Saturday, 23 May 2009

Cheesy Green Onion Strudel

A pastry made with fruit or cheese rolled up in layers of thin sheets of dough and then baked.N not to forget with oooodllllesss of LOVE, STRUDEL!! it is....
A strudel is a type of sweet layered pastry with a filling inside, that became well known and gained popularity in the 18th century through the Habsburg Empire .The most well known Strudel's are Apple strudel, Sour cherry.
But well cooking can never be restricted :) , The Daring Bakers can prove that with numerous variations of a strudel for u!! Yes u right,
The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafes of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.
Well, i choose my Strudel to be savoury, Cheese of course...
I most challenging thing was to roll the dough thin, well but i guess all of us have practised enough with the lasagna before :) so it was a little easier this time. I used the rolling pin to the max i could and then stretched it with my hand, i choose to leave it on the work surface and pull rather than taking it in my hand. I luckily dint have any tears, but well it really does not matter as the whole thing rolls up well:)
I love this recipe as it gave a beautiful dough to work with, was nice n smooth and no issues to roll with :)

Strudel dough
Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caf├ęs of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers
1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.
2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).
3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.
4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it's about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.



Tips- Ingredients are cheap so we would recommend making a double batch of the dough, that way you can practice the pulling and stretching of the dough with the first batch and if it doesn't come out like it should you can use the second batch to give it another try;- The tablecloth can be cotton or polyester;- Before pulling and stretching the dough, remove your jewelry from hands and wrists, and wear short-sleeves;- To make it easier to pull the dough, you can use your hip to secure the dough against the edge of the table;- Few small holes in the dough is not a problem as the dough will be rolled, making (most of) the holes invisible.
Both Courtney and Linda did a trial run on making the strudel. Below are our notes:
Courtney's notes- She couldn't get it to stretch to 2 feet by 3 feet, it turned out more like 2 feet by 2 feet. But the dough was tissue thin nevertheless;- She got some serious holes, but after rolling it wasn't noticeable;- She used a large cheese cloth which helped manipulate and stretch the dough more than a heavier cloth would have.
Linda's notes- I made the dough by hand, just mixed the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. Kneaded it for about 5 min like you would bread dough. This worked as well. Haven't tried using a stand mixer so I don't know how it compares.- Instead of cider vinegar I used red wine vinegar;- I used bread flour;- Picking up the dough to let it stretch didn't work well for me, holes appeared pretty much instantly. Instead I stretched the dough while it was lying on the tablecloth by putting my hands underneath and stretching it out further and further.

For the Cheese Onion filling:-
One cup finely chopped Green Onions
1/4Th cup Green Pepper
2 cups Mixed cheese
Salt
Black-pepper
Pinch of Red chili flakes.
Mix all the above ingredients and add the seasoning to taste.
Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.
Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.




Well i have already decided on lots of other variations that i would want to try with this strudel dough ~ :) Happy Baking!!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Candied Orange Zest!! I loved em! light bittery taste mingling so well with the sweet refreshing citrus flavour! :) I had tried making these for my cheese cake recipe. A quick and tasty flavouring for your desserts. While you cook these the aroma that spreads in your house is just to die for :)
So here's the recipe-

CANDIED ORANGE ZEST

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
Zest of 1 orange

In a medium saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add zest of 1 orange peeled into strips, simmer and let it cook until zest is tender. Drain, and transfer to a wire rack and sprinkle some sugar crystals or powdered sugar.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

RICOTTA GNOCCHI

Gnocchi... a total disaster when i first made them. I always had this misconception that Gnocchi are made using potatoes, But well The Daring Bakers cleared my misconception :) like always made me learn that they are made with different ingredients.

SO for the first ever Daring Cooks Challenge they choose 'Zuni Ricotta Gnocchi' from Zuni Cafe Cookbook, But i had to alternate the recipe to my own being a vegetarian.

The word gnocchi means "lump", and comes from nocchio, a knot in the wood. It’s been a traditional Italian pasta type of probably Middle Eastern origin since Roman times. Gnocchi are widely available dried, frozen, or fresh in vacuum sealed packages. Ive tried those too but somehow they ended up in the thrash can. :( So i was pretty hesitant to try this challenge. But well had to that's what challenges are for :)
Lets get started. Firstly u need Ricotta cheese, which i made at home as Ive done it a lot of times before. It is exactly like 'Paneer' Cottage cheese widely used in India.

Ricotta Cheese.
Milk - half gallon
1/2 cup lime juice/Vinegar
Cheese Cloth.
Boil the milk in a thick-bottomed vessel on medium heat, stirring occasionally Rinse the vessel with cold water before you put it on heat, it avoids the milk from sticking to the pan. Once the milk starts to boil, reduce the heat and add the lime juice, stirring continuously.
In few minutes, you see the milk splitting into small white clouds floating on top. Let the milk stand till the whey gets clear. This process takes few minutes, so wait at least five minutes. Switch off the heat and let it stand for few more minutes. Then pour the whole thing immediately into a clean cheese cloth in a sieve. Leave the sieved cheese for a while so that the water drains. In about 15 min or more tie the cloth tight enough and hang it under the sink and leave it over night to let the water drain well. Your cheese is ready!!! If not using immediately Refrigerate it until use.

Next step is making Gnocchi- I made up my own recipe as i cannot use eggs. It still was light and fluffy :)

Ricotta Gnocchi.

1 cup ricotta cheese

3-4 tbs Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Milk as required

Mix the above ingredients into a smooth dough using milk. Add milk gradually so that you don't over soften the mix. Once the dough is ready let is stand for 15 min. Then take a small piece of dough and roll it into a elongated tube. Cut the dough into 1/2 inch size pieces and keep aside. Using a fork I rolled each Gnocchi on it to give a ribbed texture. I heard some where that they mainly give ribbed texture to gnocchi so that the sauce clings well to the pasta. In the mean while keep a pot of water to boil with a pinch of salt and a few drops of olive oil, throw in your pasta and let them boil until they start floating on the top. This takes just a few minutes. Drain them well and ... Now your pasta is ready to be tossed!!!

For the sauce-

Basil pesto

1/2 cup Fresh cherry tomatoes sliced into half

Asparagus Cut into 3's

Few pimento olive's sliced.

In a pan heat a tbs of olive oil and add your pesto sauce. Stir in the Asparagus and let it tender down a bit, Add the Gnocchi and cherry tomatoes, Salt and pepper to season. Toss well to coat the pasta well with the sauce. Ready to be Served!! :)

Well the verdict for this challenge would be 'Great' I m really glad that i tried to make Gnocchi again which actually ended up in our tummies rather than the thrash can. :) I m sure to try a different variation soon again with a more basic sauce.

These Little pillows of heaven (as they are widely known as) are a must TRY!!!

Thanks to the Daring Cooks!!! for making me a better cook .......