Puff Pastry Experiments-Baked Apple Roses, Strawberry Filled Mini Puffs And More


 

Food hall at the DLF place, Saket is addictive. This Saturday after a hearty meal I and my son decided to do our usual round of the Food hall and soon we were filling our basket with more than what we needed. The food monster wanted to create something from ready made frozen puff pastry sheets and I too was game for it. The dish on my mind was the gorgeous Apple Roses I had been viewing all over the internet.

Now, I used to make apple pie crust at home but the store bought frozen puff pastry sheets were something new to me too.  The images of delicious pinwheels, tarts, quiche, pie, croissants, churros, torte, cheese sticks etc began to float in front of my eyes. I had to rein my imagination as I was going to get only a sheet or two. The food monster had made this clear. Finally I decided on the amazing Apple Roses, Fresh strawberry and fruit spread filled mini puff pastries and some churros.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon the food monster took over the kitchen and created some sumptuous dishes like Salted Caramel and Chocolate Tart, Chili Salsa and Cheese Tart , Marshmallow, chocolate and coffee pockets topped with dark caramel and chocolate ganache  .  You can follow the Food Monster Delhi on twitter too.

The yummy treats were devoured instantly.  On reminding about my share of the pastry sheets and he very graciously left some. I realized that the churros would have to go as the sheets were just enough of the Apple Roses and Strawberry mini puffs.

Though there are many versions of Apple roses on internet and all amazingly gorgeous but I liked the ones made by Sherri of To Simply Inspire  I followed her directions though I tweaked them a bit. You can check out her perfect roses by clicking on the link of her blog. Thanks Sherri for inspiring.

Here is how I made those Apple Rose Puffed Pastries 

Ingredients : (For 6 apple roses )

2 Delicious Red Apples (I used organic)

1 frozen Puff Pasty Sheet (Thawed)

2 Tablespoon of fruit preserve (I used mixed fruit but you can use plum, peach, apricot…whatever you desire)

Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling ( 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder + 1 teaspoon fine sugar)

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Flour to sprinkle on the counter

Powdered sugar for sprinkling as decoration

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Method:

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celcius ( Sherri did it at 190 degrees Celsius / 375 degree F)

Remove the frozen puff pastry sheets and let them thaw on the counter. They should still be cool when you use them. I removed them from freezer and kept them in the fridge overnight to use them in the morning. (See instructions on the packet)

Prepare cinnamon sugar by mixing the two ingredients together. Keep aside. (You can use apple pie spice mix too)

Half fill a bowl with water and add lemon juice to it. Now cut the apples in half from top to bottom. Remove the core ends and scoop out the center core.

Cut them in paper thin slices with a sharp knife. (unfortunately mine weren’t that thin.. a reason to buy a good sharp knife)

Place the slices in the water bowl. This will prevent them from turning brown. (enough water to cover the slices)

I used organic apples as we are using the skin too.

Place the bowl in the microwave for a minute to soften the apple a little so they don’t break while folding. They should not become mushy.

Now drain the apples in a colander and gently pour some cool water over them. drain properly.

Now, sprinkle some flour over a clean counter and roll out the pastry sheet, stretch it a bit with a rolling pin. Move in one direction only.

Try to keep the rectangle shape and cut it into six equal strips of 2 in x 9 inches approx. The sheet should be 1/8 in thick. In my excitement I didn’t make it rectangle but then corrected the strips by cutting the rounded edges. One learns :)

In a bowl take the fruit preserve and add a teaspoon of water to it. Microwave for a min so that the preserve is of spreading consistency. Let it cool.

Spread a little preserve on each strip.

Line 6-9 apple slices overlapping each other a little with the peel side facing out along one side of the strip. Leave a little space on both ends when you line up the slices.

Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar or apple pie spice mix if you desire. I love it.

Fold the bottom part of the strip so that it covers the apples.

Now, starting on one end carefully start to roll the fruit lined strip into a rose shape. Don’t make it very tight roll. Once you reach the end, seal the edges by pressing with your finger and gently place in a well greased muffin tin or a silicon muffin tray. You can apply a egg wash. I used melted butter and brushed it on the pastry with a pastry brush.

Make six roses from the strips and place them all in the tray.

Bake in the middle rack for 30-45 minutes. The pastry should be nicely cooked.

