July 09, 2008

Éclairs, Biscuits, No knead bread, Two years of blogging and a Summer break!

It's been 2 years of blogging at FH (on July 14th, 2006)!
I can't believe how time flies!! It seems like yesterday that I hesitantly opened Foodie's Hope blog and started posting. It's almost 2 years already! Phew!!

To fellow foodies,
I am grateful for all the good things and friends I have gained through blogging and prefer to ignore few nasty comments and petty behavior of very few. Life is like that, isn't it? Bitter sweet! Got to deal with both to make life sweeter!

Hopefully, I will continue to have your affection in future too. I never had a sister in my personal life but I can't really say that anymore! I do have hundreds of sisters now and have gained few brothers too thru' blogging! :) Please know that I always enjoy visiting all of you even though I blog 3 days and try to blog hop only 3-4 days a week to make some time for myself these days! :)

I say "thank you" to everyone,

who come to my blog to say hello to me every week! I appreciate your time, the effort you make to comment here. I will never take any of your comment for granted, hope you do the same! We are all busy in our own way, still make time to post and interact with other bloggers. To me personally, blogging is always been a two way relationship, encouraging and helping each other regardless of whether you are a brand new blogger or a 2yr old blogger like me!

Silent readers; you are most welcome to browse and try the dishes in my blogs. Do leave the feedbacks and say hello to me once in a while, so I can know you. Thanks to all of you who left feedbacks on the dishes you tried from here and at Aroma. Enjoy! :)

What makes me a bit sad is the fact that few websites are knowingly taking our photos without our permission claiming to be their own without giving us any credit or link and profiting by it too! Please be aware of the copy rights, ask for permission, link and give credits. We foodies/bloggers work too hard to do all these cooking, photographing and posting which are not easy at all. Please don't force us to make all our blogs private, it would be such great loss to many young readers who are still learning if all our blogs are not accessible to everybody easily!

Okay, I don't want to get all "emo"(emotional) as my daughter would say!:D

Few weeks ago, I posted a savory cheesy Gougère at my Aroma blog. These are similar but sweet with cream filling and Chocolate glazed with coconut topping. I made few sweet mini Éclairs last week specially for this post. Let me give you a yummy dessert before I take your leave. Hope you try!


YAY!! I remember eating these from Bangalore Iyengar bakeries stuffed with butter cream! I don't know whether these match that taste exactly but not bad at all, what with all that chocolate Ganache glaze on top, some with coconut and some with just cream, these might taste even better for chocolate lovers! :)

Éclairs are sweet puffs as you can describe them, are made of eggy, buttery pâte à choux pastry, stuffed with cream and dipped in Chocolate Ganache!! Sounds great already, huh? Eggs are a must for this recipe, there are no substitutions. In US, there is a egg substitution available like Egg beaters or Egg replacer but I don't know whether they give the same texture as real eggs since I haven't tried it. I am sorry that pure vegetarians cannot try these because of the eggs but Eggetarians can thoroughly enjoy!

I am sending these Éclairs, lightly flavored with Nutmeg to Aparna of "My diverse kitchen" blog, who is guest hosting "Think Spice..think Nutmeg" event this month. This event is started by Sunita from "Sunita's World" blog. Thanks to this event, we all get to savor different spice infused dishes every month. Glad I could send you one too Aparna. Have fun hosting!:))

Nutmeg/Jaiphal is usually added to sweet dishes and masala pd in India, also to cheese sauces and greens in moderation, too much of Nutmeg will taste bitter in the dishes.

To make these, you need:

1 cup milk or water,
(2% or fat free milk or just plain water is okay)
4 tbsp Butter, unsalted/ 1/4 cup or 1/2 stick,
1 cup Plain flour,
3 tbsp powdered sugar,
1/2 tsp Vanilla essence,
4 Medium sized Eggs.
1/4 tsp powdered or gratings of Nutmeg to mix in the soft dough for extra flavor. (Nutmeg is my non-traditional addition to Eclairs, skip it if you don't like Nutmeg, I do love the subtle aroma)


1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped with 1 tbsp sugar pd, pinch of Nutmeg or can use store bought sweet cream or icing.

Chocolate Ganache:
1/4 cup Chocolate chips+1 tbsp butter.
Sweet Coconut flakes to sprinkle,
A piping bag or large zip lock bag with 1" hole cut off in the corner of the bag to make bigger Éclairs and 1/2" hole for minis . Parchment paper and rack to cool them.

