Tag Archives: Without eggs

Chapatti, or Versatile Indian Flatbreads

Before embarking on this flatbread adventure I had never tasted chapatti or even seen them in “real” life. I had read about them, seen on blogs and in cookery books, but had no idea (and still don’t have!) what texture and taste I should obtain. These chapatti are soft, taste slightly nutty and are absolutely delicious, in spite of their weird forms and scary look (normally chapatti are of course perfectly round, but I have never managed to roll them out properly…). They are quick to prepare, easy to reheat or defrost and so surprisingly versatile, I now treat them as international wraps (these above were perfect with feta and bacon for my office lunch) and wonder how I could eat the store-bought tortillas all these years…

Chapatti/chapati are, after naans, the second Indian flatbread recipe I learnt. (Maybe one day I’ll show you my naans… but they look even worse than my chapatti). Indian cuisine has a big array of breads, but I chose chapatti because I read somewhere they were to Indians what tortillas were to Mexicans. I also liked the fact that they are made simply in a pan (not in a super hot tandoori!) and are relatively quick to prepare. As I browsed through recipes, I found they were all similar (i.e. called for water and flour), but I also realised that many Indian home cooks obtain dry tough chapatti and seek for advice. I stumbled upon a chapatti thread on Indus Ladies where some advised to add curd and oil. I added yogurt instead of the curd, played a bit with the amounts and the resulting flatbreads proved soft, easy to cook and addictive. I am too scared to try and compare the traditional flour and water recipe, so I’ll stick to this one. Following Meera Sodha’s advice in Made in India. Cooked in Britain, I used half wholemeal and half white flour, the mixture which is apparently closest to the Indian chapatti flour (I think this adds slightly nutty flavours, keeping the dough acceptable for those who hate wholemeal products).

TIPS:

Even if you don’t cook Indian, I strongly advise testing chapatti as an alternative to store-bought tortillas (I plan to make those too one day, inspired by MJ’s beautiful perfectly round corn tortillas). I use them to wrap everything I find in the fridge: raw cucumbers, peppers, chillies, fresh herbs, chicken, ham, feta, tofu… and add Greek yogurt, sriracha (it’s perfect!) and pickles. They are of course delicious with Indian curries…

It’s difficult to say exactly how thick chapatti should be. I roll out mine about 1 mm – 1.5 mm thick. (If they are very too thin, slightly transparent, they will become crisp, not soft!).

Once prepared, chapatti will keep for two-three days in the fridge, tightly wrapped in plastic. They can also be frozen, but make sure you divide them, otherwise you’ll have to defrost the whole batch. I heat the refrigerated chapatti for 10 seconds in the microwave and defrost those from the freezer for about 20 seconds.

When frying the second side of chapatti you should press it and the best tool I found for that is a potato press.

Many sources advise leaving dough for 30 minutes (or even more) before rolling out, so that it becomes softer. I try to do it, but when I am in a hurry, I start grilling chapatti straight away and they are soft anyway (maybe not as soft as with the 30 minutes waiting, but the difference is small).

Preparation: about 30 minutes (+30 min for the dough to become softer, but it’s not absolutely necessary)

Ingredients (makes about 10-12 chapatti):

125 g white flour

125 wholemeal flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 heaped tablespoons yogurt

3 tablespoons neutrally-tasting oil or coconut oil (I prefer coconut oil)

100 ml water (or a bit more, see below)

In a bowl combine all the ingredients and start kneading them.

If the mixture is too dry, add water by spoonfuls. If you add too much water chapatti will be drier, so don’t exaggerate.

Knead the mixture about 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and soft. Cover with plastic film and leave for 30 minutes (this is not necessary, but if you have time, do it because it makes the dough softer).

Divide the dough into big apricot-sized balls and cover them so that they don’t dry out.

In the meantime heat a big frying pan brushed with some oil (again, I use here coconut oil).

Roll out the dough into 1 mm thickness and grill at medium heat until bubbles show up (start rolling out another chapatti while the previous one fries).

At this point turn the chapatti over and fry for about 10 seconds, pressing it (a potato masher is perfect for that).

Place on a plate and proceed in the same way with other balls, brushing the pan with oil every second chapatti.

Cover the plate with plastic film and keep at room temperature until they cool down.

Then you can keep them for several days in the fridge or freeze them.

