Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Daring Bakers' June 2012 ~ Going Batty For the Jubilee

It is the month of June, and off we go to England and celebrate the Queen's Jubilee.

Mandy of What The Fruitcake?! came to our rescue last minute to present us with the Battenberg Cake challenge! She highlighted Mary Berry’s techniques and recipes to allow us to create this unique little cake with ease.

Last minute or not, it was quite a formidable and exciting challenge, as you will come to see.

In Mandy's words ..."our challenge, fantastic DBers, is to make a Battenberg cake. It must be in the traditional shape (square oblong) and must have at least two different coloured checks as well as be covered in a firm edible covering like marzipan."

Battenburg cake was introduced to the chefs of the British Royal family during Queen Victoria's reign. It was first made to celebrate the wedding of the Queen's grandaughter and took the name Battenburg after her husband to be, Prince Louis of Battenburg. This intitially German style cake  made use of bright colours and marzipan, (almond paste). So, tagging along in its creative tradition is some impressive, unvarnished royal descent.

I'd heard of the London afternoon tea delight, but never had the pleasure of knowing a bite of it's  sophisticated form. Mandy's depthful discourse on the origin, making, and ingredient components of a true Battenburg cake left  us quite knowledgable as to the what, the where and the how of this illustrious treat.

We were given the option to choose colors that were to flood our pattern and also choices of  some splendid flavor pairs. Marzipan making was encouraged (a good thing, since I've never attempted it and so desperately wanted to give it a try), though fondant or chocolate plastique (modelling clay) could also be used to cover the cakes. Rich buttercreams, curds, ganaches were just a few suggested examples for tasty cake binding adhesives .

I actually felt a tad grander and a wee bit taller from my all of 5 ft 3'' frame whilst putting together this dessert of grandiose quality. It was a sweet task indeed.
During all this, though, a confusing conundrum happened upon me, when, throughout the typing of my Battenburg post, my brainspeak turned into a queer sort of Britspeak. I guess, strange things happen when you make a dessert of this magnitude, volleying straight from the ovens of the Royal Kitchen.

Going forward, then, I set out to make my two Battenburg cakes.
I made the Coffee Walnut Battenburg first, using Mary Berry's recipe provided from the challenge page. This is because coffee and cake are a totally insane combination and completely awesome together. Not only did this cake contain all the finest ingredients on earth, coffee in the sponge as well as the buttercream, almonds in the cake, almond- pasted marzipan, and copious amounts  of butter - it was utterly gorgeous, to boot.

It took a while to bring everything together, I have to admit. Almost comparable to putting together a small building which had different components to assemble and techniques to remember, I had several  make ahead preparations. I baked my cakes way in advance, then packed away to freeze. The frozen cakes were much easier to shape.

Next, was the forming of the marzipan, which I must say came together quite effortlessly. Though, I was wary of the Evil Lord of high heat and humidity, that Mandy gave mention of and hid it in the fridge until right before rolling out.

Thereafter, mixing together the sponge ingredients and baking the cake were not much of a problem. The shaping of the four cubed logs were the challenge, here. I wanted to get them perfect and would shave off more cake each time to achieve perfection. Finally, after sturdy wrapping of marzipan, it compliantly went into the  checked pattern and held perfectly into true block form.

For the second cake, I experimented with the flavors. Since the idea of lemon, coconut Battenburg sounded like a vibrant combination, I put together recipes for the lemon/ coconut sponges and wrapped them in a fun chocolate clay wrap. Altogether, pretty and light, with my daughter's favorite colors pixeling its edible canvas, this also was a stunning piece of cake.

Tension arose when I noticed careless hands trying to bring a knife to my cakes. Yes, we are family, but really?! I wasn't going to allow anyone to possibly ruin my checkered pretties. No one but my trusted self, that is.

Every morsel of both the cakes was decadent and crazy good. From the sweet, fresh almond flavor of marzipan coating, combined with  rich coffee/nut batter to the bright flavor of lemon/coconut  balanced by tangy raspberry preserves, one can't help but be totally besotted with Battenburg.

