Goats’ Cheese Biscuits

Goats Cheese Crackers

Goats Cheese Crackers

Ingredients

200 grams soft mild goats' milk cheese or mellow and creamy Feta-softened but cold

150 grams butter unsalted, softened but cold

500 grams all purpose flour or maida plus more for dusting and rolling

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

chilled water

Serve with a good quality honey like Manuka or wildflower.

Instructions

In a food processor pulse the flour, salt and baking powder for 10 seconds. Add butter and pulse again until loose crumbs form about 30-45 seconds. Add butter and pulse until dough comes together in a clumpy mass. Add a tablespoon of chilled water and more if required to bind the dough.

Remove from the food processor onto a clean surface dusted generously with flour. Dust hand with flour and knead dough lightly. It will be a very soft and moist dough.

Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour.

Preheat oven 350F. Line two baking trays with parchment, wax or butter paper to go into the middle of the oven one over the other.

Remove from the fridge, unwrap and cut into 2 portions. Keep one covered.

Dust clean flat surface with flour. Dust rolling pin and cookie cutter of your choice with flour.

Roll the dough into a circle about 1/3 inch thick and cut out desired shapes.

Place about 1/2 inch apart on both trays.

Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake until golden and fragrant 35 minutes. After 15 minutes move the bottom tray to the top and the top to the bottom. Also turn both trays around to ensure even baking.

Cool completely, pack in an airtight container and keep refrigerated.

Serve at room temperature with golden honey and toasted walnuts.

http://www.taradeshpande.in/goats-cheese-biscuits/

VODKA MARINARA SAUCE

VODKA MARINARA SAUCE

VODKA MARINARA SAUCE

Ingredients

The classic Marinara is made with Penne but I think you can use any thick pasta to absorb this sauce. I can't help but add chilli flakes because I love a little bite to my sauce but you can omit this.

This is a great sauce because you can add a variety of ingredients to it- ricotta, bacon pancetta, sausage and basil.

If you prefer to use fresh tomatoes, steam, peel and core them then run through a food mill. Dont put them in a food processor- it ruins the texture and flavor of the sauce

Serves 3 with 16 oz dried or fresh pasta

1 kg can crushed tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/2 cup finely chopped white onion

1 cup veggie or chicken stock

1/2 teapsoon sugar (if tomatoes are sour)

16 ounces pasta, such as fettuccine, pappardelle ,penne rigate

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup vodka

1 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)

1/5 teaspoon powdered nutmeg

Freshly crushed black pepper and salt to taste

Parmesan cheese

16 oz pasta of your choice.

Instructions

Heat olive oil and butter a large skillet over moderate heat. Add onions and saute 1 minute. Add garlic and 2 to 4 minutes to soften but don't brown them.

Add tomatoes, tomato paste, chilli flakes, nutmeg, sugar and stir well. Add vodka stir well and cook until sauce thickens 3 minutes. Add stock and cook until sauce reduces to 2/3 its volume. Stir from time to time to prevent burning.

Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile cook dried pasta in salted boiling water until cooked to al dente -slightly under done about 7-8 minutes, more if you live in a cool climate. If you use fresh pasta (pappardelle) as i did in this photo it cooks for no more than 1-2 minutes especially in humid and hot weather.

Stir cream into sauce and season with salt and pepper. Taste the sauce and add more chilli or sugar.

Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with sauce.

Serve with parmesan and bread.

http://www.taradeshpande.in/vodka-marinara-sauce/

Gingerbread Date Pudding with Toffee Brandy sauce

Gingerbread Date Pudding with Toffee Brandy sauce

Gingerbread Date Pudding with Toffee Brandy sauce

Ingredients

Serves 8-10

200 grams pitted dates, finely chopped

300 ml water

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup light brown or demerara sugar

70 grams unsalted butter

3 eggs whisked

1 cup maida or all purpose flour

1/4 cup good quality breadcrumbs

2 teaspoons baking powder

1.5 teaspoons peeled and freshly grated ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the sauce

3/4 cup brown or demerara sugar

120 grams unsalted butter

1 teaspoon fleur de sel

375 ml heavy cream

4 tablespoons brandy or dark rum (optional)

Instructions

Heat the water and dates in a saucepan until the mixture begins to boil. Stir in baking soda and switch off flame.

Whisk the butter, sugar, ginger, ground spices and vanilla until fluffy using a hand or stand mixer.

Add the whisked eggs and beat again. Add the breadcrumbs and whisk. Add the flour and baking powder and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Stir in the date and water mixture.

