Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

As 2016 draws to a close, I'd like to wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed Holiday Season.

I am spending this season with family and it has been more hectic than I could have ever imagined. I will be back in the New Year with what seems to be a very promising line up of posts. I have so much inspiration at the moment, its kind of dizzying. I hope you take this opportunity to spend time with your loved ones and enjoy their company with good food and create lots of wonderful memories.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Kulkuls

As Christmas comes closer, I see so very many posts of Christmas cookies and treats pop up all over the place. A lot of the treats that you now see have evolved over the years. In the last couple of years, I have seen and tried out a few that are brand new to me and I wouldn't have known of if it wasn't for the internet. These were so much easier and quicker to make than the kind of Christmas sweets I am used to making, not to mention absolutely delicious. Today, however, I'm going to share with you a Christmas treat that I've grown up with. It's a traditional Goan sweet.

This sweet called Kulkuls (cuhl-cuhls), is something I've grown up with. Every year, at around this time the family would gather to make these little treats. And yes, it is a family affair. This little bites of fried, sweetened pastry take a while to make. Since, many hands make for light work, my Grandma, my Mum, my Father (whenever he was on leave from work), my brother and I would sit down to make these sweets. We'd make a massive batch of this every year and it would take a whole evening from start to finish. That being as it is, we'd make Kulkuls every single year. These little fried dumplings can be sweetened to your liking and they have a long shelf life. The batch that we used to make around this time, would last till the end of Jan. In all honesty, they'd probably keep much longer, but they are so tasty and addictive, they'll be finished long before that.

Most of my family recipes, the old Goan ones have been handed down from one generation to another. The weird part is almost all of these recipes, never had fixed quantities of ingredients mentioned. The recipe is very forgiving and I've managed to chart down some quantities for reference. This quantity is a much more manageable batch size than what I'm used to, but you could cut it down further, if you need to. The process should take a couple of hours but I think its all worth it. While I did manage to get step by step pictures of the process, I didn't manage to take a picture of the batch after it was done frying. So for the time being, I am putting up a picture of our platter of traditional Goan Christmas sweets from last year which has some kulkuls on it. I''ll try and get a better one this year.


L-R: Date Rolls, Nankatais, Kulkuls, Chonya Doce, Perad, Milk Cream 

Kulkuls

1/4 kg Semolina (rava)
1/4 kg All purpose flour (maida)
1 egg
A splash of milk
3 tbsp clarified butter (ghee)
1/3 can coconut cream
2 pinches of salt
Superfine sugar, to taste (Start with a couple of tablespoons and add more as needed)
Oil, for deep frying

Knead all the ingredients to a dough using milk as needed.

Kneading the dough once its done, should leave a slight trace of ghee on your hand, but only just. If your dough is on the dry side, add a little more ghee and knead again. This ensures that the dough doesn't stick to the forms we're using to shape the kulkuls.

Taste a little pinch of the dough for sweetness. I tend to not make these too sweet so that it cuts through all the other sweetness on the plate. If you think you want the kulkuls sweeter, add some more sugar and knead into the dough.



Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for about half and hour.

To shape the kulkuls, you can use a variety of things. We now use these paddles that are specifically used for kulkuls. If you don't have these paddles, you can use the back of a fork or a new, clean haircomb.


Work with a small portion of the dough at a time. Keep the unused dough covered with a damp cloth while you work with the rest. Roll into a long sausage shape and cut into pieces.

Working with one piece at a time, place the piece of dough on the paddle.

Using your thumb, flatten the dough into a rectangular piece as shown in the pictures below.

Starting with the end closest to you, gently life the dough and roll away from you, keeping the roll fairly tight.

Lightly press the edge of the roll to seal it up so that it doesn't open up while frying.

Adjust the size of the pieces of dough to suit the size of the kulkuls you need.

Repeat with the rest of the dough. As you shape the kulkuls, keep them on a flat tray. I turn a cookie sheet upside down and use the back of the tray.