The smallness of the indulgent treat led to it being devoured, very, very fast.

A must mention; I loved the elaborateness of the whole process, here. It was not over exertingly difficult, but, was a thorough challenge indeed.

Cheers to you, Mandy for this ace of a task. It truly pushed my cake making abilities, helping me to create a beautifully baked and assembled Battenburg.

As I round off this post, humming a few bars of "God Save The Queen", polishing off one of few slices left, I can't help but offer my regal salute to this indulgent monarch of cakes. 
Coffee and Walnut Battenberg:
(Source: Mary Berry's recipe from the DB Challenge page)
Ingredients :
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks)  unsalted butter, softened & cut in cubes
  • *¾ cup caster sugar
  • *1¼ cups self-raising flour 
  • 3 large eggs, room temp
  • ½ cup ground almonds (Can be substituted with ground rice)
  • ¾ tsp  baking powder
  • 3 tsp milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ tsp instant coffee powder
  • 3 tbsp walnuts, roughly chopped
To Finish~
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 c powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp instant coffee
  • 1½ tsp milk or cream
  • *1 cup marzipan
    First time whirring up some marzipan .

  • Preheat oven to moderate 350°F.
  • Grease an 8”square baking pan with butter. Line with parchment paper, creating a (thick)  stand up divide in the middle with foil and parchment, or prepare Battenberg tin by brushing the tin with melted butter and flouring.
Constructing the pan divider
  • Whisk together dry ingredients (except walnuts and coffee) and combine with the wet ingredients in a large bowl (except vanilla and milk) and beat together just until the ingredients are combined and the batter is smooth
  • Spoon half the mixture into a separate bowl and stir in the vanilla, 1½ teaspoons milk and chopped walnuts.
  • Spread the walnut mixture into the one side of the prepared pan.
  • Dissolve the coffee in the remaining 1½ teaspoon milk and add to the remaining batter, stir until just combined.
  • Spoon the coffee batter into the other half of the prepared baking pan.
  • Smooth the surface of the batter with a spatula, making sure batter is in each corner.  
  • Bake for 25-30 mins until the cake is risen, springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Leave to cool in the pan for a few minutes before turning out to cool thoroughly on a wire rack
  • Once completely cool, trim the edges of the cake with a long serrated knife.
  • Cut each sponge in half lengthways so that you are left with four long strips of sponge
Freeze cakes a few hours in advance and your cut ups will look neater.
  • Neaten the strips and trim as necessary so that your checkered pattern is as neat and even as possible.
  • Combine the buttercream ingredients (butter, sugar, coffee and cream) together and mix until combined.
  • Spread a thin layer of buttercream onto the strips of cake to stick the cake together in a checkered pattern .
  • Dust a large flat surface with icing sugar then roll the marzipan in an oblong shape that is wide enough to cover the length of the cake and long enough to completely wrap the cake.

  • Spread the top of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream.
  • Place the cake on the marzipan, buttercream side down
  • Spread buttercream onto the remaining three sides.
  • Press the modelling chocolate around the cake, making sure the join is either neatly in the one corner, or will be underneath the cake once turned over
  • Carefully flip the cake over so that the seam is under the cake and score the top of the cake with a knife, you can also crimp the top corners with your fingers to decorate.
  • Neaten the ends of the cake and remove excess chocolate clay by trimming off a small bit of cake on both ends to reveal the pattern.
1 c self raising flour = 1c all purpose flour + 1½ tsp baking powder + ¼ tsp salt ( omit if salt is in recipe)
For the marzipan, I used this recipe.
Caster sugar is superfine sugar. I processed granulated sugar to get the fine texture.

