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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Saturday Snacks ~ Baked Dry Samosas

I had to strike off a few dishes from my final list while planning this 'Fire up your oven' marathon as the cooking was supposed to happen entirely in the oven. The small but important detail that a stove couldn't be used to prepare anything except simple sauces escaped my attention and when Valli confirmed that, I let go pasta based dishes, casseroles, stuffed breads / rolls and such which needed some prior stove-top cooking. And of course I had to redo my list again. 
Samosa was one of the savories on my list and I had made up my mind that I am going to make them somehow without involving the stove, even though I wasn't sure about the filling initially. Of course I had to let go the classic potato-pea filling. Baked samosas are a great alternative to the deep fried version and totally are guilt free. In fact they turn out so crispier that I prefer the baked version more and there are done in no time compared to the fried version. My husband suggested the dry samosa idea and that got the ball rolling. I used sev as the base of my filling here. Though technically sev is made on stove top, I used store bought one and didn't have to use my stove. :))  I toasted all other ingredients in the oven. The below stuffing reminded us of kachoris but the samosas turned out to be spicy and yummy.
Ingredients for the outer cover: (Yield 10 samosas)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3 tbsp. semolina
2 tbsp. oil / ghee
Salt to taste
Milk to brush the samosas

Ingredients for the filling:
1/2 cup sev / ghatiya / moong dal
2 tbsp. sweetened dry coconut flakes*
1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used cashew & almonds.)
2 tbsp. raisins
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. amchur powder / dried mango powder 
Salt and chili powder to taste
* In lieu of sweetened flakes, dry grated coconut and sugar powder can be used. Don't skip the sugar as the sweetness balances the other strong spice flavors here.

Preparing the outer dough:
* Combine flour, semolina and salt in a mixing bowl. Next add ghee or oil to the oil and rub it in with your fingers to incorporate. Then add water in small increments and form a soft, pliable dough. Cover and let it rest for about 30 minutes. (There is no harm if you let it rest longer. I did it for about 2 hours this time.)

Preparing the stuffing:
* Coarsely powder sev and coconut flakes.
* Toast the nuts lightly and let cool. Chop them coarsely.
* Combine oil, coriander seeds and fennel seeds in a sauce pan and toast them on stove top. Or toast it lightly on a baking sheet in the oven or this step can be done in a microwave. Cool the toasted coriander and fennel seeds and grind them coarsely.
* Mix coarsely crushed sev, coconut, nuts, raisins, crushed coriander, crushed fennel seeds, salt, chili powder and amchur in a bowl.
* Toast the above mixture for about a minute in an oven / microwave / on stove-top. Keep the mixture aside.
Assembling & baking the samosas:
* Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.
* Knead the dough prepared earlier and pinch into big marble sized balls. Work with one ball at a time and keep the rest covered. 
* Grease you palms and roll one ball between your palms. Using a rolling pin, roll it thinly into a circle of about 5 inches diameter.
* Cut the rolled out circle into two equal halves, running a knife at the center. Basically you will end up with two crescent shaped halves, each with one straight edge and one curved edge.
* Take one half now and brush with water along with edges. Starting from one end of the straight edge, fold in half.
 * Now again fold to form a cone.
* Seal the two edges carefully, (taking care that there are no gaps) so that stuffing wouldn't spill.
* Spoon the filling into prepared cone and seal the edges.
* Repeat the steps with the remaining dough.
* Grease a foil lined baking sheet and place the prepared samosas on it. Brush them with milk on both sides. 
* Bake them for about 20 - 25 minutes or until they start turning brownish. They would have turned crispy by this time. There is no need to wait until they turn golden brown through out like the fried version.
* Serve immediately or cool them and store it in airtight container. They will stay fresh and crispy for few days. They are spicy on their own and do not need any chutneys to go with.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Fun Friday ~ Eggless Baked Doughnuts With Chocolate Glazing

The first recipe that kept popping up when I was looking for eggless donuts was Radhika's and I had noted it down to try for this marathon. These yeast based, baked doughnuts are not a substitute for the ones you get from the famous American franchise stores but were like soft, spongy rolls. I noticed that most yeast based ones in the web world looked pretty much the same. I had to use extra milk than the recipe mentioned. Otherwise it is a foolproof one as the original recipe promises to be. Don't skip the glaze as these doughnuts are pretty much bland without the frosting. I glazed them with a chocolate frosting as my daughter loves it but any other glaze can be used. 

