Friday, February 12, 2016

Chutney's - figuring them out

Food to go with the Chutney's
Even as I right this I haven't yet figured out entirely what a chutney is - so let's figure this out right now. 

So according to a Chutney is a sauce or relish of East Indian origin, often compounded of both sweet and sour ingredients, as fruits and herbs, with spices and other seasoning. I consulted the all high and powerful wikipedia for a little bit more information on chutney and here is what the oh so wise wikipedia had to say:
Chutneys may be ground with a mortar and pestle or an ammikkal (Tamil). Spices are added and ground, usually in a particular order; the wet paste thus made is sautéed in vegetable oil, usually gingelly (sesame) or peanut oil. Electric blenders or food processors can be used as labor-saving alternatives to stone grinding.
American and European-style chutneys are usually fruit, vinegar, and sugar cooked down to a reduction, with added flavourings. These may include sugarsaltgarlictamarindonionor ginger.[14] Western-style chutneys originated from Anglo-Indians at the time of the British Raj recreated Indian chutneys using English orchard fruits — sour cooking apples and rhubarb, for example. They would often contain dried fruit: raisins, currants and sultanas.
So I ended up making two chutney's this week.  The first was a result of watching a video of Chef Jet Tila and Chef Simon Majumdar (often seen on Cut Throat Kitchen - click here to watch the video) I was very interested in trying out both recipes especially in light of my findings at Young's with the fresh herbs. 

My first chutney
Cilantro, Mint, Lime and Jalapeno Chutney
- 3 bunches of cilantro (I used one of the full trays)
- Mint (I used basically a soup bowl full)
- Juice of 4 limes
- Zest from the 4 limes
- A good pinch of sugar (this is my addition to try and cut the heat a little but I'm a complete wimp)- A good pinch of salt
- 4 seeded seruiano peppers (I used 2 seeded jalapeño instead because I had them and I don't like tons of spice)- 5 garlic cloves
- 4 inches of peeled and rough chopped ginger
- 250 mL of full fat plain yogurt

Place all of the ingredients in a blender - for the cilantro use the entire cilantro leaves and stocks. Run until the mixture is smooth and there is bits or pieces left. 

I did post a picture of this on Instagram saying I was going to use it the next day and I was told it gets better and let me tell you it does!

Mint and Yogurt Chutney
I then had a request from the husband to make something that he had been missing.  He went to visit the book store and of course was looking through cook books (watch for my next set of books).  In any event he found a recipe for Mint and yogurt chutney which I made in anticipation of some other dishes that I was going to attempt.

Mint and Yogurt Chutney
5 tbsp greek yogurt
1/2 ounce fresh mint
1 fresh green chili, seeded and finely sliced
1 tsp sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
a pinch of salt
- Put all of the ingredients in a blender and whizz up to mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning and consistency, adding salt, sugar and water as needed. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Doughnuts - oh so bad but soo good

Mis en place for doughnuts!
So there is a terrible downside to watching cooking and food based shows while cooking. Don't believe me - then ask how I ended up getting inspired to make doughnuts. Now again they are amazing but honestly you should not trust me to sit around and fry dough and not want to try some.

In any event I was watching Good Eats and was inspired to try making doughnuts. I make bread, cinnamon buns, pizza dough from scratch why can't I try making doughnuts. So I did a search on and found Alton Brown's recipe for yeast based droughts and had to give it a try.

The first inaugural fried item!
Now oddly enough I have been watching the show "Worst Cooks in America" I don't personally think I need that show - but the tips, tricks and methods that they demonstrate in the show are sometimes really fantastic and helpful in life - not to mention I have had a few of my inspirations for things I want to make come from the show. The one thing I have really taken away from the show is mis en place - now I've heard this term a lot and I'm sure any other person who watches these types of show has heard of the term mis en place - basically meaning to get all of your ingredients and things prepared before hand.  I of course learned this skill/technique in high school and them promptly stopped following it a while ago.  This combined with not always reading a recipe all the way through before starting has occasionally lead to a few interesting times in the kitchen. However, I figure it really ought to be a practice I start getting into - although when considering time restrictions I'm not sure about always doing it - but in any event I mis en place'd and I'm proud of it!

