Thursday, December 24, 2015

Cranberry orange loaf

The reason for the speed post? In all likes it's the rush delivery, last minute to-dos that eventually get done, remain a constant in my nature, and keep this site as well as your interest going. My purpose today may have severalfold intentions, one in which I strongly hope this to be a part of your merrymaking agenda, today, tomorrow. Whenever. Cranberry loaf scented with oranges, our day before Christmas feature will have you smitten and unregretful of the fact that you spent the five minutes you do on today's update.

After the success of a certain past sweetbread copycat which gained BFMK archives great momentum, I assure you, comparably, tasteprofilewise cran.o.loaf boasts and delivers just as much without disappointment and will take the preferred nonyeastbread baking to a next level.

Baked and bespeckled with The Crimson, you are guaranteed more than a few cranberries with each bite. The robustness in this superfruit cuts well in a double leavener added sweet loaf. I'll also have you know how important the salient differences almonds vs. pecans make, a key ingredient tweak that had to be done as I believe slivered almonds bear a certain magnificence that beg to be in these holiday specials. The smidge of butter (yes, people, considering my love for saturated fat, I reason quartercups to be conservative amounts) will ease your otherwise glutted-with-not-all-things-great season-loving soul.

Moreover, I know this bread will hearken you/your kitchen/your home with required good tidings, cheer, happy endings as you gather, whip, bake, set before family tables, or just for yourself. An addendum to this segue is the surety in it leaving you weak in the knees when and if you dare to stop at Slice One.

So, I'll wrap up the final minute and gift this piece over to to you. 

Hope your Christmas is blessed with much joy, much peace, much love and great memories. 

God bless and thank you for your visits.

Ingredients:
(Adapted from Allrecipes cranberry orange loaf)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp grated orange zest
  • 1 ½ cups fresh cranberries
  • ⅓ cup sliced almonds
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup orange juice
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Grease and flour a 9x5 inch loaf pan or individual smaller loaf pans.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk in zest, cranberries, and almonds. 
  • In a large bowl of stand mixer, cream together butter, sugar and egg until light and fluffy. Blend in orange juice. Take off mixer and blend in flour with wooden spatula until moistened. Mixture will be thick.
  • Spread into prepared pan(s). Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour, until a wooden pick/tester inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Let stand in pan for 10 minutes then turn over on to wire rack to cool completely.
SOOC(straight out of the camera) Visions of flour drenched cranberries need no gilding.

I divided the batter between small loaf pans, perfect for hostess gifts. A batch yields for 4 minis and renders as many happy friends.
A tour of our very pinteresty and busy DIY season. I was bent to take a few amongst the gazillion pinned on my "All things Christmas" board and put them to test. In our industriousness, we created a bunch of giant light balls to make our yard glow and palleted snowmen, since I'd be delusional in thinking our sand strewn land would gift us with the real deal to make even one authentic Frosty. All in all, we ❤️ pinterest for sure.

2014 ~ stocking cake pops, baklava
2013 ~ gingerbread loaf, green rice
2012 ~ Asian style pork and peppers, lollipops, perfect egg salad

******
 In your darkest times, fear not, for the Savior is here.
"O come O come Emmanuel
 And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son Of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel."

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Crisp, chewy gingernaps

 I think there is a time and place for baking large-scale and it begins right about midOctober for most of us, leading to New Year's, and for the ambitious few, an additional week or two. Why, even peeking into history, you'll see that Easy Bake ovens debuted during the last quarter of 1963 so three year olds thenceforth could channel their inner Julia Child right in time for Christmas. It's truth, seasoncentric chefs will always and ever be a very good thing.

But I also imagine we freefall into this three month trajectory where once the weather hits 50° you unknowingly crave things baked, crisped, slathered and smothered with fats,flour, sugar, scents, things that just about make everyone merry and bright, circling on to greater baking, cooking, eating. A gluttonous cycle that needn't, shouldn't ever end too quick and has us wondering why it really can't pull into the twelve month round. Perhaps, there might be a stretch limit to one-size-fits-all pants(?).