When they are all done, heat some oil for deep frying.

Test that the oil is hot enough by gently dropping a small bead of dough into the oil. If it bubbles in the oil, instantly and comes to the top, the oil is hot enough.

Keep the oil on medium heat.

Gently tip the kulkuls into the oil. Don't overcrowd the pan. Start with the ones that were shaped first.

When the kulkuls are golden brown, drain using a slotted spoon and place on some kitchen paper to drain off any excess oil.

Repeat with the rest of the kulkuls until they are all fried up.

When the kulkuls have completely cooled down, store in an airtight container.

Enjoy this lovely addition to your Kuswar platter.


** I'm hoping to get more pictures this year and will add them to this post.


If you're looking for other Kuswar recipes, you can find them here -

1) Marzipan
2) Date Rolls
3) Nankatais
4) Chaklis
5) Baath / Badca
6) Peraad
7) Coconut Toffee
8) Milk Cream
9) Jujups
10) Coconut Ladoos / Coconut Snowballs




Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Christmas Broken Glass Jello

What do you do for dessert if you're from the southern hemisphere and Christmas happens to be in the middle of the summer? I have been trying to find a few options that can be used for your next Christmas / Holiday party. Something that can be made ahead, is easy to make and can feed a crowd. This is one of those types of recipes. I have been a big fan of Mary's blog "The Food Librarian" for years now. She is a big fan of Jello and has made some amazing creations with it. I first wanted to make some Broken Glass Jello back when we were in Mumbai. However, it was close to impossible to find a range of Jelly flavors easily. So I gave up on the idea after a lot of searching.

Then last week, I was trying to come up with some easy summer dessert options that I could make more Christmassy, and I thought of Jello. This is my first attempt at making Broken Glass Jello. I am very happy with the outcome given all that happened. Well into the process of making this, my flavorless gelatine powder ended up being a big hard rock of a block and I couldn't cut into it or shatter it with a meat mallet either. I ended up getting just a spoonful or so of the powder. So I had to add some gelatine leaves as well. This caused my condensed milk portion of the jello to not set as firm as I'd have liked. I'm hoping to have better luck next time around. That being said, this recipe was so easy to make. It just takes a little planning ahead, because it needs time to set in the fridge. It was so much fun working with the Jello. I felt a very childlike amusement and eagerness while I was chopping it up. The end result was really tasty. You don't even have to switch the stovetop or the oven on, if you have an electric kettle. If not, you'll need to boil some water and that's all the cooking this recipe calls for. That makes me very happy, because we seem to be having some very hot days at the moment. I can't wait to try some more versions of Jello out soon. You can switch out flavors and colors to suit the occasion. I used Aeroplane Jelly from Coles for this recipe. Feel free to use whatever you have at hand. I hope you enjoy this treat. 


Christmas Broken Glass Jello

1 box Strawberry flavored Jelly (I used Aeroplane Jelly - 85g box)
1 box Lime flavored Jelly (This too is Aeroplane Jelly - 85g box)
3 gelatin leaves (This is unflavored. If you are using unflavored Jelly crystals, use 1 tbsp)
1/2 tin condensed milk (I used a Nestle 395g tin.)

First we're going to make the red and green portion of the Jelly because that has to set firm, so that we can cut it up into cubes. Please note, we are going to use just one cup of water for each packet. We're not following the recipe on the box, because it has to set firm enough to be able to cut into tiny cubes. 

Mix the Strawberry flavored Jelly with 1 cup of boiling water and stir till it has all dissolved. Let this cool down to room temperature. Line a small container with cling film / Glad wrap. You need to keep some overhang so that you can pick the set Jelly out of the container using this as handles. This helps to unmould the Jelly later. I used a Sistema sandwich box for this and it was perfect. Try and use a square container, if possible, that way you can cut all of it into cubes. A round container will leave you with some off cuts at the edges. Ofcourse, if you don't have square containers, use whatever you have at hand. Trim off the edges of the Jelly later. Cover and place the container in the fridge to set. It will need a few hours to set firm. I made this the previous day and left it overnight to set.

