Sunday, 20 July 2014

Kumas

Kumas 

A Parsi cake with Persian roots. Made up of semolina, saffron and almonds it gets its moistness from yogurt. It is dense to the palate and simply delicious. Cardamom and nutmeg flavours it and the combination of whole wheat and white flour gives it the texture.

This is my mum's version of it. I proudly share it today with all of you since I have yet to eat a better Kumas anywhere in the world. She has been requested to bake this for weddings, baby showers, Navroze, tea parties and more. Everyone talks about it amongst her family and friends. Try it out for yourself. Eating it with a dollop of fresh cream skimmed from fresh milk gives it a heavenly taste. Try it with a slice of real cheddar cheese if you prefer. Both add a dimension of their own worth sampling.




Prepare a cake tin with butter and flour.
 9 inch X 13 inch rectangle  or 33cms X 49cms
or
10 inch /25.4cms round cake tin which is deep.

Mix thoroughly 
3/4th cup salted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar

Add in  5 eggs at room temperature, one at a time

In a bowl sift together
1 cup wheat flour
1 cup semolina
3/4th cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

In a cup mix
1 1/2 cup yogurt which has been left out of the fridge for 24 hours
It should be sour and not fresh

Now with the machine beating on a gentle stir, add one third of the dry mix, 1/2 of the yogurt, repeat with the flour the rest of the yogurt and finish it off with the flour.
Allow to stir until smooth.

then add and fold in with a spatula
4 tsp ground cardamom powder
3 tsp grated nutmeg
2 tsp crushed saffron
3/4th cup chopped almonds; keep some of it aside for the top

Pour this mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the chopped almonds. Bake in a pre-heated oven of 350F or 180C degree for upto 1 hour or more until the toothpick comes out clear when tested.

Tips
Saffron is best kept in the refrigerator and can be easily crushed with the back of the spoon as it gets crisp which is an easier method. Alternately, you could boil the strands of saffron in a little warm water and then add it  to the cake.
If you don't have time to sour the yogurt, use 3/4th cup buttermilk and 3/4th cup yogurt to create the sourness. 
The watery part of the yogurt is great for this recipe, do not discard it.
Remember to sift both the flours.It helps make the cake lighter and fluffier and is a very necessary step.
Use coarse semolina and not fine if you can find it.
Almonds are with skin and whole. Roughly chop these leaving 1/3rd of it, more the larger pieces aside for the topping as in the picture.
If you are using a round cake pan it will take an extra 10-15 minutes as it may be deeper than the rectangle one.


For more Parsi Cuisine recipes click
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HBSBLI4
Niloufer's Kitchen: Quick and Easy









Friday, 4 July 2014

Pear Galette

Pear Galette



This is a wonderful simple dessert. 
Makes 12 Galettes
Sheet of rolled out puff pastry
6 small ripe juicy pears, peeled and cut in half
6 tsp sugar
200gms /7 ozs marzipan cut in 12 equal pieces
1 lemon

Cut 12 equal pieces from the rolled out pastry  
Very gently double up the edges of each up by rolling/folding it in ever so slightly
place one piece of marzipan and flatten it out by pressing it down
Place one half of the pear and gently slide a pointed sharp knife in thin slices. Press it down to fan it out.
Sprinkle with a squeeze of lemon juice and 1/2 tsp of sugar
Place in a baking sheet
Repeat with the rest. 
In a preheated oven of 400F or 200 C bake for 12 to 15 minutes until gently caramelized.
Serve warm with whipped cream, vanilla ice-cream or creme anglaise. 

Tips
Use a Turbinado Sugar, it leaves a crunch and caramelises nicely
Thaw the puff pastry for 24 hours in the refrigerator
Best served when warm

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Chicken Farcha or Chicken In A Basket?

Chicken Farcha

The Bohri community is famous for its delicious Chicken Farcha. Freshly deep  fried in huge drums filled with gallons of oil at all wedding feasts its hard not to enjoy it fresh and crisp.
Parsis love Bohri food. It is probably the closest to our own both in flavour and spices. 
This is my version of the Farcha, a bit more "Parsi style" if you like!
The hesitation for most making this at home is the uncertainty of ensuring that the pieces of chicken get cooked quickly enough as it fries. This method I am sharing ensures it is always cooked through. The pieces of chicken used must be on the bone but skinless. Preferably use thigh and legs for perfect pieces. And breast meat should be cooked for a shorter period of time as in the Tips section below. It is delicious but alas only when it is hot off the pan and into the plate.




