Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Snowy Weekend

It is a snowy weekend here in St. Louis, and in most of the US actually. It has liberated us from the usual weekend chores like food shopping and given us permission to huddle in and do nothing in particular. Dog-walking is the one chore that must go on regardless of the weather- in fact, the streets are quite deserted except for the parade of shivering humans trying to stay warm while their frisky dogs run around in fur coats. Like his buddies, Dale is quite nonchalant about the snow. Here he is, giving us the, "What are y'all waiting for? Let's play" look:
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Paw-prints in the snows of time?
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Dale can provide comic relief even in the bleakest of weather. At one point, he got tired and sat down in the snow, only to spring back up with this expression :D
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Ready to walk home and warm up by the radiator:
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Last night, we were all set to walk down to our neighborhood chocolatier to get a cup of cocoa when the snow started coming down in full force. One look at the whiteout and I decided to make some hot chocolate at home instead. Normally, I just use cocoa powder, sugar and milk to whip up a simple cup, but I had a tiny bit of cream and a chocolate bar on hand and decided to make it a bit decadent. The addition of chocolate ganache really makes hot chocolate dreamily thick and sinfully delicious. It reminded us of our favorite hot chocolate from the City Bakery in Manhattan (although that stuff should be called chocolate bisque or chowder; that's how thick it is). It would be fun to try and replicate some of the flavors from their Hot Chocolate festival.

Please make every effort to buy fair-trade chocolate and cocoa. Chocolate tastes so much better when exploitation is not one of the ingredients.

Hot Chocolate

choco

1. Place 4 squares of bittersweet chocolate in a bowl.
2. In a small saucepan, heat 3-4 T heavy cream until it is near-boiling, then pour it over the chocolate pieces. Let the chocolate melt, then whisk the cream and melted chocolate together.
3. In the same saucepan, heat 1.5 C milk along with 2-3 t sugar (or to taste), a pinch of salt, 1 T cocoa powder and a cinnamon stick. Boil the mixture briefly and turn off the heat. Stir in the chocolate ganache and 1 t vanilla extract. Strain the hot chocolate into 2 cups and serve hot.

I can't believe there have been three chocolate recipes on this blog this month! Call it winter madness. I am sending this steaming hot chocolate to Deepz who is hosting JFI: Chocolate this month. Now that promises to be one sweet round-up!

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I've been peeking into some of my favorite blogs and trying some new recipes from them. While I did not remember to take any pictures, I could not resist sharing the links with you:

1. Khara Buns from Shilpa: It started when the Daring Bakers took on Tender Potato Bread as their challenge this month. The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion, a veritable textbook of baking, says that many traditional American bread recipes called for using cooked potato or potato water (the cloudy water left over from cooking potatoes) as an ingredient in the dough. This practice started before baker's yeast was commercially available, and the starch content of potato and potato water served to attract wild yeast from the air and provide them a nutritious buffet while the bugs went to work. The starch also keeps the baked bread moist by hanging on to water due to its hygroscopic nature. Today, even though we pour out yeast from handy little sachets, the starchy potato does help to feed the ravenous yeast and results in moist tender bread. Anyway, I watched wide-eyed as the foccacias, loaves and rolls were displayed on the Daring Baker blogs this month, but did not seriously think of trying out the recipe because it makes a *huge* batch. Then Shilpa came along and solved the problem for me: her khara (savory) buns use a scaled down version of the recipe that is just perfect for a small family, AND she converted the basic recipe into irresistible stuffed buns- the stuffing is the spicy onion filling that many of us love from bakeries in India. While no one in their right mind would call me either daring or a baker, I succumbed to the lure of the stuffed buns and tried the recipe. Shilpa gives detailed and precise instructions and I followed them as I closely as I could. I did add some peas and carrots to the filling to make it more substantial. The dough turned out to be the stickiest dough I have ever encountered. Part of it is that potato dough is sticky by nature and perhaps I aggravated it by using a little too much potato (2 small potatoes instead of a medium one) and water that was slightly more than 3/4 C. But by generously flouring my hands, I was able to manipulate the dough quite easily. It rose beautifully, and I turned it into 6 filled buns, served with a big bowl of tomato soup. This bread is unbelievable- the outside was crunchy and crisp and the inside was fluffy and soft. Every bite was a treat! Leftover buns reheat very well: I popped them into the toaster oven for 10 minutes the next day and they were crispy and delicious all over again. This potato bread is a keeper: next time, I will be using it to make pizza crusts.
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2. Palak Kadhi from Musical: snowy, stormy weather simply screams out for the comfort of steamed rice with some kadhi, what could be loosely described as a curry that is often based on chickpea flour and buttermilk. Musical never fails to amaze me with her simple and flavorful fare, and this kadhi is no exception- it comes together in minutes, includes a healthy dose of greens, and feeds the body and soul all at once. The most delightful moment of making this kadhi came when I had tipped the four whole seeds (coriander, cumin, nigella and fenugreek) into hot oil along with the onions. At this moment, the aroma that wafted up was *exactly* and unmistakably what I associate with good Punjabi restaurants. Heavenly! I made the kadhi with frozen chopped spinach, being unable to go to the Farmers' market due to the storm, and it worked just fine. I think this kadhi is going to be a staple in our home all winter long.
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3. Methi Mushroom Curry from Nandita: This is one recipe for those times when you are craving Indian restaurant-style curries. Kasuri methi is one ingredient that can really take home cooking to the next level with its unmistakable taste and aroma, in my humble opinion. Here, it is cooked with some juicy mushrooms and a thick onion-tomato gravy that is finished with some yogurt-besan paste to get it to just the right level of creaminess sans the cream. My minor changes to the recipe: I did not add mustard seeds to the tempering. I used more onions and tomatoes to make more of a curry for the dish. And I added a dash of my mom's magic masala (cloves, cinnamon, cardamom) at the end of cooking. This is absolutely delicious!

