breakfast samosas

breakfast samosa

A couple of weeks ago, we went out for Indian food at one of our favorite restaurants

Rasika

, in D.C. I'm trying to tick things off my bucket list, some new places to try and some old spots that I know I will miss a lot, this is definitely on my list. Their menu is always delicious and every item on it bursting with flavors, we ended up trying several different dishes and by the end of the meal we struggled to with our desserts (honestly, we could have skipped it but they sounded and were incredible). Strangely enough, we never ordered any samosas which then led me to remedy the situation with these guys!

sweet potatoes

I did something very different this time, I infused the pastry dough with fresh rosemary (though dried will work as well here) and also used coconut oil to create the dough's flakiness. The filling for this breakfast-themed pastry includes a mix of sweet potatoes, leeks, spinach, boiled eggs and a little more rosemary that spiced to create a delicious flavorful mix. 

leeks

There are step-by-step photographs that M took while I prepared the pastries to cook which hopefully make things easier. This is also the way, I prefer to cook my samosas, I don't like to deep fry but simply baking them takes away from the texture of the pastry. So, I do a two-step cooking process where I lightly pan-sear the samosas on each side in a little oil and then bake them till they are cooked.

You can do what I do, prepare these for brunch and/or save the rest and reheat them in the mornings.

breakfast samosas

breakfast samosas

yields:

14 samosas

ingredients

filling 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon rosemary leaves, fresh or dried

1 cup leek, chopped

2 cups sweet potatoes, diced

4 cups packed spinach leaves, fresh

2 thai green/red chili peppers, thinly sliced

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt

2 large hardboiled eggs, peeled and chopped

1/2 teaspoon garam masala 

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium-high for about 30-40 seconds. As soon as the oil gets hot, add the rosemary and stir for 10 seconds. Stir in the leeks and sauté for 2 minutes. 

2. Add the sweet potatoes and coat them with the oil. Cook for another 5 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are just tender. Add the spinach leaves along with the chili and salt, stir and continue to cook until the sweet potatoes are completely cooked. This will take about 4-5 minutes. If the spinach releases a large amount of water, continue to cook until the liquid evaporates. Fold in the eggs and the garam masala. Remove from stove and keep the filling aside, until ready to use.

samosa pastry

ingredients 

1 cup (5 ounces) durum / whole-wheat flour

1 cup (4 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour + a little more flour for rolling out the pastry

2 tablespoons rosemary, fresh/dried 

1 teaspoon sea salt

4 tablespoons melted coconut oil

6-7 tablespoons chilled water*** (you might need more)

1. Add all the ingredients from the flour to the salt in a food processor. Pulse a 2-3 times for 5 second intervals to evenly mix all the ingredients. 

2. Add the coconut oil to the dry ingredients and pulse for 10 seconds. Sprinkle the 6 tablespoons of water over the flour and pulse the ingredients until they combine to form a ball dough. You may need to add more water to bring the ingredients together. Once the dough is formed, remove from the processor and wrap with cling film. Allow to rest for at least 60 minutes until ready to use.

Assembly

ingredients

a cup of water for sealing the pastry

step by step samosa prep work

See the step-by-step photographs photographs above (from top left to right and then bottom left to right).

1. Dust a clean pastry board or smooth kitchen surface with a little flour. Unwrap the dough and divide the dough into 14 equal parts. Mold each part into a ball, cover the balls with a damp cloth to prevent them from drying out while you are preparing the pastries.

2. Take one ball of dough and roll it out into a 5-6 inch circle, dusting with a little flour to prevent sticking.  The edges of the circle do not need to be perfect as you will fold them over.

3. Divide the circle into two semicircles with a sharp knife or pastry cutter. Take one semicircle of the pastry in your hand, using your fingers bring the straight ends of the semicircle together and brush the straight edges with a little water and gently press to seal to form a cone. 

4. Fill the cone with a generous tablespoon of the sweet potato filling prepared earlier. 

5. Brush the open ends of the cone with water and then press gently to seal the mouth. Brush this sealed edge with a little water and then fold this edge once over itself to form a tight seal.

