Monday, September 30, 2013

Chocolate Hazel nut Tart

I missed last month's challenge , and felt very guilty about it. I knew this month too was difficult as I was supposed to leave for Japan ..but since my programmer has been delayed a little I made use of the opportunity and tried this amazing dessert.

I decided to scale down the recipe and it was a treat to enjoy this awesome dessert.Thanks Gayathri for such a fantastic challenge. Thanks Priya Srinivasan for suggesting.

60 gms cocoa powder
150 gms cold butter
75 gms sugar
320 gms flour
5 gms baking powder
2 tsp egg replacer+ 2 tb sp water
Place the cocoa powder, butter and sugar in a food processor.
Pulse till the mix resembles fine crumbs.
Add the flour,baking powder,egg replacer mix.
Knead the mix into a dough, you could do it on a floured surface.
Roll into a disc, 1/4" thick ,cover with a cling film and place in the refrigerator for an hour.
Remove the disc and place it into the tart mould, this should overhang the mould.
Without stretching press it with the fingertips.
Trim excess dough, loosely cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Line with a foil and and fill in beans for blind baking.
bake at 180 deg C for 10 minutes.
Once done rebake for 5 minutes, make sure to remove the beans before rebaking.
Remove and cool.

Chocolate mousse
200 gms chocolate
200 gms whipping cream
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.
Whip the cream till soft peaks are formed.
Add the melted chocolate to the whipped cream.
Beat well and fill the piping bag.

Hazelnut thing
100 gms Nutella
50 gms dark chocolate
50 gms whipped cream
Melt the chocolate in the double boiler
Add Nutella and let this melt.
Remove from fire.
Mix in the whipped cream
Ideally the hazelnut praline has to be added but I filled this too in a piping bag .

Hazelnut Praline
100 gms sugar
100 gms hazel nuts
Melt the. Sugar on low flame.
Stir continuously till golden.
Add hazel nuts and stir well.
Remove and spread on a silicone mat.
Let dry,
Remove and crush into a coarse powder.

Pipe the chocolate filling in the chocolate tart.
Next pipe the hazelnut filling.
Sprinkle hazelnut praline.
Decorate with chocolate sticks, painted hazelnuts and edible beads.

While making the shell I got stuck ..the dough was pretty hard.
I tried calling a few friends but unfortunately all of them seemed to be busy...finally Rajani picked up the phone and suggested To use some chilled milk to soften the dough.Thanks Rajani, it surely helped.

Once the shell was done I knew that the mousse had to be made with cream, I did not want to use any gelling agents, as this is my favorite, tried , tested and approved recipe.
I did not add the caramelized hazel nuts to the hazelnut I wanted to pipe it, I sprinkled the praline which gave an awesome flavor, besides making it a fantastic garnish.

I enjoyed painting the hazelnuts into different colors..somehow I wanted to use strawberry or raspberry, but not the right season,so just added some color with painted hazelnuts.Unfortunately it was raining heavily, so I could not get mint also, so used some leaves from the garden..added a lit shimmer to them .well they were discarded right after clicking.

The tart tasted absolutely wonderful and all of us loved it. My grand kids want more, well why not, they are a treat and since home made one can eat them without being hesitant.

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Zuppa Ingelse

BM # 32 Week 4
Theme: International 

Cuisine: Italian
Cooking with alphabets "Z"

Today is the last day in A-Z series.When I began preparing for this BM , I started with the alphabet Z. So, this was my first post , but actually last to be posted.

Zuppa Inglese is an Italian dessert.The word Zuppa in Italian Cuisine refers to both savory and sweet dishes.It comes from the verb inzuppare, which means to dunk.

The dessert is originally made with either sponge cake or savoiardi, dipped in Alchermes, a bright scarlet colored aromatic liqueur. It is layered with a creamy custard which is loaded with eggs and flavored with lemon zest.

I made this dessert twice, the first time I used whipped cream and mascarpone cheese, a layer of orange marmalade and some orange segments. The dessert came out awesome, but I felt it did not look like the Zuppa Ingelese pics that I had seen .I gave it a second try. this time I used thick custard and folded in some whipped cream.For that scarlet look I used mixed fruit jam and orange crush. this gave me the exact color and look  I wanted.

Well, there are lots of substitutes in this dessert, but I can promise you it tasted really very good and both the trials were equally delicious ,though my kids loved the second version more than the first.

