Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Apple Crisp

I told you about the baking bug that bit DD2? That is when she baked this Blueberry Cake and these really easy Chocolate chip cookies.

That bug probably infected me as well when on seeing some early season apples in the farmer's market I wanted to make some warm apple crisp. The apples where slightly yellow in color and with a name like ginger gold hard to resist. Look at the picture and tell me, aren't they the most good looking apples you have ever seen?



As Fall approaches apples are the only thing that makes me look forward to the shortening days, lowering temperatures and waning sunlight. As you see fresh apples in your farmers markets give these crisp before the apple season runs out.

Apple Crisp is special because it was perhaps the first baked goodie we ever made (DH made and I helped) some 18 odd years ago. The recipe was from this very friendly front desk lady at his office. These apple crisps were made for Christmas that year. That was the crisp that came to my mind. Just a food memory not the actual taste. Don't ask me why looking at apples in the intervening not bring the same craving. I have no idea what was different this time. I told you the apples were pretty looking! The guy in the farmer's market also parted this nugget that they are good cooking apples.



I wanted the most easiest of recipes and I found in here. I used gur sugar which is unrefined cane sugar which makes the resulting apple crisp slightly darker in color when compared to using brown sugar.

In a bowl mix together the flour, salt and brown sugar.
Keep the apples sliced and ready. Add the sugar flour mixture to the apple.
Mix the apples into the sugar/flour mixture so the apples are well coated. Separate them into greased ramekins or a bigger baking dish.
In a mixing bowl take the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and baking powder. Mix them together using a whisk.
Cut the butter into smaller pieces, and add them to the flour and incorporate it into the flour.
If using a fork and spoon don't work, use the tip of your fingers to incorporate the butter into the flour so it resembles small granules.
Sprinkle the butter-flour mixture on top of the apples in the ramekin and baking dish.
Bake in a 350F preheated oven for 35-40 minutes till the top is browned and crisp.



Apple Crisp
Preparation Time:20 minutes
Baking Time:30-40 minutes
Ingredients
    Preparing the apples
  1. 3 Ginger Gold apples or Granny Smith Apples - peel, core and slice the apples into thin half moons
  2. 1 cup brown sugar /jaggery - unrefined sugar - gur
  3. 1 tbsp flour
  4. a pinch of salt
  5. Preparing the crisp topping
  6. 3/4 cup flour (I used unbleached white whole wheat flour)
  7. 3/4 cup brown sugar /jaggery - unrefined sugar - gur
  8. 3/4 cup quick oats
  9. 1/4 tsp baking powder
  10. 1/4 tsp baking soda
  11. 8 tbsp cold butter

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Prepare the apples first. In a bowl combine the flour, sugar and salt. Use a whisk to mix evenly.
  3. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples. Add the sugar and flour mixture to the apples and mix to coat the apples.
  4. Grease ramekins (if you want individual portions) or a square baking dish. Add a couple of tbsp of apple to the bottom of the ramekins or all of the apples if using a baking dish.
  5. Now get the crisp topping ready, in a mixing bowl take the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and baking powder. Mix them together using a whisk.
  6. Keep the butter cold till you are ready to use it, cut the butter into smaller pieces, and add them to the flour and incorporate it into the flour using a fork or a spoon or both.
  7. If using a fork and spoon don't work, use the tip of your fingers to incorporate the butter into the flour so it resembles small granules.
  8. Sprinkle the flour-butter mixture on top of the apples in the ramekin and the baking dish.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes till the top is golden brown and crisp.
Serve warm with ice cream or they are perfect as is.

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Guess! - Revealed!

Guess the Vegetable!


Hint: The vegetable has something to do with swimming.




The vegetable is indeed Bottle Gourd. This is the kind that has skin that is really thick. The bottle gourd that is usually available here in the US is the one where the skin is really thin. These thick skinned bottle gourds once dry are used as floatation device using which is how I learned swimming.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Brinjal Biryani - Pressure Cooker Method

My aunt gave the recipe for this eggplant briyani either when I was talking to her on the phone one day or on facetime. Not that I facetime a lot. It is DD2's favorite pass time and if I did not watch it she will be on face time all day long. Anyway my aunt gave me the recipe from a magazine (Kumudam) where a few celebrities had shared their recipes of which one of the actresses had shared a recipe for brinjal biryani.