Getting to point, these have been a part of my cookieswap/holiday gift reportoire for more than I can remember. Why I've never tried to share it here is a question I'll never live down, have no explanation for and creates atmosphere for loud suggestions from The Two, my almost-on-to-a driving permit adolescent (munching on more than a few of these have helped ease her mother's nightmare-driven mind) and her few-month-short-of-teenstatus sibling, the friends they share lunchbox with, teachers/soccer clubs/random acquaintances of past and present who've all professed an unwavering love for this utterly blogworthy meilleur biscui.
There are some things to consider when baking the grandest of gingersnaps. First, that it is Perfection. Second, the requirement of smallish ginger chunks in a season scented batter create an extravagance not known to common cookie standard. Third, it warrants an aweinduced reverence, from the brown edged finish to a decadent cushion interior, giving way to that incredibly softfirm/crispchew phenomenon. Fourth, the appeal of a well rounded batch of flavor can expand past the "holiday baking" horizons to, well, anytime of the year.

I'll zip this up and have you on your way to prepare preTurkey day tasks. Just know it's that good and I couldn't leave you bereft of what will be the ultimate kickoff to happy holidays forevermore.

Happy Thanksgiving.

A page for my firstborn and her dear friend, who recently professed so much love for the cookie that we needed to rush-update just for her. Ms. M, this to you, but be warned we intend to overload you with a lot more goodies, all year through.

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1½ sticks (12 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 3 tbsp  chopped crystallized ginger
  • ½ cup sugar for decoration


Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. 
  • Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed until light fluffy and pale in color.
  • Add the egg and continue beating until smooth.
  • Bring mixer speed down to low, add half the dry ingredient mixture and the molasses. Stop and scrape sides of bowl with spatula if needed and continue to beat on low.
  • Add in the remaining dry ingredients and beat for an additional  minute on medium-low speed. 
  • Add crystallized ginger and mix with spatula to incorporate and all ingredients are combined.
  • With a tablespoon sized spoon, scoop out dough and roll between palms, then roll into half cup sugar.
  • Drop dough onto parchment/silpat lined cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake 12-15 minutes on center rack.
  • Remove from oven and allow cookies to stay on pan for about a minute before transferring to wire racks for complete cooling. 
  • Can be stored in an airtight container for upto a week.
Notes~
Baking specifics- 
Cutting short the bake time by a minute, at 11 minutes, leaves you with a customary chewy, soft cookie, no crisp.
12 minutes render a more chewy- crisp form, what I like best, goes well with a glass of milk, or nothing at all. 
At 15 minutes, cookie texture is more crisp/ brown, and more true to the "snap" in Ginger's name.

Dough freezes well, double bagged for upto a month.

November  2014~ Chili roasted cauliflower
November 2013~ Peanut butter oreo blondies
Dulce de leche cookies
November 2012~ Cookies!
Pumpkin spice cake( and what this year's dessert will be. It is That Good!)
Stuffed whole chicken 
Sweet potato fries
Beef fry 
Fall cupcakes ( we were diligent in 2012, right?)
           
******
" But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" 2 Corinthians 12:9




Monday, November 16, 2015

Stuffed acorn squash



What's appeasing to the eyes fills the belly well. Said someone once. Might have been me. So starts my story in scoring the most beautiful pieces of acorn squash ever. There is no dearth in gourds, grain, rice, corn that show up in market piles, everywhere in seasonally characteristic orange/gold/brick, hues that should be painting this part of the hemisphere, but are directly averse to my immediate world, the one of a thousand prickly trees, where "cactus green" is in vogue 365 days of the year. So, why can't I  love the blatant consumerism calling for cutest/warmest/fuzziest chunky sweater, beauteous store displays indicative of that-time-of-the year, heralding all that's warm, glowy, and cinnamon scented? Though possibly, don't you think the pumpkin latte rant has gone way too far?

Coming back to food, always and forever our recurring theme anyways, the dynamics of visual persuasion directly works in line here, when catching glimpse of deeply pigmented produce and the goodness of harvest it promises. Your inclination to buy becomes an overzealous purchase, to the tune of, well, let's feed the family, and throw in the neighborhood too.

Today, these ridged beauties fulfill their greater destiny, going beyond the 101 reasons why I love acorn squash. I believe the sweet flesh of Acorn sans much gilding is amazing on its own. But when it commits to multi purpose causes, amassing huge flavor and grand texture, you're appreciation for the gorgeous gourd rises several fold.

Transformed into edible meal pots, the squash roasts become far superior to any bread bowl, lending distinct impression to a mealmaking medley that packs its insides. Caramelbrowned onions, bright-crisp vegetables, enriching duo of of meats, wine for sharpness, balance and fluffy quinoa are just part and parcel of what could be the ultimate party in your mouth. With each element leaning and offering its own, a monumental transfiguration happens once the whole show comes together, warranting a fantasticness almost impossible to mess up.

