“where is this blog going?” and other pointless things I thought of this week

About a year ago, I started writing butterfingered as a food blog.
In my mind, it was to be a place for me to share recipes and only recipes. I thought, back then, that I would have enough time to bake and cook and blog almost everyday.
But,noooo.

Life happened. I love this space and I love cooking and I love blogging, but I’ve realized that its not just food I want to write about.
Which is why, butterfingered is going to change. I want this to be, not only a place for me to write about food, but also life in general. Life, as I see it.
I am quite obviously not the same person I was a year ago, which is fine by me.
But that has meant that my focus has shifted from just talking about things to actually doing them.
This shift in the direction of my blog means two things:
1.I’ll write more often :5 days a week as opposed to my usual 1-2 times a week (let’s be honest, more like twice a month)
2.I’ll still post recipes and write about food but also about other things. Mostly, things off the top of my head.

That being said, I’m travelling to Dubai at the end of this week and hope to write about my trip when I get back. It’s also my bffffffffff’s birthday this week (ignore the enthusiasm and the abbreviation, I just had to) and I also have a killer salted chocolate chip cookie pie lined up for this week.

So here’s what my week has looked like so far:
(instagram: @butterfingeredblog )
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Eating The City: Mumbai

Eating The City: Mumbai
Eating with an appetite and a budget

No, I’m not literally going to eat the city (it was quite obviously metaphoric and impossible, obviously). But instead, in my first (!!) mini series, I’ll be writing about places I’ve eaten in Mumbai (and other cities if and when I visit them). This is a great way for me to get to see more of the city and eat different dishes which inspire me in my cooking at home. Today, though, I’ll be writing about the Town House café.
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Let me start of by saying that they have a VERY impressive menu. The food, which I’ll get to in a bit, was incredible.
Earlier this week, after our plan for a movie got canned, two of my friends and I, decided to get a late lunch. (it was 4 in the afternoon, if you must know).
We originally decided on Sky Café (which I hope to eat at later) but Andy (she insists on being mentioned) noticed a board hanging right opposite us which read Town House café.
We crossed the street and as we approached the white door, I felt much better looking at the décor, since it definitely looked a lot better that the previous café.
(nothing wrong with it! It’s just that sitting outside under the sweltering Mumbai sun isn’t an idea I’m so hot about).
The first thing we did was look at the dessert counter and we liked what we saw.
Upon being handed the menu, I knew that we’d made a smart decision. The flavour combinations looked incredible and I honestly wanted to eat every single thing on the menu.
It was just the three of us that afternoon so we decided to order two dishes and share.
After a good 10 minutes of struggling over the menu, we finally made a decision.
We ordered the Herbed Gnocchi Mac n Cheese and The Chicken Roulade.

Two very good decisions.

The thing was, that even after we’d placed our order, we refused to leave the menus leave our grasps and we basically spent the next fifteen minutes gushing over the menu. My friend (not Andy), infact said exactly what I was thinking, outloud.
“why haven’t we been here before?”

Why indeed.

It wasn’t long before we had food on the table and oh, it smelt amazing.
Add to that the fact that we were ravenous. That meal never stood a chance.
Back to the food though.
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Out of both the dishes that we’d ordered, I definitely loved the gnocchi more.
It was rich but not overly so. The gnocchi itself were fluffy little pillows from heaven and I loved how the arugula (my favourite green!) was not overwhelming.
The gnocchi was cooked with tomato confit,jalapeno and roasted garlic in a four cheese sauce with nutmeg and fresh sage.
In short, everything you want together in bowl.
The roulade was delicious and juicy and they were definitely generous with the cheese.
It was served with a brilliant peppery sauce and garlic roasted vegetables. (I’m definitely understating the sauce, it was excellent)
It also came with green pea mash, which frankly, none of us were a fan of.

This time, I didn’t get to sample as many dishes as I would’ve liked to, but I’m going back there for sure.
And so begins the voracious tasting.
Bring it on.
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Arugula, Garlic Chicken and Goat Cheese salad with Balsamic Dressing

Salads are not cookies

But still, pretty darn delicious.

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Not all salads are tasty though.

And not all salads aren’t cookies.

Erm, what? Of course, salads aren’t cookies. They aren’t supposed to be. The day we start putting leaves and chocolate chips together is the day I give up on humanity.

That being said, what I meant by that is that some salads are SO UNHEALTHY that they’re no better than eating cookies (which is never a bad thing, but, you know, HEALTH). The amount of cream and fat they put in those bottled dressing is horrifying.

Oh and, those “diet dressings”? Notice how diet has the word die in it? Honestly, with the amount of chemicals in those creamy, destructive bottles you might just get a heart attack.

