Finally Briji came up with a beautiful design for the cake and I was all set to make it.

The design had little baby shoes and a blanket. The cake was designed to reflect a messy baby :). The color scheme was blue since its a boy. The flavor was chocolate with chocolate whipped cream filling. The filling was three layer.


The difficult part was to get the little shoes done. We made the template for the shoes first. The material used to make the shoes were gumpaste and fondant. It took me more that 2 hrs to make the shoes and was so amazed by the result. They looked stunning. It was the photo session for the shoes. Briji wouldnt let go of them.

Assembling the rest of the cake was easy. I am posting here just the chocolate cake recipe. Will be giving a detailed description of the shoe making and the icing in another posting. So stay tuned for that one.

Chocolate cake

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup All purpose flour
2 cups Sugar
3/4 cup Cocoa powder
2 teaspoon Baking soda
1 teaspoon Salt
2 Eggs
1 cup Milk
1/2 cup Oil
2 teaspoon Vanilla essence
1 cup Boiling water

Method:

-Preheat the oven at 350 degree and prepare the pan.
- Mix in all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, salt and baking soda) in a bowl.
- To this add the wet ingredients starting with the eggs. Mix well. Pour in the boiling water last and blend well with a mixer.
- Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake it for 1 hour or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.
- Cool the cake before decorating or cutting it.

This is a basic chocolate recipe. This cake is also yum to eat with ice cream.

Final cake....

Mary and Ruben loved this cake and we were happy. Congratulations to them and also wish them a wonderful parenthood.

Monday, October 11, 2010

*****DHOKLA*****

Excitement at its peak, I am ready for my next post. Before I go any further, should thank all my readers. My blog has already got 170 hits since Oct 9th, 2010. Special thanks to my photographer Briji for the wonderful pictures.

I have got suggestions from my readers that they are looking forward for some Indian recipes. So here I am with an Indian snack.
Dhokla is a famous snack from the Indian state of Gujarat. There are different variations of this recipes. It can be made from besan, chickpeas or sooji.  Dhokla made out of sooji is one of the easiest ways.

Ingredients:

1. 2 cups Sooji
2. 2 tablespoon Oil
3. 1 cup Curd
4. 1 cup Water
5. 2 teaspoon Ginger paste
6. Green Chillies (finely chopped) - 2 nos
7. 1/4 teaspoon Turmeric powder
8. 1/2 Lemon juice
9. Salt to taste
10. 1 teaspoon Eno fruit salt

For Seasoning:

1. Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
2. Green Chilies -  to taste
3. Curry leaves

Method:

- Beat the curd into a smooth paste and add the green chilies, ginger paste and turmeric powder to this. Mix well and keep aside.
- Take 2 cups of sooji in a medium sized bowl, add 2 tablespoon of oil to this and mix well using your hand until there are no lumps.
- Add the curd mixture to the sooji and make it a thick batter. To this add 1 cup water, salt and 1/2 lemon juice.
- Keep the prepared batter aside for about 20 mins.
- In the meantime, prepare a tall vessel or pressure cooker (without the weight) with 1.5 inches of water. Bring it to a boil.
- Prepare the Dhokla plates by lightly spraying the cooking oil.
- Once the water comes to a boil, add the eno fruit salt to the batter and immediately pour it to the Dhokla plates only half way through. Place the Dhokla plates into the boiling water and close tightly with the lid.
- Cook the Dhokla for 15- 20 mins until done.
-Switch off and take the Dhokla stand from the cooker. Let it cool for a few mins.
- In the meantime for seasoning, heat oil in a small kadai, add mustards seeds. Once splattered add the green chillies and curry leaves and saute for a few secs.
- Pour the seasoning over the Dhokla. Cut the Dhoklas into any shapes desired.

If you have unexpected guests showing up, this is the best snack to impress them in a quick and easy way. Dhoklas can be served with mint/coriander chutney. If you dont have a Dhokla plate, you may use a cake pan or even plates used for making idli. 

ENJOY!!!







