Thursday, July 19, 2018

Starfruit Galette

Every year my container-grown starfruit tree produces enough fruit for a few recipes, including salads. This is the sweet variety and is good for baking. The very acidic ones are best used for spicy pickles. 
Today's harvest yielded about ten fruits and there are more on the tree that are still tender. I thought I would make some hand pies but later decided on a galette. The left-over dough from my last post needed to be used.


3 starfruits
Pinch of nutmeg
Caster sugar as per taste
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 egg yolk for the egg wash
1 tablespoon melted jam for the glaze (optional)
Starfruit blossoms attract a lot of bees

Cut off the tips of the fruits on both sides.
Remove the hard edges from the sides and cut into stars.
With the tip of a thin knife. remove the seeds. I am not very particular about removing them all.
Sprinkle the nutmeg and add the sugar. Then add the cornflour and give it a good mix. Set it aside.

I have not included the recipe for the pastry dough as I used up the remains from my last post.
Take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit on your work top for about 10 minutes.
Dust some flour on the counter top and roll out the flour.
The circle was as big as my 9" pie tin.
Then place the fruit mixture in the middle and fold the edges inwards.
You can decorate the edges with pastry flowers. This is purely optional.
Brush the edges with beaten egg yolk and bake in a preheated 180 C oven for about 15-18 minutes.
Remove when the tart is uniformly golden in colour.
Let it cool down.
Cut into wedges. Enjoy!

The fruit pieces still had a bite to them. If you like them more 'done', you could cook them on the stove top for a few minutes. With the addition of sugar and spices that you might want to add. Let the mixture cool down before placing it on the rolled-out dough.
For a glossy look, a tablespoon of jam can be heated with a bit of water and then brushed on the surface of the galette while it is still hot. I skipped this part as I thought it looked good enough.:)

My earlier posts on galettes:

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Black Rice Pudding Tartlets Again!

The gift of antioxidant-rich black rice that came back with me from my recent trip to the hometown was waiting to be made into something celebratory. The thought of a pudding tart has been on my mind for a while and I brought it all together today by making slight adaptations to the previous recipe. This was first inspired by Richard Bertinet's book Patisserie Maison.
The recipe uses homemade raspberry jam and arborio rice but I added my recently-made jamun/Java plum jam from my tree. One purple blending into the other.

The Pastry:

200 grams all-purpose flour, sieved
100 grams butter, cubed and chilled + extra for greasing the tart tins
3 teaspoons icing sugar
1 medium egg, cold, and lightly beaten
Chilled water to sprinkle on the dough, if needed
1 egg yolk for the egg wash

Place the flour and icing sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the mixture using your fingertips.
As soon as the texture is crumbly, add the egg and bring it together. Do not knead.
If it is too dry, you could sprinkle some chilled water. This may or may not be necessary.
Flatten the dough, wrap it in clingfilm and let it rest in the fridge for at least 40 minutes.
In my case, I let it rest overnight.

When the dough has rested, take it out. Let it sit on your work top till it can be rolled out. Meanwhile, grease the tart tins and set them aside.
I used 6 tins but the filling was enough for four. I should have referred to my earlier post here.
Cut off pieces of the dough and roll out circles large enough to fit the tins. Press the inner bottom, all along the edges. Then roll out the overhanging dough by running the rolling pin across the border. Set that aside for later use. Repeat till all the tins are done. Prick each tart bottom with a fork so that they do not puff up during baking.
Line the tart shells with aluminium foil and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 10 minutes in a preheated  oven.
Take them out after 10 minutes, remove the aluminium foil and baking beans.
Brush the tart bases with egg and bake again for another 8-10 minutes.
Set aside to cool.

The Black Rice Pudding:

100 grams black rice
350 ml full-fat milk
150 ml cream
60 grams sugar
1 vanilla pod, scraped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 cardamom pods, crushed
Some jamun jam (to be brushed on the bottom of the shells)

With other varieties of rice, no cooking (with water) is necessary. But with black rice, I soak it for about 30 minutes and use the same water to cook it with, in the pressure cooker. A couple of whistles is enough.
Add the milk to a pan. Pour the cream and let the mix simmer away.
Add the cardamom pods, the vanilla (both pod and the actual spice), lemon zest, sugar, and the cooked rice.
Cook on medium flame for about 30 minutes till the cream and milk is absorbed and the rice is done.
Let the pudding cool down a bit. Remove the pods, both vanilla and cardamom.
Meanwhile, take a bit of jam (I used about half a teaspoon for each) and spread it on the base of the shells.

Fill the baked shells with the pudding (I filled them almost to the top) and bake for another 15-20 minutes in a 180 C oven. At this stage, a crust will form at the top.

Serve warm or cold with a dusting of icing sugar.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Jackfruit Kulfi

Jackfruit kulfi
Every time we go to our old hometown, we come back laden with the best of organic fruits and vegetables. It isn't that we buy so much produce. Most of them are gifted by family and other relatives. And we love to stop at wayside stalls where people put up their backyard garden produce for sale. And buying such produce is also helping small growers. This time the haul included multi-coloured corn, colocasia, pineapples, Burmese grapes, yard long beans, banana blossoms, Burmese grapes, pineapples and jackfruits. Most are distributed again here once we get back home. The joy of sharing goes on...