 

Light Yogurt Mousse with Passion Fruit

yog_mousse_passionSpring has been particularly cold this year and strawberries (I mean the edible ones) are late, so I keep on buying other fruits. A week ago I was thrilled to find exceptionally aromatic and sweet organic passion fruits and then wondered what dessert I could include them in… Finally, I thought the cleaner the flavours, the better. I’m glad I steered away from chocolate and strong tasting ingredients this time because this simple yogurt mousse proved perfect enhancer of the intense flavours of passion fruit. While shopping the following Friday I even didn’t look cravingly at strawberries and headed straight to passion fruits’ corner.

TIPS: I often make several individual portions of my light yogurt mousse-based desserts (see some of them here) and they keep perfectly several days in the fridge. This one is no exception (of course passion fruit should be added just before you eat).

Whatever the form of gelatin, it’s always indicated how much you need in order to set a certain amount of liquid. I don’t want to obtain here a stiff jelly-like texture, but something similar to a mousse, so I always check the advised amount and use only about 3/4 of it.

For the first time I used here only full-fat natural yogurt, but the following time I wanted it richer/creamier, so I reduced the amount of yogurt (see below) and added a bit of cream (mine was half-fat). It was just heavenly and still remained a light dessert.

Instead of normal full fat yogurt you can use here Greek yogurt or very smooth (mixed) fresh cheese/curd cheese/quark/, also called fromage frais/serek homogenizowany)

Ripe passion fruits have wrinkled skin (I learnt it very recently!), but if you buy smooth ones, you can put them at room temperature and wait until they ripen. Afterwards keep them in the fridge.

Preparation: 5 minutes+at least 2 hours in the fridge

Ingredients (serves 4-5): 

500 ml  (about 17 fl oz) unsweetened full-fat yogurt (or see the TIPS above) or, if you want this dessert richer and creamier: 450 ml yogurt+50 ml cream

3/4 of the amount of gelatin necessary to set 500ml/17fl oz of liquid (usually 1 tablespoon gelatin or 6 – 8 sheets, depending on the size/brand, so check well the package and reduce the amount to about 3/4, see the TIPS above)+4 tablespoons warm water (I prefer to use hot water with powdered gelatin)

4 flat tablespoons confectioner’s sugar or sweetener of your choice

4-5 passion fruits (or more, depends on the size; I count 1 big per person or 1 and half of smaller ones)

Dissolve the gelatin in 4 tablespoons warm or hot (not boiling) water. (If using leaves, proceed as indicated on the package). (I’ve recently stumbled upon instant gelatin powder which can be added directly to any creamy mixture or liquid without previous dissolving, so check well the procedure on the package.)

Mix the yogurt (or fresh cheese) and the sweetener/sugar in a food processor.

Add the dissolved gelatin and mix well.

Pour the yogurt mixture into individual bowls or glasses and put into the fridge for at least two hours.

Just before serving, cut the passion fruits in two and scoop out the flesh on top of each mousse.

ANZAC Biscuits with Dried Blueberries

anzac_bluepFirst of all, I I would like to apologise my dear visitors and blogging friends for such a long absence due to wonderful holidays I have spent once more in Japan. As always, the stay in Tokyo was highly inspiring, filled with unforgettable culinary moments and I hope I’ll be able to share with you some of my discoveries in future posts. The only thing I strongly regretted about my trip was having naively hoped once more the plane food would be at least edible. Leaving more than half of the meals intact I kept on dreaming how happy I would have been if I had an onigiri, a simple sandwich or some ANZAC biscuits in my bag… Next time I take a long flight these treats will definitely travel with me!

If you have never heard about these biscuits, ANZAC stands for “Australian and New Zealand Army Corps”, created during the World War I. The biscuits bearing this name were created at the same time by women desperate to send nutritious home-made food to their husbands, sons and boyfriends. This is apparently how the eggless, nutritious recipe ensuring long preservation was born. I first prepared ANZAC biscuits thanks to Mr. Three-Cookies and will always be grateful for this amazing discovery.

ANZAC biscuits might not look very attractive, but with their buttery aroma, slight chewiness and nutty flavours for me they are no more no less but the best thing in the world of crunchy sweet treats. They are also easy and quick to prepare, so I make them quite regularly.  The basic recipe is flexible and every version I have made proved delicious. Apart from the basic recipe, until now I have only posted a dried cranberry version, which I love particularly because of its tanginess and an even higher degree of chewiness.

One day I was given a big bag of luscious dried blueberries and, afraid of spoiling them in baked dishes, I kept on treating them as exceptional snacks. The friend who has kindly offered these blueberries has lived for many years in Australia, so somehow adding them to ANZAC biscuits seemed suddenly obvious. The result was absolutely luscious and much superior to the addition of boring raisins I have tested once.

TIPS: Unless you have a health problem, do not use margarine or any other vegetable shortening. The butter taste and  aroma is so strong, you will lose a big part of the pleasure.