Apple Green Eggplant

I tried growing a new variety of eggplant called apple green this year - an attractive looking green colored eggplant. While normally I grow the short variety purple eggplants this time around I gave this new variety a try. It is sweeter with none of the usual hint of eggplant bitterness.

I made the biryani with Kalijira rice which reminds me of the Seeraga Samba rice that I much prefer compared to the Basmati rice. If you do not like eggplant/brinjal, the recipe can be easily adapted to any vegetable of choice quite easily. Potatoes and Cauliflower can easily be substituted.

The one thing that needs to watched carefully when cooking biryani is the liquid that is added to the rice. Soaked and unsoaked rice require different quantities of water. The soaked rice requires only part of the water that is needed when the rice is not soaked. Let the water come to a boil and cook the rice partially before closing the pressure cooker lid and do not wait for the pressure to release. Cook it for 6 or 7 or 8 depending upon how much liquid remains when you close the lid of the cooker and place the weight on top.

Heat oil in a pressure cooker and add the seasonings - curry leaves, cloves and cinnamon. Saute for a few seconds and add the sliced onions and slit green chilies. Saute till the onions start to brown.
Add in the grated ginger and garlic and saute till the garlic loses it raw smell about 2-3 minutes.



Add in the sliced brinjals along with the coriander powder, red chili powder and turmeric powder and saute for 3-4 minutes.




Add in the chopped tomatoes and salt and let cook till the tomatoes become mushy.




Drain the soaked rice and add to the brinjal masala and saute for 2-3 minutes. Whisk the yogurt into the coconut milk.




Add the coconut milk and water. Let it come to a boil. Check for salt, add ghee on top. Add the weight and in medium low heat cook for 7-8 minutes more. Let the pressure cook cool and fluff the rice up.




Brinjal Biryani
Preparation Time:20 minutes
Cooking Time:25 minutes
Ingredients
  1. 6-8 medium sized brinjals washed and cut into thick slices, if you prefer keep the jackets on
  2. 1 1/2 cups of kalijira rice washed and soaked for 20 minutes
  3. 1 cup of thinly sliced onions
  4. 1 tbsp grated ginger and garlic
  5. 6-8 green chilies
  6. handful of chopped mint + handful of chopped coriander
  7. 1 tbsp coriander powder
  8. 2 tsp turmeric powder
  9. 2 tsp of red chili powder (or to taste)
  10. 1/2 cup of chopped tomatoes
  11. 1/2 cup coconut milk extracted from about 3 tbsp of grated or frozen fresh coconut
  12. 2 tbsp of curd(yogurt)
  13. Seasonings: curry leaves, cinnamon sticks 2 small pieces, few cloves
  14. Salt to taste
  15. 1/2 tbsp oil
  16. 2 tsp of ghee (option and none for vegan)

Method
  1. In a pressure cooker heat oil and add the whole spices - cinnamon and cloves followed by the
    curry leaves, give a few seconds and add the thinly sliced onions and green chilies and saute till the onions start to turn slightly brown.
  2. Add in the grated ginger and garlic and saute till the garlic loses its raw smell - for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add in the mint leaves and coriander leaves and saute till the leaves are fully wilted.
  4. Add in the sliced brinjals along with the coriander powder, red chili powder and turmeric powder and saute for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add in the chopped tomatoes and salt and let cook till the tomatoes become mushy. Takes approximately 4 minutes or so.
  6. Drain the soaked rice and add to the brinjal masala and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Whisk the curd into the coconut milk, this makes about a cup, add water for the rest. (see Note for water quantities)
  8. Add the coconut milk and water. Let it come to a boil. Check for salt, add ghee on top. Add the weight and in medium low heat cook for 7-8 minutes more. Let the pressure cooker cool and fluff the rice up.
  9. Note:Kalijira rice requires 1 3/4 cups of water per cup of rice. When soaked all it requires 1 1/4 cup of water for a cup of rice.


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