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Savory Tomato Pesto Tart

Ready to eat tomato tart

There are some dishes that come together effortlessly and are like a party of flavors in your mouth. Tomato and pesto is  one such combination. Quality ingredients shine and provide easy snack, lunch or appetizer.

Tomato Tart

I found some cherry tomatoes at our local supermarket. They were sweet and fresh and paired with pesto made for a savory side to soft scrambled eggs. They made the breakfast that much more special.

If you are planning a summer brunch with friends, this gotta feature on your menu. Paired with a salad and rose there is nothing more simple and more fitting ode to summer than this.

Tomato tart 2

Savory Tomato Pesto Recipe

  • 1 cup homemade pastry or store-bought puff pastry
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoon pesto
  • Salt to taste
  • Few cranks of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon mint leaves roughly chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C or 350 F

2. Roll out the dough into a 8 inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. Prick all over with a fork to prevent puffing leaving about an inch edge around the perimeter untouched.

3. Blind bake this pastry dough for about 6 – 8 minutes till golden brown. I weighed this down with an oven safe bowl with some beans to keep the center unpuffed.

4. Remove from oven and then layer the mustard and pesto over the base. Leave the edges as is.

5. Arrange the tomatoes in rows or circles. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

6. Put it back in the oven and bake on middle shelf for about 12 minutes or so till the tomatoes are cooked at the edges and pastry is brown at the edges.

7. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit.

Cut and serve warm.

Mini Plum Tart

Plum tart2

Plums are in season here in India. Smaller than their US counterparts, these are part sweet and part tart. I had pastry dough on hand and after eating many plums as is I wanted to make something else.

A simple fruit tart is what I made. A good pastry dough or puff pastry sheets, fresh fruits and sugar is all that is needed. Its one thing that can be pulled together effortlessly and will impress your guests. For there is nothing like baking a cake or dessert for your family to say that you care!

fresh plums

We had this for breakfast – just because it was ready by then. But it pairs well with ice-cream for a light dessert post a heavy dinner.

The recipe works well with any fruit – pear, apples, nectarine, peaches and even berries. For juicy fruits make sure you macerate them with a little sugar and salt to release the juices. Lift the fruit from the juice and then use those slices on your tart. This will prevent the tart from becoming soggy.

The juice can be reduced and served as syrup or drizzled lightly over the tart before and after cooking so that it still will be juicy but not soupy.

The crusty base with sweet and tart plums as topping pair beautifully in this summer classic dish. I prefer this to be on tart side and hence have used very little sugar. Feel free to play around to suit your taste. I think the plums would play well with balsamic reduction and I am going to give that a try next!

Plum tart

Mini Plum Tart Recipe

  • 1 cup homemade pastry or store-bought puff pastry
  • 8 – 10 fresh plums, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar ( divided) ( more if your fruit is tart and how sweet you like your dessert)
  • Pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 190 C or 350 F

Place the plum slices with a tablespoon of sugar and salt in a bowl to macerate. This will help it release excess juice which otherwise turn the pie into a soggy mess.

2. Roll out the dough into a 8 inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. Prick all over with a fork to prevent puffing leaving about an inch edge around the perimeter untouched.

3. Blind bake this pastry dough for about 6 – 8 minutes till golden brown. I weighed this down with an oven safe bowl with some beans to keep the center un-puffed.

4. Layer the plum slices over the pastry. Drizzle some of the juice over the tart.

Sprinkle remaining sugar over the plum slices/

5. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes till the tart is deep golden brown at the edges and the fruit looks cooked.

Remove from the oven, and let cool.

Slice and serve warm or cold with fresh cream, ice-cream or simply as is.

The Daring Cooks July Challenge: Misti Doi ( Bengali Style Sweet Yogurt)

Misti Doi

I am hopelessly late for this months Daring Cook’s challenge. But I have very good reason(s). Work was in the way. I didn’t have starter yogurt to make a fresh batch. And I wanted to make Bengali style sweet yogurt which we had for almost every meal in Calcutta. It starts with thickened milk made by stirring milk over low flame till it is halved in volume. And since I have never seen misti doi in anything but earthen pots (matkas), I also wanted to make it only when I bought the little pots and set the yogurt in that.

I tried it once and failed. So tried it again. It was better, similar in taste but in quiet in color.

See, I told you I had perfectly valid reasons why I am late.

Nevertheless, this is a recipe for a caramelized smoky sweetened yogurt. I am sure it is never made at home, almost always store bought. Just like the French buy their baugettes rather than make them from scratch, Bengalis eat misti-doi on their post-dinner stroll rather than making from scratch.

