Monday, November 9, 2015

The Last Minute Pressure Cooker Rice Kheer !



It is literally raining mithai everywhere, more specifically on Facebook! Nothing less than a million ideas there, no exaggeration.  And I swear, I have put on (more) weight just by looking at them! Like they say, technology isn't really good enough until you can download food! But till that day arrives, we will have to reach out for the real stuff, churn out deliciousness in our own kitchens. Thanks to my super-talented fellow bloggers and foodie friends who never fail to inspire!

Made some Chocolate Fudge yesterday as the teenage son wanted to make something to take to school today. He wanted to make it himself as he is all of 13 now! But of course the enthusiasm was limited to chopping the toasted nuts, munching on them and eating pieces of the weighed out chocolate when I wasn't looking. Oh yes, he also stirred the fudge and later helped wrap them in cling-film.  So much for 'making it'! My 8 year old daughter was content with taking some chips and noodles as instructed by her teacher(bless her) . But of course there had to be endless arguments for the fudge - and boy, can they do a good job of it!  Just as well, Children's Day and class parties don't happen every day!

And then I had just enough time and energy to make some quick and easy, creamy rice kheer in a pressure cooker. With minimal effort & active time you could make this pudding using pantry staples. No slaving over the stove or stirring for hours! Just the kind of traditional dessert you would want to make at the last minute for a festival or for unexpected guests.  

How much ever you may believe in the slow-cooked version, trust me, you want this recipe in your repertoire!



Recipe from here, thank you for the lovely recipe Swapna! 

Rice Kheer in a pressure cooker
(serves 10-12)

Ingredients : 
Basmati rice - 3/4 cup
Sugar - 1.5 - 1.75 cups (read note)
Milk - 1.5 liters / 7.5 cups (3.5% fat) (plus a cup or two extra to adjust consistency if needed)
Cashewnuts - 100 grams
Ghee - 1 teaspoon
Saffron - a very generous pinch
Cardamom powder - 1 teaspoon

Method

1. Wash the rice and drain well. Fry the cashew nuts in ghee until light golden. Break them into pieces. Set aside. 

2. Boil the milk in a 5 liter pressure cooker. Soak the saffron in about 2 tablespoons of this milk to use later. 

3. Add the washed rice and the sugar to the milk. Stir to dissolve the sugar. 

4. Close the lid, once steam starts appearing, put the weight on. Reduce the heat to the lowest. 

5 . Cook for 1/2 hour. Turn off the heat. Let the pressure drop fully before opening the lid.

6.  The rice would have been cooked and the milk will be very creamy. Add the saffron and stir. Taste and add sugar if needed. Cook on low heat for 5 - 10 minutes more. 

7.  Cool to room temperature, add the cardamom powder and the cashewnuts. The kheer will turn thicker as it cools, add the reserved milk as needed to adjust the consistency. 

Serve at room temperature or chilled. 

Please note : 

1.  Milk :Use full cream milk for best results. Make sure you have extra full cream milk to adjust the consistency. 
2.  Sugar : Start with 1.5 cups. Increasing the sweetness is easier than pouring in more milk to reduce it. You may end up with a less creamy kheer if you add a lot of it later. 
3.  The cooking time may vary slightly depending on your pressure cooker. As long as the kheer doesn't burn or overflow, you can safely err on the side of over cooking it.
4.  You could add the nuts along with the milk and rice, but I like the crunch it gives, so I add it later.
5. I made this kheer in a 10 liter pressure cooker for double the above quantity at my parent's place. The cooker chose to whistle and alarm me, cooking the kheer faster. It turned out just fine. 
6. All ingredients measured using standard measuring cups and spoons. 



Happy Diwali, stay safe! 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Compare A Convection Microwave & An Oven Toaster Griller (OTG) / Differences Between OTG & Convection Microwave Oven(Video Post)



Comparing A Convection Microwave & An Oven Toaster Griller (OTG) / Differences Between Convection Microwave Oven & OTG .Microwave oven vs OTG. Watch the video above!

