Monday, December 28, 2009

Gingerbread House for Daring Bakers December 2009 Challenge

Dear All,

Gingerbread House,Christmas

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

Until this month I had only read about Gingerbread Houses in books or either seen them on internet. Making gingerbread house was quite a new and exciting experience due to lack of time and as it was the first time i only used half of the recipe and made a smaller version of the house. Decoration too i have kept simple just using white chocolate and sweet chocolate balls. 

Gingerbread House,Christmas

I have used Y's recipe for gingerbread which is adapted from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice A Ojakangas. Anna's recipe used molasses which is not available here. The dough was quite easy to manage as i halved the recipe. I didn't face any problem of the dough being too dry unlike few fellow DB's mentioned. The texture of the dough was perfect. Not too sweet and not too dry, the flavors of ginger, cinnamon and cloves complimented each other perfectly.

Gingerbread House,Christmas

I used this template for making my gingerbread house. As this was the first time I was trying my hands on making a real gingerbread house and also the fact that i was too scared to try and make a huge house, i halved the recipe and still got enough to make one medium size house, i still have some dough resting in my fridge. Apart from the fun in decorating the house, the gingerbread smelled delicious. The fragrance in my kitchen made made my taste buds dance.

To decorate the house, I have used Royal Icing. This was also the first time i tried my hands on royal icing and i must say I am pretty impressed. Its super easy and dry's off very fast. I would for sure be using royal icing for decorating cookies.

Overall the challenge was lot of fun and a memorable experience!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Eggless Low Fat Hot Chocolate Muffins

Dear Foodies,

Eggless Baking,Muffins,Chocolate

Its been quite a while since i last baked anything with chocolate. The baker in me was desperate and it was like a race against the time as my work was keeping me quite busy. Finally my craving got better of me and i decided to give up, but to my horror i was out of eggs as well as cocoa powder, I felt as if my world turned upside down!! No that is not an exaggeration and I am sure the bakers would understand my sentiments. Now i really had to bake something chocolaty, ok so i decided to go for eggless muffins, quick and easy but to go for cocoa powder hunting at 11pm in the night was out of question. I could use some of my dark chocolate which i got from swiss but i just have few slabs left until my next batch comes from abroad and so i guard them with my life!! Argghh.....pacing up and down in my room i saw some hot chocolate sachets of Lindt, do i need to mention what happened next?

My recipe for these low fat, eggless chocolate muffins is inspired from Mandira's recipe for Eggless Chocolate Nut Muffins which i had bookmarked sometime back.

Also I am sending my Jain Vegetable Makhanwala to Think Spice : Poppy Seeds event guest hosted by Rv brainchild of Sunita.

Eggless Baking,Muffins,Chocolate

Recipe yields 6 large muffins
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar (adjust according to taste, if required)
1 1/2 tbsp good quality hot chocolate powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp oil
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  • Line 6 muffins holders with liners or grease them.
  • Sieve together flour, hot chocolate powder, baking soda and baking powder.
  • Add in oil, milk and whisk properly until everything is mixed properly. I did not use a beater for this, hand whisk is fine.
  • Finally add vanilla extract and mix well.
  • Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 15 to 18 mins, until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.
  • Serve them warm with a cold glass of milk, enjoy!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Eggless Tutti Frutti Cookies

Dear All,

Eggless Baking,Christmas Cookies,Tutti Frutti Cookies

Christmas is coming very near and baking season is in full swing everywhere. Though we dont celebrate christmas here but i love the season as i get a chance to bake lots of goodies. My friends have started calling me Baking Fairy who spreads baking love all around, now that certainly makes me very happy! I have been eyeing these gorgeous tutti frutti cookies from Sailu's blog from a very long time and finally i got some time last week to create them. My cookies are not as white as her's since i used vanilla flavored custard powder but that doesnt alter the taste at all. These are soft and chewy in the middle with crispy edges. I shared these with my colleagues and everyone loved it, few even mentioned that these cookies are better than ones we get outside, that certainly made me climb high. The recipe is deifnately a keeper and i'll be making them very often.

These cookies are off to Eat Christmas Cookies - Season 3 hosted by Susan of Food Blogga, you can view the round up page here
These cookies are also off to the Cakes & Cookies event by Sara and to EC's WYF Tea Time Snacks event. Happy Hosting gals!!


Original Recipe Source :- Sailus Food
I have made few changes to the original recipe.