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My Daily Tiffin column for December: It's a Wrap.

Have a great week ahead!

27 comments:

  1. Oh I LOVE Dale's expression!!! ' unngh'!! 'whew!!! LOL!!! He is adorable!!! BIG Hug to the super pooch!!!
    Hmm.... palak kadhi!! not that it snows here in L.A...but cold enough for us to make this treat!!!

    HOT chocolate sounds wondeful on a cold...cold.... bulstery winter evening!!!

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  2. hot chocolateee looks so temptinggg with that snowny pictures

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  3. Yes! My Dale fix! His expression is just priceless. And your hot chocolate is the icing on the cake. I firmly believe that fair trade chocolate and coffee are the way to go, they also taste much better.
    Kamini

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  4. Dale is such a sweetheart...me and the kids would love to have a pet dog, only Dinesh can't get along with them :-(...and that drink is really warming me up...thanks...I must try it :-)

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  5. Hi Nupur,

    I made Shilpa's Khara buns with a pork/onion filling..they were excellent..

    I think I'll try the mushrooms today.. the hot chocolate I'll have to leave for another cold winter day.. I'm going to make sure I have the ingredients on hand next time..

    Stay warm in the winter,
    Priya

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  6. Hot chocolate and snow. What a perfect combination.

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  7. The drink looks deliscious and the photo has come out so well. Tempting.

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  8. That pic was just too tempting ...i tried and we enjoyed it...it was perfect for our snowy weekend....Thank you so much, Nupur :)

    Shn

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  9. Nupur, thats a very nice post for the snowy weekend. Dale seems to be enjoying snow.
    I am going mad here by sitting at home all the time. Yesterday watched Alvin & chipmunks though. It was amazing, by the time we came out of theatre, car had a thick layer of ice :(. So no more going out in snow.

    I am very happy that you liked the buns. It was the first time I made good bread :D. Daring bakers ki Jai ho :D.

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  10. Too bad its just too scorchyly hot here in Brisbane...but the hot chocolate looks yummy! Nupur, I'm new to your blogspot...but I'm loving every bit of it! Thanks for the great efforts!! Have a great christmas and new year!

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  11. Hello! I've been a lurker for a while but just wanted to say hi! I'm visiting my parents in Rolla, Mo., and we endured the snow here too. brrr.

    Your chocolate raspberry cake looks divine. I hope to one day have the dedication to cooking that you have.

    You have a great blog and I've now added it to my mum's bookmarks too. Thanks for sharing all this great information!

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  12. Hot chocolate is so on my list this week...

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  13. Lovely snowy photos, Nupur! Your hot choco looks scrumptious, and each of the recipes you tried sounds the same. Loved Dale's snowy little face too :)
    Have a great day! :)

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  14. Lucky you Nupur!! Snow already!!
    My kiddo is despearately praying for a white christmas this year!!
    Hope it does as it makes it more merrier!!
    and that drink will definitely liven up my christmas spirit!!

