Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Festive Greetings with Stollen

It does feel astonishing to recall how a year has gone. And at this crossroad, I really would like to take a U-turn to live all those happy moments again but can’t, as there is no option. The only way to move is, move straight ahead, where I see a blurred image of a brand new year, waiting patiently to be discovered.

With this festive season, lots of goodies to be made, cherish and share. There are probably many recipes out now in internet for this festive season. My take on this festive season is being busy, cooking Christmas pudding, blueberry muffins and of course then stollen. And once we are done with all those sugary things, we will then make roasted chicken with gravy, roasted brussel sprouts and cauliflower and colorful fruit salad. As of now, will share the recipe of German stollen.
Stollen, well it’s not at all stollen, it’s home-made to be precise. Anyhow, when I thought of doing it, their were many recipes out there. So, I read, re-read many recipes in the internet. Some of them were by professional bakers, some from home-makers and some were chefs. I don’t know what exactly a traditional stollen should taste, as I never been to Germany myself, so what goes in to making a traditional stollen in a German kitchen is somehow totally elusive for me.

 This is when I perceived two recipes for stollen-One was from here and another from here- last one seems more traditional to me. However, I did change the contents and their quantity to suit our personal preference. This turn out, soft inside and a nice crust on the outside. It was not overwhelmingly sweet or spiced, but a correct balance of it, as per our taste buds. And I don’t claim it to be authentic or traditional; it came near to the types we do get from stores over here.

However , if I do make it again I would like to follow instructions from the second link for stollen recipe.a traditional recipe I guess.

Now to the recipe- here is how we made it
Stollen – German Festive bread
Recipe requirements
  • 1 ¼ cup of plain flour+ ½ cup of whole wheat flour or use bread flour
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp of active dry yeast
  • ½ cup of milk
  • 1 heaped tbs of sugar
  • 1 egg+ 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence
  • 50 Gms of butter
  • 1 cup of mixed dried fruits soaked in orange juice/rum/brandy
  • ½ cup of raisins well soaked in orange juice/rum/brandy
  • 1 tsp of nutmeg powder
  • 1 ½ tsp of cinnamon powder

For the marzipan
  • 1 cup of tightly packed almond flour
  • ½ cup of caster sugar
  • 2-3 tsp of rose essence
  • 1 egg white
  • 30 Gms of butter

  • Soak all the dry fruits in orange juice prior to making this bread, preferably two days ahead so that they turn out soft. Keep them refridgerated. You can even soak them in rum or brandy for extra flavorings’ have used a mixture of walnuts+dry currants+glazed cherries+candied orange peels+raisins.
  • Now in a big mixing bowl- add in whole wheat flour, plain flour ,salt, and butter ( all the good brands have 25 gms marked over a 100 gms of butter block - so it’s easy to cut slabs) With clean hands you can rub butter all over the flour , so that you can get a coarse flour. Now add in active dry yeast and sugar. Mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk in egg + vanilla essence. Add this to the dry flour mixture.
  • Start kneading the flour with lukewarm milk, about 7-8 mints, you will see the dough is starting to collect well.Leave aside and covered with a cloth or cling film, preferably in a warm place. Leave it to rise, mine took about 3 hrs.

Making of home-made -marzipan
Meanwhile make marzipan. If you have store-brought then you may skip this step. Otherwise home-made marzipans are very easy to make. Take the almond flour, caster sugar and egg white. Start mixing well and knead. Sprinkle some icing sugar over a working area and knead the marzipan well. This way it will help to collect well. Make a big circular ball of this marzipan; keep tightly packed in cling film and refridgerate.Try to use this up within 2-3 days.
Note- to get almond flour – blanch almonds – pat dry them with kitchen towel and make a fine powder in a grinder. To make caster sugar = Grind normal white sugar or granulated sugar in a grinder.

