Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Maritozzi Con La Panna - We Knead to Bake 28

This month we bake a very simple yet awesome in taste and texture bread for the We Knead to Bake Group assignment. Sometime last month, Niv had come across these bun like rolls in Food 52, recipe by Emiko Davies and mentioned about it. Soon Aparna suggested we bake it this month. Finla had added her comment about the discrepancies in the measures of ingredients in that post. I guess that Aparna was determined to get it all right for us to bake and read up various sites who had shared the recipe and derived her measures to guide us.
I was about to travel back to India,having stayed a month with my daughter. We quickly decided that both of us shall bake the bread together. We baked it on the day Aparna shared her document with the group. it feels like an accomplishment as I usually take time to work on the recipe and bake the rolls.
These buns can be had without the cream also and with the cream they are a delight.
Maritozzi (or Maritozzo for a single roll) are very fragrant and soft, sweet buns. They are cut across the length, until about half way down to fill with whipped cream. They are served alongwith coffee during the breakfast hours in coffee bars in and around Rome.(Lazio region of Italy).
Traditionally the dough is flavoured with pine nuts, raisins and candied orange peel. once baked they are brushed with sweet water and sugar syrup. Cooled maritozzi are then cut and filled heavily with cream before serving.
The dough is essentially slightly enriched brioche dough, a less rich version though. This uses only orange zest for flavouring the dough and raisins added to the dough.
There are two video links that might be useful one showing how to make the Maritozzi,
and the next on how they fill cream in the maritozzi as being made in a Roman Bakery

Maritozzi Con La Panna (Roman Cream Buns)
(Adapted from various sources)

For the Buns:
1&1/2 teaspoon instant yeast ( I used 2&1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast, proofed and added to the starter)
1/2 cup warm milk
1&3/4 cups all purpose flour (Plus for dusting)
1 egg (which I have substituted by adding more milk as needed)
1/4 cup sugar
50 grams butter at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1/8 cup raisins, soaked in 2 to3 tablespoons warm orange juice/ warm water for 10 minutes
1 tablespoon pine nuts toasted lightly
Zest of 1 orange or 1 tablespoon candied orange peel, chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the glaze:
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons water

powdered or icing sugar for dusting

For the filling:
500 millilitres fresh cream whipped to stiff peaks with few teaspoons icing sugar. (you may need 2 to 3 tablespoons cream per bun)

I have made this by hand, however, one might also use the processor.
Add warm milk and a teaspoon sugar to the instant yeast and 1/2 cup of flour. Mix to a smooth paste and cover. Let it stand for about 20 minutes. By then the paste would have doubled in volume and there will be visible bubbles.
If you use active dry yeast, allow it to rise before adding the flour and give time to double volume with bubbles.

To the starter add the rest of the sugar, butter, salt , egg (if using) and a cup of the flour.
Knead them to come together in a dough and add the pine nuts, raisins with the juice, the orange zest and vanilla extract. Knead by hand to a soft and elastic dough.
Add just as much of the remaining 1/4 cup flour to achieve a soft and elastic dough.
Dust a little flour in a bowl and place the dough in the shape of a rolled ball. Cover and give it a rise. It might take an hour to an hour and a half to double in its volume.
Lightly knead the risen dough to remove air pockets.
Divide the dough in 6 or 8 equal portions.
Roll each into a smooth ball and flatten it out into circle with your fingers.
Roll the flattened dough into a swiss roll style and seal their edges well.
Place them on lined baking tray well apart to allow them swell.
Cover loosely and let the rolls rise for another 30 minutes.
Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees C /350 degrees F and bake the rolls for 15 to 20 minutes until they have puffed up and golden.
Do not over bake them as the bottom will darken and the rolls might become hard.
If you choose to glaze with sugar syrup, make the syrup by boiling the sugar together with the water  while the buns are baking. Glaze them while they are warm.
If you choose to use dusting, do so with powdered or icing sugar while they are warm.
To make the filling whip the cream with some icing sugar until stiff peaks are formed.
While serving, cut opeh the rolls not quite fully and fill in 2 to 3 tablespoons of whipped cream in the rolls.

