Throwback Thursday: Another Feast from Made in India

We must cook from Made in India at least once a week lately. Aaron’s sister and her sons came over and we thought it would be a great time to try a more complicated meal from the book. Here’s what we came up with…

Lamb Biryani – slow cooked lamb that has simmered for 1 1/2 hours with onions, garlic and ginger, tomato and yogurt, and a mixture of spices. In this way it’s very similar to the Howrah Express Cinnamon Lamb Curry that we made last time. But then you layer it in a crock with cooked basmati rice that’s been flavored with rosewater and fried onions and finish it off in the oven. The crock that we used had a lid so we didn’t bother to made the dough “lid”. This was a very special dish. My only complaint was that the rosewater flavor wasn’t pronounced enough, and next time I would use more.

We also made the Gujarati Potato Curry – it is basically chopped potatoes that have been cooked in a tomato based curry sauce – with aromatics such as onions, ginger and chilli and spices like mustard, cumin and coriander. A great little vegetarian curry and an easy way to use up potatoes when you buy too big a bag (this happens so often in our house).

I had my eldest make Pomegranate and Mint Raita – it was so funny to watch him try to work out how to seed the pomegranate. The raita is a mixture of pomegranate seeds, cumin, yogurt, mint and amchur (dried mango powder). The crunch of the pomegranate seeds made this so much fancier than our usual mint yogurt chutney.

We also made a couple of extra chutneys that have become our go to chutneys to serve with an Indian meal – date and tamarind and mango. The date one is made of dates, water, tamarind, salt, cumin and chili powder. This is simply wizzed up with a stick blender. The mango is some toasted mustard seeds, fenugreek, cinnamon sticks, cloves and peppercorns that you then add chopped mango, sugar, salt and chopped red chilli to and cook until it goes jammy. Discard the peppercorns and cloves, we usually keep the cinnamon stick in for continued flavor development.

All these photos were taken on the fly, thanks to having guests and it was already quite late. Sometimes eating just can’t wait any longer, especially when you’ve been torturing yourselves with the amazing dinner smells of food waiting to be devoured.

We of course served this with naan like we have before, more basmati rice, and the chicken & fig curry reappeared. It was our best Indian feast to date!

Throwback Thursday: PB&J Whoopie Pies from The Fearless Baker

I’m still totally addicted to the peanut butter and blackberry jam combo. One of the reasons I was really looking forward to getting The Fearless Baker back out from the library was because I knew that inside that magical book there was a recipe that would indulge that PB&J craving – PB&J Whoopie Pies.

The cookie is actually part wholemeal which makes it more reminiscent of a sandwich and it is light and chewy like cake or muffins. They were super easy to make and so satisfying to eat.

The filling is peanut butter marshmallow cream and it makes a huge amount! You make it by first making a sugar syrup and then adding it to whipped egg whites and once that’s combined you fold through peanut butter that’s been mixed with butter, salt and vanilla. I bought the good stuff – Bonne Maman blackberry jam to finish these off and they are easily one of the most amazing creations to ever come out of my kitchen.

They were messy to eat, I’ll be honest. The marshmallow cream being so generous wanted to ooze out the sides with each bite. I wouldn’t change that though, I wouldn’t change anything at all!

We used the leftovers to create cheats PB&J wagon wheels – I bought some chocolate wheatens that we spread with blackberry jam and peanut butter marshmallow cream and sandwiched together. There was no way I was wasting a single bite of that marshmallow cream!

There are still so many things I want to try from The Fearless Baker. One month going through that book was clearly not enough.

Throwback Thursday: Almond Pound Cake with Raspberry Swirl and Glaze from The Fearless Baker

It’s been awhile since I’ve had The Fearless Baker in my hands as it is quite the popular book at the library at the moment. I was so excited it was finally mine again because I could finally post about this most awesome cake that I’d tried but no longer had the recipe for.

When Bible study is on at our place, I often experiment with gluten free baking because one of our guests has an allergy. I usually look for a recipe that would be fairly easy to adapt and this fit the bill. The pound cake is a mixture of almond meal, gluten free flour, baking powder and salt combined with butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond extracts and milk. Then once you’ve poured that into your bundt pan you swirl in 1/3 cup of raspberry jam and bake it for 45-60 minutes depending on your oven.

I just love a good bundt cake – they look like they take so much more effort than they actually do. But I really wanted this one to have wow factor, so I decided I wanted a berry glaze to go on top. Erin has a berry glaze recipe in her book so that’s what I was going to use until I saw that her recipe takes 2 cups of fruit juice and reduces it to 1/3 cup, similar to the bourbon/peach juice reduction in this pie. I’d been unimpressed with the reduced sauce that time so thought I’d take a shortcut and pushed raspberry jam through a fine mesh sieve to make 1/3 cup before mixing in some icing sugar mixture and some thickened cream. It needed the tiniest amount of rose pink food coloring to make the color pop, and then I poured it over the cooled cake.

It is by far the best glaze I’ve ever made, even Erin commented when I posted it on Instagram. Gotta be happy with that!

