Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pomegranate - Raspberry Vinaigrette and the Salads

Pomegranates are quite in season right now. They come here from the Mediterranean regions. I love to add them in fruit salads, but I felt like making something along with green salads leaves and then the thought of a red raspberry vinaigrette came to my mind, which I had eaten once a long time ago at a restaurant. Since I had frozen raspberries I felt like trying it out.
While making the vinaigrette, I remembered the bottle of pumpkin seed oil which I had bought recently, after having prepared some pumpkin recipes and having felt the urge to use pumpkin seed oil as well. But somehow I never came to use it until now. And I opened the bottle of the oil and the smell of it told me immediately that it was just the right kind of salad oil for this sweet dressing. It has a very pleasant, a sweet and delicate flavour, which you don't guess on seeing the dark colour of the oil. The dark colour of the oil made the dressing not so bright red in colour, but I feel it still looks quite beautiful.

Pomegranate Raspberry Vinaigrette

Modified from the recipe of Raspberry Vinaigrette from 'Le Cordon Bleu - Saucen (German version)'

Ingredients:
50 g raspberries
50 g pomegranate seeds
2 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
50-100 ml pumpkin seed oil (organic) - use quantity to taste
100-150 ml neutral oil like maize or sunflower (depending on the amount of pumpkin seed oil used)
1 tbsp sugar or to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Method:
  • Puree raspberries and pomegranate along with the vinegar using a hand stick blender
  • pour the oils slowly one after the other while mixing with the hand blender
  • pass through a fine sieve to remove the seeds
  • add sugar, salt and pepper to taste
Avocado and Pomegranate Salad


Serves 4 people

Ingredients:
1 small yellow bell peppers, washed and cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 pomegranate, the seeds
1-2 ripe Avocado, halved, peeled and cut into long slices or bite sized pieces
salad leaves like arugula or corn salad - a handful per person, washed, and, if required, cut into smaller pieces
1 1/2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, roasted in very little olive or sunflower oil
30-40 ml pomegranate and raspberry vinaigrette
4 tsp pumpkin seed oil

Method:
  • Lay the salad bell peppers, avocado and pomegranate on the plates
  • roast the pumpkin seeds till they start to pop and sprinkle over the salad
  • Drizzle little vinaigrette and the pumpkin seed oil and serve
I love this combination of pumpkin seed oil and the two fruits - raspberries and pomegranate. It is a kind of vinaigrette, which I feel goes very well with avocado, as suggested in the book as well. Since I the beginning I wasn't very sure about what all things to combine with it, I just stuck to avocado and pomegranate seeds along with the corn salad. And it was lovely! I loved the sweet and tangy pomegranate seeds in the salad, and the combination of pomegranate with raspberries in the vinaigrette. So, the next time I also added yellow bell peppers and tomatoes, as I feel they are also on the sweeter side in flavour, and used arugula leaves. I would have loved to add some roasted pumpkin seeds to it, but just didn't remember in time and then later on my two men were too hungry for me to let them wait longer. But, it is worth the effort and I love to add roasted nuts and seeds in my salads, whatever kinds they be.

I'm sending this over to the POM Wonderful Contest being held at The Leftover Queen this month.

POM Wonderful is offering attractive prizes and all the Foodie Blogroll members are eligible to take part in it. Check at the FoodieBlogroll/leftover Queen Forum for details.

Black Olive and Sage pesto


This was a very spontaneous idea to make something quick and easy for dinner. And then there is this event going on, which came to my mind and doubled the fun factor to experiment. :)
And I was surprised at how good it turned out. Blogging surely gives these creative spurts to you...uhhh...me. :) So, what about you?


Black olive and Sage Pesto

Ingredients:
80-100 g stoned black olives
a handful of sage leaves, chopped coarsely (from the garden)
2 large garlic cloves, chopped coarsely
1/2 handful of walnuts (optional -I left them out)
1 dried red chili, broken into pieces, seeds removed*
2 tbsp lemon juice
30 ml olive oil (roughly)

Method:
Grind everything together with a hand stick blender and season with salt to taste.
Use it on Italian bread slices to bake in the oven for a few minutes
or
as a pesto for pasta dish, like we did here:Pasta with black olive pesto

Ingredients:
1/4 to 1/3 packet of pasta (penne, tagliatelle or others)
1 large red onion, halved and cut into thin slices or chopped into smaller pieces
1 large garlic, chopped finely or crushed with a garlic press
8 medium mushrooms, quartered
1/2 zucchini, cut into 5 mm rings and then each ring into 4 thin stripes
4 large dried red tomatoes (Italian)
1 /3 cup stoned black olives, halved
5-6 large sage leaves, chopped
4 tbsp black olive pesto (see above)
3 tbsp red pesto - I used store bought one this time
olive oil
salt to taste
Parmesan to garnish (optional)- I left it out