First bunch of doughnuts
Yeast Doughnuts
1 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 ounces vegetable shortening (~1/3 cup)
2 packages instant yeast
1/3 cup warm water (95 to 105 degrees F)
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
23 ounces all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
Oil for frying
  1. Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside. 
  2. in a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. 
  3. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into a large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg and half of the flour. (The original is like this - I usually add my sugar to the warm water with the yeast to help them get going). 
  4. Using the paddle attachment, combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined. 
  5. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well. 
  6. Covered with cinnamon sugar
  7. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. (I found the dough to be sticky and not like bread dough in terms of the finish product - I also scrapped down the sides of the bowl when I switched to the dough hook). 
  8. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Based on a previous mishap with bread - I made sure to turn the oil in the bowl so it was coated all the way up the sides of the bowl.  I also placed my bowl in the oven the same way I do for bread. I turn on the oven for about 30 seconds, and then place a cake pan full of really hot tap water on the bottom of the oven and then place the bowl in half way up - I find this helps make my bread and yeast doughs very happy). 
  9. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to a 3/8 inch thick. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2 inch doughnut cutter or pastry ring and using a 7/8 inch ring for the centre whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes (again back into the oven) (I found that the dough was a little weird to get rolled out at first but I quickly got the hang of it.  I wold also note that I probably should have picked up and turned the dough before cutting out the circles only because the circles I cut without doing this shrunk back up)
  10. Preheat the oil in a deep frying or dutch oven to 365 degrees F. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in a baking pan (note: I lined the bottom with paper towel - smart idea!!) Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing. 
Filled and Glazed
Now I both glazed and sugar coated my doughnuts - I will post how I coated them in sugar - but next time I would just dump my doughnuts into the sugar right out of the deep fryer.

To sugar coat them - I melted a stick of butter in a small pan, and then mixed 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon in a bow( I also added a dash of fresh ground nutmeg).  I then dipped the doughnuts into the butter and then sugar (just on one side). However, next time I would probably go right from the fryer into the sugar.

I took the last remaining parts after the dough couldn't be rolled out again in a good fashion and made little balls thinking I could make doughnut holes. They actually turned out larger than expected so I ended up filling them with lemon custard or bumble berry jam and glazed them.

To make the glaze I heated 1cup milk on the stove to almost a simmer, then added vanilla and 2 cups powdered sugar. I then turned off the burner and dipped the doughnuts. Because I had extra glaze left over I ended up using a fork and sprinkling a little over the cinnamon sugar doughnuts because - well why not add a little more sugar right?!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sage and Onion Sausage Rolls

So as we know the husband is English and we don't live in England. This means that there are often treats or foods from home are a thing that he misses and requests the most often.  One of the things he frequently picks up is sausage rolls. However, I hear that they are not the same - so my goal a long time ago was to try and make things that remind my husband of home (frankly this was a tactic I used when dating him to win him over - not that I needed much help - but I definitely think it was important to him.)

Finished Sage and Onion Sausage Roll
So I have made "sausages" once - I even ground my own pork and seasoned the meat. The only problem is that I could NOT find sausage casing anywhere so I just hand formed them kind of into a sausage shape - hence my calling them "sausages".  In any event this time I took a short cut thanks to a lovely old lady I meet in the grocery store (yes you will notice a pattern of me finding out a bunch of cool things by talking to people in the grocery store)... Anyways she showed me where they had unseasoned sausage meat in the frozen section of the store - balk all you want because it is frozen and not fresh - but honestly for something like this where I'm thinking more about technique and getting it to work rather than anything else I was thinking of grinding my own meat (I will do that one of the times I make them).

