Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Spiced pancake

Why do pancakes have to be just rounds of cooked white flour that depend on syrup for taste? Try out these pancakes with the motley bunch of slightly atypical ingredients and enjoy the sweet spice burst for breakfast.

For about 8 pancakes you will need:
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp ground mace
- 1 tsp crushed fennel seeds (saunf)
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbsp yoghurt
- 3/4 cup milk at room temperature
- 1 Tbsp sweet basil seeds (sabja seeds)
- 3 Tbsp roasted wheat germ (optional)
- 1/2 cup millet flour (we used proso millet)
- 1/2 cup white flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt

Melt the butter on very low heat in the bowl that you will be using to make the batter and add the sugar to it. Mix to cool as well as to dissolve the sugar. While the butter cools, mix the yoghurt, milk and the basil seeds and keep aside for the seeds to ooze their gel. Once the butter cools completely add vanilla extract, ground mace, fennel seeds and the egg and mix well. Add millet flour and mix until well incorporated. There is no need to be extra careful as with wheat flour, as there is no gluten that will develop. By now the basil seeds would have become gelatinous. Add the milk mixture along with salt, stir well and let stand for about 30 mins. This time is necessary for the millet flour to soak in the liquid a little and for the basil seeds to further thicken the mixture. You can even make this ahead and keep it in the fridge overnight, in which case use only one tablespoon of yoghurt. The spices will be more pronounced.
When it is time to make the pancakes, sift in the white flour and baking soda (and wheat germ if using) and stir carefully till the flour is just incorporated and there are no lumps. Heat a skillet and add some oil to it. Ladle in the batter and cook on both sides. Serve with fresh fruit or honey.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Pumpkin pie

Store bought pie shells or even just frozen pastry is fairly hard to come by in India. That doesn't stop one from making the occasional pie at home with pastry made at home. This is a savoury pumpkin pie.. a quiche if you will. It can by all means be converted into a sweet pie by just adding sugar and the adjusting the spices. Spices that go with a sweet pumpkin pie are cinnamon and maybe some nutmeg.

Pumpkin pie with a quirky crust

Ingredients for filling:
- 400 gm yellow pumpkin (whole piece)
- 60 gm grated cheese of your choice (cheddar is fine)
- 50ml milk
- 1 egg or 1 Tbsp plain white flour (optional)
- Lemon basil
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Black pepper
- Salt

Ingredients for the shell:
- 1/4 cup flax seeds
- 1/4 cup millet
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1Tbsp Tbsp olive oil
- 40gms chilled butter
- Salt
- Dry rosemary

The making of the shell and the filling go in tandem. Follow through in order to not have to wait between steps.

Begin with the filling. Cut the piece of yellow pumpkin in two and with the skin on pop them in a pressure cooker. Cook for about 3-4 whistles. Open once the pressure is off and let cool.

Meanwhile roast the flax seeds and the millet in a wok with 1 Tbsp of olive oil until they just begin to pop about in the wok and let them cool. Be careful not to burn them. That could make the entire shell taste burnt.

Once the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scoop out the cooked flesh into a bowl. You will find this easy as the skin being tougher would hold the softer flesh intact. Mash the pumpkin flesh into as smooth a puree  as you like. We like it a bit chunky and a even otherwise a blender/hand whisk is really not required.

The millet and flax must be cool enough to run in the blender. Blend into a fine powder. In a bowl mix this powder, the whole wheat flour salt and rosemary. Add the chill butter and break into pieces with your fingers. Rub the butter into the dry mixture until the result resembles wet sand i.e. it should be friable yet hold shape when pressed together. Also add one ice cube into the mixture and repeat the rubbing in process like with the butter. Spread this mixture evenly on the bottom and up the sides of a pie dish and press to make it firm. Then put the pie dish into your deep freezer. It would like like this before going in.

The shell ready to be frozen!
The pumpkin mash would have completely cooled by now. Add all the remaining ingredients for the filling except the lemon basil and also reserve about a third of the cheese. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Take out the pie shell from the freezer which would be rather firm now from the butter solidifying. Pour in the filling and spread evenly with a spoon or a offset spatula. Cover the top with the reserved cheese. Use more cheese if not covered and bake for about 40 mins.

The pie ready to be baked

Snip the lemon basil into shreds and spread on the hot pie as soon as taken out from the oven. Serve warm.

The pumpkin pie is served

- The pie shell described here is a very crumbly one. If you don't like it so crumbly step up the ice water, a tablespoon at a time and knead into a dough then press into the pan.
- The egg/flour is for binding. I actually did not use it. But if you are entertaining, its better to use it as it would give a clean cut.