Friday, December 24, 2010

Buche de Noel or Yule Log & A Very Merry Christmas To All :)!!!

I had promised Manasi,that I would make a Yule log this Christmas and bring in some Christmas cheer into our home. Manasi was very excited as she along with her friend  Lauren had made Buche De Noel 2 years back for a french project and claimed it was  the coolest  thing !!! Also when you do something with  a close friend you  create special everlasting memories, it is sweet because I realized we invariably ended up talking about her and Lauren,and the good times they had when they were together in the same school :)

I had fun making the chocolate Swiss roll and rolling it up ,which was a little tricky (just the first roll) after that it came very naturally and  the chocolate frosting was the best part , me and Manasi kept licking the  frosting that came on our hands :0 Manasi helped me get the bark effect by running the fork through the frosting in crooked lines. The effect looked stunning and the log tasted oooh so yummy,we could not get enough of it. I hope I can convince you enough to make it this season, (I plan to do this for New Year's also) you can involve the little ones in this preparation,frosting the Swiss roll is fun, and there is no one way or wrong way of frosting,this is a log and has a rustic appeal .So they can have a go at it :) Sprinkling the powdered sugar is even more fun and gives it  the snowy effect which is even cooler :)!!!

Baking A  Chocolate Swiss Roll:
Ingredients: Makes one 8 inch roll
Eggs: 3
Sugar: 3 oz caster or super fine
Self Raising Flour: 2 oz
Cocoa Powder: 1 oz unsweetened

For Filling:
Heavy cream( double)  120 ml
Sugar: 1 tsp

Chocolate Frosting:
Unsweetened baking Chocolate: 3 oz
Butter Unsalted: 2 tbsp
Milk: 1 cup
Powdered Sugar: 3 cups
vanilla: few drops

Method For Baking A Swiss roll:
Take the three eggs in a big bowl( they will double in size) and add sugar and beat with an electric beater for about 10 minutes till the eggs becomes pale and thick and the mixture trails off the whisk in ribbons.

Now fold in the flour & cocoa very gently and make sure you do not over fold .
Grease a 8 by 12 inch Swiss roll pan or cut a parchment paper and line the pan with this and brush the paper with butter/oil. Now pour the batter onto this and very gently spread this evenly.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degree f and bake this for 10- 12 minutes  or until well risen and firm to the touch.

Take a tea towel and spread a parchment paper and dust it with icing sugar and invert the Swiss roll on this.
Now take a knife and very gently lift it up from the edge and then take the edge get your hands on the roll along with the parchment paper and tea towel and make a roll and keep rolling it gently,don't worry about the cracks ,there will be frosting to cover that.

Now press the roll gently for a couple minutes and unroll it on the parchment paper and whip the double heavy cream with sugar until stiff . Spread this evenly on the sponge after it is cool enough to hold the cream. Spread the whipped cream evenly and roll the sponge along with the parchment paper and leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes.Meanwhile you can get the chocolate frosting ready.

Method for Chocolate Frosting:
Take a heavy bottomed pan and add the 2 tbsp butter and when melted add the unsweetened baking chocolate and cook on very low flame stirring constantly till it becomes smooth.Now turn off the flame and add 3 cups sugar and 1 cup milk and beat with an electric mixer till it blends well. This should already be thick and easily spreadable consistency but if not then stick it in the fridge for some more time till it has  achieved the desired spreadable consistency.

Now get the Swiss roll out from the fride and put it on a flat plate or the baking tin and remove the parchment paper and tea towel. Cut the ends at a slanting angle and use them to stick either on the sides or on the top. This is entirely up to your creativity :)

Now comes the best part of frosting the Swiss roll.  Take spoonful of frosting and spread it on the log in a thick layer and then with a fork make angled or crooked lines to give it the bark effect.

You can finish this by sprinkling some powdered sugar to give it a snowy effect, and you can also make some holly leaves and do whatever you fancy and go wild with creativity :)

Notes: Roll the Swiss roll immediately once it comes out of the oven and is still moist. Leaving it to coll before rolling is not a option you have as there is no moisture and the sponge develops cracks.

P.S Everyone have a wonderful holiday season and wish you all the very best from 2011,I will be taking a week long break from blogging and will see you in 2011 :) So long....
Stay warm and be safe with your loved ones,God Bless !!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Italian Pizza sauce

Every time I ate pizza outside,I paid attention to the sauce along with the crust and barring 2 or 3 places I realized the pizza sauce mostly tasted the same everywhere,there was never any flavor that stood out for me. I wanted to change this,people always talk about the crust and mostly pay attention to either the topping or the crust ,but I feel a large part of how a pizza tastes lies in the sauce. Whether it is tomato sauce or pesto or anything else for that matter.

