Fun with NAAN! Garlic Naan and dessert Naan

I love Naan.  The word Naan means “bread”.  In fact, the name describes the type of bread, which is a leavened flat bread.  So, whenever I hear people  say “Naan bread”, I cringe inside.  Naan is very popular not only in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh but in Afghanistan as well.  There are different varieties of Naan based on the region and even individual cooks. Unlike other flat breads like chappati, roti, paratha or puri, Naan is usually cooked in a small clay oven called a Tandoor that can reach temperatures of up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit.  It heats from all sides so it only takes minutes to cook, creating a beautiful char on the outside while keeping the inside of whatever is cooked (like Tandoor chicken, kebobs, or naan) nice and tender. Cooking Naan in the Tandoor creates wonderfully crispy yet slightly smoky edges  with a soft and tender middle.  I don’t own a Tandoor oven (I’d love one!) and the highest temperature my oven reaches is 500 degrees when it is set to broil.  To mimic the effect of the tandoor, I have used a pizza stone in the past, which works quite well.

Not too long ago, I had to make about 30 naan and serve it fresh and hot for a party.  I knew that trying to make them all on a pizza stone would take forever.  The solution was fairly simple. I used a skillet and the oven.  Using a skillet, especially a cast iron skillet to cook one side of the naan is a brilliant time saving idea and allows me to “half” cook several naan ahead of time when I am having a party or guests over.  When everyone arrives, I just pop in the naan under the broiler to finish the cooking process.  I finish off the process by dabbing a stick of cold butter on the surface of the hot naan and it’s ready to be enjoyed.  When the weather turns warmer, I make naan on the grill all the time.  It only takes about 2 minutes on each side.  Naan is so versatile that it can be used to make naan pizza or dessert style by adding dried fruits, nuts, maple syrup, honey and even dark chocolate chunks and goat cheese.  It’s really up to your creativity.  This is a popular dish to make for some of the classes I teach at the University and in the community.  I hope you have fun with it.  By the way, a note of caution, try not to substitute the full fat yogurt with non-fat yogurt.  The fat actually helps to tenderize the naan and to brown properly under the broiler.

Garlic Naan cooking class
Garlic Naan cooking class
Roll out the naan into a tear drop shape
Roll out the naan into a tear drop shape
Add cilantro and garlic on raw naan
Add cilantro and garlic on raw naan
Place garlic naan in hot skillet with the garlic/cilantro side up
Place garlic naan in hot skillet with the garlic/cilantro side up
Cook until bottom is nicely browned (about a minute)
Cook until bottom is nicely browned (about a minute)
Place in preheated oven, about 6 inches away from broiler unit at top.
Place in preheated oven, about 6 inches away from broiler unit at top.
Dab the hot naan with a stick of butter
Dab the hot naan with a stick of butter
Serve hot!
Serve hot!
To make a dessert version, top with nuts, coconut and dried fruit
To make a dessert version, top with nuts, coconut and dried fruit
Drizzle with warmed honey or maple syrup
Drizzle with warmed honey or maple syrup
Serve warm with some chai
Serve warm with some chai

Here’s the recipe:

Garlic Naan

6-7 Naan

3 cups all purpose flour

½ cup warm milk (I prefer whole milk)

½ cup full fat plain yogurt (room temperature)

1 tsp sugar

2 ¼ tsp yeast

¼ cup warm water

1 tsp salt

½ tsp baking powder

Garlic and chopped cilantro

Butter

  1. In a small bowl, mix together warm water, yeast and sugar and set aside until yeast is bubbly (3-5 minutes). In a large bowl mix flour, salt, and baking powder together. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in yogurt and milk along with the frothy yeast mixture. Begin kneading together to form a soft dough. Dough should incorporate well but be slightly sticky.
  2. Form the dough into a ball and rub a little oil over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm place for about 1 ½ hours or until doubled in size.
  3. After dough has doubled, punch it down and make 6-7 equal sized balls out of dough.
  4. Adjust rack in oven to be 6 inches away from the broiler. Turn on the oven to broil (most ovens that should be 450-500 F). Take a non-stick or cast iron skillet and heat over medium heat.
  5. On a clean countertop, sprinkle some flour and roll out dough to an oblong or tear drop sized shape.   Press in some chopped garlic and cilantro and place naan with the garlic/cilantro side up on the hot skillet until it begins to puff around the sides and gets nice dark brown color on the bottom. Do not flip over.
  6. Place Naan on a baking sheet. Repeat the process until the baking sheet has enough Naan. Usually 3 Naans are the maximum amount that will fit on a sheet. Place under the broiler for 1-3 minutes, keeping an eye on the bread. When the top gets nicely browned and slightly charred, take it out of the oven.
  7. While the Naan is still hot, brush with a little butter or use a cold butter stick with half the wrapper off and dab over the hot naan. Serve warm.
  8. To make dessert naan, add pistachio, almonds, coconut, dried fruits (such as apricots, golden raisins, dates), dot with butter and cook in the same fashion.  Add additional butter and either warmed honey or maple syrup while still hot.  It’s delicious.