Method:
  • Cook pasta till al dente with salt in enough water
  • Fry the garlic and onion for a minute in olive oil on high heat
  • reduce heat to medium high and add mushrooms and dried tomatoes, fry till done
  • add zucchini and sage and fry till cooked but still crispy
  • add the pesto and fry for short
  • serve warm
*Remove the seeds of the chili to reduce the hotness, or use them along, and you can adjust the amount of chili to your taste

We enjoyed eating this pasta a lot. I was a bit irritated that I had not taken care and the pasta had turned a bit too soft. Sonny boy was driving me crazy at that time and I was so busy trying to calm down - myself............:D!
But, then I tried to wash it with cold water once and save the pasta and it was just about OK. Hubby liked it and said very sportively that it doesn't matter and sat down at the table with enthusiasm, but like usual mentioned at the end that he doesn't like black olives. He can alwaaaa...ays find something to complain about. Grrrrrrrr........!
I loved the combination of sage and black olives and I purposefully left out the walnuts which I could have added to it, as I did not want to mix up too many flavours. And I licked away all the left overs of the pesto with my fingers from the bowl I used to prepare it :). A wonderful taste as it was.
So, this ones goes to the event Food in Colours (FIC): Purple and Black held at Sunshinemom's Tongueticklers
And I would like to send this entry to Andrea's Grow Your Own being hosted this time by Rachel of The Crispy Cook, another gluten free food blogger, I'm happy to discover.

In case you are curious to know what I did with the beetle. No, I didn't grind the poor soul with the leaves, but let it fly away on my terrace. It had come along with the sage leaves I had brought from my garden. Now that winter is coming, I had to finally cut them up and use a part and freeze another larger part for later use.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Gluten free Brownie Muffins

As you might know, this is the trial where I made a gluten free version of brownies, but without the xanthan gum. We made them using a muffin pan. Sonny boy loved these, so did I. To bite into the crust and then into the soft centre. It was something like a different version of Eclairs! :D
Hubby, he's not a brownie fan. But, the reason could have been the not so perfect results. The long baking time I used made the outer cover dry out a bit and I had to increase the baking time as the centre was still much too soft after 30 minutes. And maybe it was the lack of xanthan gum needed to replace the absence of wheat flour. I'm not sure. So, you see this is not a perfect result. I do plan to make them again and tell you about the improvements. But, anyways they tasted wonderful!

And here is the recipe:

Gluten free Brownie Muffins

I used a recipe from Wiki (here).

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 25-35 minutes
Baking temperature:
160-170 °C (convection: 150°C)


Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter (60 g)
1 cup sugar (200 g)
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract -I used bourbon vanilla extract
2 eggs -I used 1/2 cup or 100 g silken tofu, whipped smooth with a hand blender
1/3 cup all purpose flour (40 g )- I used 30 g rice flour and 10 g cornstarch
6 tbsp cocoa powder (40 g)
1/4 tsp salt (a pinch) -I used lesser than 1/4 tsp
1 cup whole nuts of choice, chopped or whole, like walnuts or hazelnuts or pecans

Method:
  • melt butter in a pot, add sugar, vanilla extract and eggs (or whipped silken tofu) and whip everything together
  • add flour(s) and cocoa powder (preferably sieved, to prevent clumps)
  • and stir to make a creamy paste
  • add the nuts, chopped or whole, and mix
  • spread on a small baking pan - I used a muffin pan
  • bake at 160-170 °C (convection: 150°C) for 25 - 35 minutes (check after 25 minutes) - I had to bake for 40 minutes
NOTE: The inside was very soft and gooey and the outside a bit dry. Although I'm told that this is how a brownie normally is, I'm not sure if this was an optimal result. Maybe I need to add xanthan gum or something similar to compensate for the wheat flour.

Rishab and I enjoyed the last bit of it yesterday and it was pure pleasure for both of us. So, I thought I might as well publish these not-so-perfect but yummy recipe, even though I had initially planned to bake it again and then publish it. As you can see I also made a coating of chocolate icing to compensate for the dryness, which worked wonders....

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pumpkin Quick Bread


As you might know, I have been wanting to bake or prepare different things which are gluten and casein free for my nephew Advik. I had been asking my sister to give me some ideas about some gluten free recipes which she would like me to make and then finally she mentioned about the pumpkin spice bread. On checking some recipes I found that it is a quick bread which does not require any xanthan gum either. I had most of the ingredients and only needed to buy pumpkin. So, I thought, before the pumpkin season is completely over and I cannot get any of them any more in the market, let me get one and try a recipe of pumpkin spice bread, which I also found very fast.
I did very careful calculations to convert the cup measurements into grams, and planned and checked and rechecked everything, and got going with it this weekend. I had no idea of how it would turn out, not a clue. But, I made the recipe very carefully, and didn't make any substitutions, or only that what was really unavoidable. I went step by step slowly beating everything one by one, taking time for every step carefully. It looked good, almost all the way until I had also added the milk. Then all that I could think of was : "Oh no! That does not look so good.....", as all the fluffyness which I had acieved with all the beating
seemed to go away. So, I stopped beating it and continued with adding the flour and beating the batter side by side. This time I had to hurry up as I had added soda, which, once added to the wet ingredients start working. The end result didn't look bad. So, I quickly poured it into a springform pan and put it in the preheated oven.