My previous post What Kind Of An Oven Should I Buy? was about the different options available in India, what factors you should consider when you plan to buy.  So lets narrow down the choice to a convection microwave and an OTG and see how these vary. I know, I say this ever so often, I have used both these ovens and I personally do not find a great deal of difference between the two. Both taste and texture-wise. But yes, they certainly do differ the way they work and they way you would be able to use them. So let us compare them side-by-side!






Pre-heating : About the pre-heating time, whenever you bake anything in a convection microwave or in an OTG, you would need to get your oven to the temperature specified in the recipe before you keep your cake or cookies inside the oven and this is called as ‘pre-heating’. Pre-heating in a convection microwave takes about 5 minutes. OTGs normally take about 15-20 minutes to pre-heat.  Do get an oven thermometer (check FoodPro Plus by Raytek) as OTGs often heat up more than what is indicated on the knob. Also, it will help you find out when exactly your oven reaches the temperature you need to set it to. 


I find this fast pre-heat feature extremely useful  when I want to bake in a hurry, say some warm muffins for the kids in the morning school rush. Or when you when my cake batter is almost ready and I realize I forgot to pre-heat the oven!



Temperature & Timer  Both an OTG and a convection microwave can be set to a maximum of 250C, so worries on that count. And even the timer sets for about 90 minutes in a convection microwave and the same in an OTG. And OTGs normally come with this feature called as Stay On or Timer Bypass which allows you to keep the oven switched on till you turn it off manually. And you would not be able to do this in a convection microwave. 

This stay-on or timer by-pass is especially useful when you want to bake meringues or make some oven-dried tomatoes. But unless you make these day in day out  for a living, you don’t really need to be worried about this feature!



Bakeware : A convection microwave, on convection mode, works just the same way as an OTG does, so the bake ware you would be using in a convection microwave and in an OTG would be the same, so no worries on that count, but the size of the bake ware does matter when you are using a convection microwave because the turntable is small and it also keeps rotating, so you can’t really place really large tins in a convection microwave, whereas you could do that in an OTG. 


Even baking : When you bake in an OTG, there is this fan by default, which circulates the hot air and makes sure that the food bakes evenly. And then there is also the turn-table which constantly keeps rotating, and helps your bakes bake more evenly. And the bigger OTGs also do come with fans but you may not be able to use this feature to your advantage because  as sometimes its tricky to use.


Functionality:  In a convection microwave can cook, re-heat and also bake , grill and do just about everything in a convection microwave. Whereas in an OTG, you would be able to toast, grill and bake your food, but you would not be able to cook or re-heat your food in an OTG.


Capacity :  the maximum capacity in a convection microwave would be about 32 liters, whereas the OTGs go up to around 60 liters in capacity, so that you could bake a lot at one time. So at the most, in a convection microwave, you would be able to bake 1 cake or 1 loaf of bread or 1 sheet of cookies. So imagine baking cookies for your kids class party!! 

And in an OTG, you would be able to bake on multiple levels, you could bake 2 cakes or multiple trays of cookies at a time. 

Wallet effect : And for about Rs.10,000 you would be able to get an OTG of about 40 L, whereas a convection microwave of about 32 L would cost you about Rs.16,000 upward.


Controls & Display: The controls and display in a convection microwave is mostly digital, whereas in an OTG, the controls are always manual. I find this digital display especially useful when I bake crackers or ice-cream cones and other very delicate cookies and I could set my timer to, say, about 10 minutes and 40 seconds once I figure out the baking time, whereas in an OTG, I would not be able to set it as precisely and I would have to watch it like a hawk!

Weight : Convection microwaves are very heavy, so you would not be able to move it around, or keep shifting it as and when you need it, so this means that you would need to have a permanent place for it in the kitchen.

The OTGs are much lighter compared to a convection microwave and you could actually keep it under the dining table or may be in your garage and use it as and when you need it if you are really constrained for space in your kitchen.

Ease of use : a convection microwave is I think is much more simpler because there is just  1 rack and there is only 1 mode of baking in a convection microwave. But in an OTG, there are different modes of baking, there are different heating elements you could switch on, with the fan or without the fan and this could be an advantage or a disadvantage, the way you use it. And there are also multiple racks in an OTG, so you would need to figure out which rack works best for you.