6. Prepare the rest of the samosas similarly and keep aside covered with a damp cloth until ready to cook.

cooking the samosas

ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil for pan searing (you may need a little more or less)

1. Center a wire rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a medium sized non-stick pan, heat two tablespoons of the oil on medium high. As soon as the oil is hot add 3 samosas and lightly cook them on each side until they are lightly seared and become lightly golden brown. You may need to add a little more oil for searing the other side. 

Transfer the samosas to the prepared baking sheets. Bake 7 samosas at a time for about 20 minutes or until they are completely golden brown. Repeat this for the rest of the samosas.

3. Serve hot with ketchup or sweet tamarind chutney. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can reheat the samosas in a microwave or toaster oven before eating.

mini mulled wine apple spelt pies

mini spelt pies with mulled wine

Christmas involves a lot of baking at our home and I find myself trying out old and new techniques each year and developing new flavors that will make my holiday menu extra special. This year however, I am not hosting a dinner since we are traveling and the cooking requirements are significantly reduced. A week from now, we will be celebrating the holidays in California, it's a welcome change that we both need and a nice break from the cold and gloomy days here in D.C.  Plus, I get to meet up with my family and friends and eating a whole lot of food on this trip!

apples

However, what would Christmas be without baking a few holiday desserts and cookies! Apple pies are something I make every holiday season but this year, I've been working on a special type of crust, one that is wholegrain yet flaky and delicious but without the shortening. You will love this spelt crust, it is easy to prepare and work with and when it comes out of the oven you will want to grab a hot pie straight off the baking sheet. There's something comforting in eating a soft flaky pie crust, especially in cold weather. 
I've used coconut oil as a substitute for the shortening which works wonderfully in the dough. I used one of the tricks from Cook's Illustrated America's Test Kitchen to inhibit gluten formation in the dough by using a splash of vodka. 

ready to bake spelt apple pies

This apple pie filling represents some of my favorite holiday flavors that are absolutely wonderful! It has a mix of Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples that are cooked with red wine and sweet ginger bits. And best of all you can add whatever mix of mulling spices that you love to flavor the wine. You probably won't end up using all the liquid to fill the pies so do what I did, save it as a sauce to pour over your breakfast pancakes or serve it as a sauce with some fresh fruit like pears for desserts! 

mulled wine apple pies with spelt

mini mulled wine apple spelt pies

mulled wine apple pie filling  

yields: about 2 - 21/2 cups 

ingredients

1 1/2 cups red wine (I used a Burgundy)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons dark honey
2 tablespoons mulling spice mix (of your choice)
1 lb yellow delicious apples, peeled and diced
1 lb granny smith apples, peeled and diced
1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) crystallized ginger bits

1. Pour the wine into a thick bottomed saucepan. Place the mulling spices into a muslin cloth bag or a piece of cheese cloth and tie it at the open end with a piece of kitchen string. Add the bag to the wine and bring the wine to a boil on a medium high flame, reduce to a gentle simmer and allow the wine to cook for 20 minutes or until it has reduced to 1/2 of its original volume.
2. Add the sugar, honey, apples, and ginger bits to the wine. Cook for another 30 minutes on a medium low flame until the apples are tender. The apples will release their liquid. Remove the muslin bag with the spices and discard. 
3. Remove the mulled wine apple pie filling and allow it to cool to room temperature before using it to fill the pies.

spelt pie pastry crust

yields: 8 X 4" pies

ingredients

1 1/4 cups (6 ounces) spelt flour
1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 ounces) all purpose flour + a little extra flour to roll out the pastry
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped and chilled
8 tablespoons coconut oil, chilled and cut into bits
1/4 cup vodka, chilled
3 tablespoons water, chilled
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons water

