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Archive for the ‘Sweet’ Category

Destination Portugal! & Pastel de Nata (Portugese Egg Custard Tarts)

16 Sep
Yuhu!!…very happy to visit Portugal once again this year… Sweet memories of our last trip inspired us to make it again. We decided to go by car, as we love the beautiful landscapes when we cross borders of Germany, France, Spain and Portugal. One way drive from our place(from south west of Germany) to Algarve region in Portugal is 2500kms. My hubby was very enthusiastic to drive the whole stretch and we especially like the contour variations that nature provides us with, especially in Spain and Portugal.

No traffic and less vehicles in Highways starting from Spain
As the journey is also part of our vacation, we wanted to enjoy every part of it. This was our Itenary- our home ->SanSebastian> Algarve(Our destination in Portugal)->Barcelona->home. we took sleep over break in intermediate destinations. SanSebastian is a cute destination, which we accidentally discovered in our last trip. It is a beautiful city along the sea coast (north of Spain). Barcelona is our ever favorite destination and we never miss an opportunity to visit Barcelona, where we stayed on our way back home.

Beautiful Mountain Landscapes and Olive trees everywhere…

Now coming to the landscapes and trees, the coniferous spiky trees  slowly disappearing and short varieties of shrub trees and olive trees everywhere until your eyes can reach . Mountains were green in France and slowly when you move down to Spain, the mountains where rocky and gets dry . Further down south, one can see Orange trees and lemon, olive trees and grape wines everywhere in Portugal. Figs,palm trees and eucalyptus are not to miss.
Fresh oranges from farm, sold on the road side, getting reminded of my home country, India. It was juicy and perfect to enjoy on a hot day. Mangoes were delicious and sweet.
Orange trees in Portugal

Oleander, Hibiscus, bougainvillea in different colors and varieties seems to be in most of the houses and in public gardens. During spring there are different kinds of flowers.
During September, the average temp has been ~28deg and it gets hot when you have to drive facing the sun. We badly needed an chilled lemonade or an watermelon juice. We got some lemon drink on the highway shop to chill down a bit.
One half of Algarve has beaches with rocky cliffs, other half of Algarve has dessert like beaches( olhau, Tavira). Every 1 km approximately you will find a new beach.
Chimney in every house is an essential exterior design

Pastel de Nata
This is a thin flaky pastry filled with egg custard flavored with cinnamon and Vanilla. One cannot miss this little cutie pie if you are in Portugal. Any bakery / pastry shop and even MCDonald’s has it in its Menu. Try this simple to make pastry and you will fall in love with it.
To have a perfect tart it has to have crispy and flaky outer layer, delicious and mild flavored egg custard. For the perfect looks, Pastel de Nata should be a little browned on top .
Ingredients:
  1. Pastry sheet – 1 (approx 40*20cm)
  2. Egg – 2(only the yellow)
  3. Milk -300 ml(Full fat milk)
  4. Sugar – 5 Tbs
  5. cinnamon powder – 1/2 tsp
  6. Corn starch – 2 Tbs
  7. Vanilla essence – few drops

Method:

1. Sprinkle 1/4 of Cinnamon powder on the pastry sheet and try to roll it to a long roll. ( I do this to get a thick layer of pastry rounds ,as my pastry sheet which was thin)

2. Cut this rolls in to 12 equal parts.

3. Take each one of these parts and keep them,  facing one of the cut part touching the board . Roll them to a small circle ,so that it fits in to the muffin molds.

4. Place the rolled circle pastry to the tins and adjust them to fit to the sides of the mold using your finger.

Egg Custard preparation Method:

1. Add 250 ml milk to the pan and heat it until it begins to boil.

2. In another bowl add egg yellow, sugar, corn starch and remaining 50ml milk and beat it well, so that there is no lumps.

3. Now slowly add this egg mixture to the milk and keep stirring.

4. When you notice the mixture gets thickening, switch of the stove and add 1/4 of cinnamon and Vanilla essence.

5. Allow the egg custard to cool and fill this mixture to the prepared pastry sheets in the tin.

6. Bake it for 15 min in at 180 deg in a preheated oven and another 10 min with the same temp in grill mode to achieve the dark color on top.

 

Diwali 2013

10 Nov

One week after Diwali, our Tamil community here planned a celebration yesterday.
Lot of sweets, everyone in celebration mood, Diwali seemed to have extended a week longer to keep up the mood. But this time we did something in addition to the usual celebration.

Hubby dear took a break from his work and worked together with a charity organization in India. Together with Directorate of Education in Dharamshala, he helped to setup a curriculum for schools in ‘Creative Computing’. This is a four year curriculum being implemented in two schools as a Pilot run. I could see that how satisfied he was during and after such  work. He also supported the organization to sell community made products by starting an ECommerce project. This will let them generate continuous fund for their charity work and help local community to have a sustainable income.