A convection microwave is less temperamental as compared to an OTG. But then with some time, patience and practice, you will figure out how to use your OTG.


So do consider all these things, your requirements and your needs, before you decide if you want to buy a convection microwave or an OTG. And if you do decide to buy a convection microwave, please do watch my video on how to use a convection microwave. 




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Monday, September 28, 2015

What kind of an oven should I buy? Types of Ovens / Ovens in India (Video Post)


Choosing an oven for baking in India.What kind of an oven is best for baking in India, types of ovens and choosing the right oven. Should I buy a convection microwave, an OTG or go in for a built-in oven? Which is the best oven for a beginner? So here are a few things you would need to know and a few things to consider before you start your affair with your oven for a lifetime!Watch the video on this on my YouTube Channel, Baking For Beginners! Do follow my page on Facebook for regular updates on videos every Monday!






Broadly speaking, you could go in for the counter-top ovens, the kind which sit on the counter of your kitchen, or you could also go in for the built-in ovens, the kind  which are built into the wall of your kitchen.  Again in the counter top ovens, you could go in for a convection microwave or an Oven Toaster Griller(OTG). Built in ovens again could be either convection microwaves or gas operated ovens or electric ovens.

So when you plan to buy an oven here are a few things to know and consider.  
  • The capacity of the oven, which decides and determines how much by way of quantity,  you could bake at a time, the size of trays and tins you could use.
  • Your level of interest in baking. 
  • The space you have to accommodate your oven. 
  • Your budget and 
  • The after-sale services available in your city for the brand. Sometimes, the brand is fantastic, but not services in some cities! 


Convection microwave :

Functionality :  This can can cook, re-heat, grill food and bake your food as well. A compact gadget which does it all. 

Ease of Use : Really simple to use, bakes your food evenly all the time!

Display, Controls : Microwaves normally come with digital controls and display, a feature I love and appreciate.

Weight, Counter space : But then microwaves can be quite heavy, so you can’t really shift or move them around, so you need to have enough space on your kitchen counter reserved for this oven. 

Capacity :The maximum capacity of a microwave could be around 32 liters (I saw a 38 liter one in IFB) , and if you go in for a microwave of this capacity, you could easily bake for a family of 4.  So do not buy a microwave which is less than 32 liters in capacity. Go one step ahead, carry your 9'' round and square tins to the showroom, check if the turntable rotates freely after you place the tin on it. 

Cost : A convection microwave can cost upwards of Rs.15, 000 depending on the brand, capacity and the model you are buying and of course whether you are buying it online or offline.

Limitation : One major drawback about the convection microwave is that it is limited by capacity. You can bake on only one rack and one level at a time. Meaning you can bake one cake or one sheet of cookies at a time. You can’t use some standard size large baking tins in a convection microwave, especially the rectangular ones, because the tin will keep hitting the walls of the microwave as the turntable rotates.

So if you entertain very often or if you aspire to bake commercially, the limited capacity of a microwave may prove to be a serious drawback. So be sure to go to the store, and take a look at the various models available, and also read reviews about the model you plan to purchase.
Do check the after sale services available in your city for the brand.

Oven –Toaster Griller 

Functionality :  Commonly called as an OTG here in India, you can grill toast and bake your food and even keep it warm.  But you can’t really use it for cooking or re-heating your food. Which means that if you have an OTG, you would still need to have a microwave to cook and re-heat your food. Which means additional counter space in your kitchen to house both the gadgets.I started baking with my tiny Morphy Richards 14 liter OTG, and it still works well for me! 

Weight : OTGs are quite lighter in weight, which means that you can move it around, and you could also shift it as and when you need it. If you are really constrained for counter-space in your kitchen, you could keep it under your dining table or may be even in your garage, and then use it when you need it. 

Controls : OTGs normally come with manual controls. 

Cost : This will cost you anywhere Rs.9,000 upwards( for 40 liters) depending on the brand, capacity and the model you would be buying. And again, as usual, online and offline prices may vary...quite a bit! And they do keep changing every other day, so please don't hold me on this!

