Sunday, October 27, 2019

Banana Rolls

I am enamored of the Mangalorean banana buns I've devoured at a restaurant in Pune. Traditionally deep-fried, these breakfast beauties puff up golden brown. So when I come across a baked bun recipe I jump in headlong. 

This yeasted version has the usual suspects...flour, leavening, milk, sugar, butter and of course ripe bananas. Banana buns are usually flavored with cardamom or cumin, but I look the other way. Proofed buns, glazed with egg wash, bake till golden brown. Patience is a virtue that eludes me most times, I tear into hot buns. Steam rises as I break them. Fingers burn but my mouth is happy. Not quite the buns I remember, nevertheless this healthier version pleases immensely.

Loosely adapted from Fresh India by Meera Sodha
Makes 12

2 cups AP Flour
1 teaspoon dried Yeast
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
3 tablespoons Sugar
2-3 ripe Bananas (about 3/4 cup mashed bananas)
1/2 cup Milk
2 tablespoons salted Butter
Egg Wash (1 Egg whisked with a large pinch of Kosher Salt)

Put flour, yeast, salt and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Cut butter into 1/2 inch cubes.

Heat milk and add butter to warm milk. Do not let the milk boil. It should be warm enough to drop onto your palm without feeling the burn. If the milk is hot it will kill the yeast, resulting in a flat dough.

With the mixer running on low, pour the warm milk.  Increase the speed and knead the dough for 5 minutes. The dough will go from shaggy to sticky.  Scrape the dough off the blade. 

Add mashed banana to the dough.

Cover dough with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 2 hours till dough has doubled in size. The risen dough will have bubbles on the surface.

Dust the counter with a little flour and scrape the dough onto the flour.

Pat the dough out into a 6 x 4 rectangle.

Use a bench scraper or knife to divide the dough in half. Divide each half into three. Then divide each piece in half.

Roll each piece into a smooth ball and place them  2 inches apart on a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet.

Cover with a towel and leave in a warm place to proof for 1 hour. 

Heat oven to 375F.

Use a brush to paint the buns with the eggwash.

Bake for 40 minutes till golden brown. 

Cool slightly and enjoy them warm. With a pat of butter if you must!


I used a stand mixer. If that is not an option use a freestanding bowl and lots of muscle power to mix the dough!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Masoor Dal Cutlets

Prassy tells me of a friend who uses masoor dal in place of potatoes or bread as a filler. It get the wheels turning making me contemplate the possibilities. Mum used to make  delicious small rissoles of masoor, which are just too complicated to put together. This is a stab in the twilight, not quite dark, as I try to recollect her recipe.

Masoor dal and potato are pressure cooked till soft. Grated carrots and garlic are quickly sauteed and added to mashed masoor and potato. Spices and fresh cilantro flavor the mash. I form small patties to shallow fry them. It is not quite my mother's version, nevertheless an easier one that I relish.

Makes 10 

1 cup Masoor dal

1 large Potato
1 Carrot, grated coarsely
2 Garlic cloves, minced finely
1 teaspoon Canola Oil 
1/4 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon Chile Powder
1/4 teaspoon Garam Masala
1/4 teaspoon Ginger Powder
1/4 teaspoon Amchur or dried Mango powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
2 tablespoons Breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons Cilantro, roughly chopped
Canola Oil Spray

Wash masoor well. 

Place in a pressure pan along with potato. Add enough water to cover the masoor and pressure cook 15 minutes. Peel cooked potato. Cool and mash masoor and potato. Use 1 1/2 cups masoor and use the rest in an another recipe

Heat oil in a saucepan. When hot add grated  carrots and minced garlic. Saute for a few minutes on a low flame.

Add masoor and potato mash to carrots. 

Add spices and salt to mash. Saute for a few minutes.

Take masoor off the flame and add breadcrumbs and cilantro. Mix and cool mash. 

When the mash has sufficiently cooled, form into small lemon sized balls , flattening them into patties. 

Heat a nonstick saucepan over medium flame. 

Spray with canola oil.

Shallow fry patties a few minutes on both sides till brown and crisp. 

Enjoy them hot or reheated. Both ways are delicious.

I am satisfied! More plant based protein. Yes I add the potato and a little crumbs. The next time I will make them sans carbs. Lets see what that will result in. 

Friday, October 18, 2019

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

The sight of a sundae glass filled to the brim with shrimp and crabmeat is enough to drive my taste buds into a tizzy. This is what happens to me when Madeleine takes me to Goode Company Seafood in Houston to sample their campechana. The glass overflows with piquant flavors. A side of corn chips, the requisite crunch, sits alongside. Wet and dry, savory and crunchy, the campechana bowls me over! Madeleine and I bond over spoonfuls of spice and seafood! This encounter occurred a few years ago, but that taste stay with me, embedded in my culinary consciousness. 

When friends come to visit, I attempt to recreate my memory. It will not be the same, but try I must. Shrimp are dusted with baking soda and boiled quickly. Baking soda allows the shrimp to stay soft and plump. I mix Clamato juice, ketchup, red onion, olives, cilantro stems and leaves, green chiles, chile flakes, Mexican oregano, lime juice and a firm avocado. Clamato juice is the essential component, as I reiterated in the cauliflower ceviche. It comes in gallon size bottles as well as small 6oz cans. Needless to say I prefer the latter! Easier to work with.  I like to use cilantro leaves and stems as I love their crunch and taste. Cooled shrimp are halved lengthwise, then cut in chunks for easy eating. Scrape the shrimp and diced avocado into the tomato mix, which should be thickish. Refrigerate for thirty minutes before you reach for the corn chips! Swoop in with a chip and enjoy! 