1. Heat milk or water and butter in a non-stick pan until it boils, take the pan off the heat when they dissolve,. Add Vanilla, mix. Now add all the flour at once and Nutmeg pd, stir vigorously with a wooden spoon or whisk to mix well.
2. Return to medium heat, keep stirring until it leaves the sides of the pan in a ball. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool for 5 mins. Eggs will curdle when added, if the pastry dough is too hot!
Turn on the oven to 375F to preheat and add a parchment paper on top of a large cookie sheet, use double layered baking sheet if you manage to have one to prevent burning the bottom of the delicate Éclairs.
3. Add the dough to the stand mixer with a flat beater (or in a bowl with a wooden spoon or whisk), turn on low, add 1 egg at a time, mixing very well after each egg until all 4 eggs are used. Beat the mixture on medium speed until it's shiny, glossy, thick and smooth. When you stick a spoon into the dough, it should stand up without falling as in the picture, keep beating until then.
4. Add all the pastry dough to the pasty bag, squeeze out the dough on to the sheet about 1"wide and 4" long, pipe in 2" apart from each other for large ones and 3" long for mini Éclairs until you use up all the pastry.

I can't tell you how many you get exactly, probably about 12 large ones. I made mini Éclairs about 3" long, got about 20! Large Éclairs are better for filling than filling the minis! :)

5. When the oven is hot, put the sheet in and bake for 25-30mins or until they are golden on top. DO NOT overbake them!

DO NOT open oven while they are baking. When done, take the sheet out, put a skewer through the sides of each Éclair to release the air to prevent softening in the center as you can see in the collage, cool on the rack or slice across as halfway, so the inside dries faster without getting soggy inside.

Cream: You can add a pinch or two Nutmeg pd to the whipped cream too if you like, just whip cream with nutmeg and sugar until thick and fluffy.

For chocolate Ganache: Heat chocolate chips and butter in the Microwave for few seconds until they melt, mix well. Whip the cream with sugar until thick or use ready made cream. Keep the coconut handy and Walnuts if you like too.

You can eat just plain mini Éclairs without any filling or topping, just sprinkled with just plain powdered sugar or mixed with pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon powder!

6. When they are cold, fill the middle with whipped cream, gently dip the top in chocolate to coat or use a spoon to coat. Dip or sprinkle the coconut flakes on top. Variations are up to you.

One more look: Hope you make these at home. Cheesy spicy ones great too. These may not be as perfect as Iyengar Bakery Eclairs but good enough for homemade! Can't believe I forgot to take a close up photo of a single Eclair! :P

Now a savory to with the sweet dessert!

I am sending these Cheese and Garlic Biscuits to Aparna of My diverse kitchen", who is hosting my favorite event of all "Bread Baking day #12", an event started by Zorra at 1x umrühren bitte this month with a theme of "Small Breads". Thanks for Aparna, I had to post these for you before I disappear!!:)

Cheese and Garlic Biscuits:
I made these lovely biscuits last week with Cham's (of "Spice-club" blog) yummy recipe. I made few changes in the recipe, so I will give you that version here, enjoy and thank you again Cham, we loved these! :)

You need: 1 1/2 cup self-raising flour, 1 tsp sugar,  1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/4 cup margarine,3/4 cup +2 tbsp Buttermilk, homemade or store bought or use buttermilk pd +water, 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese or pepper jack cheese and 1 tsp Garlic powder.

To make:
Preheat the oven for 450 F. Add a parchment paper on the baking sheet.

Mix the dry ingredients first and add the margarine and mix well until crumbly. Add in the cheese, mix and add liquid ingredients. It will looks sticky which is okay. Take a large cookie or Ice cream scoop, scoop the dough and drop them on the parchment paper. Bake for 12-14 mins or until puffed and golden. Take them out and cool on the rack.

Enjoy the delicate and delicious eclairs and biscuits!:)

I didn't cook too many dishes from other blogs last week to avoid any leftovers while we are gone from home but couldn't stop myself from trying this most popular "No knead Bread" recipe from Jim Lahey in New York Times I had to try last weekend!:D
Followed his recipe to bake this bread mostly except I didn't shape the dough after the first 18hrs of rising, did not use floured towel etc, just popped in the whole dough after the second rising in to my red HOT Le Crueset and after baking covered and uncovered about 85-90 mins, a perfect hard crusted and chewy bread! Thank you Mr. Lahey! :)

"No knead bread":

Inside story; very crusty outside, soft and chewy inside, slightly sour tasting bread, great with soup or with fruit preserves for breakfast!

