Tips for Stuffed Parathas

Yummy hot stuffed parathas on a cold winter night with curd….they can be aloo parathas, mooli parathas or gobhi parathas….I love them all. Here are a few tips to get them right every time.

1. The most important part is the stuffing. Squeeze out the water from grated mooli or gobhi before using.

2. Always keep the salt and chilli a bit strong. This will make the stuffing the center-stage and counter the blandness of the dough. Add a little amchur and a little bhuna jeera.

3. Rest the dough for atleast 5 mins before using.

4. The dough ball should be larger than that for a normal roti.

5. After stuffing the dough ball, it is preferable to roll it out with hands and then using a rolling pin. This will prevent the stuffing from being shoved into one corner of the paratha and will also prevent wear and tear.

6. In case of too much wear and tear, sprinkle generous quantities of flour.

7. Always use low to medium flame to cook the parathas to ensure it is always cooked all the way through.

8. Don’t skimp out on the butter!

Bag Cake

This is my first fondant work. The cake is baked in a round tin and then cut in the middle. The two pieces are stood with their backs against each other and stuck with buttercream icing. After an initial crumb coating, the fondant is directly placed on the cake.

The white fondant is cut individually for front, back and top by tracing the cake outline on a kitchen towel. Detailing is done with the pink fondant. The flower is made with fondant itself. The individual pieces of fondant are stuck using water.

The cake is a vanilla cake with layered rainbow colours.

Recipe for vanilla cake:

1 ½ cups flour
¾ cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup milk
½ cup oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence

Recipe for buttercream icing:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

2-3 tsp milk

Rainbow Cake

Have fun with kids or surprise everyone with a rainbow cake. Simply make a basic vanilla cake mixture and divide it into 7 parts. Add food colouring for VIBGYOR – Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red to each part. There is no need to get seven different colours. The primary colours, blue, yellow and red can be used to make the rest of the shades. However, you need to use a lot of food colouring to get bright vibrant shades.

Once the seven batters are prepared, grease the cake tin. Drop violet cake batter in the middle. This will form the base of the cake. Drop indigo cake batter on top in the middle and continue till you have dropped the red one. The cake batter will move slowly on its own to fill the cake tin. You can also start from red and go to violet.

Bake the cake as per instructions and let cool completely before cutting and see everyone’s jaws drop and eyes light up!

Valentine’s Day Sweets – Chocolate covered Strawberries

The ultimate Valentine’s day sweets are chocolate covered strawberries. The ingredients are few and the equipment required is little  but the romance quotient is very high.

Ingredients

1 pack  ripe strawberries

100 gm milk chocolate

50 gm while chocolate

Chocolate covered Strawberries

Melt the milk chocolate in the microwave by heating for 20 sec and stirring and repeating 2-3 times.

Dip the strawberries in the chocolate and lay down on a plate or parchment paper.

Refrigerate till set, around 30-45 mins.

Melt white chocolate in the microwave as for milk chocolate.

Dip a fork or spoon in the white chocolate and swirl it on the strawberries. Freeze again till set.

Tip: Chocolate nibs or bars can be used. If using bars, break it into small pieces before melting. Chocolate can also be melted in bain marie. If using microwave, be careful not to burn it. Even the most careful of chefs are susceptible. You can also decorate the strawberries with crushed roasted peanuts or coarsely ground pistachio nuts or leave them as is.

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.

Manchow Soup

It is always hard to replicate the flavours of a foreign cuisine at home. I have always struggled with Chinese dishes and was almost about to give up when I came across a recipe for Manchow soup. This is a great dish and I found it very versatile as it can be used as the base for veg ball manchurian dish or you can add fried paneer and capsicum to make it a chilli paneer dish. It would go perfectly with fried noodles to make it American chopsuey or can be eaten with fried rice as well. Just adjust the consistency.

Here is my version of Manchow soup.

Ingredients

1 carrot

¼ head cabbage

1 capsicum

8-10 french beans

1 large onion

8-10 garlic cloves

1 inch ginger

1 Green chilli

2 tbsp oil

3-4 cups water or vegetable stock

1 tbsp chilli sauce

2 tbsp dark soya sauce

1 tbsp tomato ketchup

2 tbsp vinegar

4-5 tbsp cornflour

Salt and Pepper to taste

Manchow Soup

The first step is to prep the vegetables. Some people like to chop them into tiny bits. However, it is easier to shred them in a food processor. It will give better texture and the process itself is very fast. So shred the carrot, cabbage and capsicum to get about 2 cups of vegetables. Chop or julienne the french beans. Keep aside.

Chop the onion, garlic and ginger as well as the green chillies.

Heat oil in a large pan and saute the onions, garlic and ginger followed by the rest of the vegetables.

Add the water or if you prefer, vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and then let it simmer on low.

Add soya sauce, ketchup and chilli sauce.

Add salt and pepper.

Mix cornflour in a few spoonfuls of water and add to the soup. Let the soup thicken. Keep stirring continuously when adding cornflour to avoid forming lumps.

Add vinegar and let the soup simmer for 10-15 mins.

Serve hot with croutons and cream.

Pav or Milk buns

Baking bread is one of the simplest tasks in home baking. The recipe is easy and fool proof. The product tastes great and the best part is that the bread can be baked into any shape. Just let your imagination run wild.

Makes 12 roles

Ingredients

3 cups all purpose flour + more for dusting

2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast

2 tsp sugar

1/4 cup lukewarm water

1 tsp salt

1 cup warm milk

Rolls, Challah, Soup rolls and a little Tortoise

Light and fluffy inside of the buns

My whimsical tortoise

Prove the yeast by mixing yeast with sugar and water and letting it stand for 5 mins. When the yeast starts frothing slightly, add the salt and the flour. Slowly add milk till the dough starts coming together.

Flour the chopping board surface and knead the the dough with the ball of your hand till it is smooth. Keep aside a few tablespoons of milk.

Let the dough rest in a bowl covered with cling film till it is doubled in size. This will take about 2 hours. Make a cut in the shape of a cross on the dough. This will help it rise better.

Punch the dough and knead it again. Dust the surface with flour if required.

Roll the dough into a rough rectangle and make 12 cuts. Knead each piece like you are tucking in the sides. This will give a nice smooth ball.

Place the dough balls close to each other on a greased baking tray and let them rest for about 1 hour till they are doubled in size.

Wash the dough balls with half the leftover milk.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 30 mins at 180C for 30 mins. Wash the dough balls again with the leftover milk and turn the tray around for even baking. The double wash will give a better gloss and colour to the bread.

Let cool completely on a wire rack before serving.