Corn Panini

Tired of having the same items for breakfast? Try corn panini. It is super easy and super fast and will add a spurt of healthy taste to the start of your day.

Ingredients

1 corn on the cob or 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels

2 tbsp unsalted butter or ghee

2 tbsp plain flour

1 cup milk

2 tbsp grated cheese (optional)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

Bread slices

Corn Panini

Remove the corn kernels from the cob and blanch till soft. If using frozen kernels, thaw them and blanch them.

Blanching keeps corn juicy and soft and retains the flavour.

Drain and pulse in a grinder till half the corn kernels turn into a coarse mixture.

Heat butter in a pan and add the flour. Roast till slightly pink.

Remove from heat and add the milk. Whisk to remove lumps. Put it back on the gas and simmer till you get a thick sauce. Remove from heat. Add salt, pepper and cheese. Mix till cheese dissolves.

Spread in between two slices of bread and toast in a sandwich maker. Serve hot.

Decorating Sugar Cookies

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

It was great fun making cookies and decorating them. This was the first time I made the cookies and the icing and used ziplock bags as piping bags. I am writing down the recipes below. Hope they come in use in future.

Ingredients – Sugar Cookie / Basic Cookie Dough

3/4 cup butter

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream the sugar and butter together. Make sure the butter is at room temperature. Do not over mix. This is to avoid too much air being incorporated in the mixture.

Add the egg and vanilla extract.

Slowly add cupfuls of the flour till it is incorporated completely. The cookie dough should be smooth. If it is crumbly, add 2-3 teaspoons of water. The dough should just come together and not get gooey.

Divide the dough into three parts. Wrap in parchment paper or cling film and refrigerate for atleast 30 mins.

Take out one portion of the dough at a time. Roll it out in between a large piece of folded parchment paper or on a lightly floured work surface. Keep the thickness even and upto 5 mm. Cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters or with a sharp knife.

Carefully place the cut outs on a baking try and refrigerate for 30 mins. This will avoid the cookie from spreading while baking. It is best to refrigerate the cookies after cutting them instead of refrigerating the dough for a long period of time as this will give best results.

Heat the oven to 180C and bake the cookie for 8-10 mins till the edges are lightly browned. Rotate the cookie sheet half way to ensure even baking of all cookies. If you have cookies of separate sizes, it would be best to bake similar cookies together to ensure even baking .

Let the cookies cool on the baking tray completely before removing. Store in an airtight container for upto 1 month.

Decorated Sugar Cookies

Ingredients – Royal icing 

1 1/2 cups icing sugar

3 tsp lemon juice

5 tsp cornstarch

5-6 tsp milk

Food colouring (optional)

Mix icing sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch.

Add milk by teaspoonfuls at a time till you get the right consistency. Add more icing sugar to thicken and more milk to thin it.

To add different colours, divide the icing into separate bowls and then add colours. If the colours are water based, it would be best to add more icing sugar to get the consistency right. Also, it is preferable to use dry colours with royal icing to get desired colour as water based colours tend to become lighter.

You can either use piping bags or use ziplock bags or make bags out of parchment paper also. If you don’t have piping nozzles, you can just snip of a teeny-tiny bit at the end of the ziplock bag/parchment paper bag.

Keep the icing covered with wet towels to avoid drying up. If the tip of the bag gets clogged, unclog with toothpick.

Decorate the sugar cookies as you please. Once done, let the cookies dry up completely before storing. They will store well in a air tight container for upto a month.

Banana Muffins

One of the recipes where overripe bananas can be utilized in is muffins. It is quite simple and makes for a good breakfast or after dinner snack.

Makes 12 mini muffins of 6 large ones

Ingredients

2 ripe bananas

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup oil

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla essence

1/4 cup raspberry jam or any other jam (optional)

1/4 cup sunflower and pumpkin seeds (optional)

Banana Muffins with Raspberry Jam filling and Topped with Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds

Peel and chop the bananas and whisk them till they are completely mashed. Add sugar, oil and the egg and whisk till combined.