Lemon, Coconut Battenburg~

( My own adapted to the techniques on the challenge page)


  • ½ c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ c plain greek yogurt
  • 3 large eggs, room temp
  • ½ tsp vanlla extract
  • ½ c  ground almonds 
  • ¾ c caster sugar
  • 1¼ cups self-raising flour
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp lemon rind
  • ½ tsp milk
  • ¼ c coconut
  • red food colouring, paste, liquid or gel

To Finish~
Not all even cubed- no worries- they come together when wrapped
  • 1/3 cup raspberry jam
  • 1 cup chocolate clay 
  • Preheat oven to moderate 350°F.
  • Grease an 8X8 " square baking pan with butter.
  • Line pan with parchment paper, creating a divide in the middle with foil and parchment, grease with flour and butter. Otherwise, grease and flour battenburg cake tin.
  • Whisk together the dry ingredients ( except for the lemon rind and coconut) then combine with the wet ingredients ( except for the lemon juice and milk) in a large bowl and beat together just until the ingredients are combined and the batter is smooth
  • In the one half, stir in lemon juice and rind and combine. Add milk, coconut and red food coloring to the remaining batter. Stir until color is distributed and ingredients are combined well.
  • Smooth both halves into each side of the divided pan, smoothing batter with a spatula, making sure batter is in each corner
  • Bake for 25-30 mins until the cake is well risen and a toothpick comes out clean when poked into the center.
  • Leave to cool in the pan for a few minutes before turning out to cool thoroughly on a wire rack
  • Once completely cool, trim the edges of the cake with a serrated knife.
  • Cut each coloured sponge in half lengthways so that you have four long cubed strips of sponge.
  • Neaten the strips and trim as necessary so that your checkered pattern is neat and even.
  • Gently heat the jam .
  • Brush warmed jam onto the strips of cake to stick the cake together in a checkered pattern (one yellow next to one pink. On top of that, one pink next to one yellow)
  • Dust a flat surface with icing sugar then roll the clay in a rectangular shape, wide enough to cover the length of the cake and long enough to completely wrap it.
  • Brush the top of the cake with raspberry jam
  • Place the cake on the clay, jam side down.
  • Brush the remaining three sides with jam
  • Press the chcocolate clay around the cake, making sure the join is either neatly in the one corner, or will be underneath the cake once turned over. Roll the cake tightly over to have clay cover it fully.
  • Carefully flip the cake over so that the seam is under the cake and score the top of the cake with  the blunt end of a knife.
  • Neaten the ends of the cake and remove excess clay by trimming off covered cake on both ends to reveal a neat checkered pattern.
I made my chocolate modelling clay from candy melts. The recipe found can be found here.

It's all you need ~

"Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” John 14:8 (NLT)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Kozhukatta ~ steamed, sweet dumplings

Before you even attempt to say that word up there in the title, let me just clarify and shed light on the fact that there are many pronunciations and sounds that do exist in the English dictionary, but really can't cover the vast number of enunciations in the Malayalam language. They are different and varied and sometimes one's tongue just does not twist and turn the way a Keralite's does when conversing.

So before you attempt to  erroneously say "kozee- catta", I will supply you with a solid, but not direct  English translation. For you see, there is no real translation to kozhukatta, which literally means "plump block". Not too attractive sounding, right? The elements that make this dish are anything but that horrendous definition. So nix it and know that a kozhukatta is a steamed dumpling with a sweet core.

In essence, dumplings  made of rice flour, set with a soft, moist coconut filling nestled into it's center.

As part of my ever growing to do list, I had always and very desperately wanted to make kozhukattas. Dissuaded from even attempting, I felt it would end up on my record of kitchen disasters, and believe me, there are many. So, I had in me the fear of trying the unknown.

Today, I charted that unknown territory. After taking out a tattered, very old, page- missing cookbook, where the author did everything from scratch, I found my kozhukatta recipe. Out of the 10 or so existing pages from my culinary print source, there it was, waiting for me to find it.

