Monday, August 15, 2011

The daring cooks challenge august: Appam and Curry

The challenge of this month is hosted by Mary from the blog Mary Culinairy. She loves curry and has collected a few great recipes for us as a challenge, which included appams. I didn't had a clue what appams were before, but appams are a sort of pancakes made of rice.
And they tasted really good!! This certainly is a recipe which I'm going to make many times in the future.
I've chosen for the version with meat and vegetables, but there was also a fish challenge, which I'm soon going to try out as well.
The childeren loved the appams and were eating them well passed dinnertime. The small leftover (no appams, because they were all gone) I've had for lunch the other day, together with my parents who came to visit. They also had clean plates afterwards.
Every time the challenge is to cook it from scratch and sometimes the recipes take hours of intensive cooking. But not in this case. You've to keep in mind that you make the batter for the appams a day ahead, but that's all.
And don't forget the vegetable plate, it was such a great addition to the curry. It's possible to eat it without but in my opinion it isn't that complete.
Have a nice dinner and a lot of thanks to Mary: it was a great challenge and I've never had such a great curry.


Appam (makes about 15, 2 per person are enough (withouth the childrens grabbing of course):

- 1 1⁄2 cups (300 gm) raw rice;
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons (5 gm) active dry yeast;
- 2 teaspoons (9 gm) suga;r;
- 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) of coconut water or water, room temperature; 
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons (18 gm) cooked rice; 
- 1⁄2 teaspoon (3 gm) salt;
- about 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) thick coconut milk (from the top of an unshaken can).

Carrots with tropical flavors (servings 4 as side dish):

- 1 pound (1⁄2 kg) carrots, about 5 medium peeled;
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil; 
- about 8 curry leaves; 
- 2 tablespoons (15 gm) minced seeded green cayenne chiles; 
- 3 tablespoons (27 gm) minced shallots;
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar (I used lime juice); 
- 1 teaspoon (6 gm) salt; 
- 1⁄4 teaspoon sugar; 
- 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) coconut milk;
- 1⁄4 cup (50 ml) water; 
- coarse salt; 
- optional cilantro (coriander) leaves to garnish.

Sri Lankan Beef curry:
--1 pound (1⁄2 kg) boneless beef (such as round steak or roast); 
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil; 
- 10 fresh or frozen curry leaves; 
- 1 green cayenne chili, finely chopped generous; 
- 1 cup (250 gm) finely chopped onion; 
- 1 teaspoon turmeric; 
- 1 teaspoon salt; 
- 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) coconut milk; 
- 1 tablespoon (15 gm) tamarind pulp; 
- 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) hot water; 
- 3 cups (720 ml) water.

Dry spice mixture:
- 1 tablespoon (13 gm) raw white rice; 
- 1 tablespoon (10 gm) coriander seeds; 
- 1 teaspoon (4 gm) cumin seeds; 
- one 1-inch piece (21⁄2 cm) cinnamon.


Soak the raw rice in 4 to 5 cups of water for 3 hours. You can soak it overnight, although I did not try that. Dissolve the sugar in the 120 mL coconut water or plain water and add the yeast. Set aside in a warm area for 10-15 minutes, until very frothy. Drain the rice and grind it in a blender with the yeast mixture to make a smooth batter. You can add a bit of extra water if needed, but I did not. Add the cooked rice, and grind/blend to combine well. You can see that it is not completely smooth, but very thick—that’s about right. Pour into a large bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for 8-12 hours. You not only want the mixture to rise and collapse, but to ferment. When it is ready, it will have a slightly sour and distinctly yeasty smell. Don’t worry--they are mild tasting when cooked! Add the coconut milk and salt, and a bit of water if necessary, so that you have a batter that is just a bit thicker than milk. Notice how it bubbles after you add the coconut milk. I recommend test-cooking one before thinning the batter. Heat your pan over medium heat. Wipe a few drops of oil over it using a paper towel. Stir the batter and pour in 3-4 tablespoons, depending on the size of the pan. Working quickly, hold the handle(s) and give the pan a quick swirl so that the batter comes to the top edge. Swirl once only, as you want the edges to be thin and lacy. Cover the pan and cook for about 2 minutes. Uncover and check. The center should have puffed up a bit, and will be shiny, but dry to the touch. When ready, loosen the edges with a small spatula and serve immediately. These need to be served hot out of the pan. Make another, and another... Here you can see some that were made in regular skillets. I have found that the leftover batter can be refrigerated for a day or two.