Look what I couldn't resist making yesterday and taking these to vacation with us!!:D
Kodubale from A&N' s blog!! Thank you guys for posting this yummy classic Karnataka snack, they were wonderful, easy and different from what I usually make!:)

Here are my own Kodubales I have made before, enjoy;

I will resume cooking from your blogs when I am back home from vacation and will list a HUGE collage in September of course! :D

 While I am MIA (missing in action), if you are looking for any recipes in this blog or from Aroma, type in the name of the dish in the search button you see on the side bar in both blogs or go to my "Recipe Index" to find them easily.
If all the above fails, I will still be moderating the comments here and at Aroma atleast once a day and will be updating the events list on the side bar as they are announced, so you can ask me leaving a comment here to help you to find the recipes as well any time!

Awards: A big hug to each one of my blogger friends who showered me with many many awards last week, I appreciate them all and have listed all of you in my side bar. Thank you!

See you all in September! Be safe and have a peaceful Summer. 

July 02, 2008

Dal Bukhara and how to make Ghee, my style!

Hello everybody,
have a wonderful, safe 4th of July celebration and enjoy!!
Well.....nothing much happened last week over here apart from driving the kids to keep a few appointments, being busy renovating the house one room at a time and trying to empty the fridge as much as possible. As for as the weather goes, it rained for 5 days which was a big relief for us but now back to the usual hot and humid again! Since we have moved here, I have noticed that it rains
every year on 4th of July without fail just before the Independence day fireworks starts at the Lake, looking forward to that this year too!! :P

Updated on the 5th! Told you it would rain on every 4th of July,here are the videos! :D

For this week's post, I decided to make an easy and nutritious Dal Bukhara in the slow cooker. In North India, as the book says, they traditionally cook the whole black gram/Kali dal overnight on a little stove on low heat charcoal embers to get a perfectly cooked, soft beans and lightly season to serve with Parathas or rotis next day. Very few Indian restaurants offer Dal Bukhara on their menu, definitely not as common as Dal Makhani.
Here is a website I found which gives you few Indian dishes you can make in the slow cooker. Check it out for more ideas!

I try to make the same dish about 4 month's ago for the first time trying to replicate the traditional overnight cooking process, I cooked the dal on low heat in the slow cooker the whole night. By next morning the dal had become slimy to touch and to taste although it smelled good and tasted good! :P

Learning from the above experience, last week I started the slow cooker in the morning for evening dinner with soaked Kali dal in it on low heat, cooked for about 5-6hrs. This time it was perfectly cooked, I seasoned it and cooked for half an hr again. Here it is, a perfect tasty Dal Bukhara!! :)

Dal Bukhara:

Unlike Dal Makhani or Dal Maharani, Dal Bukhara is made with just whole black gram without any other beans added and lightly seasoned, garnish of cream or butter as an option.(I didn't add that much of cream and butter as they recommended in the book but just few tbsps for taste and some of butter for garnish. Whole black gram provides chockful of fiber and protein, makes a great brunch or dinner on weekends. This recipe is adapted from a book "Indian Menu Planner" authored by various master chefs of Maurya Sheraton, New Delhi! (I have made some changes to the recipe as I always do!)

Mansi from "Funnfud" blog is hosting an event called "Healthy Cooking" this month for which we are supposed to cook healthy food to send it to her, to eat well and live well. Here is mine!
Dal Bukhara,
a simple dish made of Black whole Urad, also called Sabut Urad, Maah or whole black gram or Kali dal, which is a slow cooked and lightly seasoned dish, is full of fiber, low in fat, high in protein and a very nutritious dish to be served whole wheat Chapatis or Parathas. Have fun hosting Mansi! :)

Health food: Hectic lifestyle makes us all easy to skip a nutritious meal and grab a fast food on the run. But it is very easy a plan a healthful dish if we educate ourself and choose the right kind of meal. Proteins are necessary addition for our health. A cup of cooked lentils has 18 grams of protein and under 1 gram of fat, animal protein comes with bit more fat than vegs and beans. Vegetable sources of protein such as beans, nuts and whole grains are excellent choices and they offer healthy fiber, vitamins and minerals. The best animal protein would be fish and poultry which has naturally are less fatty. For more info, click here, here, here, here and a fun health food site for kids is here! Enjoy reading these and now, let's make some yummy Dal Bukhara, shall we? :)

