Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Homemade Almond Milk with Almond Meal & Wintry Almond Nog

I have been trying to make vegan milk at home and nut milks are popular vegan diary alternatives. I have tried few recipes from the net rather unsuccessfully but recently tried almond milk from   Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick Goudreau. It turned out excellent and am very happy that I did not give up the experiments with such vegan alternatives.

Almonds: about 1.5 cups
Water: 4 cups  + for soaking

Dates: 3-5
Vanilla: 1/2 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp (optional)
Sweetener of choice: as per taste (optional)

Soak almonds overnight in enough water or for atleast 12 + hours.

Next day drain out the water,rinse the almonds and add them to a blender. 

Add in 4 cups of drinking water and blend to a smooth puree adding dates,salt and vanilla.You can reduce the amount of water if you want a thicker creamier milk.

Do the taste test and add in the sweetener to increase the light sweetness given by dates. I did not add any at this stage. But I did add salt. 

Sieve through two layers of cheese cloth over a bowl to remove all the sediments ( almond pulp) Try to press the pulp within the cheesecloth to squeeze out more liquid. 

Almond milk is ready to be tasted. This can be stored in the refrigerator for upto 1 week. I have tried keeping it for 6 days and it did not change in texture or taste or any such thing.

We can use the almond pulp in cookies or other bakery items and even rice and sauteed veggies that use almonds as per the Joy of Vegan Baking. But I have converted them to almond meal or almond flour - in my case slightly toasted almond flour courtesy this recipe. This recipe has a nice pictorial representation for making almond milk and meal. Both the recipes are almost same with very little variations.

Almond meal:

The pulp left in the cheese cloth or sieve will be wet and chunky. So try spreading it in a layered fashion in  a lined baking sheet and dry them in the oven heating at the lowest possible settings. This as per the original source was supposed to take minimum and hour or two, but in my case it was done very early . I started to preheat the oven at 100 and then placed the baking sheet and let the door open slightly so that the moisture is released outside. You can turn off the oven when you find the bits browning too much and let the pulp sit in the hot oven. Mine were actually baked to a light brown and this happened within 10 minutes of placing the sheet. So I turned off the oven and let the chunky pulp cool inside. The timing depends on your oven I presume.

Once the chunks are dry, powder then to a smooth powder in a dry blender. The almond flour is ready to be used in bakes and cakes and also as a thickening agent or you can even add while making the roti or chappathi dough etc. This almond meal has traces of dates and vanilla as well but it is not sweet. Atleast till now thats my perception. I have used it in curries and rotis and till now its ok. You can store the powder in a airtight container and optionally in the fridge.

Wintry Almond Nog:

Take a cup of almond milk and add in 1 ripe banana and 1/4 tsp nutmeg and blend to a thick smooth puree. Decorate it with another pinch of nutmeg and you have a filling, tasty and interesting drink ready to beat the winter (monsoon) chill.

I have not tried boiling the milk though. I am planning to make another batch soon and will be experimenting. Earlier when I had tried boiling or even blending with banana it had simply and visibly curdled. This time  however it was not the case and the wintry almond nog was creamy, tasty and comforting. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Baking Partners: A new Baking Group

Baking a homemade bread, cake or cookies will give the best outcome. However in order to achieve the best results, a  perfect recipe and  right techniques are required.

We are a small group of home baker friends, who love and want to learn more about the nook and corners of baking.  We are planning to try out recipes from books/magazines and cooking shows.  Every member gets a chance to present their choice of recipe and share important points with the rest of the group.

Main purpose of this group is to learn the techniques, critic the procedure if there are ways to improve, and to eat a delicious food.

Rules are simple, we will choose one recipe  and send it out to the group by 16th of every month and  the reveal date will be 15th of the next month . On that day we will  blog about it. A linky tool will be open during that time and each member can link their post.

First month we are going to do a recipe, 2nd and 3rd month will be a theme and the 4th month we will be back at  a recipe. By doing in between recipes, we will able to learn more.

