Saturday, 30 November 2013

Aloo Tikki...and one of the many times I procrastinated on studying.

I really should be studying. 
This is ridiculous. Maybe my desk just doesn't have the right Feng-shui for Psychology. Or Biology. Or anything academia related really.
Ah well, since I'm being horribly unproductive there I just might be able to hammer out a post here. 
Aloo Tikki! Such a cheerful name, isn't it? Try saying it without smiling. Go on. I dare you. Can't do it? 
Told you.

I love these. I first had them when I went over to Mihir's house and his mum made them for us. She has since given me the recipe and I've started making them in Scotland. So simple, yet such a huge comfort food. They are very easy to make and even easier to eat. And everyone who has tried them, have loved them as well. One of my friend's housemates is especially enamored. She once told me that she just randomly starts thinking about them at odd hours of the night!

Aloo Tikki
- 2 large potatoes
- 2 and 1/2 Tbsp bread crumbs
- Chilli flakes
- LOTS of coriander, chopped finely (fresh, please)
- Salt
- Pepper
- Veggie oil

+ Peel the potatoes and cut them into little chunks. Boil until they're tender and a fork easily pierces one of the pieces.
+ Drain out as much water as you can then return the pot to the stove with the potatoes still in it. Stir the potatoes around a bit, you're doing this to make sure as much moisture as possible is gone.
+ Tip your potatoes into a bowl, and add everything except the veggie oil.

+ This bit is key. You're going to mash the potatoes, but you don;t want the mixture to be completely smooth. No potato ricers please. I grab the nearest wooden spoon and start stabbing at the bowl. You look a wee mental at first, but soon enough things will break down and start mixing together. Just remember, you want a mixture that will clump together, but you don't want a puree.

+ When your potato mixture is ready, start forming them into patties a heaped tablespoon at a time. Continue until all the mixture is used up.
+ Refrigerate the patties for at least an hour. Alternatively you could bung them in the freezer and fry them up later.
+ When you're ready to fry, heat up a centimeter of oil in your pan. Wait for it to heat up (I test this by dropping a coriander leaf in the oil. If it starts sizzling immediately, you're good to go) Drop the patties into the hot oil. Fry till golden brown on one side then flip and repeat.

+ Drain on paper towels, then garnish with lots more chopped coriander.

And you're done!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Drinking Coffee... and the time Elisa taught me about carico, caldo, comodo.

Hello Elisa!!! 

Everyone meet my beautiful flatmate Elisa Bevacqua from Calabria, Italy. Elisa and I are having a bit of a tandem culture exchange. I've introduced her to soy sauce, and she's introduced me to Italian coffee.

Glorious, glorious Italian coffee.

One of the more recent things I've learnt from her is the following 'Italian Coffee Doctrine'

Carico: Strong
Your coffee must taste strong. Drinking overpriced dishwater (and honestly I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. My GOOD coffee years are but beginning) constitutes breaking this cardinal law.

Caldo: Hot
Your coffee must be piping HOT. Lukewarm muck that's been sitting around forgotten and cold is absolutely unacceptable. Although... I don't know the stand taken with iced coffee....better ask Eli later. :p

Comodo: Comfortable
Coffee drinking should be done when you are comfortable. You should be seated through the entire experience. You MUST take your time.Good coffee shouldn't be wasted on someone too busy to properly taste it. Drink with family, drink with friends, drink on your own, hell drink with your cat if that's what makes you content. The point is to enjoy your cuppa, not rush through it.

Now all this is well and good to know, but let's face it. Everyone's too busy to actually do all these things EVERY SINGLE TIME you make a cuppa. Sometimes you need a caffeine shot to carry you through to the dawn before your big deadline. Sometimes your only option is diluted dishwater. MOST times the cafe is too crowded for you to do anything but sip your coffee while crowded into a corner.

The important thing is that, every once in a while you take a little time for yourself. Step out of your busy work schedule. Put down the phone, the pen, the piping bag, WHATEVER. Reserve that little parcel of time to properly embody Carico, Caldo, Comodo.

You'll be all the better for it.

Deepavali on the Causeway... and the time I was a good little Indian girl.

So last week the Malaysian society had a joint event with the Singaporean society! We had a very, very, VERY, belated Deepavali pot luck.