Pumpkin Quick Bread

Based on a recipe from a Gluten free recipe source


I converted the amounts using the online weight conversion calculator and have given the weight in grams I actually used, if deviating, at the end.

Ingredients:

2 3/4 cups (480 g) rice flour - I used gluten free whole meal rice flour, coarsely ground
1/4 cup (30 g) soy or gram flour - I used 35 gram flour – Indian besan)
1 heaped tsp turmeric powder (optional -I used it to give it a yellowish tinge)
1/2 tsp. baking powder - I used 1 tsp gluten free cream of tartar baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt - I used 1 tsp
1 tsp. cinnamon (powdered)
1 tsp. cloves (if using for the first time: use ½ tsp) - I ground about 15 -20 cloves with my coffee mill
2/3 (150 g) cup butter or margarine - I used margarine, free from trans fats and milk products
2 cups (460 g) dark brown sugar - I used 400g whole cane sugar / powdered jaggery and 50 g castor sugar
1 envelop (about 5 g) of bourbon vanilla sugar ( contains ground vanilla bean, vanilla extract and sugar)
4 eggs (medium sized)
1 can (1 lb.) or 2 cups (500 g) mashed squash or pumpkin - I used cooked and mashed fresh hokaido pumpkin
2/3 cup (11 measured tbsp) water or milk - I used soya milk
2/3 cup chopped nuts (I used soaked almonds chopped coarsely)
1/3 cup (60 – 80 g) golden raisins - I had none, so used chopped soft dried-apricots)
1/3 cup (60 – 80 g) raisins

Method:

  • In a bowl mix both the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices
  • Cream butter and sugar with a hand blender until it turns from brown to creamish in colour and is fluffy
  • Add eggs one by one and keep beating
  • Add pumpkin and milk one after the other and keep beating
  • Add the flour mix to the pumpkin batter
  • Stir in almonds, apricots and raisins
  • Pour into a greased springform pan or into two 9''x5'' loaf pans
  • If you use a springform pan, then almost double the amount of time will be required, like in my case
  • Bake at 350 ° F (175 °C: 160°C convection) for one hour or until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

I baked the bread for the first hour at 160°C and then for the next hour at 165 °C in a convection oven, since I had used a larger spring form pan instead of a loaf pan.

Changes I plan to make for next time:

1. reduce the amount of sugar to about 380 g, if using castor sugar, to 350 g
2. reduce the amount of salt to 1/2 tsp; 1 tsp was still too much for my taste
3. leave out cinnamon or replace with half with dried ginger: saunth
4. leave out cloves, gives too strong a flavour, or use ½ tsp


I was quite afraid about how it would turn out. But after about 15 minutes itself, I could see how it had risen, to my happiness. And after another 15 minutes it had risen even more to make me even more happy. I felt that it was a good sign as that could be a good indication of the bread being soft and spongy. But, after an hour when I checked the bread with knife, I found that the centre was all wet and undone. So, I knew it needed to be baked for at least half an hour more. I also increased the temperature by 5 °C. Afterwards when I checked the cake, it was much better but still far from being done, much too soft at the centre. So, another half an hour of baking and then I swithed off the oven and let it stand there as it was in the oven for a while, before I took it out and checked. And yes! The bread looked quite good. Infact much too good! No... wait... it was perfect! As perfect as I could imagine it to be. Soft, and with a nice sponge. Perfect crispy crust. It was just wonderful! It tasted sweet, a bit too sweet actualy , which I realised only later on. But, it did not disturb us. We like to eat things too sweet, if only the health factor wasn't there. :)
But, there was one thing which had started worrying me by the time I had switched off the oven. The smell. I guess some would love it, but I don't like cinnamon and clove in sweet things so much and I could smell it distinctly. I had purposefully kept the recipe the way it is . After all it is pumpkin spice bread. But, my fears were unfounded. The bread tasted very good.
But, still I would reduce the amount of these spices, as I feel that would be more like my bread. And sugar, I felt that it was too much, but didn't feel like making an changes and in the last moment added the remaining sugar as per the calculations.

