Yay, it’s November! Really surprised how silently it snuck up on me, and am still wondering what happened to poor old October. It went Q U I C K, but I’m not complaining as I love November, not least because it’s my birthday month. It is possibly the best month of the year in North India, the onset of a beautiful winter, temperatures more like a European autumn as Pam said the other day. Our winters see new leaves sprouting, chrysanthemums, carnations, oodles of farm fresh vegetables & bright sunny days. We wake up to slightly nippy mornings, with the slightest hint of a morning mist, birds chirping & kids bundled up already walking briskly to school. Yes, days of gorgeous weather are here again! Did I forget to mention ‘cricket season’? Yes, that too!
The downside, these are days far shorter than I can handle. Day breaks late, the sun sets by 6pm & the kids are home before you know it. I can keep talking till the cows come home, but the thing is that I am stressed. The lad is leaving on a 3 day trip to the‘The Himalayan Bear Stream Camp’, nestled in the Himalayas, and is driving me crazy. I have packed & unpacked his rucksack a trillion times, he is talking non-stop, wants to take 4 dozen cookies just in case he doesn’t like the food … H E L P! In the midst of this mayhem, I am trying to post an apple dessert that I fell in love with, and have made twice this week. It’s also apple season in full swing here, and this year’s seen a good apple crop. Last year we had unseasonal weather and a failed crop, but this year seems good. I saw a ‘Peaches to the Rescue’ post at An Edible Symphony, Muneeba’s delicious blog, and the mind was set. This I had to make, and make soon, but I knew I’d use apples or maybe pears since peach season was long gone. Her post sang to me, & played on my mind all day long. I made it soon enough, twice in a week actually because it was DELISH. The second time around I made it in dessert rings without a pastry base. Cut the calories, but kept the taste…nom nom nom!! Browned butter in the list of ingredients immediately caught my eye. I find the use of clarified butter/browned butter/ghee in baking particularly interesting & intriguing. Most Indian households always have a jar of ghee/clarified butter on hand, and there’s nothing more convenient than using it. If you find a box/carton at your local Indian store, it’s worth the buy. More so because it has a long shelf life, and doesn’t need refrigeration. Just make sure you store it in an airtight container in a cool place. I used clarified butter in here in Dark Chocolate, Ricotta & Ginger Tartlets with Vanilla Poached Pears , and here Plum & Dried Black Grapes Frangipane Clafoutis and also in this Chocolate Genoise Cake with Mocha Mascarpone. Ghee is the traditional Sanskrit word for clarified butter. Chefs often use clarified butter because it will not burn during frying (this is known as a high smoking point), and possesses a more buttery flavor. Ghee lacks hydrogenated oils and is a popular choice for health-conscious cooks as well. Additionally, since all the milk proteins have been removed during the clarifying process, ghee gains further nutritional value because it’s lactose free, making it a safer alternative for those who are lactose intolerant.
Several cultures make ghee outside of India. Egyptians make a product called samna baladi, literally meaning “local ghee”, virtually identical to ghee in terms of process and end result. In Ethiopia, niter kibbeh is made and used in much the same way as ghee, but with spices added during the process that result in a distinctive taste. Moroccans (especially Berbers) take this one step further, aging spiced ghee in the ground for months or even years, resulting in a product called smen. In NortheasternBrazil, a non-refrigerated butter very similar to ghee, called manteiga-de-garrafa (Butter-in-a-bottle) or manteiga-da-terra (Butter of the land), is common. In Europe it is also widely used. For example, Wiener Schnitzel is traditionally fried in a version of ghee called Butterschmalz.
I have a winner for the ‘Custom Stickers’ giveaway promotion on my blog from one of my blog sponsors, UPrinting !
The winner is Michelle @ Big Black Dogs. Congrats Michelle. Will just mail you…