There was SO much food OMG. The tables were just groaning under the weight of all the dishes everyone brought along. To put things in perspective? My friend Siti roasted a MASSIVE chicken. I really wish I had gotten a photo of it sitting on the table in all it's roasted glory. And Siti's roast chicken is the most amazing thing you will ever have the privileged to taste. I was an EXTREMELY happy camper. :p

In between all the eating, we set out a couple of things for people to do. There was the Rangoli station, where people could come and spread some sand to colour in our Uni crest.
I think it's safe to say they got really into it.

It's a beauty, isn't it? SO proud of all the people who pitched in!

For my bit, I wanted to contribute some sweets (cause let's face it, it's not Deepavali without sweets!) so I got Aishah to come over, and she, Elisa and I spent our Friday night making these beauties:

(sweet polenta cooked in milk and ghee with cashews and raisins)

Gulab Jamun
(Mini doughnuts deep fried in ghee then soaked in a cardamom syrup)

Badam Burfi
(Almond fudge, spiced with cardamom)

The Kesari and Gulab Jamun were made from packets I brought from home. The Burfi though? I made that from scratch. It's a sweet I started making last year when I spent my first Deepavali in Scotland, and continued to make for my family when I got home. Please try making it. It is the SIMPLEST thing. The only catch is you'll have to keep stirring for 45 minutes. Make it a bonding thing! Make your friends and family help stir too! Tell them your collective labour love will make the sweets taste better! 
And let's get real, that's probably true :)

Badam Burfi
~ 300g Ground Almonds
~ 1 and 1/2 cups Milk
~ 1 cup water
~ 1/3 cup sugar
~ 400g Condensed Milk
~ 2tsp Ground Cardamom
~ 1/2 cup ghee
~ yellow food colouring

~chopped pistachios and cashews to garnish

+ Ghee up a 9x13 inch baking pan.

+ Mix the almonds, milk, water, sugar, condensed milk and cardamom in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Stir continuously over a low flame. You don't have to be vigorous about this, just keep the mixture moving so it doesn't stick.

+ You'll be stirring this for a LONG time. No joke. But it'll be fun! I promise. :)

+ After about 1/2 an hour of stirring the mixture would have reduced to quite a thick paste. It may even be spitting a little. (Please be careful. No kids or pets running around the kitchen, thank you) At this point, start stirring in the ghee a dollop at a time. Allow it to incorporate into the mixture before stirring in more.

+ Keep stirring. Make pouty faces at your significant other so they'll take over stirring.

+Seriously though, that's it. Just stir over a low flame until the paste is really thick. It should be coming away from the sides of the saucepan. To test if it's ready, wet your finger and touch the surface of the paste. If it doesn't stick, it's done.

+Spread into your greased baking tray and sprinkle with the chopped nuts*. Allow to cool. Cut into bite sized pieces (as you can guess, these are very, very rich). 

*I skipped the nuts and sprayed the surface with edible silver after it had cooled.


Sunday, 17 November 2013

Wonton Skins...and the time I had to be stubborn.

Hey guys! So I'm all rested up and ready to type out my wonton wrapper recipe. In my last post, I sleepily typed out a brief post about my dinner of wonton soup.

Now...wontons are easy to cook. You drop them in a pot of boiling water and wait for them to rise to the surface. Done.
But making them... well that's a little more involved. Especially if, like me, you live in a wee town in Scotland with no Asian market nearby. It's not impossible, by NO means is it impossible. Just make sure you do this on a day where you don;t have coursework due anytime soon. So yes, let's get down to brass tacks shall we? I'll share my wrapper recipe with you guys now. The filling can be anything you want it to be. These were stuffed with a mix of mince pork, minced scallops (They were on offer!!!) and veggies. Let me know if you'd like the filling recipe and I'll get a post up on it. :)

My wonton wrapper recipe... is simple, but a work in progress. It comes together very easily but it's very sticky when rolling out. Workable of course, or I would've totally given up making them halfway but I was gritting my teeth.
Any tips?

Wonton wrappers
-1 cup a.p. flour
-1/2 cup warm water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil

+Dissolve the salt in the warm water.
+Make a well in your flour (which ideally should be in a bowl. I made this on the counter the first time round and it was a mini-almost-disaster. Pour about 3/4 of the water in and start pulling the flour in. Moisten as necessary. The dough should just be easy to work with. The dough should be slightly sticky, just barely sticking to your fingers. If you do end up adding too much water, don't panic, just add a bit more flour.
+Drizzle the oil over and knead in well. Keep working the dough till it's smooth and silky.
+Wrap tightly in cling wrap and rest in fridge for atleast an hour. You can make the dough up to 2 days in advance, although I'd STRONGLY advise using it within 24 hours.