Pour into a 2 liter steam proof container.

Cover the top of the pudding witha piece of round wax or butter paper. Press down so the paper covers the pudding top completely. Cover the container tightly with plastic wrap and foil to prevent any water from leaking into the pudding.

Steam in a pressure cooker on a low flame for 1.25-1.5 hours.

For the sauce

Combine all the ingredients except the brandy in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil.

Remove from flame and stir in the brandy.

Remove the pudding from the cooker and let sit 15 minutes. Unwrap. Slide a thin blade around the pudding, loosen it and unmold on a serving plate. Optionally you can scoop out portions onto individual plates.

Serve warm with toffee sauce and whipped cream, custard, vanilla ice cream or sabayon.

http://www.taradeshpande.in/gingerbread-pudding/

Holiday Fruit Shortbread Bars (EGGLESS)

Holiday fruit Shortbread bars (egg free recipe)

Holiday fruit Shortbread bars (egg free recipe)

Ingredients

This produces an incredibly buttery and crisp shortbread and the spices and fruit make it ideal for the holiday season. Because this recipe contains no eggs the shortbread is delicate and should be handled carefully. If you don't want to use alcohol replace it with naturally sweet orange juice ,which you can probably get at a juice stall or bar. The orange juice in cartons has added sweeteners, which will make the shortbread too sweet.

Make 12 1.25 inch squares

2.5 cups Maida or all purpose flour

1/2 cup confectioner's or icing sugar

1/4 teapsoon finely ground nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon salt

225 grams unsalted butter

1 cup mixed Christmas fruit such as golden and dark raisins, glaceed cherries, Turkish apricots, orange peel, Sultanas finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon orange zest

1/2 cup dark rum or good quality naturally sweet orange juice

Instructions

I generally take a handful of my Christmas soaked fruit out of the jar but you can soak the fruit of your choice and zest in the dark rum for 2-3 hours. Drain completely. If there is any rum leftover discard it or add it to something else.

Whisk the nutmeg, salt, sugar and butter in a mixing bowl for 15 seconds in a mixing bowl. Stir in remaining flour and mix again until just incorporated- do not over beat this mixture.

Add the soaked fruit and mix well.

Line an 8 by 8 square baking pan with wax or parchment paper. Leave an overhang of parchment paper atleast 3 inches on all sides.

Press the soft and sticky dough into the pan over the parchment paper. Use a rubber spatula to press it down. It should be about 1/2-3/4 inch deep.

Lift the overhanging parchment and cover the top of the dough gently so it is sealed as you would do if you were gift wrapping a present. Do not press down on it. You can weigh it down with a small teaspoon if you need to.

Refrigerate 2-3 hours until it firms up a bit but do not freeze it.

Preheat oven 350F.

Remove the baking pan from the fridge and gently open the parchment from the top.

Using a long, sharp non-serrated knife cut the dough into neat square or rectangles. Your cuts should be deep and clean so that the bars remain separated while baking.

Bake bars in baking pan until golden about 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool completely. Divide up the squares and keep in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

http://www.taradeshpande.in/holiday-fruit-shortbread-bars-eggless/

Home-made Ricotta with fresh herbs

Home-made Ricotta with fresh herbs

Home-made Ricotta with fresh herbs

Ingredients

Ricotta is traditionally made from the whey of cow, buffalo and sheep's milk in Italy. Ricotta is processed differently depending on its intended use. Some ricottas are sweeter while others are dried and salted. Ricotta is used for all kinds of Italian dishes both sweet and savory- tarts, salads, pastas,spreads, cheesecake, and bruschetta.

Paneer often compared to ricotta is made from whole-milk and is commercially drained and shaped into a product that can be sliced. Citric juices are used to split milk in India to keep it vegetarian but rennet an animal enzyme, is employed in many parts of Europe.

I use neither. I prefer buttermilk. I think it produces a far smoother and fresh cheese. They key is to use day old buttermilk which is still not sour but just acidic enough to split your milk.

1 liter whole-milk plain

200 ml fresh heavy cream

1/2 liter plain unflavored full fat or reduced one day old buttermilk, cold

For the Ricotta spread

1 cup chopped white bulbs of green onions or scallions

1/4 cup chopped green stalks of the scallions

1 cup finely chopped rocket or arugula leaves

1/2 finely chopped fresh dill or sepu

1 teaspoon zest of lime

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

For the ricotta

Heat the whole-milk and cream in a large saucepan on medium heat. Keep a large bowl and fine sieve handy. When the milk reaches a boil pour 3/4 liter of cold buttermilk into it. Switch off the flame and let it sit 15 minutes. The milk should split.