I kept only a small amount of jackfruit to try out a few recipes and this is one of them. It's from an old issue (2013) of Good Food India magazine.

100 grams ripe jackfruit (seeds removed)
220 ml milk
100 grams condensed milk
A pinch of saffron
30 grams sugar
10 grams cornflour
2 tablespoons pistachio, chopped

Puree half of the jackfruit and mash the other half. Set aside.
Put 200 ml milk and the condensed milk in a pan and let it come to a boil. Once it reaches boiling point, reduce the flame, let it simmer and add the saffron, sugar and the jackfruit puree. Cook for about 10 minutes.
Take the rest of the milk and mix the cornflour. Add this to the pan. Let it cook for 4-5 minutes and switch off the flame. Add the chopped pistachios and the chopped jackfruit. Mix well.
Let the mixture cool for about 20 minutes. Pour into kulfi moulds and freeze overnight.
To serve, warm some water in a pan. Place the moulds in the water for 10-15 seconds and take out. The kulfi will slide out easily. Serve immediately.

When I tasted the mixture, I thought it was a little too sweet. But once the kulfi was ready, I tasted and found the sweetness to be just right. Mine wasn't as firm so I had to be fast with the pictures.:)

As for the seeds, they go into so many other ways of cooking. One of my favourites during this season is a mix of pumpkin shoots, leaves and jackfruit seeds. These are cooked with minimal spices and with very little gravy. A good accompaniment to rice, dal, and chutney or pickles. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Burmese Grape Chutney

I had gone to Haflong on a short trip. While returning we stopped to buy locally grown produce on the wayside. It's the season of pineapples, mangoes, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, corn and Burmese grapes. The last brings back so many memories. Sour fruits were part of our afternoon ritual. And although our garden couldn't boast of a Burmese grape tree, the sweet and sour fruits were abundant in the market. And cheap too.
Yesterday's haul made me search for recipes and I came across a Bengali recipe which was simple and not time-consuming. The fruit is known as kusmaithai in my mother tongue, leteku in Assamese and locton in Bengali. 

Some information from Wiki here:

The Burmese grape/ Baccaurea ramiflora is a slow-growing evergreen tree in the Phyllanthaceae family, growing up to 25 m with a spreading crown and thin bark. It is found throughout Asia, and most commonly cultivated in India, Bangladesh, and Malaysia. The fruit is harvested and used locally, eaten as a fruit, stewed, or made into wine: it is also used for treating skin ailments. The bark, roots and wood are harvested for medicinal uses.

I used a little more than a cup of the fruit, measured after the skin was removed. 
11/3 cup Burmese grapes, skin removed
Sugar as per taste
Rock salt as per taste
1 quarter teaspoon panch puran powder
Pinch of chilli powder

Place a non-stick pan on the flame. Add the fruit. The fruit will soon release its juices and will also change colour. 
Add the salt, the spices, and give the mixture a good stir.
Add sugar and cook till the juices are reduced.
Remove from the flame and transfer to a serving bowl.

The only time needed for this preparation is in shelling the fruits and removing the white pith. The cooking process only takes about 15 minutes. Certain types of chutney taste better on their own. I think this does not need any accompaniment.:)

Monday, July 2, 2018

Pampushky/ Ukrainian Garlic Bread

Over the past few years, the temptation to order cookery books online has led to a mini library in my study/blogging area. It isn't that I cook as much but the thought of getting my hands on a particular book, after reading the reviews, becomes a bit too much. The past month, I have been able to stop myself from almost hitting the button. Why not actually cook from the ones that I already have? The dish in today's post comes from a book titled Mamushka by Olia Hercules. The book has recipes from Eastern Europe. From the Black Sea to Armenia and Azerbaijan.
I have to say it remains one of my favourites and I have made these buns a number of times. The pictures were taken much earlier and I had posted about it on my Facebook page. But I am adding the recipe from the book now.

21/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 cup warm water
21/2 cups white bread flour + extra for dusting (I used maida)
11/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
3 tablespoons sunflower oil, + extra for greasing
11/2 tablespoons green or regular garlic, crushed
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped ( I used coriander leaves)
1 beaten egg to glaze

First of all, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add half of the flour and mix roughly. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to prove in the refrigerator overnight.
The next morning, add the rest of the flour and the fine sea salt to the starter. Knead on a surface dusted with flour until the dough is smooth.
Divide the dough into eight pieces and shape into round buns. Arrange them side by side in a greased ovenproof dish (24 cm) and let them prove again until doubled in size. 
Preheat the oven to 220*C. Stir the crushed garlic through the 3 tablespoons of oil with a small pinch of sea salt and the parsley, and let it infuse.
When the pampushky is ready to be baked, brush them with the beaten egg to glaze. Bake till the buns turn golden. This will take about 20-25 minutes. Take them out and baste them with the garlic oil. Serve immediately.