All enthusiastic bloggers interested in baking are welcome, please email  at favoriterecipes12@gmail.com.

We will appreciate the use of logo or worded link that will help to spread the word.  A bunch of thanks to Tina for designing this beautiful logo

If you   want to make it a gluten or vegan free diet, you can do those modifications also.


Baking Partners are

Julie (Erivum Puliyumm )
Archana  ( Tangy Minds)
Reshmi  ( EasY Cook)
Prathibha ( Cook Ezee)   
Priya R ( Cook Like Priya)
Vidhya (  A Portion to Share)
Usha Rao ( My Spicy Kitchen)
Divya Prakash( Divya’s Culinary Journey)
Swasthi Blank ( Swasthi The Health Freak)
Sanoli Ghosh ( Sanoli’s Kitchen)
Jayasri ( Samayalarai )
Pam Capone ( Live Ranch Delux)


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Baked Apple Oatmeal

Now that rains are full on, its better we stick to comforting dishes. Its nice and heavenly to have something warm,filling and tasty when the rains are lashing outside. Though normally I prefer warm fruity desserts ,sometimes you want a change.I did not want to bake an apple pie, so I decided to go for baked apple oatmeal.But ofcourse this was not a dessert but a breakfast dish with lots of spice and milk. A perfect start for a busy day. I have adapted the recipe from BettyCrocker and it was filling and comforting as well.

Oats: 1 &1/3 cups
Raisins/Cranberries: 1/4 cup
Milk:2 cups
Packed Brown Sugar: 8 tsp
Melted Butter: 1 tbsp
Cinnamon: 1/2 tsp (I used apple pie spices)
Salt: 1/8 tsp
Apple Chopped:1 cups finely chopped

More Apples
Chopped Walnuts

Mix together all the ingredients in a suitable casserole dish. It must be slightly loose wet mix. If you feel it is too thick add little more milk.

Bake in a 350F/175C for about 40 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed and the edges start to brown. 

Take out and cool slightly.

Spoon in bowls, top with choice of garnishings and serve with more milk/apples.

A simple breakfast where we are using the oven to make a hearty spicy comforting oats porridge. It was not overtly spicy or sugary and so play around with spices and sugar.Warm breakfast in case you have enough time. You can even bake it beforehand and chill in the fridge. But do warm this before serving. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bliss Chocolate Lounge - Heavenly Chocolatey Bliss

I have heard Chocolate is the food of Gods. And I am sure chocoholics agree with me. Literally and spiritually this is true for a chocoholic who finds extreme pleasure in his chocolates. Recently or rather 1 month back, I too experienced heavenly bliss when I visited the Bliss Gourmet Chocolate Lounge at Forum Value Mall.

What you normally expect when you visit a chocolate shop?. If you are unimaginative like me, you will imagine a small shop with unfriendly staff offering chocolate cakes,cookies and max 2-3 varieties of tried and tasted truffles. So thus, I was surprised to see a cosy well thought out lounge with an array of couverture chocolates and desserts.

Bliss, Indias first luxury chocolate brand has venerated chocolate by starting the exclusive chocolate lounges and the first one being in Forum Value Mall.

The main forte being chocolate,you can expect all types of  couverture chocolate and the scene stealers are the exotic truffles which come in flavours like Chilly, Caramella, Masala Chai, Cumin, Praline passion, Pina colada etc.Atleast 2 dozen + varieties of exotic chocolates including sugar free ones for diabetics.

How to test if the chocolate is good quality?
It is said that a good quality chocolate will melt in mouth without leaving an aftertaste.

Instead of chewing or ravisihing the truffle with your teeth, savour it slowly. Allow it to melt in your mouth all by itself. If it leaves an aftertaste, then it not that great chocolate -tasty but might not be healthy. I tried this with Bliss Chilly couverture chocolate and the aftertaste was that of hot chilly and definitely not chocolate.