Servings: 10 - 12
Ingredients for the doughnuts:
1/2 cup milk (I had to use 1/4 cup extra.)
1.5 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups all purpose flour (1&1/2 + 1/2)
1 tbsp. corn starch
50 gm / Scant 1/4 cup butter
2 tsp. vanilla essence 
Ingredients for the chocolate glaze:
6 tbsp. chocolate chips / chopped chocolate (I used semi sweet chocolate chips)
2 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. powdered sugar

* Pulse the 1/4 cup sugar finely and keep it aside.
* Warm 1/2 cup milk in a microwave for about 30 - 40 seconds. Stir in the yeast, salt and about 1 tbsp. powdered sugar (from above step) in the milk. Keep it aside for few minutes until the mixture turns frothy.
* In the mean while cut the hard, cold butter into cubes.
* To a mixing bowl add 1 & 1/2 cups flour, corn starch, yeast mixture, remaining powdered sugar and vanilla and mix. (At this point the original recipe mentioned that the dough would be sticky but mine was pliable.)
* Next add the cubed butter into the bowl and work it into the dough until all the butter is merged with the flour. (You don't need any mixer to prepare this dough as it is quite easy to incorporate the butter into the mixture.)
* Now add the remaining 1/2 cup flour and knead into a soft, pliable dough for about 4 -5 minutes. (At this point, my dough became dry because of the addition of flour and I had to add about 1/4 warm milk to work with it.)
* Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and keep it in a warm place until it doubles in volume.
* Deflate the dough when it rises. Flour your work surface and roll the dough into 1/2 inch thickness. Use a doughnut cutter or 2 round shaped cookie cutters (3 inched and 1 inched ones) to cut out doughnut shapes. Collect the scraps and repeat the process until all the dough is used up. Basically you cut 3 inch diameter rounds with 1 inched diameter holes.
* Transfer the shaped doughnuts onto a greased baking sheet. Cover them with a towel and allow them to rest for about 20 minutes.
* Preheat the oven to 400 deg F during the last 10 minutes of resting.
* Bake the doughnuts for about 10 minutes or until it turns golden brown. 
* Remove the doughnuts from the oven and brush them with melted butter. Let them cool for five minutes.
* Place the glazing ingredients in a shallow/wide microwave safe bowl and microwave until it melts, stopping at 30 seconds intervals. Let the glazing turn warm.
* Hold the doughnut upside down and dip it in the glaze. Lift and   quickly turn it so the glazed side is up. Decorate with rainbow or chocolate sprinkles if desired.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thursday Teatime ~ Spicy Chickpea Flour Cookies / Besan Cookies

If one has enough patience, these cookies can be tagged as the ones with no sugar, no butter, no all purpose flour or gluten free cookies. These vegan cookies are redolent with Indian flavors and are healthy enough to serve even diabetics. I wanted to bake something interesting to go with our evening tea that tasted like a cross between a crispy cookie and a savory Indian snack and the result was these cookies which my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed. These are probably the best savory version cookies I have baked so far ever since my camaraderie with the oven though I cannot say the same thing about the images. Again these pictures were taken when the sun was fading away in the evening, a setting I am not well versed with. These cookies have a very desirable crispy, crunchy texture if perfectly timed and greatly satisfies the Indian palates.
Ingredients: (Yield 15 cookies)
1 cup chickpea flour / garbanzo flour / besan
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp. crushed kasuri methi (Dried fenugreek leaves)
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
2 - 3 pinches of asafoetida powder
2 tbsp. oil + extra for brushing (I used canola oil.)
2 to 3 tbsp. warm water (I used about 2 tbsp.)
2 tbsp. toasted white sesame seeds
* Sieve chickpea flour and baking powder together. 
* Add flour - baking powder mixture, chili powder, salt, turmeric, kasuri methi, asafoetida to the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine them. Next add the oil and again pulse a couple of times. Then add water gradually and run the food processor until the mixture comes together into a ball. Transfer the mixture to working surface and knead into a smooth dough. 
Or combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and prepare the dough by hand. (Grease your hands if the dough appears sticky.)
* Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
* Place the dough between two pieces of parchment paper (since the chickpea flour is going to be sticky to work with while rolling.) Roll the dough with a rolling pin into about 2 to 3 mm thickness. Remove the top parchment paper and sprinkle sesame seeds and again cover with top parchment paper. Gently roll once so that sesame seeds stick to the dough.
* Cut the dough into desired cookie shapes and place them on the prepare baking sheet.
* Bake for about 14 - 17 minutes or until it starts to turn golden brown around the edges. (They firm up further while cooling.)
* Cool them and store it in an airtight container.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Veggie Wednesday ~ Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