Recipe Yields: 14 to 15 cookies
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup vanilla custard powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
tutti frutti morsels for garnishing

  • Preheat the oven to 180 C degrees.
  • Sift together flour, custard powder, baking soda and baking powder in a bowl.
  • Beat together sugar and oil well, add sieved dry ingredients and vanilla essence.
  • Mix well to form a dough, the consistency should be right to roll out the dough into round balls.
  • Incase the dough is too dry and difficult to roll out balls, add in few drops of milk and chill for few mins.
  • Flatten the balls slightly and garnish with bits of tutti frutti morsels, press them slightly in the dough.
  • Place the cookies on on greased tray or line the baking pan with parchment paper. I used butter paper as here i donot get parchment paper, butter paper works fine.
  • Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 mins, remove the completely cool them.
  • Once baked after 12 mins, the cookies might appear soft to touch but they will firm up once completely cooled.
  • Store in an air tight container.
Weekend is nearing so wish you all a very happy and relaxing weekend, until then cia!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dudhi Chana Nu Shaak - A Gujarati Speciality (Bottlegourd and Bengal gram curry)

Dear All,


I know I have been away for quite some time, but now I am back!! Taking a break was never my decision, neither was i lazy but right now there is just too much on my plate to handle. December being the month of marriages for the next three weekends i'll be busy attending marriages and other wedding functions. I love all the "rasams and rivaaz" that take place during the wedding, all the colorful decorations, the mehendi rasam and how can we forget dandiya :-) Family functions are also the occassions where all the singles in the family are targetted especially if you have crossed the average age of getting married which is again defined by the society :-((( It just doesnt stop here, even after you get married they'll be behind you to start a family..ah well I can dedicate a whole post on this!!  December is also the month of my birthday, when is it? any special plans? you'll come to know :-)

Lets get back to today's recipe, Dudhi Chana Nu Shaak is very common in every gujarati household. During my school days mom used to prepare this along with Kadhi every wednesday. Dont know what was with wednesday but i remember enjoying it to the very last bite. There is a saying in gujarati "Dudhi khaaiye toh Budhi aave" which literally means "If you eat Bottlegourd than you'll get good brains". The best part is that it doesnt take much time to prepare, you can put everything in the cooker and it will be ready in less than 10 mins, dont believe me? scroll down and try out for yourself :-)


Dudhi Chana Nu Shaak
(Bottlegourd and Bengal gram curry)
Ingredients: Serves 2 to 3
500 gms dudhi, peeled and diced
1/2 cup Chana dal, washed
2 tsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
a generous pinch of Asafoetida (Hing)
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp sugar
Salt to taste
1 cup of water

  • Heat the oil in cooker, add in  mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida and turmeric powder.
  • As soon as the seeds start to splutter add in cubed bottlegourd pieces and the rest of the masalas (salt, sugar, red chilli, cumin and coriander powder)
  • Saute for around a min.
  • Now add in the chana dal and water (IMP - Bottlegourd leaves lots of water so be careful while adding water.)
  • Mix well and pressure cook it for 5 to 6 whistles.
  • Serve hot with rotis or chapatis.
Can any curry be more simpler? Do try out and let me know your experience. Wishing you all a very happy and pleasant weekend, enjoy, relax and have fun :-) Till next time tia!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I am still here !!!

Hello Everyone,

I am sure you all must be thinking where have i disappeared all of sudden. Life's been like a roll a coster ride from the time i came back. Work and travelling keeps me busy all week long, I am sure working women will understand how hectic life becomes especially when you are in office for 10 to 12 hours. There are so many ideas in my head which are waiting to become reality but because of time constraint cooking has taken a back seat but I am sure to come back with some sizzling and mouth watering delicacies!

