Thursday, May 16, 2013

Daring Cooks May 2013 Challenge: En Croute~ Kerala Meat Puffs

Our lovely Monkey Queen of Don’t Make Me Call My Flying Monkeys, was our May Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to dive into the world of en Croute! We were encouraged to make Beef Wellington, Stuffed Mushroom en Croute and to bring our kids into the challenge by encouraging them to create their own en Croute recipes!

En croute translates to any food that has been wrapped in pastry dough and baked in the oven. Yes, people life in this month's Daring Kitchen is good, and to gushingly fine heights. Clearly this is  the  right! best! way to consume your favorite foods, all pocket-tucked in crisp, feathered dough.

The possibilities for en croute can be ambitiously endless and by this I mean, if it makes your tastebuds sing, then why not? Which is how I reached today's predicament. For though we were offered three stellars from our host, the mind here was running one track to singularly take on a dough wrapping destination close to my heritage, familiar to my palate. A savory treat similar to the one here, yet of grander reputation; enter now Kerala meat puffs, a region's answer to beef and pastry fixings. In it, we come across a nucleus of generous seasoned ground meat clinging to an encrusting supplement of golden pastry; thus reaching Level of Indescribable Awesome, and an endresult quite difficult not to like.

This could very well be a much delayed ode to the beefy puff. Where I'm from, the item's cult like status shows especially well when cues line outside local bakehouses, on sideroads where manned street carts offer these favored coffee/tea snacks. Yes, that's right, meat puffs come from that genre of appetizer/ short eats served fastidiously at the Indian's teatime, a vague multi-hour window stretching anywhere from after lunch upto a couple minutes before supper. The uninterrupted show of mouthwatering meat filled pastries fits perfectly into the laws of equilibrium for meatpuff supply and demand, and is equally responsible for a locale of very happy people.

Sauteed with spice, masala and flavor, these puff cores are great introduction to Kerala style beef, albeit on a much swifter level. Capsuling masala'ed meat, the pastry overcrust offers that just- right- bite balancing in its intense insides. Baked to a near burnished brown, this is the perfect hand- to- mouth nosh, one of shockyoursense magnitude.
Meat puffs are a big deal in this household, often greeted with expected squeals of excitement and woot! woot!'s. Being a cinch to make and the aftermess an easier cleanup, it requires not more than my three man crew. For this is one of those rare moments that I often request of their services, with mixing, formbuilding and the like. The sets of hands, small, medium, even the large can work multiple batches, baking up significant lots of this home favorite. Sad to say, this was not the case in today's puffmaking agenda. Since being a late show to our Challenge party, I had to bring this one to the table and fast. After sauteing, assembling, baking, eating, phototaking eating and scribbling(whew!), my segue should reach finish line before the day's end. And let me tell you, the desperation to post and desire to chow lead to much accelerated productiveness. So I thank you all for listening in. You may now take it and run.

To dear hostess Monkey Queen, thank you much. How fantastic could it be that this much loved meatpuff packet cued in perfect to our May page, an apt debut in a most excellent en croute task.

Confession... I used frozen peas and carrots. You can do the same if you have a conspicuous half package that has seen better days lying around in your freezer. Otherwise just buy the peas.

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 serranos (green chillies), chopped (seeded if preferred)
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1 pinch turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tsp salt or enough to flavor
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ¼ c frozen peas
  • 1 large egg, beaten 
  • 1 tbsp water 
  • Over medium flame, heat oil in skillet, saute onion, allow to brown.Then add ginger, garlic, serranos until cooked through .
  • Spoon in cayenne, coriander, turmeric, cumin, and saute for an additional minute. 
  • Add the ground beef, combine well. Lid the skillet, cook covered until meat is done.
  • Remove lid, mix in salt.
  • Increase heat to high, and cook until moisture is thoroughly absorbed, app 2-3 min. 
  • Stir in garam masala. Add peas at this point. Mix well. Turn off heat. Set aside to cool a bit.
  • Have pastry sheets ready and thawed. Gently roll out the dough sheet(s) with a rolling pin.
  • Cut sheets into squares large enough for a tablespoon of filling. Put a tablespoon of the meat in the middle and fold over to cover the filling. Press sides to seal.
  • Whisk together beaten egg and water and brush the tops with this egg wash. Bake at 375°F degree F for 20 minutes or till it is golden brown.