Dal Bukhara, slow cooker style!
Note: I have changed the proportion than it's given in the book as we need less dal at home. You can also use a heavy bottomed dish or non-stick cast iron dish like Le Creuset Dutch oven /dish instead of slow cooker. Idea is to cook for a long time on low heat without burning the dal at bottom of the pan. It's easier in slow cooker, might even work in the oven at 200F, cooked for few hrs!
You need:

1 1/2 cups of dry Whole black gram/Kali dal/Sabut Urad (click on Dal Maharani to see the Black gram photo), soaked overnight and drained,

1 small onion, very finely minced, and 1 Bay leaf, cooked with dal (optional),
4 tbsp cream (low fat or fat free is fine or use sour cream if you like), (btw books says 2/3 cup cream, if you want to be authentic go ahead and add to the dal or skip the cream altogether but some cream added to the dal makes it delicious!),
1 tbsp of butter for garnish or skip it. (book says 1/2 cup, I bet it tastes good but ain't trying it! :D)
To season:
1 1/2 tbsp butter or Canola oil,
Ginger paste 1 tbsp,
Garlic paste 2 tsp,

1/2 cup Tomato sauce, canned is okay,
1 tsp sugar (optional but helps to reduce the acidity in tomato sauce),
2 tsp pre-made Dhana-Jeera or 1 1/2 tsp Coriander seeds pd+3/4 tsp Cumin pd (my addition), 1/2 tsp chilli pd/to your taste,
Some cilantro and salt,

1 fresh red chilli, sliced as an option, looks pretty in contrast to Kali dal! :)

To make it:
1. Soak black gram overnight, wash, drain all the water in the morning. Add beans to the slow cooker along with 4-5 cups of water, bay leaf, minced onion if you are using, cover and turn heat on low (cook on high if you want it within 4hrs), keep a timer on for 4 hrs and go do other stuff! :D
2. After 4hrs, check the dal, add 1 fresh chilli sliced to the dal, cover and leave it alone for another hr if it's not completely done. Check back after an hour. If it's 90% cooked, cover it and start making the seasoning. Beans should be soft, still somewhat whole when done but not mashed too much like a smooth gravy!

Now the book says, you have to add all the above seasoning ingredients raw to the dal directly and then cook for one more hour. I don't like the raw smell of ginger-garlic in the dal even after it cooks in the dal, so I prepare the seasoning separately and then add it to the slow cooker.

3. Heat a pan with butter, add ginger and garlic paste, let it sizzle for 2 mins. Add Tomato sauce, pinch of salt, 1 tsp sugar, chilli pd. Let it cook for 2 mins or until raw smell of the tomato sauce goes, oil shows a bit on top. Check the dal once more if it's almost cooked.
4. Add all the seasoning to the soft dal now, add enough salt, spice powders and butter. Mix the dal gently.
5. Before adding cream, add some hot dal to cream in a bowl first, mix well and then add all the cream to the dal to avoid curdling the cream and mix the dal well. Turn off the heat, let it cool down. You can take out the dal in a bigger serving bowl now.
6. To serve, add dal in a bowl, drizzle a tsp of cream on top or a dab of butter, along with some freshly made Parathas on the side!

Dal Bukhara and Parathas, a healthy and hearty meal:

Dal Bukhara tastes better the next day. Reheat in the microwave to serve, enjoy buddies! :)

********************************************************************************************************************* After all the wonderful article on Protein and low fat healthful food, why are you making a post on how to make Ghee/clarified butter, did you say? Shhh..!! Just make some ghee, will ya!! :D

About Fat:
"Fat is necessary and a concentrated source of energy. Health institution recommend that we should have not more than 30% of total calories in our daily intake and 1/3 of that 30% may include saturated fat. There are good fat like non-saturated fat, both polyunsaturated and mono unsaturated and bad fat of course is saturated fat. We shouldn't avoid all kinds of fats just because you hear fat is very bad!" Info from here, check out this site.