 I also am having quite a few family functions/marriages coming up in december. One of my friend rightly mentioned that India has 4 seasons - Summer, Winter, Rainy and Marriage :) I cant agree more, truly this is  a season of celebration and martial bliss. So until I am back I have decided to share some pictures which were taken when I was in switzerland. I am not a master in photography, infact I am still learning and someday I hope to tempt you all which some good, mouth watering pictures :-)

Hope you enjoyed the click, until next time, take care !!
Many of you have passed loads of awards to me, I am so thankful to all my friends and readers who have inspired me and generously shared their happiness with me. I will acknowledge them in a seperate post :-)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Guvar Dhokli Nu Shaak - A Gujarati Delicacy (Cluster Beans Curry)

Dear All,
Guvar dhokli

A dear friend of mine sent me a message "We all are part of a puzzle of someone else's life. You many never know where you fit in, but someone else's life may never be complete without you !!" How true is this? When we look back in past, we meet many people and as we meet them their lives get connected to ours. Sometimes we find them as our friends, colleagues, bosses etc I truly believe that we learn something from our each interaction. We learn and feel every emotion happiness, anger, trust, courage, patience. All this is very important for us to become a better human being and truly enriches our lives. I am not sure if I am part of a puzzle of someone else's life but I sure know that I will try to fit in :-)

Todays dish is long pending, it was initially requested by Sangeeta and I had promised her I will post the recipe very soon. Due to unavailability of cluster beans in swiss i couldnt post the recipe earlier. Guvar Dhokli Nu Shaak as said in gujarati is one of my favorite curries to an extent where i can eat this all alone without rotis and believe me its very tasty and fulfilling. I am sure every gujarati must have tasted this atleast once in their life. Its very regular in my house and is enjoyed by all. I would urge everyone to try out this dish once and experience the difference :-)

Recipe Source: My Mom
250 gms Cluster Beans chopped (Guvar)
a generoud pinch of asafoetida (Hing)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
Salt to taste
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp oil

For Dhoklis:
1 cup chickpea flour (Besan)
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
a pinch of baking soda
2 - 3 tbsp oil

Indian Curry

  • To make dhoklis, mix everything together and make a smooth dough. Avoid adding water to the dough and use more oil if required.
  • Make small round balls and flatten them with your hands. Remove 4 to 5 dhoklis and keep them aside.
  • In a pan heat about a tsp of oil, add in asafoetida, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and let them splutter.
  • Now add in the cluster beans, washed and chopped. Add rest of the masalas and 1/2 cup of water.
  • Cover and cook for 7 to 8  mins.
  • Once 90% done, slowly add in all the dhoklis one by one. Cover and cook for another 5 mins.
  • Smash the dhoklis which we had kept aside and stir in the curry, add in water if required. This helps to make the curry thick in consistency.
  • Make sure you donot frequently stir the curry as it may break the dhoklis.
  • Serve immediately with hot rotis.
Weekend if very near so here's wishing you all a very happy and relaxing weekend. See you all next week.

This dish is off to Flavors Of Gujarat event by Nayna

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Corn Capsicum Masala with Gulab Jamuns for ICC

Dear All,

Sweet Corn,Bell Peppers,Indian Curry

Hows everyone doing? I hope the sun is shining bright in your side of the world :-)  This post is little late but better late than never right? For this months Indian Cooking Challenge Srivalli chose Gulab Jamuns, one of the most favorite indian sweet of all time. This was also the first time I prepared gulab jamuns using khoya and they turned out to be simply melt in mouth type! Making khoya at home is little time consuming but if you use ready made khoya than making gulab jamuns at home is so very easy and quite simple too.


Recipe for Gulab Jamuns:
1 cup khoya (250 gms)
1/2 cup maida (all purpose flour)
1 pinch of baking soda
Oil/Ghee for frying

Recipe for Sugar Syrup:
1 cup of sugar
1 1/2 cups of water
few saffron strands
4 Cardamon pods
2 tsp of rose water

Procedure for Gulab Jaums:
  • For jamuns, mix khoya, maida and baking soda together. Knead together and make small balls.
  • For sugar syrup, heat together all the ingredients and let is simmer for 10 mins until one thread consistency is reached.
  • Deep fry the jamuns on low heat so that they are cooked evenly.
  • Remove and drain excess oil on paper towels.
  • Add the jamuns in sugar syrup and let them soak in syrup for 3 to 4 hours. You can also keep them over night.
  • Serve warm and to top it up add a dollop of vanilla ice cream :-)
Winter has already started here, its the time of the year for shawls and pullovers, good old morning walks have returned. Its the time of the year when you feel lazy and getting up early in the morning sounds like climbing a mountain. Its also the time when we crave for something warm and welcoming especially during the nights. On one such chilly evening I prepared Corn Capsicum Masala a perfect combo with rotis and pickle.
Sweet Corn,Bell Peppers,Indian Curry