Of course, the best part is that once you wipe through the contents, you're then ready to eat the vessel itself. Satisfying comfort in a bowl, from the bowl and of the bowl.
Really, can you and do you ask for more?

Of course, I'm not forgetting those seeds, scooped out and toasted with just the right pinch of this and that. Topped with this oomph garnish, you are given a total snout to tail experience, mind you, in a way more wholesome sense.

Refashion ingredients to suit your tastes, it's the broadest blueprint,  one of take-and- make- epic standard and an integral part of your Autumnal menu. Why, with all those holidays rolling in, you're bound to make it for company twice over. In which case, I think I need an invite as well.

Late I know, but I am squeezing it out before another week creeps up on me and I'm well into back to back runs of Hallmarks' countdown to Christmas.
Gorgeous gatherings


Ingredients: 
  • 4 acorn squash 1-1.5 lbs each
  • cooking spray
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ lb ground chicken
  • ¼ lb ground chorizo
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped carrots
  • ¼ cup sliced mushrooms
  • salt
  • pepper
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 2-3 tbsp sliced almonds
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa, cooked according to package instructions
  • ¼ tsp dried parsley
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ cup  shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
  • roasted squash seeds (optional

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 375°. 
  • Cut a thin slice off bottom round of each squash to create a base and have it stand upright. Cut off 1 inch from top part of each squash and scoop out seeds and middle. Don't throw the seeds away.
  • Coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
  • Place each squash open flesh side down on a greased foil lined baking sheet.
  • Bake until tender, 30-40 minutes, depending on size of squash.
  • While squash roasts, prepare filling.
  • In a large non stick skillet, heat oil over medium flame.
  • Add onion, garlic, red pepper and ground meats. Cook until meats are cooked through and slightly browned.
  • Add celery, carrots, mushrooms. Saute for a few minutes until vegetables soften.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Pour in wine. Scrape through the bottom of pan and deglaze any bits.
  • Add kale, almonds and cook for an additional minute until kale wilts. Turn off heat.
  • Mix in cooked quinoa, parsley and oregano and stir all ingredients thoroughly.
  • Once squash is cooked, remove from oven and flip each one over so they form bowls.
  • Divide filling equally between squash.
  • Sprinkle with cheese (optional).
  • Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes.
  • When serving top each squash with roasted seeds.
~ To save on time, roast seeds as you bake the stuffed squash. Just line a large baking tray with foil and spray with cooking spray. Pinch away any flesh or strings from the extracted seeds, wash and dry on towel. Arrange on prepared tray and toss with oil, salt and few sprinkles of cayenne or black pepper. Place under the sheet of squash, in lower two-thirds of oven and roast till brown, about 15 minutes.

Nov 2014~Chili roasted cauliflower
Nov 2013~ Peanut butter oreo blondies
Nov 2012~ Stuffed chicken
******
 "And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."
James 3:18

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Basic chicken curry

Spanning roadside stall specials to multistar menus, there is an impressiveness in molten, sienna colored wellfragranced gravies, replete with protein, served straight over hot rice and/or flatbread. So splendid it definitely demands regular rounds at weekly dinner tables. A simple curried chicken that takes comfort in a bowl or in this case, plate to a whole new level.

Of course, you shouldn't let the word basic undermine the fantasticness of what's been set before you today. This is special, your welcome door to the tastes of the Southeast Asian part of the world. What most people, especial of India, get handed down from generations combined, you will receive in this quick 100 word/ three minute read(even shorter if you ace speed-read).

Just know you're bound to find as many versions of chicken curry alone, as there are people in the Indian subcontinent. Maybe an exaggeration, maybe not. A mix of onions, chilies, garlic, ginger, and melange of spice rendered into the cooking pan at separate intervals, plus or minus a few others, can produce thousands of possibilities, all combinations that can scoot under the  "curry" umbrella.  Wet, or dry, it may be named after the dish it's cooked in, from the area it was invented in, the amount of spices it should be roasted in, so on and so forth. We've even spotlighted The Illustrious 65, where the number of theories that make the name are as popular as the dish

Today, we go through a fundamental, easily digestible (Yes. Pun!) curry construct, a workflow that doesn't require a whole lot of substeps. This can be the foundation to more advanced concoctions. Of course, there is a certain magnificence in a well rounded, straightforward, tremendously good curry. And I believe I have perfected the art to it.

