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Genoa Fougasse“Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all it’s flavour.”
William Cowper

Genoa Fougasse turned out to be the best bread I’ve baked in a while. Sometimes you just need ‘bread luxury’, and this became that and much more. The difference here was the new level of deliciousness brought on by the addition of a gourmet spice blend, Genoa, from Sprig. It brought the flavours alive, went beautifully with the cheese and walnuts within, making it our new favourite bread at home. French Fougasse has always been on top of my list of fave breads. The Genoa Fougasse just knocked it off!Masala Dabba, spices

The Masala Dabba #2Spices have always fascinated me since I entered the kitchen. My love affair with them getting more intense when I joined Dolphia and Simi on the spice journey with The Masala Dabba. The colours, the flavours, the versatility never cease to amaze. I am rather light handed with spices in the kitchen, using them only to enhance flavours rather than overpower the dish. The fougasse I planned to make was just a cheese and walnut bread.Genoa Fougasse with SprigIt’s a dough I’ve been working with, an experiment which goes on substituting grains on the go. I wanted a light bread, so I decided to stay half whole wheat and half plain flour. Also instead of water, I like kneading my dough with cultured buttermilk. Kills two birds with one stone, no make it four! Adds some calcium, makes the dough buttery light, reacts faster with the yeast, and of course lends beautiful flavour too! I recently did pitas with a similar dough, playing around with the quantities a little. Seems to work its charm each time!Genoa Fougasse with SprigThe  charm however turned to absolute joy with this gourmet spice blend from Sprig. The spice blends arrived as the dough was proofing. On a whim I decided to add some to the bread. The fresh flavours please you as you undo the foil, the aromas very enticing. The packaging is quite eye catching, the quality excellent. If you look closely, you can pick out the ingredients as listed on the box.Genoa Fougasse with Sprig It’s quite a generous portion in the box, will see me for a while. It added colour, flavour and real happiness to the fougasse which was quite aptly renamed Sprig’s Genoa Fougasse. I can see a Syracuse Fougasse, maybe a Tangier Fougasse in the future perhaps. That’s the really nice thing about spice blends. They are so versatile to use – as a rub, marinade, glaze, paste, crumb, sprinkle or dressing! Or like me, with my imagination on about everything. You can see just what happened!!Genoa Fougasse. Also Malacca Spiced Yogurt, Tangier Hummus & Syracuse FoxnutsI made a Genoa Dipping Oil to serve alongside the bread. Just when you think the bead can’t get any better, one dip into the oil and you reach another exciting new level. Ideas popped into my head. You can do Malacca Naans or Tangier Pita Breads! Imagine a themed meal with the spice blend running through the meal? Really had me happy. Tangier Pitas with Tangier marinated grilled chicken, a hearty salad within paired with a mild Tangier laced salad dressing. Just the idea makes me happy!Falafel with Sprig Gourmet Spice BlendAs I see spices, new ideas constantly develop in my head. How about a spice blend spiked yogurt, like a raita. I gently tried sprinkling some Malacca and melon seeds over home made yogurt. I can’t even begin to tell you how addictive that was. It was actually bowl scraping good. Next time it’s going to be either grated radish, a spice blend, chopped walnuts, maybe a dash of garlic and fresh mint or coriander as a side. The possibilities bring a smile to my face, somewhat like these fox nuts {or makhanas below}.

Spiced Yogurt and FoxnutsAs the days pass by, there is always something interesting happening in the kitchen. These days falafal seems to rule, hummus much in demand. While attempting to make hummus the other day, I added the Tangier Spice Blend on a whim since it seemed to tie in with the region. What an amazing result. It lifted the hummus to a new delicious level. The daughter dug in asking where it was from. ‘You made it? Really? This is much better than store bought hummus‘.Tangier Hummus with SprigSo chuffed, I added some into the falafal mix as well. This turned out to be fun! Pitas, falafal, garlicky dip, salad all happening in tandem!Falafel & Tangier Hummus with SprigThis gourmet spice blend from Sprig is available at Nature’s Basket, Foodhall and many stores across India. Locate a store here, else shop at the online store.

Gourmet Spice Blends from SprigSprig has offered to giveaway a set of the Gourmet Spice Blend to a reader of Passionate About Baking.