Repeat the entire process for the Lime flavored Jelly.

The next morning, make the last bit of the recipe.

Dissolve the unflavored gelatin (crystals or leaves) in 1 cup boiling water. Add the condensed milk and stir till everything has dissolved and mixed well. Let this come to room temperature. 

While the condensed milk Jelly is cooling, line an 8 inch square cake pan with cling film. Again keep some extra on the edges as overhand to help you unmould the Jelly, just like you did before.

Pick the Strawberry and Lime Jelly out of the containers, using the extra cling film on the sides.

Peel back all the cling film and chop them up into small cubes. 

Gently mix the cubes and place them in the lined cake tray. 



At this stage, if your condensed milk Jelly hasn't cooled completely, put the tray with the cubes back in the fridge. If you use the condensed milk Jelly while it is still warm, you will end up melting the red and green jelly cubes. 

Once, the condensed milk jelly has cooled completely, pour it into the lined cake tray over the cubed jelly. 



Leave to set in the refrigerator till firm. I left mine about 8 hours. You may be able to cut into this sooner, but make sure that the Jelly has set firm before you cut it up. This dish can be made ahead of time. So plan for about 8 hours to set at this stage.

Carefully, pick the set jelly out of the cake pan when it has set firm and cut into cubes. 



Serve up and watch everyone enjoy this with childlike glee.


*Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post. I have simply shared the brands I used for this recipe. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Rocky Road Crunch Bars

A quick look at my blog posts for this year revealed something fascinating. I haven't had too many dessert / candy kind of recipes make an appearance this year. I owe that to what used to be a very demanding job. Now that I'm taking some time off, I actually have the time to breathe, to stop and smell the roses, so to say. And one of the first orders of business is to rectify that. I decided that the 2-ingredient Almond Rocks was a good way to start and I needed another rocking recipe. And out of nowhere, I realized I hadn't make any Rocky Road bars in ages. Turns out, I had all the ingredients needed to make some Rocky Road. So with a few minutes of prep and some time to set in the fridge, I now have a delicious batch of Rocky Road.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can switch it up so many different ways. You prefer a sweeter chocolate, use milk chocolate. If like me, you prefer a dark chocolate, use a darker variant. I used a 70% dark chocolate. I know to many of you, it may seem like it is a little too dark, but considering the recipe also uses marshmallows, biscuits and glace cherries, it balances out nicely. If however you need something in between, use 2 parts dark to 1 part milk chocolate of half of each, to suit your taste. This time around I used almonds but I have also made them with cashew nuts in the past and they work well. I think peanuts would be really nice too. So feel free to switch things up. 

Just before serving these bars, lightly dust them with some icing sugar. I put about a spoonful of icing sugar into a small sieve and lightly tap it over the bars. This gives it a lovely snow-like effect. These bars would be perfect to serve up as dessert for your Christmas or Holiday Parties or it could just as well hit the spot as a little treat as well. They would look really good on your Christmas platter too. 



Rocky Road Crunch Bars
Yields: 16 pieces

200g chocolate (I used dark chocolate. Feel free to use milk or part dark and part milk chocolate)
85g butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp golden syrup
100g Maria biscuits (Marie biscuits or any other Tea biscuits)
75g almonds
75g glace cherries
60g mini marshmallows
1 tsp icing sugar

Roughly chop the chocolate up into little pieces. The smaller the pieces, the quicker it will melt.


Place it in a heavy bottomed saucepan with the butter and golden syrup and place it on a low heat. Stir it every now and then to make sure it isn't sticking to the bottom of the pan. 


When it has mostly melted, stir well and turn off the heat. You will get a silky syrupy consistency like this.

