Sunday, June 26, 2016

Pesto Bread Rolls

Pesto bread rolls
Pesto bread rolls
As I type this I can see my jamun tree with only a few fruits left. Seasons come and go but for food bloggers, each one is a delight with the produce it brings. I have done my fair bit of experimenting with the purple fruits but now it's time to turn again to my basil plants and incorporate the leaves in my cooking.
Pesto is the obvious choice as it's so delicious and easy to make. The other day I made these bread rolls stuffed with pesto. There were made in two batches but nothing remained as rice was momentarily forgotten and we (my elder son and I) feasted on these bread rolls. My husband isn't a fan of bread.:( This recipe is enough for 12-14 rolls depending on the thickness that you like/cut.

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour+extra for dusting
1 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp caster sugar
300 ml lukewarm water
A quarter tsp salt
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
1 cup pesto (I had made the pesto earlier with almonds)
1 beaten egg mixed with a tablespoon of milk

Pesto bread rolls

Method: 
Place some of the water in a small bowl.
Add the yeast and the sugar. Or any sweetener like honey to activate the yeast.
Keep it aside till it froths up. This will take about 10 minutes.
Sieve the flour and place it in a large bowl. Add the salt and a glug of extra virgin olive oil.  
Pour the yeast mixture and bring it together. Add some more water if needed. I didn't need to use up all the lukewarm water.
Tip the contents on your work surface and knead for about 8 minutes till the dough is soft and elastic.
Grease the bowl that you had used earlier and tip the dough into it.
Cover with clingfilm and keep in a warm place till the dough doubles in size.
This will take about 45 minutes.
Take it out on the work surface that has been dusted with flour. Knead for a second and roll out in a rectangular shape.
Spread the pesto all across the dough. Then roll it away from you as tightly as you can.
With a sharp knife cut the 'rolls' according to the size you like.
Place each one on your baking dish. I didn't bother to grease the baking dish as there is enough olive oil in the pesto which ensures that the rolls do not stick to the pan.
Leave to rise for another 25-30 minutes.
Brush with egg-wash and  bake in a preheated 180C oven for about 20 minutes or till they are golden brown.
These rolls taste best when they are still warm.
The olive oil in the pesto makes these buns extra soft. It was a joy to bite into these rolls. 

Pesto bread rolls

About a week ago I had tried out this recipe but the pesto was concentrated in the middle of the rolls. That didn't look so good but the taste was heavenly!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Trifle Pudding With Jamun Jam

Trifle pudding with jamun jam
Trifle pudding with jamun jam
Jamun season is almost over. And like every year the splash of purple has been intense!:) Before the season is truly over, the enthusiasm to use more of the fruit in cooking gets heightened. I made jam twice. Half of it will be given away and the other half will be used in desserts. I started with this trifle pudding today. Come to think of it I think I'll be using the jam in forgiving dishes like this one. Those that do not call for precise measurements. A bit of this and a bit of that can also create magic.
jamun

A lot of sharing is done because of the bounteous harvest. Did you know that the seeds are used in traditional healing for diabetes? I have collected (washed and dried) a lot of seeds for a friend whose daughter was diagnosed with diabetes and jamun seeds are part of her diet.

Jamun
Jamun juice is  most refreshing during these hot and humid days. For my husband who needs to check his sugar intake, I make the juice without the addition of any sweetening agent. For me and my son, it's a touch of lemon, a dash of black salt, some sugar and some crushed mint.
Trifle pudding with jamun jam
Coming to my recipe, I used a few pieces of sponge cake I had made the other day. The slices were sandwiched with jamun jam. Since it was for two servings in a jar, the ones seen in the photo above were all I used. I placed them in the jar and poured a simple sugar syrup. Then I made some vanilla custard with milk and 2 teaspoons of custard powder. This was cooled and poured into the jar.
For the fruit I used a sweet ripe mango and the the dessert was topped with whipped cream. Since I had some thick jamun pulp in the fridge, I used it to decorate the pudding.

Trifle pudding with jamun jam

This wasn't an overly sweet dessert as I added only 1 teaspoon of vanilla sugar in the custard. The cream was not sweetened either. I would love to make more variations later by using up the jam I have made this season.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Crustless Quiche With Corn, Eggplants & Potatoes

Crustless quiche with cucumber salad
One good way of using up the few remaining vegetables in your fridge is by putting them all together in a quiche. I had a crustless quiche just once before and quite liked it but the joy that I get out of making pastry ensures my quiches have a crust! But the thought of throwing everything together and getting a decent meal out of it won today and lunch was this...with a cucumber salad (and bits of home-grown mango) with a basil vinaigrette.