So, shall we begin?
Fiery red chillies, pops of mustard seeds and beneficial coconut lend not only depth of flavor, but fantastic texture, as well. Onions, curry leaves and a crush of all the right spices add body and aroma, while meat juices with help from a cup of water bring in a gravy, stocky enough to cling to pieces and not so insubstantial for pieces to play hide and seek.

A point to take along in task; when cooking large amounts of nonmarinaded white meat, chances are it will taste just like that...white meat..swimming in sauce, and so not ever a good thing. You want those elements that endow to the masala mix to combine and coalesce in a long-ish cook time, essential for flavors to hinge on to meat and and have your house smell like a first-class Indian restaurant.  

Don't be overwhelmed with the component number required in making this onepot wonder. Most of it's tossed in quick succession, building on and balancing a flavor index that takes you from raw spice to rightful curry perfection. Bonetender pieces get inundated with unbeatable kick and well rounded warmth, so utter you'll need to doublepat yourself on the back . 
  
Give it a try. A few times over and you may find you're eligible to compete in Master Chef, Indian edition. Or just smitten with a new favorite chicken dinner you can't get enough of. Either way, it's a win-win. 


Think fresh, people. Don't plow the depths of your refrigerator looking for that end piece of ginger/onion/garlic that's seen better days.
Chicken curry~
Ingredients:
  • 2-3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 crushed cloves
  • 1 crushed cardamom
  • 2 crushed peppercorns
  • 2 medium sized red onions, sliced thin
  • 1 tsbp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 3 serrano peppers, sliced in half
  • handful curry leaves
  • 1-2 tbsp red chili powder(cayenne pepper)
  • 3 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • ¼ cup unsweetened, frozen coconut slices, thawed at room temperature (optional)
  • 1 lb skinned, bone-in whole chicken, cut into 2 " pieces 
  • ½ to 1 cup water
  • ¼ tsp garam masala
  • 2-3 sprigs cilantro
Directions:
  • Heat oil in a large dutch oven or heavy based pan.
  • Add mustard seeds, cloves, cardamom, pepper corns. Allow the seed to pop.
  • Add sliced onions, saute tll translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Add ginger, garlic, serrano, half the curry leaves. Stir until ginger garlic cook through, 1-2 minutes.
  • Add cayenne, coriander, cumin, turmeric and tomato. Saute for a minute.
  • Stir in coconut.
  • Put in cut chicken pieces. Combine with the onion-spice mixture over high heat.
  • Add water. Allow the chicken mixture to boil on high.
  • Once it comes to boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 35-40 minutes on a low flame. Open lid to stir at regular intervals. 
  • When chicken is tender, stir in garam masala and turn off heat
  • Sprinkle in the remaining curry leaves, along with cilantro.
  • Serve hot with rice or Indian flatbread, such as naan, chappathi.
~Add water according to the consistency and amount of gravy you need. I use upto 1 1/2 cups at times. 
~The above is a general spice guideline. I like to adhere to the adage (mine), a bit more spice makes everything nice :-) and am especially partial to the heat renderers, plenteous amounts of cayenne and peppers, particularly in this chicken which give it color as well as a good build of flavor. Play around with what works for you...it could translate from a pretty good curry to an astoundingly great one.
~What is garam masala? Translated as hot mixture, this is a blend of spices common to Indian cooking and usually consists of a combination of cinnamon or cassia bark, cumin seeds, cardamom, fennel, cloves, star anise, bay leaves. The spices are ground to powder form in either a spice mill, grinder or coffee bean grinder(preferably one not used for coffee) and can be stored in airtight containers. No time to mill and grind? Find it right here.

This has forever been in that extremely long list of recipes that I do and wish to surely, if not slowly unbundle here. To punch out a draft that's spent so long in queue seems Herculean at times. Picture taking faces many odds. Curry is rarely photogenic. Light becomes The Issue when cooking ends late and Fall decides to deduct daylight from my life. And I am so not in the mood to click what I could just be eating. Right. At. That. Moment. Ah the reasons! But then we come through, here be the finished product and a fairly pixellated page that looks decent enough to have it's screen debut. 
God is good.  All the Time
1 year ago: Besan laddoo
3 years ago: Omeluffin

******
Supermoon/bloodmoon eclipse 2015 and some Redrocks staring at my lens. Prettiness that my camera occasionally gifts me must always be shared.
 "When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?" Psalm 8:3,4

Friday, September 25, 2015

Farfalle salad with edamame, tomatoes and feta

You can say it. Our past conversations, especially the last few episodes did, in fact, give you due reason to up the ante on your gym routines. I apologize.

