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Friday, January 8, 2010

" Sweet Treats"- Scones with Dark Chocolate and Orange zest

I love to have something along with my afternoon tea. Biscottis, Scones are amongst my favorite ones. Even back in India, we always had either Toasts (cake rusks), Khari (sort of puff pastry without any filling), Nan katai's ( buttery yummy cookie) along with tea. I remember there was this old man, who came weekly once, with his container full of these goodies to sell. We called him 'Chachaji'. He always gave me couple extra nankatai's on my hand , as they were my favorite!!
Even now.....after getting married....after having a kid....when I go back to India, Chachaji will still give me couple nanakatai's on my hand! I feel like my childhood has returned.....and I enjoy it!!!

"Scones" are sort of a quick bread....with crumbly texture ....can be sweet /savory....and can be made with various flavors and additions like cranberries, chocolate chips, poppy seeds ,lemon, chives, cheese, rosemary etc etc. One of my favorite flavor combinations is Chocolate + Orange. I love the way these two enhance each other.I used the recipe given by my colleague at Cornell, few years ago. I believe it was her grandma's recipe. The scones comes out nice and crumbly, sweet and perfect for dunking in tea/ coffee.

2 cups All purpose Flour
1/2 or 3/4 cups Granulated sugar(adjust according to sweetness desired)
2 tsp Baking powder
1/3 cup Unsalted butter (very cold)
1/2 cup heavy cream/ whole milk
1 tsp Vanilla extract
2tsp Orange marmalade(for extra orangy taste)
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips/ drak chocolate bar cut into pieces
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp milk

1) Pre heat oven to 375F.
2) In a large bowl, mix together flour,sugar, salt,baking powder.
3) In a small cup, beat 1 egg. Keep aside 1 tsp ( for egg wash later). To the rest of the egg, add heavy cream, vanilla. Mix together.
4) Cut the cold butter into small pieces and combine with flour- sugar mixture. Use fingers to blend the butter into the flour. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. ( Little pieces of butter should be still seen in the mixture). Add the dark chocolate and orange zest,marmalade.
5) Add the egg- cream mixture to the flour. Stir untill combined. Do not over mix.
6) Knead the dough lightly on floured surface. Roll out or pat the dough into a circle. About 1 and 1/2 inches thick. Cut into 8 wedges like pizza.

7) Place the scones on lightly greased baking sheet. Keep them apart.They will spread while baking.
8) Mix together 1 tsp egg and 1 tsp milk.Beat together. Brush onto the scones to get 'shiny' appearance on baking.
9) Bake at 375F for 15 mins or untill lightly browned.

10) Let them cool completely before taking out from the baking sheet.Store in a air tight container.

Enjoy the sweet crumbly Scones with dark chocolate and orange with your favorite tea or coffee!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"Fusion Cuisine"- Tofu Makhani / Tofu Butter Masala

Few days ago, when I posted the recipe for 'Thai Stir Fried Tofu", my friend 'N' commented how he doesn't like Tofu and it feels like he is chewing on cardboard / eraser! Hahahha!
I can totally understand how he feels....becuase at home 'M' is not a big fan of Tofu either. He tries to avoid it each and everytime. But when I made this curry- "Tofu Makhani', he quite did not realize that there was Tofu and NOT Paneer in the curry and also ate a bowl full! Now that was a success!!! May be the 'Makhani/ butter masala' sauce masked the taste of tofu and it was as soft as Paneer. So all the ....'Non Tofu Fans'.....give this one try...may be you will like it!
2 cups 'Extra Firm' Tofu , cut into bite size cubes
2 medium onions chopped
2-3 ripe tomatoes or 1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1/4cup cashews
2tsp cilantro chopped
1 tsp Ginger garlic paste
1tbsp Cumin-coriander powder
1tsp Butter chicken masala
1/4tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2tsp Chili powder
1tsp kasoori methi
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2tsp sugar
2tsp butter
Red food color(optional)...I did not use it in this recipe
Almonds,cilantro for garnishing

1) Cut the Tofu and lay it on a paper towel to absorb extra liquid. Then shallow fry the tofu in oil untill golden brown on each side.Keep aside.

2) Meantime,fry onion,ginger garlic paste and tomatoes in 1tsp oil till nice and soft.Puree in the blender along with cilantro,cashews and kasoori methi.
3) Heat 2tsp butter,when it bubbles,add cumin seeds and the above paste and fry nicely.Add little water and the whole milk.Add butter chicken masala, cumin coriander powder,sugar and salt.The gravy should be little thick.This is a mild sauce and shouldn't be too spicy.It has a tender flavor ...little sour,sweet and smooth and silky.
4) Add the fried Tofu.Mix well gently.
5) Add garam masala to the gravy.Mix.
6) Turn off the heat,add cilantro and almonds.
7) Serve hot with Naan/Chapati/ Rice.

Monday, January 4, 2010

"Food For Thought"- Are you a 'good' Recipe-Follower?

To be honest....
I am a very 'bad' recipe follower.There has been hardly any recipe that I have followed word by word....teaspoon by teaspoon.When I look at the recipe, I tend to look at it 'overall' what the general idea is. But never have I tried making it 'as-is'. It may be genetics.....or my lack of 'following' skills.

Genetics.....coz my mother never followed the recipe 'as-is' from her cook books. She just had to add a touch of her own. My father was of the opposite opinion.He thought.....if you do not add/ use all the ingredients and quantities, you sort of mess up the recipe. He sometimes measured the ingredients for my mom to follow a new recipe.Yes...they liked cooking together...when they had time!

Being a Microbiologist....I have had enough of measuring/ and following protocols in lab. In the lab, even 1 microliter or 1 microgram here and there matters. If you mess up..your all days work is worthless. You have to start over again.
May be that is why...I want to keep my kitchen unlike a 'lab'. No Strict measurements.No blindly following a recipe/ protocol. I want to be creative. Want to let my brain, mind and heart work together to create something delicious. I want to add a little 'Deepti' to what I cook.....and enjoy it!

It surely doesn't mean, I do not look for recipes for ideas. I sure do. But like I read on
http://www.malas-kitchen.com/    I want to use the 'RECIPE AS A THEME'. The exact words on that website were:

" A Recipe is a Theme which an Intelligent Cook can play each time with a Variation"
This approach of mine doesn't work so well with Baking. Baking is hard core measuring. Here and there....and you mess it up. May be that is why I am a 'lazy' baker. 50% times I turn to cake mixes.But even then....I will always add 'some' touch of my own to the cake mix or the icing to make it my 'own'.
When I really feel motivated ..I bake from scratch.

What about you? How well do you 'mimic' a recipe?