Roughly chop up the almonds and biscuits and set aside. It doesn't need to be uniform in size.


Tip in all the add ins like the marshmallows, biscuits, almonds and cherries into a large mixing bowl.


Pour the molten chocolate over the ingredients.


Stir well to make sure everything is coated with the chocolate.

Line an 8 inch square cake tin with foil.

Pour the mix into the lined tin and flatten it out as best as you can using the back of a spoon.


Refrigerate for about 2 hours. 

When you are ready to cut, carefully peel of the foil. It is easier to do this now rather than after you cut it up.

Cut into pieces. I got 16 squares of about 2 inches each.



Just before serving, lightly dust with some icing sugar passed through a sieve. 


Enjoy!!!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Almond Rocks

My first Christmas post ... is this really possible? It's not yet December but I already have my Christmas on, and it makes me insanely happy. I happen to be someone that loves Christmas. Turns out this is the first Christmas that I have to myself in about 8-10 years. For more than the first half of the last decade, I made Christmas sweets to order back in Mumbai. So as you can imagine around mid November, things would kick into higher gear with the prep, graphic work, shopping and planning of the month ahead and come December I'd be buried to my ears in work. It was exhausting but I loved every second of it and I can't wait to do this all over again here in Sydney. Not this year though. After spending the last few years in Retail, which at this time of the year has you running off your feet, I have decided to take a little time off. Time to step back, re-prioritize and take some time off. We going to spend Christmas with the family in Bombay this year and I'm really excited. So you should see a little more of me on the blog at this time of the year.

For my first Christmas treat, I'm going to share with you a little chocolate creation that will knock your socks off. If you aren't wearing any socks at the moment, I'll wait for you. Put them on and come back to check the rest of the post and prepare to have them knocked off. Almond Rocks are so simple to make and need just 2 ingredients. You can make as big or small a batch as you'd like to. But I must warn you, these are so addictive, do yourself a favor and make a bigger batch than you need. You can also adjust the chocolate to be as intensely dark or sweet as you want it. We personally love dark chocolate, so I use a 70% dark chocolate straight up. If you like a sweeter chocolate, you simple use milk chocolate. If you're in a Goldilocks kinda situation, use half semisweet / dark and half milk chocolate. So you see what I mean, you could have your chocolate just the way you like it. So that's about your first ingredient. Now onto your second, the almonds. I use just the regular natural almonds and I roast them myself. I find the flavor much better this way. But you could use store bought roasted almonds too. Those are the ingredients for you. Now let's put these together, shall we.



Almond Rocks
Yield: 16 pcs

100g dark chocolate (I used 70%, but you can use whatever you like)
A handful of almonds (I use 3 per chocolate, and always roast some extras, in case you have chocolate left over. The almonds taste great for snacking too.)

Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Place the almonds on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 5 minutes.

Toss the almonds and place back in the oven for another 4-5 minutes. Check at the 3 minute mark this time. You may not need as long as 5 minutes, depending on the size of your almonds and your oven. You want the almonds to slightly change color and you will distinctly be able to smell the nuttiness. You need to watch the almonds as you don't want them to char or burn.


Once you're happy with how roasted the almonds are, take them out of the oven and let them cool completely. They will crisp up and be a whole lot yummier one it has cooled down. (If you are using store bought almonds that are roasted, you can skip this whole step.)

While this is happening, roughly chop the chocolate into small pieces. Remember, the smaller the pieces, the faster it will melt, which is a good thing. If you haven't worked with chocolate before, please ensure that all surfaces, bowls/plates, knives that you use to work with the chocolate are comepletely dry. Water and chocolate don't get along. Any moisture will cause the chocolate to seize and that is NOT a good thing.

Place the chopped up chocolate in a microwave suitable bowl and pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and return to the microwave for another 15 seconds. Stir again. As you stir, you will see the chocolate starting to melt. It took me a further 15 seconds (1 minute in all) to get my chocolate melted. Stir well and as you stir, the chocolate continues to melt and gets silky like this.