Peach Tart for Dummies

I love things you can make that are visually stunning, tastes amazing and takes little or no effort to make.  Like this Peach tart.  It is gorgeous and people will rave about it and it takes just a few minutes to put together.  I love it!  All you need is a package of store bought puff pastry sheets (you can be a Martha Stewart and make your own, but why?) and some fresh ripe peaches and you’re golden. ANYBODY can make this.  Literally the peach tart for dummies. Try it for your next get together and watch the rave reviews come in!

Place peaches on puff pastry sheet and sprinkle with sugar
Brush peaches with heated apricot jam
Peach tart

Peach Tart for Dummies

1 sheet puff pastry dough, defrosted

1/4 cup sugar

2 ripe peaches, thinly sliced

1/4 cup apricot jam

1 tsp water

Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Defrost puff pastry dough in the refrigerator.  Take out one sheet and place on a silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet.  No need to roll out.  Pierce the puff pastry with a fork.  Thinly slice two fresh large peaches and layer them in three rows on the puff pastry sheet leaving a half-inch clearance on all four sides.  Sprinkle sugar on top of the peach slices.  Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool slightly.  In a small microwave safe bowl heat apricot jam and water together for about 45 seconds.  Brush over the peaches until shiny.  Serve cooled.

Blueberry Crumble Bars

I’m still on my blueberry kick.  I already made some scones so I decided to try some crumble bars.  I wanted them to have a nice crust on the bottom, sort of like a lemon bar but have the moisture of a coffee cake and the crunch of a streusel topping all rolled into one.  There are a huge variety of crumb bar recipes out there.  I decided to combine some of the things I liked about a few of the old stand by recipes I had for cherry crumb bars and lemon bars to come up with this one.  It turned out very nicely.  I didn’t even have to add nuts to the top to give it the satisfying “crumb” texture, the blueberries kept their integrity without turning into a gooey sauce and the bottom crust was fantastic, holding it all together.  This thing can be eaten as a bar, but I’m telling you it’s unparalleled with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream on top! (Or at least that’s what everyone else who ate them up told me.  Only 4 more days to go on this cleanse…)

Blend in the cold butter to the flour mixture with a pastry blender
Press half of the dough into a 9 x 13 pan
While the crust is baking prepare the blueberries
Spread the blueberries evenly over the crust
Sprinkle the remainder of the crust mixture along with the rolled oats on top
Serve warm with ice cream or cool and cut into bars

Blueberry Crumble Bars

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

zest of one lemon

1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (save to add to the mixture later)

Fruit Preparation:

4 cups fresh blueberries

juice of one lemon

3 tbsp corn starch

1/2 cup sugar

Pre-heat oven to 375°F.  Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.  In a bowl, mix together 1 cup sugar, flour, salt, lemon zest and baking powder.  Using a pastry blender cut in the butter with the flour mixture until a crumbly mixture forms.  Whisk egg and vanilla together and pour into the flour mixture and blend well.  Mixture will be crumbly.  Press half of the flour mixture into the bottom of the prepared 9 x 13 pan and bake for about 18 minutes.

In the meantime, add the rolled oats to the remaining flour mixture and set aside.  In a medium bowl, mix the blueberries with lemon juice, corn starch and sugar, taking care not to smash any of the berries.  Take the crust out of the oven, it should be a light brown color, spread the blueberry mixture evenly on top and sprinkle the flour/oat mixture on top of the blueberries.  Return to the oven and bake an additional 40 minutes until golden brown on top and berries are nice and bubbly.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or cool completely and cut into bars.

