Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


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Do you like chutney?

Hubby Chris introduced me to Indian food and I love it, especially curries and chutney.
Chutney is an Indian condiment made with fruit and spices that’s great with any type of dish.

I love chutney! If I could, I’d eat chutney and salsa everyday with everything. I’ve made tomato and pineapple chutneys in the past.

On Wednesday, I made a tomato-onion chutney with aromatic chicken curry and rice from “Best Ever Indian Cookbook,” by Mridula Baljekar, Rafi Fernandez, Shehzad Husain and Manisha Kanani. I love this cookbook and recommend it to anyone interested in dabbling in Indian cooking.
The chicken curry had tomatoes and broccoli and several spices, and I cooked the rice in chicken stock.
For the chutney, I didn’t have fresh tomatoes on hand so I used two cans of diced tomatoes. I did have an onion, but didn’t feel like peeling it (lazy!) so I used onion flakes instead. Here’s the recipe:
Fresh Tomato and Onion Chutney
Ingredients:
8 tomatoes, quartered
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. garam masala (found in the spice aisle)
1 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 cup malt vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. honey

1. Place the tomatoes and onion into a heavy pan.
2. Add sugar, garam masala, ginger, vinegar, salt and honey. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes.
3. Mash the tomatoes with a fork to break them up. Continue to cook on slightly warmer heat until chutney thickens.

Most Indian restaurants that I’ve visited usually serve a mint or other type of chutney with naan, a flat, leavened Indian bread. I haven’t attempted to make naan yet because it requires rolling it flat, baking it and then finishing it off under a broiler. (Again, lazy.)

I have, however, made chapatis, another Indian bread that is unleavened and is cooked on the stovetop. Here’s the recipe from “Best Ever Indian Cookbook:”

Chapatis

Ingredients:
2 cups chapati flour or ground whole-wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup water


1. Mix all ingredients together. Knead for 7-10 minutes.
2. (Can let dough sit for 15-20 minutes if you want. I didn’t.) Divide dough into 8 to 10 portions. Roll out each into a circle on floured surface.
3. Place a skillet (or griddle) over high heat. When hot (steaming or when water quickly evaporates when you sprinkle it on the surface), lower to medium heat and add chapati(s) to pan.
4. When chapati(s) begins to bubble and is brown, turn it over and press down to flatten and cook on the other side.

If you enjoy these recipes, check out “Best Ever Indian Cookbook” or other books by the authors.

If you look for another Indian cookbook, I recommend finding one that you know you’ll use. Don’t buy one that gives measurements in metrics if you don’t want to do math every time you want to cook a recipe.

I also like how “Best Ever Indian Cookbook” provides several basic recipes so you can make things from scratch if you can’t find them in local stores, helpful if you don’t live in a metropolitan area. That might be a feature to look for. Some recipes “Best Ever Indian Cookbook” provides are paneer (a cheese), curry paste, coconut milk, tikka paste and garam masala mix.


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Crackers!

Using Bill Neal’s “Biscuits, Spoonbread, and Sweet Potato Pie,” I poked my toe into the world of cracker-making.


Yep. Crackers. Didn’t know you could make ’em? That’s the same thing a colleague said to me when I told her I made some crackers the other week.

I’ve always wondered what dough was used to make crackers and how they were baked, etc. Turns out, it’s just biscuit dough, rolled to wafer thin.

In Neal’s book I found recipes for two types of crackers — one used with the old fashioned Southern biscuit dough (note — lots of beating involved) and the more modern biscuit flour that uses baking powder. I tried both.

The first batch weren’t too bad, but I wasn’t that impressed either. Neal literally tells the reader to find a rolling pin, broken broom end or hammer to knead/beat the dough for 15 minutes, no less. I got tired and gave up after 7 minutes of beating. I spent the last 8 minutes catching my breath and rolling out the dough for the crackers.

I didn’t add any additional toppings, such as salt, to the crackers. Just baked them for the 5-7 minutes. They seemed to be too biscuit like and didn’t have a lot of taste like store bought crackers. I assumed that I didn’t roll the crackers out thin enough and should have added salt. And with all that beating, they just weren’t worth it.

The second batch was easier. I used scrap dough from some biscuits I made over the weekend. I also made sure to prick the cut out crackers with a fork a few times (which I was supposed to do the first time, but forgot to do) and sprinkled a little salt on top. These turned out much better and reminded me more of crackers you’d expect to find in a store or restaurant.

This batch was thin, crisp and had just enough taste (salt).

I also had a little accident in the kitchen this weekend that nearly drove me to tears.

After baking a couple loaves of bread, I placed them on wire racks on the table to cool. Thinking myself wise, I placed a kitchen towel under the racks to catch any crumbs.

Instead this somehow was not a good idea. I caused heat and/or water damage to my antique table and I don’t know how.
See those white angel wings? That’s not the flash of the camera or a trick of the light. That’s damage from the steam and heat of the bread. Arrrrrggggghhhhhh!

Hubby thinks a little sanding and refinishing will take care of the problem. But that still doesn’t make me feel any better. 😦

From now on, all baked goods will cool on the counter!


Isabella Amaya’s gift

I cohosted a baby shower for a friend Nov. 16. Everything turned out great, but I couldn’t have done it without the help of my cohost, Katy, and two other people.
As promised, here’s a picture of the blanket and hat I made for the soon-to-arrive bundle of joy, Isabella Amaya.
The pattern is from Debbie Stoller’s Stitch ‘N Bitch: The Happy Hooker. It’s a wonderful crochet book for beginners and I recommend it to knitters and beginning crocheter’s alike.
Seen here is Isabella’s parents, Alice and Brian. Congrats, you two!