12 pieces of chicken legs
2 cups of water

Blend together, like a chutney
6 green chillies, roughly chopped
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp garlic
1 packed cup of fresh coriander 
1 tsp salt

In a bowl mix
1 cup of flour
1/2 cup of semolina
1/2 tsp chillie powder
1/2 tsp salt

In another bowl beat 
4 large eggs
4 tbsp cold water
pinch of salt

Oil and Karahai or wok for deep frying

In a pan add the chicken and the spice mix and the water. Bring it to a boil, lower the heat to medium and cook the chicken until it is cooked through about 30 minutes. The water should evaporate and what is left is the chicken and the paste.

Take each piece of chicken and roll it in the egg and then dredge it in the flour. Return it to the egg wash and immediately drop into the hot oil.

Keep a small wok or Karhai ready for oil  which is almost boiling. Lower the pieces of chicken in the fryer and let it brown, it will take 2 minutes. Turn it around on all sides. Do not put more than 3 pieces each time.
Turn it with a fork or a tong to keep it even.
Serve immediately, do not reheat.

Tips

If you prefer to use breast, you must either cook it separately or remove it in 15 minutes. Breast cooks in less than half the time and will become very dry.
Use a flatter pan to cook the chicken and turn it once or twice to ensure all of it is cooked evenly. In a deeper pot the pieces on the 'top' may remain uncooked.
The semolina is optional but gives a nice crunch to the batter. Chilli powder is also an optional ingredient which adds to the flavours of the batter.
Keep the oil clean; if reusing make sure to strain it.
Only start frying when oil is hot. When the oil has a wrinkle ripple you know it is ready.
By adding too many pieces of chicken at a time the oil temperature comes down rapidly and it spoils the batter from crisping up as it should.
Remove and lay on paper towels to drain the excess oil.


For more Parsi recipes click
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HBSBLI4

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Mushroom Filo Cups

                          Mushroom Filo Cups

Cooking can be fun if you simply allow yourself to relax and enjoy it. Creating something without always worrying about the outcome can build confidence. It can only ever be so bad that while you sit round the  family dining table sharing the meal you just created everyone is having a good laugh at what may have gone south!





Filo cups were created  out of the blue and accidentally. I simply cut the sheets in half, brushed each paper thin filo sheet with melted butter, literally scrunched the sheet and pushed it into a buttered cup-cake or muffin  tray mould. Press down the centre and its done. Repeat with the rest of the tray.
Bake in a preheated oven of 400F/200C for 10 minutes until cooked through. When ready to serve, spoon in the filling preferably that has been warmed. Bake again for 3 minutes in the warm oven and serve immediately.

Makes 36 filo cups

For the Mushroom filling
2 lb chopped mushroom melange
4 tbsp salted butter
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp freshly cracked melange of peppers 
6 tbsp cream
150 gms/5 ozs  Garlic cream cheese at room temperature
150 gms/5 ozs herb cream cheese at room temperature
Optional 4 tbsp cognac or sherry or port

In a pan heat the oil and butter.
Saute the mushrooms and sprinkle the salt and the flour all over.
Add the cream.  Mix well. Let it thicken. It must boil for a few minutes. 
Now cool and add the cheese. Mix well.  When ready to fill the cups; reheat lightly. Spoon into the filo cups  and reheat for 3 minutes. Serve warm.

Tips
Take 454 gms or 1 lb package of filo sheets, Thaw in the fridge for 24 hours.  Keep it moist on a damp towel while working with it. Work quickly as it dries and will start cracking.

Use a wonderful mix of fresh mushrooms. This is not a recipe for canned mushrooms.

You can use whole milk if you do not have cream.

It tastes best when warm.

