milk

Pawpaw Kulfi

Kulfi is a velvety-rich milk dessert, and I will always remember pista (pistachio) kulfi, sold at the 100-year-old Irani creamery in Mumbai, for its vivid green color and dense consistency. Churned ice cream has air pockets that create fluffy lightness; but in kulfi,  reduced milk produces an impenetrable creamy thickness. Plain milk (malai) or pistachio are the two most common flavors, but you’ll usually see mango kulfi during the short season of the prized Alphonso mango — as everybody tries to extend the flavor of this fast-ripening fruit. When I was given a pawpaw at Ferderber Farms in Pennsylvania, the farmer’s wife pointed out its similarity to two tropical fruits of my childhood, mango and custard apple. The pawpaw also shares a small window of time when the fruit is at its best, and I created a pawpaw kulfi to prolong this summer treat.

Native to Pennsylvania and the Eastern part of the country, pawpaw has floral notes and a green outer skin that is like that of a mango. The pale silk-colored flesh, complete with several large black seeds that neatly run through its middle, is similar to custard apple. Pawpaw is an ancient fruit tree, although it has been less popular for awhile. However, if you are in the Pennsylvania area, keep an eye out for this fruit.: Pawpaw is delicious on its own, and can also be substituted in any recipe that uses mango.

Pawpaw Kulfi

Whole milk – 2 cups

Evaporated milk – 1½ cup

Condensed milk – ¼ cup

Cardamom pods – 3

Pawpaw – 1, peeled, flesh mashed

Unsalted pistachio nuts – crushed for decoration

  • Add the milk and evaporated milk to a cast iron pan. Bring to a boil, and then immediately lower the heat to simmer. Stir continuously for the next five minutes. Fold in any milky film that forms on the surface.
  • Add the condensed milk and the cardamom pods. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring continuously. The milk will thicken as it reduces in volume.
  • Remove from heat.
  • While the milk is still hot, add the mashed pawpaw, stirring until well incorporated.
  • Discard the cardamom pods.
  • Let the kulfi cool to room temperature.
  • Once cooled, pour the kulfi into small individual glass cups or molds and cover with aluminum foil. Alternatively, pour into a large stainless steel container with a lid. Freeze for about eight hours.
  • When ready to serve, dip the individual moulds into hot water, allowing the hot water to come up the sides and loosen the kulfi from the mold. Serve immediately.
  • Decorate with pistachio slivers.

 

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Coffee With Chicory


I confess that I am a coffee addict, and I hold family genes responsible for my chicory-flavored coffee cravings. Chicory is a root that adds the noticeable tang to medium roasted South Indian coffee. A member of the dandelion-family, the root was once used to stretch coffee rations in Asia and Europe. South Indians continue to mix chicory with coffee beans for the distinctive peppery flavor that it provides, but I’ve also ordered a cup of the blend in cafes in New Orleans. When coffee and milk are frothed together, the foam brings to the forefront both the aroma and flavor of chicory.

Long before machines gurgled and hissed out steaming milk, a frothy cup of coffee was achieved simply. All that is required are two separate tumblers, one with fresh filtered coffee and another with hot milk (often mixed with sugar). The hot milk is directly poured into the brewed coffee, starting with the vessels two inches apart and deftly raising one of the tumblers up to and approximately an arms’ length height. This introduces aeration and forms the distinctive top layer of bubbles. This method of producing a foamy cup is still practiced in everyday tea and coffee houses all over India.

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Trending Now: Turmeric

Turmeric is an ancient spice, used in both Indian and Chinese medicines, as well as in everyday cooking. When peeled, the fresh gnarled ginger-like rhizome (underground stem) reveals a bright orange flesh. When the fresh turmeric is dried and crushed, the spice powder adds a distinctive warm hue to a dish. The curcumin compound in turmeric is responsible for color, and is one of the ingredients sought after for its powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. Turmeric is used in Indian and Asian cooking for exactly these reasons: to heal as well as to protect against possible spoilages, especially for meat. Turmeric is having its moment again, and trending now as a super food in the form of Golden Milk (or Golden Tea) and as supplements.