Serve with coffee or tea.
Please take time to check out Aparna's post where you may find links to other members' posts. enjoy a visual treat of Maritozzi being served.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Home Made Strawberry Ice Cream

"Strawberry season is on and it is at it's peak" announced a flyer the postman dropped into my daugter's mail box last week. The U-pick farms are not very far from their home, about half an hour's drive away. So we decided to go enjoy the fun activity on the week end, and oh my, enjoy - we did. We were unable to stop picking the juicy ripe strawberries (and a few unripe for photos). It  was hardest to resist popping some into our mouths. We ended up picking two large crates and brought home around 6 kilograms strawberries. 

What would you do with so many, way more than you can consume? Freeze! Yes, we did the same. We were motivated to use them when they were fresh for there will always be another week, in some other season. So the strawberries went into as many dishes as we could think of. This ice cream was one.
Just three ingredients, a little patience and a wee little work are all you need to get the strawberries come together in this delightful dessert. The below makes quite a volume, but you may keep it in the freezer and enjoy over many days.

Home Made Strawberry Ice Cream

Makes 2 litres

Fresh strawberries 1&1/2 cups
Sweetened condensed milk 1 tin(aprroximately 400 grams), 1&3/4 cup
Heavy whipping cream 2 cups (1 pint/16 fluid ounces/ approximately 475 millilitres)

Rinse the strawberries, remove the stem and pulp them in a blender.
Place a large bowl and the blades of a hand mixer in the freezer for about an hour.

In this large bowl pour the heavy whipping cream and run the hand mixer on medium speed till stiff peaks appear in the cream. Watch carefully not to over do the whipping.

Transfer contents of the condensed milk tin into a large bowl, pour in the strawberry puree and mix well.
Gently fold the strawberry and milk mixture into the whipped cream.
Cover the bowl tightly and place it in the freezer.
Take the ice cream out after three hours, stir briskly to remove ice crystals. Place it back in the freezer.

Repeat the stirring after three hours two more times.
Serve and enjoy.


Monday, June 1, 2015

We Knead to Bake 27 Orange Cinnamon Swirl Bread

This month, Aparna chose for us in We Knead to Bake Group a rather easy bread and similar to the cinnamon rolls we baked earlier in the group.The Orange and Cinnamon Swirl bread is a typical American style breakfast bread and is sweet. It has a nice combination of ingredients and I personally prefer the cinnamon flavour.
Aparna had chosen this bread from a book she had to review. She made changes to her personal prefernce while she gave us the exact recipe to work with. i must say that I went with her measures and still had a nicely sweet bread.
I am currently travelling and this post is late as I had to juggle the time to bake the bread and then write the post. Given below is a copy from Aparna's post while the change I made was using strawberry preserve in the place of the apricot preserve and omitted the egg. I substituted for the egg with extra milk.

Orange and Cinnamon Swirl Bread

(Reproduced with permission from 500 Breads by Carol Beckerman)
(Makes TWO medium size loaves)

1 teaspoon sugar

2/3 cups warm water
2 teaspoon active dry yeast
3&1/2 cups al purpose flour
2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoon sugar
2 eggs (or substitute, as required)
Juice and grated rind of an orange
5 tablespoons apricot/ strawberry preserve
1 tablespoon cinnamom powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
Oil for greasing

Grease two 8"X4" loaf tins with some oil.
dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water and sprinkle the teast. Allow it to proof for 10 to 15 minutes.
in a large bowl, mix flour, salt and 3 tablespoons sugar. Add the liquid yeast, eggs (or milk), the juice and the zest. Work this to a somewhat firm dough.
Turn the dough on to a loghtly floured surface and knead to a smooth, elastic but somewhat firm dough. Place the dough in a large, oiled
 bowl, cover and set aside in a warm place to double in its volume for about an hor and a half.

Turn the dough back on to a lightly floured surface, punch it down and gently knead again until the dough feels firm.
Divide the dough into two and roll out each into a 13"X6" rectangle.
Spread the preserve on each surface, sprinkle the brown sugar generously on top of the preserve and then the cinnamon powder.
Roll both rectangles each in a swiss roll like loaf.
Place each roll into the two prepared loaf tins.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F). Bake the breads for 30 to 35 minutes until the top of them is golden.

While tapped under they should sound hollow. Remove from the loaf tins and cool on wire racks.

Serve as a breakfast bread with tea or simply with tea or coffee anytime of the day.