Now this is the tricky bit, rolling the buggers out. I tried rolling out the dough into a big sheet and cutting circles out, but the dough isn't very cooperative that way. So, here's what I do:
+ Flour your countertop LIBERALLY. Let flour fly.
+ Divide the dough into small balls, about a measuring tsp worth each.
+Roll each ball out individually (yes, I know, I'm sorry.)
+Roll out till the circle is 1mm thick (Again, I'm really sorry).

Ok, I tried stacking the sheets as I rolled them out the last time. But these things....Goddamn it they're like a high school couple celebrating their 2 week 'anniversary'. The moment they touch, they're STUCK. So this time I just stuffed each skin as soon as I rolled it out.


Ok, this hasn't been the most encouraging post. Please understand that,
1) I was REALLY desperate for wonton soup.
2) The experience was very much a learning curve for me.
3) The end result was very very satisfying. I had a hot bowl of wonton soup while it was freezing cold outside.

Next time (if I figure out how to time my cravings) I'll get the skins from Dundee. For now though, I'll settle down with my hard begotten bowl of pork and scallop wontons.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Spicy Cashews...and the time | pimped my nuts.

Here's a quickie post that I'll try to get out before I completely fall asleep.
Do you like nuts? Of course you do. I particularly love cashews. Sometimes though, it gets a little dull doesn't it? Just having plain cashews. And you don't want to buy the pre-seasoned stuff cause really GOD KNOWS what goes into their flavourings. 
What to do? Spice your own nuts!

-300g natural cashew nuts
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- chilli flakes
- crushed black pepper
- Salt
- sugar

+ Heat the olive oil in a nonstick pan. Toss in a cashew nuts until they get a little bit of colour on them. 
+ When they are a very light brown, season liberally with chilli flakes and black pepper, then add salt and sugar to taste. 
+ Continue tossing in nonstick pan until golden brown and fragrant. 
+ Pour into a plate then leave to cool completely. Bottle, and enjoy!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Pancakes with a Mixed berry Compote...and the time I fed my academic-daughter-to-be.

No no no...not like that you guys!

Meet Prishaa ( hello sayang!!) My almost-academic daughter. I tentatively adopted her last year, in preperation for when I would hit 3rd year. Unfortunately she had to transfer to Royal Holloway and I lost my only child. :'( It's ok though. She'll come visit again during Raisin and I'll sneak her into the foam fight. :)

She came by for a visit last week and I had her over for breakfast to see how she was doing. Now, as her mama OF COURSE I had to make her a proper breakfast. So I woke up craving pancakes that morning and set about making them only to find that I was missing a few key ingredients.
What to do, what to do?

It's times like these you really curse DRA for not having a sundry shop nearby. Nevermind that they'd probably jack up the prices sky-high, that set-up would probably be a lot more conducive for Saturday morning breakfast moods. Unless of course you're one of those ultra-organized people who plan out their Morrison shops to allow for impulse cooking-sprees. I am NOT one of those people. At all. Hence coming back to my problem.

No milk, no buttermilk, nothing to put on the pancakes once they came off the pan. What else was a girl to do? I blearily wandered down to the DRA bistro and purchased a 'basic breakfast' (or some such drivel) and purchased a HIGHLY OVERPRICED  half cup of yogurt, frozen mixed fruit and coffee for 3 pounds.

It was all worth it though, for these pancakes. Some flour on my counter and a stolen clementine later (Thank you Elisa!! <3) Prishaa and I were sitting down to a lovely mother-daughter breakfast of 
Pancakes with a Mixed Berry and Clementine Compote.

Pancake recipe adapted and halved from Spicy Southern Kitchen

Pancakes ( makes 6, medium sized)
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- A pinch of salt
- 1/2 of a beaten egg
- 2 Tbsp butter, melted
- 1/2 cup yogurt +1/4 cup water
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

- vegetable oil, for cooking pancakes

+ Mix all ingredients together (except vegetable oil) and leave aside for 20 minutes.
+ Get your non-stick pan really hot. To see if it's ready, splash some water droplets on the pan. If they 'dance' (you'll see what I mean), then you're good to go.
+ Wipe the pan with some vegetable oil, spreading it around with a kitchen towel, the ladle out 1/4 cup of batter onto the pan.
+ Cook until the top looks bumpy and is covered with bubbles.
+ Flip the pancake and cook on the other side for a few minutes till nice and brown.
+ Serve up with toppings of choice. Maple syrup's nice if you want to be traditional, although nutella sounds like a decadent option as well. Of course, you could always make the SUPER EASY fruit compote below...