To enter all you need to so is like Sprig on FB and tell me what dish you would make with any {or all of the spice blends} should you win. I’ll pick a winner on the 25th of July. You must be a resident of India to enter.

Genoa Fougasse
Print Recipe
Genoa Fougasse turned out to be the best bread I've baked in a while. Sometimes you just need 'bread luxury', and this became that and much more. The difference here was the new level of deliciousness brought on by the addition of a gourmet spice blend, Genoa, from Sprig. It brought the flavours alive, went beautifully with the cheese and walnuts within, making it our new favourite bread at home.
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25 minutes 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25 minutes 20 minutes
Genoa Fougasse
Print Recipe
Genoa Fougasse turned out to be the best bread I've baked in a while. Sometimes you just need 'bread luxury', and this became that and much more. The difference here was the new level of deliciousness brought on by the addition of a gourmet spice blend, Genoa, from Sprig. It brought the flavours alive, went beautifully with the cheese and walnuts within, making it our new favourite bread at home.
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25 minutes 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25 minutes 20 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Bread dough
  2. Place all ingredients in bowl of stand mixer. Mix gently first at speed 2 for a couple of minutes, then at speed 4 for 4-5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  3. Add a spoon or two of buttermilk if the dough is a bit hard, or a spoon or two of flour if it is still sticky.
  4. Cover the bowl with clingwrap and leave in a warm place for an hour until doubled. {Alternatively, leave in the fridge overnight for a slow rise}
  5. Preheat oven to 225C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Knock back dough, and flatten to a rough rectangle of 8" X 4" on a floured surface. Drizzle a little olive oil, then sprinkle over with Sprig Genoa Spice Blend. Top with grated cheese and walnuts. Fold into thirds, flatten again, and fold into thirds again.
  7. Place on prepared cookies tray, and shape into large oval, about an inch high. Cut slits through the dough to resemble leaf like cuts. Drizzle over with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle over with more spice blend, rosemary sprigs and Himalayan rock salt. Leave to rise while you preheat the oven to 20 minutes.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes in a hot oven, middle shelf, both upper and lower elements, until puffy and golden brown. Serve with a spice blend infused extra virgin olive oil for dipping.
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Overnight Thandai Oats wth peaches and plums“Fussing over food was important. It gave a shape to the day: breakfast, lunch, dinner; beginning, middle, end.”
Robert Hellenga, Philosophy Made Simple

Overnight Thandai Oats with Peaches & Plums, a no brainer at best. A recipe that took far too long to come, one that is the easiest and has a nice gentle touch. The home made Thandai Nut Mix adds a delightful touch, tying in well with the almond milk, sabja/basil seeeds and melon seeds. Of course, feel free to use chia seeds as they are super foods too, though imported. I use basil because they are locally available and swell up so beautifully. My sweet friend Madhuli @ My Food Court makes sure my supply of basil seeds is never ending.PeachesPeaches and almonds make for great pairing. What’s not to love about a breakfast that offers everything in a bowl? Oats, nuts and seasonal fruit? The nut factor comes in from this Thandai mix. Holi collageThandai, or sardai, is a cold drink prepared with a mixture of almonds, fennel seeds, magaztari seeds, rose petals, pepper, vetiver seeds, cardamom, saffron, milk and sugar. It’s a traditional cooler from the Indian subcontinent, one that is very popular around Holi, the festival of colour. 3 Rose Sabja Thandai Thandai 2 1000 Thandai 1000The recipe for my Thandai Nut Mix is here on the KitchenAid India blog. There are hundreds of versions of the mix online, some more complex than others, yet most customisable to taste. Feel free to use your own, or a store bought variety, else add almond meal or chopped walnuts. If nuts are not your thing, maybe just skip them but do try this once. It’s quite gentle on the palette and ties in well with the stone fruit.Oat Walnut Trifles with Vanilla Roasted Peaches & PlumsTalking about stone fruit, this is the best time of the year to enjoy them to the maximum. I use them as much as I can these days. In bakes like crumbles, or trifles {as above}, just simply much through them, or then like this lemonade below. Elevate your simple everyday lemonade or nimbu paani to a Peach and Cherry Lemonade. Peach & Cherry Lemonade 2 1000Allow peach slices, pitted cherries and fresh mint leaves to sit in the lemonade for about an hour in the fridge. You’ll be delighted with the change in colour and gentle flavour.

