Caramelized White Chocolate

The word “caramelized” followed by anything in a recipe is usually enough to have me salivating. Fruits, vegetables, condensed milk, anything. Hence, it’s not a surprise that I’ve been lusting for caramelized white chocolate for some time now.

I have to say though, I did have trouble making this. This was mostly because I couldn’t find a good bar of white chocolate, and had to make do with a dubious brand that didn’t even list the percentage of cocoa butter on the label. The chocolate kept getting grainy and was difficult to stir. But pleasantly enough, it transformed itself to a nice, delicious, smooth consistency after I blended it with some cream in my mixer.

Because I had so much trouble with the recipe, I think it’s best I point you in the direction of the original recipe that is quite detailed and helpful (the cream+blending tip was from here):

Caramelized white chocolate from davidlebovitz.com

Posted in Sweet | 3 Comments

Orange Infused White Chocolate Popsicles

Here in Delhi, it’s difficult to mourn the end of summer. It creeps up on you a bit, you suddenly start to realize that you can walk down the street without breaking a sweat. The morning and evening breezes beg open windows and the residents of this gigantic city slowly start to make their way out. Smaller parks will start to fill up with men taking an afternoon nap, and larger gardens will see everybody: families on the weekends, students during the week, big kids playing with little kids and dog owners taking longer walks than usual. The city’s few quirky cafes will open up their outdoor seating and the young and well-woolled will swoop in and then laze around like puppies in the sun.

People look happier here during the winter. It’s probably because we collectively stop scowling with the searing heat gone.

Naturally with summer ending, I suddenly remembered the popsicle molds I’ve used only a handful of times this summer, and I’m glad I did or I would’ve never come up with these lovely things.

Orange Infused White Chocolate Popsicles
Makes 6-8 sticks (depending on the size of your mold)

These popsicles are rich, creamy and bright with the orange flavor from the zest. I left the zest in because I wanted the pretty little orange flecks to show in my popsicle, but I have to admit that I didn’t like them interrupting the creamy texture of the custard. I would say strain it out out before pouring the custard into the molds. Also, I have no idea of standard sizes for popsicle molds, this recipe filled up my six piece mold and I still had half a cup left over (which made a nice pudding, so no one complained). I encourage you to make it anyhow, and eat any leftovers for pudding while waiting for the popsicles to freeze!

4 tablespoons white chocolate
2 1/2 cups whole milk (though skimmed will do)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (or use salted and omit the additional salt)
1 teaspoon finely grated/chopped orange zest (loving my new microplane for this!)

In a medium sized, thick bottomed saucepan, add the chocolate and 1/2 cup of milk. On a low heat, stir with a spatula, till the chocolate has melted.

In a bowl, whisk the cornstarch into the remaining 2 cups of milk, making sure no lumps form (ideally you should do this with a small amount of the milk, in a separate smaller bowl before adding it to the rest of the milk, but heck, breaking culinary rules is how I like to live it large).

Add the milk mixture, sugar, salt and orange zest to the pan and stir.

Stir constantly, making sure to wipe down the sides and the bottom of the saucepan with your spatula. Cook for about 10 minutes on a medium heat, or until the custard thickens (a bit more than a creme-anglaise, but less than for a custard pie). To make sure its thick enough, run your finger down the custard coating your spatula, this should leave behind a well defined line.

Whisk in the butter and take the custard of the heat. Tranfer to another bowl (this would be a good time to strain out the zest) and allow it to cool a bit before spooning the mixture into the molds.

Freeze 8 hours or overnight. To un-mold, run them stick side down under water for about 30 seconds and pull out. To free up freezer space, it’s a good idea to un-mold all the popsicles and wrap in clingfilm to store in the freezer.

Posted in Fruit, Sweet, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

And I’m Back (Also, Poached Egg with Stir Fried Spinach)

Hello Reader,

It’s been some time. It’s been three months to be precise. I had promised to be back two and a half months ago. But stuff happened. A lot of stuff.