 

BUT

Do not lose faith! It is possible to make healthy eating delicious at home! Honestly, if done right, salads aren’t all that terrible.

They can actually be really, really tasty. So here’s my favorite salad recipe!

Enjoy!

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Arugula, Garlic Chicken and Goat Cheese salad with Balsamic Dressing:

 

For the dressing;

1/4 th cup balsamic vinegar (4 tbsp)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp honey/pure maple syrup (more if you like it a little sweet. Taste!)

Pinch salt

 

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk with a fork to combine.

Set aside.

 

For the chicken:

 

1 cup chicken breast, sliced

1-2 large garlic cloves, sliced

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Whack the chicken to flatten it. It cooks faster this way.

Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over moderate heat and add the olive oil. Toss in the garlic till brown and slightly crisp. Now add the chicken and the seasonings. Cook till it’s no longer pink.

Let it cool before adding it to the salad.

 

 

For the salad:

4-5 cups of arugula/rocket

¼ – 1/3th cup goat cheese/chevre crumpled (Feta also works nicely)

½ cup sliced cherry tomatoes

½ sliced red and yellow bell pepper each

2-3 tbsp’s or more of sliced olives (green/black/both)

Garlic chicken

Dressing

 

Toss everything (apart from the cheese) in a large bowl. Add the dressing, toss again. Add the cheese and serve.

 

 

 

Apple-Hazelnut Cake with Cinnamon–Hazelnut Streusel For All Your Problems

Streusel is such a funny word. Stroosil.

No, stop it. Quit making a fool of yourself.

Yes, I’m done having a conversation with myself

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Anyway, my very apt title perfectly sums up everything this cake will do for you. Basically it solves problems.

I made this a say before my psychology assignment was due. My whole day went a little like this:

Me: Oh look!  I have three hundred thousand pages to write

My Brain: great lets bake a cake.

Me: okay

 

(three hours later)

My Brain: wow great cake Amani. You’re so talented

Me: wow I have so much to do. So, I’ll just lie on the floor for a few hours and do nothing

Brain: and eat cake

Me: and eat cake.

 

The next day, my assignment was magically complete and pigs began to fly.

The end.

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No, but you should make this cake.

And do all your work.

 

Apple-Hazelnut Cake with Cinnamon–Hazelnut Streusel

 

Ingredients:
3-4 apples peeled and cubed

1 tsp ground cinnamon

100g butter, softened
1 cup / 200g sugar, plus a little more for sprinkling
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
200g flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup  milk

¼ cup chopped, lightly toasted hazelnuts

 

For the streusel:

½ cup oats

2 tbsp hazelnuts, toasted

½ tsp ground cinnamon

4 tbsp cold butter

1 tbsp flour

1 tsp milk

 

The cake:

  1. Preheat      the oven to 375ºF/190ºC. Grease and flour a baking pan.
  2. In a bowl,      using a stand mixer or an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar      and vanilla, followed by the egg. Mixing them in one at a time, until the      mixture is soft and fluffy.
  3. Whisk      together the flour and baking powder and fold it into the egg and butter      mixture. Finally, stir in the milk and form a batter.
  4. Fold in      the apples and hazelnuts.
  5. Pour into      the prepared tin
  6. Top with      streusel and bake for 30-40  minutes      or till a skewer inserted through the center comes out clean.

The streusel:

Put everything except the milk and butter in the bowl. Now add the butter and work through it till only pea sized lumps remain. Add the milk ONLY if needed.

The Bricks Of Parker House

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From amount of bread posts on here, I think it’s fairly clear that I have a thing for bread.

Not only bread though, all carbohydrates.

Yes. Delicious.

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The thing that is not very known though is that I had a very very deep rooted fear of baking bread.

It all first started when I found out about how the bread in stores is actually frightfully unhealthy and that “brown bread” is actually regular white sandwhich bread with “caramel colour.”

It’s healthy they said.

Har har har.

 

So, the first time I baked bread was this rainy, cold afternoon when the craving to eat warm, soft delicious bread was all I could think of and I happened to find a very promising recipe that told me that I could bake “fresh warm rolls that even a beginner (me) couldn’t mess up and that I could have real, healthy bread in two hours!”

Obviously, I was sold.

What followed was me, hungry and sleep-deprived( because for some reason I cant sleep in when it rains, no it’s not relaxing, Mother Nature, thanks for deciding to throw ROCKS on my roof when I’m trying to sleep :/ ) , grabbing the ingredients  and some extremely expired yeast and baking “Parker House Rolls”.