Hubby was the first person to eat it and found it wonderful. Sonny boy loves this bread, I served it with whipped cream, but to go with the recipe I also wanted to prepare a gluten and casein free icing and found a nice recipe at Sophie's Flour Arrangements. But, as I wanted to make the spread I realised that I had finished off the margarine while making the cake. I had forgotten to stock up on it when I went shopping last time. So, I used butter instead to prepare it and, of course, left out all the spices, as I felt these were enough in the cake this time and only mixed some powdered jaggery with butter to make a simple but lovely icing. The jaggery gives a wonderful flavour to the butter so that nothing else is really needed.
And I also prepared an orange sauce for the cake from one of my cookbooks. Here also I had to use butter instead of margarine. If you wish to have the recipe, then ask me and I'll send it to you. And I sprinkled the butter icing with oraganic lemon zest and poure some orange sauce over it. Yummy!


And now I have to mention one thing: I was planning to send this recipe for Zorra's Bread Baking Day event: Coloured Breads for December, but this turned out to be dark brown as you see. Now breads usually look dark brown and I had hoped for something in yellow or orange. So, I would think, if I were to use regular caster sugar for this, it might actually turn yellowish in colour. Well, to find that out I'll have to wait for a while, before I try this recipe again. But this is one good recipe I would preserve carefully so that when one day the need arises, I can bake it for my my nephew, my dearest Advik.

And this wonderful and successful experiment I am so proud of, I'm sending off to Srivalli's Rice Mela at Cooking 4 All Seasons !!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Orange quark creme with Blackberry sauce

We have been to a number of forests and natural reserves here where you find wild berries growing everywhere, edible ones. So, earlier when we would go for our bicycle tours, hubby and me, during summers we would take a small break and simultaneously stuff our mouths with some yummy berries growing there. We just couldn't resist it. I love plucking and collecting berries on my own. It is such a big pleasure incomparable to anything else. The ones we buy in the market are a lot of times much bigger, but not necessarily better in taste and compare no ways to the fun associated with the former.
So, I knew right from the beginning, as soon as we moved into this house, that I'll be planting different berry plants.
Now we have a number of those in our garden. And this year we enjoyed our first round of blackberries from our own garden and we got quite many of them. The happiest person in the family was of course my sunny boy, ecstatic with joy on hearing that we can finally pluck another round berries, every time I told him that some more had ripened. So, Rishab enjoyed the handful of blackberries he got each time.
But, I had no chance to collect so many to be able to bake anything. But, I didn't even want to. I think the best way to eat them is fresh, as they are, rich in vitamins and minerals and pigments which are good antioxidants. A lot of health packed in these small fruits.
But, then I came across this recipe in a booklet which I saw in my Recipes ring binder. And liked it so much that I had to make it. So, I went searching for some blackberries, which wasn't easy to find as the season was ending, as it was already middle of October. But, I at least found one packet of fresh ones. Then I went searching for the frozen ones, but couldn't find any, except mixed together with other fruits. The only thing I could find separately was raspberries and I felt that would do fine for the sauce.
(I'm sorry, my picture are suffering in quality, not that they were ever so good, but the failing sunlight- whichever time of the day-is making me experiment a little bit, hopefully will have some better results soon)

So, here goes the recipe....

Orange quark creme with Blackberry sauce

Based on the recipe from the booklet
"Kochen und Backen mit Grafschafter "

Serves 4-6 people
Preparation time: 20-30 minutes


Ingredients:

Orange creme
300 g Magerquark (low fat quark, 0.1 % fat)
200 g cream cheese
75 ml juice of fresh oranges (like Valancia oranges; DE: Saftorangen)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1-2 tbsp zest of oranges (with untreated skin)
2 tbsp confectioners sugar or to taste (or use syrup)
a few drops Orange liquor (Like Cointreaue)-optional, I left it out

Blueberry sauce
2-3 tbsp Grafschafter Apfelschmaus* (I used golden syrup instead)
250 g Blackberries (fresh or frozen)
(I used 100 g fresh blackberries and 200 g frozen raspberries)
100 ml black grape juice
(I used some orange juice instead)
roasted slivered almonds (optional)
mint or lemon balm leaves for decorating (optional)

* A syrup made by cooking apples and pears. No sugar is added. It is dark in colour and it's sweetness comes from the natural sweetness of the apple

Method:
  • mix together all the ingredients for the orange quark creme and keep in the fridge until required
  • For the sauce, heat and melt the frozen raspberries along with the juice and add the goldensyrup (or Apfelschmaus)
  • cook till the sauce starts to thicken, then add the fresh blackberries, cook further till they turn slightly soft
  • remove a couple of the blackberries and keep aside
  • puree everything else or directly pass through a sieve or strainer to remove the seeds
  • cook further for a few minutes, if required or
  • serve with the orange quark creme
This was a wonderful dessert. The flavours of orange and the berries combined together with the creaminess of quark. If only it was not so rich and I would have eaten three times the portion. This is one dessert sure to make you happy. I don't think I need to say much as the pictures tell it all, don't they?!

