27 Nov 2010

My first DB challenge - Daring Baker's Nov 2010 challenge - Crostata or Pasta frolla - With dates and nut filling

This is my "Premier défi or Prima sfida" : My first Daring Bakers challenge :)

All went well (Thank God for that !!!!)

I registered in the daring kitchen for both daring bakers and for the daring cooks challenges............FUN ! that is what I thought :) so it was.

I was super excited with being accepted in to the daring kitchen for both the challenges. 

This daring bakers Nov 2010 challenge was to make "CROSTATA" or "PASTA FROLLA" in Italian. It was hosted by Simona from Briciole
She had chosen the Italian dessert Crostata. I have seen these kind of tarts here in the pâtisseries and mostly in the supermarkets in the baked or ready to bake section. I have never done this at home and neither had I tasted a tart till the time I had baked one myself :)

I used the first recipe version1 of Pasta frolla that Simona had given,

We require,

Superfine sugar - 1/2 cup minus 1 tbsp (150 ml / 100 gms / 31/2 oz)
Powdered sugar - a scant 3/4 cup (180 ml / 90 gms / 3 oz)
Unbleached all purpose flour - 1 3/4 cup (420 ml / 235 gms / 81/4 oz)
Salt - a pinch
Cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces - 1 stick (8 tbsp / 4 oz / 115 gms)
Lemon zest, grated of 1/2 lemon (I used a bio lemon)
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk lightly beaten in a small bowl

I made the Pasta frolla by hand ;


1. Whisk together Sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
2. Rub the cut butter into the flour until it has the consistency of coarse crumbs. I did this in a big mixing bowl.
3. Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture, and pour the beaten eggs into it (reserve about a tsp of the beaten egg mixture for glazing purpose later).
4. Add lemon zest to the flour+butter+egg mixture.
5. Use a fork to incorporate all the liquid into the solid ingredients and then use your fingertips to combine.
6. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
7. Shape the dough into a flat disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator to chill at least for 2 hours, you can refrigerate the dough overnight (this is what I did ;) ).

For preparing the crostata crust, I had blind baked and then I had filled it with the dates and nut filling that I had made.

I followed the following instructions for blind baking, given for the Crostata di frutta fresca.

1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC / 350ºF.
2. Roll out the batch of pasta frolla and cover the base of the tart pan (I used a disposable cake pan).
3. Cut a piece of parchment paper / aluminium foil large enough to cover the bottom of the crust and extend out a bit over the edges of the pan.
4. You can use pie weights or dry beans to blind bake. Place whatever weights you are using directly over the parchment paper or the aluminium foil in an even layer.
5. Place the crostata shell in the oven and bake for 20 mins.
6. Remove the parchment paper or aluminium foil and continue baking for another 5 mins till the border is light golden.
7. Remove from the oven and cool the crostata shell completely before filling it.

Dates and nut filling

This is what I used to make the filling;

Dates, chopped - 3/4 cup
Peeled almonds, chopped - 1/2 cup + 1 tsp
Milk - 3-4 tbsps
Clarified butter / ghee - 1 tsp
Poppy seeds, dry roasted - 1 tbsp + 1 tsp


1. Blend the dates with the milk till you get a not so thick paste.
2. Heat a pan with 1 tsp of clarified butter / ghee.
3. Pour the dates and milk paste into the pan and add the chopped almonds. Cook the mixture for around 10 minutes.
4. The cooked mixture has a bit darker shade than the uncooked paste.
5. Remove the cooked dates and nut mixture from the pan. Cool it.

Now filling the crostata shell,

1. Spread the dates and nut mixture over the shell slowly and carefully, since the date and nut mixture is a bit thick and a little sticky even after it is cooked.
2. Sprinkle the dry roasted poppy seeds to cover the mixture.

VOILA !!!!

My first Daring bakers challenge completed successfully :)

Thanks for visiting my blog :)

21 Nov 2010

Kadai vegetables with a twist ....

This is a simple way to mix different vegetables into the same dish.