Capacity of OTGs normally goes up to 60 liters, which means that you could bake more at a time, you could bake 2 cakes or you know 2 sheets of cookies and even bake on 2 levels at a time. So, do not buy an oven too small as then you would not be able to fit in most standard sized trays and tins, even the 8’’ or 9 ‘’ round or square tins, will not fit in a very small oven. So the minimum size I would suggest if you are going to buy an OTG would be about 40 liters. And go in for even bigger ones if you aspire to bake commercially. 

Ease of use : Bigger OTGs come with different modes for baking as well, so be prepared to spend some time in figuring out what works best for you and how your oven works! (Can be exasperating I warn you!)  Again, do visit the store and read reviews for various models before you decide to buy. And definitely do check the after-sale services available for the brand in you city.


Built-in ovens : These again can be microwaves,  electric ovens and then gas ovens which come as part of the cooking range. These are a different deal altogether as they are built into the wall of your kitchen as the name suggests. And these are really elegant, and stylish, and also come with  a bigger price-tag! Sigh!! Not to mention the fact that you can't afford these in rented properties. 

Gas ovens especially can be a blessing with all the power-cuts we have here! Hope to have one some day! 

Cost : This could cost you anywhere between Rs.25,000 (gas ovens) – Rs.40,000 (built in microwaves and electric ovens) – Rs.1,00,000 upward for premium brands (I was stunned when I visited a Siemens showroom!). And these built in ovens  I think you could consider at a later point of time, the point of no-return to be precise! But if you happen to live in smaller towns, I would suggest you be especially careful with the after-sale services if you are going to be going in for built in ovens. Now, we can't carry these to the service center, can we?!


So there isn’t one perfect choice of an oven, as it would vary according to different parameters and your individual requirement.


My suggestion would be to start with an OTG or a convection microwave when you start and then upgrade to the built-in ones later depending on your level of interest in baking. I am a very happy user of my LG convection microwave, and I have been using it since almost 4 years, and if you decide to go in for a convection microwave, you can watch my video on how to use a convection microwave. 




Coming up next is my post & video, comparing a convection microwave and an OTG side by side, do watch out. Please do come back! 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sesame - Orange Almond Tuiles (Eggless)






Sesame - Orange Almond Tuiles (Eggless) . Honestly, I was not much of an online shopper until they started selling bake ware and cook books online. Not that I go crazy buying things, but it’s so good to browse through these written by excellent authors, especially those books with the Look Inside feature.


Of course, I want them all! The Baking Bible by Rose Levy, Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi, Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apperentice, Michel Roux’s Pastry the list goes on and on! David Lebovitz is one another author I love and keep going back to again and again. His book Ready For Dessert came to my doorstep a few days (OK long ago!) and it’s a great one to have in your collection! Humor, great recipes and lots of eye-catching pictures. I would have loved to bake one of those custard based recipes by default but time just seems to fly!


In the meantime, it was so easy to decide on the super easy, convenient recipe for Sesame Orange Almond Tuiles. I always fall for tuiles so quickly, almonds, sesame and orange together made it even easier to decide on them. An egg free recipe, you can make the batter (a delicious one!) ahead and refrigerate for upto a week. I was a tad skeptical, having found these versions yielding rather tough, chewy cookies in my previous attempts.

I need not have been as the tuiles baked up quite crisp and very flavorful.   

Undoubtedly, they will taste even better filled with some vanilla ice cream! 





Ingredients

Soft unsalted butter – 45 grams

Oil (toasted sesame oil if you have) – 15 ml / 1 tablespoon

Fresh squeezed orange juice – 45 ml / 3 tablespoons

Zest of almost one whole orange

Vanilla Sugar – 135 grams

Flour  - 35 grams



Flaked almonds – 60 grams

White sesame seeds – 2 tablespoons

Black sesame seeds – 1 ½ teaspoons (or more white sesame seeds)


Method :