As I have mentioned above, they keep fresh in a tightly closed container for several days (and maybe even more, but I wasn’t able to test more than five days). The biscuits stay crunchy and slightly chewy.

WARNING: do not taste the raw dough! You will end up eating it straight from the pan while you wait for your previous batch to bake.

Preparation: 1 hour (or 30 minutes if you manage to bake everything in one batch)

Ingredients (I have obtained about 35 biscuits, you will obtain a bit less if you skip blueberries):

70 grams/1 cup rolled oats

90 grams/1 cup desiccated coconut

120 g/1 cup flour

125 g/about 4,5 oz butter

160 g/3/4 cup brown cane sugar

1 tablespoon dark syrup (I used 2 tablespoons molasses)

1 teaspoon baking soda (bi-carbonate of soda, in countries where it is not widely available, for example in France, it can be easily bought in pharmacies)

2 tablespoons boiling water

pinch of salt

6 heaped tablespoons dried blueberries

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Melt the butter and syrup or molasses in a big pan.

Combine the flour, the oats, the coconut, the blueberries, the salt and the sugar. Add slowly to the melted butter.

At the end combine the boiling water and soda. Pour the mixture into the dough and stir well with a spoon.

Don’t worry if the dough seems crumbly. It is normal. Just squeeze well the dough when forming balls in your hands and don’t flatten them too much.

Roll small balls, making them as tight as possible (I usually make walnut-sized balls, but this time I wanted smaller biscuits, so I made the balls 1/3 smaller) and put them on a baking sheet (leaving at least 3 cm spaces between each ball since they will spread).

Flatten them slightly (they will flatten even more during the baking process) and bake 10-15 minutes or until golden.

Keep them in a tightly closed container. Apparently they keep for ages. All I know is they keep for at least five days, well closed.

Light Almond Cream with Plums

almondcreampIf your only idea of a perfect sweet treat is a thick slice of a rich, frosted cake, then you might not appreciate this post. If, however, like me, you avoid (or at least you try…) doubling the meal’s calorie intake in its last course or/and if you are thrilled at the idea of guiltless, but luscious refreshing desserts, this almond cream is definitely worth your attention.

Some of you might remember my custardy creams/custards set with agar, a gelling agent made from seaweed. Agar, or agar-agar (“kanten” in Japanese) is usually sold in a form of powder or in long sticks, but I always use the powdered form which seems easier to handle. Agar contains water soluble agents, which help digestion and are considered excellent in slimming diets. As I have mentioned in my previous posts, contrary to most agar users, I am not fond of thick standard jellies, so I simply use less agar. Thus, it barely sets liquids, resulting in something similar to a custard or a cream.

Until now most of my agar experiments featured coconut milk mixed with cow milk as the basic ingredient (see below). This one follows exactly the same method, but I use here almond milk instead and am more than satisfied with the results. I will soon test almond milk with other fruits, but at least I know that together with plums it creates a fantastic cooling dessert or snack. I am planning also to test almond cream since I’m sure it can be substituted with a similar albeit slightly richer result.

If you are not fond of almond milk, you might like some of these:

Coconut and Strawberry Wobbly Cream with Agar

Coconut and Strawberry Wobbly Cream with Agar

Wobbly Cream with Pear and Lime Zest

Wobbly Cream with Pear and Lime Zest

Coffee and Coconut Wobbly Cream with Agar

Coffee and Coconut Wobbly Cream with Agar

Matcha and Coconut Wobbly Cream

Matcha and Coconut Wobbly Cream

Wobbly Rhubarb Delight

Wobbly Rhubarb Delight

Chocolate and Coconut Cream with Agar

Chocolate and Coconut Cream with Agar

Light Coconut Cream with Canned Peaches

Light Coconut Cream with Canned Peaches

TIPS: I find agar even easier to use than gelatin (though it is not a gelatin replacement since it sets liquids in a slightly different way and cannot be used in every recipe). I use powdered pure agar and it is very easy to dissolve in liquids. There are however different agar powders on the market (some contain sugar for example or other additives), so check the ingredients list and look closely at your agar package instructions. On mine 1/2 teaspoon is supposed to set 500 ml/2 cups liquid to a jelly. I use only 1/3 teaspoon and obtain a wobbly, “falling off the spoon”, custardy consistency. If you prefer a well-set jelly, use the amount advised on the package, but make sure you don’t use too much agar (it’s easy to overdose!) because you might end up not only with a standard jelly, but with something practically inedible.