Now add the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and vanilla essence and mix well. Mix in half the sunflower and pumpkin seeds as well.

Pre-heat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with paper cups.

Pour batter into the cups till they are half full. Gently drop 1 tsp jam in the middle of each cup. Cover with the rest of the batter till the cups are 3/4th full. Sprinkle the rest of the pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Bake at 180C for 20-25 mins. Cool completely before serving.

Croissants and Patties

The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child

Chocolate Croissants

Chocolate Croissants

Savoury Patties

Spinach, Corn and Peanuts filling

Crispy Sabudana Vada

Potato might be a staple but it is very difficult to use it sometimes. Take the example of sabudana vada. Various recipes suggest using boiled and mashed potatoes but it is very difficult to form perfect vada with them. There are many problems. First of all, the vada sometimes breaks off in the oil and does not hold its shape. This dirties the oil and also spoils vada. Second, the vada ends up being very soggy and oily. Here is a recipe which rescues the vada and makes it crisp as well as makes sure the shape is held together.

Ingredients

1/2 cup soaked sabudana

1 medium potato

2 tbsp peanut powder

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp red chilli

1 tsp chaat masala

1 tbsp chopped coriander

Oil for frying

The recipe calls for 1/2 cup soaked sabudana and not the dry version. This will make around 10 vada. Squeeze out as much water as possible from the sabudana.

Peel and grate the potato. Again, squeeze out as much water as possible.

Mix sabudana, grated potato, peanut powder and the rest of the dry ingredients. Make 10 equal sized balls and press slightly to form disks.

Heat the oil in a skillet or a pan. Make sure the oil is boiling hot before frying the vada in it or they might break.

Fry the vada till golden brown turning once. Drain the vada on a tissue and serve hot.

The Perfect Sabudana Khichdi

It is truly said that cooking is an art. Everyone can do it but it takes time and patience to master it. Take the simple dish of sabudana khichdi. I learnt to make it 3 years ago and I have been beating my head as to how to get the perfect khichdi.

My sabudana khichdi used to be sticky and gooey. I had been told that peanut powder helps to separate the sago pearls but no matter how much peanut powder I added, it stayed that way. The worst thing is people rarely divulge their trade secrets so I had to go on my own quest to perfect my khichdi. Here are some tips to get it just right.

1. After soaking the sabudana, wash it in rice sieve to get rid of the small particles.

2. Squeeze the sabudana to remove as much water as possible.

3. Always prepare the khichdi in ghee to get the best results.

4. Saute the sabudana in ghee for a few minutes till it gets translucent. This will help in separating the pearls too. This will also ensure that a small quantity of peanut powder is required.

5. Now add the peanut powder and other spices and mix. Cover and simmer for 5 mins before serving.

Churma

Churma is a traditional Rajasthani dish served with daal baati. It can be made into laddoo or served as is with warm ghee. The sweetness of churma contrasts well with the salty daal baati.

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 tbsp semolina

3/4 cup ghee + more for frying and serving

Milk as required

1 tbsp cardamom powder

3/4 cup powdered sugar

Handful of almonds, cashewnuts and raisins

Churma served with daal baati and gatte ki sabzi

Mix the whole wheat flour and semolina. Heat the ghee to lukewarm and knead it into the flour. Add milk to get a firm dough.

Divide the dough into 12 lemon sized balls and flatten a little bit. Heat ghee in a skillet and fry the dough balls till deep golden brown.

Drain on a tissue and allow to cool.

Chop the almonds and cashewnuts and add to the powdered sugar along with the cardamom powder.

Grind the dough balls to a coarse powder and mix with the sugar prepared above.

Serve with dollops of warm ghee or add a little ghee and make laddoos out of them. They keep well for many weeks in an air tight box.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut butter is popular with everyone. Cookies make with peanut butter gives just another manner to enjoy peanut butter.

