Category Archives: dessert

Kheer Pana Cotta with saffron sauce

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Kheer Pana Cotta with saffron sauce

It will be one year since I auditioned for Master Chef India. It has been an incredible journey and I loved every minute of it. It started with just a casual conversation with friends, them pushing me to go for the audition. I never in my imagination thought that one simple audition could lead me to the most exciting time in my life.

When I got selected from San Francisco and reached India for the next rounds, I met so many wonderful people and little did I know that we will friends for lifetime.

I am so thankful to God for this wonderful opportunity. This post is dedicated to all that I am thankful for, my family, friends, food on the table, and here is many more such amazing opportunities to come!

I always have loved the traditional recipes, the history behind them, the love you feel when you eat them, all the memories they bring back. I feel it is up to us to preserve them and pass them on to the next generation.

But there are always new things to learn and expand your horizons. New spice, new technique, new way of plating or a new ingredient, it changes everything about the dish completely.

So today’s recipe is a new take on a age old recipe, Kheer. Made in many ways, but it always signifies celebration, joy, festivities. Rice, Milk and sugar cooked together, it is that simple and yet that comforting. So many cultures have variations of this, Isarel, Syria where its called ‘Roz Bhaleeb’, Iran and even Mexico where you get to eat ‘Arroz con leche’ which is flavored with cinnamon.

Its amazing to see how food connects people, does not matter what is your nationality, religion, sexual orientation or political affiliation. One of my favorite books ‘Korma Kheer Kismet by Pamela Timms. It is a fascinating chronicle of the author who lived and experienced five seasons in Delhi and her food memories

Korma,Kheer and Kismet; Five seasons in old Delhi by Timms (2014-07-01)

Just like her I fell in love with Old Delhi. Old Delhi is a walled city established by the Mughal Emperor Shaha Jahan in the early 1600s. You must visit old Delhi if you want to some of the best delicacies. Especially during the festivals like Ramdan ( Eid-ul-Fitr), the whole area is filled with aroma that is so inviting. Fried chicken, samosa, Jalebi, Faluda and so much more.

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When I visited Old Delhi, I had to visit the Kheer shop, Bade Miyan ki Kheer. I must say that by far is the most delicious thing I have ever had. The shop only sells Kheer, and it is to die for.  My insta story says it all.

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Today I decided to take that Kheer and present it in a little differently. I have tried to keep the essence of the dish intact, I hope you all enjoy it.

Kheer Panna Cotta

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Ingredients

Panna cotta

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3-4 star Anise
  • 3-4 green cardamom
  •  3/4 cup rice
  • 1 tsp agar agar powder

Syrup

  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • water as needed

Method

Panna cotta

  • Take 2.5 cups of milk and whipping cream, sugar  and warm it in a sauce pan.
  • Slightly crush the star anise and cardamom and add to the milk mixture, until it almost comes to a boil. Turn the heat off
  • Let the mixture cool for a few hours.
  • While the milk mixture is resting, take 1 cup of milk and rice, and cook on low heat for at least 40 mins. You don’t want to rush this step and this is what gives you a creamy texture.
  • Stain the milk cream mixture and discard the spices
  • When the rice is almost cooked, add the spiced milk and cook more
  • While the rice is cooking, take 1/2 cup of Milk and warm it up to 100 F
  • Mix agar-agar in the 1/2 cup warm milk and mix thoroughly
  • Add the agar mixture to the cooked rice
  • Pour it in glasses and set it in the fridge

Syrup

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, use water if need to thin it to a pouring consistency

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To serve

When ready to serve, keep the glass in warm water to loosen it. Pour the sauce on a plate and gentle put the unmolded pudding/kheer on the plate.

I garnished it with dried rose petals and a pistachio tuile with rose. I will share that recipe soon.

Enjoy!

Eid Mubarak!

 

 

 
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Dulce de Leche Ice cream

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It all started with churros. I ate these churros in Mazatlán and have been wanting to try the recipe. I decided to pair those churros with ice-cream to make a perfect sandwich. Since I was pairing with churros, I thought why not make Mexican inspired ice-cream.