Either ways, give this light dessert a try. Am sure once you succeed at making this you will make this a regular. It can be eaten as is, stuffed in canoli for a unique filling or served in phyllo cups for an indo-western fusion dessert.

Note: For yogurt making tips, read this article. It has tips from using yogurt maker, to slow cooker to heating pad to have an optimum temperature to make yogurt at home.

Misti doi Recipe

Makes 2 servings

  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoon sugar + 1/2 tablespoon water to caramelize
  • 1/4 cup starter yogurt

1. Boil milk with sugar on low flame, stirring continuously till reduced in half. Make sure you scrape the fat that gets lined on the edges of saucepan and incorporate that back in the milk.

Keep an eye on this to prevent the milk from burning.

2. Once the milk is halved in volume, take it off the heat and set aside to cool.

3. In a smaller saucepan, caramelize the sugar. Once it is browned and sticky, remove from the flame. Add this to the reduced milk mixture. Stir well.

4. When the milk is lukewarm, add the yogurt and whisk well.

5. Pour into bowls and set aside to form yogurt in a warm place. This will take about 6- 8 hours in a warm place. Once set, put the yogurt in the refrigerator to set.

Serve chilled.

Potato Bread

Potato bread

Do you follow a lot of blogs?

I sure do. More than enough. I don’t subscribe to them but have them bookmarked and visit them time to time. And if something catches my eye, I add that recipe to my try list. And this does not even count my recipe inspiration board on pinterest.

I am addicted. And I am loving it.

Potato bread is one such recipe by a fellow blogger who actually pursued her hobby and went to a culinary school. Oh, what a life! As part of school, she learnt bread making and posted a potato bread recipe.

I have hated store-bought potato bread but her photos of potato bread made me want to try it.

So, this Sunday, I made potato bread. And I must say, it was a revelation. It is good bread for sandwiches and  for sopping up gravies. It is mildly potato flavored, not too dense or not too light. Although Vipul became a fan, I think that this was a successful experiment – something I may not try again. Nothing against the bread, but just that there are more bread recipes pinned and vying for my attention!

Potato Bread Recipe

Makes 1 loaf

  • 1/2 cup mashed boiled potato
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup water (  to proof the yeast)
  • 2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 – 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root

1. Take the potato , milk, water, honey and butter in a saucepan and warm them till the butter melts. Take off heat and whisk well. Set aside to cool.

2. Beat the egg.

3. Proof the yeast in water with the sugar. Wait for 5 minutes or till the yeast doubles over. If it doesn’t proof, discard and start with fresh yeast.

4. In the meantime, mix 3 cups flour with salt and ginger root and mix well with a spoon for a minute or so.

5. Add the yeast and the potato mix and then mix well for few minutes. Dump the sticky mix onto counter top and knead well with heal of your palm.

Repeat till you have a nice smooth dough.

Avoid adding more flour unless it is very sticky and does not come together after kneading.

6. Place this in a well oiled bowl, covered with oiled cling wrap,  in a warm, draft free place to rise. The dough is risen well when it looks about doubled in volume and if you stick 2 fingers in it stays indented. This is called first rise.

It can take a couple of hours at least. Go nap or watch a movie.

7. After first rise, take the dough out of the bowl. Gently press it down and then roll into shape. Set aside for second rise.

The loaf should rise above the sides of the pan.

8. Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

Bake the loaf for 20- 25 minutes till golden brown or the interior reads 195 F at least.

Let cool and then slice.

Enjoy!

Mango Pistachio Filled Whole Wheat Crepes For Mother’s Day

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Mangoes are in season and what could be more fun that mango themed brunch for Mother’s Day? Mango and pistachio filled crepes, Green Mango Panha, salt and paprika sprinkled raw mangoes and mango panna cotta! A little sweet, a little bit savory. Something filling and something crunchy.

If mom’s in your family are mango lovers, mango and pistachio filled crepes will make their day! These are easy to make, with mostly pantry staples. Replace the mango with any other fruit (berries, pineapple or peaches!) to customize it to mom’s taste. Almonds could easily replace pistachios if that’s what you have on hand. It’s a very versatile recipe.

Healthy and fruity it brightened our morning. Even Varun loved them – though I suppose kids can eat anything with honey.

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Note On Buttermilk – If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, use milk with 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar to clabber the milk. Set aside for 10 minutes and you have buttermilk. Else use yogurt and water in 1: 3 proportion. For this recipe use 1/2 cup yogurt and 1 1/2 cup water. Mix well and then use as indicated in recipe.

