Baklava inspired cinnamon scrolls

THIS IS NOT (FULLY) MY OWN RECIPE !!!

Source: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/06/cinammon_rolls_/

I love baklava and its close relatives. Baklava is Turkish in origin and refers to a very particular kind of pastry – diamond shaped, layered with honey and pistachios/cashews. It’s close relatives refer to anything from finger shaped pastry, bird’s nest shaped pastry, semolina cakes etc. While it is Turkish in origin (or so says Wikipedia), you will find it regularly at Greek, Lebanese and Moroccan restaurants so I suspect it is more a regional dish than a country-specific one.  Some of the flavours I associate with these sweets are rose water, orange-blossom water, sugar/honey (lots of it) and cinnamon. These flavours are what inspired this experiment of mine.

Enough about baklava and more about the scrolls – I was chatting with a friend on Google Talk when I saw him chomping on some cinnamon scrolls that his wife had made for him. It reminded me of “Cinnabon” in American and their stonkingly sweet buns full of sugar and cinnamon. I thought that I could give them a try and actually control how sugary I make them and then thought of making them with rosewater and nuts, like a baklava.

So I went searching for a recipe and found the pioneer woman’s recipe. Ree’s words about the impact this dish would have on its consumer was so very inspirational that I set off on my own journey to conquer the hearts of all I know.Boy, was I disappointed. The rolls were too crispy, too crunchy and not at all like I’d been imagining them all day. I couldn’t really taste much of the cinnamon which was also disappointing.

I don’t think it is the recipe that was at fault – just some of the things I did that I shouldn’t have. Hope I can pass on some tips that will mean that your scrolls are a lot fluffier and tastier than mine turned out. I baked these in March this year and it has taken me this long to gather the courage to write about them. Learn from my mistakes and tell me if you make a fluffy baklava-inspired cinnamon scroll!

Baklava inspired cinnamon scrolls

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Sanjeev Kapoor’s Vegetable and Paneer Jhalfrazie

THIS IS NOT MY OWN RECIPE !!!

This is another one of my North Indian food guru’s recipes. It has lots of vegetables and simple but tasty spices. His book tells me that the dish was invented in the colonial times when servants would cook the leftover meats from the night before with peppers and chillies to make a new dish. The word means spicy and fried. I tend to skimp on the friend and lean more towards the spicy.

When we were little, jhalfrazie was something only grown-ups (my parents) could eat so I didn’t get to taste it until I was much older. Loved the taste then and love it now. Hope you do too…

Vegetable and Paneer Jhalfrazie

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Super fluffy pancakes with a clove and peach reduction…

I have posted about berry pancakes before and the basic recipe for this one remains the same except for the secret ingredient – fluffy egg whites.

This recipe takes me back a few years when I was visiting friends in Philadelphia, PA. The friend who lived there took us to the Reading Terminal market to get us to try what she claimed were the best pancakes in the world. The booth was called “Dutch Eating Place” and behind the counter were young Amish girls making delectable looking blueberry pancakes. When we got served them, it was with home made butter and real maple syrup. I can say, with my hand on my heart, that they were indeed the best pancakes in the world. I managed to find a picture to share with you.

This recipe is an attempt at mimicking those awesome pancakes. The idea to do so came from a SKYPE conversation with a friend who said her husband would beat egg whites to make them fluffy. The peach reduction was my touch. Hope you try it and like it!

a. Amish-blue-berry-pancakes at Reading Terminal Market b. My fluffy blueberry pancakes with a peach reduction

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Moroccan inspired roast vegetable soup

I know it is summer in the Northern hemisphere but England hasn’t shown many promising signs of it yet. So, soups are not quite off the menu. My soup recipes are usually inspired by something I have tasted at a cafe/restaurant or by what’s leftover in the fridge before the next grocery delivery. This one falls into the latter category.

I usually have roast vegetables with a green salad and cheese but as I said, the fridge was yet to be restocked and feta wasn’t to be found. In addition, I’d just returned from a work trip to Norway where I’d overdosed on their cheese (Brunost) until my belly hurt. So I was intentionally avoiding cheese. In addition, it was yet another rainy day in England and soup seemed like just the thing for dinner. Ras-el-Hanout (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ras_el_hanout) is the main flavouring  in this soup as I wanted to make something not spiced with chilli but still flavoursome.  You can change the spices used to suit your taste. Also, I really don’t like using stock to make soup as it takes away from the natural taste of the vegetables used.

