Dryfruit Milk / Masala Doodh

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It is that time of the year again when I need to bake a cake – the husband’s birthday. I just realised that he is travelling every other year on his birthday and so this is only the third cake I am baking. The first few years were easy. We stayed with my in-laws and didn’t have an oven. Then we moved to Bangalore and I bought an oven and started this blog. The husband then started his dialogue – ‘You have an oven and a blog yet you don’t bake a cake for my birthday.’ How to explain to him that I bought the oven to bake bread not cake. So this has kind of become an annual ritual except for when he travels.

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Now baking cake and baking bread are two completely different things. But few people get that. Whenever I meet someone new and mention my baking and blog, the first thing they ask me is if I can bake a cake for them / someone they know. This is very similar to people asking me to file their tax returns when they hear I am a Chartered Accountant. It is very hard in both cases to explain that while it might seem similar, the stuff I do is very different from what they think I do. So I end up not mentioning either my profession or passion and now people think I am good for nothing. Life is tough!

I know that there is no connection between this and the dish for today. But one of the reasons I started the blog is to be able to rant about stuff. So there. Today’s dish is a simple and satisfying masala doodh. My default method was to warm the milk and mix the ground dry fruits to it and wonder why it does not taste similar to what I get in restaurants. When I had to pick a protein rich dish for this marathon, I figured it was time to explore the mystery of the masala milk and discover the secret behind the difference. Well, the secret, just like for most things, is simply more time and patience. And more sugar, but we shall ignore that.

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Protein – Pistachios and Almonds

Serves 2

Recipe from here

WHAT WE NEED

Milk                                     3 cups

Saffron                                a generous pinch

Cardamom powder          1/4 tsp

Nutmeg powder                a pinch

Almonds                             8

Pistachios                           8

Sugar                                   2-3 tbsp

 

WHAT TO DO

  • Boil the milk in a deep pan / vessel
  • Once it comes to a boil, simmer it for 12-15 minutes and stir frequently till the milk reduces in quantity and becomes slightly thick
  • While the milk is simmering, blanch the almonds and pistachios and peel the skin
  • Grind the two nuts to a coarse powder
  • Add the saffron, cardamom powder, nutmeg powder and sugar to the milk and mix well
  • Simmer for 2-3 minutes
  • Add the almonds and pistachios and mix well
  • Serve warm or cold
  • Enjoy!

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This is my post for the mega marathon under the theme, ‘Protein Rich Dishes’.
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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 80

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Honey Roasted Almonds 

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Today, we have a quick almond snack. This is the second day of the week in which I will be posting recipes of protein rich nuts and seeds. The daughter loves almonds and this made her eat them all the more. What more to ask for!

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Protein – Almonds

Recipe from here

WHAT WE NEED

Honey                             2 tbsp

Cinnamon powder       1/4 tsp

Almonds                         1  cup

Salt                                   1/4 tsp heaped
WHAT TO DO

  • Preheat the oven at 175C
  • Heat the honey in a microwave safe bowl for 1 minute on low power
  • Add the cinnamon and almonds to the honey and mix well
  • Line a baking tray with parchement paper
  • Spread the almonds on parchment paper
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes
  • Take the tray out once after 6 minutes and give it a shake
  • Let it cool completely
  • Transfer it to a bowl and mix with salt
  • Enjoy!

NOTES

  1. Let the almonds cool completely before transferring to the bowl. I did not wait long enough and the skin on the almonds came off. While it did not make an impact on the taste, it did not look very pretty.

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This is my post for the Mega Marathon under the theme, ‘Protein Rich Dishes’.
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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 80

Estonian Kringle

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I received a note yesterday from my daughter’s school asking me to dress and prepare her for a short speech detailing what she wants to be when she grows up. I was and still am very irritated by that note. People don’t know what they want to be even at age 25 and here we want a 4 year old to think about it. So I asked her this morning and she belted out her standard reply -“I want to wear make-up”. The daughter has been surprisingly excited about make-up for the past year despite never having seen me in it. She would visit all the duty free stores and tell the saleswomen that she would come back when she gets older to buy her make-up and then she would make me walk with her telling her the name of each item and memorizing it.

Since that is not a job, atleast a conventional one, I dangled my apron in front of her and she caught the bait. So she now wants to become a ‘cooking manager’ with make-up. Since her dad and aunt have ‘manager’ in their designation, she thinks everyone who goes to office is a manager. Truth be told, she is already a cooking manager because she dictates what is to be cooked at home and tastes it first and approves it (almost always).