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Mango Pistachio Filled  Whole Wheat Crepes Recipe

For the Filling

  • 1 cup Mango Pulp ( Fresh or Canned)
  • 1 tablespoon candied ginger minced (optional)
  • 1/3 rd cup pistachios roughly chopped

For the crepes

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg separated
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups Butter milk

Garnish

  • 1 tablespoon  pistachios finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flakes (optional)

1.  Make the filling by mix mango pulp with candied ginger and cooking it in microwave for 3 – 4 minutes till slightly thickened. Set aside to cool in a bowl. Keep the pistachios chopped in another bowl.

2. Sift and mix all dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and soda, salt and sugar.

3. Cream the egg yolk in the butter for a minute. Add vanilla and buttermilk and whisk again for 10 seconds.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white. Make an effort to do this as it will result in light crepe. If you are in a rush or don’t want to use an extra bowl, feel free to whisk the entire egg in step #3.above.

5. Add the flour mix to the butter milk – egg mixture and stir. You may have small lumps which is fine. Now add the egg whites and with a light hand stir them in the batter.

6. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a flat non stick skillet. Once the skillet is heated through, ladle a serving spoon size batter in the center of the pan and immediately spread it using circular motion with the back of the spoon. Just like making a dosa.

7. Reduce the flame to medium high. Flip after it is cooked / browned on edges – about a minute. Cook on other side for 30 seconds.

Flip back. Fill the crepe by spooning mango pulp in the center. Sprinkle pistachios. Carefully fold or roll the crepe. Remove from pan and set aside in a serving dish.

Repeat for the entire batter.

8. Garnish with coconut flakes and pistachios. Serve Warm with some fresh mango slices and honey.

Watermelon Labneh Parfait

Labneh and Watermelon parfaits

I recently joined The Daring Kitchen, an online community where everyone month a new challenging recipe or technique is posted and enthusiasts around the world recreate it and post their results.

I was too late for their March 2013 Cheese Making Challenge, but I decided to try it out regardless. There were a few recipes shared on true cheeses like Mozzarella and Goat cheese. But as I didn’t have necessary ingredients on hand, I decided to go with a soft cheese recipe for Labneh. Labneh is a soft breakfast cheese made from yogurt.  Besides being yogurt based, it actually needs no other ingredients and is a recipe ( if I can call hanging a yogurt to drain the whey a recipe) that works on its own.

Curd hung to make labneh

Hanging the yogurt to remove its moisture is a typical first step in making Srikhand – a very traditional Maharashtrian desert. I remember days when my mom used to do this to create a very dry curd base called – chakka and then mix it with sugar, saffron or mango pulp to make Srikhand and Amrakhand. A creamy desert loved by kids and adults alike!

Labneh

Using labneh, I wanted to make a modern version of this traditional Indian desert. So instead of a sweet nutty desert, I served it  as a light breakfast parfait complete with saffron and pistachios.

Pairing the crunchy watermelons chunks with the soft creamy labneh is an exotic way to start your day.  Top it with a dollop of orange marmalade and honey for a touch of sweetness, while pistachios elevated the crunch factor.  I surprised Vipul with these on a weekday morning by serving them in wine goblets as they allowed for a generous serving.  Varun was excited by the colorful watermelon while I loved the crunchiness of pistachios and watermelon against the creamy labneh. I would love to try this with mangoes in summer. Though I think any fruit would work just as well -strawberries, blueberries, peaches!

Top view

A perfect start to any day where you want to feel like you are on vacation even though tons of work awaits you. Bliss in a glass when stresses abound. Try it. Am sure it will help you escape your daily work realities!

Breakfast Parfaits

Watermelon Labneh Parfait Recipe

  • 32 Oz container of full fat yogurt
  • 1 generous pinch – Saffron strands
  • Watermelon chunks – 1 cup
  • 2 tablespoon marmalade or honey
  • 1/4 cup pistachios -coarsely chopped

1. Take a clean white non terry cloth ( muslin or large men’s cotton handkerchief) and place yogurt in it. Tie it into a bundle. Place it in a colander with a bowl underneath to collect the whey. Let this drain in the refrigerator for a few hours to overnight to drain.

2. Squeeze excess whey out of the yogurt before  opening the yogurt bundle. Whisk the strained yogurt labneh with saffron to make it smooth and creamy.

3. In serving glasses, layer watermelon, labneh and pistachios. Drizzle some honey on top or scoop in orange marmalade. Top with pistachios.

Chill for a couple of hours to overnight. Serve chilled.

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