So here is it, Dulce de Leche Ice cream. Dulce de Leche translated into ‘Sweet of milk’. We get it in a can here in the local Mexican grocery store. If you can not get your hand on one, you can easily make it from your regular condensed milk.  This has all the goodness of the condensed milk with enriched flavors as all the sugar is nicely caramelized.

How to make Dulce de Leche from regular condensed milk

Typically all ice-creams start with a custard base, which has eggs, milk and sugar. However this recipe is egg-less so vegetarians can also enjoy.

 

I got the original recipe from Epicurean but I decided to put my own twist. I love to add salt and heat to my desserts. So today I have decided to kick this ice-cream up a notch with Ancho chili powder. I love this and use it a lot in my many recipes. Ancho chili is a sweet pepper. It is the dried form of Poblano peppers.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 can Dulce de Leche
  • 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Ancho chili powder

Method

  • Bring milk and cream just to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, then remove from heat
  • Whisk in dulce de leche ( save 3-4 tbsps) until mixed well
  • Whisk in vanilla & the Ancho chili powder
  • Cool the mixture stirring occasionally till its at room temperature
  • Freeze mixture in ice cream maker until almost firm.
  • Towards the end add the saved Dulce de leche. It will add nice streaks to the ice-cream
  • Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 1 hour.

Churros

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I love Mexican food, in fact the whole family loves it very much. Sometimes I wonder if I was Mexican in my previous birth, because just as much Indian food, Mexican food is a constant feature in my kitchen.

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It’s Cinco de Mayo and I love to celebrate it. I never need an excuse to make something tasty, but when it’s fiesta time, it’s so much more fun! Such celebrations remind us that we live in the land of the free where many cultures have blended so well.

Anytime I visit a new place, the first thing I do is visit the local markets. I feel like I can learn so much more about the culture and the people of that country. Sometimes, people outside a country get a very limited view of that country’s cuisine. There were so many things in this Mazatlán market that I had never seen in the US! I ate these amazing churros in that market. They were perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and the cinnamon sugar that they were dipped in was at the perfect level of sweetness to make you crave for just one more! Ever since I had those churros, I have been meaning to try them in my own kitchen.

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Most of the recipes for churro call for eggs, but the street vendor didn’t use eggs in his dough. So I am taking that vendor as inspiration and bringing you an eggless churro recipe. Seriously, this comes together in an hour from start to finish (including the cooldown time).

Today I am planning to pair these churros with something yummy. When you think of summer, the first thing that comes to mind is ice-cream, right? Today I am making an ice-cream to go with our churros. The contrast of crunchy churros with creamy ice-cream is just yummy.

I make a weekly trip to my local Mexican store and that’s where I picked up a can of ‘dulce de leche’ (which translates to sweetened milk). Dulce de leche is a smooth, gooey goodness that I can eat with a spoon directly from a can. It goes great on your ice-cream sundaes, you can make flan with it and so much more.

Today’s ice-cream is a Dulce de Leche Ice-cream. It is a super simple recipe. Also, just like the churro, this is also an egg-free recipe.

Back to our churros. Typically, churros are a straight stick but today, since I’m planning to use them to make my ice-cream sandwich, I am going to pipe them in a spiral. I have decided to use a gadget which is very common in a Indian household, a chakli/murukku maker. It is used to make many savory snacks as well as fresh rice noodles. I love it because it’s very easy to use and clean. It comes with many discs which help you make different shapes.  I have a video on youtube which show I made it.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 2  tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup  unbleached all-purpose flour

Oil for frying

For

  • 1/2 cup white sugar, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ancho chili powder

Directions

  1. In a small pot, heat  water, 2 tbsp sugar, salt and oil on a medium flame. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in flour until mixture forms a ball.
  2. Let the dough cool down till it’s ok to handle.
  3. While you are piping the churros, heat the oil on low heat. I have used regular vegetable oil for frying.
  4. Now it’s time to pipe out the churros. Since I am planning to make the cookies, I will be making churros with a smaller diameter. However, you can use a pastry bag with a large star tip if you are making big sized churros.
  5. Pipe out 3″ spirals onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (I like my ice-cream sandwiches to be bite-sized, so I won’t make them huge.)
  6. If the weather is hot, you can stick these piped spirals in the freezer for a few minutes. This helps the spirals stay together, or you might end up with a long churro in your pan.
  7. Fry the churros until golden brown. Make sure you don’t fry them on high heat, otherwise they will stay doughy inside and burnt outside.
  8. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, ancho chili powder and cinnamon. Roll drained churros in the mixture.