A little twist I added was that instead of parsley, I added coriander leaves. And I also added a pinch of freshly cracked pepper in the dough. I used both garlic and finely chopped garlic greens to the oil. As the buns came out and were basted with oil, the aroma that engulfed the kitchen, was nothing short of amazing. No wonder I have baked pampushky many, many times!


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Curry made of areca nut palm shoot

So much has happened between my last post and now. I am dividing my time between our home in Guwahati  and our second home in Haflong. It's always a joy to be there and when we were growing up it was one of those places where everyone knew everyone. But now the population has grown by leaps and bounds and I hardly know the younger lot. Unless you go back to another generation and I'm reminded of a parent or an aunt or a grandparent! My husband who retired from service two years ago is spending more time there as part of our house has been converted into a guest house. 
Our home in Haflong
Our property in Haflong has several trees. Most of them were planted under my late mother-in-law's guidance. The first picture shows mango blossoms as seen from my kitchen window. What a sight it is to look out and see towering trees and our beloved blue ranges of the Barail in the distance.

One of the Bauhinia varieties is a prolific bloomer. And you should just see the pollinators around it. This is another addition to my 'edible flower' list as the blooms are usually fried and eaten. After the blooms are gone, the tender shoots make their appearance. These are also eaten. A simple recipe is adding them to alu sabzi in the same way you would add other greens.
A closer look at the bloom

A cloudy-day view from another window with areca nut palms (not ours)  in the distance.

Our town is prone to heavy rain and high winds. During one such night, the palm trees sway and bend so much that I fear each one might snap and fall. One did, recently. These are the betel nut palms or Areca catechu grown for the fruitAnd my husband had it cut and the tender shoot was brought here in Guwahati. Once the outer layers are removed, the inner portion is white and so tender that one barely needs any effort to cut the vegetable into pieces. The shoots are considered a delicacy and in one of my Facebook posts I had shared a photo of the pickle that my mother had made, That time a palm tree had broken after a storm in my aunt's garden.
The vegetable is made into curry, khari, fried, or pickled.

A bowl of pickle made by my mother. The texture is somewhat like tender bamboo shoots. But there is a natural sweetness in these shoots.

I made a simple 'khari' using the shoots and fish heads. The dish was thickened with rice flour and garnished with chives. Turned out to be delicious!

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Eternal City

Soaking up some gelato goodness. At Termini, Rome.

Our (vicarious) connection to Italy started early in life. How? One may ask. I studied in a Catholic school, a convent run by the Sisters of Our Lady of the Mission. So Rome and the Vatican City somehow cropped up in tones of reverence. As I went on a city tour by bus and saw the grandeur that Rome was I couldn't help thinking about Father Bianchi and other missionaries who came all the way from Italy to our town, in the middle of nowhere then, in a remote part of north-eastern India. And the work that they did for education has a lot to do with the development in our corner of the world.

The last leg of the tour.  And we were in Italy on a sunny morning. As soon as we got out of the airport the sight of these pine trees took my breath away. It looked as if all the trees had been pruned. Later I googled and found out that these are known as umbrella pine, stone pine or parasol pine. The botanical name is Pinus pinea and the tree is native to the Mediterranean region and is also to be found in Southern Europe, Israel, Lebanon and Syria. Much of Europe's pine nuts are from these stately trees. These trees have been cultivated for their nuts for over 5,000 years and harvested from wild trees for much longer. The Swiss pine/Pinus cembra is also used to a small extent.

The hotel we stayed in, Des Artistes, was a five-minute walk from the busy Termini area. Breakfast at the hotel had an array of baked goodies and fresh fruits. Julietta, the front desk executive, was very helpful. Since we wanted to eat the best Italian food, we started with pasta at Trattoria Dell O'mo. Within walking distance from our hotel, the owner, Antonio was gracious and helpful and when we walked out of his restaurant we were happy souls! The restaurant is packed and had it not been for Julietta we wouldn't have been able to taste such wonderful food!

The Trevi Fountain where we tossed coins and made a wish. This was the only picture I could get as the place was absolutely crowded. It was interesting to learn that the coins are collected and used for charity work. You might be interested in reading about it here.

The Colosseum as seen from the bus. Walking isn't my strongest point so a view like this was good enough for me.

The Church, Castel Sant'Angelo.

The Tiber river.

Wild flowers on the edge of a busy road in Rome.

Don't you love this trellis?

The smell of roasted chestnuts in Piazza Venezia.

The Pantheon.

An assortment of the food that we had in Rome. The thinnest focaccia bread, seafood pasta, tonarelli pasta, ravioli, arancini, fritters of zucchini flowers and so on.

Risotto...both delicious. And mushroom gnocchi with duck slices,

Our last tour was of The Vatican. Having heard so much about the Sistine Chapel, it was such a joy to see it for real. However my pictures do not do justice to its beauty. Which is why I am not adding them here.

St. Peter's Square.

The Pontifical Swiss Guard in their flamboyant uniforms.

Yellow begonias blooming in full glory in Vatican City.

And finally, the haul that I got from Italy along with fresh fennel bulbs! There are so many photos and many more monuments but it's going to be much too long. It's overwhelming to take it all in. At every turn there's a fragment or part of Rome's glorious past. The Eternal City will always have a special place in my heart.