There is nothing like a recipe to this dessert, it is all about assembling. I shall give you the recipe for the custard which is slightly different than the one we normally make.

250 ml milk
Sugar to taste
4 tsp custard powder
One big piece of lemon peel
Dissolve the custard in a few tbsp of water.
Boil milk, add sugar
Add the dissolved custard to the boiling milk, keep stirring all the time.
Switch off the gas.
Remove the lemon peel.
Let cool, be careful, skin should not form on the custard.
Fold in 1/2 cup whipped cream.
This was enough for three servings.

Here is what I used

Chocolate sponge cake
Orange juice
Mixed fruit jam
Orange crush
Custard mixed with whipped cream
Cherry and chocolate pieces for garnish

How to go about
Layer the dish with sponge cake.
Sprinkle orange juice, using this as a soaking syrup.
Mix the jam with orange crush to get that scarlet color.
Spread a layer of this mix over the sponge.
Spread a thick layer of the prepared custard.
Repeat layers.
Garnish with chocolate pieces and cherry.
This desserts need at least 4 hours resting time in the frig for the flavors to infuse, though the original one needs minimum 24 hours.
Serve chilled.

Friends this month long marathon with A-Z series has been very interesting and Kudos to every one for putting in efforts.Special Thanks to valli for organizing and being patient with all of us .

Here is what I posted during this month long marathon
 A-Z series
Week 1   Baking

Week 2   Street Food

Week 3   Regional

Week 4   International
Z Zuppa Ingelse

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#32

This post also goes for the weekend cooking where Valli and Champa join me every Monday.

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Yellow Pepper Pesto Terrine

BM # 32 Week 4
Theme : International
Cuisine: Italian
Cooking with alphabet 'Y' 

We are coming to an end of this month long marathon, with Y as to day's alphabet we have just one more day to go.The alphabet 'Y' was not much of a problem. Infact I had listed out three options, but this recipe kind of attracted me. I am so glad that I tried this recipe as it was a total hit in the family.I made some minor changes to the original recipe and the final result was totally mind blowing.I have put it under party food category, as I know the guest would love this Italian spread.

2 yellow peppers
1 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp pine nuts
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt or salt to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 cloves garlic
Roast the peppers on slow fire till charred.
Let cool.
Remove the skin, seeds and veins.
Wash and chop the peppers.
Add all ingredients to a food processor including the peppers.
Blend and keep aside.

Cheese Filling
3 cups cream cheese
1/2 cup cooking cheese
1 tbsp chilly flakes
Salt to taste
Mix all ingredients .
It should be a smooth and thick paste
( you could give a quick blend in the mixer)

Assembling the terrine
Take a terrine mould.
Line it with a cling film , over hang it on sides.
Divide the filling into two parts.
Spread a layer with one part of the filling.
Spread the pesto over it.
Now spread the rest of the filling .
Cover the terrine with the cling film.
Place it in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours.
Remove the cling film and de mould the terrine.
Slice and serve.

Serving options
Herbed toast

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Xigua Salsa

BM # 32 Week 4
Theme: International 
Cuisine: Mexican
Cooking with Alphabets "X"

While deciding for my themes per week for the A-Z series I decided the last week first.I decided on International flavors because I was very dicey about finding the suitable dishes for alphabets like X and Z. I choose two recipes, but finally settled for Xigua. Xigua is watermelon in Mandarian, The recipe has been adapted from here. I made a few changes and served this as a dinner to my son.

The watermelons here have lot of seeds and it surely was a job de seeding it, but I must admit , I have yet to eat such a wonderful salad.It had the sweetness of mango, the crunch of onions,the zing of green chilly and above all the juicy watermelon, which refreshes you in the summer. The salad turned out to be a little extra spicy for me, due to the quality of green chilly, but sunny loved it and felt all the flavors complemented each other , they got balanced.the  spiciness being cut down with that sweet mango.

4 cups water melon
1 cup mango
2 green chilly, finely chopped
1 tb sp honey
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp chilly flakes
2 tsp honey
1 tsp parsley
Chop the water melon into mini cubes. Make sure you do not have any seeds.
Add all the ingredients.
Mix gently .
Serve with some crackers or chips.
I served them with blue corn flour tacos, which I recently made from the flour that Mireille had gifted me.

I had made this salad and made my post about two months back, during these two months this salsa was made at least 6-7 times and served to different set of people, different age groups.I have to admit that there is not a single person who did not fell for this salsa..everyone enjoyed it and now this is on my hot list, only mangoes will no more be in season.