So sausage rolls are in essence really simple - sausage meat housed in puff pastry. However, I definitely consider this a learning experience in the overall technique for making this because it is a little more complicated than putting meat in puff pastry.

I did make the puff pastry from scratch - and this was my first issue - not making the pastry itself but finding my recipe for making the pastry.  I have heard and found that a lot of things call for the pre-packaged dough. However, I have made puff pastry before and it's not that complicated so I don't know why I would buy the pre-packaged puff pastry any more unless it was really a time crunch. Ever have this problem - make a delicious recipe and forget where you have, found or keep the recipe?  I'm finding this to be a huge issue and I need to find a way of starting to manage this issue given the number of sources I have.  I will recommend the app "MealBoard" it is where I keep most of my recipes - especially the ones that I find online - it also makes it really easy to check what things you might need for a recipe if the inspiration hits you in the grocery store. It also allows you to meal plan, create a grocery shopping list, import recipes or send a copy a recipe easily.

In any event I make my puff pastry from scratch and by hand the additions for this particular recipe are in italics - I added them to give flavour to the pastry because of the type of dish I was making:

Puff Pastry
10 ounces cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup cold tap water
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground sage
A pinch of Basil
A pinch of Onion Powder

Waiting to be wrapped up!

  1. Cut 8 ounces (2 sticks) butter into 1/2 to 1/4 inch dice, place on a plate and refrigerate while preparing remaining ingredients. Measure water and add salt; stir to dissolve and set aside.  (Note: I cut the butter lengthwise four times then stack this slices again, turn over cut into four lengths along the other side so basically you'll end up with 16 long sticks of butter and then I cut the sticks into smaller cubes.  I also usually take butter right out of the freezer for this or I put the butter in the freezer before I cut it and after I cut it to keep it really cold). 
  2. Coarsely dice the remaining 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter. Place flour in work bowl (of food processor fitted with metal blade; add 4 tablespoons of butter and pulse until butter is absorbed - about ten to twelve 1-second pulses) or do like I do and use a pastry knife and cut the butter into the flour. 
  3. Add the remaining butter and pulse once or twice to distribute. Add water and pulse 3 or 4 times, just until dough forms a rough blah. Do not over-process.
  4. Flour work surface and scrape dough from work bowl. Shape dough into a rough rectangle and places between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Press sought with rolling pin to flatten, then roll back and forth several times with rolling pin to make a 12 x 18 inch rectangle of dough. 
  5. Peel away plastic wrap and invert dough to floured work surface. Peel away second piece of wrap. Fold dough in thirds in the width, folding the top third down and the bottom third up, to make a 6 x 18 - inch rectangle, then roll up the dough from one of the 6-inch ends, making sure to roll end under dough. Press the dough into a square, wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. 

Once that was done I worked on my sausage meat:

In the oven on the way to being tasty!
Sausage Fillings
1 package of ground meat (I used pork sausage)
1/2 cup finely chopped sage
2 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard powder

I mixed all of the above ingredients into a bowl and then I cooked off about a tbsp size ball just to test my seasoning and adjust the seasoning in the mixture. I also used onion powder in place of onion because of the husbands issues with texture.  Normally I would have finely diced 1 small onion and then sweated the onion for about 3-5 minutes maybe with some garlic (now don't tell him - I probably will do that next time shhhh our secret).

I then loaded the mixture into one of my disposable pipping bags with a large round tip (can't remember the size off hand).  Once that was ready I pulled out the puff pastry and rolled it out.  Now here's the first issue - I wanted the pastry thin which is a good thing but I think I went too thin or used too much - because after I piped out two strips on each half of the pastry I ended up rolling the pastry around the filling - bad idea - left too much pastry.

I then used egg wash to seal the edge of the pastry as I wrapped it and then popped it into a 350 oven for about 20+ minutes - we used an instant read thermometer to make sure the meat was fully cooked.

They were good!  Husband was happy! Some issues to fix for next time (which if husband has his way is very very soon!)