Monday, April 30, 2012

Paan ice cream. Cheat's version

 Say aaaa © Cookaroo

I've got to write this quickly, before my ice-cream melts completely. Before I'm left with a milky pool of betel-leafy, fennel-seedy gunk.

I've got to write this quickly since the weather is just so warm. And the sun shining down on my ice-cream is making my hands shake and my photographs go all funky.

I've got to write this quickly because I want to eat this too. And I possibly can't do it without sharing it with you.

I've got to write this quickly as it was a quick dessert to make and I can't stop my self from licking the blender and my spoon.

I've got to write this quickly... oh hell forget goes:

Paan icecream

1 liter store-bought vanilla ice-cream 
3 store-bought paans
Must include the following:
Betel leaf (paan ka patta)
Saunf (Fennel seeds)
Gulkand (Rose petal preserve)
Soft betel nuts
(all the other things are great just make sure you don't put sweet cherries, coconut and hard supari/betelnuts)


1. Let the vanilla icecream sit on your counter for 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Put the paans in a food processor, whiz it till its finely chopped.

3. Add the icecream to it and blend till incorporated completely. (You might have to do half and half).

4. Put the mix into a closed box. Freeze overnight.

5. Serve with mukhwaas or extra betel-nut leaf.

Ugh... too late

Uh-oh ©Cookaroo

Friday, April 27, 2012

Blast from the past. Vintage posters

Everyday I come across something bizarre to read. Considering the profession I’m in, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise. But it’s my normal habit to skim through it put it back in my head somewhere. 

Sometimes I wish we lived in the world of Hogwarts where I could put my memories into a Pensieve, and take it out whenever I felt like.

Over the years, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I'll never be able to remember it all. So I started saving and labelling things in my mail. One of the things that I've saved have been old posters of food that I'd see (apparently my father used to do the same with television ads, in the sense he’d record it and keep.) and had totally forgotten about it until the other day, my friend Orange Kitchens did a post on vintage food posters, that triggered a memory – and I suddenly remembered I had all these food posters in my mailbox.

When I opened all of them I found 19 vintage posters of Coca Cola, 11 of Campbell soup and a dozen or so of Hersheys.  And so many others including Bird’s Custards, Cointreau, Vermouth, Kellogs, Burger King, et al.I don’t really recall the sources, but whenever I’d chance upon one, I’d just save and mail it to myself.

I figured it's Karma calling, so I feel its time to share some of my favourites with the world. I've only put the brands that people use today so that it's easy to related to. So here goes:

1. Heinz - Ketchup, Apple Cider and Tomato Soup yes! Everything else, can't get no more

2. Coca Cola - Yes they used bikinis to sell, even back them (and she's so pretty!)

3. Tabasco - I'm not sure whether I'd have ever bought this after looking at this. Wish I could shop at a first class grocer

4.Wrigley's Gum - Still don't get the obsession with jesters

5. McDonald's - So Flintstonesque. And we get to drive to Manesar :(

6. Kellogs - Made me wonder if they've changed the recipe at all

7. Budweiser - Look! More jesters, or is this Dorothy of Wizard of Oz?

8. Cadbury's - I can do with a elf of my own. Rich in cream, I believe

9.Campbell's - I love this one. So fresh and inviting. I want to give the illustrator a hug

10.Del Monte - I don't think I'm going to eat this cake ever.

11.Nescafe - There are lots of Nescafe posters, but this one made me laugh - the poem especially - the copyrighters must have had a busy day:
"There's no other coffee today
As good as the new Nescafe
Its flavour beats ground
Saves money per pound"

12. Seven -up - How does this baby land up drinking 7-up I don't know, but look! So Mad Menesque

So that's a wrap, send me some posters, if you have any.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Two awards. One guest post and some lemon cake

Sunshine in my pocket ©Cookaroo
You don't really get lemons in India. Not the kinds you see in the US. Here the lemons are more like limes but are really not limes either. They are sort of the a cross between the two. With a limey zest but a lemony pungency. So you can imagine my rage when a recipe calls for Key Lime. Hullo! We don't get any! What about Meyer Lemons? I say fugetaboudit. What about Kaffir Lime. I am just going to snort. (but at least my grocer stocks it sometimes).

Whatever it is, we got to work with what we have. So when a recipe asks for lemon, I reach out to whatever's lying in my refrigerator. 

As much as I love citrus, I can't beat my husband's affection for it. He can eat a dozen oranges in one go. Drink up a whole litre of lemonade, eat half a lemon cheesecake in one sitting. Heck, he even prefers even his bathing products citrusy. 

