Friday, January 16, 2015

Milagu-Kariveppilai Kuzhambu (Pepper-Curry Leaves Curry)

During our July 4th Weekend and Catching Up With Friends episode, Gomathi had brought this thick, delicious kuzhambu with strong flavors of pepper, curry leaves, and tamarind. We loved the curry and almost licked our plates clean. I have called it a curry for lack of a better word. It can be made slightly runny to be mixed with rice or made thick like a chutney.
When I tried it for the first time, my husband took one taste and asked, "Isn't this the kuzhambu Gomathi had made?" Yaay, I had got it right!" Here's the recipe for all of you to try.
Urad dal - 2 tbsps
Toor dal - 2 tbsps
Whole peppercorn - 1-2 tbsps
Red chilis - 2-3
Curry leaves - 1 cup (loosely packed)
Tamarind extract - 1/4 cup + more to taste
Water - 1/2-3/4 cup
Gingelly oil - 2 tbsps
Salt to taste
For Seasoning
Mustard seeds - 1 1/2 tsps
Red chili - 1
Soak the tamarind in hot water for about 10-15 minutes. Squeeze out the pulp and keep aside.
Dry roast the red chilis, dals, and pepper until the dals turn a shade darker and the pepper splutters a bit. Allow it to cool.
Grind together the roasted mixture, curry leaves, and salt to make a thick paste.
Heat the gingelly oil in a deep pan or vessel. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and the red chili and wait till the seeds stop spluttering.
Add the ground mixture and some water, reduce the heat, and allow it to simmer and thicken. Add more water if you want it to be in a semi-gravy consistency.
If not, allow the mixture to thicken more and remove from the heat. Serve hot with plain rice. You could have this as a side dish or mixed with hot rice and some gingelly oil or ghee. Either way, this flavorful kuzhambu will be a sure hit in your home. Bon Appètit.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Baking: Stained Glass Cookies

The holiday season can be very hectic for most, with parties, guests, and a lot of cooking and baking to top it all off. It has been quite similar here too and we have all thoroughly enjoyed the past few days. Christmas eve was spent baking the Stained Glass Cookies and our Intoxicated Christmas Cake.
As an ardent follower of Martha Stewart, I am frequently bombarded with gorgeous desserts, breads, crafts, etc., posted on her page. These cookies were part of the drool-worthy holiday recipes and were dainty, colorful, and almost too pretty to eat…yes, almost!
Ingredients (26 colored cookies +26 cut outs)
All-purpose flour – 1½ cups and a little more for rolling
Baking powder – ¼ teaspoon + ⅛ tsp
Unsalted butter* – ½ cup (1 stick) at room temperature (If you have salted butter on hand, you can use that too)
Salt* – ⅛ tsp (If using salted butter, please do not add more salt to the dough)
Sugar – ½ + ⅛ cups
Egg yolks - 2
Pure vanilla extract – ½ tbsp
Finely crushed hard candy (Jolly Rancher) in different colors – ½ cup
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt (if using unsalted butter only).
Beat the butter and sugar, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, until the mixture is light and airy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and beat again. This step can be done by hand too, with a whisk.
Keeping the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour and combine well/continue mixing by hand. At this stage you could use a wooden spoon or spatula.  
Once the dough comes together, use your hands to knead it to make two discs.
Wrap them in a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, preheat the oven to 350oF, with the racks placed on the upper and lower thirds. Place one disc between a floured and folded parchment paper and roll it out to ⅛ inch thickness. Put the disc, along with the parchment paper, into the refrigerator for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile work with the other disc and return it to the refrigerator. The original recipe calls for Christmas themed cookie cutters. Fall designs have been used here and you could pick any fancy shape you like.
Cut out the main cookies to about 2-2½ inch rounds/squares/desired shapes.
Place the cookies, one inch apart, on the cookie sheets.
Using the smaller shapes (Christmas/Fall/random shapes) cut out the middles. Bake the cookies for about 8-10 minutes till they are slightly set, but still light brown. Do remember to rotate the cookie sheets midway through the baking. The cut out portions can be baked along side the bigger ones.
Remove the cookies from the oven and fill the middles with the crushed candies. Return to the oven and continue baking until the edges brown a bit and the candy is completely melted. The smaller cookies may be done by this time, if not they can be returned to the oven too.
Remove and allow the cookies to cool completely before storing them in an airtight container. Bon Appètit.

The Jolly Rancher candies were available in the nearby super market, so I did not have to go looking for an alternate. You could use any other fruit-flavored hard candy instead.
To crush the candy, either use a mortar and a pestle or place the candy in a zip lock back and bang away with a rolling pin!