For more ideas for filling filo cups with a lovely sweet one visit my Moroccan recipe book by simply clicking  this http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00GP0CSBI

Friday, 20 June 2014

Tamota Ma Gosh/ Tomato Stew With Lamb

Tomato Ma Gos or
Tomato Stew with Lamb



Ingredients
1 kg 2.2lb lamb in 1 1/2 inch pieces bone in
1 kg/2.2lbs fresh tomatoes blanched peeled and chopped
 2 medium potatoes peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
3 medium finely chopped onions, fried golden brown in 3 tbsp oil
2 tsp crushed fresh garlic
2 tsp crushed fresh ginger
1 tsp chilli powder
1 1/2 tsp cummin powder
2 finely chopped green chillies
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp jaggery
1 cup water

Method
Heat the oil and fry the onions, add all the spices, garlic and ginger pastes. Stir a couple of minutes and add the meat. Once it changes colour, add the tomatoes and a cup of water.
Cook for 45 minutes and add the potatoes and jaggery.
Cook for another 45 minutes until the meat and the potatoes are soft and well cooked. The water evaporated and it looks like a nice thick shiny stew. The tomatoes should be crushed to help this along with the back of your spoon.
Taste for sweetness and add more jaggery if you like.
Serve with warm chapati or naan.

Tips
Use chopped tomato cans if you prefer or whole peeled ones, but not crushed ones.
Brown sugar is a good substitute for jaggery but the sheen is different with jaggery.


Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Paaprie



  Paaprie

This Indian vegetable is seasonal. It can be delicious if cooked properly. Not a popular dish with younger folk it needs to be spiced up with lots of trimmings as in the recipe below. I take this opportunity to thank my neighbour Baki aunty for sharing this recipe with me. I actually started enjoying this dish once I had this at her home. Although slightly tweaked it basically remains her recipe for which I am ever so grateful. 





1 kg/.2lbs flat paaprie beans, cleaned and washed
2 chopped onions raw
4-6 small baby white egg plants
2 small tomatoes
6 small potatoes, halved and unpeeled
1 large sweet potato thickly sliced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 onions crisply fried and crushed
1 tsp each of ginger and garlic
1 whole garlic pod
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp each of chillie powder, coriander powder
1 1/2tsp cumin powder,
1 tbsp  kashmiri paste
1 tsp salt




Prepare all the vegetables. Wash pat dry and cut into equal sized pieces.
In a large flat pan about 14 inch/35cms in diameter, layer with the paaprie beans, cover with raw onion pieces, baby aubergines/eggplants, tomatoes cut in big chunks, potatoes, sweet potatoes, fried onions and garlic pods.
Add 1 tsp of ginger and 1 tsp of garlic paste.
Now sprinkle it all over with safflo oil, salt, 1 tbsp of tomato paste, chillie powder, a pinch of turmeric, coriander powder, cumin powder, a tbsp of kashmiri masala paste.

Cover the lid and let it steam cook for 45 minutes.
To test poke the potato and test if soft and done.


Optionally  sprinkle with some fresh coriander leaves and a pinch of ajwan and steam 10 more minutes. Serve with hot chapattis.

Tips 
The paaprie must be young a crisp. The sides must be peeled of the string. Larger ones tend to be tougher  with thicker strings. 

Add small meatballs if you wish toward the later part of the cooking. 

Do not mix this dish with a spoon only shake the pan to allow it to settle.

For more delicious Parsi recipes click 

http://www.amazon.com/Niloufers-Kitchen-Quick-Niloufer-Mavalvala-ebook/dp/B00HBSBLI4

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Sweet Roulade/Swiss Roll


Sweet Roulade

Also referred to as a swiss roll this dessert is elegant and delicious. Originally filled with a layer of jam and rolled up, it is now available in every variation, with chocolate and cream marketed extensively. It is believed that the English based cookbooks had a swiss roll published as early as 1870's.  A roulade can be meringue or cake based while the 'swiss roll' only refers to a cake rolled with a thin layer of cream, chocolate or jam.

It can be fairly easy to make. The flavours are so fresh the perfect way to end a casual dinner on a balmy night.Try adding a creamy blue cheese; available in a variety of peach, apricot and other fruits it will take it up a notch. 







Prepare a large baking sheet, generally 15X 9 inches. Parchment paper, butter and flour will do the trick.
Preheat the oven to 400F/200C degrees.



Ingredients
4 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
3/4th cup sugar
1/2 cup twice sifted flour
  tsp baking powder
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
 tsp vanilla

Method
Beat the eggs till they are a pale lemon coloured, light and airy, tripled in volume. This will take a good 12-15 minutes by an electric beater. 
Lower the beater to stir, or stop and fold in with a  metal spoon by hand. First put half the dry ingredients, gently fold. Sprinkle the liquid. Fold. Add the remaining dry ingredients. Fold.
Pour into prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Test with a skewer to make sure it is baked. The skewer should be clean. Do not overcook or it will be dry.

