Gulkand

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Posted by Manisha Pandit

It's no secret that I am a lazy gardener. I prefer to let wildflowers and native grasses rule my yard than spend hours tending to specialty flowers and plants. The few plants that I have brought into my yard are drought-resistant. My neighbor cultivates roses. He has blossoms of various colors on the same bush. Me? I love the wild rose, Rosa woodsii.


It's a treat to see this wild rose in bloom as it lasts for just a day. If I could, I would have a thicket of wild roses to line my property but wilder things would leap over it, so I have abstained from taking it on. I do have a bush of hardy climbing roses that refuses to die. When it didn't bloom one year, I was rather thrilled because I had other plan(t)s for the coveted spot it is in, but it bounced back the following year and blooms profusely late spring through early summer.


If I hadn't been consumed by bed bug bites during late spring last year, I might have noticed my climbing rose bush. This year, I did take notice: the flowers are small but they do have a pleasant fragrance. That, to my mind, translates into essential oils even though this is no damask rose. I figured that these roses might have at least some of the 300 compounds reported to be found in rose oil.

While roses are generally not used in western cuisine, their culinary history can be traced back to Persia. Roses are used as flavoring agents in Middle Eastern as well as Indian cooking. Since I do not have the wherewithal to make rose water or extract rose oil, I decided to do the next best thing: make Gulkand in the sun, now that we have a respite from the incessant rains we have seen this spring. Gulkand is often referred to as rose petal jam but let's please just call it gulkand (Gul-kundh) - gul for rose and kand for sweet.

My first task was to deadhead the bush. Once I had that out of the way, I took stock of the number of buds on the bush to make sure that I would have enough petals to justify making gulkand. Just opened blooms are best for gulkand so it's worth the effort to wake up early to pluck the flowers off the bush.

Remove the petals gently, discarding petals that may be disfigured, have holes or appear to be eaten by insects. Also, discard the rest of the flower. Inspect closely to make sure there are no insects or other creatures that might inadvertently make it into your gulkand, making it not so vegetarian.

Wash the petals several times and lay them out on a wad of paper towels. There is no need to pat them dry as any residual water will simply aid in making the sugar syrup.


In an wide-mouthed jar, make layers of rose petals and sugar, pressing down with a spoon every so often and finishing off with a layer of sugar at the very top. Since my flowers were small, I arrived at the following estimate for a recipe:
3-4 cups of rose petals
3/4 to 1 cup of organic sugar
3 cloves (optional)
seeds of 1 cardamom (optional)

I like the hint of spices in my gulkand so I added cloves and cardamom. Allow this to cook in the sun for at least two weeks. Open it up every other day, not just to get a whiff of the heady fragrance, but to mix it up, too.


This little jar was overflowing when I put the lid on it. It whittled down to just about an inch thick in less than a day. I made two more jars of the same quantity and after a week of being in the sun, I combined them all into this same jar. It's been just over a week and I will update this post with a picture of gulkand as soon as it is ready. Until then, take a look at Anita's Gulkand.

If you have roses that have not been sprayed - please do not use store-bought roses unless you know they are organic and safe for consumption - do give this a try. It's great as a summer activity for kids, too. Which kid doesn't like ripping petals off flowers? They can also take the responsibility for putting the jar out in the sun and bringing it in every day.

Gulkand is supposed to have cooling properties and is best consumed in summer. And, supposedly a host of other benefits for the entire body. My parents sourced the purest and best gulkand for me to help cool my highly myopic eyes and perhaps even deter what genetics had in store for me. I can't say that it worked but I do know that unlike those awful Threptin biscuits that I launched off an 11th floor balcony or that terrible tasting Chyawanprash that followed a trajectory to the ledge under my bedroom window, gulkand made its way safely to my stomach with the spoon being licked clean each time!


This post was written by Manisha

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A world outside of mozzarella & pepperoni

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Posted by Antonio Tahhan

A simple google search for kid-friendly recipes is scary. What shows up, in fact, is a harrowing slew of butter-saturated, sugar-filled recipes written with a complete disregard for health. I discovered this last week because I was looking for just that - simple recipes that I can make with kids.