There are all but 4 ingredients to the dumpling recipe and each element counts for a lot. The two main  components of rice flour and water is what the dough turn out relies heavily on. Too much water leads to super sticky dumplings, that end up looking like loose jackets over the filling. Too much flour has you with a compacted dough bearing zero moistness. It really depends upon how much and how fast you add and stir in the flour to your moisture.

By now, you know I love coconuts. There is no help for me in this. I admit it, rightly nodding to my South Indian heritage. The coconut for the filling is grated, which if you have a grater and availability to fresh coconuts, good for you and those arm muscles. For the rest of us, there is the shredded, unsweetened alternate you purchase frozen or dried at many specialty stores. It's the easier, lazy man's standby, almost as tasty as it's fresh cousin.

What I fancy most about these plumped rice spheroids is that that they are a pretty healthful choice for a hunger induced nibble. The sweetened coconut, enhanced with cardamom, plays off the rice flavored overlay so deliciously well, I guarantee your first thought on tasting one, would perhaps be, "oh, delectable goodness, where were you all my life?" .

These are exactly the kind of specialty delights you'd serve to guests or bring along as hostess gifts. Singularly reckoned as the unsurpassed queen (or king) of the Kerala kozhukatta you'd be, and that's a totally good thing, yes, it is

Recipe adapted from Mrs. B. F. Varghese' recipes
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp oil (canola)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • On high heat in a deep sided saucepan, bring water to a boil.
  • Add oil and salt.
  • Reduce flame to medium-low, add flour by half cupfuls stirring vigorously, all the while. Add enough flour until mixture pulls into a translucent dough, not too sticky, kind of elastic consistency.You may not need all the flour, so judge accordingly.
  • Remove from heat. Let cool completely.
  • In the meantime make the filling (below).
  • Take off pieces from the dough. Form  flattened circles from the dough using lightly oiled hands, about 2" in diameter. 
  • Place about a teaspoon of the filling in the center of the circle.
  • Bring all sides of dough together over filling, pinching together the the opening over the top of filling. Roll the dumpling into a ball carefully so as not to break the cover. Cover and pinch dough over any exposed filling.
  • On medium heat, and using a *steaming apparatus of your choice bring  water a fourth of a ways up steamer pot, to a simmer. Spray the steamer's surface with a non-stick vegetable spray to prevent sticking. Place as many dumplings as will fit onto surface, without touching each other. Cover and steam for 8-10 minutes over medium heat, light simmer. Remove the dumplings. Repeat until all are are cooked.
  • 1 cup grated fresh coconut or unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup sugar or 1/2 cup grated jaggery
  • 1 cardamom pod, powdered or crushed
Mix together coconut, sugar and cardamom pod. If using jaggery, use your hands to gently rub through with the coconut and to combine.
Note: For steamers, I use a steamer basket. I will mention I use the microwave when the recipe calls for steaming and today it duly popped out moist dumplings as well.
The coconut/ jaggery combination has been used in aval vilayichathu and is similar to the brown sugar filling in my nazook DB challenge recipe.
We love jaggery with these dumplings, not cloyingly sugary, but it lends just the right amount of sweetness.

* Update* I am sending this to my friend Julie, who blogs at Erivum Puliyum. A most fantastic spot is what Julie has over there at EP, where she cooks up many an ingenious and creative recipe, Indian and otherwise. She is hosting a series for Kerala Kitchen, a virtual cooking club, comprising a superabundance of shared deliciousness- recipes, all influenced by the flavors of God's own country, Kerala.  So, here goes my entry- The Kerala Kitchen- June 2012 . Thanks Julie! 
No need to fear~

"Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,”they said, and cried out in fear.
 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matthew 14: 25-27 (NIV) 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fish Pie

  • Looking over all of my whopping 36 posts, I notice that, fish has been a most neglected entity. Shameful, indeed I must say! In comparison, there are an imposing 5 recipes dedicated to chicken,  a break even of 3 which utilize the hefty meats of beef and pork and a whirlwind of desserts. How could I have  I managed  to completely ignore this gilled friend of ours? Mind you, it was not purposeful oversight, so regular in our dinner rotation is fish that maybe, just maybe it was overlooked. Sorry Charlie! 