Golden Milk is a coconut milk-based drink, spiced with turmeric, cinnamon, and pepper. The tea is one of the many ways to add turmeric into a diet, and is especially powerful when combined with ingredients that boost the immune system. In Indian cooking, turmeric is always cooked in oil or ghee, along with other spices. When cooked in some fat, turmeric’s peppery aromatics are released while the raw bitter flavor mellows. Cinnamon, pepper, and ginger are also known as spices that fight against cold and sore throat, and this turmeric drink makes for a wonderful antidote to the cold weather.

Golden Milk (Golden Tea)

Vegetable oil – ½ tsp

Turmeric powder – ¼ -½ tsp

Ginger – 1-inch piece cut into slivers

Peppercorns – 4-5

Cinnamon – 1 stick

Coconut milk (unsweetened and light) – 1 cup

  • Heat oil in a small wok or pan.
  • Add ginger and sauté for a minute, or until aromatic flavors are released.
  • Add the turmeric, peppercorns, and cinnamon. Stir-fry for 30 seconds.
  • Warm (do not boil) the coconut milk separately.
  • Add the spice mixture to the milk and let them steep for about 10 minutes. Remove whole spices, if desired, before drinking.

 

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Suggested Daily Uses For Turmeric:

Salads: Add turmeric to make a salad dressing. Warm olive oil, and stir-fry a ¼ tsp of turmeric along with shallots or onions. Add red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix together.

Fresh Vegetables and Lentils: Add turmeric to the vegetable oil used to sauté onions and pepper and mix the spiced oil with vegetables and cooked lentils.

Eggs: Add mustard (color in mustard comes from turmeric) or turmeric to the hot oil before eggs are scrambled.

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Note: Keeping up with current trends, please check out my recipes on Pinterest and Yummly.

 

 

 

Trifle In October: National Dessert Month

Two of my friends recently shared memories of a dessert that both their mothers had made – a combination of Jell-O, Cool Whip, marshmallows, and canned fruit. They both acknowledged that they wouldn’t make the dessert because of the many processed ingredients, but they still savored the memory. Like most comfort food, the ingredients are a combination of all that is no longer popular, yet together comprise textures and flavors that stay with us forever. My friends’ conversation reminded me of another delicious dessert that had some of the aforementioned unfashionable ingredients.

As October 1 is designated as start of dessert season, it was the time to start with a classic. Trifle is my husband’s favorite pudding from the many years he spent in the U.K.. Without the traditional English ladyfingers and Bird’s Eye custard that are not readily available in the US, I had to tinker with the ingredients. Dessert, after all, should always take us to a happy place. Have an indulgent month!

Trifle

Pound cake – ½ loaf, cut to fit the base and sides of a bowl

Port (or sherry) – 4-5 tbsp. (enough to soak the cake)

Mixed fruit cocktail – 15 oz. can

Strawberries, Raspberries, grapes – 1 cup

Strawberry Jell-O – 6oz packet

Whole Milk – 1 pint

Egg yolks – 4

Sugar – 2 tbsp

Vanilla essence – ½ tsp

Whipping Cream – ½ pt, whipped until it forms firm peaks

  • Use the fruit syrup replacing some of the water needed to prepare the Jell-O according to the instructions on the packet.
  • Cut the fresh fruits into small chunks and mix in with the mixed fruit cocktail.
  • Layer the bottom and sides of the glass bowl with pieces of cake.
  • Pour the port over the cake, making sure all of the pieces are soaked through.
  • Add the fruits on top of the cake.
  • Pour the Jell-O over the fruits and cake. Once cool, refrigerate until the Jell-O is set.
  • Meanwhile, mix the eggs, sugar, and essence together in a bowl.
  • Heat the milk in a pan the milk to just before it starts to boil. Remove from heat.
  • Take a tablespoon of the hot milk and add it to the egg and sugar mixture. Mix. Keep adding a few tablespoons of milk at a time, until the egg-sugar mixture is warm (this is to avoid curdling). Add the egg and milk mixture back into the pan containing milk. On low heat, continue to cook (about 15-18 minutes). The custard is ready when it is thick and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Cool.
  • Pour over the set jelly.
  • Spoon the whipped cream over the custard.
  • Decorate with sliced fruits.