How I make my homemade Tuppa or Ghee or clarified butter:
Yes, we eat few tsps of this heavenly saturated fat called ghee everyday at my home. My folks have been doing that too for ages and for generations back home in India!:D
This was in my draft for ages now, I have been planning to post but never had the chance until today. This is how I make ghee/Tuppa in Kannada or clarified butter at home every 3 months or so. I add 2 tsp of ghee to the whole dish at the end of cooking everyday, it helps to enhance the taste and keep the fat to minimal. This way there is no need to add individual portions of ghee when we eat our food as we do in India! :)

Flavored butter like this recipe has a very subtle since I add whole spices, is great for adding in any savory dish and some sweet dishes as well, as I served ghee with Sojjappalu in my previous post.
If you like to add ghee to sweet desserts like Mysore Pak, skip all the other spices except salt and turmeric. You can also make just plain ghee without adding any of the spices shown above as well, ghee looks cream colored when done.

Step by step photos, click to enlarge the collage:
You need:
6 sticks of unsalted Butter or 3 cups of butter,
few curry leaves,
3 whole cloves,
2 peeled whole garlic, lightly crushed,
pinch of chilli flakes or 1 whole dry red chilly,(optional)
4 whole black Pepper corns,
1/2" cinnamon stick,
1/8 tsp of salt,
1/8 tsp of good quality Turmeric.
A clean dry Bottle, a fine meshed metal strainer, a funnel (optional but helps).

How to make Ghee:
DO NOT use salted butter, you will end up with very salty, odd tasting ghee. You can add 1-2 pinchs of salt to unsalted butter to get the grainy looking ghee!
1. Add all the above in a big pan, three times bigger than the butter mix to prevent spilling over, heat on medium until butter melts completely. Turn down the heat medium low ie #2 knob on the oven and let it simmer for an hour.
2. Heat must be on low so it doesn't foam too quickly and spill over. After an hour, check the bottom of the pan for golden bits of solids. Don't let it brown. If it is still too light colored, let it simmer for 15 mins more or until you get golden solids on the bottom of the pan. Got to watch the pan carefully at this stage.
DO NOT BURN the solids! Turn the heat off, take the pan off the heat and leave it for 3 mins.
3. Put a clean dry towel underneath a clean dry bottle (wet surface might crack the glass when hot liquid hits!), pour the ghee thru' a strainer placed on a funnel until you just have solids and spices left over on the strainer. You can throw away the solids now or use it to make seasoned Ghee rice or to temper the sambhar! :D
4. Cool the bottle completely without the lid on the counter top. When cooled, store in the fridge or you can leave it on the counter top as long as there is no moisture in the bottle. Use dry spoon to scoop every time.
5. If you have Ghee pot like above, scoop some ghee in it, keep it outside while you keep the bottle is in the fridge. Replace whenever you need into the ghee pot from the bottle.

Note: Ghee will go rancid outside the fridge if you keep it for months or you have not let solids become golden, have taken the pan off the heat early when the solids are still looking creamish. WAIT until it get golden and do not let it turn brown, that means ghee is burnt, will get a burnt smell! Add a tsp of ghee to any dish at the end of cooking to enhance the taste. Enjoy the super tasty 100% saturated fat, in moderation of course!! :))

No Kannadiga wedding is complete without a tsp of melted ghee streamed down on the hot Bisibele Bhath or a dollop on the hot white rice! As a brand new young bride many yrs ago, I was given a pot of ghee to serve when we were at my husband's estate the day after our wedding, feeding a crowd of relatives who came from near and far to see us! Wish I had a photo of me serving Ghee!! ;D

I tried these dishes last week and my last list here (hopefully!:D) as well until September! I try not to cook too much this week so we don't have any leftovers when we leave home. Thanks to all you for posting these delicious recipes. We enjoyed having them on our dinner table. Keep it up and enjoy blogging my dear buddies! :)

Dosakai Pachadi from Padma's blog (Used regular Cucumber instead of Dosakai! :D)
Baalekai paladya from Ramya's blog.
Stuffed Baby Brinjal from Latha's blog.
Pav Bhaji from Nupur's blog.
Kathirikkai Pithlai for Sowmya's blog.
Cheddar garlic biscuits from cham's blog.
Pindi Chana from Viji's blog. (Private blog)
Paneer Tikka Masala from JZ's blog.(Added some green peas)
Khasta Kachori from Lakshmi G's blog.

Have a fun weekend. One last and a special post to go here next Wednesday. Hugs to all of you!:))