Notes:

  • I made the churros two ways:
    • The ones I fried right after I piped them were soft
    • The one I froze before I fried stayed much crispier

Pakatali Poori- Saffron- Lemon flavored bread

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I not only love to cook and learn new foods, but also love to learn about the ‘Old foods’. I feel in this era of instant and quick foods, we are missing out on some incredible dishes. We dont know how to use certain ingredients and soon those will become extinct. A lot of the dishes our gradmoms made, have never been a part of the food at our table.

I am thankful to books like Ruchira, we have access to at least a few of the Maharashtrian recipes. Its a book that is given as a wedding gift to every new bride in Maharashtra. I have used it extensively as when I got married, I did not know how to cook. I would call my mom but 1 minute call to India costed $1.90 and there was no internet. So getting cookbooks, going to the library and watching cooking shows was how I learnt my cooking.

Going back to the ‘lost recipe’, this recipe is almost on the verge of it. Today is Vasant Panchami, a day that marks the arrival of the ‘Vansant ( spring)’ season and you also worship Goddess Saraswati on this day.

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 This is a very special recipe because of Baba’s aunt used to make it, and she made it really well. I thought, why not make something I have never made before,after all Saraswati is a goddess of Knowledge, and what better tribute than a new( old) recipe. 

I have made  a couple of small modifications o the original recipe, I mixed half Rava and half all purpose flour, also rolled the poori like you roll the Chirota or Khaja ( another Maharashtrian delicacy)

It is a very easy recipe and you will find most of the needed ingredients at home. 

Pakatali Poori

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Ingredients 

Poori

  • 1/2 cup fine rave
  • 1/2 cup All purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp Ghee ( clarified butter) melted and slightly warm
  • 3 tbsp sour full fat yogurt 
  • Pinch of salt

Syrup

  • 1 cup fine sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom powder
  • Saffron strands
  • Juice of 1 Meyer Lemon

Method

Poori

  • Mix the rave and APF together with salt
  • Add warm ghee and rub it well in the dry mixture
  • Add dahi to make a stiff dough. If the yogurt/dahi is not sour, you can leave it on the counter so it turns sour. It is crucial since that it what gives these pooris or breads a nice taste
  • Let the dough rest for at least an hour. If you have used only Rava, you would need to let it rest for 2 hours
  • After 2 hours, pound the dough, this is necessary to make it pliable. If you have a stand up mixer, you can use the dough attachment to do the work 

Syrup

  • Mix sugar and water and cook till its ‘2 string stage’ *
  • Heat a pan on very low flame, add the saffron strands and slightly roast them. You are just warming them and not quite roasting. Warming them makes them crumbly and hence they mix well in the syrup
  • Add cardamom powder, saffron and the juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Keep the syrup on a low flame, but keep it warm. This ensures that the syrup soaks in the Pooris. If the syrup is not warm enough, it will only create a coat on the outside

Making the Pooris

  • Heat oil in a deep pan
  • You can roll the Pooris like a regular flat bread, or
  • Roll out a big poori. Make a roll and cut into 4-5 pieces
  • Flatten those pieces again to make a poori
  • Fry the poori till golden brown
  • Drain and immediately add them to the warm syrup. 
  • Ater 10-15 mins, take them out and arrange on a plate
  • If you like, you can user slivered almonds or pistachios as well

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Blood Orange-Meyer lemon tart

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Master Chef taught me many things and one of them was that desserts are not as difficult to make as they seem. I normally don’t bake as much however the new year resolution is to try to new baking recipes.