My friend Beth invited me to cook in front of a class of kindergarten students. Her son is in the class and they were looking for someone to do a cooking demo for the kids' end of the year party - I was flattered that they thought of me and happily accepted.

I took this as my tiny opportunity to make a difference in the way these kids looked at food. While this was not the time to introduce them to the delicate flavors of perfectly-seared scallops or steak tartare, I wanted to cook with them something they're familiar with, but probably never had before. I decided to let them make their own pizzas. Instead of just mozzarella and pepperoni though, I brought with me a ton of different vegetables and all sorts of sauces for them to experiment with. Well-aware of the fact that the kids will have a short attention span that rivals mine, I also brought with me my pizza paddle and pizza stone so they could take turns sliding their pizzas into the oven.




This is my first article for The Daily Tiffin, and it couldn't have come at a better time. Inspired by my pizza event last week and the smoldering heat of the summer, I decided to make a lemon-infused, goat ricotta, white pizza topped with thinly sliced zucchini. The flavors are light, refreshing, clean - perfect for the hot summer days ahead.



Count them - four ingredients; five if you include the extra virgin olive oil. This means no skimping on ingredients! I tried this same pizza with regular ricotta and it doesn't work. The wow factor just wasn't there. If you absolutely cannot find goat-milk ricotta, however, not to worry. Mix a semi-firm chevre (like Spanish Capricho de Cabra) with some good quality, fresh ricotta and you'll get a similar result. Like I said, it won't be spot-on, but you'll get pretty darn close.



The lemon zest in the ricotta serves two purposes. Not only does it heighten the flavors of the goat cheese, but it also gives the pizza a clean, crisp flavor. If you can get organic lemons, I recommend them because their zest tends to be more flavorful than their non-organic buddies.



Zucchini in general has lots of moisture and moisture is the kryptonite, so to speak, of pizza. To remove some of this excess moisture you'll want to thinly slice the zucchini (preferably with a mandoline) and fan the slices out on a plate so they're not on top of each other. Then season the slices with salt and pepper and the salt will start to break down the cell walls of the zucchini, and thus allowing it to give up some of that moisture. Soak it up with a paper towel and your ready to roll.



The kids were shocked when I hinted to the idea of a pizza without red sauce. Their facial expressions were absolutely priceless. And although not many ventured down this path, I feel like those that did may have a bright culinary future ahead of them.



Recipe:
Ingredients:


  • 24 oz. pizza dough

  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 lb goat milk ricotta

  • zest of 1-2 lemons

  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced

  • salt and pepper, to taste


Putting Them all Together:

  1. Zest the lemon(s) and stir the zest into the goat ricotta

  2. Thinly slice the zucchini (preferably with a mandoline), fan out on a plate, season with salt and pepper, and cover with a paper towel to soak up some of the moisture.

  3. Stretch pizza dough to approx 1/8" thickness - this pizza is better thin than thick - and brush a thin coat of olive oil over the top.

  4. Spread the goat cheese mixture over the top and top with the thin slices of zucchini.

  5. Preferably bake on a hot (550 degrees F) pizza stone for 5-7 minutes or until the crust gets golden brown.




This is why everyone should invest in a pizza stone:











This post was written by Tony



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Happy Father's Day!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Posted by Mansi

Happy Father's Day to all the readers of The Daily Tiffin!

It's one of those holiday weekends in US where it has become a norm to celebrate special "days", mostly to help the economy and gift- stores. However, I was a bit surprised to read the history behind the origin of Father's Day.

According to this source, Mrs. John B. Dodd, of Washington, first proposed the idea of a "father's day" in 1909. Mrs. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart. William Smart, a Civil War veteran, was widowed when his wife (Mrs. Dodd's mother) died in childbirth with their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself on a rural farm in eastern Washington state. It was after Mrs. Dodd became an adult that she realized the strength and selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent.

This story proves that a father's role is as important as a mother's in the life of a child, and even if Mothers have a higher involvement in their lives, the presence and effect a father's influence can never be ignored or underestimated!

In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of celebrating Father's Day nationally, and in 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation officially declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father's Day.