Ingredients for Corn Capsicum Masala:
1 cup sweet corn (200 gms)
2 medium green capsicum, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, quatered
2 medium onions, quatered
2 green chillies
1 tsp ginger paste
1 - 2 tsp fresh cream (malai can also be used)
1 - 2 tsp oil
2 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 - 2 tsp sugar
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
Salt to taste

  • Grind together tomatoes, onions, green chillies and ginger paste with very little water into a smooth paste.
  • Heat oil in a pan, add in bay leaves, cinnamon stick and tomato-onion paste. Fry for 3 to 4 mins until raw smell of onion disappears.
  • Now add in the masalas, capsicum and sweet corn. Add little water if required.
  • Cover and cook for 10 to 15 mins until well cooked. Make sure you have enough water so that the curry doesnt get burnt.
  • Just before serving add in fresh cream and give a quick turn.
  • Serve warm with hot rotis or phulkas.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Daring Baker's October Challenge: Violet French Macarons filled with Nutella

Dear All


The 2009 October Daring Baker's Challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming 's The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I was extremely happy when I came to know that October's Daring Bakers Challenge is French Macarons, after my successful first attempt I really wanted to experiment making these gorgeous treats using different flavors and colors. As ecstatic I was there was a little fear too because of the humidity and high temperature in my part of the world. I really didnt want to make them 2 or 3 times before I get it right therefore I used the same recipe which I had used earlier from Chef Nini.

Macarons filled with chocolate ganache
                                                   Macarons filled with Chocolate Ganache
The choice of color and filling is my sister's favorite, initially she wanted me to prepare pink color macarons but we only had violet color in hand hence we went with it and i must say the color looks really gorgeous, dont go by pictures my camera is playing tricks and not functioning that well so until I figure out what to do with my camera pls bear with me.

The only problem I faced this time was that I didnt get a very smooth surface, sure i got my feets but the top surface wasnt smooth as in my first attempt. I think it may have required more of mixing, I did tap the baking tray several times and let it sit for 40 mins and then baked. If anyone has any idea regarding the smooth surface problem pls let me know.

For the recipe and directions pls visit my earlier post here

I was really glad the way macarons came out and this time in my very first try I got my feets. I would love to try making these again using some different filling. These are ideal for gifting your loved ones something special. I would urge everyone to try them atleast once, do mail me if you have any questions and i'll reply as soon as possible.

Till next time, take care and enjoy!!!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mix vegetables with grated coconut

Dear All,

Mix vegetable with coconut gravy

Hope everyone had a wonderful time this diwali. This was my first diwali after 3 yrs which i celebrated with my family and friends so was very much special. Things are very much settled down here so now you'll see me active. I have already started dropping by my fellow friends blogs but still i have lots to catch up, so please dont mind if I am a little late.

The recipe I present you today is a very simple one and is perfect with rotis or phulkas. The most important ingredients here is grated coconut. I have always loved the taste of coconut in curries and dry veggies, it not only enhances the taste but also gives a unique flavor which is sure seduce your tastebuds. The combination of veggie I have used are carrots, green beans and green peas but you can use any combination.

Mix veggie with coconut

Ingredients :-
1/2 cup carrots chopped
1/2 cup green beans chopped
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1 big onion finely sliced
1/2 cup grated coconut
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
2 medium green chillies finely chopped
Salt to taste
2 tbsp coriander finely chopped

Procedure :-
  • Heat oil in a nonstick pan, add in mustard seeds, cumin seeds, green chillies and onions.
  • Saute onions for 2 to 3 mins until soft.
  • Add in the veggies, cumin powder, salt, turmeric powder, sugar and grated coconut.
  • Cover and cook on slow to medium gar for 25 to 30 mins, DONOT add water, the vegetables need to get cooked in steam itself.
  • Garnish with freshly chopped coriander on top and serve hot with rotis or phulkas.
  • Enjoy!!

In past few weeks many of my blogger buddies have passed awards to me, I thank you all for your love and support. I will acknowledge the awards very soon!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy Diwali !!!!

Dear All,

I hope you all are enjoying this festive season and spending some wonderful and happy moments with your families. I wish you and your families a very Happy, Prosperous and Safe Diwali !!!

I am still in the process of settling down, past few weeks havent been easy, new home, new environment, just about everything seems to be new. I know i havent been regular in visiting your blogs but here i dont get unrestricted internet access so it becomes little difficult. Hopefully i'll be back to this wonderful world of blogging very soon and i really thank all my friends who have been constantly supporting and motivating me, thanks a million. Till then do miss me and keep visiting :-)

Lots of Love & Hugs

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Good Bye Switzerland & India Calling !!!!