Today’s recipe started from my Farmer’s market visit. I went to the market after a long time and as usual got excited and picked up a whole bunch of things. Market is full of citrus and all cold weather vegetables like Kohlrabi, Cauliflower, Ash gourd and so much more. Amongst the citrus, there was blood orange, Meyer Lemon along with pomelo etc.

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Blood orange is a very short season so I try to make as many things as I can while its available in the market. I also make Blood Orange Marmalade to enjoy later in the year. I have not posted a recipe for it , but I promise I will soon. Meyer lemon is another citrus which is so versatile and I love it.

I also found some fresh red chilies. I love cooking with these but most of all I always end up making Harissa when ever I get these in the  market.

When I got home, I looked at my market loot and thought of making use of these citrus and chili to make something that helps me keep with my new year resolution of baking more, so here is what I made.

I love combining flavors and today I decided to play on the classic combination of Chili, Lime ( here lemon), Cumin and sugar. Some how I feel it just makes it perfectly balanced dessert. Blood Orange curd is inspired by ‘Bojon Gourmet’

Blood Orange- Meyer Lemon Tart with Chili Jam

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Now you might ask, what is the difference in a Pie Crust and a Tart base. There are two main differences:

  1. How you make the dough-
    • When you are making a pie-dough, you take the fat ( in most cases it is butter), and cut it into the flour to make a bread crumb like texture. You add ice cold water to bring the dough together.
    • For the tart, you make a ‘Pâte Sucrée’, which is basically a sweet short crust. For this, you cream the butter and sugar and then add the flour.
  2. Egg or no egg
    • For the Pie Dough, you use ice cold water to bind the dough
    • Tart dough is an enriched dough with some egg yolks. This also makes the dough a lot more crumbly than the pie crust.

So here now you know the difference, lets make that crust.

Crust

Ingredients

  • 250 g Flour
  • 100 g Sugar
  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 1 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp coarse ground Cumin
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Method

  • Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer
  • Add the egg and mix well
  • Add the flour, Cumin, and salt mixture
  • Bring it together with a wooden spoon. Don’t overmix
  • Make two discs and wrap it in plastic
  • Refrigerate it for at least 2 hours

 

  • Take out the dough and roll it to fit a 9 inch Tart pan
  • Bake it at 350 F for about 25 mins

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Curd

Ingredients

  •  1 tbsp Zest of 1 blood orange
  • 1/4 tsp chopped chilies ( seeds removed)
  • 3/4 cup Blood Orange Juice
  • 3 tbsp Meyer Lemon Juice
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 3 eggs plus
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Method

  • Make a Bain Marie or Double boiler. I use a 2 quart saucepan and fill it with 2 inches of water and bring it boil. I add all my ingredients in a steel bowl and cook it over the boiling water. I feel this helps the eggs from scrambling and you get a smooth curd.
  • Mix both the juices, sugar, eggs, egg yolks and whisk well to combine
  • Cook over a double boiler till the mixture thickens and reaches 160F.
  • I have learnt that using a thermometer makes it easy to know when the eggs are cooked ( from food safety perspective)
  • Now take the bowl off the heat and quickly whisk in the butter pieces
  • Pour it into the cooled tart
  • Bake for 20-25 mins in a 350 F ovenimg_7190
  • Cool the tart in the fridge for at least 4-5 hours

 

Chili Jam

This recipe is super simple and I feel it adds the heat and salt needed to balance this desert.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 chopped red chilies ( try and take out as many seeds as possibile
  • 4 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • a pinch of salt

Method

  • Mix everything and cook on a slow flame till the mixture thickens

 

To serve

Cut a piece of tart.Serve with whipped cream, blood orange supreme and some chili jam

Star Anise Panna cotta with Khubani

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This is where my Master Chef  journey began. A very close friend really pushed me to sign up for Master Chef Auditions. The auditions were on Saturday and Friday evening at 7:00 PM I had not idea what I would bring for the auditions. I decided to make this recipe which has been my family favorite. I walked into the auditions with the Panna cotta and heart beating fast.