Now, since I did not find enough blackberries, I used frozen raspberries, which made the colour of the sauce lighter in shade, but it was still quite purple in colour even if the pictures make it look more like redish.
Therefore, this one goes to a wonderful event Food in Colours (FIC) held at Sunshinemom's Tongueticklers with this months theme being Purple and Black
Now, let's talk about another pleasant thing. Yes, about awards!
Lovely Ivy of Kopiaste passed me this Award:

And here are the people I would like to forward it to:

Anudivya of ...a little bit more...
Jude of Apple Pies, Patis & Pâté
Sunshinemom of Tongueticklers

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Herbed chicken


This was an effort to make a simpe dish without too many things. Simple. That was the explicit request of hubby, who was a bit down with cold. On asking if this type of chicken would be OK, he probably didn't hear properly and just said something which I couldn't understand and I repeated and and he said "what ever...". So, when the food came on the table, he was a bit surprised, as he was expecting something Indian style and I was quite irritated with this and said" well, I asked you....?". But, it didn't take long for us to get back into a happy mood as we were enjoying something which had turned out so delicous and hubby was all praise for me. I don't make chicken like this usually. I did check some recipes before I was confident enough to make it the way I wanted, just with some herbs, some black pepper , potatoes - I like to have them with chicken quite often, being a big potato lover! They also get a good flavour from the chicken through that. I had also put some fennel stems for flavour, which were the left overs of the side dish I was preparing, which had also turned out much better than my expectations. A simple meal turned great! That's how we felt about it.

Herbed chicken

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Baking time: 1 1/2 -2 hours
Baking temp.: 200°C
Main utensils: A large baking pan with lid or a porcelain baking dish and aluminium foil (a Roemertopf is ideal)

Ingredients:

4 chicken legs with skin, washed, pat dried and the fat removed
5-6 small potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
1 large red onion, cut into wedges
1/2 white onion, cut into wedges
2 large garlic cloves, thickly sliced lengthwise
2 tbsp lemon juice (I left it out)
4-5 leftover stems of fennel (optional)
1 level tbsp vegetable broth (organic) - as a replacement for the white wine
a hand full of fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme
250 ml water
salt to taste
10-15 peppercorns, or to taste - crushed coarsely in a mortar
2-3 tbsp olive oil

Method:
In a baking dish of choice:
  • rub the cleaned chicken with the peppercorns, salt, the herbs and lemonjuice, also under the skin
  • mix with garlic and onion (also under the skin)
  • add the potatoes and fennel and olive oil and salt to taste for the potatoes
  • mix the potatoes with the herbs as well
  • stir the vegetable broth with the water and add to the chicken
  • cover with a lid or aluminium foil
  • bake for 2 hours at 200°C
  • serve with steamed basmati rice or any rice of choice
I have never made chicken so simple, with so few spices and which still turned out so delicious!
We ate it with fennel and carrot Au Gratin and steamed basmati rice. This is again one of those pictures I hadn't planned to take, like I mentioned in my last post about the side dish, and in a hurry and the dark days that we are having now adding to the difficulty, it has beome difficult to take good pictures so easily. But, if you have tried something similar before then you would know what I'm talkig about. And I didn't miss the wine at all. Initially I was thinking of adding the vegetables to the chicken, but somehow felt it better to keep them separate. And it was surely a good decision. This was a splendid dish and a big success as an experiment, as I felt it to be!

Fennel and Carrot Au Gratin


This is one of those creartions which you make when you find that there is nothing you can use to prepare food. No, not because I didn't have anything to cook, but because Rishab had some tests the following day and he was not suppose to eat any vegetables which would cause flatulence and very little milk products and no fruits rich in vitamin C. Although I had bought some vegetables like carrots, fennel, zucchini and mushrooms for the two days before the test, I hadn't given much thought to what I would make.
So, here I was standing in my kitchen and trying to figure out what to make. I knew that I would be making a simple chicken dish, with some herbs and black pepper (but no wine - reason : most of the alcohol added to the food remains in the food, even if you cook it for long, so it is not good for Rishab). And I didn't feel like using mushrooms at all with that. "...but, fennel and carrots,... but what do I do with them?...". And this is what I came up with.