No worries if you have leftover meat. Between two slices of bread it makes for a splendid next day sandwich.

From an earlier DB challenge~  for those wanting to make puff pastry from scratch.


"Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
 And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these."
Matthew 6:27-29

Friday, May 10, 2013

Quinoa and chickpea patty, with cilantro yogurt

Presenting an argument for quinoa ( keen-wa) would not have worked so well, some many years back, especially considering that life when reading glasses weren't a must and Tums was nonexistent pantry staple.Yes, those days, when I flashthink to younger/ much lighter self. Healthy food and all the fiendishness it fadded with, was totally and tastelessly not for me. Years later happened, perspectives (force) changed and I tried this. The not -grain-but-edible-seed of superfood famedom certainly worked it's way into my tastebud's higher expectations. Much so, that ever since I have not been out of my 2 pound container of quinoa, placed right next to my ten kinds of rice, two shelves away from pulse and lentils. These are the days of its glory too, something that prompted me to showcase grain-seed of 2013 and bring it to all new heights, one that would suit palates, mine as well as yours.

Mightyseed is a major protein source and has a nutrient profile that can put any multivitamin to shame. Among its key beneficials? Not only does it improve your digestive health, and overall wellbeing, but it could even add a few years to your life. Imagine, being  here one day (yippee!).

Even though I still consider puddings and chocolate among best foodgroups on earth, I've reassessed my cooking personality and consumption persona from time to time. "What haven't I tried?" and "what kills my tummy?" are an oft head- to gastro dialogue, resulting in a health trek that is lasting longer than I thought it would. I've tried-tested my way into many kitchen blunders experiments starring hero wonderfood.  Epic failing and to everyone's dismay, it was worst when trying to submerge it in basic Indian curries. However, quinoa did exceptionally well in bowls of salad, steamy soups and, even bulking up a new love, the green smoothie (no ewwws, it really works!).  Though I kept at aiming for an above and beyond, a route, maybe of ground patties, with an ever so slight touch of certain Indian notes, more to the cutlet tune here, maybe here. My discovery was also fuelled by the desperateness for an addition to (ahem) BFMK's virtually nonexistent "healthy recipe" archive too. Between you and me, please.

With plumped quinoa globules acting as key ingredient, I chose element number two, which of course had to be of equally salubrious nature, though more familiar. Coming from the house of legume, are the delightful chickpeas, mentioned otherwise as garbanzo beans. They help in bringing fantastic nut-buttery taste to my cutlet patties. Super charged with fiber, these hefties add an almost meaty appeal, and phenomenal fill potential. I season and sautee them for more pronounced flavor, a must before they  pulp into a hummus-like existence.

And it does not stop here, a good handful of green spinach contributes to the third part of this powerfood chronicled saga; a veritable three in one and converging trio of superpowers, kind of like a scene from the Avengers, donchathink?  Powerful mission to carry out a patty all for your good. Can it be more noble than that?

The simpleness of zipping all but the quinoa goes tremendously well, after which then your hands take over in free forming the cutlet-y rounds. It's those chickpeas that provide silken  glue holding much of the body together. Grained breadcrumbs further in the bulk and bind, whipping up any excess moisture to create splendidly textured, firmed up forms.

The greater- than- garden- variety- of -good then takes you on an insane firstbiteexperience. Reflecting on my own tastings, this is one of the best possibilities for quinoa ambitiousness I've truly experienced. Shallow fried to crunch makes this pseudocereal come another level, taking high fritterlike experience to a very fine package.

Young humans of this house were in full-blown awe of their new favorited snack, where every two bites elicited "yum!" and "wow!" from their cutlet brimming mouths. Did I fail to mention that these people weren't enlightened on the quinoa part, were even spared the typical good- for- you- so-eat (!) rendition? Coming from their childlike and fussy points of view, you know, healthful = torture (weren't we all there once?), had me seriously rethink the repercussions of hitting up recipe technicalities to their blank, but happy minds. Especially on watching them earnestly fill afterschool gullets, begging too for next day lunchstash, who was I to spoil a good thing? (Shhh!)