That said, I'm always anxious about making lemon-based desserts, because (oh-horror of horrors) I find they can be a little too eggy. Actually too-yolky to be exact. I love a good lemon-souffle but the mouth-ful of eggy custard is really off-pudding (pun intended). Lemon curd scares me. But most of all, I am truly mortified of a lemon cake. 

It always seems like the perfect recipe for disaster. Egg yolks! Not enough vanilla! And not citrusy enough. Bottomline is, I hardly ever make it.

But this time, I had left over batter sitting on my counter. The batter wasn't enough for a big cake, it was perhaps ok for a 1/2 cake. But I had these mini moulds lying around the house. And a bagful of lemons, which my grandmother sent me from our garden in Chennai. And it all made perfect sense. Because - there were no egg yolks in the batter! So there was no way this cake would turn out eggy.

So I added some zest, fresh juice, a tiny drop of lemon extract and some yellow food colouring to the batter. It didn't smell eggy. It didn't taste eggy. Perhaps then, I had won over the battle with the lemon cake. 

And I couldn't have been more right. The cake turned out moist, tangy and citrusy. The lemon drizzle accentuated the flavours and I was a happy camper. 

This is a happy cake. Happier more for people who can't stand eggy cakes. And happiest for those who are allergic to eggs.

Happy cake ©Cookaroo

Lemon cake with lemon drizzle

Adapted from Rose Levy Bernabaum’s The Cake Bible. Available in India, US and UK

For the cake
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/3  cup milk, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cups cake flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 tsp lemon extract
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
½ tsp lemon zest
2 tsps lemon juice
5 drops yellow food colouring

For the lemon drizzle
 1/ 2 cup icing sugar
1 tblsp lemon juice

For the cake

1. Get your baking tins ready. Spray and line them.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Whisk together egg whites, vanilla, and three tablespoons of the milk.

3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and the remaining milk. Mix til the dry ingredients are moistened, then raise the speed to medium and beat for 90 seconds, scraping down the bowl.

4. Gradually add the eggs on a slightly higher speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface evenly with a small offset spatula.

5. Add the lemon zest and the lemon juice. Pour in the batter into the prepared tins

5. Bake til golden brown for 22 minutes, a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean, and the cake springs bake when pressed in the center. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after  removal from the oven, remove gently from the pan, and cool completely.

For the glaze

1. Sift the icing sugar in a bowl. Add lemon juice and stir till it thickens.

2. Glaze the cooled cakes with the same

Note: You can do the same treatment for an orange cake. I promise it’ll not smell eggy and will be citrusy

Allo Allo ©Cookaroo
Meanwhile I've done a quick guest post for my cousin Malvika's blog. Malu's blog isn't so much food related but it's a very good blog. You, see Malu looks like she's stepped out of the pages of Vogue and her blog is all about how YOU can do the same. Inspiring and spot on with the trends - she's doing an awesome job juggling her two kids, a job and this awesome blog. Do read. 

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnndddddddddddd... I've got two awards. How can I ever ever thank these guys. So much love <3 .

Here's a shout out to both the bloggers who've given me the awards - Renuka from Pinch of Salt and Aparna from Square Meals. The problem with virtual awards is that it's hard to send a special package saying thank you. So instead am sending plenty of good food vibes :)

Rules for both the awards are pretty much the same

  • Thank the person who nominated you for this Award and link them back
  • Then state some 5 random facts about you.
  • Spread the joy by nominating fellow bloggers, it is a way of appreciation.
  • Finally inform the bloggers about the awards.

5 Random facts about me:
  1. I cook when I'm stressed. I bake when I'm happy. 
  2. I hate cauliflower. But I've just started enjoying a good gobi ka parantha.
  3. I love being a hostess. I love feeding people and love pandering to requests. That's why we have an embargo on the number of dinner parties at home.
  4. I am also a sloth. Given a choice, I prefer lolling at home. And I wish that's all I had to do.
  5. I have an aversion to authority. I am almost always the rule breaker.
Here are the people I'm giving these awards to, in no particular order:

1. Shivani of Shoestring Style
2. Prachi of Purple Homes
3. Malvika of Mbellished Life
4. Marsha of The Harried Cook
5. Pratibha of Cook-ezee
6. Charis of Culinary storm

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Marrying a malayalee and a Kerala cookbook review

I married a Malayalee. Except he's really not one. He was born in Patna and has lived in Delhi most of his life. He speaks Hindi with an exaggerated Punju twang and really has some strange notions about politics. But that, I suppose, is maybe because he's a journalist. 