When I say “Soup for dinner”, the usual response I get from my partner is “as a starter right ?”. I think we both agreed at the end of dinner that a roast vegetable soup is more than just a starter. Hope you try it and like it!

Moroccan inspired roast vegetable soup

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Colourful vegetarian risotto

The Italian risotto is something I didn’t make in my kitchen for a while after I started cooking. I’d usually pay money to eat it as it was one of those things that I didn’t cook in my kitchen. Once, in the small town of Palmerston North, New Zealand, in a “fancy” restaurant, I had a roast vegetable risotto. The rice was half-raw (no, not al dente) and I got put off the taste for a while. A little later, a friend made a spinach-pesto risotto that was so rich, I was ill the next day. Once again, I was put off risotto for a while. A few months later, another friend of mine made a very nice roast vegetable risotto with pesto and I thought I’d put it back on my list of things I like to eat. Clearly, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with this dish.

In the first year of my PhD, I met a postdoctoral fellow whose husband was a chef. One day, she gave me his recipe for a mushroom risotto (he is also a mushroom grower by hobby) while chatting over lunch. I soon tried it and ever since I tried it, I’ve been in love with it. I make modifications in terms of what veges I add but the basic recipe is always the same. I have also taught my partner to make it who has extraordinary patience for stirring the risotto after each addition of stock. As a result, his risottos are always better than mine. The recipe here is for a red and yellow capsicum, zucchini and brown mushroom risotto. To spice it I use pepper, lemon rind and lemon juice. We loved it and hope you do too.

Multi-coloured risotto ready to eat

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Soppina mudhdhe palya or cooked greens with lentils

What’s with the name of this dish ?

I think I mentioned in a post before (Fenugreek) that “soppu” in Kannada refers to green leafy vegetables. This includes spinach, silver beet, fenugreek leaves and a whole host of leaves that were easily and regularly available where I grew up in Bangalore. “Soppu” was usually more expensive than vegetables but given it is full of minerals and vitamins, mum never skimped on them. We’d have soppu 2-3 times a week quite easily.

“Palya” is another Kannada word that usually refers to any cooked vegetable. Potato palya, carrot palya, beans palya are commonly heard in a Kannada household. “Mudhdhe” means (to me at least) a sticky ball of rice/rice+lentils/several different flours. The addition of lentils to these cooked greens makes them sticky and if cooked long enough, it can come together into a sticky ball.

In England, I don’t often find the greens that I grew up on and even if I did, I couldn’t tell one from the other because mum and dad always shopped for them not I. So, for this dish, I’ve gone with spinach which you should be able to get your hands on  in most places. In this particular form of the recipe, I use frozen spinach but the fresh kind can be easily substituted. With fresh spinach, expect a lot more moisture and a slightly longer cooking time.

Soppu palya

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Quick and dirty: Chocolate orange soufflé

It was our anniversary and given that we were going away for the weekend, I decided to have a special 3-course meal on Friday night. I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a bit of a slow cook and my partner usually patiently waits till 8pm for dinner to be served. Given this was a 3-course experiment and I still wanted to keep it within a reasonable time, I chose some easy recipes. The “feast” consisted of field mushrooms tossed in sage butter with garlic bread, vegetable and feta puff pastry and choc-orange soufflé.

The mushrooms were easy and took the better part of  10 minutes. The puff pastry, I’d prepared that morning, so all I had to do was bung it in the oven. The souffle was something I’d never made before and was a bit nervous about. So I set off on a hunt for easy soufflé recipes. Why choc-orange ? I’d promised, months ago, that they’d be a choc-orange cake for our anniversary but clearly hadn’t gotten organised enough to make it. So this was a quick and dirty replacement. The outcome was pretty good for a first attempt. I don’t have many pictures because I was rushed remember ?

This recipe was inspired by  http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art7035.asp and uses ingredients available at local corner store. By the way, we did have dinner before 8pm and enjoyed it immensely. Do try this recipe and tell me what you think…

My first souffle : Chocolate-orange or jaffa

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