Couverture chocolates normally used by professionals in the industry has high percentage of cocoa butter and give the perfect sheen on tempering and are good for health. The percentages that we see on the wrappings of chocolate define the quantity of percentage of cocoa butter used in the chocolate the rest being made up of sugar and other stabilising agents. Most of the exotic Bliss chocolate that I tasted   belong to the  54% category - a balanced one that allows you to indulge more in the your favourite chocolate without the fear of putting on weight. In fact chocolate in this category,are supposed to have a slimming effect if consumed daily.

I had gone to the lounge with beautiful blogger Sharmi of Neivedyam and we started our chocolate journey with a delicious  chocolate platter.It had a Balloon brownie, Belgian Chocolate Truffle Cake,Chocolate mousse cake, a Chocolate Marquise etc. Throughout tasting I was inquisitive about the methods and ingredients that they use and Ms Vrinda an official with Bliss helped satisfy my curiosity.I was rather surprised to know that the Belgian Chocolate Truffle cake which had sponge cake layers stuffed with Belgian Chocolate Ganache is completely eggless.

Don't like chocolate? No Problem !. Here comes the colourful spread - Strawberry Mousse Cake, Mango & Passionfruit yogurt dessert etc all for the non chocoholics.Talk about sugar free chocolates and still Bliss tops the list. They have Sugar Free Chocolate bars  in milk,dark and white chocolates.

The brand has diversified into artisan breads in association with Gourmet West and they are planning to start a delivery portal for artisan breads customized as per user needs. At present the bread branch is available only in Forum Mall, Koramangala. The brand has also been conducting workshops or chocolate appreciation nights to popularise good quality chocolates and get new ideas to cater or satisfy the customer as per his needs and budget.

I am totally in bliss after the lounge visit. What about you? Do drop in to any of the Bliss Lounges at Forum Value Mall, Forum Mall,Mantri Mall, or UB City for exquisite European desserts & pasries. The brand is planning to start an exclusive outlet near its factory at Old Airport Road, Bengaluru. They even permit you a factory visit to help you understand how the delectable chocolates and pastried are made. The brand also specialises in gift hampers for special occasions and you can visit the Bliss website for more details.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pea & Mint Soup

This is a classic British soup and preferbly made during fresh green pea season. Thanks to the frozen peas available year around the soup can be made anytime though its best with fresh peas. Naturally so after all the effort of sitting and shelling the pea pods and then making the soup, the soup has to taste divine. The advantage of this soup is you can serve it hot or cold depending on the seasons. I have tried out the classic soup recipe from the trusted BBC site and it turned out divine and perfect for rainy windy evenings.

Peas: almost 1.5 cups fresh shelled or frozen + more for garnish

Scallions: 1 small bunch white parts preferably or 1/4 cup chopped
Potato: 1 medium sized or chopped 4-5 tbsp
Garlic: 1 small clove crushed/minced

Veg Stock: 1cup + as needed
Water: optional to be used along with stock: around 1/2 cup

Fresh Mint: 4 tbsp+/- chopped
Lemon Juice: 2-3 tsp
Caster Sugar: 1 big pinch

ButterMilk/Sour Cream: 1/2 cup + as needed for thickening

Mint Sprigs: optional though traditional
Shelled Peas: handful blanched for exactly 1 minute.

In a deep pan, bring to boil the scallions, potato garlic crushed and stock. You can even add water along with stock to reduce the stocky aftertaste. Reduce to a simmer and let it cooked slightly covered till the potatoes are done.

Add in shelled peas and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes only. 3 minutes for frozen peas and 5 minutes for fresh shelled so as not to lose their green colour and flavour.
Once the peas are done, stir in the chopped mint and lemon juice and caster sugar and remove from heat.

Let it cool for a few minutes and then blend to a fine puree in a blender. Add in salt, pepper and little buttermilk /sour cream as needed to adjust the thickness.