Although, you should realize that I've given you enough to build on unfussy, often healthy menus to make mealtimes rank, but could do better to sift a bit more symmetry between blogger pages. There is the need for a reprieve from the recent sugar rush and it's imperative. Balancing scales, both the bathroom and the one where something other than desserts salutes forward is necessary to even out the health quotient and just put my conscience at ease.

Not that all I tuck into these pages is diametrically opposed to those that could have your yoga pants slip on a little bit better. And we have helped in that area too, I believe.

You all know, I obsessively compulse over anything with piles of sugar, a few sticks of fat and the different ways they magically combine. These days, this comes much to the annoyance of a certain 15 year old I share house with, who, when, seeing her mother shamelessly enthusiastically feed on what might be cake leftovers, proclaims, "Amma, you have to stop this, it's totally getting out of control." May I mention that this blasphemer is One of Two who greatly benefit from my sweet tooth as well. What do you do then when your adolescent child displays way too much wisdom for her own good?

Getting to the point and my conclusion in all this, I need to pack more salad into my life and BFMK pages, a department we are so-so lacking in. Remember that sporadic post for a DK contest? I got ahead of myself and contributed not one but three salads on a rare, ultraproductive day, and yes, they do make regular rounds on my table. Still, if I continued with even half of that motivation to create, click, type and share, I'd be Martha. Maybe not, but one can wish.

With pinterest taking you on brightly pixellated journeys replete with colorful suggestions for meal/dessert/outfit/nailcolor options, you're at ease. To make a choice between the zillion URLS it leads you to is a whole different matter, one of attention deficit-filled days and a thousand sleepless nights. However, this time I'd arrived after an industrious 5 2 hours of pingawking. Colored pasta. In a salad. Aha. Eureka. Bingo.

Painted with vegetables, the star of this garden show is farfalle fortified with superhero strength. Crunchy cucumbers, bright cherry tomatoes, softened edamame and meaty kalamata olives get brightened with red wine vinaigrette and a smattering of bold, salty feta. Through the boiling, chopping, spinning, shaking and mixing you will come to believe what I did, that this is noble work and might just redress the wrongs of the world, for sure your own life.

It's an assault of the flamboyantly loud, awesome flavors that jump out at you, bite after bite. Relentless in all its goodness, this feedsamultitude-bowl power packs yum alongside serious nutrional heft.

And the crayon box of hues could theme into your calendar throughout the year. With readily available components, you could make this your take-to-the-picnic/potluck/all-and-any season salad. Do we dare ask for more?

Not bragging people, this really is thebomb dot com, and I may be on a roll here. Who knows what could be next? Green smoothies and DIY face packs? Scroll down and you'll know what I'm talking about.
Farfalle comes on sale and what do you do? You buy supplies to build a warehouse and then take enough pictures to satisfy your soul.
Loveliness and lush of the natural. Waxing eloquent over veggie bowls will always and ever be quite a good thing.

Even though you don't need anything to make the salad obsessively better, you can turn it into a substantial meal with a sidecar soup, sandwich, perhaps even  thisthis, this.

Ingredients:
  • pot of salted water( enough to cook the pasta)
  • 1 12 oz box tricolored farfalle (bowtie pasta)
  • 1 10 oz pkg frozen edamame, steamed in microwave
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved if preferred
  • 1 ½ cup chopped seedless(English) cucumber
  • ½ cup pitted and halved kalamata olives (halve, if desired)
  • 1 medium sized red onion, diced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt or enough to flavor
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp finely chopped parsley
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
Directions:
  • Bring the large pot of salted water to boil. Add farfalle and cook according to box directions, taking off heat 1 minute before the prescribed cook time. Drain well, rinsing in cold water to keep from further cooking. Keep aside to cool.
  • Shell edamame. 
  • In a large bowl mix edamame, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, onions.
  • In another smaller bowl/bottle whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust oil/vinegar/salt/pepper if needed. Aim for a sharp, tangy dressing.
  • Drizzle oil-vinegar dressing over ingredients in large bowl. 
  • Top with parsley and feta.
  • Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap and chill for an hour before serving. Keeps upto 2 days.