He prefers roti to chawal. He prefers gobi aloo to poriyal. And always always loved a good tandoori chicken. 

That said, he's quite the avial lover. Loves his appam and stew and is always rummaging in the freezer for his grandmother-sent chammandi podi. But left to himself he prefers eating a roadside chicken noodles. 

When we met over 5 years ago, we bonded over food. I'd cook, he'd eat. So when we finally decided to get married, I thought I'd figure out some the malayalee food, or at least get myself a book so figure it out.

Considering I lived in Chennai for over a decade, I was no stranger to Mal food. I could make a mean stew. I could make a mean meen moilee and I definitely could make red rice. But I figured, it wouldn't be a bad idea to hone my Kerala cooking skills. 

So I bought one from Penguin's essential cookbook series - The Essential Kerala Cookbook by Vijayan Kannampilly to jumpstart my repertoire with. Turns out that's the only cookbook that I've ever needed.

But there were many reasons for that:

Firstly, when I bought this book, my mother went quite crazy - I mean she tried nearly every single vegetable that's been written about in this book. You see, she did want her future son-in-law to get to eat his 'ghar ka khaana'

Secondly, the moment I laid my hands on this book, I had a sneaking suspicion that it had been written by my friend's father. After all how many Kannampilly are there in the world? So when I met Ammu many moons later, I doubled checked. And it was him!

Thirdly, it was the first cookbook that my father-in-law ever gave me. I mean, I already had a copy, but he gave me another. So all in all this is a very special book for me. 

The book is a collection of recipes from across the regions and religions in Kerala, that has been condensed into one fabulous keepsake. Divided into sections such as poultry, fish, vegetables, powders and desserts. This is a book that has helped me recreate Kerala food as I remember from eating in friends' houses.

I must be honest here, I haven't tried every single recipe from the book. I can't too. I mean we don't eat that much Indian food at home. But every single thing that I have made from the book is excellent. I love the avial. It's very different from what my husband's family makes, but it tastes like how I remember. I love the stew - I make it with plenty of vegetables and eat it with dosa for breakfast. 

The spicy chicken curry, my husband says, is like home. The cashew-nut chicken curry is always a hit when I make it. But I love, absolutely love about this book is the vegetarian section - the stir-fried banana flower (when and if we can get it) with coconut, the mango curry with yogurt and coconut, the biryani with coconut. You get the drift - there's a lot of coconut and it's amazing.

While the book has no photographs, one of the reasons the recipes come out as they do is because, Kannampilly has tried out every single dish in his cookbook. And specified details such as 4 peppercorn, 6 curry leaves and so on. 

There's a lot of description in Kannampilly's book - it's almost as if he's letting your imagination soar, and that is something commendable. 

Available in IndiaUS and UK

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Last Supper. Part 1 - Chicken Sizzler

All the sizzles...©Cookaroo
After a whirlwind week, where we were doing something or the other every single day - I knew I had to make something special for the last supper that my brother would have with us before he left.

I wanted to make something special, but easy on the tummy, considering we'd been eating out nearly every day. Shawarmas? I thought out loud. I got a ho-hum response from the rest of the peeps. We'd eaten Chinese on Tuesday, Indian on Thursday and Friday, so Saturday night dinner had to be something different. And then it suddenly struck me - sizzlers! They were fun easy and lots of the elements could be done ahead of time so it just made plenty sense to me. 

Also, Ditto had asked me for a cake - Dorie Greenspan's Black and White cake - Dark chocolate pudding and white chocolate whipped cream in a moist vanilla cake. So that HAD to be made.

So between shopping for shoes, forgetting my wallet at office and eating lunch at 4 pm, I somehow managed to squeeze the sizzler in for an 11 pm dinner.

Dits for very happy. He'd asked me for mashed potatoes he got that. He asked me for broccoli, he got that. Barbecue sauce, he said. He got that too. It was a light meal and we played Bonus till 2 am before we called it a night. And then the three of us woke up at 8 in the morning to pack, breakfast and get him to bolt out of the door with his brothers-law to catch a flight to Mumbai

I missed him the moment he walked out that door. Considering my sister and I saw him nearly every day for 12 years of his life, the attachment that we feel for this 6-foot fool is very deep. Most of the day I felt a kind of sadness which I suppose only being another sibling can understand. 

But that apart, there's one key thing to making sizzlers at home - that is having a sizzler plate. Please do not be stupid like me and buy only 4 - buy at least 6 if not 8. Of course permutations and combinations are a plenty. Fries, baked potatoes, twice-baked potatoes, rosti, hash, roasted potatoes are your friends. Mushroom sauce, coriander cream sauce, bechamel, arrabiata - sauces are your BFF. And ofcourse the choice of meat is up to you. Because a sizzler is whatever you want should sizzle. 