I have been thinking to do some something like this for a long time…As my part, I wanted to support him and and do not know how and where to start. Surprisingly some idea struck me and without any delay I went for it.
There was only two days left for Diwali celebration and get together with friends…

I decided to set up a small sweet stall to raise some fund. I made varieties of sweets and savories to sell. We collected some money for charity as most of my friends were supportive for the good cause. We are quiet happy to raise some money to support the ECommerce initiative. Although not a huge amount, I am quiet happy that I am able to contribute a very small part of it… My heartfelt thanks to all my friends who supported me on this.
Looking forward to do another event when I get a chance…..

Boondi Ladoo

Almond Pinwheel sweet

Fried gram Murukku

Jalebi

Sweets ready to be packed…Sweet platter

I Wish everyone HAPPY DIWALI 2013….

 
5 Comments

Posted in Sweet

 

Thirunelveli Halwa- A sweet delicacy!

04 Mar

The First time when i made this sweet was during my school days. Somewhere i read this recipe and made it. It came out good at the first time. This Sweet is so close to me as it reminds me of my childhood memories. My father used to buy this sweet from  a place called Thirunelvi, a region in southern part of Tamilnadu. The sweet is named after this city’s name. Though there are many different varieties to Halwa, this is something unique that i have come across.

The Preparation itself is a 4 step process. At first, wheat kernels have to be soaked overnight. Second, wet grinding the wheat and extracting the wheat milk. Third leaving it to rest for another 8 hrs. The fourth and the last step is the final preparation.  In Indian sweet shops, this halwa wont be having this cube  form as it is in this picture. As it is too soft and not stable, it will be difficult to make perfect square. Usually it is shapeless and scooped, weighed and sold in kilograms.

It feels like very soft jelly like although it is not completely jelly, and melts in mouth in no minutes. If you are diet conscious please stay one step back because once u try a spoon of it, you may feel addicted to it and may try to finish it.

Last Diwali, I made this sweet and shared with our friends. Got some nice comments from them and especially, D requested me for this recipe. So here goes the recipe….

Ingredients

  1. Wheat Milk – 1 , 1/2 cup ( from 1 cup of wheat kernels)
  2. Sugar – 3 cups
  3. Indian Clarified Butter(Ghee)- 1 ,1/2 cups
  4. Almonds – sliced 1/4 cup
  5. Powdered Cardamom –   Blend 5 cardamom pods and 2 Tbs Sugar to get fine powder
  6. Food color – a pinch of red and green each..

Method:

1. Soak the wheat Kernels with sufficient water for 7 to 8 hours preferably overnight.

2. Drain the water and wash the grains with fresh water.

3. Add the wheat and some water to a blender jar and blend it until coarse to smooth consistency.  Take a big  bowl using a strainer pour this ground mixture.

You can see that the wheat milk is getting collected and use a spoon to help drain the liquid thoroughly.

4. Take the husk or the outer layer of wheat which remains in the strainer, and add some more water and blend it and then strain it. Repeat this whole process,

blending, straining 2 to 3 times. Please be liberal in adding water at this point.

5. Leave this wheat milk in a kitchen corner undisturbed to atleast 5 to 6 hrs. The traditional recipe (which i remember from my long memory) will call to leave this milk  overnight, for 8 hrs. It does two things basically, one is to separate the water from this batter and the other is to let ferment.

6. This  liquid will look like pancake batter. After all the resting time, you can see the water is separated and solid white part of it stays down. Now take this bowl near to the sink and slightly tilt the vessel such that the clear water is removed. You may notice, the last couple of spoons of water will be difficult to be removed, let it be.  With 1 cup of Wheat you may get 1 and half cup batter.

7. Now we are all set to prepare this delicious sweet. Take a good flat non stick pan and add this batter and 4 cups of water. .Now switch on the heat and keep it to medium to low medium heat in the overall process.

8. When this mixture slightly starts boiling add in the sugar and keep stirring.

9. After some time you may notice, the mixture gets into thick batter consistency and now add it half of ghee and mix it.

10. Then on you can add the remaining ghee from time to time and fully incorporate it. Add in color if desired.

11. This whole cooking process may require 1 hr to 1.5 hrs. You may have to stop cooking when u see that the halwa has come together in to a lump.

12. The excess ghee which is floating on top can be removed with the help of spoon.

13. Finally finish it with cardamom and sliced almonds.

14. You can leave it like this. OR Take a steel plate or tray, apply ghee all over the plate. Spread this mixture and leave it until it cools down.

