Friday

Muthia

While I am quite terrible at math, the one thing I quite enjoyed in calculus was finding derivatives. This business of examining stuff over infinitesimally small intervals is intriguing. Fabulous, no! Life is perfect and makes complete sense in infinitesimally small intervals. Bliss, gentle reader, exists in small bites.

Such is the tale of dimunitive delights featured above. The spicy, piquant goodness that we know as muthias.

Heres what I did:
I followed
Coffee's recipe from The Spice Cafe. I used spinach and beet greens. I made the dough with a combination of besan, whole wheat and barley flour. I've also used Trupti's recipe with great success, especially the addition of yoghurt / pickle oil. They both have the spice combination down just right.

The verdict:
Quick savory snack. I've steamed a bunch and frozen them. Aisles of chips hold no charms for me any more! Its hard to get bored with these little fellows because you can keep varying the vegetables, spices and flours.

Recipe links:
In additon to Trupti and Coffee's recipes, here are a couple of my favorites:
1.
Methi Muthia
2.
A microwave version



Find more bite-sized delights at
Monthly Mingle, hosted by Mansi and Meeta. See you at the round-up!

Walnut sticks with cocoa nibs


April found me quite enamored with cocoa nibs. It all started quite innocently
with a package that arrived in the mail.

I hoarded the precious nibs for a while, not entirely sure how best to showcase them. They are unassuming little guys. They waited patiently as I pondered over the many possibilities. And then I stumbled upon a whole slew of recipes inspired by
Alice Medrich's creations. And so in a moment of inspired browsing, the idea for Walnut Sticks with Cocoa Nibs was born.

Heres what I did
I halved the original recipe (see links below) and used walnuts and whole wheat pastry flour. I chilled the dough for two hours but a little more patience would have brought even better results.

The Verdict:
Delicious!!! These cookies are stylish, unpretentious and never fail to satisfy. The marriage of sugar - butter - cocoa nib is pure genius. I simply cannot imagine "a more perfect union".



Recipe links:
Original recipe from
Bittersweet by Alice Medrich
1.
Almond Sticks with Cocoa nibs on Lisa's blog
2.
Nibby Pecan cookies
3. Pistachio and cocoa nib thins and another version here.
4. Nibs in
muffins or cupcakes.
5. Perhaps a
cocoa nib pavlova !
6. And for all you lily-gilders out there,
Chocolate and Cocoa Nib cookies!

This one is going to
Andrew for WTSIM... Dried Fruit and Nuts. See y'all at the round-up!

Thursday

Sherry and Olive Oil Pound Cake


Alice Medrich's Sherry and Olive Oil Pound Cake marks the high point of my
experiments with olive oil. The original recipe is featured in Pure Dessert. You can find the recipe online here and here. There are a couple creative versions with tangerines and clementines as well.

Heres what I did:
1. Followed the recipe to the letter, including all instructions about sifting, whisking, temperature of the eggs and such. sigh. How the mighty have fallen.
2. Baked in a two loaf pans, one glass and one metal.
3. Made the cakes the night before and served with strawberries in balsamic vinegar. Many thanks to the generous gifter of said balsamic vinegar.



The verdict:
Moist and fluffy, this cake has GREAT texture. The metal pan worked much better than the glass one. The sherry and orange came together beautifully. Its the perfect elegant well-behaved dessert. Not cloying, not brash. Tried the cakes toasted a couple days later and they were still very good. This will become the
Leela Naidu of my dessert repertoire. Serene, classy and ages well.

Tartlette is hosting SHF # 43 - May 2008 with a Citrus theme! Hope to see you at the round up!

Friday

Pure Bread


I have been working with whole wheat flour which is always more hearty than all purpose flour. I can never tell if the crumb of my breads is dense because of my choice of ingredients or if its my technique.

And so I looked for alternatives. One option was to try baking with bread flour. Surely the higher gluten content would help improve the crumb. I used this recipe from Multi-Grain Bread, originally featured in Bon App├ętit

Heres what I did:
1. Used a combination of wheat flakes and rolled oats for the unsweetened cereal.
2. Used half whole wheat bread flour (bought at Lori's) and half all purpose unbleached bread flour . 3. Used sunflower, flax, sesame and nigella seeds in the topping.

Technique notes:
1. The recipe instructions, especially proofing times work perfectly. Ambient temperature at 70-75 degrees F seems to guarantee the best rise.
2. Press the seeds into the load before baking if you're concerned that they will pop off as you slice the bread.
3. Don't forget to put the baking pan in the oven before you start pre-heating! There were small bubbles in the water by the time the bread entered the oven.

The verdict:
For the amount of effort that goes into it, this is my favorite bread recipe so far. Sure it uses a lot of yeast and also calls for bread flour. Both these ingredients go a long way in guaranteeing the success of the end-product. I was quite satisfied with the crumb, I'm sure I will keep trying different proportions of whole wheat to all purpose bread flour. I've used the bread for toast in the morning, for sandwiches or with soup at lunch or simply with some cheese. It also does well when toasted.

Update: Meet more bread-heads at the Sandwich Festival! Anupama, thank you for hosting!

Sprouted Moong with Pomegranate Molasses

The time has come to confess my unabashed infatuation with pomegranate molasses. Sigh. Its become the little black dress of my kitchen. Adds much style and is quite versatile.

Heres what I did:
1. Moong keeps well, so I always seem to have some dried beans around. I have a soft spot for sprouted moong. Its like magic - finding curly little sprouts emerge in 12 hours! Anyhoo, soak the dried beans for 8 hours. Drain water and store in a moist, dark environment. They will sprout in 8-12 hours.
2. You can eat 'em crunchy. In my (ahem) advanced years, I find that I like my moong tender (Now why does that sound evil?!) Chucked the sprouts in a pan, water and all, and put a lid on it. I usually don't add more than a scant quarter cup of water per cup of sprouted moong. I don't like cooking them to mush.
3. When they have reached the desired level of softness, allow them to cool a little.
4. Toss with pomegranate molasses. This is the secret ingredient that makes everything DELICIOUS! Tart and sweet. Yum.
5. Other ideas: One can always break out the chaat masala and/or lemon juice. Chop up some onions and coriander, if the mood stikes you. Serve with yoghurt on top.


The verdict:
Served with yoghurt, these little guys work nicely as a snack on a hot day or after a workout. I also take them for lunch, accompanied by baby spinach or couscous. No wonder my devotion to pomegranate molasses continues unabated.

Links and Resources
What to do with Pomegranate Molasses now that I have it:
1. I fell headlong in love with Kip and her blog, featuring Roasted Red Bell Peppers with Pomegranate Molasses
2. I've used beet greens and various kinds of chard in this recipe from the Slow Cook
3. Cumin and pomegranete molasses glazed squash, based on this recipe from Raspberry Eggplant has worked pretty well for me.

This one goes to Click! May 2008 - Beans and Lentils and to FoodBlogga for Beautiful Bones. Forgive me for regurgitating scientific information that I have no authority over. With that disclaimer, here are the reasons I think its appropriate for Beautiful Bones. While moong is not particularly calcium-rich, sprouting apparently enhances the calcium content of beans. The presence of trace nutrients in sprouted moong may enhance calcium absorption. Lastly, while calcium intake may be the 'necessary' condition, muscle activation and loading serve as the 'sufficient' condition for good bone health. Alright, time to step off the soapbox!