Stay tuned. I have some audacious friends who have started to hound me for secret serums (ahh!)/ beauty masks. Don't know how I could be an expert in this, though, seriously, this might be worthy of a post or at least part of a spiel, One super easy DIY face mask. What say you? Do you think it'll fly?
******
He sees hearts as we see faces.
"But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

Friday, August 28, 2015

Vermicelli pudding (semiya payasam)



It's major, formidable onceinayear phenomena when a holiday possesses a whole region, so serious that when its own citizens take habitat elsewhere in the world, it's no surprise they share the party and make it bigger, posher than the original.

This is no small feat people, celebrations created around a Grand Vegan Menu, ranging in items from fifteen to thirty five, mostly sides to rice,  painstakingly prepared and creatively adorned on a 15 inch banana leaf that will serve as your plate for the time it takes you to finish those items. And how do you end a meal without a minimum of four, more like ten, different sweetmeats, taking food coma to a whole new level? It's no surprise that sleep is not a mere suggestion after the multicourse and you literally get evicted to rooms to take care of the glutton-induced- slumber edging into your very being.

It's the geographical confines that I bear roots from and have pretty much bragged on every chance I got, and the holiday is Onam, celebrated throughout Kerala, India's southernmost state, fondly known as God's own country.

Here then it is, my nod and salute to this favorite, all Malayalee-but-not-limited-to grand festival where public institutions close for days and ecofriendly floral carpets (made just for the day) dot State roads.

And no, I'm not carting any part of the innumerable curry inundated meal here. I believe the WWW is plush with Onam specific/ vegan friendly ideas. Instead, I'll showcase a bit of that banana leaf, the reverential spot where dessert is placed,

Even those that have no clue of what I've been talking about in these past too many sentences, will understand that you really don't need an epic celebration to make what could definitely be nirvana in a bowl.

Semiya payasam is vermicelli pudding's Indian name. Nonunderstadably, but for lack of a better one, the word pudding is used, yet doesn't quite bring it. Payasam reaches a greater destiny, one thats undeniably thick, lush, velvet with options of bite and crunch, something way beyond what pudding could ever aspire to be. Can you ponder thin vermicelli noodles hot-roasted and immersed in a nice blended base. One where milk and sugar unite to altogether wondrous much-likened-to-condensed milk magic. 

A few bites into and you get the softened chew of cashews, spoons flecked with spheres of pearlescent tapioca, those which lend dimension and depth to what is probably one of the easiest Indian desserts. Ever.

And really do you need an occasion to boil milk?

I know it's fascinating, this dialogue of culture and lore. But I think you've heard enough from me.

Create your own epic. Payasam. Holiday. Memory.

Until next time.

Happy Onam.

The vermicelli should cook just past al dente and not be noodle mush.

Ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp tapioca pearls
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp oil or ghee
  • 2 tbsp cashews
  • 3/4 cup semiya or thin vermicelli
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 crushed cardmom(optional)
Directions:
  • Soak tapioca pearls in 2 tbsp water for 10 minutes.
  • In the meantime, add ghee to a skillet over medium, stir in cashews and vermicelli strands.
  • Allow contents to brown, including vermicelli strands. Take off heat and set aside.
  • In a separate deep wide set pan/dutch oven, add milk. Take heat to medium -high
  • Drain and rinse the tapioca pearls to get rid of any stickiness or starch. Add this along with sugar and cardamom to the milk. 
  • Keeping heat on medium, simmer contents, stirring at regular intervals, until pearls get semitranslucent about 10 -15 minutes. 
  • Add vermicelli and cashews at this point.
  • Bring to boil, then lower heat to simmer, occasionally stirring until vermicelli is soft and clear, an additional 12-15 minutes. By this time the tapioca pearls would be clear and the milk considerably thickened,
  • Serve hot or cool and refrigerate for 1-3 hours to serve chilled, a favorite here.

Notes~


Although it's dreamy to use whole milk here, I've used 2%, and on most other occasions, skim.

You can drop the sugar amount to the level you'd like, though I'd not go lower than 1/4 of a cup, which would just barely be in the mildly sweet range.

Indian groceries have readymade roasted vermicelli in which case you could altogether skip the step of browning, save for the cashews. Just add it straight to the milk.

These specialized groceries would also be where you'd find tapioca pearls, known as sago palm pearls. These are of the small granule variety and need to be presoaked, should not be confused with the instant. No Indian market nearby? No problem! They're sold here.