  • Meanwhile take out all the dry fruits in a bowl, walnuts, and raisins etc .Add in ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon and mix well.
  • After the dough has risen well almost to double if possible. Transfer that to a clean working area; sprinkle generously plain flour over the working area. Take the dry fruits mixture and start kneading, mixing in with the flour. Try to roll the dough inwards and then slightly flattening it outside. 
  • When all the dry fruits are used up and have stuck up with the dough. Roll the dough into a shape of a rectangle slab of about 25 cm x 28 cm roughly.
  • Take out the marzipan from the fridge, cut into half. Keep the other half back in to the fridge.
  • Roll out the marzipan dusting it with icing sugar into a long rope type preferably 22 cm long which should be slightly shorter than the unbaked stollen dough slab.
  • Place this marzipan along one side of the rectangular slab of the risen dough, or you may place it in centre as well .Flip the other end over it, covering the marzipan entirely and then turn the other side over top of it. Gently press the both the ends to secure and also the seams to seal the edges.
  • Take out a baking tray, dust it generously with plain flour, place the unbaked dough slab over it, and seam side down. Cover it with a cloth or a large vessel. Leave it aside to rise- about 1-2 hrs.
  • Preheat an oven at 170 deg C. After the dough has raised well, transfer it to the preheated oven, middle rack and bake it for 40-45 mints or until golden brown on outside.
  • Melt some butter in a cup in M/W.You can add sugar as well if you wish to, I haven’t added extra sugar.
  • Take out the stollen once it’s baked. Check with a wooden skewer piercing in to the core of the bread. If it comes out clean, the bread is baked properly.
  • Now make some small pores all over the bread with wooden skewers. Take the melted butter and brush generously with butter all over the bread. Flip the side of the bread and do it this side also.
  • Sprinkle some icing sugar all over for that magical look. Your stollen bread is ready. It keeps fresh for 2-3 days.

Note-There are many variations for stollen bread, some add cottage cheese to the dough, and some even add marzipan to the dough. They all are various means to make it soft. This bread turns out soft inside and with a nice golden outer crust. If that is what you are looking for in your stollen bread then go ahead and make it.

Happy Cooking Friends 
Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year ....

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lamb Korma With Garlic Naan

As the winter sets in firmly, we do need to fire up our energies to overcome the cold weather here. And what could be better than eating a lamb korma preparation. For this lamb preparation, I have used white poppy seed paste in place of blanched almonds, which of course is a way of incorporating nuts to get that rich gravy based curries such as kormas.A chicken shahi korma was made earlier -Here which of course was made with blanched almonds and yogurt.

 I have made this korma little high on hotness note, which is, not what milder kormas are known over here. The Awadhi kormas are known for the right balance of hotness and spices, taking a clue from there, this is what we have made. Now, I would leave it just like that, without proclaiming it as “authentic” or “traditional” lamb korma. I have made garlic naan as well to dip into the juicy korma.
Lamb Korma – our way
Recipe requirements
  • 1 kg of lamb/mutton
  • 5 medium size onions
  • 6-7 fat cloves of garlic
  • 3-4 green chilies
  • 30 Gms of white poppy seeds or 3-4 heaped tbs of poppy seeds roughly
  • About an inch of fresh ginger

  • 2 tsp of red pepper powder
  • ½ tsp of turmeric powder
  • 3-4 tsp of cumin+coriander powder
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp of nutmeg powder
  • 1 tsp of salt or as required
  • ½ cup of plain cooking oil- corn oil etc

Whole spices used at tempering- all slightly crushed
  • 3-4 black cardamoms
  • 5-6 green cardamoms
  • 6-7 cloves
  • About 1 tbs of whole black pepper corn

Other ingredients 
  • ½ cup of yogurt
  • 2 tbs of cream
  • Twp generous pinch of saffron soaked in water
  • 2 tsp of kewra water