I did not keep the water pan in the tray below as suggested in the original recipe but you can try that.

Take them out and let them set for a few minutes before removing from the tray.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired. You can serve them warm or at room temperature as required.

You can double the amount to make 12 roses.

You can also use, butter, brown sugar and apple pie spice mixed together instead of fruit preserve.

You can bake these on a flat ray too but make sure the ends of the rose pastry are sealed well so that they do not open while baking.

Next time I will use different coloured apples, red , green, yellow and will also try peach and nectarine. You can try too. They will look amazing I think.

For the fresh Strawberry and Fruit Spread Filled Mini Puffs :

I had some leftovers from the Pastry sheet used by the food monster so I used that to make a few of these fruity delights. I rolled the dough into a flat sheet and cut out a few circles slightly larger then the muffin hole. you can make them into squares too or like an overlapping pocket well. I didn’t decorate the edges but you must mold the top edges into fluted design. It looks very pretty.

Then I prepared a sauce made with fresh strawberries, sugar and whole strawberry fruit preserve. Preserves are very versatile and the sauce came out delicious.

Just cut the fresh ripe strawberries and drizzle some sugar on them and let them macerate for approx 20 min. Now microwave some fruit preserve till it bubbles. Take it out and add the fresh strawberries.

Place the pastry circles in the muffin cups without flattening the puffy texture and poke some holes at the bottom of the shell with a fork so that it doesn’t rise while baking. Pour the fruit mixture in it. Bake for 30 minutes on middle rack  at 180 degrees. The shell should become golden in colour.

You can pour this fruit mixture to make puff pastry pockets,  tiny tartlets. pinwheels, pies or even a little galatte . I will do that soon, so watch this pace.

You can even bake the tart shells separately and simply spoon this lovely berrilicious mix and top it with some whipped cream before serving.

Overall, we had a great day experimenting with the frozen puff pastry sheets. Next time there will be some more great things and better pictures. :) Till then, keep experimenting and exploring.

 

“Collection of Chaos”Reviews And Winter Blooms


The eternal seductiveness of life

2016 began with some good news. A few online publications, visits to the Delhi Literature Festival and the Crime Writers Festival plus two wonderful reviews of my poetry book ‘Collection of Chaos’. I won a few twitter contests about crime writers and the prizes are awaited. More books to read. :) 

I also went chasing the scents of those who lived and dreamed in the city of Delhi. explored the tombs of Safdarjang, Mohammad Shah and Sikander Lodhi etc. I have a few more walks lined up for next few months. Some photo opportunities  and food trails to look forward to.  

The winter has finally crossed the threshold of Delhi like a shy new bride and this is the best time to enjoy the unbeatable delicacies of Old Delhi and bask under the winter sun in one of those fabulous gardens the city has.

You may just come across a group of young poets sharing their verses, sharing their views about their city and its history.  There is something about ruins and poetry that’s inseparable, winter just adds a veil of mystery to it.

Delhi becomes a flower girl in winter. The beautiful Gazania, Phlox, Cineraria, Salvia, Pansy, Candy tuft, Alysasum, Petunia, Gerbera, cosmos and many more are painting the city in myriad hues. The magnificent Dahlias are in full bloom too. Some trees that are adorning the city streets with their lovely blossoms are, Red Silk cotton,  kachnar, and the intoxicating Saptparni. The winter flower show is coming up next month and I am so looking forward to it.

Talking of flowers and poetry, while I wait for some submission results. two authors recently reviewed my two year old poetry book.

Vibhuti Bhandarkar is the author of ‘Not Totally Unbelievable‘ a collection of fantastic short stories about the mystical, magical and paranormal. She is also a blogger and an artist and has her own fashion label called YOLO By VIbz 

This is what she has to say about the book,

” Tikuli’s collection of poems are a deluge of emotions, each separate piece a heavier thought than before. Her words definitely come from a lifetime of myriad experiences and jarring observations, from changing times. From the little understanding that I have of poetic meters and such, Tikuli has ventured to utilise very different forms of poetry, and yet maintained her voice in it. She has given expression to a whirlwind of emotions and yet Tikuli manages to maintain order in the usage of correctly chosen words.

