“We have so much, too much, that we can buy, yet the basic labor of doing, the making with our own hands, is what enlivens us and makes us feel human." Dan Lepard

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

IRISH BROWN BREAD

Last Monday, we went out on a long drive to the hills after a long time.  Thanks to the public holiday that the much awaited plan could materialize. We went to the Bhimtal road, where, during the monsoons, the villagers erect temporary sheds on the road in which they roast corns which are plucked fresh from their fields. They serve the corn with a variety of chutneys which truly deserve to be called exotic. Garlic-lemon chutney, green mircha (chilly) chutney, bhanga chutney, bhangeera chutney or simply with lemon and salt. Corns grown in the hills are sweet and soft. Perhaps it is the weather of the hills that does the magic and infuses the milky sweetness which is not found in the corn grown in the plains. Our lunch was taken care of, as we ate to our heart’s content. It had just stopped raining and there was sound of rain drops falling from the trees, gurgling of the tiny brooks on the sides of the road that come into life after a heavy downpour and water falls that empty into small gorges. How could one not go on a long walk in such a beautiful weather?
Communion with nature is always calming for the jangled nerves which are bestowed upon by the rigours of modern living. It was therapeutic to watch the swollen river, the green fields, the fog rising and falling in the valley ………… while we were savouring the marvels of nature, our kids were chasing butterflies, stopping the crabs from coming on the road, collecting stones, washing their feet in the waterfalls thus enjoying their day out.
Back home, we were tired. For dinner, my husband   made a veggie while I made Irish Brown bread. Irish Brown bread is one of our favourite breads. We love its sweetness, softness and flavour. I bake it often when I am in no mood of making chapattis. A very simple to make bread that goes well with veggie and a slice in the end with jam or honey makes a perfect sweet portion to end the meals.


Ingredients
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
¼ cup rolled oats
1 ½ cups curd
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil

Method
Mix together all whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, oats, sugar, salt, baking powder and  baking soda. Add olive oil and mix well. Knead the flour by adding a little curd at a time. The dough should be soft. It should not be sticky.  Knead well for about five minutes. If the dough feels dry, add some milk. When the dough is ready, shape it into a ball. Place it in the greased baking tray and cut a large ‘X’ on top of the loaf.


Bake in a pre heated oven at 190 degrees C for about 40 minutes.


The top turns golden brown and a nice sweet aroma emanates when the bread is done.  Transfer the bread to a rack to cool.





  
 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

BANANA FRITTERS

Yesterday I watched a cook show on NDTV Goodtimes. The gorgeous hostess of the show made Banana fritters. I found the recipe so appealing, that I made it the same evening. The lovely aroma and flavour of slightly cooked bananas and cinnamon made a great combination. A quick and easy to make recipe.


 Ingredients
2 ripe but firm bananas
2 tablespoons multipurpose flour
2 tablespoons castor sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
Olive oil 
A little water to make a thick batter

Method
Peel the bananas and cut them into half. Slit each half into two pieces. In a dish, mix together flour, castor sugar, powdered cinnamon and water to get a thick batter.

Put the banana pieces into the batter and coat them uniformly with it. In non-stick pan, add a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil. Put four pieces of batter coated bananas.




 Let them cook till the pieces turn golden from both the sides. Repeat the same with the other pieces. Sprinkle castor sugar on the fritters before serving. 

Monday, 20 August 2012

SAVOURY CHEESE FINGERS

There are some things that always invoke childhood memories and a trip down the memory lane is always a nostalgic one. Childhood is such a wonderful phase of life. Carefree and fun filled days. Wish the rest of the life could also be so beautiful…..
As kids we always waited excitedly for Saturdays. It is the day when dad used to be at home. While dad would help us in our studies, read out and explain chapters in advance and tend to his garden, mom would be busy making special meals. Tea time treats were a must. After tea, all of us would go for a long walk to the foothills.
Most of the time, mom used to make cheese fingers with tea which we used to relish very much.  
Few days back, when my kids wanted to have snacks, I made some cheese fingers for them following my mom’s recipe. Only difference is that mom used to fry them but being a health conscious generation, I baked them. I took some for my mom and dad at tea time and we all enjoyed them remembering the good old days.