  • I have used leg steak and rib pieces for this preparation. You can use shoulder side as well. And we will cut into bite size pieces. Marinate these pieces with yogurt, salt and red pepper powder. Keep it marinating for about 2 hrs.
  • First wet grind poppy seeds in a grinder.Add in roughly chopped onions, green chillies, garlic and ginger.
  • Heat up a saucepan/kadai and add in corn oil. Now add in crushed whole cloves, black cardamom, green cardamoms, peppercorns.Let it crackle a little bit.
  • Now add in the prepared paste of onions+green chillies+ginger+garlic +white poppy seeds.
  • In a small bowl of water- mix in turmeric powder, cumin+coriander powder, cinnamon, nutmeg powders and salt. Add this paste in to the saucepan. Keep on stir/fry another 8-10 mints at med-high flame.
  • When the masala paste dries up and the oil separates out by the sides. Add in marinating lamb pieces to the above. Now keep on braising the lamb pieces for about 15-20 mints.
  • Now transfer this to a pressure cooker. Add in 2 cups of water and let it come to a boil. Lock the lid and cook till one whistle. Now lower the flame and let it cook for 10-15 mints.Alternately you can cook slowly on a stove-top, allow at least an hour to cook the lamb well.
  • Stop cooking it further, open, once the pressure subsides. If you want semi-dry gravy, then you can scoop out the cooked lamb pieces and let the gravy come to a semi dry form, and then again transfer the cooked lamb pieces to the gravy and mix well.
  • At the time of switching off the flame, add in kewra water, saffron water and cream, mix in well. Cover and let it rest for a while. If you want to serve it at the dinner time, make ahead in morning so that flavors incorporates well. At the time of serving, pop in to the preheated oven and heat it again or reheat over stovetop.And if you have left-overs, it tastes even better the next day.

Garlic Naan- Home-Made 
Recipe requirements
  • 1 cup of whole wheat flour/atta
  • 1 cup of self raising flour
  • 3-4 tbs of cooking oil
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder
  • 4-5 cloves garlic chopped coarsely
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp of kalo jeerey/kalaunji/nigella seeds
  • 1 tsp of active dry yeast
  • ½ cup of whole milk
  • ¼ tsp of salt or as per taste
  • ½ tsp of dried herbs

  • In a big mixing bowl, mix in whole wheat flour and self raising flour. Mix in salt+sugar+garlic powder.
  • Add in active dry yeast and nigella seeds to the above. Mix in well all the dry ingredients.
  • Add in half cup of water to the whole milk and make it lukewarm.
  • Add in cooking oil to the dry ingredients mixture.Rub it evenly all through.
  • Now add in lukewarm diluted whole milk as required to knead into smooth dough.
  • Once the dough starts to collect well, knead it again well. Cover it with a cotton towel and let it rest for about 2-3 hrs or till the dough has risen up well preferably in a moist and warm place.
  • When the dough has raised well. Divide it into 7-8 portions.
  • Take one portions, put in chopped garlic and dried herbs.
  • Now roll in to tear shape or eliptical shape or what ever way you prefer pressing down chopped garlic and dried herb onto the unbaked naan.
  • Preheat an oven at about 200 deg C. Place those unbaked naan on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  • Bake it for 10 mints. Take out, flip the naan and again transfer to bake it further 5 mints at same temperature.
  • When all the naans are baked similarly, put them in a serving bowl; preferably keep it cover so that it remains hot and soft. Serve and enjoy it with lamb korma.

Happy Cooking Friends

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Shorshe Kumro/Butternut-Squash recipe

This is festive season of the year again and every where the atmosphere is all charged up for Christmas shopping and holiday planning.

We haven’t done anything as such planning etc is considered, but will take things as it comes.As of now we went to central London to have a feel for the festive season.

Where ever you can glance through and put your eyes on , the entire neighborhood is all decked up and bursting with Christmas decorations.

We caught some of the views in Regent street and Oxford street as well.

Those places are crowded now with shopping frenzy people and why not it’s that time of the year again.

Now to the recipe for this post.I have slowly started using butter-nut squash more, and liked the sweetish biting taste it has.has. Shorshe kumro is a Bengali way of making pumpkin with mustard seeds paste.This traditional recipe is now being tried with butter-nut squash in our kitchen here in abroad.And we do hope that it will continue to be part of our daily meal plans in future as well.