They didn’t turn out, obviously.

The first sign should have been the fact that the bread refused to rise, but well, I was hungry and bread-wanty.

The rolls turned out to be The Bricks Of Parker House over Parker House Rolls, which was a fail.(clearly)

But they made very good hockey pucks.

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Anyway,

I’ve come a long way since my brick…erm….roll baking days and have learned to check the date on the yeast packets.

I’ve come to love bread baking and love trying out different kinds of bread. Right now, I’m obsessed with working with the sourdough starter!

So tangy! So delicious!

 

Truth be told, this isn’t the fastest bread you’ll ever make.

You’ll have to wait a week for the starter to turn tangy but trust me! It’s worth the wait.

Ooh ooh! You know what else is worth the wait? TOASTING THE SOURDOUGH AND MAKING CROUTONS FOR TOMATO SOUP AND THEN USING THE SAME BREAD FOR GRILLED CHEESE. YES.

 

So anyway, here it is:

Crusty, delicious sourdough.

 

Based on Five and Spice blog’s Perfect Crusty Loaf

 

  • 200 g      (1  cup) recently fed sourdough      starter ( I like using a starter that’s been fed and atleast a week old)
  • 400 g (3      cups) flour
  • 11 g (1.5      tsp) salt
  • 300 g (1      1/3 cup warm  water( not too hot and      too  cold, it should be comfortable,      like bath water)
  • extra      flour for dusting
  1. In a      mixing bowl, stir together all your ingredients till combined. It should      be pretty sticky and wet. On a well floured surface ( not too much, a      lightly floured surface should do. You don’t want to incorporate more      flour into the bread)

Then, knead softly and roll out into a rough rectangle. Now fold in the left side and then the right, like you would fold a letter: Right to left then quarter turn and right to left again. Shape into a rough ball GENTLY and place in a well greased bowl till about doubled in size. Make sure that your bread rests in warm, draft free corner.

  1.  Set a timer for one hour.  After an      hour, wet your hands well to keep them from sticking, gently take the      dough out of the bowl and carefully stretch it and shape it like you did      before( the letter folds) .  Set the timer for another hour, and      after that repeat the stretch and fold.  The dough should get easier      and less sticky to work worth.  Set your timer for one more hour.       Repeat the stretch and fold process and then form into a roughly      shaped ball and place in a greased
  2. Take      another mixing bowl bigger than the the size of the bread dough, and      grease it. Place the dowl in it and over it with cling film and place in      the refrigerator
  3. The next      day (or two), an hour before you are ready to bake the bread, take the      dough out of the refrigerator.  Let it sit  at room temperature for an hour, at this      point it should looked puffed, and if you poke it, it should leave a      little indent, ifit doesn’t , let it rise for another 30-60 minutes or      more. Mine bread always takes a good hour. Now ,while the dough stands at      room temp. ,preheat your oven toits highest setting. Place a dutch oven or      a ceramic pot with a fitted lid inside, basically anything that’ll allow      steam to be generated will do. Put a good layer of cornmeal or flour      cutting board, and gently turn the bread dough out onto it. Use a very      sharp knife to make as deep X on top of the bread. Note that if you don’t      have a dutch oven you can bake it like regular bread, but in the last five      minutes of baking toss in a cup full of ice cubes and shut the door.      This’ll give it a nice crust too.
  4. once the      oven is heated,, take the Dutch oven out and put your bread it, ensuring      the cornmeal side’s down.  Cover the Dutch oven, and put it back in      the oven.  Bake the bread in the pot with the lit for about 25      minutes then take the top off and bake another 10 minutes or until it’s      golden brown and looks crusty too. Then remove from the oven, and turn the      bread out onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely. It’s really      important for it too cool completely because you don’t want to interfere      with the baking process. Enjoy!

 

The Pretzel Problem

One of my fondest food related memories is eating a pretzel for the first time.
I was 12 and we were on holiday. After a day of fun rides at Disney, we decided to get a little snack and ended up buying soft pretzels and root beer from one of the adorable, little stalls. It smelt incredible, the scent of freshly baked, warm bread wafting out of the little yellow cart and the minute I was handed the buttery, sesame-studded pretzel, I ate it and washed it down with a swig of root beer.
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And it was love at first bite.
That pretzel was insanely delicious and since then, I have been a pretzel-lover. It should be noted, however, that being the bread lover that I am, I would eat any carbohydrate, no qualms whatsoever.
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The issue at hand however, was that upon my return to India, I haven’t eaten a single pretzel that I’ve loved. Nothing ever came close to the buttery, incredible deliciousness that I feel in love with and I’ve been obsessed with perfecting the art of pretzel making ever since.
The issue with all the pretzels I’ve eaten weren’t that they weren’t delicious but instead that they lacked that fantastic, chewiness and that TASTE that makes pretzels so different from regular bread. I needed a good pretzels and a couple of months back I decided to sacrifice any social interaction (and my waistline) till I baked the perfect pretzel at home.
My sanity depended on my ability to find that perfect pretzel.
And a few months back,
I struck gold.