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Milk And Cookies

When I was young, my cousins and I would help ourselves to milk powder that was stored in the pantry for our baby cousin S. Milk powder had a fresh breadcrumb texture that dissolved to a creamy, slightly sweet, doughy taste at the back of your mouth, and made it a peculiarly addictive snack. Despite the many lectures, since milk powder was prohibitively expensive in those days, we couldn’t stop ourselves! Recently, I came across a great cookie recipe that uses milk powder to add both chewiness and that silky rich taste of the milk solids.

Christina Tosi, baker at Momofuku Milk Bar compares the taste of milk powder to MSG – it makes everything taste better without adding a detectable taste of its own in the final product. Milk powder didn’t taste as good as it did in my memory, but when added to a mixture of flour, white chocolate chips, and dried red chilies, the resulting chocolate chip cookie is both grown up and strangely comforting.

White-Hot Chocolate Cookies

Adapted from Christina Tosi’s milk chocolate chip recipe

Unsalted Butter – 2 sticks (225g), melted

Egg – 1

Flour – 1½ cup

Milk powder – 3 tbsp

Light brown sugar – 1 cup

Salt – 1 tsp

Baking soda – ¼ tsp

Baking powder – ½ tsp

Dried red chili – 4, deseeded and skins cut into tiny slivers

White chocolate chips – 6 oz

  • Heat the oven to 375°F.
  • Sift the flour and add to it the milk powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Mix the melted butter and sugar in a bowl.
  • Add the egg and continue to blend into the mixture.
  • Add the flour mixture to the butter and egg mixture, and mix until everything is well combined.
  • Add the chili and chocolate chips. Mix.
  • On a parchment-lined cookie pan, add two tablespoons of the cookie dough at a time, leaving sufficient space between them.
  • Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges turn brown.
  • Makes about 20 wafer-thin cookies.

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Bubble Tea

Sipping what was then a novelty in New York City’s Chinatown, my first impression of bubble tea was its resemblance to an ingredient from my childhood. The jelly-like bubbles, resembling frog eggs, came up through the straw along with the perfect amount of sweetened tea. In the Indian drink, falooda, the taste of the black pearl-shaped bubbles is camouflaged by ice cream and rose syrup, but in bubble tea, the texture and taste of larger tapioca pearls are up-front and center.

Tapioca pearls are made from cassava root, and swell up when boiled in water. The swollen pearl has a firm core, and they look very similar to bubbles of eggs in ponds, tucked under leaves and algae. Used in both sweet and savory dishes, tapioca pearls have a teeny bite to the otherwise smooth jelly-like consistency.

Bubble tea, often called pearl tea or Boba tea, started out as a simple concoction of black tea, sweetened milk, and small tapioca pearls. However, it is now available with flavorings of honey, fruit juice, and bigger “boba’ pearls. As A. and N. are more familiar with the modern version of bubble tea, I wanted them to experience the less sweet version.

Bubble Tea

Boba (dried tapioca pearls) – ¼ cup

Tea bags –1-2 (depending on strength)

Sugar – ¼ cup

Condensed Milk – ¼ cup

Regular Milk – ¼ cup

Fruit juice or honey – optional

  • Boil 2 cups of water
  • Add the dried tapioca pearls. Cook until soft (from 5-15 minutes depending on their size).
  • Drain using a fine colander, so that the pearls don’t drain through. Let the softened tapioca pearls cool.
  • Boil ¼ cup water. Add sugar and mix until you have a simple syrup or sugar solution.
  • Pour the syrup over the cooked pearls. Refrigerate.
  • Bring 1 cup of water to boil. Add the tea bag (s) to make a strong tea. Let the bags steep for 5 minutes. Discard the tea bags. Refrigerate the tea.
  • When ready to serve, add boba pearls to the cold tea.
  • Add milk, condensed milk, and simple syrup. Adjust according to your sweet tooth.
  • Shake the entire mixture so that the bubbles distribute uniformly through the tea.

Note: I used Indian tapioca pearls that are smaller, but the larger dried tapioca pearls are readily available at Chinese supermarkets.

The next few weeks will be busy, but I look forward to catching up with you in June! If you have any suggestions on what you would like to see covered, please let me know

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