Do not wait until the cream becomes cold before pouring it into the bowls because agar sets at room temperature and, once disturbed, it will not reset properly! On the other hand do not pour the very hot cream because it will “boil” the fruit. Leave the mixture until it is still a bit hot, but not room temperature.

These creams will keep in the fridge for several days, so you can make a whole batch only for yourself!

You can make these creams for example in small jars with lids and take with you to work, on a trip or for a picnic.

Preparation: 15 minutes + 2-3 hours in the fridge

Ingredients (serves 4 – 5):

500 ml/about 2 cups almond milk

4 flat tablespoons sugar (or more if you prefer very sweet desserts or if the plums are very tangy)

1/3 flat teaspoon pore agar agar in powder (if your agar powder contains other ingredients too, check the TIPS above)

about 1/2 kg (about 1 lb) plums cut into bite-sized pieces + some more for decoration

(toasted almond slivers)

Dissolve the sugar and agar-agar in the almond milk.

Bring to boil and, constantly stirring, let it simmer for about a minute.

Put aside.

Prepare four individual bowls or low glasses.

(Do not wait until the cream becomes cold because agar sets at room temperature and once disturbed, it will not reset properly!).

Distribute the plum pieces evenly among the bowls.

Pour the slightly hot (not room temperature yet!) almond milk over the fruit pieces and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Serve very cold decorated with fresh plums and, if you want, toasted almond slivers.

 

Greek Yogurt Mousse (Light Unbaked Cheesecake) with Canned Peaches

cannedpeachchWhoever invented canned peaches, was a genius. Unlike pineapple or litchi, I never see them as  poorer – and sickly sweet – cousins of fresh ones, but almost like different fruits, which, apart from being delicious, are easy to stock and to use. They add a beautiful sunny touch to all the cold season desserts and proved perfect with this new spring variation of my simple Greek yogurt mousse. When summer comes, fresh peaches will be a marvellous replacement, obviously.

To some of you this basic mousse recipe might seem familiar. Indeed, I have already posted several different versions of it (see below), but all under the name “unbaked cheesecake”. Now you might wonder how it became a Greek yogurt mousse. First of all, even though this popular Polish dessert is prepared as a whole cake (usually with crusty bottom and jelly on top, but I have never liked either, so I skip both) and cut before serving, I have always opted for individual portions. Secondly and finally, the substitution of its main ingredient (smooth fresh curd cheese/”quark”/fromage frais), difficult to find in some countries, with the ubiquitous Greek yogurt is a perfect solution and technically makes it a… Greek yogurt mousse.

This mousse (or rather its different versions) is one of the most frequent sweet treats I indulge in. It is easy, quick to prepare, versatile and totally guilt-free; moreover, individual portions keep well for several days in the fridge. I come up with new modification ideas every year, so you will probably see some new creations soon. Until now I have prepared the following versions:

with Passion Fruit

with Passion Fruit

with Blueberry

with Blueberry

with Strawberry

with Strawberry

with Sour Cherries

with Sour Cherries

with Vanilla

with Vanilla

TIPS: As I have mentioned both the natural fresh cheese I usually use here and Greek yogurt are perfect.

The amount of gelatin depends sometimes on the brand. Leaves are sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller,  powdered gelatin sometimes contains other products and doesn’t set as well as pure gelatin in powder… In short, the aim is to use here the amount of gelatin which sets 500 ml/2 cups/about 17 oz liquid.

If you have a choice of different forms of gelatin, but have never worked with it, I strongly advise buying the powdered one, my favourite. It’s easier to dissolve than the one in “cristals” and you don’t have to go through two stages, as it’s the case with leaves.

Preparation: 15 minutes + 2 hours in the fridge

Ingredients (serves 4-5): 

500 g  (about 17 oz) Greek yogurt or very smooth (mixed) fresh cheese/curd cheese/quark/fromage frais/serek homogenizowany) 

1 tablespoon gelatin or 6 – 8 sheets, depending on the size/brand, so take the amount necessary to set 500 ml/17 fl oz of liquid, see TIPS above)

4 tablespoons warm water (I prefer to use hot water with powdered gelatin)

4 flat tablespoons confectioner’s sugar or sweetener of your choice

1 can of peaches

(2 tablespoons rum)

Dissolve the gelatin in 4 tablespoons warm or hot (not boiling) water. (If using leaves, proceed as indicated on the package).

Mix the yogurt (or cheese), the rum and the sugar in a food processor.

Add the dissolved gelatin and mix once more.

Pour the yogurt mixture into individual bowls or glasses and put into the fridge for at least two hours.

Just before serving cut the peaches into bite-sized pieces and put on top of each mousse.