Thursday, October 7, 2010

*****LOLLIPOP CAKES*****



Fascinated by the variety of tasty treats out there, I was in big confusion on which one to be chosen as my first posting. Searched many blogs, recipes all over the place, flipped through food magazines, did loads of research and finally something did catch my attention.

Children are very dear to me. Love to be around them. This sweet treat is dedicated to all those little ones who hold a very special place in mine and Briji's life.

Now to the recipe, Lollipop cakes recipe source was from a Dessert magazine. Trust me, this is one of the easiest recipe that any mom can use to make her kids day very special. And presentation wise you could really amaze your friends.


 Ingredients:

1. 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
2. 1 Teaspoon Cocoa Powder
3. 2 Tablespoon packed Light Brown Sugar
4. 1/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
5. 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
6. 1 Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
7. 2 Tablespoon Water
8. 2 Teaspoon Milk
9. 1 Tablespoon Chocolate Chip
10. 3-4 Tablespoon Milk
11. 4 Lollipop Sticks
12. 1/2 Cup Chocolate Semi-sweet Chips (melted)

Method:

- Preheat the oven at 350 degree. Prepare the mini muffin pan by spraying.
- Combine all the dry ingredients (1-4) and mix well.
- To this mix add olive oil, vinegar, water and milk (5-8) and combine well. Fold in the chocolate chip.
- Pour this batter to the prepared mini muffin. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick is inserted it        comes out clean.
-  Allow the cake to cool. Once cooled break it into small pieces in a bowl and add milk until it becomes sticky.
- Form 1 inch diameter balls and carefully slide a lollipop stick into each of these cake balls.
- Freeze it until the cake hardens (about 20 minutes).
- Now dip the cake in melted chocolate and make sure the whole ball is covered with chocolate. And immediately decorate with sprinkles.
- Allow it to cool on a parchment paper until set.

Enjoy the treats Friends!!!!.

PS: There is a slight variation from the original recipe.



Thursday, September 30, 2010

Something about myself :)

Hey guys, welcome to my world. My name is Hima Rajappan, living in New Jersey with my better half Briji. Speaking about myself, I am just a neighborhood gal, who loves to talk n talk n talk (blah blah blah from Briji's  point of view). Briji says I am too loud while talking, pulls my leg saying that I have swallowed a speaker :). Other than this I love making friends, traveling, reading, dance, painting (in a small way), making crafty things, cooking, you name it I am in except for skydiving!!!

Now coming to my blog, I always wanted to blog. But never knew what to blog about. Was really ignorant about blogging during college days until I landed in SCMS for my masters. Our professors encouraged us to start blogs to pen down our thoughts, but I was one lazy bum who loved to gang around with friends and have fun. But now I realized where my interest is and what I should blog about. Yes friends I am all into cooking and that is what my new world is about.

Cooking, well to talk about that we need to go a few years back. As I mentioned earlier on how lazy I was, never used to go near the kitchen. My mom is a great cook, so just waited for her to make yummy dishes. Food was always my weakness. All I could make was maggie noodles, that too when my friends come over or on group study nights (oh those were the best days of my life, graduation days). Anyways, bad cook, my mom used to be worried on how I will manage a home after marriage. But I was really lucky to get the world's best mom-in-law in all means. She was the sweetest, we are great friends. Never allowed me to enter the kitchen (maybe she was scared of my cooking ;) ).

Anyways, Briji and I relocated to US and I had no choice but start my experimentation. Surprisingly I loved it. I got some tips from my sis-in-law, but the great saver was GOOGLE.COM. I call it the Google God :). Browsed many sites, visited numerous blogs and was fascinated by the variety of dishes. Started trying out each of them and I must say Briji was a great supporter. Now I am not scared to cook and love to entertain our friends and family. I am a certified cake decorator and thats a big achievement for me. I was inspired to start a food blog from Julie and Julia  (amazing movie). So here I am :).

I should thank everybody family and friends who are supporting me. Hope you enjoy my blog and Happy Experimenting!!!