You may or may not use the eggs.
You might want to omit the 3 tablespoons sugar if you want your bread somewhat mildly sweet. brown sugar may be substituted with regular sugar.
Again, you may reduce the quantity of brown sugar to tone the sweetness down.
Apricot preserves work the best, but the strawberry preserve was close enough. Use the exact measures of the preserve as too less will leave a bland bread while too much will make it ooze and messy.
Adjust the flour or liquid to achieve a smooth, elastic but somewhat firm dough. Exercise caution with the flour or liquid as the texture will depend on them.
Try to keep the rolling measurements. I rolled it too thin and the bread had an ugly tear on the crown in my first attempt.
Roll the swiss like roll tightly enough and seal the edge well brushing a little water if needed. Place the seam side down while baking.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Mango Ice Cream

It is summer, so the time to look forward to mangoes. There seem to be no particular season for the fruits in where I live, but the mangoes that are available during the season have richer taste in them. Most varieties I get here have a thin, and long stone, more flesh and some varieties are a bit fibrous. They are all quite sweet once you remove the skin. Unlike those which I relish in India eating whole with the skin on, these have a tart skin that have to be sliced off. The tree at home gave us about three or four large fruits at one go and I was tired making milkshakes and lassi every other day. I had already done the amrakhand that was inside the refrigerator and the mango sorbet just got over three days ago. So it was time to think of anything other than these. It had to be ice cream then, don't you agree?

I have a small booklet of recipes from Milkmaid, Nestle India. Among others there was a recipe for mango ice cream which I looked up. The ingredients listed gelatine which I found unsuitable for us. Still, I decided to use the recipe and try my luck with some custard powder for substitution. then I chanced upon many recipes that did not use any stabilizer. The ice cream looked very nice too. Thus from various recipes I had read, I adapted partially Tarla Dalal's Mango ice cream recipe and the one from the booklet I had.
The ice cream did not last even a few days, needless to mention. This was an every afternoon dessert that my husband tried hard to keep to a scoop, looking forlornly at the reducing quantity with each scoop.

Mango Ice Cream

Makes 1 litre
2 -3 large mangoes that have less fibre/ peeled and chopped to achieve 2 cups mangoes
384 grams/ 1 tin of condensed milk
1/2 litre milk
2 teaspoons custard powder
1/8 cup sugar ( adjust according to how sweet the mangoes are)
1 teaspoon juice of lime

Peel mangoes, cut them in small cubes.
Add the sugar to the mangoes and puree them together in a blender.
Keep 1/4 cup of milk aside and put the rest to boil.
Stir in the custard powder into the 1/4 cup milk to a lump free mixture.
Add this to the warm milk and soon as it thickens a bit, remove from the fire.
Allow this milk to cool.
Whisk the condensed milk and blend the milk and juice of limes. Using a wire whisk, whisk the mixture. This way it gets well aerated.
Gently add in the mango puree. Mix them well and transfer to a freezer container. Cover with a tight lid and place it in the freezer for four hours.

Take the ice cream from the freezer and whisk again. Repeat this thrice at two hour intervals. This makes smoother ice cream. Return the container to the freezer.
Scoop out the ice cream on to serving bowls and enjoy.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Porikullu - Protein Packed Healthy Snack

I was home, in India, for a short vacation during March. I happened to be around to attend a family celebration. Meanwhile, it was a good opportunity to catch up with cousins and needless to mention it was a great vacation. The family celebrated the occasion of a child to be born later this May. In India special celebrations are observed during pregnancy. We hold the 'valaikaappu' and 'seemantham' for the mother-to-be around her last trimester, the South Indian custom like Baby shower. This means lot of good food and snacks. Each of us who attend such festivities get to carry back sweets and savoury snacks too.
One of the dishes made is the Porikullu or the varuththa payaru which is soaked, drained and dry roasted legumes and few additional nuts. This is a power packed snack that the mother can consume to combat her cravings. It is rich in fibre, vitamins and protein which is good for the mother and child. Because making it is a long drawn process, we do not make it like an everyday snack. Getting to make and eat them occasionally has its own thrill, isn't it?
Each household has a unique combination and some dry roast, some of us sun dry for days and some people fry in some oil. There is no measures nor ingredients to adhere to. We just add few legumes, nuts and spice and salt. While I make it with legumes, you may find recipes that sprout the legumes and do the porikollu. Adding puffed beaten rice and bits of dry coconuts will tone the heat down.