 

Overnight Thandai Oats with peaches and plums
Print Recipe
What can be better than waking up to a chilled healthy and delicious breakfast on a warm summer morning. These Overnight Thandai Oats with peaches and plums are the best thing to wake up to. A no cook, beautifully balanced breakfast for a great start to the day! Oats + nuts + seeds + fruit herbs all share space in a make ahead jar. Use any seasonal fruit you like. Berries, mango, kiwi, pineapple, sapota etc.
Servings Prep Time
2 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
0 minutes 8 hours
Servings Prep Time
2 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
0 minutes 8 hours
Overnight Thandai Oats with peaches and plums
Print Recipe
What can be better than waking up to a chilled healthy and delicious breakfast on a warm summer morning. These Overnight Thandai Oats with peaches and plums are the best thing to wake up to. A no cook, beautifully balanced breakfast for a great start to the day! Oats + nuts + seeds + fruit herbs all share space in a make ahead jar. Use any seasonal fruit you like. Berries, mango, kiwi, pineapple, sapota etc.
Servings Prep Time
2 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
0 minutes 8 hours
Servings Prep Time
2 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
0 minutes 8 hours
Ingredients
Overnight Thandai Oats
Topping
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Overnight Thandai Oats
  2. Divide the oats, Thandai mix, melon seeds, basil/sabja seeds and brown sugar between 2 lidded glass jars. Top with just enough milk to soak the mix.
  3. Stir gently, cover and leave to stand in the fridge overnight.
  4. Topping
  5. Next morning top with sliced fresh peaces and plums, scatter over with melon seeds and fresh mint
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Dark Chocolate Layered Cake with Almond Meringue Topping “Anything is good if it’s made of chocolate.”
Jo Brand

Moist, dark and absolutely delicious are words enough to describe this Dark Chocolate Layered Cake with Almond Meringue Topping. The base is a simple chocolate genoise sponge, layered with a low fat whipped cream. The top is a brown sugar meringue topped with slivered almonds, quite optional if you are torn for time, but it does add a lovely touch to the final look. The secret to the moist cake and whipping up low fat cream is melted, cooled clarified butter/ghee. This is my new favourite sponge recipe and my new favourite light buttercream.Eggs and chocolateIt’s been a busy last few months and I stare at a hungry blog. We’ve had a great food styling workshop just recently, packed to the gills, on one of the hottest days of the season. It was a LOT of work and planning, but it was all so worth it. The venue {Lodi – The Garden Restaurant, New Delhi}, the folk who attended, the food we ate and shot, was all great fun. A great learning experience too.Food Styling Workshop, The Lodi, New DelhiThen of course there is obsessive everyday shooting, something that keeps me so engrossed, I often lose track of time. Some work for others, some for myself, yet all a learning process. Add to that Sunday Stills where I join Simi as she shoots stills. Pitcher #sundaystillsAmaltasThe Masala Dabba with Dolphia has fallen prey to procrastination but I will get back there soon since spices is what I enjoy shooting a lot! Gundu Chilies from Karaikudi