The secret, it seems, to making delicious, chewy pretzels as opposed to bready ones is this:
Ready?

It’s dunking the pretzels in boiling water with baking soda.

This recipe is perfection and shall deliver you to pretzel heaven.
Thank me later.

Soft Pretzels
Adapted from Martha Stewart, Smitten Kitchen and The Bread Baker’s Apprentice
Makes 16 full-sized or 32 miniature
2 cups warm water (not hot!)
1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons fat (I’ve used both butter and canola oil)
1/4 cup baking soda (not powder!)
1 large egg
Coarse sea salt (pretzel salt if you can find it)
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
1. Pour warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and stir to combine. Sprinkle with yeast, and let sit 10 minutes; yeast should be foamy. If you don’t have a standmixer, you can do it in a bowl.
2. Add 1 cup flour to yeast, and mix on low until combined. Add salt and 4 cups more flour, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat on medium-low until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add another ½ cup of flour and let the machine knead it for 30 seconds. Keep going and keep adding ½ a cup of flour till 4/12 cups are up. Then if needed , ie: if the dough is still very wet and sticky add a ½ cup more. Then transfer to a lighty floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes/10 times or till smooth and elastic.
Note: If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can knead it by hand. Follow the same steps but knead for a 2-3 minutes everytime it says 30 seconds. Also note that you don’t have to knead for 2 minutes by the clock, it may take more time or less. Just knead till the dough feels smooth and elastic.
3.Grease a large bowl with the fat. But the dough in and cover with clingfilm/a damp tea towel and leave in a warm draft free area till about doubled in size.
4. Heat oven to 450°F/200 C. Lightly spray two baking sheets with cooking spray (parchment paper, ungreased, also works). Set aside. Punch down dough to remove any air bubbles. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead gentlty. Split the dough into 16 pieces and cover with a tea towel.
5. Roll one piece of dough at a time into an 18-inch-long strip. Twist into pretzel shape; and place on the greased/lined baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel. Continue to form pretzels. Cover the tray with wrap/a towel.Let the pretzels rest in a warm spot so that they rise a litte, this should take about 15 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, fill large, wide pot with 2 inches of water. Let it boil and add baking soda and the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar to it. Reduce to a simmer; transfer three to four pretzels to water. Poach 1 minute on each side. Then take them out with a slotted spoon and transfer pretzels to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached ON BOTH SIDES.
7. Beat egg with a spoonful of warm water. Brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with salt and the sesame seeds. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Eat them warm, served with honey mustard and something cold to drink, preferably Root beer.
Note: the pretzels are best eaten the same day they are made. Do not store them in a container/cover them, they will get soggy.

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Soft Sourdough Dinner Rolls

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Hey!
It’s been a hectic last week ,( we just finished writing papers) and I’ve been soaking up all the free time, just not doing anything.

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I made these rolls the other night, using up the last of my sourdough starter. These are not exactly sourdough rolls, but they do have that nice twang.
I’ve made these twice now and I have noticed that using an older, fed starter is tastier. So try that if you can.
The wait is worth it. I promise!

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SOURDOUGH DINNER ROLLS
Adapted from a King Arthur Flour recipe

3/4 cup sourdough starter, fed or unfed
3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast/ 15 g fresh yeast (crumbled)
I tbsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup warm water( gently warmed, not hot at all. Regular water will also do)

For the top:
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water
Optional: poppy seeds, mustard seeds,sesame seeds

Combine the all the ingredients in a bowl and combine till a soft, smooth dough forms. I needed to knead it for about 7 minutes.

Let it rest, covered, in a greased bowl, for about 2 hours or till almost doubled in size.

After 2 hours, knead the dough on a well floured surface ( this is essential or else your dough will stick) and shape it into rolls. Add more flour to the dough if it’s too sticky.Leave the rolls on a greased baking sheet, covered, for about 20 minutes or till they have risen a bit.

Preheat the oven to it’s highest setting.
Do to optional egg wash and sprinkle the seeds over. Bake at the highest temperature for about 10 minutes or till the colour is a light golden . Then, turn the temperature down to 150 C and bake another 5-10 minutes or till golden.
Serve warm!