Sundried Tomato and Italian seasoning Bagels

Sun-dried tomato and Italian seasoning Bagels

Sun-dried tomato and Italian seasoning Bagels

 

My boys are great fans of my Sun-dried Tomato and Olive bread, so naturally the next step is Sun-dried tomato bagels. The first attempt with just sun-dried tomato and oregano as safe option went down great and there was immediate demands for more. While trying decide which other herbs would go with sun-dried tomatoes, I could see it working with parsley, oregano and basil. A pinch of crushed red chillies never hurt anyone. While I had dried oregano at home, I had to pick up the parsley and basil, dried, from the store. Dried basil was not in the store, but then reading the label for Italian seasoning, there was all the three herbs, crushed red chillies and then a few other herbs, all seem to complement each other. Perfect. Continue reading

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Meringue 101

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Cooled meringue ready to finish

The sweet, snow-white cloudy wisps, with a melt in the mouth, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside goodness … who can resist it? I certainly can’t. A four or five egg white meringue is finished in a couple of days by just our family of four. It is simply the fastest disappearing dessert in our house.
First time I had meringue was the store bought ones from M&S food. These completely crispy meringue took me by complete surprise. Who though a mixture of just egg whites and sugar will be this delicious. But then it is not just the taste, it is also the texture. I thought it could not get any better till I watched Nigella cut into one of her creations, even over TV, the gooey centre was simply decadent, that I had to now make it. That was about at least six years ago, followed by many many more meringues, always homemade with a gooey centre. Continue reading

Thatha’s Fry Pan Toast

Thatha is granddad in Tamil. Both my boys love the way my dad makes toast on a tava or dosakallu. It takes toasted and buttered bread to a all new level. It was one of our favourites when I was growing up and the tradition continues. You can make it in a non-stick skillet or fry pan.

As recipes go, it does not get easier than this, unless you include boiling water. Continue reading

Garlic Bread Pizza

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The garlic bread from that big pizza chain (insert whatever your favourite is) is a family favourite. But it does fill you up, resulting many a time in boxing up at least some of the pizza itself. What is the solution? Garlic bread pizza! When you have left over dough sitting in the fridge, and you just want a light meal and not a full blown pizza, ideal time to garlic breadize the potential pizza.

It is a completely different taste and texture dimension to a garlic bread made out of a baguette. Still it is no pizza either. Depending on how much cheese you add, you can make it however rich you want it to be. We however, like it to be light, so I only add Mozzarella cheese just enough to form a thin layer once it is melted and bubbling. Continue reading

Gooseberry Ice-cream Any Time of the Year

Last summer, from our single unassuming gooseberry bush in our allotment, we got an abundant crop. After giving away half of it and making two lots of ice-cream, there was still a lot left over! Not knowing what to do with them, leaving them unattended for a few days, some began to get spoiled and were thrown away. Experience teaches you new things I suppose. When it came to harvesting the final few gooseberries which was about 2 kilograms, I had a plan, I would freeze them. Once they came into the house it was apparent they occupied so much volume that there would not be space in the freezer and I did not know if they would freeze well.

Then it stuck me. We love gooseberry ice-cream so much that, it is the only thing we are going to make and since ice-cream also takes up so much space, I decided to make the ice-cream base and freeze it in portions. So I made the gooseberry into a the ice-cream base with half the sugar, which is just a sort of coulis right for mixing into ice-cream and froze it in plastic bags, flat, occupying very little space.

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Frozen Gooseberry Coulis – made with half the sugar and frozen in portions weighted to make a single batch of ice-cream

 

Last week it was time for ice-cream! Defrosting a bag of gooseberry ice-cream coulis and mixing in a freshly made ice-cream custard as in my previous recipe. Left it to chill in the fridge overnight before churning the next day. It was as good as when I made it from fresh gooseberries. Now there is no reason why it should not work with other fruits, especially blackcurrant which is this family’s other favourite. That is for this years experiment. Would avoid a lot of waste of soft fruit, especially the seasonal and expensive berries. To top it you can have natural homemade ice-cream with no additives, any day of the year, even out of season.

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Defrosted Gooseberry coulis

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Gooseberry ice-cream, after churning with paddle removed

If you want the recipe for the goose berry ice cream, it is here.

 

Bagels 101

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Bagels, the delicious chewy rings of bread were a culinary discovery about 6 years ago on a conference trip to Chicago, staying at my sisters. Of course we had eaten bagels before, mainly from the UK supermarkets, with one of the lines even named on the lines of NYC bagels. But the UK bagels are  slightly sticky and bready rings and don’t even justify the name.