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Wontons with Dates and Sesame

BM # 32    Week 4
Theme: International 

Cuisine: Chinese
Cooking with alphabets "W"

Wontons are  Chinese samosas.These are really light as they are filled with very small quantity of filling.Its amazing to know that there are numerous ways to fold these .The basic wrapper is same , and it is normally cut into a square but the folding techniques vary.The fillings vary from different kinds of meats, but I have tried a sweet version of these.

I remember eating a wonton version with a date filling, I added sesame for the crunch and served with chocolate ice cream and some fresh fruits.

Wonton wrappers
2 cups flour
Water as needed
Sieve the flour.
Adding warm water bind the dough.
Knead till smooth and elastic
Roll into a big disc.
Cut even sized squares for wontons.
The same dough can be used for crispy noodles and Chinese money bags.

1/4 cup sesame seeds, roasted, coarsely ground
1/2 cup dates, finely chopped
1 tsp butter
Sugar to taste / optional
In a non stick pan add butter.
Add the chopped dates and crushed sesame seeds.
Add sugar if required.
Let the mix dry.
Keep aside.

Assembling wontons
Using a square wonton sheet place a little stuffing on the front .
Fold the wrapper diagonally , over the will get a triangle.
Bring the edges on both sides in the center and join them with milk.
Deep fry till golden.
Sprinkle Icing sugar.

Serving Style
Wontons should be served warm.These can be relished just the way they are.
You could serve these with drizzled honey.
Serve them with vanilla ice cream.
I served them with fresh fruits along with some chocolate ice cream and drizzled some chocolate sauce.

I had created this post while it was peak summers , when the mangoes and cherries were in full swing, but how ever hard I tried I could not save the ice cream from let us call it chocolate ice cream sauce!! Trust me even the melted ice cream tasted absolutely divine with the combo of wontons, mangoes and cherries. 

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Velvetty Mango Verrines

BM # 32 Week 4
Theme: International
Cooking with alphabets :"V"

A verrine is originally a small thick-glass container with no base, the purpose is to contain a solid or liquid dish (starter, course or desert), rather than a drink.

According to the original concept, verrines are composed of three superimposed layers, each conveying specific characteristics in terms of taste and color. They are layered artistically . Indeed, the sheer verticality and transparency of the verrine allows immediate visual treat.

I made these verrines when mangoes were in full swing. The taste of alphanso mango is absolutely fantastic and it is difficult to resist them.So during the mango season, I try to make a whole variety of desserts with it.

The sheer beauty of the verrines captured me and here we are with Velvety Verrines with the letter "V".

Layer 1
1 cup full fat milk
Few drops vanilla essence
Sugar to taste
2 gms agar agar
Boil milk with agar agar.
Simmer till agar agar dissolves.
Add sugar and vanilla flavoring.
Let it come to room temperature.
Pour into glasses.
Place the glasses at a tilt with the help of a silicon mould.
Let set,and refrigerate.

Layer 2
1 mango, alphanzo pulp
1/2 cup water
4 gms agar agar
Boil the water with agar agar.
Let dissolve.
Strain it and add 3/4 of it to the pulp.
Quickly mix and pour over layer 1
Reserve some for layer 6
Let set.

Layer 3
1/4 cup strawberry crush
Left over agar agar water.
Mix the two and pour a thin layer over layer 2.
Let set.

Layer 4
1/4 cup whipped cream
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
2 tbsp icing sugar
Few drops vanilla essence
Gently fold the mascarpone cheese into the whipped cream.
Add sugar and flavoring.
Pour on layer 3 and refrigerate.

Layer 5
Vanilla custard
1/2 cup milk
Sugar to taste
1 tbsp custard powder, dissolved in 1 tbsp cold milk.
Add sugar to the milk and keep for boiling.
Add the dissolved custard,stirring all the time.
It should be quite thick.
Place a bowl of ice cold water below this so that it cools down.
Keep stirring so a skin is not formed.
Once it comes to room temperature, pour on layer 4

Layer 6
Reserved mango pulp
Reheat this mix and pour over layer 5

Garnish with whipped cream and mint leaves.