Mixed Fruit and Clementine Compote
- 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries
- 1 stolen (it won't taste the same if you get it through moral means) clementine
- 2 Tbsp sugar (adjust according to how sweet the berries are)
- 2 Tbsp water
- A drizzle of STOLEN honey

+ Put the berries in a pan and to it add the zest and juice of your stolen clementine. Combine with the sugar, water, and STOLEN honey.
+ Heat up the mixture till the sugar dissolves. Continue to keep on the hob and reduce till the syrup is nice and thick.
+ Spoon generously over still warm pancakes.

Happy breakfasting guys!!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Tetly Biscuit Thing...and the time I got overconfident and had to improvise.

So I am going to talk about that Great British Bakeoff now.

1) I couldn't make it to the viewing party cause I had a society party that ran over a little late. Although I was rooting for Kimberly, I'm happy Ruby did not win.

2) Today's is a lesson on turning lemons into lemonade. And also...maybe a lesson in overconfidence.

This post is long long overdue. Partly because I've made a lot of things since, mostly because I've been trying to avoid it. It comes down to an age old food bloggers dilemma, should I post my failures or not?
But you know what? It's just shortbread. Life goes on, and I keep cooking. More than anything this post will be a lesson in humility. And posting my 'failures'? A reminder of the dangers of overconfidence, and that you can salvage almost any bad situation. 

So here's a rundown, I made the dough and it turned out to be a beautiful shortbread dough (as you can see above). 
Just the right amount of crumble yet easy to mould. I rolled it up into a log and let it chill in the fridge over night before the party the next day. 

Took it out and it cut BEAUTIFULLY. 

Lightly scented with Tetley tea... I was really really excited. I thought this would be a fantastic biscuit. 
Now.... They went into the oven like this:

And after 15 minutes in that 180'C oven...
To my horror...
They came out like this:

What the hell happened to my beautiful dainty shortbreads??

I tried one. 
In all honesty they tastes ok. Very very buttery with a nice black tea aftertaste. 
But still totally not what I was expecting. The texture, while not unpleasant, was like a chewy feuille rather than a crumbly shortbread. 
The clock was ticking and I had to be at my meeting in 30 minutes. I couldn't bring these with me to the bake off party!
Then suddenly, a little voice at the back of my head whispered
Throw in 2 eggs and some chocolate. 

So I did. And I baked it again with fingers crossed. 
What came out was a very strange... Soft cookie. Slightly eggy and very cakey. 

By this time I had to rush off for the society meeting and completely forgot to take cookies? Bar cookies with me. 

My Flatmate got me to try them again in the morning and to my surprise... They weren't bad. The eggy taste had gone away and was replaced with a strong taste of tea. The dark chocolate chunks gave the bake just the right amount of sweetness and made it a bit more lush. It wasn't the disaster I thought it was. 

In hindsight, I must have put the full weight of butter and forgot I was halving the recipe. Moral of the story? No matter how much 'experience' you think you have? Always always ALWAYS triple check your measurements. And if things go sour, just add 2 eggs and some chocolate. 

And maybe a little bit of luck. 

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Wontons...and the time I got a dumpling craving in the middle of the night.

I'm back!! A thousand apologies dear readers it's been a very deadline heavy period of time. 
That's not to say I haven't been cooking. Oho... QUITE the opposite. It's just that I haven't had time to post about what I've been making. 
Like these wee little dumplings I made a few hours ago for dinner. I dunno... Can we call them wontons? How do you define a wonton? 

Huh... So I guess we can call them wontons. :)

Anyways, these were my second attempt at making these, the first time looking like these:

I'm loving making wontons. They cook in a snap fill you up really nicely. The only thing is that it takes a lot to make them. I need to take a 30 minute bus ride to be able to find wrappers, and so when I suddenly get dumpling cravings in the middle of the evening (which happens very often) I opt to make the skins from scratch as well. 

There will be a recipe! But right now my eyes are closing... So there will be more to share when the sun comes up. :)

Sweet dreams guys! <3

EDIT: Recipe for my wonton wrappers can be found in this post.