Star Anise Panna cotta

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 Panncotta is an italian word that translates to ‘ Cooked Cream’. It is such an easy to make dish and yet it is very easily customizable. You can change flavors, pair it with different things and the best part, it looks super fancy.
I tried quite a few recipes till I settled on this one.  It tastes just like the panna cotta served at Italian restaurants. I like to serve it with fruits or even chocolate sauce, or stewed fruits.
Today I have flavored it with one of my favorite spices, Star Anise & served with stewed apricots. In Hyderabad ( India) there is a sweet, Khubani ka Meetha, and my inspiration for  today’s dessert comes from that.

Panna Cotta

Ingredients

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  • 1/2cup  milk
  • 1 (.25 ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin ( I used Knox powder today)
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 6-8 Star anise
  • 5-6 Whole black pepper

Method

  1. Blooming the gelatin: Pour milk into a small bowl, and stir in the gelatin powder. Set aside.This will help gelatin absorb the milk and mix well
  2. Pound the spices in a mortar and pestle. Keep them coarse
  3. In a saucepan, stir together the heavy cream and sugar, and set over medium heat until it is lukewarm, and set it aside for 1 hour or so. Longer the better.
  4. Setting aside the cream helps the flavors of spices seep into the cream beautifully.
  5. Bring to a full boil, don’t let it over flow. Pour the gelatin and milk into the cream, stirring until completely dissolved.
  6. Cook for one minute, stir so the gelatin does not form a lump.
  7. Remove from heat, strain and pour into  individual ramekin dishes.
  8. Cool the ramekins uncovered at room temperature.
  9. When cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, ideally  overnight before serving.

Stewed Apricots

Ingredients

  • 10-12 Dried Apricot
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2-3 Star anise
  • 2-3Whole black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water

Method

  • Chop the apricots fine
  • Add sugar, water, spices and apricots in a small sauce pan
  • On a low flame cook till the apricots are softened and the water gets nice and syrupy.
  • Remove the spices before serving

 

Pistachio Rose caramel

Will Update the recipe soon.

To serve

Demold the pannacotta and serve with the stewed apricot. I also love to use candied Pistachio while serving.

 

Profiteroles with coffee cream and drizzled with coffee-chocolate sauce

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It is my daughter’s birthday today. She is a smart, sweet and very caring  girl. She also has very diverse and sophisticated palette. So when I asked her what kind of cake she wants for her birthday, she said,” Mom, can I have profiteroles instead of a cake this year?”.

This is what prompted me to make the profiteroles today. I had watched Anne Burrell make these on one of her shows and had scratched  down her recipe, this is my take on her recipe. The ingredients are very simple, yet the result is a fancy pastry.

Profiteroles is a french pastry made with a french pastry dough, Choux Pastry

Choux pastry is an easy to make versitile dough. You can make many things like eclairs, cream puffs using this dough. It is light and airy and is perfect for filling it up with whipped cream or ice cream.

Profiteroles

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Equipment needed:

Food processor, a pot, wooden spoon, whisk, pastry bag with a large tip

Ingredients:

1 cup of milk

1 stick of unsalted butter

1 cup flour

1 pinch of salt

4 eggs

 

For the filling:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

4 tbsp powdered sugar

1 1/2 shot of espresso

 

For the chocolate sauce:

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 shot of espresso

Method:

Take a sauce pan. Heat milk and butter till the butter is melted. While the mixture is heating, get the food processor ready and the eggs cracked in a bowl/cup. As soon as the butter is completely melted, add flour all at once and cook on low flame for about 2 mins. When the mixture starts sticking to the bottom of the pan, take it off the heat.

Transfer the hot mixture to the food processor and start it on a low speed. Add one egg at a time to the hot mixture and keep processing till a nice homogenous mixture. The dough will be sticky but don’t worry.

Preheat the oven to 425 F

Fit a pastry bag with a large tip, I have used a large star tip but round works just as well.

Fill the mixture in a pastry bag.

Take a baking tray lined with parchment paper. If you get pointy tips, with wet finger you can just gently tap it down.

Pipe some mounds on the parchment paper. The first time I made these I made them too flat, I would recommend making them taller so you can fill it up with a scoop of ice cream easily.