Lemon Blueberry Scones

It’s blueberry season!  They are abundant and delicious and to top it all off, they are a superfruit,  full of antioxidants and nutrients.  I found an awesome deal on blueberries today…80 cents a pound.  I came home with 6 pounds of blueberries.  I’m going on a blueberry kick for the next few days.  I’m going to be making blueberry preserves, crumb bars, muffins, sauce…I’m doing a happy dance in my head.  But first I think I’ll start with the basics….A wonderful lemon blueberry scone.  Scones are great with coffee anytime.  As a dessert or as a breakfast or brunch item.  They also freeze really, really well which means I can have some when I get off this Master Cleanse (I just had a food porn moment).

Add the zest of one lemon
Blend in the butter with a pastry blender
Fold in cream and egg mixture with blueberries
Pat dough into a square on a well floured surface
Cut into 8 parts or 16 (I prefer 16)
Brush each scone with some heavy cream and sprinkle top with some raw sugar
Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees

Lemon Blueberry Scones

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

zest of one lemon

1 stick of unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 cup heavy cream

a little extra cream and some turbinado (raw) sugar for brushing and sprinkling on top

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Add lemon zest to the flour mixture and mix together. Using a pastry blender or two forks cut the cold cubed butter into the flour mixture until it’s a coarse mixture.  Beat together egg and heavy cream and pour into the flour mixture and fold the mixture together, when it’s fairly well mixed, gently mix in the blueberries taking care not to smash the blueberries.  Don’t over work the dough.  On a floured surface, press the dough dough gently to form a square about 1 inch thick.  Cut into half then into half again so there are four squares.  Cut the squares at a diagonal to get the triangle shape.  If you want smaller pieces cut the triangles again so you get a total of 16 pieces.  Place on a ungreased cookie sheet.  Brush the tops of each triangle with some heavy cream and sprinkle with some turbinado sugar.  Bake for about 20 minutes at 400°F.  Let the scones cool on a cooling rack before serving.

Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I have a sweet tooth.  There’s no getting around it.  I taught myself to bake mostly because I wanted to eat amazing cakes, cookies, tarts, pies…. There is an amazing thing that happens to me when I bake though.  I don’t usually have to eat very much of what I make.  The process of baking and creating something from scratch and the delicious smells that comes out of the oven are usually enough to satisfy me.  I can get by with a little bite or two.  But if someone else made the same dish, I fall upon it like a starving Hyena.  I have no idea why.  Right now, I’m doing a Master Cleanse.  If you’ve never heard of it, go check it out on this site.  Basically I’m drinking a lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper concoction for 16 days…NO FOOD.  I figure that at least once in my life I should do some heavy duty cleaning from the inside out. Anyway, I still have been baking, cooking, working normally.  I won’t lie, sometimes it’s been really hard not to eat, especially when it smells so great.  The hardest thing though has been trying to figure out if textures and tastes turned out okay on recipes that I’m putting together.  Like these cookies for instance.  I know in my brain that the combinations of ingredients should turn out great.  I haven’t tasted any though, so I’ve been taking them around to co-workers and family to find out the verdict.  I wanted something that was slightly crispy on the outside but chewy on the inside.  The sourness of the cherries to be balanced out by the sweetness of the chocolate chips.  I’m told that I’ve succeeded.  So, now you’ve got to try it out and see for yourself.

Cream the butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla together
Stir in dried cherries, oats and mini chocolate chips by hand
Bake 11 minutes for chewy cookies or 13-14 minutes for crispy

Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 large eggs

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.  Cover a cookie sheet with silpat or parchment paper.  In a medium bowl mix flour, salt and baking soda and mix well.  In a separate bowl cream butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs until light and creamy.  Slowly add in the flour mixture until well incorporated.  Using a spatula or wooden spoon stir in oats, cherries and chocolate chips.  Using a scoop drop cookies 2 inches apart on cookie sheet and bake for about 11 minutes for chewy cookies or 13-14 minutes for crispier cookies.  Transfer cookies to cooling rack to cool.  Makes about 36-40 cookies.

On giving birth and birthday cakes…

I remember it clearly, even though it was 19 years ago, the immediate cessation of pain at 6:29 a.m.  Suddenly someone else was crying  with some gusto in the room besides me!  I have been blessed to have two amazing kids.  A boy AND a girl!  Onjoli came along on Father’s day morning, June 20th,  looking surprised and a little ticked off.  She still has that look on any given 6:29 a.m.

