Sunday, 20 August 2006

Weekend Baking Session # 25

Weekend Baking Session this week celebrates its 25th round with an Improved Indian Dessert.

Carrot Halva Tartlets

What do we need:

Almond Pastry
3/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup ground almond
1/4 cup cold butter
1/4 tsp salt
ice water, as needed

Carrot Halva
2 cups carrots, grated finely
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp ghee
4 cardamoms, powdered
a pinch of saffron strands

slivered almonds for garnishing

How do we do it:

Combine flour, salt and ground almond. Grate cold butter into the mixture. Rub lightly with fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Gradually, add the ice cold water 1 tablespoon at a time just until the dough binds together. Make sure not to over work the dough. Wrap with cling film and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Heat ghee and fry the grated carrots slightly. Pour milk and sprinkle the saffron strands. Let it boil. Cook the carrot to soft paste stage. Now, add the sugar and continue cooking while stirring. Remove from heat when the halwa looks gooey.

Divide the pastry dough into 8 portions. Press each portion evenly into greased tart mould. Trim edges to remove excess pastry. Prick base of each tart with a fork. Cover and chill again for about 15 minutes. Then, blind bake the pasty cases in a preheated oven at 200º C for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and place the tartlets on a wire rack to cool.

To assemble, fill the tartlets with cool carrot halva. Top with slivered almonds.

Thursday, 17 August 2006

The Summer Sensation # 3

Though the weather has not been promising here in Switzerland, it is still the summer season. As a continuation with our summer sensation, I made pudding.

Pineapple Pudding

What do we need:

2 cups pineapple purée
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup custard powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp agar-agar powder

How do we do it:

Prepare the pineapple purée by blending fresh or canned pineapple. Set aside.

Cook agar-agar powder with pineapple juice on low heat until the agar-agar dissolves.

Combine the milk, custard powder and sugar. Pour into the pineapple juice while stirring constantly. Add the pineapple purée. Cook until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and pour into moulds.

Serve Pineapple Pudding cool.

Tuesday, 15 August 2006

Red Beanly Yours

Red beans or adzuki beans are hard, small, reddish-brown, oval beans approximately 5 mm in diameter. They resemble very much like that of mung bean but a bit larger. They have a distinctive white ridge along one side. They have a strong, nutty and compared to other beans, slightly sweet flavour.

Like most beans, red beans are rich in soluble fibre, which helps to eliminate cholesterol from the body. They are a good source of magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and vitamin B3. As high-potassium, low-sodium foods they help reduce blood pressure. Not only are they low in fat, but when combined with grains, beans supply high quality protein that provides a healthy alternative to meat or other animal protein. Red beans also contain protease inhibitors that frustrate the development of cancerous cells.

Red Beans

Red beans are easier to digest compared to other beans varieties. If not for its loaded flatulence-producing enzymes, we would eat more of them. To overcome this problem, we could change the water from time to time while soaking or cooking the beans. Pouring off the water helps gets rid of the indigestible complex sugars that create gas in our intestines. This method also helps to cook the beans thoroughly.

Red beans are particularly popular in Japanese and Chinese cooking. It is believed that the beans could probably have originated from China. Red beans are mostly, cooked until soft, sweetened with sugar and ground into paste. This paste is used as filling for many delicacies. There are actually many methods of preparing the paste. I would like to share the easiest method of all.

Red Bean Paste

What do we need:

1 cup red beans
3 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil

How do we do it:

Soak the beans for at least 4 hours or overnight. Wash thoroughly. Cook on medium low heat until the beans are soft.

Grind the beans together with the water to ease the grinding process. Grind until soft and smooth paste forms.

Transfer the paste into clean pot. Add the sugar and cook on low heat stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the oil. Cook until the paste is thick and gooey. Remove from heat and cool completely.

Fill the Red Bean Paste in any of your favourite goodies or even spread on bread slices. It could be frozen up to a couple of months.

Sunday, 13 August 2006

Weekend Baking Session # 24

Suddenly I was craving for coconut bun. It was my favourite breakfast back home. Along with a mug of hot Milo, coconut bun tastes even greater. After 4 years, I had them for breakfast. For once I felt that I was at home. What a feeling!! For those who want to have the same feeling, here is the recipe...

Coconut Bun

What do we need:

2 cups plain flour
4 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp active dried yeast
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg

Coconut Filling
1 cup grated coconut
1/3 cup grated palm sugar (or more as per desired)
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp plain flour

Egg Wash
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water

How do we do it:

Whisk together the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Set aside.

Heat milk and butter until the butter melts and the mixture is about 50° C warm. Pour into the flour mixture. Also add the egg into the flour. Knead the dough until smooth and shiny. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Meanwhile, heat the water and palm sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the grated coconut and flour. Stir constantly until the mixture becomes soft paste. Remove from heat and let the coconut filling cool.

Punch down the dough and knead gently on a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 12 equal sized balls. Flatten the each ball and fill with the completely cooled coconut filling and seal the bun neatly. Gently rotate the bun repeatedly until it forms a smooth-skinned ball. Place each bun into a greased baking dish. Cover the dish and let the buns rise again in a warm place until nearly double in size, approximately 45 minutes.

Beat together the egg yolk and water. Egg wash the buns. Bake in a preheated oven at 190° C for 20 minutes.