When my sister brought out a large bag of bagels for breakfast, I was so crest fallen, how was I supposed to survive the morning on those bread rings and manage the conference which I was going to till lunch time? She buttered each half and placed it in the toaster – no not the pop up toaster we get in the UK, but these are the US style toaster ovens, with horizontal shelves where you can place lightly buttered bagels with the butter side up with no risk of a fire. Put a buttered bagel, toast or whatever into a popup style toaster and you have a self made instant fire hazard! I digress. The toasted bagel with another top up of just butter was delicious… why did I not have this all these years? And why do UK bagels taste so awful?

Coming back to the UK, the hunt was on to find the shop which makes proper bagels. We found the next best thing in a place we often visit but have overlooked the bagels assuming they are not going to be good … Costco! Visits to costco, which I have also named “temptation island” as you go to buy bagels and come out with a TV or a table or some thing or the other … result – expensive bagels at a few hundred pounds each time. But tasty. The family favourite is the jalapeño bagels. So started this family’s addiction to bagels. If you are from NYC or the other bagel centres of the world that I don’t know about, and think, what is he talking about, costco and bagels? You have been spoiled and we can only judge by the best thing available here. So there. Continue reading

Bread Baking 101

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Baking bread is a science and an art. Once mastered, gives you immense pleasure, and there is no going back to the mundane supermarket bread. I am self taught, and still learning and enjoy every time, the whole process – dough, bake and eat!

There is nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread wafting around the house. It is the most comforting of all smells. Then there is the taste. Though you get excellent breads from many bakeries, there is nothing to beat a home baked loaf. Even the lowly plain white loaf, which I am starting with is better baked at home. Bread baking is the most satisfying thing you can do in the kitchen.

The history of how bread baking came to be is very interesting, as is all history. The discovery of farming wheat and other cereals as a more reliable source of food is probably the catalyst of people living in a fixed place, together and hence our civilisation. It is conceivable that ground cereals were initially eaten unleavened as flat breads. Accidentally leftover dough, fermented by wild yeasts, proving to be softer and better would have started the ball rolling and in the present time we are lucky to have an enormous variety of breads from all over the world and most importantly access to the knowledge of making them. Continue reading

Chocolate Ice-cream

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Chocolate. If honey was the nectar of our ancient ancestors, then chocolate is certainly the nectar of the modern age … at least the past 2 centuries or even more if you consider the native American Indians. Chocolate melts at body temperature that is about 36 – 37˚C, that is why it is so indulging, the way it melts in your mouth, the velvety texture and the taste combine to give an exquisite experience. It is one of those foods that you have to shut your other senses down and allow taste to take over … as explicitly used by many of the chocolate ads on TV and my favourite is the Galaxy ad with Audrey Hepburn lookalike, it is like watching her allover again. Continue reading

Mango Icecream

Mango Icecream

I love mangoes. Brin loves them even more than me (poor me). It is the nectar of the Gods! The number of varieties of mangoes in India is enormous, with such varied tastes and textures. In England, you really have to trawl the Indian shops to find the best tasting ones. And being airfreighted, they are expensive indeed. Supermarkets are not a place to buy mangoes, if you want the tasty and sweet ones, that is. Having said that, I have found quite bland ones in the Indian shops as well, so you have to know your mangoes. One of the sweetest and flavourful varieties is “Alphonso”, which sparks something of a craze in India during mango season. It as so stays well and firm after ripening which makes it ideal for export. But Mangoes are seasonal and expensive. Given an alphonso mango in hand, I would rather eat it whole than cook or juice it. So I use canned mango pulp instead, alphonso and kesar varieties are freely available even in supermarkets. Continue reading

Tomato Jam

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The cold late spring and late summer for some reason meant good fruit yields, that includes tomatoes. The vine tomatoes at the Indian shop were irresistibly fragrant. Tomato vines/stalks always seems to me more fragrant than the fruit. Just smell the vine tomatoes with and without the attached stalk and you will understand what I mean. I came home with a couple of kilograms of gorgeously fragrant red tomatoes.

My mother always made tomato jam for as long as I remember whenever tomatoes were in season. That is the only jam she made, but it was delicious and in demand. She never peeled the tomatoes and the skin was candied in the sugar and enhanced the jam. Sometimes she perked up the jam with cardamom, which gave it a different dimension. But I decided to skip it to concentrate on the tomato flavour. Many a time, after a few days/weeks my mothers jam used to crystallise, Adding a little glucose syrup interferes with sugar crystallisation, so goes the theory, and it works as I discovered in my prior experiments trying to recreate my mothers jam. Continue reading