  • In a medium sized saucepan, over low heat, heat the butter, sugar, oil, orange juice and zest until melted and smooth. 
  • Take off the heat, stir in the flour, almonds and sesame seeds. Let the batter rest for 1 hour at room temperature. If planning to make the tuiles later, refrigerate batter airtight for up to a week. 
  • Pre-heat oven to 190 C/ 375 F. Line two cookie sheets with baking parchment. David doesn’t recommend using silicon mats for this recipe. 
  • Set a rolling pin for shaping the tuiles on a folded dish towel, and have ready a wire rack to cool the cookies.  
  • Drop level tablespoons of batter spaced 3 inches apart (the cookies will spread a lot). Flatten the dough slightly with a dampened finger. 
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes or till the cookies  are evenly browned rotating the sheet in between. Be careful not to burn them. The subsequent batches make take even lesser time. Do make one test cookie to determine the baking time. The cookies will feel soft after the come out of the oven, but will harden as they cool.
  • Bake the cookies in batches. Keep the oven on. 
  • Once you have baked all the cookies, place one baked cookie at a time on the baking sheet. Pop into the oven for 20-30 seconds or till soft. Drape over the rolling pin, press gently, hold for a few seconds till firm again. Slide off the rolling pin, store airtight. You could also shape them into cigars or little cups. Serve filled with vanilla ice cream.







 So if you have been looking for an egg free version of these lacy cookies, here is a recipe you could try.

Important : You can make the batter ahead, but be very sure, you serve the tuiles within hours of baking them. 



You can also subscribe to my channel on YouTube meant for beginners in baking. Click to subscribe now!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Chocolate Coffee Volcano - For Neelima!




Chocolate Coffee Volcano . If I could rattle off 3 things that changed my life, it would be marriage, kids and food blogging!  Blogging made the love and obsession with food seem almost normal. Well, it is! Or you would not see so many food blogs around, would you? Considering that blogging does require quite some amount of effort, time and dedication, I am all admiration for those who have full time careers and still manage to blog!


My friend Neelima, a full-time dentist by profession and a mother of two, is one such energetic blogger. She is a fitness enthusiast, with equal passion for her food and workouts both! Her blog  Slices'n Spices will tempt you to try her eggless bakes, breads, traditional sweets and a whole lot of mango desserts! 

Thank you Neelima for giving me an opportunity to guest post for you and connect with your readers! And apologies for the really long time I have taken for it! 
So what do I bake for the lady? A cake as per her wish alright, a tiny bit jazzed up with one of my most favorite dessert sauces, home-made custard. Here for you Neelima is a Chocolate Coffee Volcano, well...almost! A fancy name for a chocolate cake filled with rich, smooth and creamy coffee crème anglaise. It's a fabulous marriage of flavors, chocolate and coffee. Adding to the visual appeal is the bundt cake and the custard poured into it. 

You could brulee the custard if you have a blow torch to make it more of a 'volcano' . The cake recipe here is just a suggestion. Pull out your favorite chocolate cake recipe (I insist!) especially if you love bakes with dark chocolate. Bake mini bundts for pretty individual servings. Pour the chilled custard just before serving, brulee the cream in front of your guests for extra oohs and more drama!

Please do drop by Slices n' Spices for more pictures and the recipe !


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Saffron Scented Yogurt Cream & Peach Tarts



Saffron Scented Yogurt Cream & Peach Tarts. Dairy products, fruit and vegetables are things I love to splurge on! I would rather have an excess of these in my refrigerator, than wait to cook or plan cooking after a hurried trip to the store. The milk is boiled and refrigerated the previous day, a few tetra-packs of them stashed away for emergencies. Lassi and buttermilk in tetra packs come in handy always. And how can we not have paneer , and no we don't ever get tired or bored of it ubiquitous though it undoubtedly is! I mostly make it at home with 3% milk, though I prefer the firmer packaged variety for grilling. 

We eat yogurt like there is no tomorrow and I set it every night. Its an integral part of our breakfast, lunch , dinner and snacks. Chilled low fat yogurt sweetened with a bit of sugar and vanilla, topped with nuts is often my guilty pleasure post lunch! Blitzed with fruit it's a refreshing drink in the kids' snack box. The hunger pangs born out of boredom can often be remedied with some yogurt sprinkled with chat masala! Sounds very dramatic, but yes, not a day goes without yogurt!  