Raising kids, especially a daughter has been an adventure.  All through Kindergarten, Onjoli insisted on wearing a crown to school…EVERYDAY.  The teacher would not let her bring the matching wand for safety reasons (who knows who could get whacked in the head?).  That pink bejeweled plastic crown will always have a special place in my heart.  After all, if you are a princess you should have the crown to go with it.  Over the years, I’ve made my share of birthday cakes.  The Barbie with the giant skirt cake, Pokemon, a myriad of Disney characters and unusual requests like the giant chocolate chip cookie pizza with candied toppings. Parties have changed from the chaos of a million kids running around to brunches at fancy restaurants.   Each year the tastes and palates of both my kids have developed and become more sophisticated.  This year, Onjoli wanted Carrot Cake cupcakes with “really good frosting”.  I tried to deliver.  After all, I don’t know how many more years I will have the privilege of making birthday cakes.  I will always be a mom even as the quality of our relationship changes and becomes richer and deeper over the years.  Even as I look back with nostalgia on the little girl I once had, I am ever so proud of the young woman I see before me.  I am one blessed woman and mom!

Last summer while visiting India
I think she’s pretty dang gorgeous!
Mix all the ingredients for the cake together except for the nuts
Pour into lined cup cake pan -this way you can do some with nuts and some without
While cupcakes are in the oven peel one carrot into long strips
Boil in syrup and let it air dry to make caramelized candied carrots
Carrot cake with cream and goat cheese frosting and candied carrots
Nom Nom

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream & Goat Cheese Frosting and Candied Carrots

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup oil

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

2 cups shredded carrots

4 eggs

1  3/4 cups sugar

1 cup pecans (optional)

Frosting

8 oz Neufchatel Cheese, room temperature

4 oz fresh Chevre (goat cheese), room temperature

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3 cups powdered sugar

Candied Carrots

1 medium carrot, peeled into strips

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

Pre-heat oven to 350° F. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or if you’re using a hand held mixer, just use a big bowl) place all the ingredients of the cake except for the nuts and mix at low speed until blended.  Increase speed and mix for 2 minutes until light and airy.  Mix in the nuts by hand.  I usually scoop out 6 cupcakes without nuts (due to some nut allergies in the family) and then add the nuts to the rest of the batter.  Line cup cake pan with liners and fill 3/4 full using an ice cream scooper.  Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool on wire racks.

To make the candied carrots:

Peel one carrot into long thin strips.  In a small sauce pan heat sugar and water until boiling and add the carrots.  Simmer for about 6-8 minutes.  Take out the strips using a fork or a chopstick and place on some wax paper to cool.  Separate them out as you take it out of the syrup so they will not dry out in a large candied clump.  Set aside

To make the frosting:

Using a hand mixer or stand mixer with a paddle attachment.  Mix all frosting ingredients together until smooth.  Place in a piping bag with a star tip or in a plastic storage bag with the corner cut off and frost the cupcakes.  Top each cupcake with a piece or two of the candied carrots.  Makes 24 cup cakes

Brownie and Chevre Fruit Pizza

There is really no food that I DON’T like.  I am not allergic to anything either.  I can eat it all.  At one time in my life I think I tried to do just that, eat it ALL, which was not pretty.  Being a fat dietitian is kind of like being an ugly beautician.  Who takes you seriously?  I decided to take my own advice a few years ago and began to eat in moderation, exercise a lot and drink lots of water.  I still love food but I don’t have to eat huge quantities any more.  I find that when I think up a recipe and go through the creative process of making something from scratch,  I don’t have to eat very much of it.  I know the flavors will be great and the process of cooking satisfies something within me.  I often end up making a big batch of something and then look for people to feed it to.  Fortunately, finding people to eat home cooked foods is not usually that difficult. Case in point, this brownie fruit pizza with a chevre (goat cheese) and cream cheese filling, it was gone so quickly that I didn’t even get to taste it.  I guess I’ll have to make another one really soon just so I can taste a little of it.  According to everyone who ate it, it was “the bomb”.  You decide.

Make the brownie
Pour into parchment lined pan
Place cooling rack on top of brownie and invert
Peel off the parchment paper
Mix together the filling ingredients
Spread filling over the brownie
Place the fruit on top in any decorative manner you choose!