15 . With a sharp knife, slice it  and enjoy this by serving it warm. ( you may not get perfect cubes as the Halwa is too soft and unstable to handle.)

 
5 Comments

Posted in Sweet

 

Yummy Baklava and my 100th post…

20 Jan


I am very happy to post this sweet as my 100th post.  One of the sweets, which I have underestimated by its simple ingredients and preparation method, until I tasted it first time. A Colleague of mine, who is from Turkey, had brought some authentic Baklava’s to office.  As I tasted, I felt the crispy sweet & buttery layered sheets with the richness of crunchy nuts(Walnuts). I could not stop going for the next one. Since then, I have been trying to find out the filo pastry sheets from German supermarkets and couldn’t find on. So, I  tried to make it with ready made Puff pastry and with Spring roll pastry, but it was not anywhere near to the original taste.

After a long time, I was lucky to find it in one of the Turkish market from the next city. I also got some good quality of de-skinned Pistachios, which is one of the key ingredient for the overall taste.

The Procedure for making it is very simple. Apply melted butter on every layer of sheets and lay the coarse crushed nuts in between one of the bottom layers. Bake it until golden brown and finish it by pouring with sugar or Honey sirup afterwards.

We enjoyed making it with 24 layers and Riya helped me in buttering the layers.

Ingredients:

  1. Filo Pastry sheets – 1 pkt ( I used 450 gms, approx 60*60 of 12 sheets)
  2. Butter – 250 gms
  3. Sugar – 2 cups
  4. Lemon juice- few drops
  5. Almonds - blanched, dry and chopped finely
  6. Pistachios-blanched , dry and chopped or coarsely ground
  7. Flavoring – any flavoring of your choice (optional)

Method:

1. First make the Sugar sirup. Add Sugar with a cup of water and boil for 15-20 mins. Add few drops of lemon juice.

2. While sugar sirup is getting ready, prepare the tray for baking baklava sheets. Lay the sheets in a tray such that it fits in all the sides of the tray. I had 12 long sheets which i had cut it  and used as 24 sheets, which was fitting my tray and as well. 12 sheet layered Baklava was anyway was too thin.

3. Melt the Butter. Just as it melts in to liquid, switch off the heat. Butter the tray, lay the first sheet, butter it, lay the second sheet and butter it, and continue until 8 layers and now fill in the nuts.

4. Nuts filling should be sweet, so add either couple of spoons of sugar sirup or sugar to the nuts. (Nuts and sugar can be ground together and used for garnishing) and fill in top of 8th layer. One can choose in which layer to add the filling. I have chosen 8th layer as the sweet will have good stability to hold the nuts. I used Pistachios for half of the layer and Almonds for other half.

5. Continue layering and applying butter till you reach the last sheet.

6. Before putting the tray in oven, use a sharp knife to cut the layered sheets into small pieces. Smaller shapes lets sugar syrup to soak-in nicely at step 8.

7. Preheat the oven for 170C and bake it for 30-35 mins at 150C in the middle rack of oven. You could see the Bakalava pieces dance with melting butter and turn light  brown on the top.

8. Remove from oven and pour the sugar sirup all over while the baked baklava is hot. The Sugar sirup can be medium hot while pouring.

9. Leave for it for few hours to let the Baklava’s to absorb the sugar sirup. Serve it in a plate with ground nuts on top.

 
4 Comments

Posted in Dessert, Sweet

 

Almond Sweets

09 Nov

I am glad to write this recipe, as some my friends has requested it. Here it goes….

Ingredients:

  1. Whole Almonds – 300gms
  2. Sugar – 250 gms
  3. Milk – 1 1/2 cup (or)  1 cup Water
  4. Rose Essence – little
  5. Red color – a pinch (add little red to get pink color)
  6. Green colour very little
  7. Powdered Sugar – 1/4 cup
  8. Shortening(any) – a little( to help making the shapes)

Method:

  1. Soak the almonds in hot water for 1/2 an hour. It will help to peel of the skin.
  2. Add the peeled almonds and milk to a blender and blend it to a smooth paste.
  3. Heat a nonstick  pan in a medium flame and add almond paste.
  4. Cook it in a medium heat until all the water content is evapourated and the almond paste resembles as a dough.
  5. Now add the Essence and before adding red colour save a  little for adding green color for stems and leaves.
  6. Add red colour mix it lightly to have a blend in colours.
  7. Allow it cool for 10 minutes and then shape it in to a ball.  When making balls add little shortening and  your palms and roll the balls in powdered sugar.
  8. Mix a pinch of green colour and shape into green stalk and leaves and arrange it to the top of the balls.

For this measure you can make around 45 – 50  gooseberry sized apples.