Dear All,

Waiting at the dubai airport munching on a cadbury at 2 am in the night here I am trying to clear my thoughts. Today was my last day in switzerland. How much I am looking ahead to meet my family and friends in india there is sadness in heart for leaving behind my new family!! After spending close to 1.5 yrs in basel it had become a home to me. Its so strange that we get so much attached to a place and in such a short span of time. As I left for the airport something very harsh struck to me that this is probably(i hope to change this) the last time i am seeing these streets, migros and coop supermarkets where i used to regularly visit for my grocery shopping, movenpick and ben & jerrys ice creams, those wonderful cakes and fruit tortes which i used to gobble and how can one forget the various varieties of fruit yogurts, cheese and swiss chocolates because of which i now need to hit the gym!!! As the time was nearing i felt my heart heavy filled with emotions. The last one year was very special to me, i enjoyed each and every moment and nothing can ever replace this feeling. I am thankful to all my friends and colleague who made my stay very memorable one, especially my dear friend D without whom i don't think i would have survived so long. You know you are very special to me and i'll miss you very much, thank you for all your love & support and kindness and more importantly to bear with me all this time!!

It would take some time for me to settle down and get back to normal routine, so I am sure you all will understand if I am not able to visit you regularly, i promise to catch up soon. I have few posts lined up in my drafts and i'll try to post them but it may take some time. Till then do keep visiting and leaving comments as this is what keeps me going at the end of the day! Thank you once again for all your love & support!

I will be shuffling between Mumbai and Pune so all the blogger friends out there let me know if we can meet up, i would love to meet you all and get to know you better, do send me an email if interested :)))

Lots of Love,

Monday, September 28, 2009

Homemade Puff Pastry and Vols-Au-Vent for Daring Bakers September 2009

Dear All,
Puff Pastry,French,Julia Child,Dorie Greenspan

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' Challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

This is the first time I am making Puff Pastry at home and i totally enjoyed making them. It wasnt a difficult task if you have the right ingredients and especially if the weather is with you, but yes it's a little time consuming process so make sure you have enough time atleast 4 to 5 hours in hand.

Puff pastry is in the “laminated dough” family, along with Danish dough and croissant dough.  A laminated dough consists of a large block of butter (called the beurrage) that is enclosed in dough (called the détrempe).  This dough/butter packet is called a paton, and is rolled and folded repeatedly (a process known as “turning”) to create the crisp, flaky, parallel layers you see when baked.  Unlike Danish or croissant however, puff pastry dough contains no yeast in the détrempe, and relies solely aeration to achieve its high rise.  The turning process creates hundreds of layers of butter and dough, with air trapped between each one. In the hot oven, water in the dough and the melting butter creates steam, which expands in the trapped air pockets, forcing the pastry to rise.


Vols-au-Vent with Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough

-food processor (will make mixing dough easy, but I imagine this can be done by hand as well)
-rolling pin
-pastry brush
-metal bench scraper (optional, but recommended)
-plastic wrap
-baking sheet
-parchment paper
-silicone baking mat (optional, but recommended)
-set of round cutters (optional, but recommended)
-sharp chef’s knife
-cooling rack

Prep Times:
-about 4-5 hours to prepare the puff pastry dough (much of this time is inactive, while you wait for the dough to chill between turns…it can be stretched out over an even longer period of time if that better suits your schedule)
-about 1.5 hours to shape, chill and bake the vols-au-vent after your puff pastry dough is complete

Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent

Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent

In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need:
-well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)
-egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
-your filling of choice

Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled. (If you are looking to make more vols-au-vent than the yield stated above, you can roll and cut the remaining two pieces of dough as well…if not, then leave refrigerated for the time being or prepare it for longer-term freezer storage. See the “Tips” section below for more storage info.)

On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.

(This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut square vols-au-vents using a sharp chef’s knife.) For smaller, hors d'oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)

Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.

Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.

Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)

Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the center “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.)

Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.

Fill and serve.

Filling I used is Grilled Pineapples with Fresh Cream:
1 cup of pineapples, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup of whipped fresh cream


  • Mix first 3 ingredients together and grill them for 25 to 30 mins at 200 degrees C, until light brown.
  • Fill the vols-au-vent with a tbsp of fresh cream, add the cooled grilled pineapples and serve immediately.

