Oct 22, 2014

Spiced Mini Apple Pies


It is the beginning of fall here and the weather is absolutely lovely. Warm days compliment cooler nights. Happiness compliments the rash of colours in the nature around us. But the icing on the cake is that Deepavali compliments Halloween! Indian houses here in the US are beautifully decorated with fall adornments and halloween spooks and the entranceways are bathed perfectly in the light emanating from Deepavali diyas.
Such joy to share the festival of lights with all the pumpkins and "Mohabbatein" leaves!
Most of all, this is the first Deepavali for our two month old sonny boy. I simply could not allow the festival to roll by without celebrating to the maximum extent possible amidst all the newborn chores and chaos.

My dear family esp the hubby abhors sweet food in any form. Except for the occasional Mysore Pak. The darling dotzy has only now begun to relish sweets but mostly prefers baked goods to the traditional Indian fare. Hence I decided to kick start the Deepavali food fest with the Apple pie. It falls easy on the pallette and is so warm that it automatically fills you with love. Adding a twist to the classic and making it less sweet suits our tastes. Baking a pie is like an experience. The whole house is awash with the wonderful smell, the taste buds thank us and is appetizing to look at. I love the crusty flaky exterior of a pie so much that I could eat just the crust and be very happy. Given a choice of a 9 inch pie/cake or muffin sized portions I always tend to choose the latter since its easier to store and gets consumed real fast. Size is inversely proportional to the want in our house. That is how we ended up with mini spiced apple pies!

The pie dough recipe in this post is a keeper. It is extremely flaky and has a nice crust without being hard. It can be used as the go-to dough for all kinds of filling- spicy,veggie, sweet, salty. The recipe makes enough for a 9 inch pie base and the pie topper. Alternately it makes enough for 12 mini pie bases and their tops.


Spiced Mini Apple Pies

Servings: 12 mini pies (standard muffin size)
Prep Time: 45 mins (including cooling time)  Cook Time: 35 mins

Ingredients

For the Pie Dough

2 cups All Purpose Flour (or substitute half Whole Wheat flour, I have done this and it remains delicious)
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/8 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 cup Chilled Yogurt (replaces 1 egg)
3/4 cup Chilled butter cut into cubes (can be reduced to 1/2 cup if desired)
2 tbsp Sugar (increase to 5 tbsp if a sweet crust beckons)
2 tbsp Chilled Water
Pinch of Salt

For the Apple Pie filling

2 Gala Apples (the apple really held up well and did not get mushy when baked for 35 mins)
3-4 tsp Lemon Juice
1/4 tsp Cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp Nutmeg powder
1/3 cup Sugar

Instructions

For the Pie Dough


  1. Mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar
  2. Drop in the chilled butter cubes and lightly mix it into the flour till the mixture is crumbly. I used my fingers for this and it took around 5 minutes. 
  3. Add in the chilled yogurt and mix. The dough should start coming around.
  4. If required mix in the chilled water one tbsp at a time till a ball of dough is formed. 
  5. Do not knead the mix. Merely collect the dough to form a ball. 
  6. Cling wrap the dough and refrigerate for 30 mins.
  7. If refrigerated for more time the dough becomes harder. Allow dough to rest on the counter till it is pliable before using.

For the Apple pie filling


  1. Toss all the ingredients for the filling together.
  2. Do not mix it a lot in advance since the juice from the apples oozes out which could make the pie soggy. 

Making the Pie


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a muffin tray lightly.
  2. I use a trick to make it easier to get the pies out after they are done - Place strips of foil in the muffin cup with ends hanging out. The pies can later be pulled out using the over hanging tabs. 
  3. Roll out the pie dough between two sheets of parchment (to make cleaning simpler) to a thin sheet. I kept it at 1/5 inch thick but it could be made thicker upto 1/4 inch. 
  4. To make mini pies, cut out rounds from the dough sheet around an inch bigger than the size of the muffin cup.
  5. Insert it into the muffin cup and lightly press against the walls of the cup to make a pie base. (It is easier to close the pie if the pie base juts out of the muffin cup.)
  6. Put in one and half tbsp of the filling into the pie base
  7. Cut out another round of dough which is slightly smaller than the first one.
  8. Cover the pie with this and press all around to seal the pie. 
  9. At the point you could make the edges fluted or press all around the edge using a fork.
  10. With a knife make small slits on the pie top to help bake the filling nicely. 
  11. Brush the top with some milk to prevent dryness while baking
  12. Bake at 350 F for 30 - 35 minutes till the top has browned and  you can see the filling bubbling inside. Mostly you could go by the heavenly smell and know its done!
  13. Serve warm or cold. We like both ways. 