Servings – 24

Ingredients

1/2 cup peanut butter, crunchy or smooth

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

Peanut Butter Cookies

Cream the butters and sugars together will frothy. Add the egg and blend in with a whisk. Mix baking powder, salt and vanilla essence.

Add the flour a little at a time to form a dough.

Heat the oven to 180C.

Drop 1 tbsp balls of dough 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet. Press gently with fingers to flatten a little. Make criss cross marks with a fork and bake for 12 mins.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely. The cookies will harden as they cool. Store for upto a week in an air tight container.

 

Shakkar Pare

Shakkar pare are sweet biscuits coated with dry sugar syrup and are a traditional Indian snack. They are popular with kids and adults alike and if you eat one, you can’t stop eating more. They are the perfect Indian snack and go well with hot chai. You can prepare loads and store them as they keep well for a long time in air tight containers.

Shakkar Pare

Servings – 2 cups

Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup semolina

3 tbsp unsalted butter or ghee at room temperature

1/2 cup + 1/3 cup water

Oil for frying

2/3 cup granulated sugar

 

Plateful of shakkar pare ready to be served with hot chai

Sift the flour to remove lumps. Add semolina and butter. Mix in the butter so the dough resembles a crumbly mixture. The butter can be varied at this point to make softer and richer pare by adding a little more of it. The test for adding more butter is simple. When the dough is a crumbly mixture, take some and hold tight for 2 seconds in your palm and form a fist. If the dough holds, the butter added to it is enough.

Add water a few tablespoonfuls at a time to form a very firm dough till all of 1/3 cup of water is added. The amount of water may vary depending on the quality of flour and the amount of butter in the dough. Cover the dough and keep aside for 15 mins.

Knead the dough once more to make it pliable. Divide it into two parts and make smooth balls out of them.

Roll the balls into 8 inch circles. Pierce the circles with a fork at 1 cm distance to prevent the dough from puffing up when fried. Cut the circle into diamonds or squares of 1 inch width. Separate carefully with the blunt side of knife.

Heat the oil. If the oil is too hot, the pare will not be crisp. Oil should be hot enough so when the dough is dropped in, it sizzles and slowly comes up. Fry till golden brown and drain on a paper towel. Let them cool and in the meanwhile, prepare the sugar syrup.

Boil the sugar in the 1/2 cup water and reduce the flame a bit. Keep simmering till 2 1/2 string syrup is formed. Remove from heat and quickly add all the pare. Mix gently and quickly with the syrup as it will dry fast.

When all the pare are coated, spread them on large plate to cool. Once cooled, break apart the pieces which are joined together. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.

 

Namak Pare

Namak pare are savory bites and form one of the most popular Indian snack foods. They can be stored for a long time and are quintessentially a finger food item. They can be carried on a trip or saved for a rainy day. It is best served with hot chai.

Namak Pare

Serving – 2 cups

Ingredients

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour

2 tbsp semolina

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 tbsp oil

1/3 cup warm water

Oil for frying

Namak Pare ready to be served with hot tea

Sift the flours together to remove lumps. Add semolina and salt along with cumin seeds. Mix in the oil.

Slowly add the water a few spoonfuls at a time and rub the flours together. The objective is to form a very firm dough. However, if it breaks when kneaded, add a few more spoonfuls of water. Cover the dough and keep aside for 15 mins.

Knead the dough once more to make it pliable. Divide the dough into two parts and form smooth balls.

Roll each dough into a 9 inch diameter circle with even thickness. You will not require dry flour or oil to do this. Piece holes in the circle with a fork at frequent intervals about 1 cm apart. This will prevent the dough from puffing up when frying.

Cut one inch long and 1 cm wide strips from the circles and carefully remove them to a plate with the help of the blunt side of the knife.

Heat the oil in a skillet. The oil should not be too hot otherwise the namak pare will not be crisp. It should be hot enough so that when the dough stips are dropped in it, the oil should sizzle and the strips will come up slowly.

Fry the strips till they are golden brown. Drain on a paper towel. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.