It all started on my vacation to Goa (which was gorgeous and lush in its extremely-pregnant-with-the-monsoon-rains state). Drunk on the gorgeousness of the place (plus some very delicious Kings Beer), and the desire to explore more of this amazing country while we’re still young, we started to plan our next vacation — for the next week.

And so we went to Benaras. And then Bombay, from where we went to a house on the banks of a gorgeous lake. Before coming back to Delhi. And then suddenly the holidays and travelling was over and I had to say a very heartbreaking goodbye to someone I love very much (see, a lot of stuff happened!).

And then my life changed a bit. I started working towards getting a dream job at a dream company. I then got the job and did a lot of happy dances. And now I am finally settling into a new, mostly improved life.  There are so many details about all of this that I want to share, but I’ll do it bit by bit.

In the meanwhile, let me tell you about breakfast. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but eggs are one of my favorite foods. I can eat three meals a day that would feature it prominently, but I try not to for obvious reasons. Today’s eggy love was a perfectly poached egg with stir fried spinach and sticks of toast.

Poached Egg with Stir Fried Spinach
Serves 1

While I love the combination of buttery greens, eggs and bread, I felt like eating something a bit more fresh-tasting this morning. Hence the spinach here is given a slightly asian stif-fry treatment. The measurements for this recipe, as with most savory recipes, is loose and to taste. If you want to have this for lunch, I would suggest eating it on a thickly sliced and toasted piece of French or Italian bread. 

Also, if you’re nervous about poaching eggs, this is a really great tutorial from Smitten Kitchen. 

1 cup roughly chopped spinach
1 tsp/2 small cloves garlic
a few drops of dark soy (to taste)
3-4 drops toasted sesame oil
1 tsp neutral flavored oil (I use canola but any vegetable oil will do)
1/4 piece of a small lemon

1 large egg
1tbsp vinegar (plain white is best here)
water for poaching

Clean and chop the spinach and garlic, set aside. Keep the soy and sesame oil at hand. Cut the piece of lemon and set aside.

Set a pot of water to boil (a medium sized one is good. I used to use a rather small pot, in which I could never get a properly shaped poached egg, but am very easily able to do so in a medium sized pot).

Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan and add the garlic. Fry 30 seconds or a minute till the garlic is a blonde-golden color. Add the spinach and stir. Continue stirring on a medium high heat for 2-3 minutes till the spinach is wilted and darker in color, add the soy sauce and sesame oil, stir and remove from the heat.

By this time the water should have come to the boil. Crack the egg into a bowl. Add the vinegar to the water and stir the water to create a slight whirlpool. Add the egg to the center of the pot and set your timer to 4 minutes (I cooked mine for 3 and a half minutes because the egg was rather small).

Plate up: Put your choice of bread in your toaster. Pile the spinach on a plate and drizzle with some lemon juice. Once the egg is cooked, remove from the water using a slotted spoon and place on top of the spinach, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Slice the toast into sticks and eat.

Posted in Savory | 3 Comments

Fresh Homemade Ricotta

Sometimes, the best food posts are the ones that get you salivating over something distant and far away, and then tell you how to make it at home. Smitten Kitchen’s Deb did just that. After raving about Salvatore Bklyn‘s fresh, rich ricotta on her “Deb’s New York” page, she painted the most beautiful, irresistible palate portrait (yes I just said palate portrait) of it in her post instructing you on how to make it. And make it I did.

And after making the cheese which takes twenty minutes of your time and an hour and a half of draining time, I swirled in a hint of vanilla extract and a tiny bit of honey, smeared the mixture into a buttery homemade tart shell and topped it with the fruit at hand – in this case, the sweetest mangoes imaginable.

But more on these tarts next week (I would post earlier, but unfortunately I’m off to GOA!!), I urge you to make the ricotta TODAY and eat it on toasted bread with extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. Do it.

Fresh Homemade Ricotta
completely un-adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes one generous cup

I love DIY recipes like these that with minimal effort and time produce fantastic results at a fraction of the cost of the product on the shelf (cheeses in India are really very expensive). Deb’s recipe “blasphemously” incorporates not only full fat milk, but also heavy cream, producing a luxurious, rich, addictive ricotta that you are likely to start making on the regular (I know I will!).