Serve warm/chilled  in bowl or shot glasses to make an appetizing starter. You can heat through the soup adding more buttermilk if needed incase you want it warm. Else chill till consumption time.

A simple fuss free soup which can be made earlier and a perfect starter.A chilled bowl definitely goes to NCR:Summer Soups at Lisa's.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Indian or International - Red or Green - Have your pick on Chili Paste!

Though I have talked about sambal oelek and even made the tangy tomato sambal, I have rarely tried to make the Sambal oelek ,the fiery red chili paste. Or for that matter, even the normal green chili paste which my friend had passed on. Everytime I bought green chilies they would be used up and red chillies were rarely used. So recently I decided enough was enough and tried out both green and red chilli paste .

Sambal Oelek:

The words meaning ground sambal or rather ground chilli sauce. Usually it is made by pounding fresh red chilies with salt and vinegar. There are different versions based on the geographies - and thus the type and quantity of the ingredients and also modern version which spice up the basic recipe as per taste and choice. 

I have gone for a modern spiced up version that I had found at Food.com and it turned out to a spicy hot experience for me as well. In my belief that I can handle any type of chili ! :} I halved them and after aome thinking started deseeding  the chilies when I found my fingers starting to burn with heat. So much for the bravado. But after all the effort, the paste was wonderfully spicy hot and a few drops were perfect for any dish that you combine it with. I am posting the original recipe using half a kilo of red chillies though I prepared only with the quantities I had.

Red Chile: 1/2kilo - 1 lb, optionally deseeded
Garlic Clove: 11 tbsp
Fresh Ginger: 11 tbsp
Lemon grass: 2 stalk : white part only
Vinegar: 12tbsp
Sugar: 8oz, 1 cup almost

  • Salt: to taste
  • Lime zest: 1 tbsp

  • Preparation:
    Blend together chilies,ginger,garlic and lemongrass preferably in a mortar and pestle or conveniently in a blender. Drizzle in vinegar while doing this till you are ok with the texture of the paste. Either smooth or slightly chunky.

    Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and add in sugar. Cook while stirring for few minutes while sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add salt and lemon zest and mix well.
    Cool a bit and store in sterilized jars.I have refriegerated mine.

     A fiery red chile paste that goes well in dips or sides.You can see the basic version of chilies,salt and vinegar pounded in the mortar and pestle here.

    Green Chile Paste:
    Now coming to the our local green chile paste. The recipe was given to me by a dear friend who got it from her mother-in-law. This chile paste can be used in place of any recipe that calls for green chiles and the advantage is it will be equally mixed within the dish - be it upma,rices, churmuri like snack,or whatever that requires green chile for spicing it up but sticks out like a sore thumb in the final dish. The paste is very simple and has a long shelf life and does not even require refrigeration. But I do refrigerate to prolong the shelf life.


    Green Chilies: 250 g 
    Salt: 100 g

    Wash thoroughly the green chiles and remove the stems. Dry the chilies thoroughly in paper towels. Pulse the chiles in a blender adding salt to get a smooth paste. Store in sterilized jars and use as needed.

    A simple handy paste.As for me, I use the red paste sparingly while the green one is a must for regular routine work. You can make and store both of them as well. Make your pick and add heat to your life now that Rain Gods are pleased with  Bangalore.. :)

    Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    Homemade Peanut Butter & Peanut Butter Smoothie

    It was a long time since I had made almond butter. Though it was good, I never tried making any other nut butters. Just did not feel like making these. I had better use of nuts in baking, I was thinking. But peanuts was one such I did not use much in baking as nuts themselves. I used them for sundals and chutneys but baking, nah..For the Blog Hop Wednesday Week 19 edition, an event by Radhika,This time while going through Anisha's Flavours for U, my partner blog for BlogHopWednesday Week 19, an event by Radhika, I came across homemade Peanut Butter and decided its high time, I used up my pack of peanuts. 