 Ingredients
½ cup atta (whole wheat flour)
½ cup multi purpose flour
½ cup grated cheese
¼ teaspoon pepper or roasted and powdered cumin seeds
½ teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons butter (softened)
3 tablespoons curd
Method
Sieve together whole wheat flour, multi purpose flour, salt and baking powder. Add all the remaining ingredients and knead well to get soft dough. Keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 2 hours. Make two balls of the dough and roll out each ball into ¼ th inch thick chapatti with the help of a rolling pin.

Cut the chapatti into 3 inches long and ¼ inch wide fingers. Bake in a greased baking tray in the pre heated oven at 180 degrees F for about 20 minutes or till the cheese fingers turn golden. Remove from the tray when done and cool. Serve with tomato ketchup.


Sunday, 19 August 2012

Mango Jam




Mango season is going to be over soon. The juicy and very pulpy Mangoes in the market at the end of the Mango season are best for making Jam. Mango jam has a unique flavour. It is seldom available in the stores. Last week I made some Mango Jam. Here is our family recipe of Mango Jam


Mango Jam

Ingredients


  • 4 cups mango pulp
  • 2 and ¾ cups sugar
  • Juice of four lemons

Instructions


  • Peel the ripe Mangoes. Remove the seeds. Cut the mangoes into cubes.
  • Puree the mango cubes. Add sugar and leave for an hour or till the sugar dissolves completely. 
  • Add lemon juice. Cook in a non-aluminium heavy bottomed vessel on a low flame. Keep stirring the jam continuously to avoid sticking to the bottom of the vessel.
  • The jam should reduce to about half of the original volume and it should be gel like in consistency. 
  • To check for doneness, use the "parting the sea" technique. Take a spoonful of jam and spread it on a plate. Refrigerate the plate for 1 minute. Run your finger in the middle of the jam. If it remains open and does not flow back together, it is done.
  • Turn off the gas. In the meantime, sterilise the bottles. Place the washed and dried bottles with the lids in the oven. Set the temperature to 100 degrees and set the timer to 10 minutes. Remove the bottles and their lids from the oven. Fill the jam in the sterilised bottles while the jam is hot.


Mango jam has a beautiful golden colour.  It is definitely the tastiest of all the jams.

Monday, 13 August 2012

CREAM OF MANGO- MANGO RABRI


It is mid August and it is the fag end of Mango season. Most of mangoes now in the market are overripe or have marks where rot sets in very fast. End of the season Mangoes have a very poor shelf life. These mangoes are best to make Jam or any sweet dish that uses mango pulp. Cream of Mango or Mango Rabri is a very different kind of fruity sweet dish. It can be made healthier by using low fat milk or toned milk. Sugar can be substituted by a healthy sweetener like stevia drops. If the Mangoes are very sweet then the quantity of the sugar can be reduced.

Ingredients
Pulp of two ripe mangoes
1liter toned milk
Sugar to taste
Toasted almonds and pistachios for garnishing

Method
Take milk in a heavy bottomed vessel (preferably a steel vessel). Let it boil till it becomes thick and the colour changes to light cream. Keep stirring and scraping the sides of the vessel. Once the milk is thickened, let it cool. In the meantime, peel the mangoes and remove the pulp. If the mango has a lot of fibrous strings, it is best to pass it through a sieve to get smooth pulp.






When the thickened milk has become cold, add mango pulp. Mix well. Add sugar to taste. Pour in the serving bowls garnish with toasted nuts. Mango Rabri tastes best when chilled.