Carrots with tropical flavors:
Julienne or coarsely grate the carrots. Set aside Place a deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then add half of the curry leaves, the chiles and the shallots. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring. Add the carrots, stir, and add the vinegar, salt, sugar and mix well. Increase the heat and stir- fry for 2-3 minutes, until they give off a bit of liquid. Add the water and half of the coconut milk and bring to a fast boil. Stir, cover tightly and cook until just tender, 5-10 minutes, depending on size. Mine took about 5 minutes. Check to ensure the liquid has not boiled away and add a little more water if it is almost dry. Add the remaining coconut milk and curry leaves. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and taste for seasoning. Sprinkle with coarse salt, if desired, and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves. Transfer to a plate and serve hot or at room temperature.

Sri Lankan Beef curry:

Cut the beef into 1⁄2 inch (13 mm) cubes or separate the ribs. Set aside. In a small heavy skillet, roast the dry spice mixture over medium to medium-high heat for 3 to
4 minutes, stirring continuously, until it smells amazing! You will be able to see that the rice is a toasted color.Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and grind/pound to a powder. Set aside. Chop the tamarind pulp and soak it in the hot water. Set aside
In a large, wide pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the curry leaves, green chile, onion and turmeric and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the meat and salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so all surfaces of the meat get browned.
Add the reserved spice mixture and the coconut milk and stir to coat the meat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Press the soaked tamarind through a sieve placed over a bowl. Use a spoon to press all the liquid and pulp out. Discard the seeds and stringy bits. Add the tamarind liquid to the 3 cups of water. Add the tamarind/water mixture to the pot and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook uncovered at a strong simmer for about an hour, until the meat is tender and the flavors are well blended. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Last week I baked my own bread. I do that on a regular base, because I like the smell and taste of it. Sometimes I bake my bread in my breadbakingmachine, but I don't like the shape of the bread that way. And a lot of times you get flowerspot on the sides of my bread, because the dough isn't knead good enough. The bread isn't that fluffy either, so when I've got the time I bake my bread by hand. And believe me, it's the best you can get. This cornbread is really soft, fluffy and a bit sweet. I love it with jam and butter, just when it comes out of the oven.
You can make a few breads in the same time and put them in the freezer, for a maximum of three months. Or you can eat it right away. When you have cut the bread it hardens out a bit faster than the bread you buy in the store (because you don't add any chemical substances which slowens this process). But you can toast and eat it very well on the next day, that still tastes good.

- 2 1/4 cups (235 gram) plain flour;
- 2 1/4 cups (235 gram) corn flour;
- 2 teaspoons dry yeast (6 gram);
- 30 gram sunfloweroil;
- 1 cup + 3 tablespoons handwarm water (285 mL);
- 1 teaspoon honey;
- 9 grams salt (1 2/3 teaspoon).

Add the yeast and honey to the water and let it stand for 15 minuts. Mix both the flours and the salt. Add the yeastmixture and the oil and mix it well with a wooden spoon. Put the dough on a flat workingbench and start kneading for about 15 minutes. Add water when the dough is to dry. Add plain flour when the dough is very wet. The dough should feel a bit moisten at the first 10 minutes. Don't add flour, because of the kneading the gluten in the dough stretch and the dough will become a bit dryer. Butter or oil a bowl and put the dough in here. Turn it around once, so the oil is on all sides. Put a wet towel on top and let it stand in a warm place for about 60 to 90 minutes. The dough should have doubled.
Punch the dough and roll it out to a square. The widht should be the same size as the bakingpan.
Let the dough rest for about 20 minutes. Roll the dough and put it in the bakingpan. Put a wet towel on top and let it stand for 60 minutes in a warm place. Meanwhile heat the oven to 430 degrees Fahrenheit (220 degrees Celsius). Put a baking tray on the bottom or get a clean spraybottle with water. Just before you put your dough in the oven fill the tray with boiling water or spray the dough with water. The crust will get crispy by doing that. Put the bread in the oven for 40 minutes. When you get it out, let it rest for about 5 minutes before you get it out of the baking pan. By knocking at the bottom of the bread, you can hear if it's done, it should sound hollow. If it isn't ready, put it back (without the baking pan) in the oven for another 5 minutes and check again.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tagliatelle with shrimp salad