*For additional rise on the larger-sized vols-au-vents, you can stack one or two additional ring layers on top of each other (using egg wash to "glue"). This will give higher sides to larger vols-au-vents, but is not advisable for the smaller ones, whose bases may not be large enough to support the extra weight.
*Although they are at their best filled and eaten soon after baking, baked vols-au-vent shells can be stored airtight for a day.
*Shaped, unbaked vols-au-vent can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first).


Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough

From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough

Steph’s note: This recipe makes more than you will need for the quantity of vols-au-vent stated above. While I encourage you to make the full recipe of puff pastry, as extra dough freezes well, you can halve it successfully if you’d rather not have much leftover.

There is a wonderful on-line video from the PBS show “Baking with Julia” that accompanies the book. In it, Michel Richard and Julia Child demonstrate making puff pastry dough (although they go on to use it in other applications). They do seem to give slightly different ingredient measurements verbally than the ones in the book…I listed the recipe as it appears printed in the book.

There is another very helpful video by VahRehVah Chef for Pastry Puffs, here is the link

2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter
plus extra flour for dusting work surface

Mixing the Dough:
Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.
Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)

Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter:
Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or flaps.

Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8" square.

To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns:
Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24", everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).

With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.

Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

Chilling the Dough:
If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.

The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it


Steph’s extra tips:

-While this is not included in the original recipe we are using (and I did not do this in my own trials), many puff pastry recipes use a teaspoon or two of white vinegar or lemon juice, added to the ice water, in the détrempe dough. This adds acidity, which relaxes the gluten in the dough by breaking down the proteins, making rolling easier. You are welcome to try this if you wish.

-Keep things cool by using the refrigerator as your friend! If you see any butter starting to leak through the dough during the turning process, rub a little flour on the exposed dough and chill straight away. Although you should certainly chill the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns, if you feel the dough getting to soft or hard to work with at any point, pop in the fridge for a rest.

-Not to sound contradictory, but if you chill your paton longer than the recommended time between turns, the butter can firm up too much. If this seems to be the case, I advise letting it sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to give it a chance to soften before proceeding to roll. You don't want the hard butter to separate into chuncks or break through the want it to roll evenly, in a continuous layer.

-Roll the puff pastry gently but firmly, and don’t roll your pin over the edges, which will prevent them from rising properly. Don't roll your puff thinner than about about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick, or you will not get the rise you are looking for.

-Try to keep “neat” edges and corners during the rolling and turning process, so the layers are properly aligned. Give the edges of the paton a scooch with your rolling pin or a bench scraper to keep straight edges and 90-degree corners.

-Brush off excess flour before turning dough and after rolling.

-Make clean cuts. Don’t drag your knife through the puff or twist your cutters too much, which can inhibit rise.

-When egg washing puff pastry, try not to let extra egg wash drip down the cut edges, which can also inhibit rise.

-Extra puff pastry dough freezes beautifully. It’s best to roll it into a sheet about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick (similar to store-bought puff) and freeze firm on a lined baking sheet. Then you can easily wrap the sheet in plastic, then foil (and if you have a sealable plastic bag big enough, place the wrapped dough inside) and return to the freezer for up to a few months. Defrost in the refrigerator when ready to use.

-You can also freeze well-wrapped, unbaked cut and shaped puff pastry (i.e., unbaked vols-au-vent shells). Bake from frozen, without thawing first.

-Homemade puff pastry is precious stuff, so save any clean scraps. Stack or overlap them, rather than balling them up, to help keep the integrity of the layers. Then give them a singe “turn” and gently re-roll. Scrap puff can be used for applications where a super-high rise is not necessary (such as palmiers, cheese straws, napoleons, or even the bottom bases for your vols-au-vent).


Verdict: I am so glad I opted this challenge, it was a new experience and i learnt so much from this challenge. Homemade puff pastry are far better than the readymade ones and it really isnt difficult. I would urge everyone to try making this at home atleast once.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Zebra Cake for Taste & Create

Dear All,
Baking,Cakes,Chocolate,Tea Time Treats,Zebra Cake
Before I start with my post , today is my baby sister R's birthday, I wish her all the happiness in the world....Happy Birthday honey !!!!