Preparation time: 15-20 minutes
Baking time: 1 - 1 1/2 hours
Baking temp.: 180°C
Main utensils: A baking pan with lid or a porcelain baking dish and aluminium foil (a Roemertopf is also good)


Ingredients:

1 large and thick fennel bulb, washed, trimmed and sliced
2 large carrots, peeled,trimmed and sliced into thin rounds
1 cup parmesan, grated
1/2 white onion, sliced
1 clove garlic chopped coarsely
1 level tbsp vegetable broth (organic)
250 ml water
1 -2 tbsp olive oil
salt to tatse (if required)

Method:
  • whisk the broth together with water
  • mix everything together in a baking pan or porcelain dish
  • sprincle some parmesan on top, if desired
  • cover with lid or foil and bake in a preheated oven at 180 °C for 1 hour - I baked it for 1 1/2 hours
This was so delicious, way beyond my expectations. Since I cooked it for long, it had become so stewey. We ate it with chicken and steamed basmati rice. It made a great combination. Hubby (do you remember - the "not so easy to please with food"-hubby!) loved the meal and Rishab too. What more can you ask for. And I felt it was a sensation for the low expectations i had put on this dish. The next day to eat the "left overs", the only thing I got to take a picture of - I hadn't planned to take one- with rice was heaven for me. I was just going "ummm... " all the time! I enjoyed it to the full. It was so very delicious. I almost felt that the next day it tatsed even better. That simple dishes don't have to be boring is so rightly proven by this one. If only I had known about it before, then I would have taken a nice picture for you to drool over before we started eating it. But, there will be a next time for sure.
I just realised that I could send this one to the Original Recipe event at Lore's Culinarty!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Green Tea and Quince jelly


I had bought my first packet of green tea. Being in search of anything other than black tea, something which was pleasant to drink in the morning or at work. After having tried all kinds of Yogi teas (I still haven't finished them all!), I again felt like making another round of tea hunting and saw green tea. Earlier I turned my eyes away from such teas, I only drank black tea, and only if cooked in the Indian style as chai. I love to try out different flavours when it comes to food, but have been very conservative when it comes to tea until recently. I still don't like aromatised teas much and feel that nothing can compare a wonderful cup of hot Indian style chai with milk. Ummmm.......!
I still drink it, but now I use it exclusively to take care of my migrane and it works wonders, like today itself. Now I'm sitting in front of the computer, while it could have been that I was lying in bed covering my head with a blanket, making sure not a single stream of light reached my eyes. I actually took some rest, it being a saturday, before I prepared my slightly europeanised version of chai - black tea infused with ginger and caradamom in a pot and then adding milk later to it. Yes.... that was what I needed and I'm the fittest person in the world right now. :)

Coming back to green tea now. I then saw this shelve with green teas and remembered having drunk this quite pleasant tasting tea once. And thought of giving it a try. And it was a good choice I made. Another reason was the thought on all the good vitalising and health promoting substances it contains. Like plant polyphenols, vitamins, caffeine, and essential minerals. The most important of them being the polyphenols like EGCG, the most abundant catechin in tea, which are well known as antioxidants, making them so healthy and have been made responsible for (only to a certain extent) the cancer preventing properties. And their caffeine content is much lower thn that of coffeee or even black tea, which is another positive point about them*(see below).Quince is a wonderful fruit which I had tasted raw only once before in a village in Italy, many years back. I saw them here a few days back in the market and it brought back the memories of our lovely trip to southern Italy and I bought them instantly. I'm extraordinarily happy I did it!
And then like it always is, one thing lead to the other and I was preparing my first ever quince jelly with green tea. I had put them carefully in my vegetable shelve in the fridge and was planing to make a quince jelly. A couple of days later out of nowhere the thought crossed my mind, what if I used green tea. Being a bit scared, I started searching for recipes with both the ingredients together and I didn't find any, but instead found a couple of other recipes of green tea prepared with rose petals or orange peels. I searched mainly in German language though. Now, that disappointed me a bit and it also made me totally skeptical, but then the next day I decided that I had to try it, as I still faintly remembered the quince fruit being very aromatic. And, was I right!

Here is the recipe:

Green Tea and Quince jelly

Based on the recipe at Marions Kochbuch (in German)

Ingredients:
1 kg (1000 g ; about 2 pounds) quince
3/4 l green tea, prepared fresh**
1 cup lemonbalm leaves, whole
1 lemon, the juice
250 g gelling sugar 2:1 (sugar with pectin) - or slightly more depending on the quantity of juice extracted

Equipments required:
2 large pans,
one large strainer,
large spoons,
a laddle,
a small porcelain plate placed in the freezer,
2-3 boiled jars with twist-off lids

Method:
  • Wash the fruits, rub off the fluff, remove the seeds (toxic) and all the black spots
  • cut into large pieces with the skin
  • take a large and deep pot and add the fruits and the green tea
  • cook for 40 minutes covered on medium-low
  • add lemon balm leaves, mix and cook for another 10 minutes
  • the fruits would be very soft by now and enough pectin and fruit juices would have infused into the tea
  • mash the fruits lightly with a spoon or laddle
  • place a cheese cloth over a large metal stainer placed over another deep sauce pan
  • pour the cooked quince into it with the help of a spoon
  • let strain
  • twist the cheese cloth ends together tightly to let the remaining juice to come out at the end
  • do not do it too strongly, as it may make the jelly turn too cloudy and not give a clear transleuscent jelly
  • remove strainer, and measure the quantity, should be around 500 ml
  • if the quantity is more increase the quantity of gelling sugar accordingly)
  • add the juice of one lemon and gelling sugar, mix throughly
  • (optionally you can add lemon balm leaves now, use a teabag for that)
  • bring to boil and keep cooking on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring with a laddle
  • keep laddle in the pan
  • take out the plate from freezer and pour a drop of the jelly with the laddle on it,
  • if the jelly turns firm and doesn't remain runny and thin then it is ready!
  • pour with the laddle into boiled jars, close lid tightly, turn upside down for 5 to 10 minutes
  • turn them back and let cool down
*Sources of the information on green tea were from here, here and here.
**Wiki source: how to prepare green tea .