Throwback Thursday: French Onion Soup from My Paris Kitchen

My love for My Paris Kitchen endures. I have been wanting to make French Onion soup for ages but Aaron was never super keen. Turns out all he knew of French Onion soup were dry soup packets that his mum would use to flavor chicken or store bought tubs of French Onion dip. I finally convinced him we needed to make it. And he is a changed man!

The soup is fairly basic in its essence, but the flavor packs a punch. It’s all about slow cooking and caramelizing sliced onions and then turning that almost onion jam into a rick broth. We opted for veggie stock in spite of the recipe choosing chicken stock instead of the traditional beef, because if we’re making a vegetable soup it seems wrong to make it a non vegetarian meal when it’s only that one ingredient that makes it not so. The broth also has sherry vinegar and white wine, garlic, salt and pepper. As I said, basic, but all the flavors pack a punch.

The show stopper of French Onion Soup is the soaking cheesy bread that is on top. We used the French bread that I made from Bread Bakers Apprentice, and since we didn’t have any soup crocks that were oven safe, we put slices of bread on a baking sheet, sprinkled the shredded Comte on top and baked it in the oven until the cheese melted.

This soup was so comforting for a cold Canberra night and luckily I had my soux chef available to do all the onion slicing so I wouldn’t be a teary mess. I think this soup will appear on our winter table again, especially seeing as though I now *have* to go find some oven safe soup crocks.

Throwback Thursday: Shortbread from Tartine

Throwback again to September 2017 when Food52 Baking Club was baking from the Tartine Bakery cookbook. I found out my daughter loves shortbread recently and so happily obliged by making the simple 5 ingredients recipe from this book that I saw many in the Facebook group had tried.

I liked how this recipe called for cornflour as a means to softer shortbread because I like my cookies melt in your mouth texture. I also like how this recipe is cut into little logs rather than big wedges like traditional Scottish shortbread. I was concerned though that I didn’t have the right size baking pan, so I just used a standard Australian brownie/slice pan and it seemed to work fine. But there was no way this was going to cut into 60.  The picture in the book did not show bite size pieces. I cut mine into 3 rows of 11 and they were still quite small.

The recipe was so easy to put together. Cream the butter until it is super soft, then add salt, then the combined flour and cornflour, then lastly the sugar. Press it into the lined baking tin and bang it in the low temperature preheated oven (mine is 125C but it cooks hot – most would need 150C). Bake until lightly browned then sprinkle some sugar over the top to give it a nice coating. Cut into bars while still warm to the touch.

If you line the baking tin like I did then you avoid the hassle of removing and destroying the first piece of shortbread because you can lift the whole thing out on the baking paper.

My young girl was so impressed that Mommy made her shortbread and quickly sampled a piece, then another, and another. I read some complaints that the cornflour altered the taste of the shortbread but I didn’t find that at all. However I didn’t shake off the excess sugar on top so that may have masked the flavor in the end result. I am so glad to have a shortbread recipe and will be making these whenever I need a quick cookie for dessert.

Throwback Thursday: ANZAC Biscuits from Dorie’s Cookies

Last minute on Tuesday night I realized I had no golden syrup in the house and so we hopped in the car with a mission to find some. And would you believe we had to go to more than one place before we found some?!? Why did we need it so desperately? To make ANZAC Biscuits of course!

But then comes the age old question: which recipe do I use? I’m not a huge ANZAC biscuit fan, mainly because my oatmeal cookies are to die for (note the not so humble brag) and most of the ANZAC bikkies that I’ve had are way too crunchy (I’m a soft cookie girl). I came to find out a few years back that the crunchy or soft thing is all about what sugar you use and to my surprise the white sugar yields the softer cookie and not the brown sugar. So to find the recipe that seemed most suitable to me I started flipping through several cookbooks until I noticed that Dorie’s Cookies (the book Food52 Baking Club did in its inaugural month) happens to have an ANZAC biscuit recipe, and lo and behold it uses white sugar! So that’s the recipe we went with.

ANZAC biscuits are very basic to put together, no mixer required. You melt some butter and golden syrup and stir in some bicarb that’s been dissolved in water. That’s added to the rest of your ingredients: flour, oats, coconut (Dorie uses sweetened shredded stuff), sugar and salt. Roll the dough into balls and flatten a bit onto lined cookie sheets and bake them. And Bob’s your uncle, as they say.

Dorie notes that she found her biscuits too sweet when she first made them and halved the amount of sugar. The sweetness in these were perfect but I didn’t like the texture of the sweetened shredded coconut. I will try these again with the desiccated variety and use the normal amount of sugar to see which I prefer. I hazard a guess that it’ll be the more traditional version, but I’m happy to base my forever recipe on this version with a few personal adaptations, given these by far have been my favorite ANZAC biscuit to date.

Throwback Thursday: Chicken with Indian Spices, Mango & Coconut from Simple

Here’s yet another throwback to Simple by Diana Henry. We’ve been making a STACK of the recipes from Made in India over the last couple months (and yet I’ve still only posted about the book once!), but I just had to try this Mango Chicken Curry recipe from Simple because it’s one of my favorite Indian curries.