Besides cashews, roasted raisins/dates are also added into payasam. You can pick/ choose/forgo as you please.

Another payasam story~
A star contender for the above said meal~
******
"Hear my voice when I call Lord, be merciful to me and answer me."
Psalm 27:7

Monday, August 24, 2015

Mango kulfi- Indian ice cream


I literally bake through this last quarter of scorch blasting season, plastered in sweat,  where my armskin  gets brandironed by seatbelt each and every day. And since I practically live in my car, I'm seriously thinking to acquire a patent for belt/car accessory/steering wheel refrigerant before anyone else gets to it- maybe my new gig, FIY.

So, here in the throes of high summer, we find it imperative to have that incessant supply of iced creamy treats filling all five shelves of the icebox; it's either that or climb into the freezer yourself, which may or may not have happened in this kitchen more than a few times. And even if I do have a good arsenal of  quality store-bought variety packs hanging around, I like to get creative and do DIY frozen love whenever craving strikes. And so a few days prior, I aimed for that popsicle of exotic dimension, luxe, with accessible ingredients that brings on broad smiles from all the sidekicks I share house with, even four legged, furry types.

Kulfi is the Indian's equivalent to ice cream, albeit a richer, more indulgent one. Unlike it's Westernized more popular counterpart, there is no churning or whipping of air involved in creating its lush, cream body. Instead it's form is credited to a slow heat- induced milk evaporation, resulting in downright fantastic results.

Regal through it's roots, kulfi was believed to have once been served in Persian kitchens. I cannot think of any greater reason to usher it into yours since we all aspire to be Masterlords of our culinary domain. Wishful thinking maybe, but it doesn't hurt to dream.

These days, iced treats are carted and sold in street corners by vendors throughout the Indian subcontinent. Why, there are even fancy contraptions to roller your kulfi cream straight to a bowl. Citizens of all strata harken to the kulfi caller's beckon, stand on public roads, kulfilicking like it's nobody's business. That was encouragement for the awkward 12 year old who was visiting an aunt, standing on a busy street in the Nation's capital consuming not one, but two rapidly melting stick-kulfis. Yes, that would be me and I believe all was fine with the world that day.

A mention should be made that you can build on to this milk+sugar classic with many flattering flavor agents. Today we've paired it with bits of saffron and a fair amount of pulped mango, a move that creates altogether interesting dimensions of floral-tart settling into the caramelized malt-ey notes. Still, it all boils down to the milk (pun intended) which if flamed, stirred and reduced properly furnishes in a base that brings plush velvet, distinctly smooth cream-ice quality.

And is it me, or does holding a cylindrical confection on stick make you feel kidlike several times over?  

Need I go further? This may just be your new rave popsicle, a pleasure your few/maybe one remaining week(s) of summer is screaming for.

Since I seem to have misplaced the pack of 500 p-sticks I had on hand, halved plastic straws did the trick. However, they didn't hold well towards end and left us slurping half melted chunks from plates. No one's complaining.
Store leftover popsicles covered with foil or plastic wrap in freezer.
Sometimes, the things that go in deserve a spotlight of their own.
Can you see? Stir, stir and we're almost there! 

(Riffed from this here video-prepare to be entertained:))
(yields approximately 15-20 pops)
 Ingredients:
  • 2 cups milk (whole is ideal)
  • 3-5 saffron threads 
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • 1 ½ c canned mango pulp
  • 3 tbsp crushed nuts, either pistachios, almonds or both 
Directions:
  • Heat milk and saffron in a heavy set wide pan over medium high. While stirring, bring contents to a boil.
  • Reduce to a low medium and allow to simmer, all the while stirring the milk for about 20 minutes until the mixture reduces to half its original volume and it becomes relatively thick.
  • Keeping flame to medium, add the sugar to this and stir to dissolve granules over heat. Continue to cook for approximately another 10 minutes.
  • Add cream and cook further for 2-3 minutes.
  • Allow the milk to cool completely, then stir in the mango pulp and combine well.
  • Add nuts. Stir well.
  • Pour mixture into popsicle molds.
  • Freeze until molds are firm.
 No molds? No worries! Pour contents into disposable plastic cups, cover tightly with foil and poke centers of filled cups with sticks.
Colorful kulfi. Far exceeds any popsicle expectation you've in any way had.


August flashback 
2 years ago~
3 years ago~
******
"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones." Proverbs 15:30