Switch on the heat again and stir. Boil 2 minutes then turn off flame and slowly strain the contents of the sauce pan into the sieve over a large heat proof bowl.

Return the whey liquid to the fire and boil again. Add remaining buttermilk and boil. Strain one more time over the ricotta in the strainer.

if you wish to boil only once add all the buttermilk to the cream and milk. The leftover whey from the first or second boil is equally delicious though the latter is less fatty. You can make soups and dals like my Three Lentil Buttermilk Curry.

Cover the cheese in the sieve and allow it to drain for 20 minutes. Then refrigerate in the sieve itself over a bowl for 3-4 hours until fully drained and chilled.

Whip using a whisk or with a hand or stand mixer until smooth. Add all the herbs, zest and a teaspoon of salt and pepper. Taste and season with more salt if required.

Spread this dip on crackers, sandwiches and ofcourse bruschetta. This is delicious with the flame roasted bell pepper and garlic bruschetta and tomato bruschetta. Find the recipes for these on my blog.

http://www.taradeshpande.in/home-made-ricotta-with-fresh-herbs/

BELL PEPPER AND GARLIC BRUSCHETTA

BELL PEPPER AND GARLIC

BELL PEPPER AND GARLIC

Ingredients

4 WHOLE YELLOW, RED OR ORANGE BELL PEPPERS

2 TABLESPOONS BALSAMIC VINEGAR

3 CLOVES OF GARLIC VERY FINELY SLIVERED

SEA SALT AND PEPPER TO SEASON

ITALIAN EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

6 SLICES OF DAY OLD TUSCAN, SOURDOUGH SLICES OR 3 4-5 INCH ROUND KADAK/BRUN PAO (an irani style bread available in India)

3 TABLESPOONS CHOPPED CHIVES

Instructions

USING TONGS FLAME THE BELL PEPPERS OVER AN OPEN FIRE OR ON A GRILL UNTIL CHARRED ON ALL SIDES. LET COOL COMPLETELY ON A TRAY OR IN A SMALL BROWN PAPER BAG WHICH WILL HELP THE SKINS COME OFF FASTER.

PEEL THE BELL PEPPERS, CORE THEM AND REMOVE ALL SEEDS AND STALKS. SLICE THICKLY.

COMBINE THE SLIVERED GARLIC, BALSAMIC VINEGAR AND 1/4 CUP OF OLIVE OIL IN A CONTAINER WITH THE RED BELL PEPPERS. ADD 1/2 TEASPOON OF SEA SALT. COVER AND MARINATE IN THE REFRIGERATOR 4 HOURS OR OVERNIGHT.

REMOVE PEPPERS FROM THE FRIDGE, TOSS AND SEASON TO TASTE WITH SALT AND PEPPER.

FLAME THE BREAD SLICES ON A GRILL OR OPEN FLAME UNTIL LIGHTLY SMOKY AND FRAGRANT.

DIVIDE THE BELL PEPPER ANTIPASTO OVER THE BREAD SLICES. GARNISH WITH CHIVES AND DRIZZLE MORE OLIVE OIL IF DESIRED.

SERVE IMMEDIATELY.

http://www.taradeshpande.in/bell-pepper-and-garlic-bruschetta/

TOMATO BRUSCHETTA

TOMATO BRUSCHETTA

TOMATO BRUSCHETTA

Ingredients

SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

6 thick slices Tuscan or sourdough bread or use 2 4-5 inch round Brun/Kadak Pav sliced thickly into 3 slices each.

6 red good quality ripe tomatoes or 150 grams cherry tomatoes, washed and drained

2 large garlic cloves

6 basil leaves, chiffonade (slice in even strips)

Extra virgin Olive oil

Kitchen salt or sea salt or pounded khada namak if you have it

Instructions

Halve the tomatoes.

Remove some of the seeds and pulp and discard. If you use cherry tomatoes you can skip this step.

Peel and roughly chop plum tomatoes or half the cherry tomatoes into a bowl.

Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil, half the basil and salt to taste. Toss.

Cover and refrigerate about 15-25 minutes. This helps develop the flavors.

Using tongs smoke the sourdough or kadak pao over an open gas flame until slightly smoky and lightly blackened.

Rub one side of every slice generously with the garlic cloves.

Divide the chopped tomato mixture between the toasts and garnish with the rest of the basil. Drizzle more olive oil if desired.

Serve immediately.

http://www.taradeshpande.in/tomato-bruschetta/