  So for this sauce, I choose to chop the  tomato's,and slow cooked them to a fine puree. Running tomato's in the food processor crushes the seeds which in turn alters the taste of the sauce,making it slightly bitter. This sauce  I made turned out mildly spicy and I added little honey to combat that.So the outcome was a sweet and sour  sauce with a tad bit of kick from the cayenne and some garlic powder and 1 crushed garlic clove along with the herbs. The sauce tasted incredible and the consistency was easy to spread on the thin pie without making the pie gooey. I rolled out the dough on a floured surface and then transferred this pie on the parchment paper,then spread the sauce and the toppings,so I could just slide the parchment paper onto the preheated stone in the oven. After the first couple minutes I removed the parchment paper from underneath the pizza and let the pizza cook directly on the pizza stone.

Make this sauce at home and add pizzaz to your pizza :)

Can of diced tomatos( I used  del monte's organic diced tomatos)
Garlic: 1 clove crushed
Garlic Powder: 1/4 tsp
Olive Oil: 1 tbsp or more if you want
pesto: 1 tsp
Caynenne Pepper: 1/2 tsp
Honey: 1 tsp
Black pepper: 1/4 tsp curshed
Sour Cream: 1 tsp
Basil: dried 1 tsp or 1 tbsp chopped if using fresh
Oregano: 1 tsp dried
Salt: to taste

Take a pan ,heat 1 tbsp olive oil and when hot add the crushed garlic.Saute it till it browns a little then add the rest of the ingredinets except sour cream. Cook till the tomatos turn into a fine puree and the sweet aroma from all the herbs and spices fills up your kitchen. Complete with a spoon of sour cream and fold it in to give it  a nice rich creamy texture :) Spread it on the pizza pie or serve it with pasta,either way you are sure to love this :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Potato Pizza

I had been hearing and reading rave reviews from Sally's and Pepe's Pizza fans. Yes- These are both very popular and apparently the oldest pizza places and they happen to be just 30 miles north of us in New Haven CT. We have friends in New Haven who have eaten at Sally's and so we decided we will go with them and try out the much talked about pizza's.

We were warned about the 1 hour minimum wait,and mind you- it was around this time, last year. The place is not very big but the line is , and sometimes the line stretches beyond the waiting  booth which is enclosed but is again a tight corner and can barely fit in 10 -12 people at a time,so we braved the cold and stood out. In this case the long line gave me the much needed reassurance,and I could already tell by the long line, that this pizza experience was going to be similar to my pizza experience in Naples,Italy. Luckily the wait outside was not very long,as the people inside the waiting booth got seats and we moved inside,this was not all that bad,I was warm and I could  now witness the waiters  through the glass windows bring the pizzas out from the kitchen in the pie pans,and see the excited and hungry look on the peoples faces who were clearly very pleased to see their order arrive.

My curiosity had piqued and every time the door to the waiting booth opened I hoped the waiter would call out our name. Finally he  took us in and seated us in a booth for 4, it was a nice cosy and comfy booth and we placed our order,I was told that not all their pizzas are on the menu,but their very popular fair is the potato mozzarella ,so we ordered one of  that and a pepper mozzarella. I have to tell you-the pizza crust was super and the potato topping was exceptionally good with just a hint of rosemary , the best part about the crust was it retained its crisp texture till the last bite and the toppings did not weigh the crust down. I have to mention here that this pizza was sans red pizza sauce :)  I was instantly transported to Naples where I had eaten pizza exactly the same way sans  red pizza sauce. My expectations had by now crossed all  boundaries and I could not wait to sink my teeth into this lovely crust I had been admiring for far too long from a distance;-)

This is a picture of Sally's Potato Pizza
I loved the pizza and was thinking about replicating the impossible at home(I knew I was being over ambitious)  but I had to give it a try .To some extent I matched the topping bit, but the crust needs to be worked on. I am sharing my attempt at making Sally's in the regular oven ,you have to give this one a try if you are tired of eating the regular stuff which is called pizza here :( I admit the crust is not as good as it was at sally's Apizza but it is better than most I have tried so far at other pizza places .You will notice in the pictures that I have made a thin crust .

Oh and yes-What a perfect day for me to post this.The UCONN HUSKIES made history today by winning the 89th college basketball match against Florida.YAY!!!! Here's a popular CT pizza  to celebrate this victory - Cheers!!!!

My Attempt at making sally's Pizza at home

From Kavita's Kitchen

Potato Pizza
Active Dry Yeast:  Small sachet( 8.75 gms)
Light Brown sugar: 1/2 tsp
warm water: 1 1/2 cup
salt: 1 tsp
Olive Oil: 2 tbsp
All  Purpose Flour: 3 1/3 cup
Garlic: 2 cloves crushed
Chilli Flakes: to taste
Garlic Powder: 1 tsp
Oregano: 1/2 tsp
Basil: 1/2 tsp

Grated Parmesan cheese: 4 tbsp
Pesto: 4 tbsp
Cheese: cheddar & mozzarella grated about 1/2 cup
Potato : thin slices of potato grilled

Note: I made thin slices out of 1 big potato and broiled them in an oven till they were cooked and later used them for topping.