The weather was good, for the past few days. I like cooking, but with good weather I become a bit lazy. I don't want to stand in the kitchen all day. And my garden needed a lot of attention. That are definitely a good reasons for eating salads. And I personally love them. Not the solely green ones (with only lettuce). I want a bite. I had a few shrimps that I wanted to use and so I made a tagliatelle with shrimp salad. My husband, although he doesn't like cold tagliatelle to much, did love the salad.
And my childeren, except for the youngest one, they didn't want to taste it. The youngest one didn't ate all of his salad, just the shrimps (which is one of his favourits) and the cucumber.
You can't please everyone. Unfortenately the weatherforecast isn't that good. Autumn like is the word. And that is too bad because I still have a lot of salad inspiration.

- Shrimps;
- Tagliatelle (handmade or storebought);
- 1/2 cucumber;
- Carrot;
- Olive oil;
- Balsamic vinegar;
- 1 clove garlic, minced;
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar;
- Fried onions.

Prepare the tagliatelle as descripted on the package. Half the cucumber and scrape out the seeds (so the salad won't get to wet). Slice in small bits. Scrape the carrot and slice it in small stripes (julienne). Heat in a small saucepan the oil. Lower the fire and add the garlic (you can even add a small pepper for the taste). Stir for one minute. Add the shrimp and on medium fire, stirfry the shrimp.
Spoon the shrimp on a plate and sieve the oil. Add the sugar and the balsamic vinegar to the oil.
In a serving bowl add the cucumber, carrot, tagliatelle and the shrimp. Sprinkle the oil/vinegar on top and mix the salad well. On top add the fried onions.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Edible flower salad

 This article is the combination of gardening and cooking. A salad with edible flowers. All from my own garden offcourse. This time I've choosen for rose petals combined with cornflowers, because I liked the colors so much. But I also have a lot of other edible flowers in my garden. And also the lettuce is from the garden. It growed very good because of the bad (rainy) weather).
The recipe for the salad is quite simple, lettuce, edible flowers and a vinaigrette but it looks great. So if you want to serve something different by the next bbq or party this is a great recipe.

- Lettuce;
- Edible flowers;
- Balsamic vinegar;
- Olive oil, extra vierge;
- The leaves of one twig of thyme;
- 1 teaspoon sugar;
- salt and pepper, at taste.

Wash the lettuce and flowers and make sure there dry. Put the lettuce in the serving bowl. Combine the vinegar, oil, thyme and sugar and taste. At salt and pepper and pour the vinaigrette on the lettuce. Mix it thoroughly. Spread the flowers on top.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Daring bakers challenge july: Strawberry chiffon cake

I didn't post for a few weeks, but with good reason (for my family and me), we were on vacation. No computer and therefor no possibility to blog. The weather was great (we weren't near the Netherlands, because there the weather was like it is in autumn) and we are so relaxed. Manjana, which means relax, it is going to be allright sometime, is our new word (and we hope this is going to stay for a litle while).

For the daring bakers challenge of July, we had to make a strawberry chiffon cake. It's a big recipe, but it is so great. My oldest had his birthday and I made one strawberry chiffon cake and he ordered five for next year (so everyone could have a piece). The strawberries are from my own garden and they tasted great.

So I want to thank Jana, form the blog Cherry Tea Cakes, for this great challenge. And also from my son who's a big fan.