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  15. That's quite a bit of snow. We escaped this in the NE. Hot chocolate is just perfect for this. Nice recipes there.. the stuffed buns sound too good Nupur.

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  16. You got me craving some hot chocolate right now!

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  17. Love Dale posts anytime! Looks like he had a fun time prancing in the snow, loved his tongue-sticking out photo. It is really cold here too, minus the snow and all the talk of hot chocolate is tempting me to make me a cup. Cheers!

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  18. Manasi, Dale thinks you are so adorable too :D he is mad with me for not letting him have some hot chocolate (chocolate is toxic to dogs)!

    Sagari, yes, snow and hot chocolate are just made for each other :)

    Kamini, yes, I am so relieved now that it is getting much easier to find fair-trade products. Once the demand exists, companies will fall over backwards to make fair trade standard practice. Dale is happy to see you here :)

    Sunita, that's too bad that your husband does not like dogs...growing up with a dog as a best friend was one of the happiest parts of my childhood. Sometimes it just takes the right dog to make an ardent dog-lover out of someone...at least that is what happened to my mom :)

    Priya, yes, the khara buns recipe is truly excellent...I hope you stay warm and snug too!

    Vegeyum, yes, it really was!

    Vimmi, thank you :)

    Shn, so you succumbed to the chocolate temptation?! :D glad you enjoyed it!

    Shilpa, yes, cabin fever does set in after a while! Going out in snow becomes quite an adventure, right? Daring bakers ki jai ho, indeed! Well said :)

    Suchi, I guess you will have to wait until mid-year to make this! Still can't wrap my head around winter in June :) Thank you for your kind words, and welcome to One Hot Stove. Wishing you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year too!

    Jigsha, thank you for de-lurking and for saying nice things :) and a big hello to you too! The weather gave us quite a whipping in MO, eh? Glad you like the blog, my dear. And I sure hope your mum enjoys it too.

    Anita, yes, I guess Delhi is in a deep freeze too...stay warm!

    Linda, all of those recipes are so worth trying. Dale does look adorable with snow standing out on his black fur :)

    Padmaja, oh, I do hope the little one gets his wish! I must admit I do like snow too, although the slip-and-slide on the sidewalk gets a little tiring.

    Laavanya, yup, we got 8 inches or so. Which is not that common here. You got to try those stuffed buns, girl!

    Bindiya, well, run to the kitchen and make some, quick!

    Namita, doesn't that photo just say "OOPS" ?! :D Go make yourself a cup of cocoa and indulge. 'Tis the holidays :)

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  19. A pinch of chilli powder or a tsp of instant coffee should be delicious in there.

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  20. I have made hot chochlate with an almost identical recipe and its as pleasing to the heart as the smell of earth after the first rains:)...Happy holidays to you Nupur!!!:)

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  21. Nice hot chocolate Nupur!! Man, what a dump of snow we had on friday.. unbelieveable!!Your drink sounds perfect for the snowy day..

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  22. That hot chocolate is so dreamy.

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  23. Oreo is the same way, we'll be freezing our buns off just hoping she does her business quickly so we can go back inside, and all she wants to do is frolick in the snow. Dogs.

    That hot chocolate looks amazing btw! Will definitely keep this one on file for the next snowy day. :)


    Ari (Baking and Books)

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  24. Nupur..Have a Rocking 2008!! You are featured here http://www.labnol.org/india-blogs/indian-bloggers.html
    in the food segment..top 10 indian blogs...Dropped by to say CONGRATS!

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  25. Love your photo of hot chocolate! Looks absolutely pefect!

    Can you still send it to January Click event? (not sure if you can send the same entry for these two events, but it's worth checking!) :)

    Happy New Year!

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  26. That's a great photo with the mix of browns- such a warm, cozy feel. Hot chocolate with ganache eh? Oh, decadent indeed...I'll take one!

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  27. I was looking for a perfect hot chocolate recipe and my search is over with this post. Am reading it a bit too late :)
    I had the BEST ever hot chocolate this summer in Sydney, AUS @ Lindt Cafe and craving to get that same taste and I have a feeling that this recipe would do the trick. Thanks Nupur. I follow you blog even though I do nto post commnets. I wish I could attach the picture of that hot chocolate for you here.

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