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Now bake these in the oven for 20 mins. Once the baking is done, let them sit in the hot oven for another 7-10 mins. Take them out and let them cool.

I have seen some recipes where you bake them in a high heat oven like 425 for a few minutes, which helps form the crust and then bake in lower temp like 375 for 12-15 mins for it to cook through from inside. 

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Once these are cooled,you can cut a slit and  they are ready to be filled with some yummy cream or ice cream.

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For the filling:

Take a little bit of cream and make sure that all the sugar and the espresso are dissolved well in it. Now add the remaining chilled whipping cream and whip till you get a nice and firm cream.

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In the meantime, in a microwavable glass bowl take the chocolate chips. Melt them according to the package instructions, mine asked me to heat it at 50% power for a min and then in the increments of 15 secs there on, stirring each time. Alternatively, you can also use a double boiler to melt the chocolate.

Once the chocolate is melted, add the espresso and cream to make a smooth chocolate sauce.

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Now comes the fun part…

Take a puffed pastry and fill it up with the coffee whipped cream.

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Drizzle with chocolate sauce and dust with some powdered sugar.

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Yummy profiteroles are ready to be gobbled up.

Note:

If you are using a whipped cream for the filling, instead of making a cut in the pastry,  you can just poke a hole and fill up the cream.

Pistachio tart with Rose-orange blossom custard

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We as a family just love food, we are one of those who live to eat. We love trying food at new places,trying different cuisines. We try to find small hole in wall places and prefer those over big chain restaurant. One such favorite of ours is a kabab place,’Isfahan kabob’ not too far from where we live. Last time when we were there, we enjoyed our dinner ( as usual clean plates), but all of us were craving for desserts. Isfahan, does not carry any desserts but there is a small cafe, Haleh bakery ,nearby that has just the best desserts you can think of. It is a persian place which carries great treats with some unique flavors. We can not ever decide which one of those is our favorite, there are just too many amazing ones to chose from. It has a cute little courtyard where you can sit and enjoy fragrant persian tea with these delectable pastries.

At work we celebrate ‘pi-day’ and every year I make traditional pie. This year decided to make something new and that is how this recipe came about.

Today’s recipe takes the inspiration from one of the cookies we ate at Haleh, I don’t remember the name but it is a buttery soft cookie flavored with cardamom, dates and other yummy things.I just love the those flavors come together so I decide to try something today that has those flavors.This is a very easy recipe but needs patience, but I think it is worth it. 

Pistachio Tart with rose & orange blossom custard  

Ingredients

Tart

1 1/2  cup  unsalted pistachios

1 cup  almonds

1 egg white

1/4 cup sugar

1 pinch of salt

1/2 stick melted unsalted butter

1/8 tsp ground cardamom

Custard/filling

1 1/2  milk plus couple of tbsp

7 egg yolks

7 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp orange blossom water

2 tbsp rose jam

Method

Pre heat the oven to 400F

In a food processor pulse pistachios and almonds separately, making sure that it does not turn into a paste. the texture should look something like couscous.


Mix the powdered nuts with the melted butter, sugar, salt and egg white. Mix it till it comes together.
Add the mixture to a 9inch  tart pan and spread it evenly.

    Bake for 12 mins and add a 1-2 min if needed after checking. I baked this shell for 15 mins and I think it turned out a little darker than I would have liked. So watch after 10 minutes of baking.

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Let the shell cool completely.

While the shell is cooling, let us prepare the custard.

Heat the 1 1/2 cup of milk on low heat, make sure you turn it off as soon as you see bubbles. If your milk is too hot, you will have a scramble instead of a custard.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a steel pot. Mix the cornstarch in a couple of tbsp of cold milk to make a slurry. Add that to the egg yolk mixture.

Take the heated milk and add to the egg mixture in a constant stream, whisking continuously. This is super critical since this will ensure that you will have a smooth, velvety texture for your custard.

Cook the custard till it feels like a pudding and not thin.

Strain it in a steel bowl. This step will ensure that if there are any lumps, they are left out.