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Since I have been baking bread for the past fortnight, she is excited about the dough doubling in volume and want to peak everyone few minutes to see how much it has grown. Then one day she declared she wanted butter and sugar in her bread. Thankfully I had this recipe that needed to get done and here we are.

The history of the Kringle is muddled like most other dishes. What is known is that it comes from the word ‘Kringla’ from Old Norse meaning ring or circle. One version directs the origin to Scandinavia and its immense popularity in Danish cuisine even today. It is almost mandatory to have a kringle for birthdays, weddings and Christmas. There is also a story talking about the kringle being an offshoot of the pretzel and how it also had two circles previously but now has evolved into a braided wreath shape. Another version pegs Germany as the originator of this buttery, sweet bread. Since Germany occupied Estonia, the kringle was also adopted by them and then Estonia excelled at this so much that it is called Estonian Kringle. The traditional recipe includes saffron, cardamom and raisins but most kringles these days have cinnamon and almonds in them.

I made them with cinnamon and almonds since the daughter loves them and it looks beautiful. So here goes –

Country – Estonia

Makes one large wreath serving 3-4 people

Recipe from here.

WHAT WE NEED

For the dough

All purpose flour                   2 1/4 cup

Salt                                           1/2 tsp

Milk, lukewarm                      3/4 cup

Sugar                                        1 tbsp

Instant yeast                           5 gms

Butter, melted                        30 gms

Egg yolk                                    1

For the filling

Butter, softened                       50 gms

Sugar                                          5 tbsp

Cinnamon                                  3 tsp

Ground almond (optional)     3 tsp

 

WHAT TO DO

  • In a bowl, mix together the milk, egg yolk and melted butter
  • In a large bowl, add the flour, sugar, salt and yeast
  • Pour the milk mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well
  • Knead the dough till it pulls away from the edges, about 8-10 minutes
  • Shape the dough like a ball and place it in a greased bowl and cover with cling wrap
  • Set it aside for an hour or till it doubles in size
  • Mix together the filling ingredients to make a smooth paste and set aside
  • Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking sheet with parchment
  • On a floured surface, roll out the dough to form an 18*12″ rectangle
  • Spread the filling mixture on the dough leaving a 1″ gap from the edges and roll up the dough
  • Cut the dough into 2 portions vertically leaving it joined at one end
  • Braid the two ropes ensuring the open side is exposed and join the ends to form a wreath and pinch them together
  •  Transfer the wreath to the baking sheet

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  • If you have any additional filling or some ground almonds left, sprinkle it over the wreath
  • Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 180C and bake for another 10 minutes or till the top is golden brown
  • Serve warm
  • Enjoy!

 

This is my post for the Mega Marathon under the letter E.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 75

Ajo Blanco

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There are many types of cooks. Some are slow, other fast. Some follow the recipe to the T while others go with the flavour. Some measure diligently while others go with their estimate. I always wanted to be the latter but my estimates are so off the actual number that it is not funny. I keep trying to improve my estimation skills but there is a long way to go.

For this recipe, I picked a handful of almonds and estimated (nay, assumed) it to be 100 gms. It was 50. True story. Then I had to blanch another set of almonds and then make the soup but the extra time and effort to blanch the almonds is extremely worth it. The wonderful medley of almonds, bread and garlic chilled is a perfect meal for the evening.

Serves 3

Recipe adapted from here

WHAT WE NEED

Almonds                            100 gms

Slightly stale bread        75 gms

Milk                                     1/2 cup

Cold water                         500 ml

Garlic cloves                     4-5

Cucumber, medium       1/2

Extra virgin olive oil      2 tbsp

Vinegar                               2 tbsp

 

WHAT TO DO

  • Blanch and peel almonds
  • Roast the almonds on low heat till it just starts browning. It is an optional step but totally recommended
  • Remove the crust and soak the bread in milk for 10 minutes
  • Blend the almonds and bread in a blender to a near smooth paste
  • Chop and add garlic, cucumber, olive oil and vinegar
  • Add the water and blend well
  • Chill for around 2 hours
  • Garnish with olive oil and serve chilled
  • Enjoy!

 

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This post is part of the September Mega Marathon under the theme – Soups.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 68

Apple and Almond Soup

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I am not a huge fan of cooking fruits preferring to have them raw as they are supposed to be. But sometimes exceptions need to be made, especially when you have a beautiful symphony of apples with tomatoes, gooseberry and carrots topped generously with almonds. Exception accepted.