3 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Pour the milk, cream and salt into a deep saucepan. If you have a candy/deep fry thermometer, heat the mixture till it reaches 190 degrees F, stirring every once in a while to stop the bottom from burning. If you, like me, don’t have a candy thermometer, heat the mixture till its quite hot to the touch, but not scorching.

Turn off the heat, add the lemon juice and stir a few times. The mixutre will start to curdle almost instantly. Leave the pot undisturbed for five minutes.

Meanwhile, line a large strainer with muslin/cheesecloth and set it over a bowl to catch the whey. Empty the contents of the pot into the lined strainer and leave the cheese to strain for an hour to two hours (depending on how thick you want the ricotta, I strained mine for an hour and a half).

Once drained, you can eat the ricotta immediately, or store it in the fridge in an airtight container.

Posted in Fruit, Savory | 9 Comments

Bread Rolls

I used to think I had a love-hate relationship with carbs. But then something changed the first time I kneaded a yeasted dough (not too long ago). It made me realize that it wasn’t love hate, it was real true love. Sure our relationship can get testy sometimes, especially when weighing scales get involved (the bastards) and sometimes our relationship gets uncertain when the dough doesn’t rise as fast as expected. But love always prevails. I always come back for more carbs.

I am not going to pretend I know how to bake bread, this is only my second attempt (not counting pizza or sugared cinnamon treats). There is definitely something about knotting up strands of dough into cute little rolls that makes me feel super awesome and unusually dexterous (although it does not require real dexterity, I promise).

Bread Rolls
Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday

The dough in this recipe is a simple white sandwich bread dough. It’s a bit sweet, with a really nice, delicious crumbly crust. I sprinkled my rolls with black sesame seeds because thats what I had on hand, you could sprinkle them with whatever garnish you choose, a mix a of white and black sesame seeds might look nice. The original recipe of course uses the overnight cold fermentation technique, but I let my dough rise for two hours at room temperature because I was too impatient and didn’t want to wait another day to stuff my face with these. I also omitted the whole egg that the original recipe calls for because I intended on sharing these with someone eggy-dough averse.

1 tbsp instant yeast, or 1 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp (425 g) lukewarm milk
6 1/4 cups (794 g) flour
2 tsp (14 g) salt
5 1/2 tbsp (78 g) sugar
6 tbsp (85 g) vegetable oil
1 egg (which I omitted with fine results)

For egg wash and garnish:
1 egg white
2 tbsp water
Sesame seeds/poppy seeds/garnish of choice

Whisk yeast into lukewarm milk (should be around 35 degrees C), set aside for 5 minutes. Sift flour, salt, sugar into a large bowl. Add oil and milk mixture (and egg if using) and stir in with a wooden spoon. Continue mixing for 2 minutes and then start to bring in the coarse dough with your hands. You can switch to a lightly floured work surface (my dough was doing fine in at this stage in the bowl) and knead for about five minutes. If the dough becomes difficult to knead, let it rest for a few minutes before resuming the kneading. The dough will be slightly sticky and soft. Knead it for one more minute and form it into a bowl.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl (I used the mixing bowl, wiped clean and oiled for this), cover the bowl with cling film and let it rise till doubled in size, this can take anywhere between an hour to a few hours depending on the temperature.

Once ready, divide the dough into balls weighing about 57 grams each, or if you don’t have a weighing scale, you could eyeball it. Each piece should be a small palm full, and the dough should yield about 24 rolls, give or take a few. Cover the dough balls loosely with a cloth or cling film while working with each roll.

To make the knots:

Take a piece of dough, cup your palm over it and roll the dough on the surface to create a smooth ball of dough. Now using a flat hand, roll the dough back and forth to create a small cylindrical shape. Now using both hands, roll the dough back and forth, and move your hands outwards (from the center to the ends) to elongate the strand of dough. Do this till it is about 10 inches in length. Now, take one end of the dough and place it over the other side (making the sort of ribbon shape you would make for AIDS awareness day).  Take the end of the upper strand and bring it through the loop, leaving some space in the loop. Take the lower strand and bring it through the remaining gap in the loop. You should have a bit of dough poking through both sides of the knot. Pick a prettier side and lay it on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Repeat with the rest of the dough, placing them two inches apart (you will need two baking sheets for this).