Tip the completely cool roasted almonds in the chocolate. At this stage, you may feel like there isn't enough chocolate, but trust me, there is. If you want to, you can add the almonds in two stages. 


Stir the almonds into the chocolate to make sure every nut is well coated in the chocolate. 


Line a plate or platter or tray with parchment paper. 


Spoon out one cluster at a time. I scoop up 3 almonds at a time and drop them on the parchment lined tray. (If you want smaller clusters, you could use just 2 almonds for each cluster. I like the portion size that 3 almonds yield.)


Repeat with the rest of the almonds and chocolate. I love the irregular shapes of candy you get. I think its what gives these almond rocks a lot of character. 


Pop the tray in the refrigerator for around 20 minutes to set. This is what it will look after it has set.


Keep refrigerated till you are ready to serve or store in an airtight container in the fridge. If you want to wrap them in colored candy wrapping foil you can do so at this stage. You could also pop them in little festive bags and use them as edible gifts or host / hostess gifts this holiday season. I am going to leave them uncovered. 


Enjoy!!!


Note: If you are making a massive batch, melt your chocolate in batches that way it is easy to work with. However if you find the chocolate getting too thick to work it, microwave it for about 10 seconds and you should be good to go.

If you don't have a microwave, you could use the double boiler method to melt the chocolate. Simply place a bowl with the chocolate over a pot of simmering water, making sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl and no moisture or vapor gets to the chocolate while you are melting it.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Crepe Paper Flowers Tutorial - Iris (with video tutorial)

After a long break from the craft videos side of life, I'm happy to announce that I'm back on that track with a brand new tutorial. The Iris is such a simple flower to make but has such a visual impact.



You can watch the step by step video tutorial here.

If you'd like to play along you can find the template here

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Mango Smoothie Bowl

A couple of days ago, I came across something I instantly new was going to be a wonderful find. Now I am guilty of constantly looking for and saving interesting recipes that I want to try out. I have a list of bookmarks that grows every minute and a pinterest account that will prove my point. But this little treat flew straight to the top of that list. Turns out that smoothie bowls have been very popular for a while now. I was probably stuck under a rock for a really, really long time given that I hadn't seen these beauties before. But when I saw the first one, I had to look them up. There are so many combinations possible that it blew my mind. A smoothie bowl is bowlful of refreshing goodness with a choice of flavors and toppings only limited by your imagination. These smoothie bowls are like a cross between an ice cream, a soft serve, a frozen yogurt and a smoothie without the bad stuff. It is great for summer. And seeing how hot a summer it is turning out to be, these are going to be perfect for breakfast, Or once you see how good these are, a smaller portion as a snack.

Since this is my first smoothie bowl, I kept it simple. It is so easy to make and so refreshingly delicious, I know I'm going to be making more than a few more of these All you need is the fruit of your choice, milk and a little yogurt. Onto the toppings. You could use your choice of cereal, granola, nuts, seeds, chocolate chips pretty much whatever you feel like.

So go ahead and give these bowls a try. They will be a hard summer option to beat. You know you'll be seeing a few more of these. Oh, have I mentioned these just take a couple of minutes to make. Its a winner all the way.

Also, I have news. I have finally been bitten by the Instagram bug. I hope you can join me there. My Instagram username is @vaztrisha. You can find the recipes from this blog making an appearance there at #myhobbielobbie



Mango Smoothie Bowl
Serves 1-2

1 cup frozen mango cubes
1 banana, frozen
1 cup milk
4 tbsp Greek yogurt

For the toppings -
A few fresh blueberries
Peanut butter granola (Recipe coming up soon)

Place the mango, banana, milk and yogurt in a blender and blitz on slow at first.

Scrape down the sides and blitz till you are left with a soft serve consistency.

Pour the smoothie into a bowl.

Top off with fresh blueberries and some granola.

Serve chilled.