Slice and serve

Brownie and Chevre Fruit Pizza

Basic brownies

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup dutched cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/4 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

4 eggs

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Topping

5 oz chevre (goat cheese), room temperature

4  oz cream cheese, room temperature

1 lemon, zested

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/3 cup sugar

2 pints fresh strawberries or any berry in season

1 cup fresh blueberries or any fruit in season

Making the Brownies:

Sift together the cocoa, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and set aside in a pan.  In a sauce pan melt the butter and add in the sugars and mix together.  It’ll be kind of a dry mixture.  Add that mixture to the sifted flour mixture along with eggs and vanilla.  Line a half sheet cake pan or a jelly roll pan with parchment paper.  Pour brownie mixture into the pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 20-22 minutes in a pre-heated 350° oven.  Run a butter knife along the edges of the pan to loosen the brownie.  Place a cooling rack over the pan and invert pan.  Gently peel off the parchment paper and invert the brownie either back into the pan or on a large platter (I use a cardboard cake server covered with foil).

In a separate bowl zest the lemon and then cut the lemon and measure out 1 tbsp juice.  Add cream cheese and goat cheese along with the sugar and mix until smooth.  Spread evenly over the brownie.  Wash and slice the fruit and arrange in any visually pleasing way that you want all over the brownie.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

White Chocolate Chunk Cranberry Cookies

I love cookies with nuts in them.  Unfortunately, my husband is allergic to all nuts except cashews.  Which is a bummer since cashews are not ideal for every recipe.  I’m trying to make more cookies and quick breads that have enough “other” stuff in them that you don’t miss the nuts.  This is one of those cookies.  It’s variation of the basic chocolate chip cookie! The sweetness of the white chocolate chunks is nicely offset by the unsweetened dried cranberries and the brandy is great in this cookie.  Don’t skip it, you’ll love the flavor.  If you don’t have brandy on hand, then I guess you can use vanilla extract but I highly recommend the brandy!  Pour yourself a good cup of coffee, a few of these cookies and a good book…bliss!

Cream butter and sugars. Then add eggs and flour mixture.
Stir the chocolate chunks and cranberries by hand
Scoop cookies using a scoop on a silpat (or parchment) lined cookie sheet
Enjoy a few

White Chocolate Chunk Cranberry Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tbsp brandy

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp baking soda

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups white chocolate chunks

1 cup dried cranberries

Mix together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Set aside.  Using an electric mixer blend butter and sugars until creamy, add in the eggs and brandy until well blended.  Add flour mixture to the butter mixture beating at a low-speed until well blended.  Stir in white chocolate chunks (I used a knife and an ice pick to make my chunks) and cranberries by hand.  Drop cookie dough using a cookie scoop onto parchment or silpat lined cookie sheets.  Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned on the bottom.  Cool on cooling racks.

Light and Lemony Cake Roll

At Christmas time I love to make a Bûche de Noël otherwise known as a Yule log.  This last Christmas, I had a great time making Tiramisu flavored  Bûche de Noël .  Somehow those same flavors seem a bit heavy during the summer.  Especially when so much fresh fruit is readily available.  I decided to modify my recipe to slim it down for summer.  This cake is light, flavorful and visually gorgeous.  Splurging on this dessert is easy on the diet and on the budget!  I hope you try it.  You will love it!

Whip the egg whites with 1/4 cup sugar until stiff but not dry
In a separate bowl mix the egg yolks with vanilla and sugar. Add in sifted flour mixture
Gently fold in the egg white mixture into the yolk mixture
Spread batter onto a parchment lined jelly roll (or half sheet) pan
Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes until golden brown
Dust the surface of the cake liberally with powdered sugar
Place a towel over the pan and invert the cake
Gently peel off the parchment off the bottom of the cake
Roll the cake with the towel and let it rest for 10-15 minutes
Mix the Neufchatel cheese filling mixture
Spread heated jam on the cake
Spread the cream cheese mixture and re-roll
Dust with additional powdered sugar and place seam side down on a platter
Serve with some fresh fruit

Light and Lemony Cake Roll

Cake

4 egg yolks

4 egg whites

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup cake flour, sifted

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp vanilla

Filling

1 lemon

8 oz neufchatel cheese (1/3 less fat) or you can use regular cream cheese, softened to room temperature

8 oz light frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 cup plum or strawberry jam

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup powdered sugar (for the outside of the cake)