Putting together the sizzler takes at least 10 minutes, so give yourself time and plenty of space. Unless someone is careful and can be shoooed, work alone in the kitchen. definitely yummy ©Cookaroo

Chicken sizzler with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables and sauteed onions.
Served with brown bar-be-cue sauce
Serves 5


For the Chicken/ marination
2 tblsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic
1 lemon squeezed
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp paprika
7 chicken breasts - washed cleaned and deboned

For the mashed potatoes with roasted garlic
1/2 kg potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon roasted garlic

For the vegetables
Cabbage leaves - for assembly
4 carrots
100 gms beans
1 head broccoli
4 onions
Salt and Pepper

For the brown sauce
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups cold chicken broth 
Salt and black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons store-bought barbecue sauce 
1 tsp fresh pepper corns smashed in a mortar and pestle  


For the chicken/marination

1. Put the clean chicken breasts in a ziploc bag. With a meat mallet or a rollin pin, beat it till it flattens out well and even. 

2. Into the same bag add the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, paprika, salt and pepper. Mix well. Let the meat marinate for minimum two hours and upto 24 hours, 

For the mashed potatoes

1. Wash, peel and dice the potatoes. Put them in a pan with cold water and let it simmer gently. (This is an important tip because that's how the potatoes will let go of their starch)

2. Once the potatoes are boiled through, drain the water and let it sit with in a mixing bowl. Put in the butter.

3.Add milk and use a potato masher to mash 'the hell out of the potatoes' (When I don't have time, I just run my hand mixie on the potatoes)

4. Add salt, pepper and roasted garlic and mix well. Serve immediately or let it cool and store in the fridge for up to 8 hours.

For the brown sauce

1. Make a roux with butter and flour, stir till it's golden brown. Add the garlic to it and immediately pour in  1 cup of chicken broth to it. Stir till smooth. 

2. Add the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, salt and pepper and the remaining stock. Stir well.

3.  Add the barbecue sauce and the fresh pepper corn. Let it sit for 10 minutes before serving. 

For the vegetables

1. Cut the onions into thick circles. Use your hands to separate the rings. Heat butter in a large saucepan and toss the onions till they shrink in size and are beautifully pink. Set aside.

2. Cut the beans and carrots into long, bite-sized pieces. Break the broccoli into florets. Wash them all. And put them into a microwavable box.

3. When you're ready to serve. Put 1/2 cup water into the vegetables and microwave for 5 minutes on full. Take out drain. Toss with some butter salt and pepper.

For the assembly

1. Heat a grill pan and pour in some olive oil. Put in the chicken. Cook on either side for 4 minutes each or until done. Keep aside.

2. Put the sizzler plate on to the gas.Drape on some olive oil and let the iron smoke. Put in the cabbage leaves, using only the tender parts. On top of the leaves add the mashed potatoes on one side, on the other the chicken. 

3. Pour in a little bit of the brown sauce to let the sizzling begin. Add the vegetables to the centre and drizzle the chicken with more sauce. Add the sauteed onions to it.

4. When you're ready to serve, sprinkle on some water so that the sizzling takes up the visual experience and put the iron plate on the wooden outer plate and serve. 

Can I have some more please? ©Cookaroo

Monday, April 23, 2012

Brother's request. Sapota Ice cream

Melting fruit ©Cookaroo
Mamey sapote (Pouteria sapota) : A mamey sapote is ripe when the flesh is pink when a fleck of the skin is removed. The flesh should give slightly, as with a ripe kiwifruit. The brown skin has a texture somewhat between sandpaper and the fuzz on a peach.

Thats a chikoo we're talking about. So a couple of days ago, my brother and I stopped by at Gourmet Affaire, where he picked up a chikoo icecream. It was excellent. Can you make this, he asked. I could try, I replied.