I had a couple of apples sitting on the counter top for 4 days without the daughter or me going anywhere near it. Usually it is the husband who cores and slices the apples for us. With him travelling, I kept postponing it till such time the apple threatened to decay. With me in a soup daily, I figured I could soup the apples without too much effort. Voila! I must admit I was surprised at how tasty and flavorful the soup turned out. Do try it –

Serves 3

Recipe adapted from here.

WHAT WE NEED

Apples                          2

Gooseberry                 2

Tomato, medium      1

Carrot, medium        1

Cinnamon                  1/2 tsp

Sugar                            1 tsp

Fresh cream               1/4 cup

Almonds                      8

Salt

 

WHAT TO DO

  • Blanch the almonds and peel the skin
  • Cut 4 of the almonds into slivers and set aside
  • Core and cut the apples into quarters
  • Cut the tomatoes and gooseberries.
  • Peel and cut the carrots
  • Take all the above in a vessel and pressure cook with 1 1/2 cups of water for 4 whistles
  • Once the steam escapes, take them out and cool
  • Once cooled, blend them along with 4 almonds to a smooth puree
  • Take the puree in a saucepan and add 1 cup water
  • Simmer for 10 minutes
  • Add sugar, salt, cinnamon and fresh cream and simmer for 1-2 minutes
  • Garnish with almond slivers
  • Enjoy!

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 68

Mushroom Almond Soup

When I made the broccoli soup yesterday, I kinda blanched way too many almonds and I knew if I didn’t use them at the earliest, in will forget and it will be discovered years later by my grandchildren. So I figured I could do another almond based soup and promptly tick that box. That’s when I realized that so many veggies blend well with almonds – carrots, mushroom, corn, etc. So we can safely predict few more almond soups!

So here goes –

Serves 2

Recipe adapted from here

WHAT WE NEED

Almonds          10

Olive oil            1 tbsp

Onion, large     1

Mushroom        200 gms

Milk                     2 cups

Salt & pepper 

WHAT TO DO

  • Blanch the almonds, peel, chop and set aside
  • Chop the onion and mushrooms
  • Heat oil and add the onions to it
  • Saute for a minute and then add the mushrooms and saute for 2-3 minutes
  • Set aside few almond slivers for garnish and add the remaining almonds 
  • Saute for another 2 minutes and add salt and pepper. Mix well
  • Remove from heat and cool
  • Transfer the mushroom mixture to a blender and blend with 1/2 cup of milk till smooth
  • Transfer them back to the pan, add the remaining milk and mix well
  • Bring to a boil and turn off the heat
  • Garnish with almonds
  • Enjoy it hot!

This is my post for the September Mega Marathon under the theme – Soups. 

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 68



Moroccon Spaghetti kinda sorta….

  

First my disclaimer – I have never had moroccon spaghetti before. So I have no clue as to how it’s supposed to be. I found this awesome recipe in this book called – Accidental Vegetarian. There are some pretty interesting and new combinations in this book.

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And the second disclaimer is that I haven’t stayed true to the recipe from the book either. It was to have chickpeas and flaked almonds which I substituted with broccoli and ground almond all because I had to finish that spaghetti staring at me in the pantry.

So here goes –

Serves 3

Spaghetti                 300 gms

Olive oil                    1 1/2 tbsp

Onion                        1

Garlic                        3 cloves

Broccoli                    150-200 gms

Cherry tomatoes    10-15

Almonds                    5-6

Cinnamon, ground 1 tsp

Cumin, ground        1 tsp

Ginger, ground         1 tsp

Cloves, ground         1/2 tsp

Salt & Pepper
WHAT TO DO

  • Cook the spaghetti as per packet instructions .
  • Finely chop onion, garlic, broccoli and cut the tomatoes into halves.
  • Heat oil and add the onion and garlic. Cool till soft
  • Add the brocolli, cinnamon, cumin and tomatoes and cook over medium heat for around 10 minutes till they are completely cooked
  • Add salt and pepper and almonds and mix well.
  • Add the cooked pasta and mix to combine.
  • Enjoy!

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NOTES

  1. Optimal tip – garnish with parsley or mint leaves or some ground almond.

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This is my entry for the Cooking from Cookbook Challenge hosted by Srivalli.