 

You can hop on to her blog for a complete review –  Krishmaklaver – Collection of Chaos – Book Review

The second review comes from the incredible Rhiti Bose. writer, blogger and the Editor-in-chief of  Incredible Women Of India . Her short stories have been published in an anthology named ‘An Atlas of Love’ by Rupa publications among other places.

Rhiti says,

“She plays with the words like a master craftsman, creating one masterpiece after another. The poems are mostly in free verse and Tikuli makes use of it suitably. Each poem has its own story to tell, there are not just mere verses depicting the abstract, each line has a meaning, every word has a tale hidden underneath.”

 

Do read the full review at Collection of Chaos by Tikuli – A Review  

 

I am also guest editing the upcoming March issue of Cafe Dissensus so do please SUBMIT your entries. The last date for submission is 28th Feb. Theme – ‘The Book That Made an Impact on You in 2015’ .

 

The book is available with all online book vendors. Do get your copy and hey, let me know your views too.

Meanwhile,

enjoy this little poem from the set published earlier in Cafe Dissensus,

rain pours like old jazz,

scribbles itself on roads that

shimmer like piano keys,

liquid notes cling to the

silhouettes of trees, the last train

leaves the station, taking with it

a sea of salt laced bodies, night

swallows the evening

Adhuure Alfaaz | अधूरे अलफ़ाज़


 

            परछाइयाँ

वीरां गुलिस्तां, उजड़े दरख़्त. खामोश परिंदे

अजनबी सी लगती हैं अब ये दर ओ दीवार,

बोझल साँसे, जिस्म सर्द, अल्फ़ाज़ नश्तर,

निगाहें अंगारे, बयाबान-ए-यास सब कटरे,

 मोहल्ले, चौखट, चौबारे, तंग गलियाँ,

वहशी सन्नाटे, बंद खिड़कियों मे गिरफ्ता

ख़ौफ़-ज़दा चेहरे, बे ख़्वाब, बेनूर हैं सारे नज़ारे,

फ़ज़ा-ए-ग़म में सिसकती है ख़ूँ-रेज़ रूह इस शहर की  

नफरतों की जंग ने जिसे रातों रात बेवा कर दिया

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ख़ुसरो तेरी तंग गलिओं की महक में उल्झा है यूँ दिल मेरा 
के अब तेरे दर पे आके ही होगी मुक़म्मल मेरी ये नज़्म-ए-ज़िन्दगी

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

एक अरसे से हूँ क़ैद इसी आईने में

अब तेरे अक्स में घुल जाऊं तो रिहा हो जाऊं

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

अक्स

उभरते हैं कुछ अक्स आईने में हर रोज़,

ताकते रहते हैं बेबस से खामोश दीवारों को,

धुंधले, कभी साफ़, कभी खोए खोये से

जैसे के हों किसी ख्वाब में तैरते कोई ख्वाब,

या किसी ना-मुकम्मल दास्ताँ

का इक़्तिबास, या फिर कोई चाह

असीर चंद लफ़्ज़ों में, वो राज़ ए निहाँ,

वो भूले से नग्मात, वो माशूक चेहरे

वो मख़मूर रातें, वो आबरू के दायरे,

वो मज़हब की कटारें, वो दाग़ – ऐे – तन्हाई

वो गिरहें, जाल फरेब निगाहें, वो ख़्वाब

जिनकी ग़ैर-मुमकिन थी तकमील, इन्हीं

अक्सों के सियह सायों में रेज़ा रेज़ा मेरा भी

अक्स  डोलता है बंजारा सा,  बे रंग, बे नूर,

आइना गिरफ़्त सदियों से

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

अधूरे अलफ़ाज़

मुफ़लिसी ऐसी के ग़म भी लेने पड़े उधार
क्या कहेँ किस क़दर क़र्ज़ में डूबा है
गुलशन का कारोबार

आलम ये है के महफिलें अधूरी पल अधूरे अधूरे से सब अल्फाज़
सुकूं अधूरा वफा अधूरी सितम् अधूरे शिक़वे अधूरे अधूरे हैं हर साज़
तमन्ना अधुरी अरमां अधूरे गीत अधूरे रह गयी अधूरी शौक़ मुलाक़ात की रात
रहने दो क्या बताएं हाल दिल तुमको मेरे दिलबर मेरे ग़मगुसार
खामोशी तुम समझोगे नहीं और बयां हमसे होगा नहीं

Shakshuka – Poached Eggs In Fiery Tomato Sauce


Gently poached eggs  on a spicy flavourful and rich tomato-red bell pepper sauce tempered with middle eastern spices eaten with toasty bread is one of the best dishes you can ever have. The furiously smoky red hot spicy sauce, the tender eggs and the aromatic herbs, the subtle taste of cheese (feta preferably but Parmesan tastes good too)

It is versatile and full of nutrition. Add your choice of veggies or meat to it to make it more delicious. I would recommend ham or bacon, eggplant, baked potatoes or sweet corn but the simple Shakshuka actually does not need any of it.