The cilantro-ed up yogurt, or raitha, makes it complete, lending soft tang and a beautifully perked up finish. I highly suggest you mix the yogurt first before you encroach on patty making.

There you have it, a wholesome patty affair, as simple or as brilliant as you wish. With cut up cucumbers, red peppers and the like, this transcends impressively as dinner, enough for four, maybe six, upto eight. And if you heard me earlier, going leftover lunchbox route is a very good thing. Just like now, as I wait expectantly for precious final bites on quinoachickpeapatty, after I finally type in. This. Very. Last. Word.
Happy lunching!

  • ¾ c water
  • ½ c quinoa (rinse if needed)
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp dried parsley
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 16 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c chopped spinach, uncooked
  • ¼ c+ 2 tbsp c  finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ¼ c feta cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 c whole grain bread crumbs, plus more if needed
  • 1 tsp salt/enough to flavor
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 c nonfat plain yogurt
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil; add quinoa, cover, and allow to simmer on low heat. Cook until all moisture is absorbed and quinoa plumps up in volume, 12 -15 minutes; set aside.
  • In a large skillet over medium flame, heat oil, and onions and garlic, cook until soft, but not browned. Stir in parsley, pepper flakes and chickpeas. Take off heat and let cool.
  • In a food processor, pulse spinach until finely chopped. Add 1/4 c cilantro, lemon juice, chickpea mixture, feta egg, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper; pulse until combined, yet slightly chunky. 
  • Stir in quinoa to the processed mixture. Blend well.
  • Let sit for 10 minutes for breadcrumbs to absorb excess moisture.
  • Form mixture (add additional breadcrumbs by tablespoons if mixture is still too wet )into 3/4-inch-thick patties (dip hands in water to prevent sticking). If too soft, refrigerate for 10 minutes to firm. 
  • In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium; fry patties until browned and cooked through, app. 7-10 minutes per side.
  • Meanwhile, in serving bowl, combine yogurt, salt, pepper, and the remaining 2 tbsp chopped cilantro; season with salt and pepper. 
  • Serve patties with the yogurt.
Notes~ Store leftover, uncooked patties in freezer, wrapped with plastic film, in airtight container.

See how I brown?

This day, last year : Pork Vindaloo.
"Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;  great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

 Do not tremble; do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? You are my witnesses—is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock— not one! Isaiah 44:8 (NLT)
~  On days when I feel heavily burdened, I find rest in the open arms of my Creator; His unconditional love is one we all yearn for, it satisfies deepest longings and often quells tired, worrisome hearts. I fall back and reach for His promises, remembering to give the things I have no control over to Christ. In this I gain the confidence and peace that surpasses. Fear no longer has its hold, and is not the consuming predator of my heart and head. Daily, I do experience and see the great things God can do in and through me. He is an everloving, everlasting, Father and He will never fail you!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Citrus chiffon cake with ginger, mint and grapefruit spiked syrup

It started with the plant purchase. A wee bonney grapefruit mint I bought on Martha's instigation. Well, sort of. It was Martha Stewart at her best on a segment of Today, planting complete salsa gardens, green juice gardens, and likewise impossible feats to common man, all in a single container. My near answer to MS's gardening super powers? A 3 '' mentha plant bearing the name of the tart/sweet ball of citrus, now lightly scenting my home's air, as it is propped rightly on a corner sill.

After pretty green came home, it required a little more care than I anticipated; because that's the nature of mint, it gets invasively leggy prompting a daily nip, tuck here and there. And until I found a non-scandalous use for it in possibly (?) a baked good, everyday pluckings went down trash bins and freshened up my drains.

All the while, I pined for a dessert, with enough draping of the fruit my mint was named after, quite actually being worried about how I'd use up a 10 pound bag of ruby reds .

Having much experience tearing into these bitter- tart segments, I arrived at the conclusion that all its flavorful zing should and must be harnessed into cake. After hours of blog stalking internet searching, I found best recipe here.