Serves: 4 pizzas

Take a big bowl and add the warm water along with 1/2 tsp of brown sugar and open the yeast in this. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
Add the oil and salt and mix in 2 cups of flour in this and start to knead this,keep adding the rest of the flour and at this point add the crushed garlic along with chilli flakes,oregano and basil .The dough should not be too sticky. Cover this with a damp cloth and keep it in warm place for the dough to rise and get double in size.

Pre-heat the oven at 500 degree f , I have used a Pizza stone here.

Now depending on the desired size of pizza,pull out a portion of the dough and roll it into a ball and use some corn meal on the counter or the board on which you will roll out the pizza. So that the dough is easy to work with. Please avoid the rolling pin and try to work with your fingers starting in the centre clock wise and keep stretching the pizza with your fingers as you move clock wise,I like to work with a tiny portion of the dough as I have not yet mastered the deftness with which people roll out the pizza bases with their hands and fingers. Once you have worked out a medium size pizza,spread this on a parchment paper and start to assemble the toppings.

I spread the grated Parmesan and drizzled about a tsp of olive oil on this. Then I layered the grilled potato slices and topped these with the grated cheddar & mozzarella cheese. I carefully slide this parchment paper with my hand mittens on ,onto the pizza stone and bring down the temperature to 450 degree f and cook the pizza for 10- 12 minutes or till the cheese starts to turn a golden brown. I will also use a spatula to check the bottom of the base,when I see it has a nice crust which takes a couple minutes more or less depending on the oven. I will pull it out.

For the second pizza I used some grated Parmesan and then layered it with pesto and then assembled the potato slices and completed it with grated cheddar & mozzarella.

For the third pizza ,I used the regular Pizza sauce,which was also made at home and used some vegetables for the topping along with grated cheddar and mozzarella cheese. The toppings I used for this pizza are-sweet peppers,broccoli  & black olives.

Toppings for the 3rd pizza

Pizza Sauce

Pizza cooking in the oven on a pizza stone

It is a thin crust and crispy and chewy

I will post the recipe for the pizza sauce in my next post.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Herb bread

I was going through Mary's recent round-up on breads and fell in love with each and every recipe and I have promised myself to bake all these breads one by one. I wanted to make the olive herb bread first but I was running out of eggs and had just 4 instead of 6, so I choose this one which was anyways 2nd on my list after the olive bread. I am absolutely thrilled with the result,this savory bread goes so well with a tiny bit of cheese spread and a cup of tea. I ate this for my lunch yesterday and today me and my husband enjoyed it with a glass of Chianti. It tasted absolutely fantastic:) Mary's recipe calls for Non-fat yogurt,but I replaced it with home made yogurt which was a little sour,and instead of Dijon mustard I went in for Napa valley's stone ground mustard which I simply love & also added some red pepper flakes to add the extra kick. The end result was a flavorful  loaf of savory bread,with prominent thyme& basil  flavors mixed with a subtle  tanginess from the sour curd mixed with the stone ground mustard. The recipe called for a 1 quart bread pan,I did not have that so I used a bigger one and you will notice the slices are not big enough as the pan was  quite large for this much batter .

Unbleached Flour: 1 cup
baking Powder: 2 tsp
Fine Sea salt: 1/2 tsp
Large Eggs: 3 lightly beaten
Yogurt: 1 cup(whole milk)
Stone Ground Mustard: 2 tbsp
Parmesan Cheese grated: 1/2 cup
Basil and thyme: 1/2 cup chopped

Pre-heat oven to 425 degree f and grease & flour a 1 quart bread pan. Set aside.
Add the flour,baking powder,mustard,salt,eggs and yogurt and , mix in the food processor.Blend well and add cheese and herbs and process to blend well.
Pour this batter in the greased & floured bread pan.Place the bread pan in the centre and bake till the top turns golden brown .Remove from the oven and let it cool.then turn it onto a wire rack and let it cool completely before slicing the loaf.

Thanks Mary for sharing  such a wonderful recipe :)
Notes: You can use dry herbs if you do not have fresh.
I have used dried basil and fresh thyme.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Suka Methi Aloo/Dry Fenugreek With Potato

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients: Fenugreek Leaves/Fresh Methi : 1 Bunch washed and chopped without the stems
Onion :2 medium  chopped or Sultan golden fried ready to use onions: 3 tbsp 
Ginger: 1 tbsp chopped very fine or paste
Green Chilli: 2
Small Red Potato's: 10 par-boiled with the skin and halved
Olive Oil: 2 tbsp
Salt: to taste
Red chilli Powder: 1 tsp
garam Masala: a pinch
Lemon: 1/2

1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a kadai and fry the chopped onions along with ginger and chopped green chilli till the onion turns a deep brown color.( I used the ready deep fried onion)
2. Now add the washed and chopped methi and cook it with the onions for 3 - 4 minutes.
3. Now add the par-boiled potato's and add salt and red pepper and sprinkle some water and cover the kadai with a tight lid and cook till the potato is cooked and the vegetable is dry. Serve as a side dish with some daal and roti and sprinkle a pinch of garam masala  and squeeze some lime before serving.

Note: I got a very nice deep rich color for this sabji with no time as I used the sultan golden fried onions.