Now cover the bowl with a plastic wrap. Make sure that the plastic goes all the way to the surface of the custard, this will ensure that there is no crust formed as the custard cools.

img_5083img_5084Cool it in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours.

Take it out and mix the orange blossom water. Depending on the brand and your taste, you can add more or less.

Spread the rose petal jam ( Gulkand) at the bottom. Fill the cooled shell with the custard. I buy Gulkand from the Indian store. Not only does it taste great but also has cooling properties to it, which is why in summer in India and in Persia, people eat desserts flavored with Gulkand.

 Let it set in the fridge for sometime.

You can serve it like this but I decided to top it with some apple roses. I have seen these apple roses popping up on the instagram, pinterest and I have been wanting to try and make them.

If you plan to top them with the apple roses, make sure the custard is thick enough for the apple roses to stay upright.

Apple roses

I feel that knives are super essential in a kitchen and can not only make the job easier but also makes the food look pretty. I have a set of ‘Saber knives’ that I bought from Costco a while ago. I got a cute little knife sharpener as a gift and with that I have been able to maintain the edge.

For making these roses you can either use a mandolin or take a sharp knife and slice the apples paper thin. I did half and half. I started with the knife but ran out of patience and switched to mandolin. Mandolin is another great tool to have. It not only makes the cuts looks pretty but they are also uniform, which makes them cook even too. I love my mandolin especially when I make things like scalloped potatoes.

As soon as you slice them, add them to a bowl of warm water with some lemon juice. The warm water will make them pliable and the lemon will keep them from turning brown.
Roll one slice to form a center and then continue wrapping each slice like a petal to form a flower. I grated some beets and used the juice to color some of the flowers, you can also use red food coloring if you would like.

Some people heat up the apple slices in the microwave to make them soft, which can make them easily pliable, but I feel it also makes them lose the taste and possibly discolor.

I will post a video for making the flowers soon.

Now arrange the flowers in the custard as you go along. You can use combination of apples so the different skin colors add a nice variation.

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Knafeeh

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We as a family love eating at small food joints, hole in the wall places. If it is run by a family, even better. One such place near where we live is a ‘Falafel place’, and it is one of our favorites. They serve standard menu but their falafels are so good, made fresh using the fava beans. I think the cuisine is influenced by Israeli cuisine,  they have some nice wall plaques that show the glimpses of Jerusalem.  This is where I first tasted Knafeeh.It is by far my most favorite middle eastern dessert.  The first time I ate it, I went back twice that week. The third time I decided to talk to the owner and ask for the recipe. He did not quite know the details but gave me enough to start. I read up and here is my recipe.

There are many ways to spell it like Knafee, Kanafeh but those all are the same dish. This dish is eaten as a breakfast as well. How fun must it be  to start your day with a yummy dessert for breakfast. I can totally see myself doing that.

The first time I made it, I made it in a big tray. It turned out good but when we started eating it, everyone wanted the crispy part. So next time I decided to try making it a little differently.

Knafeh

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Ingredients

Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1-2 teaspoons rose  or orange blossom water

For the knafeh

  • 3 cups, or ½ package, of shredded phyllo knafeh dough (kataifi)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup ackawi cheese  or fresh mozzarella cheese ( I like to use half and half)
  • 1 cup  ricotta  cheese
  • 1 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup farina (cream of Wheat or Sooji)
  • ¼ cup chopped pistachio nuts, for garnish, optional

Method

To make the orange blossom syrup, in a small heavy saucepan, combine sugar, water and lemon juice and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the orange blossom or rose water , pour into a heatproof container and refrigerate to cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the middle position.

The katafeh dough is like thin vermicelli. It comes in a pack which is kept in the freezer. you can use scissors to cut it in tiny pieces or in the food processor, pulse the shredded phyllo dough for about a minute to make it into a fine meal.

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Place the phyllo in a medium bowl with the breadcrumbs. Add the melted butter and stir until the phyllo is completely coated.

In a muffin pan, add the buttery dough mixture. Compress it very well by pushing it into the bottom of the pan firmly, first with your hands, then pressing with the flat bottom of a cup, or something similar. You can also use a 10-inch clear pie plate or cake pan.