The moment I started cutting the quinces, I was totally overwhelmed by the aroma of the fruit. "WOW!" I thought. It smelled like a mixture of pineapple, rose, guava and oranges. But, isn't that overwhelming enough! And after the jelly was ready, cooling down in the bottles, I tried to taste the still warm and soft jelly remainig in the laddle, licking with my finger. Won............derful! This jelly held more than its promise! The intensity and variety of of flavours which exploded on my tongue with it was awesome. Interestingly I found that it had a pleasant flavour of roses after being cooked. In fact, initially, after seeing one recipe, I even wanted to buy rose petals, but didn't manage to. But, hey, who needs them, when you have quince!
It is a wonderful recipe which has the goodness of green tea and the richness in flavour of quince. Perfect, isn't it?!

While trying to find translations for the German words for the recipe - like the "fluff" on the skin (called Flaum in German), I came across this wonderful recipe for quince jelly at Elise Bauer's blog Simply Recipes with detailed step by step pictures.

I'm sending off this recipe to Original Recipe event at Lore's Culinarty.
And I remembered that I'm just in time for Meeta's Monthy Mingle being hosted at her blog this time. I had dropped the idea of taking part in this event, as I had no plans of using coffee and had no clue to what one could do with tea. Of course, I only had black tea in mind at that time. But, here I'm with my entry!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fruity apple cookies

This recipe of cookies has been inspired by Madhram's event Egg replacement-flax seeds at her Egglesscooking .com. Now, all I needed was a nice recipe of cookies to take on this challenge. On searching, I found this simple recipe of cookies with some lovely ingredients and I felt that this would be a good bet for combining both my experiments. Now you might ask, which two? Well, one is the egg replacement with flax seeds and the other to make it gluten free.
Lately, I have been wanting to again start with my experiments with gluten free baking for my nephew Advik. I had done it once a while ago, but somehow got stuck after that. Now, I want to spare you with my excuses and rather tell you what all I have been wanting to do, and what all I have tried already, like this recipe too. I want to bake a bread, but still haven't really got an appropriate recipe. As most of the recipes call for xanthan gum, something which I haven't found yet locally. I haven't tried it online, but I really didn't want mine being shipped from far off places, if it is not necessary.
After trying out a couple of recipes I have now realised that xanthan gum or something similar is an important ingredient of gluten free baking, especially for breads to turn out into something edible. And it was a good idea to wait for the bread recipe and trying out some simpler experiments first. I have tried a recipe of gluten free brownies, which did not turn out the way it should have, I think (recipe coming up soon!). Now there, like here too I also tried to make them egg free by replacing them with silken tofu, maybe I should do it step by step and not make too many experiments in one go. It tasted wonderful, but was a bit sticky and gooey and not fluffy at all.
From what I know for cookies the flour types can be much more easily replaced or exchanged than for breads. Unless you have xanthan gum. My search is on. But, I am happy with this recipe which is also gluten and egg free.

A note beforehand: As guided by Madhuram in her event, this is what I did to replace the eggs: For each egg to be replaced, whisk 1 tablespoon (15gm) of ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons (I required 4 tbsp) of water until the mixture is thick and creamy.

Apple Oats Cookies

Based on the recipe at Kochmeister.com

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 20 - 25 minutes (I baked for 35 minutes)
Baking temp.: 200°C (Convection oven: 180°C)
Quantity : about 25- 30 pieces, for 2 baking sheets

Dry Ingredients:
500 g tart apples, washed and grated with skin (6-7 small apples from the garden)
150 g all purpose flour - I replaced it with : 100 g whole meal rice flour (coarse ground) and 50 g cornstarch - both gluten free
100 g thick rolled oats (kernige Haferflocken) - I would like to replace it with puffed amaranth and some sunflower seeds next time
2 1/2 tsp baking powder - I used gluten-free cream of tartar baking powder
1 pinch cinnamon
I also added:
50 g ground almonds with skin

Wet Ingredients:
100 g soft butter
70 g brown sugar - I used powdered jaggery / whole cane sugar
zest of 1 lemon
3 middle sized eggs - I replaced them with 3 tbsp finely ground flax seeds (linseed) and added 4 tbsp lukewarm water for each, i.e., 12 tbsp in total in a bowl and let seep for a while
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp orange juice
50 g raisins - I soaked 60 g in hot water for short and let excess water drip off on a sieve