Shorshe kumro /Butternut-Squash Cooked in mustard paste
Recipe requirements
1 whole butternut squash
2 heaped tbs of mustard seeds
2 green chillies
½ tsp of salt
2 tbs of mustard oil
½ tsp of red pepper powder
½ tsp of turmeric powder
1/2 tsp of nigella seeds/ kalo jeerey- kalaunji
Soak mustard seeds in water and make a wet paste with green chilies, either using sheel/nora – shil –batta or dry grind first in a mixer, and then adding water to make a smooth paste later.For the recipe of Mustard powder- here.
Now heat up a saucepan, add in cooking oil, let it come to smoky point.Add in kalo jeerey/nigella seeds
Add in buuter nut squash cubed pieces, and keep on stir/fry it further.Add salt, turmeric powder and red pepper powder.Coat well with spices.Now add in very little water just to cook the squash pieces.
After about 10-15 mints at medium flame, the squash pieces will turn out little soft, then add in wet mustard seeds paste and mix in very well.Stop cooking further.

Take it off from heat and enjoy with warm cooked rice.You may increase the heat levels if you want to have a spicy preparation.

Happy Cooking Friends

Friday, December 5, 2014

Apple Pie

Autumn is incomplete if we don’t bake anything with apples, autumns favorite fruit, isn't. But as we bid farewell to autumn finally and welcome winter over here, I thought perhaps, autumn apple pies are must now. It’s little late though, but for me it’s a kind of sweet farewell to autumn over here.

Although, there are many recipes with apples like this and this , but apple pies remains one of our favorites. And with festive season that is reckoning upon us, this sweet preparation with apples, will surely going to win many hearts if you wish to have a baking spree. You can even add other fruits with apples as well, like black berries or blueberries for that nice darkish color sweet filling.
I liked the flavor of cinnamon, so I have used cinnamon powder in the filling, however, you can even do it with other spices- like – nutmeg powder, or vanilla essence etc. You can even use brown sugar in place of normal sugar. I have used ready-made short crust pastry that are easily available here as the base for this apple pie.
Here is how we made it
Autumn Apple Pie
Recipe requirements
1 packet short-crust pastry
3-4 medium size apples 
5-6 tbs of sugar or to taste
2 tsp of cinnamon powder

Take out the short-crust pastry from the packet. Sprinkle plain flour over the working area.
Divide the pastry into two equal parts. One side for the base and the other side for covering the top.
Now with the help of a rolling pin, adjust the parts so that it fits well into the pie tin or baking tin, whatever you are using for it.
And flatten it properly at the edges with your fingers, pressing it down .If any cracks happen, dip your fingers in water and then press gently on the pastry to even out the cracks. Remove extra bit with the help of sharp knife, cutting out those extra edges. Reserve these to make any designs if you wish to do so later on.
Meanwhile shape out the other part and flatten it also so that it fits on the pie tin.
Peel, core and chop apples finely.
Now preheat the oven at 180 deg C.
Take the pie tin or sandwich tin, put all the chopped apples. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon evenly all around over it.
Now cover with other part of short-crust pastry, with the help of your fingers, try to tuck in neatly and sealing the sides of the unbaked pie. Trim out any extra bit of pastry that is left at the sides. With the help of fork; make some marks all around to give a nice shape and sealing the edges of unbaked pie.
Now that you have collected all the unused short-crust pastry, make a dough out of it and roll it with the help of rolling pin, if you need, keep on sprinkling plain flour so that it doesn’t tear out or stick at the working surface.
Now give desirable shapes as you wish. I have given the symbolic autumn maple leaf shape.
Now prick all over top surface of unbaked pie with knife, so that it doesn’t puff up while baking.
Put the pie tin or any other baking tin that you have used to assemble the pie, in the middle rack and bake in preheated oven at 180 deg C for 35- 40 mints, depending on your make of the oven.
Take out when you see a nice golden to brownish crust at the sides of the pie. Eat it warm along with some cream and slices of apples. Or it goes well with vanilla ice-cream as well.