I'm not a great fan of celebrating all the different kinds of "Days" that have become an excuse for unwarranted gift-giving. But I do agree that some of these have a genuine message or purpose; they make you sit back and appreciate the significance of an event or a person in your life. However, it does NOT mean that you can ignore that person for the remainder of the year, or express Fake love or caring just on that one day, it does provide you an opportunity to plan something ahead and do something special, just because its hard to find time for things like these in normal day-to-day lives.

Whether you believe in this concept or not, is totally your choice. But I feel celebrating Mother's Day and Father's Day is a nice way to inculcate love and respect for a parent in a young child's mind. Just involve your kids in doing something together as a family, and they'll appreciate the fact that he is lucky to have a mom and dad who care for each other; it makes the kids feel more loved and secure, and will eventually help them be more empathic and emotional toward other relationships.

I would like to cite here President Obama's Father's Day Letter to the fathers of the world. In his own words, he says: In many ways, I came to understand the importance of fatherhood through its absence," says Obama, who was 2 when his father left. "I came to understand that the hole a man leaves when he abandons his responsibility to his children is one that no government can fill."

So, here's wishing a Very Happy Father's Day to all the dads in this world from the DT team, because all of you are doing a tremendous job out there, taking care of your kids and families. And though your children may not always tell you this, be sure to believe that you are very important to them, and NO ONE but you, can ever take your place!




This post was written by Mansi

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Vegetarian Pyramid Series - Couscous

Monday, June 15, 2009

Posted by DK

“Eating Balanced Meal is everything” - How many times have we heard this? But for a full time working woman, making a meal 3 times a day is big deal by itself – leave alone making it ‘Balanced’!! So does that mean we get slack about eating a healthy meal – of course not. What we can do is to make sure that we incorporate ingredients in such a way that not only they are fast to make, but also easy, delicious and nutritious too! “Awe come on, you got to be Kidding me!” I hear ya, but it’s true that indeed you can.

The vegetarian Pyramid Series that’s been going on for past few months is going to showcase one such ingredient today – Couscous! When the hard wheat is ground, it leaves few granules which resisted grounding which is what we call semolina. This is actually the endosperm of wheat which has proteins, mineral salt and also floury mass which is what constitutes the making of Pasta.

Although the term ‘couscous’ also refers to a cooking method, I am just going to focus on Couscous instead.Although the original couscous (called as Rolling Couscous) takes longer and requires more prep work to cook, nowadays the ones available are pre-steamed and hence reduces the cooking time drastically.


Image source : acornadvisors.com

From my research, I have come to believe that there 3 main types of couscous available.

Moroccan couscous:

This is probably what you would find most often in your shop aisles. These are commonly available and are tiny yellow semolina pasta. All you have to do is to boil sufficient amount of water, turn off the flame, add the couscous and let it sit for 10 minutes with the lid on. The couscous is done when all the water is absorbed and all you have to do is to fluff it with a fork and serve! Wasn’t that easy? Innumerable have been the times when I have just boiled some vegetable stock, added few frozen vegetables along with couscous – a little bit of seasoning and tada! Lunch/Dinner is ready.

Check out a yummy Moroccan Tagine with Couscous



I also find a Whole Wheat couscous variety which is lightly brown in color and cooks the same way as the regular yellow couscous. There is not much of a difference in taste.

Israeli Couscous:

This variety takes a little longer to cook than the Moroccan variety, but I have come to like it way lot than the former. It has more chewy texture to it which I love. These are larger than the Moroccan type, beige white in color, about the size of peppercorns



Colorful, filling and delicious Israeli Couscous Recipe




Lebanese couscous:

This is the largest of all couscous types. I have personally not been able to get my hands on them, but they are supposedly the size of small peas. The cooking process, naturally, is longer then the usual couscous and is more suited for cooking like the way you would do for Risotto.

Note: Make sure whether you have bought the traditional or instant type of Couscous. The traditional couscous takes a longer cooking time, where it is originally steamed in a specialized steamer called as “couscoussiére.”

