Baking | Tribute to The Queen of All Daring Bakers, Lis … and Savoury Phyllo Chicken Pot Pies #tributetolis #daringbakers

“Once a Daring Baker, always a Daring Baker. It’s the best baking community on the web!”

Daring BakersHow do you begin to pay a tribute to someone who made a lot of us who or what we are today! We woke up to the tragic news that that the very largehearted & fun, the cornerstone of the best group for bakers ever created, the Daring Bakers,  Lisa passed away. With the lovely Ivonne, Lisa inspired, she cajoled, she filled in, she encouraged, she whipped us along, whisking us into a homogenous group … one of the best baking communities ever created on the web.

RIP Lis, The Queen of All Daring Bakers

Lisa Cifelli of La Mia Cucina, co-founder of The Daring Kitchen (originally The Daring Bakers) passed away unexpectedly a few days ago. Anyone who had the pleasure of knowing Lis, understands how much she will be missed. Her big heart, incredible sense of humor, epic emails, and mad organization skills were legendary. Bless her eternally cotton socks! {Kelly P}

Baklava with phyllo from scratch

In November 2006, Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice decided to challenge themselves to bake pretzels for the very first time using the same recipe. They each went ahead and posted about it on November 18, 2006. Having enjoyed that experience tremendously, they decided to try it again the next month, this time choosing to bake biscotti. And to make matters even better, they were joined by a few more food bloggers. As the months went by, their baking group continued to grow, until it was finally decided that this “little baking group” had to have a name and The Daring Bakers were born! The Daring Cooks were formed in 2009 as a way to learn how to become better home cooks. The idea spread like wildfire with 1000′s of people who also wished to learn more joined in on the monthly challenges.

Today, The Daring Bakers and The Daring Cooks span the world as bakers/cooks of all nationalities come together once a month to try something new in the kitchen!

Homemade evaporated milk for Tres LechesI am the baker that I am only because of the Daring Bakers. It’s been a steep upward climb at times. We’ve been through 18 pages of recipe for Julia Childs French Loaf  in Feb ’08. We’ve giggled & wept together, have whispered behind the scenes, gasped in horror when one of us let the cat out of the bag on twitter before the sacred posting date! What a community!

Daring Bakers 2In the spirit of this fabulous, close knit community, we’ve come together, some still with the group, some who left a while ago, and lots of new DBr’s … united together to pay a tribute to the Queen of Daring Bakers! {Thank you for doing this Kelly P} I have made some of my best food blogger friends thanks to the DBs. Lis and Ivonne created something magical on the web; something that has never been replicated!

Daring Bakers I say it to myself every month, I love being a Daring Baker! I miss a few as I struggle to cut out carbs, attempt to go wheat free, yet the temptation is always there. Looking back at previous challenges, the first one still comes to mind, as real as it was happening yesterday. Dark Chocolate Beetroot Cake with Peanut Butter Filling  I was chuffed to be accepted as a Daring Baker way back in January 2008. The very first challenge was a Lemon Meringue Pie. It was the ‘dark baking ages‘ in India at the time; I was very new to meringues and such. Oh how I wept. I still remember the emails exchanged with Lis and the encouragement and inspiration she offered. My pie wept, and I with it. Thought they’d chuck me out of the group. Felt like I had failed a major!

Lis stopped by to say…  “Pure genius going with the lil hearts on the crust! Would you mind if I did that one day? :) Well I’m sorry it didn’t turn out as you intended, but it sure did turn out pretty! Welcome to the DB’ers! xoxo

The camaraderie grew as a bunch of us chatted away behind the screens, discussing challenges in loud whispers. Meeta, Jamie, Ilva, Hilda, Dharam, Val, Kelly P, Barbara, Rosa, Jasmine, Judy, Andrea, Susan, Aparna, Coco … so many others! 

Oh those days! Some of my all time favourite challenges were …

Povitica ... A Croatian Sweet Walnut BreadPovitica {one of my most pinned and visited posts}, Momofukus Infamous Crack PieSans Rival CakeFilled Pate a Choux SwansBaklava with phyllo from scratch,Stollen PuddingDutch Crunch Bread or TijgerbroodTiramisu, Croquembouche

Daring Bakers

Jaconde imprime /entremetsMango Pastel de Tres LechesGingerbread HouseBattenbergDark Chocolate Beetroot Cake with Peanut Butter icing …and so so many more. We struggled sometimes, we conquered each time. Every  challenge meaningful.

Lighter Chicken Pot Pies with homemade phylloI missed posting the October challenge. I thought I would skip it, then got very tempted, succumbed past the date … and then procrastinated a little as the pictures sat in the camera. Had the post sched for this weekend. RIP beautiful lady! The Kitchen has taught me a lot!

Lighter Chicken Pot Pies with homemade phyllo Lighter Chicken Pot Pies with homemade phyllo … inspiration can strike anytime, this time from another Daring Baker, Suma in Bangalore. She pinged me the other day wondering why I hadn’t done it, given that it was savoury and I love everything savoury!

Hannah of Rise and Shine was our October 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to bake our own double crusted savory pot pies. Using any from-scratch crust and filling we choose, we were allowed to get completely creative with our recipe, showing off the savory flavors and fillings from our own home or region.

Lighter Chicken Pot Pies with homemade phyllo I am steering clear of all purpose flour in my baking, and personally have been off wheat for over 6 months in an attempt to sort out some allergies. Mr PAB too has recently joined me, so I was a guinea pig short.

Lighter Chicken Pot Pies with homemade phyllo The daughter is on a diet, low carbs etc … but I could see she would love this. We love pot pies at home. The boy of course is game for anything and everything pot pie, chicken, pastry. Just churn out delicious bakes day after day… and he is a happy camper. The pies were everything good!!