This is absolutely delicious; apples are cooked smoothly in its own juices, sugar and cinnamon powder. A delightful dessert for this festive season.

Happy cooking and have a lovely weekend...

Monday, December 1, 2014

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup- Mediterranean Inspired

As we see autumn slowly winding up its vigor near our vicinity, and this makes us feel, for the onset of winter ahead. Although we still want to cling on to those colorful autumn colors that brought such visual treats to us, but it isn’t going to happen anymore. The winter hibernating trees or dormant trees have shed their last leaves, preparing themselves for the harsh winter ahead.
So, to speak, I thought may be a spicy soup with autumn’s favorite vegetables is must. I have started using butter nut squash more, in our day-today cooking these days. It’s not that I am going over the board to make this vegetable almost everyday, but occasionally I do like the sweetness it adds up to any dish – be it a soup or a simple stir/fry.

I always dread the cutting part that accompanies with butter-nut squash, but slowly I am getting used to the cutting part as well. Another good way to easily eat them, is to roast them in oven, but then that requires time and of course  it is a different recipe.On the other hand, you may use a sharp edged knife and it works fine, however be careful while cutting and peeling it.
I thought it should taste something very similar like pumpkin, but it has little variation- sweetish to taste and at the same time a nice chunky texture as well. A simple stir/fry recipe goes well also. But then my mind was more into a Mediterranean inspired cooking. There, it’s very common to use pumpkin in many soup preparations. I had butter-nut squash and I wanted to use it up differently, what followed later on was a search for a soup with Mediterranean influenced pairing and spicing up.

I had everything in my pantry that I possibly can imagine for this soup; I wanted to give a nice tangy and sweetish flavor to the soup, so it came down to tomato and butternut squash dotting on to the line. Then it was easy to assemble spicing it up with ginger, cumin and a slight hint of fennel. Actually adding fennel is just my way of playing around with the ingredients, as I do really like the soft flavor it has. Although it is up to you, if you do not wish to add in, then skip it altogether.
Here is how we made it, spiced butternut squash soup, now who doesn’t like a warm bowl of soup with a heart attached to it, at least I don’t. 
Now to the recipe
Spiced Butter Squash and Tomato Soup Recipe (Mediterranean inspired)
Recipe requirements
1 whole butternut squash
½ tsp of fennel seeds
 3 tsp of cumin seeds
1 large tomato
 ½ inch fresh ginger / or 1 tsp of dry ginger powder
1 tsp of dried herbs like thyme or parsley
1 tsp of salt or as per taste
½ tsp of black pepper powder or to taste
2-3 tsp of cooking oil
 1 tsp of corn starch

Peel the skin of butter nut squash with a sharp edged knife. Be careful while peeling the skin. Now cut into chunks out of it, discarding all the seeds. Chop tomato as well.
Now heat up a pan, add in cooking oil, and add in finely chopped ginger. Add in squash and tomato. Keep on stir/fry till the tomatoes and squash become soft. If you want to use dried ginger powder then add in after the vegetables have turn soft.
In a separate pan, dry roast fennel seeds, cumin seeds and dry grind the seeds to get spice powder. Add this dry mixture to the above pan.
Take the content off from the heat. Transfer the entire content in a blender. Add in 1 cup of water, and blend all well, preferably in batches so that it does not over-crowd the blender. If you do not want a thick soup, and then add in more liquid. You may even use chicken stock as well.Add in dried herbs of your choice if you wish to.
Now in half cup of water, dissolve 1 tsp of corn starch. Reserve it to add later on.
Put the entire blended content again to cook. Let it simmer slowly for about 10-15 mints.
Add in corn starch water and give a nice stir. After 4-5 mints it will start to thicken. Remove from further cooking.Adjsut salt and black pepper now. Serve hot with any bread. I have used double cream for garnishing and served with crackers.sometimes I like to add red chily flakes in place of black pepper for the extra heat.


You may replace butternut squash with pumpkin as well. Replace yogurt in place of double cream for even healthy option.

Happy Cooking Friends