Friday, November 26, 2010

Homemade Ghee (Clarified Butter)

With Diwali gone by, I am all out of ghee!

With a couple of friends interested in knowing how to make homemade ghee, this post is for all you girls out there. Yea...Finally!

Now I used to buy ghee from the Indian Grocery Stores. Most of us do! But from the time I realized that it is real easy to make some at home...I never went back. There is this distinct pure flavor to the ghee made at home, that I totally adore!

And as we dont use ghee a lot in our food, due to health reasons of course, one bottle goes a long long way!

So let's get started...

Serves: Makes 1 large bottle
Level: Easy

2 lbs unsalted butter
1 tblsp water
Pinch of salt, optional

Step 1 - In a large pot, place the unsalted butter and turn on the heat to medium. Let the butter slowly melt down.

Step 2 - Once the butter melts, turn the heat to low and let it come to a boil. Do not stir the butter from the base at any time during the entire cooking process. During the boiling process, the milk solids settle at the base of the pot. We dont want them to again mix with the butter. Afterall, clarified butter is what we are looking for.

Step 3 - Once the butter boils for 10 mins, start lightly moving the foam away from the top of the butter to peep in. Our aim is to reach a good visual clarity. We should be able to see the bottom of the pan, with milk solids stuck to it. This is clarified butter (literally)!

Step 4 - Once the butter has reached a nice golden color and starts smelling like toffee/nutty, there will be a layer of foam on the top of this butter. At this point, take 1 tblsp of water and slowly pour this over the butter. Stand back when you do this. The foam starts popping and disappers. Now turn off the flame and let this mixture cool for around 20 to 30 mins. Do not let it completely cool down, as this will solidify the butter which then cannot be poured into a jar.

Step 5 - Strain the ghee into a clean and dry jar with a lid. I use a simple tea or coffee strainer to do this.

Step 6 - This is an optional step. If you prefer your ghee grainy, just add a pinch of salt to the ghee in your jar and stir well. By the time the ghee cools down, you will have a nice grainy clarified butter.


Try and use an aluminium or steel or light colored pan to prepare ghee. If you use a dark pan, it is really difficult to see if the ghee has reached its desired golden color.

Use a slightly large pan, as when you add water to the butter, the foam rises a little to the top and you dont want it to be all messy on your counter top.

Use a really clean and dry jar to store ghee. This improves it's shelf life.

Happy cooking everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Warm Apple Cake

A nice rainy night...sitting with blankets wrapped around you, watching a nice easy movie... enjoying the chill..:) It is at these times that we crave for some nice warm dessert..:)

When I checked the weather in the morning...I realised that such nights are going to be in fashion soon :) I saw some nice Granny Smith Apples lying in the fruit basket at home. Am not a big fan of apple pies....maybe because I dint try the best of those. So I decided to try something a little less sweet. After a lot of searching and browsing and reading...APPLE CAKE became almost a top priority for the day!

This apple cake is moist and a little dense. Tastes great with some cold vanilla ice-cream, drizzled with caramel or honey too.

A little more about baking apples...right below this recipe..:)

Level: Easy
Serves: 9 medium sized pieces

2 cups chopped baking apples (I used Granny Smiths)
1.5 cups plain flour
1 tsp soda-bi-carbonate
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 egg
3 tblsp milk (I used 2%)
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 inch cinnamon stick
3 - 4 cloves
Pinch of salt

Step 1 - Preheat oven to 350 Deg. F. Spray some oil in a 9 inch baking tray. Keep aside.

Step 2 - In a grinder, finely grind together the cinnamon stick and cloves.Sift together the plain flour, soda-bi-carbonate, cinnamon-clove powders and salt. Keep aside.

Step 3 - In a large bowl, beat together the oil, sugar and egg till it turns into a pale yellow color and you can no longer feel the rough sugar texture in the mixture. (Preferably use an electric whisk. Life would be simpler)

Step 4 - Add vanilla essence, milk and apples. Mix together with a wooden spoon or spatula till all of it comes together. Once it all comes together, quickly beat with an electric whisk for no more than a minute. We do not want to mash the apples in here. Just slightly break them down.