My husband has this habit of tucking away important things carefully and considers himself very organised. While he is at it, he also likes to think that I am just the opposite and take everything lightly ('Think' is the keyword here). People who know me personally may beg to differ and call me a neat freak but that is what my husband likes to believe. He puts things away so carefully that no one including him would be able to locate them when they are needed. That's what happened when I went searching for a hard disk of our old computer which is stuffed with pictures that I was supposed to use for blogging. We looked and looked around the house and couldn't locate it until now. The pictures I could use for this post were in it and I wondered if this post of mine will ever see the light of the day. These zucchini crisps along with the okra fry, handvo I posted last week have been in my drafts for years now, for the lack of better pictures. It is another thing that I used the same pictures for okra fry and handvo in this marathon since I couldn't prepare them again this month. With these zucchini crisps it was totally another story. The pictures I took earlier were good but as I mentioned above, the pictures went missing.

These zucchini crisps were not an experiment for this marathon but are baked regularly in my home since they are my daughter's favorite. I got some zucchinis and baked them again instead of wasting time over the old pictures. These were baked last month as an evening snack and so the pictures were taken when the light was really low. I was not happy with the pictures and was thinking of posting something else. However when I realized that I have to yet bake four more dishes for this marathon, I gave up and used the image. 

Zucchini is sliced into thin discs for this recipe and are coated with bread crumbs and cheese mixture. Then they are baked until the coating turns crispy. We cannot expect the zucchini to turn crispy here but the outer cheese coating provides the crunch and the flavor. These crisps are great to snack on and are a better alternative to the frying method.

2 small zucchinis (I had around 25 slices)
1 tbsp oil
Salt and ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese 

* Preheat the oven to 425 deg F. Grease or line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
* Mix bread crumbs, salt, pepper and cheese in a bowl. 
* Wash and wipe dry the zucchinis. Slice them into about 1/4 inch discs. Add oil and the discs to a bowl and toss gently to coat.
* Dip the zucchini discs in the bread crumbs - cheese mixture and press down firmly so that the coating sticks to the discs. Flip and coat the other side too. Repeat the steps with the remaining discs.
* Place the bread crumbs - cheese coated discs on the prepared sheet and bake for about 25 - 30 minutes or until the coating turns crispy.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 51.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tuesday Treat ~ Eggless Pineapple - Semolina Cake

This 'fruity' semolina cake is one of my favorites and I keep rotating fruits in the recipe to have a different flavored one each time I prepare it. I have already posted the banana and mango flavored ones. Recently when we got the pineapple home, we forgot to cut it until it went overripe and my husband asked whether I could make a dessert out of it. The request was kinda surprising knowing that he is not fond of sweet dishes and he loves to eat the fruit in it's natural form. I thought he may love some halwa but ditched the idea when I realized that a recipe that can be used for the baking marathon would also serve my purpose. The result was this yummy cake full of pineapple flavor. I prepared a small sized loaf in a one cup capacity pan. The final cake would be soft even though it looks gritty from the surface.

1/2 cup semolina
1/2 cup pineapple puree (Grind pineapple pieces for the puree.)
1/2 tsp baking powder.
3 to 4 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. melted butter
Few drops of pineapple essence
Few drops yellow food color (optional)
1 tbsp. slivered almonds (or substitute other nuts)
1 tbsp. raisins 
* Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, reserving about 1 tsp. of almond slivers. Keep the bowl covered for 10 minutes. The final batter should not be runny and if it is, allow it to rest for few minutes more.
* Preheat the oven at 375 deg F.
* Grease a baking pan. This batter doesn't rise much and so the batter can be filled up to 3/4th of the pan. I used a one cup capacity 
baking pan for this quantity. 
* Pour the batter into the pan and sprinkle with almonds. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean.
* Cool the cake, slice and serve.