 


I also used 1/3 cup of freshly-boiled corn. The variety of corn that we get in our region comes in many hues. But this one turns the water purple. The seeds are creamy with some yellow ones in between but the cob is purple.
Ingredients:

3 medium onions, peeled and chopped fine
2 small eggplants, stalks removed and diced
2 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and cut in circles
1 small carrot, diced
1/3 cup of boiled corn
Vegetable oil as needed
150 ml cream
3 eggs
3 cubes of Amul cheese, grated
Salt to taste
Coarsely grated pepper as per taste
Pinch of paprika 

Method: 
Heat some oil in a pan and fry the onions till they turn translucent.
Remove and place them on kitchen paper.
In the same pan, some more oil and fry the diced eggplants till almost done. Transfer them to a plate lined with kitchen paper.
In the same pan, fry up the carrots till half done.
Beat the eggs and the cream and set aside.
Line the baking dish with the fried onions.
Scatter the diced eggplants and layer with the potato circles.
Sprinkle some grated cheese and the ground pepper.
Scatter the carrots and the remaining eggplants. 
Add the corn. Pour the egg/cream mixture and top it off with the remaining grated cheese and sprinkle the paprika and more ground pepper.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for about 30 minutes or till the quiche has risen (a bit) and is golden brown.
This is best eaten when it is still warm. 

Note: I realised that the potatoes were still a little hard in the middle. So in the pan that was used for frying the onions, I added some chicken stock and cooked the potato circles for about 7 minutes. The flavour from the stock enhanced the taste of this quiche. I hadn't meant to use stock here but I'm glad the spuds made me do it.:)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Pineapple Pies

Pineapple pie

The other night I happened to watch Rachel Khoo's Kitchen Notebook /Melbourne and that episode had some pretty pineapple pies. I couldn't wait to get started particularly when all the ingredients were ready and waiting.:)
I had never made cream cheese pastry before and this recipe had cream cheese, flour, a bit of sugar and soft butter. If you are interested in the recipe you can find it here.
Pineapple pie

When the pastry was resting in the fridge, I removed the ends of the pineapple, removed 'eyes', and sliced them in circles. The core in each circle was removed with the help of a metal bottle lid.
Pineapple pie

The pineapple slices were dusted with sugar and placed in a hot pan for a couple of minutes on both sides. Then they were placed on a paper-topped plate to remove some of the moisture.
Pineapple pie

As soon as the caramelised pineapples cooled down, I started working on the pastry. The power situation was bad yesterday and although I rested the pastry for 2 hours, it still felt like it needed some more fridge time. Anyway I got rolling...
I brushed a beaten egg along the circumference of the pineapple and then placed another pastry circle on top. You need to press the pastry lightly to remove any air bubbles. The recipe actually uses a bottle lid to form a flower pattern on the pastry (edge).
Pineapple pie

But since I needed to work fast in our humid climate I quickly turned a tart tin upside down and pressed/cut away.
Pineapple pie

I think this shape isn't bad at all!:) The trimmings were removed and they went back to rest in the shape of a small ball.
Pineapple pie

This paper-lined tray has four pies in different shapes. Blame it on the shape of the fruit! The pineapple was small but sweet so I didn't use as much sugar as the recipe stated. You can see in the picture that this wasn't the best-behaved pastry!!
Pineapple pie

The recipe also had a sugar/cinnamon syrup to be brushed after they came out of the oven. I left that out as I felt that would be too sweet. But biting into the cooled pie was the best thing. Buttery, flaky pastry simply melted in the mouth. Cream cheese pastry? Worth making again. But with an overnight rest keeping in mind the power that goes and comes during this rainy season. And maybe I'll have some ice cream with it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Pesto Muffins


I'm pretty happy with the growth of my basil plants this year. There was a time when I would make pesto and then wait for the leaves to grow again. That felt like the longest wait ever. Basil leaves aren't available in our markets unlike in other bigger cities. This is a plant that came to join my potted brood only about 2 years ago but did not increase and multiply. This year when I bought two more plants at the horticultural show in January, the seller had pointed at the blooms and told me that I'll never run out of basil in my garden. I wasn't too sure but the two plants went into large clay pots that had a good amount of cow manure. Both did really well and by April I scattered the seeds and now I have a basil garden.;)

My sons love pesto and I often make it usually with almonds or walnuts. Although we love it best with pasta, we even have them with rotis! Sometimes I simply tear off the larger leaves and add them to paratha dough. Adds a fragrant touch to a simple meal.

I did look around for more uses of pesto and liked the idea of using it in muffins. The muffins I made had cracked tops and didn't look the most tempting but believe me, they were delicious!!
Pesto made with almonds

Ingredients:
1/2 cup pesto (recipe here)
1 cup milk
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 cubes of Amul cheese, grated
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 ripe chillies, chopped with seeds intact
This makes 12 muffins.