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites.  In a small bowl beat egg whites with 1/4 cup sugar until stiff but not dry. Set aside.  In another bowl beat the yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until it’s a light yellow color.  Add in vanilla to the yolk mixture.  Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the sifted flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture.  Gently fold in the egg white.  Be careful not to over mix.  Batter should be light and fluffy.  Line a jelly roll pan or a half sheet pan with parchment or waxed paper.  Pour cake batter onto the pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown but not dry.  Loosen edge of cake while it’s still warm.  Dust cake with powdered sugar.  Place dish towel on top of the cake and invert the whole pan onto the towel.  Gently peel off the parchment paper.  Beginning with the narrow side roll the cake and towel together into a roll.  Let it sit on a cooling rack, seam side down for about 10-15 minutes.   In the meantime assemble the filling by combining the Neufchatel cheese with the lemon zest, 1 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar.  Mix well and then fold in the thawed whipped topping until well blended.  Take the jam and microwave it for 30 – 40 seconds until it’s a liquid.  Gently unroll the cake and brush the jam all over the cake.  Spread the lemony mixture on top of the jam layer, leaving 1/2 inch clearance from the edges.  Gently re-roll the cake, using the towel to help roll.  Dust with additional powdered sugar if needed and place seam side down on a serving platter.  Slice into 1″ thick slices and serve with fresh strawberries or other fruit.

Ghee 101 – making delicious clarified butter

Ghee or clarified butter is a big part of South Asian cuisine.  It has such amazing flavor that a little goes a long way.  I’ve tried making ghee at home but it never seems to taste or smell like the amazing stuff we get back home (meaning the “homeland” of course).  In Bangladesh, there is a famous brand called “Baghabari Ghee” with a picture of a Royal Bengal Tiger on the label.  It’s famous flavor is renowned .  Every time I went home for a visit I would try to sneak a few jars of the stuff back with me.  I even tried to bribe my relatives who were going home to get me some ghee.  They would look at me in disbelief.  Really of all the things I could request someone bring back on a long journey and it’s ghee?  That’s a foodie for you.  I’m well-known for trying to schlep food in luggage.  One time I had curried Hilsa fish in my carry-on luggage (this was before the TSA liquid restrictions) and it exploded all over everything.  The WHOLE plane smelled like Bengali Hilsa Fish.  I tried to look innocent and blend, which is hard to do on a flight from Los Angeles to Boise, Idaho because I was the only brown person on the plane.  Flight attendants were walking back and forth sniffing the air and saying things like, “do you smell that?” or  “what is that smell?”

For years, my attempts at making ghee seemed a waste of time since I couldn’t tell the difference between the ghee or just regular butter.  Why bother if the flavor is not improved?  The whole idea behind a good ghee is to remove the milk protein from the butter leaving behind a nutty unclouded liquid.  My problem was that I was not heating it long enough at a low enough temperature.  The trick here is to use a heavy bottomed pan like a cast iron dutch oven or something similar and heat the butter for 20-30 minutes and to add curry leaves halfway through the process.  It’s also important NOT to stir the melted butter but to let it simmer unaided.  This helps to separate the milk proteins properly.  The curry leaves add a depth of flavor that I was missing all these years.  I have to say that this ghee smells and tastes even better than the famous “Baghabari Ghee”.  That’s one less thing that I have to hide in my luggage.

Melt butter over low heat
Heat for about 15 minutes before adding curry leaves to the melted butter
Heat another 15 minutes or so and when the liquid is clear with proteins separated in the bottom of the pan, take out the curry leaves
Strain out the proteins
The strained liquid should look clear with a nutty brown color
Ghee

How to make Ghee

1 pound unsalted butter

4-5 curry leaves

In a heavy bottomed pan melt the butter and let it simmer over very low heat.  Do not stir but keep an eye on the butter, when small brown chunks begin to appear on the bottom of the pan and the top part of the butter looks pretty clear (about 10-15 minutes) add curry leaves and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.  When the top layer of butter looks light brown and very clear, take out the curry leaves and strain ghee through a fine mesh strainer into a mason jar.  Don’t throw away the brown protein bits.  Save them  to make Ghee Laddoos, a sweet treat made with the leftover protein (we don’t like to throw anything away).

Add chickpea and all-purpose flour along with sugar to the milk proteins leftover from making ghee
Ghee Laddoos

Ghee Laddoo

1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

In the same pan the ghee was made,  heat the browned leftover milk protein with 1/4 cup chickpea flour (Besan) and 1/4 cup of All-Purpose flour and 1/4 cup sugar.  Cook over medium heat  until everything is a nutty brown color and the sugar has incorporated well.  Roll into small balls and enjoy.