I have adapted this recipe from a friend, (long story behind it !!!! :P )

So here's what we need,

Aubergine (Eggplant/brinjal) - 1 big
Green Capsicum - 1 small (Any colour should be good)
Zucchini - 1 medium
Onion - 1 big
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 1/2 tsp
Cherry tomatoes - 6 (can be substituted by 2 small ordinary tomatoes)
Corriander powder - 2/3 tsp
Chilli powder - 1/3 tsp
Garam masala -  1/3 tsp
Water - 1/4 cup
Salt to taste

The following spices are to be dry roasted and coarsely ground,
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
Fennel seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
(Kalonji - 1/4 tsp can also be added)


1. Slice the brinjal, zucchini and capsicum longitudinally into thin slices as shown below

2. Slice the onions, chop the tomatoes and make the ginger-garlic paste ready. I have taken a photo of this also :)

3. Heat oil and sauté each of the sliced vegetables separately till they are three-fourth cooked. They look like below,

4. Now, heat a tsp of oil in a pan. Toss in the onions and fry for 3 mins and then add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for 4-5 more minutes till the onions are almost done.

5. Now, add the tomatoes, all the masala powders (the dry roasted masala powder also) and pour 1/4 cup of water if it is too dry. Fry for 2 mins.

6. At this stage add the salt, and the pre-fried vegetables. Mix well cook for another 6 mins till all the vegetables are well cooked.

This dish goes well with phulkas/rotis.

Thanks for visiting my blog :)

9 Nov 2010

Simple Mango milk shake

This is a quick morning post on the blog. We just had some yummy mango milkshake ;)

Here is what we need,
Mango - 3/4th of a big one pureed and filtered
Chilled Milk - 375 ml
Powdered sugar - 8 to 10 tsps

1. Pour the chilled milk in the blender, add in the mango puree. Use the pulse mode to blend it once.
2. Now add the powdered sugar and blend it using the pulse mode and the 1st speed.
3. Milkshake is ready to be enjoyed !

Thanks for visiting my blog :)

7 Nov 2010

Low fat, tangy and spicy Tomato pesto and a beautiful napkin from Greece

I was bored !!!! (of cooking ???? Oh my GOD !!!!...............)

It happens if I have been in the kitchen for really long stretches (3hrs or more) deep frying something. This Diwali season I made 5 types of savories and 2 sweets. Recently, we had this Diwali get-together at my house (It was so much FUN !!!!), and I had served these savories and sweets that I had made. I was feeling like a blushing kid who had won a prize, when our friends were complimenting me for the snacks :) (Thanks guys !).

Ok now back to where we were. The day on which I had fried so many things, I wanted to prepare something that can tingle my tastebuds. Something simple to put together. I already had some fresh salad, and I had to prepare something complementing that. Pasta ! that was the immediate thing that came to my mind which will go along well with a salad.

Now, I was thinking of how to make a different type of pesto for the spaghetti that I was going to make for dinner. The basic ingredients had to be tomatoes and a BIG NO to table spoons and table spoons of oil !
And also I wanted to make something original and unique to my recipe book. OK ! I have an idea as to what I can prepare. I used the following to prepare the pesto for two servings of sphagetti;

Tomatoes - medium sized & ripe - 2, diced
Pearl onions - 6, whole and peeled
Garlic (big cloves) - 6, flattened and peeled
Basil leaves, dry - 3 pinches
Walnuts - 5
Cashew nuts - 5
Extra virgin olive oil - 1 tsp
Pepper powder - 1/4 tsp
Chilli powder - 2/3 tsp
Corriander leaves - 6 sprigs, finely chopped
salt - to taste

This is what I did,

1. Preheat the oven at 220°C for 15 mins.
2. During this dice the tomatoes, peel the onions (this takes some time), flatten the garlic with the blade of your knife and peel them.
3. Put all these in a bowl sprinkle some dry basil leaves, pepper powder, salt and the olive oil. Toss all these and spread them on a oven resistant plate or you can use a disposable aluminium cake pan like I did.
4. Put this in the middle rack of the oven and bake it at 190°C for 40 mins. During the last 10 mins of the baking you can start smelling the tomato, basil and pepper.
5. Cool it, blend this with the nuts to a coarse paste (not too coarse also).
6. Heat a pan, heat the pesto adding the chilli powder and around 2- 3 tbsps water. Once hot, switch off the heat and immediately add the cooked spaghetti (cooked as per the instructions on the pack). Mix so as to coat each of the spaghetti with the sauce. Now, add the chopped corriander leaves. Serve the spaghetti immediately.

I had bought myself a beautiful Greek napkin on a trip to Hersonissos :)
Here are some pics.

Thanks for visiting my blog :)