 Keep a tea towel spread out on your kitchen counter sprinkled with icing sugar or fine sugar.

Remove the ready roll and immediately turn it over on the towel, start from the edge of the towel. Lift the tray and peel the paper. Roll the cake starting from the edge closest to yourself. It will roll easily. Use the thumbs to push it from beneath the towel. Tuck in the sides of the tea towel and leave to cool and assemble until you need it.
Do not refrigerate.

Filling
250gms/8 ozs/1 cup mascarpone cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup passion fruit curd
1/2 cup lemon curd
1 tbsp limoncillo
pinch of salt

In a bowl beat the mascarpone cheese with a pinch of salt. Fold in the passionfruit and lemon curds. Add a dash of limoncillo.
It should be soft and fluffy.

Roll out the cake. Tip over all the filling and spread evenly. Roll the cake with the filling. Nudge gently and it will go back to rolling easily. keep it covered with the tea towel until you need to serve. 
Decorate it with some of the curd drizzling it all over.

Tips
For the more adventurous, add a 1/2 cup of a blue and fruity cream cheese. There are some available in apricot and peach. 
It is fine on its own, but you can serve it with mixed berries, nuts or even some melted chocolate.
Assemble only a couple of hours prior to serving as it dries up in the fridge and can melt if the weather is too hot.
Use only one kind of curd if you prefer.
Any left over extra curd can be applied to the cake in a thin layer before the filling.
Thin down the curd in the bottle to use as a drizzle. Use lemon juice or liqueur.
If you do not have Limoncillo, Gin is a brilliant substitute! Made from Juniper berries it is the fruitiest.
Add vanilla to the filling if you like.
If you don't feel brave enough to roll, make the cake in two 9 inch cake pans and layer them with the filling. Cover the top with your berries. Allow it to drip all over the sides. It looks amazing.
Use the same filling on a pavlova. It tastes and looks great.
Serve with berries.







Sunday, 8 June 2014

Fish Lasagne

Fish Lasagne

Lasagne a crowd pleaser always reminds you of minced meat and tomato sauce! Well this one has neither, is simple enough to make and tastes simply divine.
Pescetarians smile, someone finally gave you lots of thought!



Hot and Bubbling Fish Lasagne












There are 3 simple parts to it.

Ingredients
1kg/ 2.2lb Salmon fillet, skinless and boneless, cut into 2 inch chunks
3 sheets fresh pasta
6 1/2 cups milk, not skimmed
1/2 cup full cream
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup salted butter
1 1/2  tsp salt
freshly cracked mixed peppercorns
freshly scraped nutmeg
6-8 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs like dill and chives to taste
2 freshly grated garlic cloves + 1more
1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese
2  cans  asparagus, drained

Method
In a large pan make the bechamel sauce. Melt the butter, add the flour and mix to make a roux. Slowly add the milk stirring with a whisk until smooth and comes to a boil for 2 minutes. Add the freshly grated crushed garlic cloves,  the cream, the cheese and all the spices; salt, pepper, nutmeg, herbs. Once it is ready, toss  in the pieces of fish  allow it to cook for about 3 minutes and assemble.

Boil a flat pan of water, add olive oil and salt. Dip the fresh pasta sheet into it for exactly 60 seconds.
Keep this ready to alternate as you assemble the dish.

Assemble

Rub a clove of garlic all over the pan.
Lay down one sheet of cooked pasta. Pour the sauce over, put another cooked sheet of pasta, lay out the asparagus and pour more sauce over. Repeat with the pasta and pour the rest of the sauce.Sprinkle with parmesan all over, dot with butter and bake for 40-45 minutes before serving.  Oven should be at 350F/180C. Serve hot. Best eaten warm.

Tips
Fresh Pasta comes in flavours of herbs like basil, spinach mixed herbs, spinach etc., Use one of them if you have access to it. Plain works fine too.

Once baked it should have a wonderful golden brown colour on top and be bubbling all over.
Do not reheat.

This freezes well and you can prepare it but not bake it. Cover it well with cling film and foil to prevent freezer burns. Defrost for 24 to 48 hours in the fridge. Bring it to room temperature and then bake for 45 minutes.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Cheesecake Anyone?