The dessert tasted as awesome as it looked, though I knew I still have to master the layering.One should be perfect with measurements so the layer is even.The procedure seems very lengthy and elaborate, but if you really read it seriously, you will find it quite simple.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Uchepos / Corn Tamales

BM # 32 Week 4
Theme: International
Cuisine: Mexican
Cooking with alphabets: "U"

Tamales are one of the more famous corn-based foods of Mexico, but the tamales most of us are familiar with used dried corn. In the state of Michoacán, however, they make uchepos, which are made like tamales but use the husks and kernels of fresh corn. These mildly sweet tamales are complemented by a spicy salsa and sour cream.

While reading about Tamales I was reminded of a Gujju version of these, strange but a little twist here and there and the dish changes..the name changes.At first I wanted to add some spice to these, but decided to let them be original.

Under International dishes we shall enjoy Uchepos with the letter ''U''

6-7 fresh sweet American corn cobs
Salt to taste

Remove the husk from the corns carefully , trying to keep them whole.
Rinse the leaves and keep them aside.
Grate the corn.
Add salt to taste.
Alternatively one can process them in a food processor.

To make uchepos
Take a corn husk, place on the counter.
With the help of a spoon place some of the grated corn on the husk and spread it in the leaf.
It will take the shape of the corn.
Fold the sides of the husk firmly.
Tie them with a thin strand of husk.
Make the rest of the uchepos in the similar manner.
Place them in a steamer and steam them for a good 15- 20 minutes.
To test the uchepos, remove one of the uchepos .
As you open the husk the dough should come out easily from the husk and be completely smooth.
Serve these with salsa and sour cream.

These do not have any spice, so I sprinkled some chilly flakes and made the salsa a bit extra spicy.I toasted some herbed bread out of pizza base and served as a side and this was a light dinner that the family enjoyed.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013


BM # 32 Week 4
Theme: International 
Cuisine: Mexican
Cooking with alphabets : "T"

Toastadas are Mexican open faced sandwiches.the composition of the tostadas and taco is the same, the only difference being in the shape.The tostadas are flat . I made mini ones so these could be handled easily, else it is a job eating them, cause they can really get messy. The fried tortilla is topped with many toppings and it surely can become one big mountain. The first layer to go on the tortilla is the re fried beans , followed by corn, cheese, onions, salsa. Infact I always put a whole lot of toppings along with the beans and tortilla and then let everyone help themselves to make their own toastado.
So we have Toastadas from Mexico with the alphabet "T".

1 cup corn flour ( I have used blue corn flour)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3 tsp oil
Salt to taste

Mix the flours, oil and salt and make a dough by adding warm water.
Knead the dough well and keep for 1/2 hour. Knead again.
Roll out into mini discs or the size you wish to serve.
Prick them with a fork.
Cook lightly on a tava (griddle) and keep aside.
Deep fry till crisp.
Store in a airtight box.

Re fried beans
1 cup kidney beans .soaked
1 tomato , chopped
1 clove of garlic , crushed
2 to 3 green chillies , finely chopped
2 large onions , chopped
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp roasted cumin seed powder
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil
salt to taste
Wash and soak the beans overnight.
In a pressure cooker add beans, tomatoes , garlic, green chillies,half the onion , salt and water to cook .
Cook for 2 whistles and then cook on slow fire for 15 minutes.
Open the cooker, after the pressure is released.
If there is any water , drain and reserve the water.
Heat oil . Add onion and sauté.
Add the bean mix and add chillies pwd, cumin seed pwd,sugar, butter and salt.
Cook for a few minutes and mash the beans coarsely.
The reserved water can be used to soften the bean mix if it is dry or use it as a stock .

3 tomatoes
2 tsp chillies in vinegar
1 small sized onion , finely chopped
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 capsicum
2 pinches carom seeds (ajwain)
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Put the tomatoes in hot water for about 10 minutes. Remove the skin and chop.
Pierce the capsicum with a fork and hold over the flame until the skin is charred. Remove from heat, rub off the burnt skin and chop.
Heat the oil and fry the onion for 1/2 minute. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.

Green Pepper Sauce
2 green capsicums
10 - 12 pods garlic
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp vinegar
Salt & ground black pepper, to taste
Grill the capsicums.
Remove the charred skin.
Wash and remove the seeds.
Put all ingredients except pepper in a food processor and blend to a smooth paste.
Season with pepper.

One can assemble them in any way , but the first layer is re fried beans. I assembled them in this series.....
Re fried Beans
Green Sauce
Boiled Corn
Red Capsicum
Spring onion

While making these I was reminded of the Indian sev poori, which is also all about assembling .

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