Essentially a breakfast dish you can have shakshuka any time of the day. You can prepare the sauce ahead and use it later too. You can bake it or just make in an open skillet as per your liking. Originally a North African (Tunishian)  dish, Shakshula is widely eaten all over Israel, Algeria, Morrocco, and other places. Though there are many variations, it tastes good whichever way you make it. The origins are debatable but the dish is undoubtedly out of the world.

If you have a Challah bread then the classic Shakshula is THE thing to eat with it. Use the bread to mop up all the juices from the sauce. Shakshuka is also called “Eggs from hell” and now you must have guess why we love it so much :D

A large Iron skillet is the best to make and serve  Shakshuka but you can use a cast iron one or a sauce pan too.

IM

 

To make Shakshuka you will need :

Ingredients:

Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons

Onion – 1 large thinly sliced or chopped

Garlic – 3 cloves minced or finely chopped

Tomatoes – 8 large finely chopped ripe plum tomatoes or 1 can of whole plum tomatoes with juice

Tomato Paste – 4 tablespoon

Sweet bell peppers – Red and Yellow (I each – seeded / chopped finely or sliced thin)

Salt – to taste (you can use kosher salt)

Ground cumin – 1 teaspoon

Black peppercorn – freshly ground (to taste)

3-4 Eggs ( Or as many as can fit nicely in the skillet)

Cilantro/ coriander – chopped fine (for garnish)

Sweet paprika- 1/2 teaspoon

Jalapeno / cayenne pepper or  green chili (optional & according to taste)

Fresh sweet corn (boiled) – 4 tablespoon

Sugar- 1 teaspoon

Fresh Basil/parsley (optional) – 1 teaspoon

Feta/Parmesan or any other cheese you like

Bay leaf – 1 ( I like the taste with tomatoes)

You can add sausages, ham, bacon if you wish. Vegetarians can add eggplant, corn etc.

Method –

Take a large wide iron skillet or any other saucepan. Keep that apron on as the  sauce has a tendency to sputter. It can be messy as hell :D

In a iron skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add onion and saute till translucent.

Add bell peppers and jalapenos (if using). Cook them on low-medium heat till they are tender.

Add garlic and tomatoes. Be careful and gentle while pouring the canned tomatoes.

Stir in sugar and other spices. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If using sausages, bacon etc, add it now and stir.

Add basil/parsley if using.

Keep the suace on low heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Slow cooking helps the flavours to come out well. The sauce should be flavourful and  have thick stew like consistency, the vegetables should be soft and sweet. You can add a little water , tomato paste , white wine or broth to acquire the right consistency. Taste it after the tomatoes have cooked and adjust whatever more is required.

Once the sauce is nicely done, press the feta cubes into the sauce or add grated parmesan and stir.

You can freeze this sauce for later use too but if you want to use it now and wish to finish the Shakshula on the stovetop then, make 3-4 indention in the sauce and gently crack one egg in each. Keep the heat low or the eggs would scramble.

There are various ways to eat the eggs in shakshuka. I like the runny yolk but you can scramble them in too. Sprinkle a bit of freshly ground pepper and salt on each egg.  Spread the egg white gently over the sauce so that it mingles with it but be careful not to break the yolk.Baste the egg whites with some sauce. Cover the skillet and let it set. Cook till the whites are no longer translucent and the eggs are done to your liking. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro /coriander  and sweet corn. Serve with hunks of bread. Usually sakshuka is served in the skillet itself.

You can sprinkle the cheese on top of  of the dish and bake it in oven too.  For this preheat the oven to 180 degrees and bake for 10-20 min till the eggs are done.

 

Enjoy this wholesome dish any time of the day. By the way, it is a perfect paleo dish too.

 

Bon Appetit