Cheesecake
My version of a cheesecake........Its soft, smooth, lemony and yummy.


Originally a two-layered cake, the cheesecake was made up of a thin layer of cake at the bottom and the soft cheese custard filling on top.

Like every recipe that evolves and leaves its indelible mark, it is the New York Cheesecake that has left its impression. This already established centuries-old Greek and Roman recipe became a household name as late as the 1900's. Inspite of almost every European country on the continent making their own version of a cheesecake, it is still generally considered to be an American dessert! The power of advertisement? 

The base can be made up of either  graham crackers, digestive biscuits or even sweet tea biscuits that are crushed and mixed with melted butter before being patted down into the pan. Some use ginger biscuits for an added flavour.
Many like myself make their own dough. This is first baked before adding the filling on top to prevent it becoming soggy.  Vanilla extract, lemon zest and fresh lemon juice flavours most cheesecakes. Oranges are often an alternative. Sugar or honey sweetens it. Any starch like flour or potato starch is added as a thickener if being baked. Gelatin leaves are the binder in the non-baked cheesecakes. Cream is added for richness. Fresh berries and whipped cream are common accompaniments.

The filling itself is made up of a soft cream cheese, depending on the geography or origin of the cheesecake. The famous New york cheesecake uses processed cream cheese. This was quite accidental while trying to replicate a popular soft unripened French cheese Neufchatel. Named after a commune in Normandy in Northwest France, the Neufchatel was produced as early as the 11th century and continues to follow the same process. 

A typical French cheesecake these days is made up of Fromage Blanc, puff pastry and is only an inch in height. (It is believed that France produces very limited cream cheese. Perhaps a sure sign of protest  to the very existence of something not truly categorically cheese; it is regarded as an insult to the wonderful array of cheese they do produce!) The Bavarian German cheesecake typically uses Quark and cream. Italians make their cheesecake with Ricotta and like to add candied fruit to it as well. This tends to be a drier consistency and hence some prefer to use Mascarpone to keep the cheesecake smoother and creamier. The Swedish like to serve theirs warm straight from the oven. The Polish use their local soft cheese called the twarog or twarozek. Funnily, it is almost identical to the Indian Paneer that I use in my own cheesecake!

Belgium and the Netherlands continue to be traditional  and serve a non-baked cheesecake using melted dark chocolate to flavour it. A traditional sweet biscuit is the base for this. 
Bulgarian and other Eastern European peoples add ground nuts to the base and top their cheesecake with a sour cream topping called Smetana before baking it, making it a three-layer cheesecake. And the Greeks, where this journey all began, use the Mizithra/Myzithra—a soft cheese made from goat or sheep's milk and whey thus continuing their centuries-old tradition of their version of cheesecake.

What's in a name, Gateau au Fromage, Kasekuchen, Sernik, Sajttorta, Bolo de queijo; how wonderfully different are each of these that are all commonly called Cheesecake! 

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Corn; The Grain Of The Aztecs

Corn on the cob; popular at fairs and melas all over the world. I remember the street food that vendors freshly charcoaled on their makeshift fires. Slathering a touch of spice and salt with a half-cut lime!! Boiled, charcoaled, grilled, steamed it all tastes good.

Believed to have been first farmed in Mexico, the corn is also referred to as maize. It is a grain as old as the Aztecs. The corn is used to make flour and oil. Also sold in tin cans as kernels or creamed corn, included in candy, corn syrup. Used as a feed to graze cattle and in commercial products such as scotch tape and making boxes. Puddings, desserts, popcorn, corn soup, salads, stews, rice, risotto, tamales all use some form of corn. Tortillas, bread and muffins are commonly made of corn. A versatile agricultural product.



Depending on how ripe or raw the ear of corn is picked the kernels can be sweet and milky or hard and starchy. We generally buy it to eat when it is young, while the starchy ones are used for grinding into flour; cornflour. In South America, kernels of corn are cooked in oil to plump up and double in size to eat as an appetiser called cancha.

The ear of corn is generally tightly wrapped in green leaves called the husk and there are fine silk like threads or the pistillate. Husking or shucking corn is generally done by hand where all of the outer layers are removed before cooking it. These husks are also commonly used to wrap Tamales in besides other use.

Corn is found in a variety of colours like white, yellow, purple-blue and red. It is a healthy snack and contains manganese, vitamin B's besides phosphorous and fibre.