Then there was this conversation between my friend N and I on gtalk

me:  Yesterday we ate chikoo ice cream from Gourmet Affaire
N:  ooh. nice?
me:  I am trying to figure out how to make it. Oh it was excellent. Chikoo-ey, not too sweet, creamy. What is chikoo in English?
N:  Sapota
me:  NO, thats in tamil
N:  Yes, f****r. Who lost kiwi bet?
me:  Eh? What?
N:  You wouldn't believe me ki it was an animal not just something you eat, wember?
me:  Bhai, are u mad, I know they are both
N:  Ruch, your memory is playing tricks. Rememeber 2-3 years ago we were squabbling about this!!
And I won 100 bucks from you! Because kiwi was a bird and you wouldn't believe me. So just shut up
and believe me ki sapota is chikoo
me:  Hai raam. Ok. Sapota you say. Fine googling sapota
N:  Then google humble pie
me:  poda
N:  Be graceful, acknowledge defeat, my worthy opponent kahin ki. First acknowledge you're stupid.
me:  Mamey sapote is a tropical native from Mexico and Central America. This furry fruit is apparently
much loved in mehico. Sapota botanical name Pouteria Sapota. You were right. 
N:  :D
me:  I always thought Sapota was a tamil name for chikoo

So much for that. After having to eat humble pie, I went in search of over ripe Sapotas, because the brother was only over for a couple more days. So armed with 9 ripe chikoos, I went in search of a recipe that would do justice to the fruit. I looked up a number of recipes online and figured that most fresh fruit pureed ice creams would taste better without eggs. I didn't want an extremely rich ice cream either, so instead of going half milk half cream, I decided to make a half coconut milk half skimmed milk dessert.

While I was making the dessert, I thought that adding the coconut milk was a terrible idea - the mix taste more coconutty than sapotoey... but once it was frozen the taste of the chikoo took over completely. Perhaps there was a hint of coconut milk, but truly, if you weren't looking for it, chances were you weren't going to find it.

I've used custard powder instead of corn flour or milk powder, only because I thought it would give it that creamy (eggy-like) texture. The vanilla could have been overpowering had it not been for the uber ripe sapota. But that said, this is not a very sweet ice cream. This is not a rich dessert. This is an ice cream for chikoo lovers. And its good. And the only thing to remember is that its shelf life is about 5 days. So like me, this morning, you could make yourself some chikoo milk shake with the leftovers.

Oh and when my brother tasted the ice cream . He said (and I quote here) - "It's even better than what we ate at Gourmet Affaire."  I couldn't wipe that grin off my face.

Just one more scoop, please ©Cookaroo

Sapota ice cream

1 cup plus 1/2 cup milk
150 ml condensed milk
1 cup light coconut milk
3 tsps vanilla custard powder
1 1/2 cups pureed sapota/ chikoo (about 7 sapota)


1. Heat 1 cup of milk and condensed milk together till it boil. Mix 1/2 cup of milk with three teaspoons custard powder till smooth. Stir into the condensed milk mixture and stir till mixture thickens. Cool.

2. Peel the sapota and de seed. Pulverize till pureed in the food processor or blender. Mix with the coconut milk.

3. Stir the mixture into the custard mix until smooth and creamy. Let it cool in the refrigerator for a bit.

4. Freeze using your ice cream machine as per the manufacturer's instructions.

Note: You can make this ice cream without the ice cream maker as well. Just freeze for 2 hours and run it through the blender once before placing it back into the freezer

Friday, April 20, 2012

An Ode to cheese

And in continuation to yesterday's post, more adulation for cheese.

Dear Cheese,

You are my nemesis but I love you.
If you were any closer, I’d eat you.
Even though you go straight to my hips
I carry on nibbling and drink our friend,
wine in between, in sips

Some like Milton
I like Stilton
Others are worried about the weather
I only care for sharp cheddar

When I see you I feel pretty stoked
Coz I like you fresh, processed and smoked
Asiago, Parmesan and Gruyere
Wait up, I'm right here

I know I've got a lot of flack
For eating a pound of Colby-Jack
But people have no clue
How awesome is a Danablu

They tell me, you're committing a sin
But I say, can you pass me the Boursin
No I'm not being rude-a
Why don't you just have a slice of gouda

Oh why, why do I like you so much
I think it's because you never let me go Dutch
And you never make me feel too old 
Especially to eat a toast with Cougar Gold

Or too full to eat a Stinking Bishop
Even if I'm having the hic-cup
Very often I'm told 'Hey Miss,
Could you let go of that Swiss'?
But I'd rather put up a fight
Because when it's about cheese I'm always right.

Hooney Macarooney

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Margarita pizza. My perfect pizza

All three layers ©Cookaroo

There are some days when all you want is some cheese. Melty. Gooey. Stringy. Burn-the-roof-of-your-mouth kind of cheese. And truly there is nothing like a good thin-crust pizza to satiate that craving.

Mind you, for instant gratification you can always head to the latest Papa John's/ Dominoes/ Pizza Hut type nonsense. But if you want pure unadulterated perfection to sink your teeth into, then this must be made.

The process is slightly long I agree, but if you multi-task you won't even feel it. Or if, you're like me - you'll make it over two days - slowly, keeping your eye on the prize and relishing the act of making pizza. 