Step 5 - Pour the batter in the greased baking tray from step 1 and bake in the oven for 35 - 40 mins, till the top of the cake starts to crack and is a nice brown color. You need not insert a knife to check this cake, as if you poke the knife into a hot apple, you will end up with moist crumbs on the knife, which does not necessarily mean that the cake is uncooked or undercooked.

Let the cake cool down a little, then turn it out on a wire rack to cool further.

Serve warm.

Happy cooking everyone!

You can avoid using spices in this cake and keep it plain vanilla if you prefer.

Almost any apple can be enjoyed when eaten fresh. However, not all apples are ideal for the kitchen.

The best baking apples offer a balance of sweet and tart flavors as well as flesh that doesn't break down in the oven.

Apples that can be fearlessly used for baking would be Cortland, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Jonathan, McIntosh, Newton Pippin, Rhode Island Greening, Rome Beauty and Winesap.

Hope this helps!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Spice Rubbed Salmon

It's Official! Am in love with Salmon....

After my first attempt at Salmon, which was a total hit (Masala Baked Salmon)...I decided to invest some more time into finding interesting Salmon recipes....and there were sooooo many! It is always exciting to see different flavors being used in different parts of the world and how different combinations can result in mind-blowing outcomes!

Let me share this really different recipe, which I came across on the cooking channel. The finished dish involves a spicy, crusty and crunchy salmon coating which when cut into, gives way to a juicy, soft salmon!..Heaven!

Here is what you need...

Serves: 1 or 2 people
Level: Easy

0.5 lb salmon fillet (preferably wild caught with skin on)
15 - 20 curry leaves
1 tblsp mustard seeds
0.5 tsp asafoetida
2 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste

Step 1 - Wash the salmon fillet thoroughly and wipe them dry. Apply salt to the fillet and let them sit aside for a few minutes. Wipe the curry leaves and lay them over a tissue paper to dry off. We do not want to use wet curry leaves for this recipe, as we need to make a dry spice rub.

Step 2 - In a small blender bowl, grind together the curry leaves, mustard seeds, asafoetida and garam masala. Grind it to a coarse powder. Make sure you try to keep the ingredients as dry as possible. You dont want to end up with a paste here.

Step 3 - Apply the rub from step 2 to the salmon fillet and gently press it down, so it form a nice coat over the salmon. Make sure you cover both sides.

Step 4 - Heat a pan on medium heat. When it is hot, spray some cooking oil and gently place the salmon fillet over it. Start off with first placing the skin side down on the pan. Let it cook without moving it around for 3 mins. Spray some more oil on the top of the fillet. Then flip the salmon gently with tongs. The salmon is fragile at this stage. You dont want to break the pieces apart. So be as gentle as possible. Then let the salmon cook for another 3 to 4 mins on the other side. At any stage you think the salmon is burning or looks real dry, spray some oil on it. You might need to spray the oil a couple of times especially if you dont have a good non-stick pan. Remove off the pan when the salmon gets to a nice pink color and the crust of the fish is deep dark brown in color.

Serve hot with a gentle squeeze of lime.

You could always bake salmon to make it even more healthier. But for this particular recipe, I am not too sure if the salmon would taste as good, if it dint have a crusty covering..
Never the less, if you do bake it, don't forget to let me know how it turns out...:)

Happy cooking everyone!

How to know if salmon is cooked?
Try lightly poking it with a knife. The knife should slide in without any efforts, if the salmon is cooked well.
The salmon also changes to a nice pink color.
It also oozes out a white substance as it starts cooking. Make sure you see that, especially if you want to have the salmon well-done!

Health benefits of salmon? (Source: Internet)
Salmon is very nutritious. It is high in protein and the "good fats". It has a lot of omega-3 fatty acids.
Did you know that a 4 oz serving of wild salmon provides a full day's requirement of vitamin D? It is one of the few foods that can make that claim. That same piece of fish contains over half of the necessary B12, niacin and selenium and is an excellent source of B6 and magnesium.

Omega-3 fats seem to primarily work through reducing inflammation in our bodies. Inflammation is turning out to be at the base of many health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, some types of cancers and arthritis. Omega-3 also helps prevent the blood clots which cause many strokes.