This month for Taste and Create i was paired up against the very talented Poornima from Tasty Treats, I am sure everyone is aware of her wonderful collection of recipes. I have been following her blog since i started blogging and i truly admire her talent for cooking and baking. There are many dishes which I wanted to try out from her blog especially her Spiced Hot Chocolate which is my favorite!!

From all the delicacies, I chose the delicious Zebra Cake, my strips arnt very clear most probably because i baked these in a rectangular pan as i couldnt find my circular pan (I have been packing for india). The taste was delicious and the cake turned out so moist, its perfect as a tea time treat and quite simple and easy to prepare. I personally love the striking contrast of chocolate and vanilla flavors, it looks gorgeous dont you think?

Thanks Poornima for this wonderful cake, this is off to Taste  and Create for the month of September. I am dedicating this cake to my sister R as well :)

This cake also goes to Kids Delight event by Srivalli and to CFK - Chocolates guest hosted by Hema, mastermind of Sharmi


I made half of the below recipe
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
4 medium eggs
1 heaping cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp coco powder
Baking,Cakes,Chocolate,Tea Time Treats,Zebra Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  • Grease and line a 9inch cake pan.
  • Sift flour and baking powder together and set is aside.
  • Beat together eggs and sugar until light and frothy.
  • Add in vanilla, oil and milk, beat well until well blended.
  • Now add in flour in 3 to 4 intervals and beat well.
  • Divide the batter into 2 bowls.
  • Add in the coco powder in one of the bowls and beat well.
  • Spoon about 3 tbsp of vanilla batter in the center of the pan.
  • On top of vanilla batter add 3 tbsp of chocolate batter and go on.
  • Donot stir, shake or swirl, the batter will spread by itself as you go on.
Serve the cake with some chocolate sauce drizzled or like my favorite way with some fresh whipped cream.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tacos with Kidney Beans Salsa

Dear All,
Mexican,Kidney Bean Salsa,Salsa,Tacos
Few years back Tacos wasnt very common in indian house holds, i remember my mom making them once in a blue moon as it required a lot of effort along with preparing the tortilla shells at home which was quite tiresome. These days it has become very easy with canned food and ready made tortilla shells available in the market.

A taco is a traditiona mexican composed of a corn or wheat tortilla folded or rolled around a filling. A taco can be made with many different fillings allowing a great versatality and variety. Tacos is often loved by kids and I personally know kids who can live on tacos :)

This dish is off to Mexican Fiesta 2009 and Kidney Beans Salsa is off to HomeMades - 6 Salsa event hosted by Ben of WhatsCooking.
Tacos are also off to Kids Delight an event dedicated to food for kids by Srivalli.

Mexican,Tacos,Salsa,Kidney Bean Salsa
Many of my dear friends have passed awards to me in past few weeks, I am so sorry I couldnt acknowledge them before, here they are:
EnSamaiyal, Sarah, Jyoti, Lissie and Prasu have passed the Yum Yum Blog Award and a Giant Bear Hug Award, thank you so much dears and a big hug from me to you all.

Nivedita has passed the Honest Scrap award to me, thanks a bunch dear.

Uma has passed Kreative Blogger Award and Scrumptous Blog Award, thank you so much dear.


Chaitra has passed the Yummy Recipes Blog Award, thank you!

Sanghi dear has passed a Dimond Friends Award, I am truly honored, thank you!

Mexican,Tacos,Kidney Bean Salsa,Salsa
Makes 6 tacos

Ingredients for Salsa:
1 can red kidney beans
1 medium capsicum finely chopped
2 medium onions finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes finely chopped
2 green chillies finely chopped
1 jalapeno finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 - 2 tsp lime juice
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves finely chopped
1/2 cheese finely grated
6 Tacos shells or tortillas

Mexican,Tacos,Kidney Bean Salsa

  • Heat olive oil in a pan, add in onions, bell pepper, chillies and jalapenos. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Saute them for 3 to 4 mins, now add in the kidney beans and mix well. Saute for a min.
  • Add in finely chopped tomatoes and lime juice and let it cook for 4 to 5 mins on slow - medium heat.
  • Remove from heat and add freshly chopped coriander leaves and mix well.
  • Fill the taco shells with 2 tbsp of salsa, drizzle some cheese on top.
  • Put in oven at 200 degress C for 5 to 7 mins until the cheese starts to melt.
  • Serve hot with hot and sweet sauce.