Of course, my family is always asking me about what toppings I am going to put on my pizza. Can I get some pepperoni, my husband asks. Salami for me, says the brother-in-law. Is there no bacon, asks my brother? What about some veggies, wonders my sister aloud. 

I, however, like my pizza plain. Just some cheese and lots of basil and a drizzle of EVOO. That is my perfect pizza.

In my family, we've been eating home-made pizza since forever. My mother's brother used to hand-roll his dough. My aunt VB used to make it home all the time and well, we - my sister and I would often make a pizza toast in dire straits.

There was a time when we'd make a bunch of pizza sauce and stock it in the freezer. There was a time when we'd only make no-knead dough. Then, there was a time when I learnt how to make thin crust pizzas and that has stayed with me forever.

After watching a Masterclass on Masterchef Australia (Season 2 I think) I picked up a few tips that have truly helped me make a good pizza.

Tip 1 - Resist the urge to add more flour to your dough. Knead more instead.

Tip 2 - If you don't have a brick oven or a pizza dish, use a tile. The tile will give it even heating and great crust

Tip 3 - Don't overload the pizza, led the few flavours shine. 

I must thank Gary and George one of these days. At least write them a letter, because after this, I've never failed in baking a good pizza. 

Also feel free to substitute - use fresh mozarella, gruyere, cheddar. Top with broccoli, mushrooms, onions, olives or ham, pineapple, pepperoni, chorizo. The world is your oyster

Also, I couldn't take a picture of the ready-pizza. It was over before you could say Margarita. So you're stuck with just the unbaked goody, while the rest sings merry songs in our tummies.

I'm going to sing soon ©Cookaroo

Thin-crust Margarita pizza 


For the dough
3 cups of flour
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried basil
2 1/4 tsps dry active yeast
1/4 cup warm water

For the sauce
500 gms plus 300 gms tomatoes
5 plus 5 cloves garlic
1 dried red chilli
Handful fresh basil leaves
1 tblsp olive oil

For the toppings
200 gms  Mozzarella cheese
Basil leaves


For the dough

1. Heat water till warm. Keep aside

2. Sift together flour and salt. Mix in yeast, dried basil and sugar. Add the oil and add half the water.

3. Mix, the dough will be shaggy. Keep adding more water as you progress and get a dough like consistency. Resist adding more flour. Knead.

4.The dough will be sticky and you have to keep kneading for nearly 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth. Knead using the heel of your palm and keep turning the dough. Stretch. Knead.

5. Once done. Keep the dough in a warm dry spot, covered. Let it rise for 1 1/2 half or till double its size. At this stage the dough can go into the fridge and can be used till up to 3 days later.

6. Once puffed, box down the dough and divide into balls. Let it rise again for 45 minutes. At this stage, the dough can be put into the fridge for upto 24 hours.

For the sauce

1. Take 500 gms to tomatoes and 5 cloves of garlic and puree. Keep aside

2. In a pan, heat olive oil and add 3 cloves of garlic to it. Chop the dried red chilli into it. Add the basil leaves and it should sizzle. As soon as the basil leaves crisp up, turn the gas off. Let it cool. Strain the oil, remove all the bits of garlic, red chilli and basil.

3. Add the tomoto puree to it and let it simmer. Meanwhile chop the remaining tomatoes and garlic and add to the tomato sauce.

4. Let it cook for half an hour, till the water evaporates and the sauce thickens. Add salt, sugar and pepper to taste.

For the assembly

1. Grate the cheese.

2. Dust your counter top with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll out some of the pizza dough into desired thickness. I normally roll it to about 1/4 inch thickness.

3. (You don't have to do this - but I feel that I get a crustier base). Pop the base into the oven for 10 minutes at 370 degree centigrade. Take it out

4. Spread about 4 tbslps of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the cheese. Top will basil

5. Bake till the cheese is melting and oozing. Top with more fresh basil leaves

Note: This is a basic pizza. The tomato sauce can be frozen to upto three months. But the dough cannot. However if u pre-bake the crust, you can freeze it for upto 2 months.

Bakazella ©Cookaroo

Also I'm sending this for Radhika's I love Baking event. It's as vegetarian a pizza as a pizza can be :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cooking (or not!) from The Hungoevr cookbook

I haven't made a thing from this cookbook. So why am I talking about it at all? Because it makes me laugh. 

This is the book that lies by my bedside on most days. This is the book that I take with me to bed, when I'm feeling particularly exhausted and need a laugh. I mean how can you not laugh at things like

I can read that quote over and over, still giggle when I think about it. I mean seriously, that's an excellent retort. Winston Churchill was smart!