1. Pulse the flours, sugar and salt in a food processor for a few seconds to mix the dry ingredients. Randomly distribute the chopped butter and coconut oil over the dry ingredients. Pulse the ingredients twice for 30 seconds to mix the fat. Continue to pulse the ingredients and slowly drizzle the vodka and water into the food processor. Continue to pulse until the ingredients come together to form the pie dough. Remove the dough from the food processor, roll it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 4 flat discs. Cover each with cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour before use.
2. Remove and unwrap one disc. Place the disc on a lightly floured surface and using a rolling pin flatten the disc out to a rough 12 inch circle. Cut 4 inch circles and place the circles on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining three pieces of dough. Any extra bits of unused dough can be combined, chilled and reused. You should get a total of 16 circles of pie pastry.
3. Using a small star-shaped cookie cutter (you can use any shape of cookie cutter here) cut out a star in the center of 8 of the 16 circles of pie pastry cut out earlier. Reserve the stars and keep aside these discs aside.
4. Place 1 generous tablespoon of the apple filling in the center of an uncut pie circle. Place and center one of the cut circles over the filling and seal the edges of the two discs by pressing lightly with the prongs of a fork. Repeat and prepare the rest of the pies. You can decorate the pies with the reserved cutout stars as you like. Chill the pies on baking sheets lined with parchment paper for 30 minutes before baking.
5. Preheat the oven to 350F and place a rack in the middle of the oven. Lightly whisk the egg yolk and water in a small bowl. Brush the surface of each pie with the yolk wash. Bake the pies for 25-30 minutes until the crusts are golden brown. Allow the pies to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes and serve warm.

edamame-stuffed fried indian bread

Edamame-stuffed fried indian bread

Today being Diwali, the day when people in India celebrate the festival of lights, I thought I'd keep my post traditional but different. Diwali is a Hindu festival that celebrates the triumph of good over evil and the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi is worshipped to bring prosperity and fortune to families. Diwali is by far, one of the most gorgeous festivals in India, entire cities and towns are lit with oil and candle lamps and children celebrate with dazzling fireworks. Food is a huge part of this celebration and every sort of decadent dessert and meal is a part of this glorious occasion. As a kid, I was fortunate to have the best of both worlds when it came to Hindu and Christian holidays due to my parents, I remember the fireworks and the gifts but more than all of that the dinner has left an indelible mark in my memory. Huge elaborate meals were carefully planned and painstakingly prepared that everyone would sit down to enjoy and partake in laughter and fun conversation. 

Diyas

My initial thoughts centered around sharing an Indian dessert but then I said to myself my blog is all about being traditional yet non-traditional in every aspect just like me! I've been wanting to make these deep fried stuffed breads for a while that are also known as Kachoris. Kachoris are usually filled with a spicy lentil stuffing and are an extremely popular appetizer served at any celebration or event or even simply eaten as a snack with chai. The pastry crust of these breads is flaky yet light that makes them a fantastic treat for everyone alike. 

Edamame

Kachoris are so easy to make and you can practically fill them with almost anything you can think of. My version has a spicy edamame-filling that is delicious yet simple to prepare. For the edamame, I just boil the raw edamame in their pods, then peel and shell the beans out. You can serve them with my sweet tamarind chutney or my cilantro mint chutney or serve the kachoris with both. So have a happy and wonderful Diwali and remember to light a candle or lamp tonight. 

Edamame kachori


edamame-stuffed fried indian bread

yields: 10 individual kachoris

ingredients

3/4 cup (3 7/8 ounces) whole-wheat flour 
3/4 cup (3 5/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons vegetable oil (canola)
1/2 cup chilled water
1 1/2 cup (7 3/4 ounces) edamame beans, cooked
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
about 1/2 cup all purpose flour for dusting
vegetable oil for frying (canola)