     
I made these little tarts filled with saffron scented yogurt cream, pistachios and peaches. Hung curd, sweetened, whisked with some saffron infused cream can't be anything but good of course! A bit of texture with chopped pistachios makes it even better. Light and delicious, a simple, make ahead recipe for Mother Dairy's  Summer Of Happiness Challenge. 

To participate, submit a recipe using any of these Mother Dairy products. Mother Dairy Paneer, Chach, Curd, Blueberry Yogurt, Mango Lassi, Aam Doi and Mishti Doi. More details and recipes by Chef Vikas Khanna here



Saffron Scented Yogurt Cream & Peach Tarts (serves  6-8)
Delicately flavored yogurt cream and peaches in crisp buttery tart shells. 

Ingredients:

Short Crust Pastry (recipe below)
Mother Dairy Curd - Two 400 gram boxes to give about 1 1/2 cups hung yogurt.
Fresh cream, 25% fat (I have used Amul) - 1/2 cup / 120 ml
Saffron - 2 generous pinches
Powdered sugar - 4 tablespoons ( or more to taste)
Chopped pistachios - 1/4 cup
Fresh peaches (or mangoes), sliced for garnish

Method : 

For the tart shells: 

Flour : 175 grams
Butter : 113 grams, cubed and chilled till very cold
Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
Powdered sugar - 1/2 tablespoon
Ice cold water - 2 tablespoons (plus 1 tablespoon if needed)

Equipment : One Small and another large metal bench scraper. Chill these at least for 15 mins.  Alternatively you could use a food processor. 

A rolling pin.

Pie weights or kidney beans. Small squares of aluminum foil.

Cling film

Special instructions : Work in a cool kitchen.

Method : To make the pie crust : 

Mise en place.


Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt, transfer mixture onto your kitchen counter. 

Dump the cold butter on the flour. Toss the pieces in the flour so that the flour coats it. 

Using the bench scraper, briskly cut the butter into the flour till the mixture resembles bread crumbs. This will take a couple of minutes.

Make a well in the middle of the flour. Take 2 tablespoons cold water from the freezer and pour into the well. Gently gather the flour into the water using your fingertips. The dough will begin to come together. 

If you pinch some dough between your thumb and forefinger, it should hold together and not crumble apart. Though the mixture may look dry-ish at this stage, it will come together well. Add more of the chilled water just half a teaspoon at a time if the mixture doesn't hold when pinched. Remember, excess water will make the pastry tough. 

Once you have added the needed amount of water, divide the flour mixture into two portions.  Smear each portion gently once across the counter with the heel of your hand. Gather it back, the pastry will be smoother now. 

Flatten, wrap well in cling film and refrigerate for at least half an hour. Overnight is fine too.

When ready to bake : 

If the pastry is very firm, leave it (still wrapped) on the counter for 15-20 minutes or till firm but malleable enough.

Flour your counter very lightly. 

Gently roll out the pastry about 3-4 mm thick. Cut out circles . 

Slip them in gently into the tart molds, taking care not to stretch it or it will shrink later. (If I ever learn to do this neatly, will tell you how) Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for an hour or overnight to suit your schedule. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with cling film and refrigerate. 

Pre-heat oven to 190 C/ 375 F. Remove cling film, place squares of foil inside the cups, put some kidney beans to weigh them down and bake for 18-20 minutes or till light golden and crisp. Store airtight till needed.

Saffron Scented Yogurt Cream

Drain the yogurt in a muslin lined sieve, placing a large bowl underneath to catch the whey. Place in the refrigerator for about 8-10 hours  to get very thick yogurt.

Warm the cream with the saffron very gently over low heat. Refrigerate. 

Whisk together 1 cup of the hung yogurt, sugar and 1/2 cup cream till light. (vary proportion to taste) Stir in the pistachios. 

Keep refrigerated till serving time.

Just before serving, spoon the yogurt cream into the tart shells, top with the fruit slices and more pistachios.  Serve immediately.