    The recipe is very simple, and is done within 20 minutes. You can use up the peanut butter for baking cookies or turn into smoothies and shakes or even the classic American PB& J sandwich. The recipe is basic and you can improvise on it as well, adding sweeteners like honey or sugar, coarse grinding to make chunky butter etc.

    Shelled Peanuts: 1 cup preferably not skinned
    Salt: to taste
    Peanut Oil: 1 + tsp

    Dry roast the peanuts for a few minutes and let it cool.

    Add them to a blender and in short spurts make a fine powder. Add in salt, blend again adding oil to blender to get a creamy texture. 

    As simple as that. Now it is better to use peanuts with the skins though feel free (and if you have time to pass) to skin the shelled peanuts. 

    Now I whipped up a simple peanut butter banana smoothie.

    I blended together about 1/2 cup milk, 1/4-1/2 cup yogurt,2 tbsp of peanut butter and sugar/honey/choice of sweetner as per taste along with a 2 small bananas (or 1 big banana) to obtain a delicious smoothie. The estiamtes are just approximate and feel free to change as per your needs. You can even add cocoa/chocolate sauce/chocolate powder to make it chocolatey. A simple but filling smoothie made with a delectable nut butter.

    Tuesday, July 10, 2012

    Spiced Mango Pistachio Crisp -Goodbye to Mango Season

    As you know I am not a loyal fan of mangoes. Ofcourse, thanks to blogging, I have started using them for baking. This time, I found that I had not done much with the fruit as I wanted to and decided to make a simple crisp or crumble as it is also known using cardamom and pistachios that go well with mangoes. Crisps are easy to put together and good for us except for the small amount of all purpose flour that is used for topping. This time I decided to take a cue from Deeba who went gluten free with the topping and I have used pistachios to make the crust.


    Mangoes: 2 cups peeled,stoned and cubed
    Cardamom Powdered: 1/4 -1/2 tsp (as per taste)
    Arrow root Powder/Cornstarch /even pistachio ground: 1 tsp

    Oats: 4 tbsp
    Ground Pistachios:  3 tbsp atleast
    Brown Sugar: 2 tbsp +as per sweetness of mango

    Chilled Butter: 2 tbsp cut into small pieces.

    Mix together the filling ingredients and spread in a lightly greased baking dish.

    Mix the topping ingredients together and sprinkle as a separate layer on top of the filling in the dish. Dot the top with cut butter and bake in a preheated oven at 350C for 30-40 minutes until you can see the top browning. Take out and let it cool a bit before serving scooped up wth icecreams or whipped cream.

    Can serve war,at room temperature or even chilled as per the season.

    A simple baked fruit dessert with the goodness of oats and nuts.The one thing I felt was that you have to use atleast 3 + tbsp of pistachios to get a sharp pista taste. I am no lover of nuts so went for barely 2 tbsp  and mango and a hint of cardamom were the most forthcoming flavours in mine.

    Friday, July 6, 2012

    Indonesian Nasi Uduk - Lemongrass scented Coconut Rice

    Rice dishes as I have mentioned in several posts are my favourites. I like to try several varieties despite facing opposition from family sometimes. When I was left with a bunch of lemongrass sticks I was wondering what could I do with these. Ofcourse I did freeze them in ziplock bags but how to use it. Call it double blessing, when I came across this coconut rice from Emeril Lagasse. A little googling and it turned out to be Nasi Uduk -Indonesian cousin of Malaysian Nasi Lemak. 

    Originally from Jakarta, Nasi uduk meaning mixed rice is now widely popular street food in Indonesia.The dish is simply steamed jasmine rice but requires several sides to go with it thus getting the so called name. Typically it is served with fried chicken,chilly peanut sauces,fritters, tempeh, patties etc with toasted coconut or caramelized shallots on top. Else simply serve the aromatic rice  with a spicy Indian gravy I have done or with a bowl of sambal oelek which I had made earlier.Sambal oelek is very spicy chili paste and hence add very little and at your own risk. 