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Cooking | Ishrat Aunties Chicken Korma … simple finger licking good curry

Proust had his madeleines, I am devastated by the smell of onions frying in butter!

Chicken korma 2Chicken Korma … simple, flavourful and just the kind of thing I’ve missed sharing here for a bit. It’s been some time since I blogged a curry on PAB. Feels like a wonderful new beginning. My sis in Houston shared the recipe with me a few years ago. It comes from an old family friend’s repertoire. Everyone who digs into it requests her for the recipe, as my sis did too. We’ve shared it,  swapped it, minimally adapted it to suit our palette.

Chicken korma Like all cooking, use this as a springboard. Make it just as is and enjoy it. Then play around and customise it if you like. Kormas are gently spiced and slightly rich. With roots in the Mughlai cuisine, this meat based curry dish often has yogurt, maybe a seed and nut paste, and a few gentle spices. Oh yes some red chili too.

Fried Onions for Korma The yogurt is traditionally slow cooked so that it doesn’t curdle. It acts as a tenderiser as well as contributing to a nice thick slightly piquant gravy. The colour of the curry comes from the fried red onions … the star of the show IMHO. They lift this korma to new delicious levels, giving it a rich colour and moorish flavour.

Chicken kormaAnother tip that the aunt uses is to sift the coriander powder instead of just throwing it in. Maybe it lightens the powder for better distribution or something. I also like that the recipe uses staple pantry ingredients. Try this very simple traditional Chicken Korma, mopping it up with some yeasted whole wheat rotis/flatbread or over basmati rice. If parathas are your calling, go right ahead!

Mutton KormaYou could also try a similar korma with lamb. The cooking time will wary of course but the basic recipe will be quite the same. For lamb, you could consider marinating the mutton in yogurt paste for a few hours, then cooking on dum/simmer until done. Kormas like these are integral parts on Lucknowi cuisine, the city of my mothers birth. Kebabs, curries, kormas, biryanis all form part of their rich Awadhi cuisine.

LucknowThis particular one is as simple as it gets. It’s one I make often. Today I made a Chicken Ishtoo, Al-Jawahar style {an eatery in Old Delhi} from a recipe on Sangeeta’s blog. That turned out finger licking good too. So many curries, so little time, but will share that one day soon!

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Baking | Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake … & a Broccoli salad #comfortfood

“From morning till night, sounds drift from the kitchen, most of them familiar and comforting. On days when warmth is the most important need of the human heart, the kitchen is the place you can find it; it dries the wet sock, it cools the hot little brain.”
E.B.White

Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake … this was one of those meals made on the trot, rummaging through the fridge, cleaning out whatever I could use. Then came the daughters’ call to her brother,  “Whatever she is making smells REALLY good“. One fork dug deep in later, “Man, this is GOOD! Wow!”

Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake It turned out to be an indulgent, comforting meal in a bowl for days like we are experiencing. Cold Cold Cold. Temperatures nearly dipping into the freezer, 1-2° C range, no central heating, hands as cold as ice. Cooking feels good, stirring a pot over a warm fire quite comforting. Chopping is ugh; then again, there needs to be a means to the end I guess. The upside? Loads of fresh winter vegetables. L O A D S!

Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake I’ve made the most of mushrooms, bell peppers and broccoli this season. Mushrooms are dicey though as the older teen cannot stand them, so I need to sneak them in. This time they hid under some lovely garlic butter and olive oil, then disappeared deep into Worcestershire sauce! Life does get so delicious sometimes….

Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake This was one of those times in the kitchen when I felt like The Pioneer Woman or then the Domestic Goddess. Every pat of  butter, every dribble of cream seemed justified in this incessantly cold weather. I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful the kitchen smelt … warm, garlicky, buttery and oh-so-comforting! Sometimes that little bit of extra fat makes life so much more worthwhile.

Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake 7The mushrooms were kept veggie company with bell peppers and garlic greens. I love the added flavour garlic greens lend to a dish. Mushrooms and Worcestershire sauce also make for great pairing. I didn’t know that but tasting en-route endorsed it. For that matter rosemary, buttah and chicken make for great bedfellows too.

Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake The creamy chicken was meant to be served over pasta, but the kids woke up really late. That meant a late lunch so I figured I could bake it altogether briefly. It’s wonderful how the creamy sauce got into every little crevice of the pasta. A quick grating of mozzarella and a handsome dash of smoked paprika {from Juberfam & Mittal; excellent stuff} made us all sing out loud.

Juberfam & Mittal gourmet products  This is a good one bowl meal, warming, filling, indulgent with some oven roasted potato wedges on the side. Oh, and a warm broccoli salad too. Crisp, full of flavour and really nice. Thankfully, broccoli has ended the battle of the greens with the kids! They know 6-7 florets are ‘mandatory‘; now quite enjoy it. I am yet to win the battle of the cauliflower!

Broccoli SaladThe salad plate is a classic white one from Urban Dazzle. It’s reasonably priced and one that I really really like. Aesthetically designed, slightly tilted and handy to have on hand, it beautifully doubled up as a cake platter on my recent Tea Rose Fondant Cake.

Tea Rose Fondant Cake It’s got a nice rounded base which tends to hold any extra dressing juices. Keeps the salad from getting soggy.

Broccoli Salad The tilt towards the front gives it a good feel. I served a cold potato buttermilk salad in it a few days ago. That is one of our favourites and a great way to enjoy spuds! YUM!

Cold potato salad

Before I go on to the recipe, I’d like to thank Turmeric n Spice for having me over in her series “Inspiration form the Blogging Community“. I truly enjoyed being there.

Commercial refrigeration specialists. Visit website.

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