This book was a part of my b'day package from my friend N. She wrote me an inscription that only she and I get - that it makes me chuckle too. To be a part of a secret in the public eye - hiding in plain sight. 

It's not that I haven't wanted to cook from this book, I have. But my question to Milton Crawford, the author, is do I HAVE to be hungover to make most of the things? If so, then I've  never been in that situation. No, no. I've been hungover - but not when I can find the cookbook. 

Because mostly, when I have a hangover, I hope a pill, drink some buttermilk and go back to sleep - only to emerge feeling worse. So then I repeat the whole process again. Pop, drink, sleep - till I feel better. Which is almost always the day after.

The thing that really makes me laugh, is the pop quiz before the whole cookbook thing starts. The first page of the quiz looks something like this:

How many legs does that elephant have? The rest of the test is equally bizarre - How does your head feel? How does your stomach feel? How many dots on that picture - things that will certain send a sober person into a tailspin let alone a hungover one.

Once you're done with your test - you reach your diagnosis and you figure whether you're a Broken Compass, a Sewing Machine, a Comet, an Atomic, a Cement Mixer or the Gremlin Boogie (which for the longest time I kept reading as Gremlin Booger - which made no sense).

Crawford's described each stage in great detail and has explained what happens if you're feeling everything together. What you're supposed to feel, how you're supposed to behave - really it's great reading material. And because he's so helpful he's given out recipes according to how you're feeling and labelled it according to the level of difficulty. The recipes are such that if you have a bigger hangover, you've got to head straight to the end of  the book - that's where you'll find the quickest recipes.

I want to try a number of them. The chorizo omlette sounds deadly, the French toast with banana compote does too. As does the fish finger sandwich. Shakshuka and Huevos Rancheros have been on my to-do list for years - I can never find everything when I need it. So this is definitely going to be made.

One of them I have already tried - if you eat it more than thrice in your life - your arteries will surely clog by the time you're 45 and you may need an angioplasty soon. And that is (drum roll) The Elvis Presley Peanut Butter, Banana and Bacon sandwich. Crawford calls it a sandwich of 'dubious taste' but as one who as tried it - I find is extremely delicious and reallly rich. (This coming from me - is serious business). I made only half of this sandwich and could barely eat more than half of the half. 

Some like the egg bhurji, lime soda, lemon lassi, smoothies - I make those pretty much all the time - so they'll go to the back of the list for me. But the one I am going to make super soon is the caramelised onion and feta scrambled egg. It sounds absolutely divine. And I'm going to make it - hungover or not. 

There are no photographs in the book - just illustrations, which are really quite cute - and look pretty much like how they're suppose to.

But this book, is all about the writing. Because Crawford can be very fun through out. So this book is pretty much for people you are a. hungover b. cookbook collectors. c. those who want a book to talk about.

Crawford says in this book - that these recipes are mostly for hungover chefs (I think I'd fit that bill.) The real question has to be however - can you really make any of this while you're hungover.

I should hope so. I'd like that very much.

The book is available in IndiaUS and UK

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls: Baking with my brother

 Pinwheel phun ©Cookaroo
On Saturday night, I was suddenly seized with this great desire to teach my brother how to make cinnamon rolls. There were three reasons for that:
1. It was the first thing I had ever learnt from my mother
2. It was the perfect thing to begin learning baking especially under supervision.
3. I wanted to eat it for breakfast Sunday morning

My brother, the keen learner and a lefty, measured out all the dry ingredients while I went ahead with warming the milk and butter to the said temperature. Don't you have a thermometer, he asked me. Of course I did. Don't you have measuring spoons, why do I have to use spoons from your drawer? Yes, they are in the other room.

Apparently when you teach someone how to bake, you need to pull out all your gadgets. 

I told him how it was science - the fact that yeast needed to grow at a particular temperature. I taught him how to knead, how to push the dough away withthe heel of your palm, folding it over to increase its elasticity. I told him how important it was to prove the dough and how we'd have to wait for a bit to get that soft bread-like structure.

He was patient. We waited for a little over an hour before we went ahead with the next step - the filling. Except I'd run out of brown sugar. That's ok, he said. let's just use white sugar. We did. I brushed the rolled dough with melted butter while he learnt how to sprinkle the filling evening. And with that done - we rolled the dough and cut them for further proving. Only at this step, we let it rise half-way (about 20 minutes) and covered it, and let it rest in the fridge till the morning.