  • Fish pie is on the menu tonight. 

  • When you hear pie, it might call to mind various sweet- filled, fruited- up pastry wonders. Nope, this is not that kind of pie. It is savory, sans a topcrust. Actually, it features a seasoned fish production costarring sauced up veggies all auditioning as pie.

  • This recipe comes from a tradition of sorts. Not the conventional platter of British lore , though it could've very well been adapted from it. This fish pie is of local origin, as in- my- home state- local, that is. A pie made by many kindred culinary mavens( including my mother- in -law) of my husband's clan, typically assembled as a routinely informal spread. 

  • I learned this from an aunt of JZ's, whom I'd visit on a daily basis, in those early days,when my kitchen was not much of a favored domain ( as it is now), and when someone else's definitely pulled in my interests. It was she who taught me fish pie. I have made thousands of these fish filled casseroles, since (maybe not go that far, we''ll leave it to a modest hundreds).

  • On that point, I'll also furnish a quick mention of a narrative my husband carries with our time-honored fare.

  • Once upon a time, long long ago, a mama was baking a massive fish pie for her 5 hungry boys + 1 hungry husband, the smells of it soliciting even greater yearning. They left to go out for an hour or so,  the pie, which by then, would be ready, cooled, and most perfect to eat. Unbeknownst to them a window was left wide open inviting a ravenous cat and her litter to feed on the beautifully made pie. The boys came back and saw that their pie was gone (sniff, sniff), except for the mess of a plate and some tattered leftovers all over the kitchen floor, the trace of a startled black tail trailing out the window. What a plight, the cat and her brood fattened by the much awaited meal, and here, the unfortunate tummies digesting Ramen noodles, in its wake. End of story; told a hundred times, reaching folkloric heights. Sad indeed, don't you think? 

  • The story and its characters are none other than JZ ( as a boy), his mom, dad, and four brothers. Since the integrity of the tale raises minor dispute on the details amongst the others, perhaps more so to mom, about the evening ( to the likes of, "where were we?" and "when did all this happen?"), I won't claim it as much a fact, as it is a result of my husband's very vivid  imagination memory of a much anticipated childhood dinner and an apt presentation to this meal.

  • I like to bake the pieces of fish first before merging into bechamel (white) sauce, packed full with almost a garden's worth of vegetables. In my white sauce I have used a method that never fails ( on me that is). I cook the sauce alongside the sauteed vegetables. The result is blended refinement, oozing a smooth creaminess, with a slight tang of cheese. A mellow, but very full toned dish.
  • With this recipe, a feeding of four will happen, so double for leftovers which are even better.

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 pound tilapia fillets ( boneless)or any white fish, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (red chili powder)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil or any other cooking oil
  • 2 serranos or jalapenos (deseed if needed)
  • 1 cup broccoli ( cut into small florets)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into coins
  • 1 large potato, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tsp ginger, chopped fine
  • 3 green onions, cut into ½ pieces
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 heaped tbsp all purpose flour
  • *2 cups very warm milk
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • *½ cup shredded cheese of choice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 5 pats of butter 
  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • Season fish pieces with lemon juice, salt, pepper and cayenne . Place in a foil lined baking sheet.
  • Pour 2 tablespoons oil over fish.
  • Bake for 12 minutes (fish may not be done, the final cooking will happen in the end bake)
  • Take out of oven.
  • Reduce oven heat to 350° F.
  • Steam broccoli in microwave according to microwave directions until soft but florets retain color.
  • In oil, over medium heat, saute potatoes, carrots for 4 minutes, add in all your ingredients from the bell pepper to the green onions for an additional 3 minutes.
  • Take off heat. Stir in the broccoli, drained of any water
  • Add in peas.
  • Take out serranos or jalapenos, if needed, at this point.
  • Add in butter to the vegetables, let melt.
  • Add all purpose flour. Combine with vegetables using a  wooden spoon for a minute allowing flour cook through.
  • Pour in milk, let  it come to a boil and have it simmer for an additional minute or so.
  • Stir in cheese and let melt into sauce and vegetables.
  • Take sauced vegetables off heat.
  • Mix in salt and pepper .
  • In an oven proof casserole pan, begin layering sauce and fish pieces. Starting with the sauce pour in a couple of ladlefuls as a base. Then place 4-6 fish pieces on top of sauce. Repeat until you end with sauce.
  • Top with breadcrumbs and butter pats. Place final dish in oven, preheated to 350 °F.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.