Chiffon Cake:
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (155 gm) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder 
- 3/4 cups (170 gm) sugar 
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably kosher
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable oil 
- 3 large egg yolks 
- 1⁄3 cup + 1 tablespoon (95 ml) water 
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
- 3/4 teaspoon lemon zest, grated 
- 5 large egg whites 
- 1⁄4 teaspoon (1 gm) cream of tartar

- 1/3 cup (75 gm) of sugar 
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) of water

Pastry cream filling:
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk 
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
- 1/8 teaspoon salt, preferably kosher 
- 2 tablespoons (10 gm)cornstarch 
- 1/4 cup (55 gm) sugar 
- 1 large egg 
- 2 tablespoons (30 gm) unsalted butter 
- 3/4 teaspoon gelatin 
- 1/2 tablespoon  water 
- 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream

Assembly the cake: 
- 2 lbs (900 g) strawberries 
- confectioners’ sugar for dusting 

Chiffon Cake:
Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C) Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20 cm) spring form pan with parchment paper. Do not grease the sides of the pan. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Add in all but 3 tablespoons (45
ml.) of sugar, and all of the salt. Stir to combine. In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk thoroughly. Combine with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly for about one minute, or until very smooth. Put the egg whites into a stand mixer, and beat on medium speed using a whisk attachment on a
medium speed, until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat on a medium speed until the whites hold soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining sugar and beat on a medium-high speed until the whites hold firm and form shiny peaks. Using a grease free rubber spatula, scoop about 1⁄3 of the whites into the yolk mixture and fold in gently. Gently fold in the remaining whites just until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Removed the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack. To unmold, run a knife around the sides to loosen the cake from the pan and remove the spring form
sides. Invert the cake and peel off the parchment paper. Refrigerate for up to four days.

Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and let the sugar dissolve. Stirring is not necessary, but will not harm the syrup. Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly. Transfer syrup to a lidded container or jar that can be stored in the refrigerator. Simple syrup can be stored for up to one month.

Pastry Cream filling:
Pour the milk, vanilla, and salt into a heavy sauce pan. Place over medium-high heat and scald, bringing it to a near boiling point. Stir occasionally. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer add the cornstarch and sugar. Whisk to combine  Add the eggs to the sugar and cornstarch and whisk until smooth.  When the milk is ready, gently and slowly while the stand mixer is whisking, pour the heated milk down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture back into the warm pot and continue to cook over a medium heat until the custard
is thick, just about to boil and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and pass through a fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool for ten
minutes stirring occasionally. Cut the butter into four pieces and whisk into the pastry cream a piece at a time until smooth. Cover the cream with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap onto the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for up to five days. In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for a few minutes to soften. Put two inches (55 mm) of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Measure 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the chilled pastry cream into a small stainless steel bowl that will sit across the sauce pan with the simmering water, without touching the water. Heat the cream until it is 120 F (48.8 C). Add the gelatin and whisk until smooth. Remove from the water bath, and whisk the remaining cold pastry cream in to incorporate in two batches. In a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks.
Immediately fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream with a rubber spatula.

Assembly the cake:
 Line the sides of a 10-inch (25 cm) spring form pan with plastic wrap. Do not line the bottom of the pan. Cut the cake in half horizontally to form two layers. Fit the bottom layer into the prepared spring form pan. Moisten the layer evenly with the simple syrup. When 
the cake has absorbed enough syrup to resemble a squishy sponge, you have enough. Hull and slice in half enough strawberries to arrange around the sides of the cake pan. Place 
the strawberry against the sides of the pan, point side up forming a ring. Pipe cream in-between strawberries and a thin layer across the top of the cake. Hull and quarter your remaining strawberries and place them in the middle of the cake. Cover the 
 Place the cut side of 
strawberries and entirely with the all but 1 tbsp. (15 ml) of the pastry cream. Place the second cake layer on top and moisten with the simple syrup. Spread the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of pastry cream Coverer with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. To serve release the sides of the spring form pan and peel away the plastic wrap.  Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.