    Jasmine Rice /Ambe Mohar Rice: 1/2 cup
    Lemon grass stalk: 1 bruised and tied as a bundle so that they can be discarded easily after cooking
    Kaffir Lime Leaves: 1-2 
    Ginger: 1 small piece 

    Coconut Milk: 1 cup + as needed to cook the rice
    Water: as needed  for cleaning + more to  adjust with the coconut milk


    Wash rice in water 2-3 times till water runs clear. In a deep bowl, add rice along with all other ingredients including coconut milk and also little water. Make sure there is enough liquid to cook the rice.Bring to boil stirring continuously to avoid rice sticking to the bottom. Once it boils, reduce to the lowest possible heat and let it cook till the rice is done and the liquids are absorbed. This takes about 10 -12 minutes. 

    Remove the dish from heat and let it sit covered for another 10  minutes till the rice finishes cooking under the steam. 

    Serve warm with whatever sides you have prepared optionally topped with roasted peanuts or fried shallots or toasted coconut.

    A simple easy to cook rice. Exact quantity of liquid is to be used to prepare this as the cooking depends on steam. In case you are not sure whether the rice is done, after 10-12 minutes of simmering slightly open the lid,stir well, add more liquid if needed,put lid back and continue cooking till done.The texture of the rice is mixed with slightly gooeyness and slight dryness.

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

    Grissini -Thin Italian Bread sticks

    Now that schools are reopened the problem is finding a snack for the 10 minutes break and also for tea time. Sometimes I feel lunch and dinner which involves planning and preparation can be easily taken care of, but when it comes to snacks we are- I am especially - at a loss. We depend on the regular junk food like chips,biscuits blah blah.. But here also planning helps me if it involves baking. In such cases I plan the baking atleast one day in advance and make sure its ready by tea time. Same thing happened with these breadsticks. For a long time the grissini is something I keep on salivating but too lazy to make but this recipe from LA times looked too easy and had whole wheat flour also in it which made it extra tempting.

    Warm Water: 1/2 cup
    Active Dry Yeast/Fast rising Yeast: 1 pkg or 2 and 1/4 tsp
    Sugar: 1 tsp
    All Purpose Flour: 1 and 1/4 cup
    Whole Wheat Flour: 1/2 cup
    Olive Oil: 2 tbsp
    Salt: 1 tsp

    In a big bowl, mix together water,yeast,sugar and 1/2 cup of all purpose flour. Keep aside for 5 minutes until it bubbles or for 10 minutes. Mine did not bubble as my yeast was near its expiry.

    Stir in the remaining flour,whole wheat flour, olive oil and salt and knead for about 5-10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.Shape it into a round ball and place in an oiled/greased bowl turning once so that it gets coated with oil. Cover with a plastic wrap wrap and keep the dough bowl in a warm place to rise until doubled for about 1hour.

    Once risen, divide the dough into four pieces. Take each piece and roll out gently to a thin rectangle. cut each rectangle lengthwise into several strips. Place the strips half inch apart on lined baking sheet. 

    Repeat the process with remaining 3 dough balls. You can otherwise wrap them and freeze the dough for future use.

    Allow the grissini to rise until puffy for about 30 minutes. Ten minutes into the rising, preheat the oven to 400F or 200 C. Bake the grissini in batches if needed preferably in the top rack of the oven for about 6-10 minutes rotating the baking sheets halfway through. You can see brown spots appearing on the edges and top while baking. Take out and let the sticks cool completely in the wire rack before consuming.

    Simple paper thin breadsticks for anytime snacking though especially perfect with tea. These days when the monsoon plays hide 'n seek  here, it is better to enjoy a cuppa of chai with the baked breadsticks rather than any oily fried food.You can also flavour the sticks with your choice of seasoning or spices. 

    Thanks for visiting my Blog

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