Thursday, 10 August 2006

Going Green

Originating from Southwest Asia, spinach is a dark green leafy vegetable with edible leaves and stems. Depending on the variety, the leaves may be either curled or smooth.

Spinach is an exceptionally nutritious food. It does contain a relatively high level of iron for a vegetable. Spinach also has high calcium content. It is a rich source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and several vital antioxidants. It is a source of folic acid as well.

Spinach can be used raw, or cooked by boiling or sautéing. Its leaves contain small amounts of oxalic acid that gives spinach a slightly bitter taste. Do not cook spinach for more than 4 minutes, as it tends to lose all the nutrients.

Lemony Spinach

What do we need:

1 bunch fresh spinach, stems removed
1 medium onion, sliced
2 dried chillies
1/2 tbsp shredded ginger
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest

How do we do it:

Wash and drain the spinach leaves. Set aside.

Heat oil and sauté onion, ginger and dried chillies. When the aroma rises, add the spinach. Cook for 2 minutes until the leaves are wilted. Add lemon zest and juice. Season with salt.

Serve Lemony Spinach with hot piping rice.

Tuesday, 8 August 2006

The Summer Sensation # 2

Rose Syrup is one of the most popular flavoured syrup. It has a deliciously romantic flavour and aroma of roses. Rose syrup can be used as a dessert topping and to flavour milk shakes or alcoholic drinks.

I have made a simple rose syrup as a base to mix up a refreshing drink.

Rose Syrup

What do we need:

2 cups water
1 cup rock sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp rose water and/or 1 tsp rose essence
1/4 tsp red food colouring

How do we do it:

In a heavy bottomed pan, stir together the sugars and water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add the colouring and rose water or essence. Cool completely and store in a tightly screwed bottle.

To prepare rose syrup drink, mix 1 cup of cold fizzy water or plain water with 2 or 3 tablespoons of rose syrup. Serve with crushed ice or ice cubes for extra coldness.

Sunday, 6 August 2006

Weekend Baking Session # 23

I just realised that I have not baked cookies for our Weekend Baking Session. Therefore, this week I have baked the most famous and/or the most loved cookie in the world. Need I say more? Yes, it is Chocolate Chip Cookie. I have added an extra dose of chocolate in the form of chunks as well. Hence, it is double chocolatey!!!

Double Chocolate Chip Cookie

What do we need:

1 cup plain flour
1 cup ground oatmeal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chocolate chunks

How do we do it:

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the ground oatmeal. Set aside.

Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla essence. Add the flour mixture gradually. Gently stir in the chocolate chips and chunks.

Shape dough into 1” balls, place on a greased or lined baking sheet and flatten slightly. Bake at 190° C for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove and cool on wire rack.

Thursday, 3 August 2006

Pick me up

It is hubby dear's birthday today. I planned to bake him a black forest cake as it is his favourite cake. Just to be sure, I asked him "What do want me to make for your birthday?"
He replied "Whatever you want to. You don't need to trouble yourself a lot."
I said "Just tell me what you feel like having."
He asked "Would you make tiramisu for me?"

Now I remember that tiramisu was the first dessert I made for him. It has been almost 2 years since I made the last tiramisu. So, yesterday after work, I bought a packet of ladyfinger biscuits or sponge fingers and a tub of mascarpone cheese. The rest of the ingredients were at home. As soon as I reached home, I quickly whipped it up. Hubby was on and off peeping into the kitchen. He just could not wait to indulge himself with his favourite dessert but then, I told him that he has to wait until tomorrow (which is today) to have it as tiramisu needs an overnight chilling.


What do we need:

2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup marsala wine or kahlua or any coffee

1 cup hot water
5 tbsp coffee powder or granules
3 tbsp brandy (optional)

20 ladyfinger biscuits or sponge fingers
250 g mascarpone cheese
1 cup whipping or double cream

1 cup grated chocolate
2 tbsp cocoa or chocolate powder

How do we do it:

Beat the egg yolks and sugar until creamy. Slowly stir in the wine or liqour. Cook on a double boiler, stirring constantly. Remove from heat when the custard is thick. Set aside to cool.

Combine hot water and coffee. Let cool. When cooled, add the brandy and set aside.

Beat mascarpone cheese until smooth. Add the cooled egg custard and continue beating slowly. Set aside.

Beat the cream until soft. Gently combine the mascarpone mixture with the beaten cream.

To assemble, dip the biscuits one by one into the coffee and arrange neatly in a dish. The biscuits could be broken to fit the dish. Spread half of the cheese mixture. Sprinkle grated chocolate. Repeat with the biscuits and cheese mixture again. Sprinkle cocoa or chocolate powder on top. Chill well, preferably overnight before serving.


Tuesday, 1 August 2006

Blogger Postcards From the World

Finally, the day is here. The game has started. I have chosen a postcard of the most important landmark in Bern, where I live. Bern is the capital of Switzerland, the place where the Federal building or the Parliment is. What a coincidence that today is also the National Day of Switzerland.

This postcard is a view of the Parliment during dusk. The fountain in front of the building is in the shape of the Swiss map and has 26 points to commerate 26 Cantons in Switzerland.

Thank u very much Meeta for hosting this marvellous event.
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