Serves 4 as a first course or 8 as an appetizer

8-10 large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
A large pinch of Baking Soda
1/4 cup Red Onion, diced
1/4 cup green Olives, roughly chopped
1/2 cup Cilantro leaves and stems, roughly chopped
1 small Green Chile, sliced finely
1 6oz can or 2/3 cup of Clamato (Use Tomato Juice if you cannot find Clamato) 
1/4 cup Tomato Ketchup
1/4 teaspoon Chile Flakes (more if you like it muy caliente)
1/4 teaspoon dried Mexican Oregano
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Lime
1 firm Avocado, cut in small chunks
Corn Chips or Tortilla Chips

Heat water in a small saucepan. 

Dust shrimp with baking powder.

When it boils add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes. Drain shrimp and cool. 

Cut the shrimp in half lengthwise and then in halves again. You should have small chunks.

Shake Clamato can well before you pour it into a stainless steel or glass bowl.

Add tomato ketchup, onion, olives, green chile,chile flakes, oregano, garlic powder and salt. Whisk well.

Squeeze the juice of the entire lime into the tomato mix. 

Add shrimp and diced avocado. Gently stir the cocktail. 

Refrigerate for 30 minute as flavors infuse.

Serve in small bowls as a first course or in a large bowl as an appetizer. 

Corn or tortilla chips are a must!

As we scoop and eat, I am reminded of the visit. Of my cherished friendship with Madeleine. She makes her family into guinea pigs, plunging headlong into this blog's recipes. For that alone I owe her a debt of gratitude. And also for being my lifelong friend.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Nikita's mother-in-law throws a baby shower. I get a request to bake cookies for it. So chocolate chip and these oatmeal raisin cookies are on the agenda. I've made chocolate chip cookies more often than I care to, but the latter has had  only one attempt many moons ago! Which was delicious, but the recipe is lost in the mists of time. Having read a few, I defer to the Joy of Cooking version. The intention is to experiment. If it looks and tastes good, I will take them to the shower. They look easy enough. Right? 

Not quite. The dough has the usual culprits, flour, eggs, sugar, plus a few variants like nutmeg and cinnamon. And of course raisins and oatmeal. Prep starts off well. Butter, sugar eggs and vanilla extract creams till fluffy and light. The recipe calls for whisked dry ingredients, but I choose to sift them instead. Raisins and oatmeal are added last. The oven is hot from baking the chocolate chip cookies. I line baking sheets with Silpat sheets. I roll small golf ball sized dough balls in my palms and lay them on the baking sheet two inches apart. Not what the recipe says. I am experimenting at this point. I manage to get fifteen cookies on the sheet and put them into the oven to bake. Then I happen to glance at the recipe which recommends pressing down on the cookies lightly. One tray of cookies have been baking for a minute. Out that one come! I use a measuring cup to tamp down the cookies gently. Trouble ensues as the cup keeps sticking to the tops! Turns out I haven't quite read the recipe completely. The tamping device, be it your fingers or measuring cup, needs to be lightly greased! By now three trays of cookies have been rolled and tamped down! 

Its baking time! The recipe calls for a short bake, six to nine minutes. Reader, after the 'pressing' issue I carefully read the baking instructions. After nine minutes the cookies come out looking pathetically pale. They are soft to the touch and looked unfinished. Alarmed, I wonder what to do with this mound of dough? Throw it out and start again? Dismayed, I speak to Shauna, who refers me to the Smitten Kitchen cookie. She refrigerates the dough and then bakes cookies for twelve minutes. I follow that path loosely. I return the first batch of soft pale cookies to the oven for a longer bake.Very soon the tops turn golden brown. I look on in relief as the rest turn out the same way. Time to look for a large container to transport them to the shower!

Adapted from Joy of Cooking and Smitten Kitchen
Makes 45  two inch cookies

1 3/4 cup AP Flour
3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg powder
1/2 pound or 2 sticks Butter, softened (I used salted butter)
1 1/2 cups light Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 cup golden Raisins
3 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled Oats

Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Cream butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla till fluffy, using a stand or hand-held mixer. 

Slowly add the flour mix to the dough till smooth and blended.

Raisins and oatmeal go in now. Whisk slowly till well combined. 

Refrigerate dough for 10 minutes.

Heat oven to 350F or 180C.

Line three large baking sheets with Silpat sheets or parchment paper.

Scoop a golf ball size portion in your hands and roll into a small ball. Place ball on baking tray.

Line the trays with balls spacing them 2 inches apart. If you have a large tray you could get 15 cookies on one tray. My baking sheets are 18x12 in size.

Use your fingers to press down on the balls to flatten them slightly.

Bake cookies for 12-14 minutes till tops are golden brown. Turn tray halfway through baking.

Take cookies out of the oven and let them rest in the tray for 5 minutes. They will harden as they rest.

Transfer on to a wire rack to cool. Once they are cool place them in an airtight container.

Enjoy them for a whole week if they last that long!

Two large containers of cookies go through intense TSA screening. In Debbie and Bob Sonderman's home they sit on heirloom plates, gracing the dessert table at the shower. Nikita and Rob have a monsoon of baby things. Nikita came as a three day old infant to my house. I am so happy to be at her baby shower. Life comes full circle in the shape of a cookie!