Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Daring to do it: Indian desserts

I love that over the last month or so I have gotten to learn so much about Indian food.  First with the biryani, and now with desserts!

Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen was our August 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious! Smile

I truly like and respect Aparna, and I really wanted to participate in her challenge.  But it was kind of hard this month.  The recipes she provided looked amazing, but they all had ingredients which I either don't or can't keep in the house.  The don'ts were spices, which I know I could have found, but I was afraid they would go to waste.  That can't was the main ingredient in the cake - mawa.  Mawa is, simply put, milk cooked down to its solids.  With my lactose intolerance and Little Girl's milk allergy, milk based foods are a no-go.  But I found a recipe for a vegan version of the mawa cake and decided to give it a go.
The vegan alternative for mawa was vegan cream cheese.  Which I happened to have in the house for Little Girl.
The other key ingredient in this cake is cardamom.  I have used this spice once before, but didn't really appreciate it for what it was.
If you have never used cardamom before, please do yourself a favor and get some.  I toasted the pods before opening them, but that really wasn't necessary.  The smell when the pods were opened and crushed was AMAZING.  Like, I was almost mad at myself for not using real cardamom before.
The finished cake looked and smelled lovely.
As you can see from the slice, my cardamom wasn't very finely crushed, and I think I might have needed to cook the cake a bit longer (the tester came out clean...!), but oh, my, this was amazing.
I am so glad I made this cake.  I am so going to make it again!
Now, the challenge, as Aparna gave to us, was to make the mawa cake and also a cookie or biscuit from the listed recipes.  I only made the cake...  Oh well...  Sorry, Aparna!  But the cake is so worthwhile, and I am so glad you introduced it to us!!
Take a look at what my fellow Daring Bakers did with this awesome challenge.  You won't be disappointed!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Surprise! Crackers

In the past few days I have been awed by my sourdough starter.  Eve is so cool!  It's a science experiment!  It's a baking toy!  It's alive!!
That being said, I totally spaced on the date and thought I had one more day to do the Sourdough Surprises challenge for the month...  Oops!  But there was no way I was sitting this one out.  So I made my crackers today.
Mixing together the dough:
The dough came together beautifully and easily:
Rolled out thin:
Brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with Kosher salt and paprika, and cut to size:
Baked up crisp!  (I love the bubble...)
These are seriously good and seriously easy.  I used the recipe on Auntie Twin's blog, and I think I am going to have to make them again and again...!  Even Big Girl, who doesn't really like strong sourdough flavor, kept sneaking them from the tray.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Daring to do it: Biryani

Grace, one of our talented non-blogging Daring Kitchen members, was our Daring Cooks’ August hostess who shared with us some of her family’s tried and true Bengali Biryani recipes – all of them delicious and all of them prepared fresh from our own kitchens!

I love learning about new cultures, and food is one of the best (and most fun) ways I can think of to learn.  This month's challenge was a great one for helping me learn about a food and culture which I knew little about.  The thing is, I knew almost nothing about the dish, either!!  For some reason I had thought that biryani was some sort of bread-type Indian food.  It isn't.  It is a rice dish.  Which is a good thing, since rice dished are pretty much always enjoyed in my house, and making a vegetarian, dairy free version wouldn't be an issue.  Grace supplied us with five tempting recipes from which to choose.  While only one met with our vegetarian requirement, I was pretty sure I would be able to adapt others if I chose.  Then I found this recipe for tofu biryani and decided that was what I would make.  I did make a few alterations, but not as many as I feared I would, so, score!!
I would like to give a special thank you to my sister over at CMomCook for supplying me with some of the key ingredients so I could pull this together just under the wire...!

The tofu:
While the recipe didn't call for seasoning the tofu, I sprinkled it with a biryani spice mix my sister had given me, just to try to add a bit more flavor.
The veggies sauteing, with the whole spices:
The recipe called for a couple of things I didn't have, so I made substitutions - I didn't have fresh ginger, so I minced and "pasted" my fresh garlic with ginger powder.  Also, I didn't have green chillies, so I added some green bell pepper.
The sauce simmered down with the tofu:
The "gravy" was very thick.  Like, it looked like well sauteed veggies to me.  But since I thought it was supposed to be more sauce like, I added some water to thin it out a bit.
Layered up with some saffron infused water on top:
Ready to eat:
When Hubby walked into the house his first comment was "Wow, it smells good in here!"  It smelled like Indian food!  He and I loved the biryani.  The girls, not so much, but I think that had to do with the heat level rather than the flavor.  I would like to try this again with toned down spices and see what they think.  Either way, it is something I am going to have to make again!
Thank you, Grace, for introducing me to a new food and a new culture!
Check out what my fellow Daring Cooks made this month - it is truly mouthwatering!