Friday, 10 August 2012

SWEET CORNBREAD

Last Sunday was a disturbing one. Some ruthless soul had abandoned three very small pups on the road, under an electricity pole. It had rained heavily the previous night. By the time we discovered them, they were half dead. Wet, shivering, spattered with mud and hungry. We were not too sure of their survival. Nature has an unspoken law- between life and death, life must win. For every evil act, there is a good deed. It is this balance that keeps the world going.
We got them home, wiped them dry and fed them. They stayed with us for nine days. We were lucky to find two loving families who adopted them.  
I had woken up early on that Sunday morning to bake cornmeal bread. Wee hours suit me very much as everyone at home is sleeping and I can work uninterruptedly. Power supply is also there for sure in the mornings. (My part of the world has erratic power supply)



After going through a lot of recipes of corn bread on the net, I finalized on one that seemed to suit our taste. The bread (very much a cake) came out very well. Mildly sweet, it had a very strong flavour of cornmeal.


Ingredients
1 cup yellow coarse cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp salt
½ cup powdered sugar
½ tsp baking soda
½ cup butter
2 eggs.

Method
Sift together all purpose flour, cornmeal, salt and baking soda. Beat butter with sugar, add eggs. Mix buttermilk to butter, sugar and egg mixture and mix well. Line a 9” round cake tin. Grease the edges and dust with flour. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix well till the batter is smooth and there are no lumps. Pour the batter in the cake tin. Bake in the pre- heated oven at 175 degrees centigrade for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven after five minutes. Remove from the tin after another five minutes and keep it on the rack to cool.


Exactly after a week, I made sweet cornbread again. This time used whole wheat flour in place of all purpose flour and two tablespoons of olive oil in place of butter. I used 1 ¼ cups curd instead of buttermilk. The results were excellent.








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MY PUPPIES

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Himalayan Peach Jam



Himalayan peach Jam is what I call a pot of peach jam I made some time ago. We had gone to a resort near Mukteshwar during the last week of May. The period from May to mid-June is the best time to visit Ramgarh-Mukteshwar belt as this is the fruit belt of Kumaon and orchards of Plums, Apricot, Peaches and Apples are bursting with fruits during this time of the year.  With the Himalayas in the backdrop, these orchards are a visual treat as well as a treat for the senses.  A variety of Peach called “Early June” is very popular here. The trees are not very tall and are profusely laden with the big size peaches. The salubrious Himalayan clime and mid-May showers infuse sweetness, juice and a great flavour to these peaches.


On our way back home, we stopped at an orchard and asked the owner if we could buy a kg or two and also if he could allow us to pluck the fruit. Voila! He agreed and we plucked the choicest peaches. He refused to take any money from us. Really a heart warming gesture! An important lesson learnt. Money is not everything…happiness springs from small generosities and a big heart.

Some peaches were over in the journey and about six were left. Back home,


 I made jam from those six Himalayan Peaches.

Peach Jam

Ingredients


  • 2 cups ripe peaches peeled and diced if hard, mashed if very ripe
  • 1  ½  cup sugar
  • Juice of two lemons

Instructions


  1. Peel the ripe peaches. Remove the stones and mash them with a fork.
  2. Add sugar and leave for 3 to 4 hours. The sugar will dissolve and the fruit will become tender. However, if the peaches are not very ripe, cut them into pieces and pressure cook the fruit with very little water and turn off the gas after one whistle. 
  3. Mash the pieces, add sugar and keep for about an hour till the sugar dissolves. 
  4. Transfer the fruit pulp to a thick bottomed non-aluminum pan/wok, add the juice of a lemon and cook on a medium flame stirring continuously. 
  5. The jam will start thickening after some time. It should become half the original volume and should fall down the ladle in big lumps. 
  6. Turn off the gas. In the meantime, sterilise the bottles.
  7.  Place the washed and dried bottles with the lids in the oven. Set the temperature to 100 degrees and set the timer to 10 minutes. Remove the bottles and their lids from the oven. 
  8. Fill the jam in the sterilized bottles while the jam is hot.
Note: Do not mash the fruit very fine. The lumpy texture gives the jam a “homemade look” and enhances the taste too!















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