Masala Dabba, spices

The Masala Dabba #2Getting back to baking and this wonderful cake, here’s something I recently discovered. I often find a lot of folk these days baking out of a box and frosting the cake with ready made cream,  ingredients loaded with preservatives, enhancers, emulsifiers and what not. Read the label and you’ll figure out. Baking  or cooking ‘from scratch’ conjures up images of cooking with fresh ingredients and lovingly preparing meals. Boxed meals emphasize just the convenience. Add a few ingredients and then you’re done. Making a cake from scratch gives you control over the quality of the ingredients, also allowing for a bit more creativity. Wholewheat Dark Chocolate Fudgy Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting 3 1000 1Creativity and experimenting go hand in hand. The revelation that I could use clarified butter / ghee instead of normal butter has made life really simple for me. The recipes need to be adapted a little here and there, but the huge plus is that clarified butter stays good on the shelf for long. You don’t need to melt and cool in summer as it doesn’t set hard at warm temperatures. The convenience of use is indescribable in weather like we have here these days at 45C! That’s how I got the low fat 20%  cream to whip up so I could pipe it.  Wholewheat Dark Chocolate Fudgy Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting 2 1000 1Worked each time but once when it was really really hot and humid. Whip chilled low fat cream to medium soft peaks at a high speed. Then drizzle in about a teaspoon of cool melted clarified butter / ghee for every 100ml of cream and continue to whip at high speed, you will notice the cream gradually firming up and holding shape. This is because you’re putting the fat back into low fat cream. I have also seen this works better with the ‘Go’ brand of fresh cream as compared to ‘Amul’ {in India}. Do let me know if it works for you!Dark Chocolate Layered Cake with Almond Meringue Topping Well everyone can’t ‘do it from scratch’, and even though additives etc are often considered part of the package when it comes to boxed meals, it really doesn’t have to be. Interestingly enough, at least one company thought that way. San Francisco-based food tech company Hampton Creek offers a new take on shelf-ready foods, striving to take out additives and other unnatural ingredients from common, off-the-shelf goods. For eg, their premade cookie dough doesn’t contain common additives, is an eggless dough mix that is also dairy-free. Baking from a box or a premade mix can be as mouth-watering as a meal made from scratch; guess you need to know what to look for.

Until then, here’s my Dark Chocolate Layered Cake with Almond Meringue Topping Cake!

Dark Chocolate Layered Cake with Almond Meringue Topping
Print Recipe
Moist, dark and absolutely delicious are words enough to describe this Dark Chocolate Layered Cake with Almond Meringue Topping. The base is a simple chocolate genoise sponge, layered with a low fat whipped cream. The top is a brown sugar meringue topped with slivered almonds, quite optional if you are torn for time, but it does add a lovely touch to the final look. The secret to the moist cake and whipping up the cream is melted, cooled clarified butter/ghee. This is my new favourite sponge recipe.
Servings Prep Time
8 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Dark Chocolate Layered Cake with Almond Meringue Topping
Print Recipe
Moist, dark and absolutely delicious are words enough to describe this Dark Chocolate Layered Cake with Almond Meringue Topping. The base is a simple chocolate genoise sponge, layered with a low fat whipped cream. The top is a brown sugar meringue topped with slivered almonds, quite optional if you are torn for time, but it does add a lovely touch to the final look. The secret to the moist cake and whipping up the cream is melted, cooled clarified butter/ghee. This is my new favourite sponge recipe.
Servings Prep Time
8 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Ingredients
Chocolate Genoise Sponge 1
Meringue topping
Servings: people
Instructions
Chocolate Genoise Sponge 1
  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line the sides and bottom of 2 8" spring-form round tin with parchment. {I have just 1 tin and an oven that fits only 1 cake at a time. I kept the parchment ready while the first sponge baked}
  2. Place 4 eggs and 1 egg yolk in the bowl of the stand mixer with 125g brown sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk on high speed until light, very mousse like and tripled in volume, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt 2 times. Reserve.
  4. Place cooled clarified butter in a medium sized bowl. reserve.
  5. Once the eggs are whisked and mousse like, sift over 1/3 of the flour/cocoa mix and gently stir in in figure 8 moves so that the beaten air doesn't escape. Repeat 2 more times.
  6. Take about a cup of this batter and fold into bowl with melted ghee to loosed the mixture. Now turn this batter back into main batter and gently mix through taking care not to release the beaten air.
  7. Turn into prepared tin and bake for approximately 40 minutes, untl a pick inserted comes out clean.
Chocolate Genoise Sponge 2
  1. Repeat as above, turn into prepared tin and top with brown sugar meringue spreading gently and uniformly with an offset spatula. Scatter slivered almonds over and bake for approximately 40 minutes, until a pick inserted comes out clean.
Brown sugar meringue
  1. Whisk the egg whites with brown sugar on high speed to stiff peaks, about 5 minutes.
Frosting and filling
  1. Place chilled cream, icing sugar, clarified butter in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk at highest speed for 7-9 minutes until stiff peaks form. Adjust sweetness if required.
Assemble
  1. Gently cut each cake into two horizontal layers. They will be very moist and delicate.
  2. Place one layer on the cake platter, top with about 1 cup of whipped cream, spread evenly. Repeat with remaining 3 layers. Frost the sides of the cake with remaining frosting, maybe pipe a border around.
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