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flours, salt and baking soda. Pour the oil and mix evenly with your hands for about 4 minutes until the flour has absorbed all the oil. The flour grains will get a fine crumb like texture. Add the chilled water and start to knead the flour until a smooth silky dough is formed. Cover this dough with cling film or a damp kitchen towel and let it rest in a cool place for at least 30 minutes.
2. In a food processor grind the edamame with the chili, cumin and salt to a coarse paste. Taste and season with more salt if desired. Keep aside.
3. Divide the rested dough into 10 equal balls about 1 inch in diameter.  Take one ball and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the ball out into a flat disc that is approximately 3 inches in diameter. Place about 1-1 1/2 teaspoons of the edamame filling in the center of the disc. Using your fingers, pull the edges over the filling and pinch to seal the open end. (This is similar to preparing stuffed wontons). Flatten the stuffed pastry between the palms of your hands taking care to prevent any cracks from forming. Repeat with the rest of the balls, dust lightly with flour and keep aside covered with a damp cloth until ready to fry. 
4. Heat enough oil in a deep fryer or wok on a medium-high flame. When the oil begins to smoke, carefully slide one pastry into the oil.  Press it gently with a slotted spoon for 10 seconds to help it puff up. Let the pastry cook on each side for at least 30 seconds or until evenly golden brown on each side. Remove the fried bread with a slotted spoon and place it on a plate or dish lined with a clean paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Repeat and continue with the rest of the breads. Serve hot with sweet tamarind chutney or cilantro mint chutney or both. 

chocolate almond and buckwheat tart

Chocolate almond buckwheat tart

If there is one ingredient you'd love to bake with, what would it be? I have several but I think if given a choice, it would be chocolate and cocoa. In my books, I don't think anything can beat that warm sweet scent in the kitchen that I find so addictively comforting. Granted, I invariably end up making a mess every time I work with cocoa or chocolate, my white kitchen table ends up looking like a war zone with dark brown splattered streaks and spots all over the place. I mentally prepare myself going in armed with the knowledge that I will end up making a huge mess. In the end it never really matters. Because of that final moment, when nothing else matters and my eyes eagerly wait for that hot dark brown dessert to pop out of the oven. I'll admit I've burned my mouth a few times when I've been impatient enough to try and taste it hot. This is not recommended one bit, speaking from personal experience!

Baking with eggs

Last weekend, I spent my time baking. I missed using my tart pan, I haven't used it in a long time and I felt it beckon me from the corner where it has stayed hidden for the past few months. A few minutes later, I had the pan in one hand and the other was busy shuffling through the pantry shelf, which is what we also refer to as my "Museum Collection and Assortment of Flours" (it's a whole shelf with several types of flours) which for some reason lacked any regular all-purpose flour. Thankfully, I still had a bit of buckwheat flour left to make my crust. I love buckwheat a lot for its characteristic nutty taste and gorgeous gray color. I made a very simple crust, buckwheat and ground almond meal with a little bit of butter to hold everything together. The resultant pastry reminded me of a graham cracker crust with a buttery and delicious nutty flavor. 

Sugar measuring

When it comes to preparing tarts and pies, I love my faithful trustworthy porcelain pie beads. But if you don't own any and can't find a store that sells them near you, use dried beans. I've had my beads for a few years now and they making blind baking a cinch. Adding the parchment sheet on top of the pastry surface helps to easily lift the beads off as soon as the tart comes out of the oven and there's a less chance of getting burned! 

Blind baking

Now for the fun part, the chocolate filling! Since it is autumn, I snuck in a little of bit cinnamon, not too much, just a little dab for a little bit of added warmth to the chocolate flavors. When this tart came out, it was every bit delicious, a thin fine crust outside with a moist gooey chocolatey inside. That against the buckwheat and almond crust made it simply enjoyable. And yes, I did my burn my mouth again while trying to taste this way too soon!

Chocolate tart slice

chocolate buckwheat almond tart

yields: 6-8 servings

buckwheat almond tart crust

ingredients

yields: enough to cover one 9 inch ruffled tart pan

1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup ground almond meal
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Line the bottom of a 9 inch ruffled tart pan with parchment paper and spray the sides lightly with a neutral oil.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the dry ingredients to mix uniformly. Add the melted butter and mix with your hands to form a dough. If the mixture is too sticky allow it too cool a little, this will help it firm. Transfer the dough to the pan and with your fingers/ or using the bottom flat surface of a measuring cup press the dough up the bottom and sides of the pan to form a layer of even thickness. Cover the crust with clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 mins. 
3. Remove the cling film and prick the surface of the crust a few times with the prongs of a fork. Cover the top surface of the pastry with parchment paper and place some pie beads or dried beans. This will prevent uneven rising during the baking process. Bake the pastry for 20 minutes in the center rack of the oven (this is also called blind baking). The edges will be slightly golden brown at this point. Carefully remove the pie beads along with the parchment sheet paper on the top surface.
4. Pour the warm chocolate tart filling (recipe below) into the tart shell, even the surface with a flat offset spatula or a flat butter knife and bake the tart for another 15-20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean from the center of the tart filling. Transfer the tart from the oven and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes in the pan on a wire rack before removing and transferring it to a clean serving plate. The tart will have a delicate crust on top but a moist gooey texture inside. Slice the tart with a sharp serrated bread knife and serve warm or cold.