Method:
  • Mix thoroughly with a whisk flour, cornstarch, rolled oats, cinnamon and baking powder in a bowl
  • beat together butter, sugar, lemon zest, the juices, and eggs (or the replacement) - start beating with butter and add the ingredients one by one
  • Preheat oven, grate apples and add to the batter along with the flour and raisins and mix to wet everything
  • with a tablespoon place spoonfuls on two baking trays lined with baking sheets. pressing it down a little to make round shapes
  • bake in a preheated oven at 200°C (I used convection: 180°C) for 20-25 minutes, I needed 35 minutes and let stand in the oven a while before opening the door slightly and leaving it for another 20 minutes or so before taking them out and letting them cool down
How did my experiment taste?
Wonderful! It had this slightly sour taste through the tart apples which was lovely and I had coated half of the cookies as you can see with some leftover chocolate icing (couverture; I'm not sure if there is a difference between the two, but I used the latter) which made the taste even more better. But, as I knew hubby would prefer without, I did not bother to coat them all with the chocolate icing. And hubby actually found the ones without the icing better. These cookies are very mildly sweet. So, one could surely increase the sweetness to ones taste.
I would like to add some more cinnamon or cardamom next time too.
These were quite soft and not the crispy kinds, like cookies normally are. Almost like a miniature bread, maybe because of the apples or maybe because of the rice? Maybe that also explains why the brownies also turned out so soft. Maybe it is the rice flour which is making it so soft. Now the next time I will make them with wheat flour to solve the puzzle. :)
Naturally I'm sending this off to Flax seeds-egg replacement event at Madhuram's Egglesscooking .com

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Jams, Chutneys and another Award !!

I have been talking about posting the recipes of my jams and chutneys I have been making since long. And finally I have managed to put them down from my diary to my "cyber-cookbook" here!

For the recipes, please go here.

These were the different ways I enjoyed eating my chutneys and jams...

MANGO PINEAPPLE GINGER CHUTNEY
...on a slice of bread,

...with buckwheat-potao pakodas,

TOMATO APPLE ONION CHUTNEY (RELISH)


with my delicious zucchini bread, both made fresh at that moment........eternal bliss till the last bite!
We have been enjoying them with all kinds of things. It was a wonderful decision to make this chutney, whose inspiration came from a Dr. Oetker booklet on jams and relishes. But, I made mine with a lot more Indian spices.

MANGO PINEAPPLE RASPBERRY JAM
Heaven on toast.... The best jam I have made so far! Rishab loves it too, but he loves the simple strawberry jam I made for him (picture not shown) as much too!

FIGS GINGER CHUTNEY
Turned out to be much spicier than I expected. Even though I am enjoying eating it, I would reduce or maybe even leave out fresh ginger net time (next year!), as the taste of figs is getting hidden behind that of ginger. I can imagine my father telling me that it has turned out perfect, but next time I might try adding more cinammon and cloves instead and maybe also ground green cardamoms (for recipe - see link on top).

Here are a few pictures to show the steps :
Wash, peel, chop and / or puree (or both) the fruits....
add citric acid (or lemon juice) and sugar/gelly sugar to it, mix and let stand for a while...
Cook for 15 to 20 minutes. and bottle them in cooked jars or botttels.
Turn them up side down....
for about 5-10 minutes or even sometimes 15-20 minutes, before turning them back. Helps create a vaccum!
Let it cool down.
Keep in a cool, dark and dry place or at best in the refrigerator.
Use within a few months. I have kept my jams in the fridge for up to a year and they tasted excellent even at the end of the year. Chutneys, I have made them for the first time and being not so sweet, I'm not sure if they will all stay good for so long too. Maybe it would depend on the ingredients.
Important Note: Do not tighten the bottles again after they have cooled down!!

While making such preserves, one has to keep in mind that they should contain enough of the fruit acids, like citric acids or others. There are fruits which have low amounts of it. berries like red currents are usually sour enough that they do not neccesarily require any addition of citric acid, for example. On the other hand, mango, pineapple, pears, peaches and such similar fruits require addition of citric acid or any fruit acid (ascorbic acid - vitamin C , but it gets damaged by heat!).
Sugar is a natural preservative, but since too high amounts are not healthy, a good sterile working method while preparing them is a good idea. Cook the preserves for long enough, if you plan to keep them for long. Amounts which are to be used up fast (within weeks) don't need too many precautions.

And now about something special which made me feel sooooooo very happy! Dear Ivy of Kopiaste awarded me with this :
This is my second award now. Now, need I tell you, why I am happy? I guess not! And I must say that I am as happy to get it as I was the first time.
I would soon forward it to others, once I have come down from cloud 9 ! :)