1 cup green gram whole
1 -2 cups black chickpeas
1 cup red chori beans
1/2 cup peanuts peeled
1/4 cup roasted gram
1/2 cup dry coconut slices
1/2 cup  beaten rice
2 tablespoons red chilli powder
Salt to taste
Curry leaves
1 teaspoon asafoetida powder
1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

Wash each of the beans separately and soak them in water overnight. Next day, drain the water and in a change of water soak again for another six hours.
Drain the water and spread them on a cloth and allow them to dry in the sun. Keep it in the sun for two days bringing them in by night, still on the cloth and kept separately.
Wash the curry leaves, spread them on a cloth, cover with another light cloth and leave it in the sun. they will dry to a shrivel during the time the legumes are drying in the sun.
Heat a heavy rounded bottom pan, an iron wok will be ideal. Once the pan is rally hot, reduce the heat to medium.
Dry roast, in small quantities, a few fistfuls at a time, each of the dry legumes. Repeat with all of them.
Transfer to a flat and large dish.
Moisten the powders and salt with few teaspoons of water.
Gently turn the roasted legumes in the mixture so as to coat them with the mixed spices.
Spread them back on the dish and place this in the sun for a day from morning to evening.
Bring the dish in and keep it spread overnight.
Next morning if there is moisture in the mixture, take it back to the sun and dry them until they are dry.
Roast the peanuts as you may find in this post. Add them to the above porikullu.
Slightly toss the roasted gram in the heat of the pan. Transfer them to the dish.
In the same heavy pan, roast the beaten rice until it puffs (you may use store bought puffed beaten rice, aval pori). Do this in small quantities at a time and do not allow the rice to brown. Transfer these to the porikullu.
Add the sliced, dry coconuts to the mix.

Porikullu is ready to store and snack on. Store in an airtight container and it keeps well for even three months as there is no oil.
The legumes will be crunchy to munch and feel hollow unlike their hard texture that is characteristic of legumes.
The guilt factor is the salt and spice alone, otherwise it is one of the best snacks to consume in small handfuls.

Susan, The Well seasoned Cook 's ever popular My Legume Love Affair is now managed by Lisa since February 2013. This current edition MLLA #82 is being hosted by Briciole. The above tasty nutty snack is being sent there.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

'Call it what you may' - Coondapur Spice Powder and the Thengaipaal Masala Kuzhambu

As a newly wed, I pictured myself  learning all dishes that my mother-in-law might cook and pick up skills. Such plans flopped as there was always a routine kind of cooking in the household and even on special days most things remained standard. This was because my mother-in-law had taken ill at a young age, the family took to eating simple meals that was easy on her - to cook and to digest. However, there is one 'special' kuzhambu that will be cooked when guests were around or on days neer dosa or shavige were the meal option.
It was an exercise that both my parents-in-law will take on and kind of make it an elaborate affair that I was in awe. My part was just to slice several onions that will go into the kuzhambu. It was a simple dish wherein she would toss the onions in oil and add a special spice powder and cook in thick coconut milk. I have tried checking if she made the powder herself, for I did not think that they ever bought it. She used to get in bulk from her sister and family and store very carefully and use frugally. I did not ever get to pick it up, thus. By way of conversation, she mentioned that one of her sisters had a recipe that she was making the powder in bulk. Now, I grabbed the chance to request her to get the recipe for me which she obliged. I scribbled it down while she dictated over the phone. The irony is that I  had the recipe listed as "Coondapur Powder" in the instruction manual cum cookbook of my old Sumeet mixer grinder. I just did not relate the recipe to my mother-in-law's birth town :) . I still call it Sumathi chikkamma powder after the aunt who shared the recipe. Call it what one may, this is a flavour packed spice powder that enhances the coconut milk's taste. For records, I shall keep it Coondapur Powder and the thengaipaal kuzhambu with the spice mix.
I usually do not add garlic to the powder as I can add or omit when I make the kuzhambu. The original recipes add the garlic while the spice mix is made and stored. I have added the garlic in this write up as an option.