Health Benefits: It is immensely low in fat and is enhanced with complex carbs. It is rich in dietary fiber, protein, potassium etc

This post was written by Dhivya


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Summer Fruits: Blueberries

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Posted by Andrea Meyers

Andrea's Recipes - Blueberries

Summer wouldn’t be the same without some of our favorite fruits, and blueberries are at the top of the list. Though native to northeastern parts of North America, they are now grown in many parts of North America and in other countries around the world. Blueberries typically fall into two categories: highbush, which can grow as much as 4 meters tall; and lowbush (aka “wild”), which typically grow just 35 centimeters tall or less, but can grow as tall as 60 centimeters. The various species produce fruit at different times in the season, and are thus categorized as early, mid-season, or late.

Early fruits start arriving in the United States in mid-May, so blueberries are already in the markets and grocery stores. We planted six blueberry bushes this spring with harvest times spread all across the season in hopes of having blueberries throughout the summer. It takes a few years before the bushes produce fruit and you have to protect them from birds and other animals, which enjoy the berries as much as people do. The fruits can be used in a wide variety of ways, including preserves, baked goods, frozen desserts, sauces, yogurt, beverages, or just enjoyed out of hand.

In recent years blueberries have received recognition as an important food for good nutrition. Both lowbush and highbush blueberries are rich in vitamins and cancer-fighting antioxidants, and studies conducted by the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center have shown benefits in the fight against chronic disease and reversal of short-term memory loss associated with Alzheimer's as well as the loss of motors skills with age. Recent studies even demonstrate a link between blueberry consumption and improved blood pressure, lowered cholesterol, and total lipid levels.

So go ahead, treat yourself to the the taste and health benefits of blueberries while they are in season, and if it’s hot where you are you can try this berry sorbet made with blueberries, raspberries, and marionberries.

THREE BERRY SORBET

Sorbet_three_berry4

Makes about 1 quart.

Equipment

medium saucepan
blender
fine mesh strainer
1 to 2 quart bowl with lid (or plastic wrap)
ice cream freezer

Ingredients

1 cup (175 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound (~900 g) blueberries, rinsed and patted dry
8 ounces (~450 g) raspberries, rinsed and patted dry
8 ounces (~450 g) marionberries (or other blackberries), rinsed and patted dry
1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preparation

1. In the saucepan combine the sugar, water, and salt. Cook over medium heat until completely dissolved. Let cool for 15 minutes.

2. In the blender, purée the berries with the syrup and lemon juice until very smooth. Press the mixture through the strainer to remove the skins and seeds. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

3. Churn in an ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer's directions.

References

Wikipedia – Blueberries

Wild Blueberry Association of North America

US Highbush Blueberry Council


This post was written by Andrea

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GYO - May # 28 Round up

Monday, June 01, 2009

Posted by Dee




Thanks to all the participants who have sent delicious , mouthwatering entries to this unique event . We have very interesting recipes to share with all. I have bookmarked my favorites too :) Thanks Andrea for giving us the wonderful opportunity to host this event.

Here are entries in random order . Do check the album to see the mouth watering delicacies.

Green is my Valley's Garden Bounty Shrimp Ceviches

Everything's Herbed 's Burrong Mangga ( Pickled Mangoes)

Allotment 2 Kitchen's Forced Rhubarb Cheese cake

Standing Straight's Duck Confit in white wine reduction


Recession Recipes' Quinoa salad

Less sugar Please's Spinach Ambat

Chocolate & Croisssants' Tomato Salad

Andrea's Recipes' Lemon thyme Sorbet

Masala Heaven's Baingan Masala

Kitchen Gadget Girl's French Breakfast radish Appetizers

Evening Shade Morning latte's Herb Butter roast Turkey and Zucchini Bread


Erbe in Cucina's Flower's Tea


Taste Food's Scallop Cilantro Gremolata

Kitchen Therapy's Chive on Fish

Salt and Pepper's Salad Greens

Eating Drinking and other Adventure's Quick Stir Fried Peas

Gustoso's Baba Ghanoush

Green is my Valley's Tartines

Playing House's Parmesan Chive Crackers

Evening shade Morning Latte's Garden herb Bread


Here is it folks ! and I hope you guys have a great week ahead! if I have missed out any entry, please leave a note in the comment section or email us , I will look into it .





This post was written by Dee



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