The next morning over a game of Life and some nachos and salsa - hot and fresh cinnamon rolls were our breakfast of choice. Between the five of us, we ate nearly a dozen - without even waiting to glaze it. They weren't rich and heavy like Cinnabon, instead they were light and delectable.Sweet and spicy they really hit the spot. 

Do make them.  
 Not quite Cinnabon  ©Cookaroo

Cinnamon rolls adapted from Abigail Johnson Dodge's The Weekend Baker. Available in IndiaUS and UK

Makes 12

For the dough:
1 cup (8 fl ounces/233 ml) whole milk
8 tablespoons (4 ounces/113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
3½ cups (15½ ounces/447 grams) all-purpose flour
2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) instant yeast
1/3 cup (2½ ounces/71 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg

For the cinnamon filling:
½ cup (4 ounces/113 grams) firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
½ cup (4 ounces/113 grams) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (1½ ounces/43 grams) all-purpose flour
2½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) unsalted butter, melted

For the glaze:
2¼ cups (9 ounces/255 grams) confectioners’ sugar
6 tablespoons heavy cream
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract


For the dough
1. In a small saucepan, combine the milk and the 8 tablespoons butter. Set over medium heat and heat, stirring constantly, until the butter melts and the liquid registers about 125 degrees (52°C) on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the heat.
2. To mix by hand: In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until well blended.

3. Check the temperature of the milk mixture; it should now register about 120 degrees (49°C) on an instant-read thermometer. In order for the yeast to grow, the liquid needs to be between 115 and 125 degrees (46 and 52°C). Add the warm liquid and the egg to the flour and stir with the wooden spoon until a rough, shaggy dough forms. Lightly dust a work surface with a little flour. Dump the dough onto the surface.

4. Knead the dough with your hands. It will be sticky at first, but resist the urge to add more flour. First, gather the dough together. Next, using the heel of one hand, push the top part of the dough away from you. Fold that piece over the part of the dough nearest you. Give the dough a quarter turn clockwise and repeat. Keep kneading until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky, about 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball.

5. Let the dough rise: Scoop up the dough and shape it into a ball. Lightly grease the bowl and pop the dough back into it. Cover the top securely with plastic wrap. (I like to use a large rubber band to hold the plastic in place.) Let the covered dough rise in a warm spot until nearly doubled in size, 45 to 55 minutes.

For the filling
1. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Whisk until well blended. Set aside. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch (22.75-by-33 cm) baking dish (I use Pyrex). Turn the dough out onto a clean surface (there’s no need to flour; the dough is soft but not sticky) and press down gently to deflate it. Roll out the dough into a 12-by-17-inch (30.5-by-43 cm) rectangle. Use your hand to stretch the dough gently when necessary.

2. Pour the melted butter into the center of the rectangle and spread evenly over the dough with a spatula. Don’t worry if a little spills over the edge. Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the butter, spreading with your hand, if necessary.

Assembly for the rolls
1. Starting on a short side, roll up like a jelly roll. Pinch the long seam of the dough to the roll to seal. Position the roll, seam side down, on the work surface and cut into slices 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide.

2. Arrange the slices, cut side up, in the prepared pan, forming 4 rows of 3 slices each. Using a bench scraper, scoop up any escaped filling and sprinkle it over the rolls. Spray the tops lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

3. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise in a warm spot until they’re about 1½ times their original size and have risen about two-thirds of the way up the sides of the baking dish (they won’t yet fill the dish), about 40 minutes.

4. While the rolls are rising, prepare the glaze. In a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, cream, and vanilla. Stir until well blended, smooth, and thick. Cover with plastic wrap and stow at room temperature until ready to serve. Position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 350 degrees (180°C).

5. Remove the plastic wrap and bake the rolls until they are puffed and well browned, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer the baking dish to a rack and let cool slightly. Check the consistency of the glaze; it should form a thick ribbon when it is dropped from a spoon. If it’s too thick, add a drop or two more cream.

6. Serve the rolls warm with a thick ribbon of glaze over each roll.

Notes:Do aheads
• Prepare the dough through step 5 (of for the dough), but let rise until only about 1½ times its original size, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate the dough for up to 24 hours before proceeding with the recipe. It will continue to rise slowly in the fridge.
• Prepare the dough through step 3 (of the assembly of the dough) but let the rolls rise until only about 1½ times their original size, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate the rolls for up to 12 hours before proceeding with the recipe. Remove from the fridge and set on the counter while heating the oven.
• Prepare the rolls through step 5 (of the assembly of the dough) and let cool completely. Freeze the rolls in a heavy-duty freezer bag for up to 2 months.

Glaze of glory ©Cookaroo