If the ackawi cheese is too salty, soak it in cold water until some of the salt is pulled out. Change the water every 10 minutes or so. This cheese originates from Akki region in Northern Israel. Stored in brine, it can stay good for a long time. Grate the cheese.

Grate the mozzarella cheese.

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In a medium heavy saucepan, heat the milk over medium-high heat until it is hot, but not boiling. Add the farina and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture is slightly thickened. Pour the farina over the cheese and stir to combine.

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Pour the cheese mixture over the knafeh dough in the prepared pan, and smooth the top. Cover with the remaining knafeh dough.

Place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the knafeh is deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes.

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Turn the knafeh out onto a platter and drizzle with ¼ cup of orange blossom syrup. If you are using the muffin tins, take the out on a plate and over over the syrup.

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Garnish with pistachio nuts. Serve immediately or set aside and reheat before serving. Cut into squares or slices and serve the knafeh warm, with more orange blossom syrup poured over each piece.

It is the most divine thing to eat, when you bite into the crispy outside and find this gooey cheesy filling inside.

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Turn the knafeh out onto a platter and drizzle with ¼ cup of orange blossom syrup. Garnish with pistachio nuts. Serve immediately or set aside and reheat before serving. Cut into squares or slices and serve the knafeh warm, with more orange blossom syrup poured over each piece.

 

 

Saffron Crostini with Beet Halwa

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These days there are so many cooking channels, blogs, cook books, pinterest, instagram…you name it. There are many ways to get new recipes and learn about new cuisines. I am part of a couple of facebook groups and learn a lot from there. One such groups is Sikandalous Cuisine. The admin does an amazing job of bring together like minded people who love to make and eat good but most of all they all love to share what they know. I love that part. There are some chefs on that group that are super talented, have worked in Five star restaurants and even have books published. It is very inspiring to see them share their knowledge with so much humility. One such chef is Saransh Goila, he recently published an amazing book and shared some of the recipes from this book on this facebook group. This dish is am amazing combination of taste, colors and textures. Today’s recipe is Saransh Goila’s recipe. This sounds and is a little time consuming, but I think when you taste the end product, you will think it was worth the effort. Also, I like the fact that you can prep ahead and make the rabdi & halwa. The day you want to serve it, quickly make the toasts and you are ready to impress the guests.

Saffron Toast with Beet Halwa

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Beetroot Halwa

500 grams Beetroot, peeled and grated 3 cups milk ½ cup condensed milk 2 tablespoons ghee (Clarified butter) 1/2 tsp cardamom (elaichi) powder 4 drops rose water / essence Rabdi 2 cups of whole milk 10 strands Saffron 3 teaspoons milk Toast 10 pcs. Bread slices 2 tablespoons Ghee/Clarified Butter 2 tablespoons Sugar Method: Beetroot Halwa: Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a pan, Add the beetroot to the pan and saute on medium flame for 8 – 10 minutes. Once it is tender, add the hot milk and keep stirring till it reduces and becomes thick. Add the condensed milk, 1 tbsp ghee and cardamom powder and mix well. When the halwa is cooked and becomes thick, add the rose water and mix well and keep aside. Rabdi: Now in 3tsp warm milk mix saffron strands.. After 5 minutes add Rabdi to this saffron milk and simmer for 2 mins. Rabdi will get a beautiful saffron colour.  Toast: Cut bread slices into bite sized round/ square shapes. I used a flower shape cookie cutter. Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a pan and add 2 tbsp sugar to it. Once it’s hot and sugar starts to melt. Start cooking the bread slices until they’re golden brown from both sides.  This is exactly what I do when I make another yummy Hyderabadi Dessert ‘Shahi Tukda or Double Ka Meetha’ Assemble the dessert, spread saffron rabdi on toast, place beetroot halwa on top of it and serve. IMG_0248 I also made a variation by rolling the bread slice and cutting it in circles. I stacked them with rabdi and halwa. There is no doubt that you need patience to make the rabdi and the halwa, but the taste is surely worth it. IMG_0250