Jun 4, 2014

Vegan Banana Nut Bread


In the recent weeks there hasnt been a situation of over ripe bananas in our house. But last week we went on a camping trip to Arkansas where I had carried a bunch of bananas but half a dozen remained uneaten given the variety of food we had there. We were an enthusiastic group making upma and bhelpuri among other delectables, at the camp. It was a lovely time beside the river. The river itself was shallow at the camp site and there were innumerable small size fishes swimming around our legs. The whole gang enjoyed playing in the water and swimming with the fishes.

By the time we came back home, due to the heat, the bananas were all over ripe and I had to find a way to use them without throwing out the whole lot. I mentioned banana bread and to my surprise my daughter was overjoyed. I have no idea what caused the change of heart in the non-sweet eater but I wasnt going to let this chance get away. I baked the bread that very night and as is always the case with banana baked goods, it came out very well. We all enjoyed a healthy dessert that night and it lasted well for the next four days with refreidgeration.

Vegan Banana Nut Bread

Servings: One 4*8 loaf
Prep Time: 10 mins Cook Time: 35 - 45 mins

Ingredients

4 very ripe bananas
1 cup Whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup All purpose flour
1/2 cup Vegetable oil
1/2 cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla essence
1 1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Baking soda
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup nuts (walnuts, almonds)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Grease a 4*8 loaf tin with a little oil or line it with parchment paper
  3. Mash the bananas to fine and add in oil and sugar and mix well. Add in the vanilla extract and mix well.
  4. Sieve the flours, baking soda and baking powder and mix well and keep aside
  5. Add salt to the flour and mix well
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix till it comes together. Do not overmix.
  7. Fold in the nuts
  8. Pour the mix into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 35 - 45 mins till a skewer inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. (My oven took 45 mins)
  9. Slice it up and serve warm.
  10. It also tastes good as a base to a trifle or with ice-cream.

Bean and Oat Veggie Burger


When the need of the hour is to make your little one eat nutritious food without much fuss, the Burger is the way to go.  Simple, easy to make and extra delicious. Put a large dollop of tomato sauce inside the burger, for the kiddies and it goes in faster!



This burger is high in protein what with all the beans, lentils and oats. I used a combination of red kidney beans, black eyed beans, green channa dal, yellow channa dal, double beans, some other variety of bean that I dont recognise and green moong beans. The burger can also be made with very little oil and I mainly used oil to shallow fry the patty.
These burgers can be extra filling because of the beans. I served them with a portion of coleslaw instead of fries to round it off as a healthy efficient meal.


Bean and Oat Veggie Burger

Servings: 9 Patties
Prep Time:       Cook Time:

Ingredients 

1 cup Mixed beans
1/2 cup Green Moong beans
2 small Potatoes (optional)
1 small onion (cut in rings or jullienne)
1 tomato cut in slices
1 cucumber cut in slices
1/4 cup Oats flour
2 tsp Red Chilli powder
1/2 tsp Garam Masala
1/4 tsp Aamchoor (Dried Mango powder)
1/2 tsp Cumin Coriander powder
1/2 cup Coriander Chutney (optional)
1/2 cup Tomato sauce (optional)
9 tsp Oil
Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Pressure cook soaked beans along with potatoes upto 3 whistles
  2. Mash the cooked beans and potatoes
  3. Add in all the spices and salt and mix well
  4. Add in the oats flour and mix well.If the mixture is still having a paste like consistency add in more flour to make it drier
  5. Take an onion sized piece of the patty mixture and pat it to a flat round of 2 1/2 inch diameter and 1/2 inch thickness
  6. Shallow fry on a heated skillet by drizzling a little oil around it
  7. Let it fry for a couple of minutes on medium-low flame, flip it and shallow fry the other side with a little bit of oil
  8. Once its nicely done, remove from skillet and keep aside
  9. Repeat the preparation of patty with the rest of the mixture.

To assemble the burger

  1. Slice a burger in half and toast it in the toaster for a minute to get it nice and crisp. Alternately roast the inside of the bun on a hot skillet with some butter lathered on
  2. Spread the inside of the bottom half with coriander chutney
  3. Top it with onion slices
  4. Place the burger patty on top of the onion, spread a little tomato sauce and top it off with tomato and cucumber slices
  5. Place the upper half of the bun right on top

Quick soak for beans

  1. Wash the mixed beans a couple of times in water
  2. Place it in a vessel and cover with water upto 2 inches over the beans
  3. Boil the water and then remove vessel from stove, cover and leave to soak for an hour
  4. The beans would have softened and are ready to be cooked further. Wash and ready to use.
  5. Soaking decreases the cooking time of the beans

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