Those of you that meet up with me regularly need no introduction for  my orangelemonfixation. You needing more conviction, I have chronicles complete with  orange cupcakes and their very orang-ish frostinglemon coconut battenburg, coconut lemoned loaf, and strawberry/ mango lemonade.  An obvious next- in- line conundrum it would be; yes, grapefruit, it's now your turn

And that's how it happened, fine, splendid and showcased in my first ever chiffon cake- that of the supersoft genre of bake confections, carrying a lofty track record and possessing legions of flavoring potential. This fruit in cake pairing was a tactic that worked out beautifully, the grapefruit coming forward strong, yet in mild mannered form. I, however decided that a little more sweetness couldn't do damage, supplementing with juice from half an orange. A further scatter of lemon zest and Chiffon transcended greater- than- cake outcome. Sweet, but not cloying, tart but not piercing, it is a most honorable contribution from three outstanding members of the rutaceae family.

Points to hit in most cake bake scenarios include creaming fat and whipping eggs to ribbony silk estimations. The fervor of your beating these elements have direct impact on your final product. So, when we go a step further in separating those eggs, beating yolks and fat to yellow velvet while whites head on to a higher than froth betterment; white gloss peaks of gorgeous billowy mass. It is this cloudlike substance, while claiming help from the two thirds of oil, that creates a moister- than- you- can -believe cake crumb. The morsels are of ethereal calibre, with gentle bites of ginger specks, thus meriting just a tad to an already good show.

Upping the awesomeness ante on this one could very well be a crime. Throwing caution to the wind, however , I went that route anyway, with a slight syrup drench at the very end. An approach I feel leads to a more lighter- than- air transcendence. Best yet, you really can't tell if the 5 2 pieces you nibbled on went straight to your thighs and belly or just puffed away into a breath of sweet smoke. Carry on, after and which, I'll let you be the judge of that.

Citrus Chiffon cake~
(Adapted with modifications from Eat My Words)
  • 2 c cake flour
  • 1 ½ c sugar, divided
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp finely chopped crystallized ginger(sugared ginger)
  • 6 large eggs, separated into yolks and whites
  • ⅔ c canola oil
  • ⅔ c combined fresh juice from 1 grapefruit, and half an orange ( I used more grapefruit, and filled in with orange)
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
I add more juice from the grapefruit, since that's what today's topic is mainly about , also it adds just the right amount of mellow- tang.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl, sift cake flour, 1 c sugar and baking powder. After combining the three, mix in the ginger pieces.
  • In a large bowl or using an electric stand mixer, on medium speed, beat together egg yolks, oil, juice, lemon zest and vanilla. Switch speed setting to med-high and beat until thick, pale yellow ribbons form. Add flour mixture and beat until incorporated well.
  • In another large bowl,  beat in egg whites. If using electric mixer, whisk on low speed until frothy. Increase speed to medium high- covering the bowl, add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add in ½ c remaining sugar and beat on high until stiff, glossy peaks, form.
  • Using a rubber spatula, mix whites into the batter and gently scrape components from bottom of bowl and bring to top and until everything is evenly distributed and of uniform color .
  • Pour batter into greased 10' bundt pan or similar sized deep fluted pan.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes, until center springs back and toothpick inserted comes clean.
  • In the meantime make your syrup (recipe below)
  • When cake is done, keep in pan for 12 minutes. Carefully invert pan and ease cake onto wire rack. At this point, you can pour the syrup by spoonfuls, going along the breadth of cake to moisten each area. Or wait till cake cools to spoon over.
  • Serve with fresh whipped cream.
Notes~ When squeezing juice from grapefruit for the cake, set aside two extra tablespoons for the making of your syrup (below).

Grease and flour those grooves and nooks well, unless you want a pan cemented with cake.
Grapefruit, ginger, mint syrup~
  • 2/3 c water
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 inch ginger sliver
  • 1 sprig mint, freshly chopped ( I used grapefruit mint)
  • 2 tbsp fresh squeezed grapefruit juice

  • To make syrup, heat water with sugar on medium flame. When mixture is slightly dissolved add ginger and mint and stir till no grit of sugar is left. Take off heat, pour in remaining 2 tbsp of grapefruit juice and let cool to room temperature. Take out ginger and mint.

Pictures of whipped up clouds of cream can never be enough.

 Meet grapefruit mint, my lovely green who was inspiration for what you see here.

Take a look~ Last year, this time: breaded pork chops and cake pops.

"Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses." (1 Timothy 6:12)

"The moment you're ready to quit is usually the moment right before a miracle happens" 
Don't. Give. Up. (!!)