Method:
Preheat the oven to 170C. 
Sieve the flour with the baking powder and set aside.
In a large bowl, add the beaten eggs and add the milk. Blend it in using a whisk.
Add the oil, whisk again.
Add the dry ingredients to this mixture and mix. Add the pesto and mix it gently.
Line the muffin pan with paper liners and with the help of a tablespoon, place the batter in the lined moulds.
Bake for about 20 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

I did not use extra salt in the batter as the pesto had enough seasoning with both salt and pepper. And this cheese is salty. Earlier I would have been tempted to add a large pinch but lessons learnt in the kitchen make you stop and think.:) The muffins had a wonderful unique aroma that must have made the neighbours think about what on earth I was baking. No wonder they turned out exactly like how I thought they would except for the cracks! And the little kick from the chillies felt just right!
 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Jamun Smoothie

Jamun smoothie
My break wasn't intended to be this long. My younger son was home and two of his friends from Nepal stayed with us for a few days. So blogging took a back seat and stayed there! And the berries kept me busy! I have been making something or the other starting with jamun jam. And jam is usually not for the slathering on toast but more to add that gorgeous purple to cakes and other desserts. Haven't started as yet. I may try out something new after the season ends. It's such a short-lived season so we have to make the most of it while we can.
Jamun smoothie
In this collage you can see the ripe fruits, the smoothie, jamun jam and jamun chutney (bottom, right). I came across this recipe from an earlier issue of Good Food magazine.
Jamun Smoothie:
To serve 6, you'll need----
2 cups jamun, seeds removed
4 cups curd
Salt to taste
Honey to taste
Crushed ice 
A few mint sprigs to garnish

Method:
Put the berries and the curd in a blender. Add the salt and the honey.
Blend the mixture till smooth.
Divide the ice among six glasses and pour the smoothie in them.
Garnish with the mint and serve chilled.
Jamun smoothie

This is one of the most refreshing drinks ever. Particularly on days when the temperature levels are threateningly high and there's no sign of rain. A drink like this can save your life!:) And I'm glad my small hydrangea plant had a cluster of blooms that was exactly the colour of this jamun smoothie!

Other posts on this blog about jamun:
Jamun Kulfi 
Jamun Madeleines 
Jamun Juice
Jamun Jam
 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Black Rice Pudding Tartlets

Black rice pudding tartlets.
The latest book in my cookery book collection is Patisserie Maison by Richard Bertinet. Leafing through the visual treats and the goldmine of information, I stopped at the page where the rice pudding tartlets stared back at me from leaf-shaped moulds. Where do you even get theeeese?
Made with arborio rice and sweet pastry, I immediately thought of my little stock of black rice left in my pantry. I had thought of making risotto ever since I heard that black rice works out well in that dish. But rice pudding in a tart sounded irresistible! Particularly black rice.
Black rice pudding tartlets
Ready for the oven
Earlier we used to get this rice which is rich in antioxidants from the neighbouring state of Manipur but now farmers in Assam are getting into black rice cultivation as there is more profit in growing this crop. You might be interested in checking out this link.
I made the dough for the sweet pastry and as they rested in the fridge, I went ahead with the  rice pudding. So far I have only made Indian style rice pudding that is called kheer. Made with thickened milk, the flavourings are usually saffron or cardamom. But in this case I first cooked 100 grams of rice in a pressure cooker along with the bit of water that was used to soak the rice. Black rice has a nutty texture and the cooking period is a little longer than regular rice.
The other additions to the pudding apart from milk and sugar were: cream, one scraped vanilla bean, zest of one lemon and one crushed cardamom.
The pastry was rolled out and baked blind. After the shells had cooled down, I spread a tablespoon of apricot jam on the base of the shell. Then I filled them up with the pudding and baked them at 180C for about 25 minutes. By that time a crust had formed on top of the tarts and they looked done.
Black rice pudding tartlets

I couldn't resist taking this picture midway through the baking as the pudding bubbled away in the oven.
Black rice pudding tartlets
The crust on top of the filling.
The recipe in the book uses home-made raspberry jam. A teaspoonful of jam is spread on the base of the tarts before the filling goes in. Since the only jam I have now is an apricot jam, I used it.

Black rice pudding tartlets

This dish was a spur of the moment thing. I had seen rice pudding tarts before but had never made any. The leaf-shaped moulds did it and the twist with black rice was worth it. Every bite was delightful with a hint of vanilla, the lemony zing and cardamom and most of all the fragrance of the rice itself.