chocolate tart filling

yields: enough for filling for one 9 inch tart

ingredients

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips 
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 tablespoon madagascar bourbon vanilla extract

1. Melt the chocolate, cream, and butter together in a thick bottomed saucepan over a boiling water bath. This should take about 2-3 minutes. Mix constantly till smooth to get a shiny silky smooth sauce. Keep warm. 
2. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, whisk the eggs, sugar, and vanilla at high speed for 5 minutes until you get a pale yellow lemony color and a ribbon can be formed with the eggs, the eggs will have tripled in volume. 
3. Fold the chocolate mix into the whisked eggs carefully with a circular motion. There will be some deflation but avoid losing too much of the trapped air.  
4. Please refer to step 4 above, listed under the tart crust instructions to finish off the tart.  

pasta frolla and tart au citron


It is always an exciting feeling when your work is featured or mentioned anywhere and anytime. This time the wonderful people at Foodista featured A Brown Table as blog of the day at their website. Over the past seven months, I have learned so much. But beyond honing any blogging skills, I have made so many friends along the way. That is the most unique reward about maintaining a food blog.



Another fun learning experience over the weekend involved a bit of playing around with my camera. I tried a couple of shots with a new telephoto lens that I received for Christmas. I am sharing some of those images from that trial. My inner nerd was fascinated that my lens could pick up some of the intricate details of the moon.


Now coming back from the moon to planet Earth. This post is more about one of the easiest pastry dough recipes than it is about lemon curd fillings. Pasta frolla is fast, simple and quick making it a great choice for dessert pastry bases. Made with eggs and a little sugar, this dough takes on a yellow tinge and makes for a delicious tart with a mild sweet taste.




pasta frolla pastry

yields : 6 tartlets

ingredients

2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
a pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1 stick of unsalted butter, chilled 

1. Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Chop the butter into cubes and add it to the dry ingredients. 
2. On a lightly floured surface combine all the ingredients together by hand or with a food processor.
3. Lightly beat the eggs and add to the flour mixture. Knead the ingredients to form a ball of dough. Cover with cling film and store in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using. The dough can be frozen for up to 1.5 months and thawed in the refrigerator overnight before use.

tart au citron

yields : 6 tartlets

ingredients

1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 stick of butter, chopped


1. Bring a pot of water to boil in a stockpot. Whisk the cornstarch and water in a small bowl to form a slurry and keep aside.
2. Whisk the eggs and sugar at a high speed in a large heatproof glass bowl and whose bottom can fit the top of the pot. The eggs and sugar should become light and fluffy. 
3. Add the lemon juice, zest, cornstarch slurry and butter and continue to whisk at a high speed. Move the bowl on to the top of the pot taking care to make sure the boiling water does not come into contact with the base of the bowl. Keep whisking the mixture till it begins to thicken. This will occur slowly but you must not stop whisking. Once thickened to a custard like consistency, remove from the pot and allow to cool. This can be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated. 

Assembling the tart

1. Grease six 3 inch tartlet pans with melted butter. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and then line the tartlet pans with the sheet of pastry. Cut and trim off any excess off the edges of the  top of the tartlets. 
2. Prick the surface of the pastry with a fork and bake blinded with pie beads or dried beans for 10 minutes at 375F in a preheated oven. Remove the tartlets and fill them immediately with the lemon curd. Garnish with slivered almonds if desired and put them back in the oven for another 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool in the pans. Remove the tartlets from their pans and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.