Coondapur Powder
(Recipe as given by my mother-in-law's sister)
Makes  approximately160 grams powder without addition of garlic and 200grams if garlic is added.
(I have given in weights and in volume)

50 grams/500 millilitres Byadagi variety dry red chillis (for deep red colour and moderate heat level)
40 grams/ 125 millilitres coriander seeds
40 grams/ 60 millilitres (heaped to make approximately 62&1/2 millilitres) black pepper corns
20 grams/  1/8 cup +1 &1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
10 grams/ 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
4 grams/ 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
40 grams. 2  numbers large size whole garlic pods (optional)

Add few drops of castor oil or any cooking oil to the byadagi red chillis and roast them until brittle. Transfer to a flat dish and spread.
Dry roast, on medium to low flame, separately, the coriander seeds, black pepper corns, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds until they waft aroma.
Transfer to the same dish and allow to cool.
Add the turmeric powder.
If you are using garlic in the powder, peel the garlic and ever so slightly toss it in the heated pan for a few minutes. The original recipe grinds the garlic raw with other ingredients.
Allow to cool a bit and blend the roasted ingredients to as fine a powder as possible.
Do not over grind if you are adding the garlic as the powder may become sticky lumps.
Use this powder in any masala gravies just as you may add garam masala.

Thengai paal Kuzhambu with Coondapur Powder
Serves 4

4 large red onions sliced very fine and/or any vegetable of your choice
(I have used potatoes, turnips, carrots and tomatoes one or combined)
2-3 green chillis chopped
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 cup thick coconut milk
1/2 cup second extract of coconut milk
1 and1/2 tablespoon Coodapur powder
5 cloves of garlic
( Additionally you may use whole spices like cardamom, cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon for extra flavour)
Salt to taste

2 teaspoons cooking oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 sprigs curry leaves
5 shallots peeled and sliced fine

Heat the oil in a heavy pan. Add the sliced onions, garlic (other spices, if using) and chopped green chillis. Saute' until the onions are very pink and shiny.If you are using other vegetables, cook them first and then add them to the above.
Drop in the spice powder and toss then add the second extract of coconut milk. add the salt and cook for a while.
Pour in the thick extract and cook on a low flame until the raw taste subsides and the coconut milk thicken in a gravy.Take care not to curdle the coconut milk by over cooking.
Remove from the fire and transfer  to a serving dish.
Heat the oil for tempering in a pan, add mustard seeds. Once they crackle add the sliced shallots and toss until they are crisp. Drop the curry leaves and toss few more seconds. Add this to the kuzhambu.

This kuzhambu ideally pairs as a side for neer dosa, shavige and ghee rice.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Kambu Porimaavu - Light snack with Pearl Millet

Kambu, the pearl millet is another widely cultivated around my hometown. It has many nutritional properties and is known to be a body coolant. Thus, just before the annual exams, with the advent of summer in March and April, many of my classmates in school would pack their tiffin with 'Kambanchoru' / cooked pearl millet with curd and raw shallots. They sometimes brought an extra serving of a thinner sambhar like gravy to have. As the millet by itself is rich in protein, the sambhar would be very light and not with usual quantity of dhal.
Any millet was welcome at home and the solam and kambu were very often used. This porimaavu is what my mother made very often for the evening snack when we get back from school. the protein rich millet and the iron rich unrefined sugar were recommended to her by my grandmother and Velamma Aaya, her maid. Velamma would pick and clean the millet and even grind it in the traditional mortor.Those were days when my mother saved her 'mixie' for more important tasks, these did not warrant use of an electric device while willingly someone could do with the traditional one.

This recipe is as such very simple and with just three ingredients. The taste is really good and makes a very healthy snack for all ages. There was a time that we used to reluctantly consume as this was frequently made; now i go looking for the millet and make this just for a kick of nostalgia. I also make the kambanchoru and kammankoozh that are popular in Tamil Nadu; they are refreshing coolants when the mercury soars to new highs.

Kambu Porimaavu

Makes about 10 medium size fist held balls, depending on the size you hold.

2 cups Kambu/ Bajra/ Pearl Millet
1/2 to 3/4 cup powdered jaggery or unrefined sugar
1/3 cup melted ghee

Pick the millet clean. Sprinkle little water and rub with the hands to remove the impurities and husk. Spread on a sheet and dry it in the sun for a few hours.
Heat a heavy pan and drop the dried millet. Toss in the pan over medium-high heat until the millet crackles. Do not over roast the millet.
Allow this to cool a bit and pulse it in a mixer grinder or a traditional mortor until you have a coarse powder.
Transfer the powder to a flat largish plate. Add the jaggery powder and mix them thoroughly.
Add ghee in small increments and mix well. Stop adding ghee further when the mixture comes together and you are able to hold them in your fist to roll in a rugby like shape.
Make small such balls and serve.