Cover the baking sheets with a cloth or clingfilm, and put in a warm place to proof. Once the rolls have risen to 1 1/2 times its size, preheat oven to 200 degrees C.

Brush the rolls with egg wash, sprinkle over seeds of your choice and bake for about 15-18 minutes, till done.

Posted in Savory | 2 Comments

Minus One Laptop

Sometimes you realize that you need to learn how to live life without your computer. Like this past week. Upon my return from an exhausting work related (no fun-times included) trip to a small town in Rajasthan last weekend, I discovered that my laptop had fared worse than me on the journey back.  When it wouldn’t turn on, I put on a brave face and sent it for repairs and secretly wondered how I would sleep at night without watching an episode or two of my favorite shows.

Of course, I survived. And now that my baby is back I can show you what I’ve been up to this past week.

Chutney was involved: Raw mango, mint and coriander.

Raw mango chutney

Which was eaten with my “last meal ever” of choice: Yellow dal with popadums and a simple radish and tomato salad.

And dad’s unbeatable Rajma Chawal

A lot of pasta was eaten: Lazy Girl Pasta

And maybe a salad or two.

After which I had to bake up some brown butter chocolate chunk cookie dough. (happy sigh)

I would tell you more about these right now, but I am being driven to distraction by (next post spoiler alert!!) the smell of bread wafting out of my kitchen.

Have a good weekend y’all!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 4 Comments

Favorite Banana Bread

The great thing about butter sugar and flour, is that you can make it do so many different things to suit your (lets face it: annoyingly large and swingy) range of moods. You can turn it into dense and fudgey blondies and brownies, or light and moist cupcakes and comforting buttery pound cakes. Or you can add bananas and a few other favorite ingredients to make breakfast.

My breakfast of choice? Banana chocolate and almond bread.

The aroma wafting out of the oven of this...mmmm mmm

Banana Chocolate Almond Bread

This bread is moist on the inside with an ever so slightly chewy crust. The chocolate in here is not just for names sake, and neither is the banana. Both flavors come through wonderfully. If you have some good quality cocoa powder hiding somewhere in your pantry that you’re saving for something fancier, I think you should really think about using it here instead, it will be well worth it. Also, it is always better to roast and chop your own almonds, the pre-roasted and sliced stuff is just not as flavorful. Feel free to substitute with other nuts, walnuts are a good option.

(Also, I promise to note down and update the measurements in weights next time I make this, since its difficult to be precise while measuring bananas or measurements like “a scant cup” )

4 ripe bananas (preferably more spotty than the ones I used in the picture above)

2 cups all purpose flour

1 scant cup unsweetened cocoa

1/2 cup roughly chopped roasted almonds

7 tbsp butter, melted

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp good quality dark rum (optional, but reccomended)

2 eggs

2 tbsp sour cream (or yogurt)

2 tsp baking powder

Method:

Preheat oven to 175 degrees C.

Butter a 9×5 inch loaf tin, and line the bottom.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas, mix in the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla rum, sour cream and baking powder (did I mention that this was a one bowl recipe? Bonus!). Add flour a third at time and fold in with a spatula till incorporated. Add almonds, and fold in.

Scrape batter into prepared loaf tin and set upon an insulated baking sheet. If you don’t have one (I don’t), just stack two baking sheets one on top of the other and set your loaf tin on top (tip from Joy the Baker). This will keep the bottom from burning. Shove the whole thing in the oven and set your timer to 70 minutes. About 30 minutes through the cooking process, open the oven, try not to swoon at the delicious aroma that just hit you in the face and then loosely cover the tin with foil (again, tip from Joy the Baker). This will keep the top from burning.

Once cooked, set the tin on a cooling rack for 30 minutes. Run a knife along the edges and take your delicious smelling banana bread out of the tin and set on the cooling rack till completely cooled. Or dig right in.

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