To keep it light I always use skim milk, really can't tell the difference.
I used grated Gruyere here, but high moisture, meltable cheeses work well- mozzarella, fontina, cheddar, etc. (On occasion I've used the Laughing Cow wedges)

Fish pie was also one of my entries in a season of online cooking competitions for  RWOP. In lieu, of my white sauce here, I made a sauce from boiled potatoes blended with milk and Philadelphia cooking creme. It was a creamier, richer dish. Since, it required video footage of myself, I don't like to make mention of it too much. In all fairness, it was great fun.
You are wearied when you take it up on your own. Trust Him and hand the burden over. He's your refuge, always.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Friday, June 15, 2012

Daring Cooks Challenge - June 2012; Cannelloni, please!

I am so excited for this month's DC challenge, which takes us to the beautiful land of Italy!

I realize that my completed task is coming out a day late, the summer schedule teamed with unnecessary procrastination led to the delayed posting. I apologize to all my DC folks.

Manu from Manu’s Menu was our Daring Cooks lovely June hostess and has challenged us to make traditional Italian cannelloni from scratch! We were taught how to make the pasta, filling, and sauces shared with us from her own and her family’s treasured recipes!

Born and raised in Milan, Italy, made it true and rightly apt for Manu to challenge us to an authentically Italian recipe.

Cannelloni are tube shaped pasta rolled with a filling, baked in an accompanying sauce. It is oftentimes mistaken for  manicotti, but Manu cleared the fuzzy correlation between the two.

The difference? Manicotti is a filled dinner crepe whereas the cannelloni refers to pre-rolled pasta.

There are many integral elements in making this dish. The pasta- making, filling, the sauces, a final assembly and bake all constitute to creating this fabulous dinner menu. Though it seems elaborate, uncomplicated it truly was, with Manu's step- by step guide supplying ample backing. She did give us the choice of creating our own cannelloni filling or select from the myriad of fillings and accompanying sauce recipes shared by herself.

For the pasta making, Manu's rule of thumb is 1 egg per every 100 gms of flour. So you can gauge amounts according to your requirements. Let me tell you, there is nothing like fresh homemade pasta. It is easy to make and tastes better than anything you can buy in the store. My friends, let this be encouragement to you when spinning out noodled creations of your own. 

Filling choices  can include a variety of cheeses, vegetables, or meats, even interchangeable combinations of the three. I left the arduous (?) task of selecting a filling upto  JZ. No doubt, he chose the substantial dual meat stuffing of pork and beef (need I have asked?). Hence, here it is, Cannelloni Di Carne, meat filled and gloriously so.

I followed Manu's recipe and directions for most of the cannelloni preparation. Any modifications of my own are included in the notes.

(Method, instructions and recipes adapted from Manuela Zangara via the Daring Cook's website)
Egg Pasta~
Ingredients: (to make enough cannelloni for 4 persons):
  • 100 grams (2/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons)  all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg

  • Put the flour and eggs in a food processor and mix. 
  • When the dough looks like crumbs, place it onto a countertop sprinkled with a little flour. 
  • Knead well by hand until you obtain a smooth dough. Roll into a ball, wrap it in cling wrap and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
  • After the rest, cut out a piece of egg pasta dough and flatten it into a rectangular shape with your hands. Put a little flour on it and begin passing it though the pasta machine. 
  • Turn the dial to the widest setting (#1) and, starting with one of the shorter sides of the rectangle, feed it through the rollers. Now fold one side of the piece of dough into the middle, then fold the other side over that to form 3 layers. Starting with one of the narrower sides of the folded dough, feed the pasta through the machine, again at the widest setting. Repeat the folding and rolling technique on the widest setting for at least a couple of times.
  • Turn the dial to the next narrowest setting (# 2). Roll the pasta through the machine without folding the dough between settings. Keep reducing the settings until #7 ( about 1 mm thick). If the sheet of pasta gets too long, you can cut it in half with a knife. 
  • To make cannelloni shape, cut out rectangular pasta sheets (4”x6”).

Note: I used the pasta roller attachment on my Kitchen Stand Mixer. You could also roll out into said thickness using a rolling pin.

Bechamel Sauce~
A bechamel sauce is basically a white sauce which has a roux base (butter and flour).

  • 3 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 c all purpose flour
  • 2 c hot milk
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch nutmeg 
  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour, stir until smooth.Mix into butter until mixture turns a light golden color.
  • Pour in the hot milk, I cup at a time into the butter/flour mixture. All the while whisking until smooth. Bring to a boil.
  • Simmer for 5- 7 minutes on medium-low heat. Remove. Stir in salt and nutmeg.

Manu's Note: If you still get a lumpy sauce, do not throw it out. You can still save it and make it smooth by using a hand stick blender.
Note: I omitted the nutmeg, don't like the flavor in the sauce and added in a dash of black pepper.
Meat Filling~
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb ground or minced beef
  • 1 lb  ground or minced pork (or another 1lb of beef if you do not eat pork)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 tablespoons white wine (can be substituted with equal amount of water)
  • 1 1/2 c Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
  • 3/4 c of the bechamel sauce as per above recipe
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Heat oil in pan over medium heat
  • Place onions and saute over medium until translucent..
  • Add both meats, break down with wooden spoon and brown.
  • Increase flame, pour in wine and let boil. Add bay leaf.
  • Simmer on medium flame for 10 minutes.
  • Mix in cheese and bechamel, salt, pepper to taste.
  • Take off heat and allow to cool.
Note: I added in 2 tsp minced garlic and 2 tsp chilli flakes to the meat mixture.

Tomato Sauce~

  • 2 tablespoons  extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 3/4 c of canned  tomato puree
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • basil leaves

  • Place extra virgin olive oil in a pot with the chopped onion and saute onions until soft and translucent.
  • Add the tomato puree, salt, pepper and basil leaves.
  • Cover it and cook it on a low flame for 20 minutes. Then keep it aside to cool down.
I added 1 tsp cayenne, 2 tsp garlic and a couple sprigs fresh parsley to my sauce.
Assemble the dish:
You will need an additional 1/2 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano to top the dish.
  • Boil the pasta sheets in salted water until done, 3 minutes.
  • Drain pasta.
  • Preheat oven to 350° F. 
  • Take a rectangular 9X13 oven proof dish  to place in all your rolled cannelloni side by side in one layer.
  • Place some of the tomato sauce on the bottom of casserole.
  • Take a sheet of pasta and put in 1/8 of filling along length of pasta. Roll over into a cylinder to make cannelloni.
  • Repeat with remaining pasta sheets.
  • Place all rolled cannelloni, seam side down, in casserole dish, side by side in one layer.
  • Cover with rest of tomato sauce and remaining bechamel.
  • Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 c of parmigiano.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Then, broil for an additional 5 minutes, until top is golden brown.

I did not boil pasta separately. Instead I left the sauces warm allowing the pasta to simmer in them and be cooked in the oven.
Instead of the parmesan, I topped my cannelloni with provolone and mozzarella.

This was one of the most delicious pasta recipes I have ever made. It was hearty and substantial, the perfect family dinner. The filling meat was moist with an emphatic rich flavor, oozing cheese in every bite.

Thank you Manu for this marvelous, one of a kind challenge.

