Thursday, July 26, 2012

Strawberry Lemonade and Ramadan

It is Ramadan and here in Spokane our fasts last 17 hours. And let me tell you, it's not the hunger that gets to you after a long tiring is the thirst. So the first thing we gulp down is some form of sweet beverage..most commonly, lemonade. It is tradition to have plain lemonade but I encourage you to switch it up a bit. I saw this recipe on t.v. years ago and have been making it ever since. Whether you are fasting or just trying to cool off, strawberry lemonades will be a delightful addition to your repertoire.

Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse

2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
2 cups cold sparkling water or club soda or plain water

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Stir occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon juice, stir, and remove from the heat. Let cool completely, then strain into a clean pitcher
In a blender, puree the pint of strawberries and strain into the pitcher with the lemon juice. Stir well to combine and refrigerate until well chilled.

Add the sparkling water and stir well. Pour over glasses filled with ice and serve. Garnished with slices of lemon, mint or strawberries.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Step by Step Guide to Paneer

The best thing about making homemade Paneer is that you know it will be fresh, it will never be  rubbery like storebought frozen cubed ones and you can infuse the milk with herbs and spices that will introduce a very subtle hint of flavor. It won't overpower and when used in curries, it will provide a distinct yet subtle edge.
Flavored with lime zest, parsley and cilantro

8 cups whole milk
1/4 c lime juice
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon cilantro
1 tablespoon lime zest

First, set a pot of milk over medium heat so that it can gently come to a boil. If I recommend using a non stick pot for anything this would be it. Make sure to stir frequently so that the milk does not stick.

Zest and juice one lime. Make sure not to get the white pith that is under the bright green peel because it's the pith that brings bitterness not the zest.

Line a strainer with cheesecloth that has been folded over four times. A single layer would not be strong enough to hold in the cheese.

Once the milk starts boiling add cilantro, parsley and the zest. It is all optional here, you can choose to add some other herb or crushed black pepper for a little kick.

Pour in lime juice and the protein will separate from the greenish whey. Turn off stove immediately as the longer you cook the harder the paneer gets. 

Strain out the cheese. You can use the whey to make bread or as soup stock if you like.

Grab the ends of the cheesecloth and twist the ball of cheese to squeeze out the excess whey.

Now place the paneer on a flat porus surface. and place a heavy pan on top of it.

The water will gently ooze out and you will get paneer that holds it's shape and does not crumble. 

Cut into cubes to use in curries or stir fries.  

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cake Roll with Mango Curd, Whipped Cream and Chopped Strawberries

Guess who went strawberry picking the other day..

Even in the 95 degree weather picking was the easy part. These keep for but a few days. Hence the next few posts will revolve around these ruby red lovelies. And as I keep telling my friends...Strawberry desserts for a month....:)

The first in the series is a simple roll cake flavored with a thin layer of mango curd, sprinkled with little bits of fresh strawberries, then topped with sweetened whipped cream and rolled up to sweet perfection.

Sheet Cake(The recipe comes from Nick Malgieri's Perfect Cakes and Epicurious, May 2009)
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cake flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
1/4 cup cornstarch (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

Mango curd

Whipped cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar

First thing's first. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter or coat a jelly roll pan with vegetable spray. The pan I used was 12 x 17 x 2 inches.

Line with parchment paper and then spray the paper. If using butter, butter both pan and paper. You do not want this cake to stick.

Measure cake flour by first scooping into a measuring cup and sift flour into a separate bowl. 

Then spoon the sifted flour into measuring cup. If you do not precisely measure the sifted flour this cake will give you trouble.

Here's a picture of how much extra sifted flour I had left after measuring into my cup.

Enough about four. Now onto eggs. Take eggs in a large enough bowl. After beating the volume will increase by 3 fold. So you need room for that.

Add sugar.

Whisk away over a pot of simmering water till the mixture reaches 100 degrees. A quick way to check this is to gently test the egg sugar mixture. you should not be able to feel the gritty sugar when you rub the mixture between fingers. It'll also be about body temperature. If you go higher you will get scrambled eggs. So stop when you feel that the mixture is hot. Or as an alternative use a kitchen thermometer.

Whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume. The egg foam will start off yellowish and very thin.

But it'll start getting thicker.

And thicker.

And thicker.

You are done when it forms a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back onto the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted.

Gently fold in sifted cake flour and corn starch mixture.

Only mix till you can't see flour anymore. Do not over mix or your batter will lose volume.

Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Take out when the cake starts pulling away from the sides like so.

Flip onto another piece of parchment paper. The bottom is now the top.

Peel off the parchment and cool on a cooling rack.

Almost there now. Just a bit longer. Chop up strawberries and whip up heavy cream with sugar.

After the cake has cooled down completely spoon mango curd onto the cake.

In a nice thin layer.

Sprinkle strawberries.

Spread whipped cream.

Spread it out.

Roll it up tightly and chill in the fridge for atleast half an hour.

Sprinkle some icing sugar on top.

And enjoy. :) 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mango Curd

A very basic recipe that makes a silky smooth mango curd. Different fruit purees can be used.
Possibilities. Endless...

The recipe has been modified from Bon Appetit, June 1998 and Smittenkitchen

1 cup mango puree/pulp (I used the canned pulps available in Indian grocery stores)
6 yolks from large eggs
4 tablespoons of sugar
3 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoon butter

Place everything except butter in a metal bowl

Whisk together to mix everything up.

Set bowl over a pot of simmering water making sure the bottom does not touch the water.

Whisk and after about 20 minutes the curd will start to thicken. Once it starts thickening keep whisking otherwise there will be lumps and bye-bye silky smoothness.

Whisk until curd thickens and reaches 170 degrees F. In the absence of a kitchen thermometer thicken till it clings to your whisk.
Cool and preserve in a jar of your choice. Keeps well for up-to two weeks in the fridge.

Can be spread on scones, bread, used as a filling for cakes, tartlets, and swiss rolls. Check back soon to see how I use it up. :)