It was super easy to throw together as all the recipes from this book have been. You cook some chicken thighs in butter and oil then set them aside while you make the sauce – by cooking onions and garlic, adding chopped tomatoes, curry paste, ginger and stock then boiling to reduce the sauce by half. Then you add coconut cream, brown sugar and return the chicken to the pan for another 15 minutes. You add the mango at the last minute so it doesn’t overcook and then finish it with some cream and some lemon or lime juice. We served it with basmati rice and naan and topped it with some fresh coriander.

Sadly, I was disappointed with the end result. The mango flavour was just too muted. It was a really nice curry, but it wasn’t really what I wanted. I’m tempted to try it again since we still have a stack of the Patak’s vindaloo curry paste we bought especially for this recipe and adding extra mango or maybe even some mango nectar in addition to the stock. I’m determined to perfect this favourite meal!

 

 

Throwback Thursday: Sour Cherry Streusel Cake from Classic German Baking

Throwback to June 2017 when Food52 Baking Club was going through Luisa Weiss’s book Classic German Baking. Sooo many delicious looking desserts that just had to be baked ASAP.

Her Sour Cherry Streusel Cake or Kirschstreuselkuchen very quickly became one of my favourite recipes and I’ve probably made it half a dozen times over the last 9 months. The recipe can be found online, so there’s no excuse not to try it for yourself. And as long as you keep a jar of tart cherries in your cupboard and have basic baking ingredients on hand, this is a cake you can whip up in a jiffy if you suddenly find yourself in need of a cake.

There’s 3 basic components in this recipe: the streusel, the cherries and the batter. The streusel you mix by hand and is made of flour, sugar, butter, cinnamon and salt. The cherries are really interesting as you drain the juice and bring it to a boil with a bit set aside to create a slurry with some cornflour and then whisked in to make it get thick and syrupy. Then you reincorporate the cherries and set it aside to cool while you make the batter. And the batter is a dead simple basic butter cake – where you cream butter and sugar and some eggs and vanilla then add your dry ingredients and a little milk (I usually use buttermilk). Then you layer it up in a 9×13 inch pan and bake in a moderate oven for 45-50 minutes.

It turns out great every time, and while I’m actually a little disappointed with the lack of color in the streusel this time around, it still tasted fabulous. I used a new type of gluten free flour and it behaved a little differently. This is another thing of interest, how adaptable this recipe is to gluten free. We regularly bake for a gluten free guest and so this is an easy recipe for me to make for her by simply replacing the plain flour with gluten free and everything else remains the same. The cake is not overly sweet making it easy to eat more than one slice and the red color on the cherries is so elegant that it would sit very nicely on a high tea platter.

I’m really surprised this is the first time I’ve posted about this book because it is one of my absolute favorites. I look forward to sharing more from this book soon!

Throwback Thursday: Bacon & Egg Risotto from Simple

This is another throwback from Simple by Diana Henry that fits firmly into that “brinner” category – ie breakfast for dinner. We made this last month when one of our big boys was away on camp as it serves 2 and we simply doubled it so it would feed the remaining 5 of us. It would’ve been tripled had he been here, but given he’s not too fond of eggs I’m not sure he would’ve eaten it.

It’s a basic risotto making process: heat up some stock in a saucepan and in a skillet melt some butter and cook the bacon and onion. Then toast off the arborio rice until it’s translucent and start incorporating the stock a ladle at a time until the liquid absorbs. Season with salt and pepper and add some parsley and parmesan. And serve with poached eggs on top. No wonder it’s in a book called “Simple”. This barely seems like a recipe!

This is a super comforting mid week meal and it’s rather easy to upscale. It is definitely a recipe I’ll return to when we have bacon that needs to be used up!

Throwback Thursday: Golden Brioche Loaves from Baking: From My Home to Yours

It didn’t take me long to return to  Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours, the book that we went through in the Food52 Baking Club last month. I searched through our Facebook group for brioche because I wanted to make the Mushrooms on Brioche from Simple and thought I should just make it from scratch. What I quickly found out was that Dorie’s recipe was super popular. And now I can see why!

Dorie describes it as “elegant” and it really is that. And again another example of how bread isn’t hard to make – it just takes time and if you’re lucky, you’ll have a good stand mixer that will do the hard labor for you. First, you mix yeast into some water and milk and then add flour and salt and mix to just moisten the flour before adding eggs and sugar. Then you incorporate butter in small chunks and you beat the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl and put it into a greased container at room temperature until it’s nearly doubled. Then you deflate the dough and refrigerate it overnight, deflating again every half hour until it stops rising.

The next day you shape the dough by dividing it in half then each half into four. You shape the smaller portions into 4 logs that you lay crosswise in 2 bread tins and you leave at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans. Here is where I came unstuck. I used the wrong pan size. And so my brioche doesn’t really have much height. Next time I will definitely use smaller tins.

You brush on an egg wash and bake it in a hot oven for about 30 minutes. And the result: golden and deliciously buttery crumb that takes everything up a notch flavour and comfort wise. I cannot wait to make this again!