Undeniably, e'squisito!

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8 (NIV)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sunshine On My Shoulders Makes Me Happy!

One of my favorite parts about blogging are the new friends I've been able to make. I am suddenly connected to all sorts of people from different parts of the world, most of them food bloggers. We are sidekicks in this vast blogosphere, catching up on each other's lives, posts, and updates.

Now, you can imagine the delight had by me when one of my blogger friends nominated me for an award, actually two, the Sunshine and the Liebster awards. 

The Sunshine Award is given by bloggers to bloggers. The recipients are those "who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere".

Liebster is a German word that translates to beloved or in this case, favored. So yes, I'm walking on sunshine, feeling honored and at the same time, most humbled. My good friend Reshmi of Noel Collections who carried the distinction of collecting both awards last week, presented me with the dual prize. Reshmi, whom I've mentioned before, has bundles of deliciousness over there in her space. Her recipes are sure to astound your tastebuds as well as create many a mouthwatering moment. I love how she creates new, unique flavor outcomes from tried and tested Indian dishes. Thank you Reshmi for both the awards. 

So, in line with today's title , let's start with that "Sunshine" on my shoulders. 
The way the award works goes something like such:
  1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them- up above.
  2. Answer 10 questions about yourself. ( I just covered 7 here, the remainder I will cover below).
  3. Select some of your favorite bloggers, link their blogs to your post and show them some appreciation love! 
  4. Don't forget to copy and paste the award on your blog! (above)
Remaining 3 things about myself:
  • My favorite color: yellow, or orange, can't decide which one.
  • Favorite flower : carnation,which sometimes gets a bad rap for being the underdog of flowers. I can see God personally hand fringing each feathery petal on this beauty, so it's a winner indeed.
  • Favorite drink(s): water, really.
Some blogs that inspire me:
  • A Kitchen Addiction : Jessica's yummo recipes are an absolute addiction.  I adore her theme of promoting healthful cooking and having fun while at it.
  • Nish Whips Of A Dish : Nish sure does, many wonderful dishes, in fact. Fall in love with them you will, just like I did.
  • Kaipunyam : Tina has a passion for cooking, baking, making seriously yum ice cream and the list goes on...check out her spot and see for yourself.
  • The Roasted Root : Lovely pictures, wholesome recipes is what Julia blogs about.They're not only mouthwatering eats, but good for you as well.
  • Chef in Disguise : Breathtakingly beautiful is all I can say of Sawsan's recipes and her blog. Get ready to sit and drool.
Ahh , now for the rules of the Liebster.

  1. Thank the Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog. Thanks again Reshmi!
  2. Link back to the blogger who presented you the award.( It's up there in my first couple of mentions.)
  3. Copy and paste the Liebster Blog Award on your blog. Look ⬆
  4. Confer the Liebster to 5 blogs. ⬇
  5.      Give them a heads up by leaving a comment that they've been chosen.
Are we ready?

These are places I like to visit for inspiration or even to snag a good dinner recipe.
  • Eat your Heart Out : When you take a look at some of Stephie's  recipes, your heart might be swooning to go back.
  • Frieda Loves Bread : Frieda loves baking and she loves bread, you will too after you pay her space a visit.
  • Spice Up the Curry : Excellent recipes and mind-boggling desserts is what Kanan serves up in her blog.
  • The Spanish Wok : Debs lives in Spain, cooks up Oriental, Indian, Spanish dishes. Sound interesting? Well it is! Go see for yourself.
  • Renu's Foodigest : I happened upon Renu's wonderful world just recently.  It is a sublime place where her cooked up concoctions gastronomically please.
Congratulations, ladies, all of you are truly inspiring. Do pay them a visit, I promise it will be time well spent.

It is quite a difficult task to pick a handful or number of blogs. I must say all the ones I follow and read are super amazing and great inspiration for me. Thanks for all the awesomeness, my friends!


Know that ....

{Source: via Proverbs 31}