This Page

has moved to a new address:


Sorry for the inconvenience…

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
Kay's House of Treats: November 2013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Normandy Apple Tart

For updates on new posts & other happenings, please join my Facebook Page - www.facebook/kayshouseoftreats

How many of you have experienced the moment where you get beautiful red apples from the 'Sabzi Wala', bite into them and they turn out to be soft & mealy instead of crisp & juicy.

I know people love the soft yellow apples, but my family preference is always 'crisp' apples, so when there are 2 kilo's of apples in the house which no one really wants to eat, its time for me to start looking up recipes on how to use them. But the issue with foreign recipes, they will talk about these apple varieties that you should use (
Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Fuji, Granny Smith) but we only get red, green & yellow in Karachi; yes, red are mostly crisp & juicy, yellow are soft & sweet, green are crisp and tart and there's the fourth one where you end up being fleeced by the 'sabzi wala' into not getting the quality apples you want. 

So no matter how much I might wish to use a specific apple, its not possible to do that unless I purchase said varieties from a big supermarket (at a high rate). So I just use whatever apples are in season. If I do have some choice, I generally follow the below mentioned rules. Please note they are my personal opinions based on past experiments, but please feel free to experiment.

Types of Apples - Desi Pakistani Style
1. Crisp Apples (usually red) are great for baking apple pies, because they hold their shape well and don't go mushy.
2. Soft Apples (usually yellow) are great for making apple sauce, because they are soft and if they are baked, they might not hold their shape well.
3. Green Apples are crisp, so they are good for baking, however, they are a bit tart/khatta so a little bit of sugar adjustment is necessary; another option is to have a mix of crisp red & green apples.
4. If you are lucky enough to get really juicy apples, its best to cook the filling/sauce a bit more if you are making applesauce or a cooked apple filling. If you are not doing a cooked apple pie filling, then add a tablespoon of cornflour to the filling so it will help in absorption of juices.

Moving on to the actual recipe - I had to use up the soft yellow apples, and this recipe called for applesauce for the filling which was a perfect use for these apples. Since the 
applesauce & the pastry dough can be made ahead, the tart just needs to be assembled and baked cutting down on last minute work. I did make a few adjustments to the recipe, by adding cinnamon which goes brilliantly with apple desserts. I also used the same soft apples for topping the great, and while the taste was great, it made the final assembly difficult since the slices were quite crumbly.
Normandy Apple Tart
from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

For the Applesauce
2 lbs (about 6 medium) apples, preferably soft apples
1/4 cup water, or more
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1-4 tablespoons sugar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
For the Crust
1 9-inch tart shell made with Sweet Tart Dough (recipe below), partially baked and cooled
For the Topping
2 medium apples (preferably firm apples)
1 large egg, beaten with 1/2 teaspoon water, for egg wash
For the Glaze (optional)
about 1/3 cup apple jelly
1 teaspoon water

To make the applesauce: If you have a food mill, a nifty gadget that separates peel and pits from fruit as it purees and strains, or if you don't mind pushing a little harder on a conventional strainer, don't bother peeling and coring the apples, just cut them into chunks and toss them into a 2 to 3-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan. (If you leave the skin on the apples it gives the applesauce a rosier color.) Otherwise, peel and core the apples before cutting them up. Stir in the water and brown sugar, cover the pan and put it over medium-low heat. Don't go far from the stove, because applesauce has a way of bubbling up. Stir the apples from time to time to keep them from scorching, and if the water is boiling way quickly, add more by driblets. When the apples are soft enough to be mashed with a spoon - 15 to 20 minutes - remove the pan from the heat and pass the apples through a food mill, or press them through a sturdy strainer, into a bowl.
If the applesauce seems thin (if liquid accumulates around the edges), return the sauce to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes, until the sauce is just thick enough to sit up on a spoon. Remove the pan from the heat and return the sauce to the bowl. Taste the sauce, adding granulated sugar if you think it needs it (traditionally the applesauce for this tart was not very sweet) and vanilla and cinnamon, if you want it. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface, and refrigerate until no longer warm. (The applesauce can be made up to 4 days ahead and refrigerated, tightly covered.)
Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Fill the tart shell almost to the top of the rim with the applesauce and put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
To make the topping: Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut each apple half lengthwise in half again and then, still working lengthwise, cut about 7 slices from each of the quarters. (The slices will be very thin.) Arrange the slices in slightly overlapping concentric circles on the applesauce, starting at the edge and laying them down so their tips are against the crust. You will probably have enough room for only 2 circles and some artfully arranged snippets of apple in the center. (If another arrangement appeals to you more, go for it.) Using a pastry brush, paint the egg wash over the sliced apples.
Bake the tart for about 50 minutes - it will look as though the applesauce and apples have risen a bit. The apples should be golden, a little burnt around the edges and soft enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife. If you'd like to enhance the color around the edges of the apples, run the tart under the broiler just until you get the color you're after. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack.
To make the optional glaze: If you want to glaze the tart, an easy and very professional touch, bring the jelly and the water to a boil. When the jelly is liquefied, brush a thin layer over the top of the tart with a pastry brush. Return the pan to the rack and cool the tart until it is just warm or at room temperature.
Serving: The tart can be served when it is only just warm or when it reaches room temperature, and it can be served with vanilla ice-cream which tastes brilliant with apples & cinnamon
Storing: Although the applesauce can be made ahead, as with all tarts, this one is best served the day it is made, preferably within a few hours of being made.

Sweet Tart Dough
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour/maida
1/2 cup icing' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

To make the dough: Put the flour, icing sugar and salt in the workbowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely - you'll have pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pea-size pieces and that's just fine. Stir the egg, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses - about 10 seconds each - until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before your reaches this clumpy stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change - heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface.
Very lightly and sparingly - make that very, very lightly and sparingly - knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
If you want to press the dough into a tart pan, now is the time to do it.
If you want to chill the dough and roll it out later (doable, but fussier than pressing), gather the dough into a ball (you might have to use a little more pressure than you used to mix in dry bits, because you do want the ball to be just this side of cohesive), flatten it into a disk, wrap it well and chill it for at least 2 hours or for up to 1 day.
To make a press-in crust: Butter the tart pan and press the dough evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Don't be stingy - you want a crust with a little heft because you want to be able to both taste and feel it. Also, don't be too heavy-handed - you want to press the crust in so that the pieces cling to one another and knit together when baked, but you don't want to press so hard that the crust loses its crumbly shortbreadish texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
To make a rolled-out crust: This dough is very soft - a combination of a substantial amount of butter and the use of confectioners' sugar - so it is easier to roll it between wax paper or plastic wrap or, easiest of all, in a roll-out-your-dough slipcover. If you use the slipcover, flour it lightly. Roll the dough out evenly, turning the dough over frequently and lifting the wax paper or plastic wrap often, so that it doesn't roll into the dough and form creases. If you've got time, slide the rolled out dough into the fridge to rest and firm for about 20 minutes before fitting the dough into the buttered tart pan. Trim the excess dough even with the edge of the pan. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
To partially bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 F/180 C. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil tightly against the crust. Bake the crust 25 minutes, then carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack; keep it in its pan.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Guest Post - Butter Cookies

[Kiran] – Hello Everyone.

Guest Posts while blogging are like a mini-vacation with benefits – a long weekend spent chilling & relaxing combined with an assistant who is doing all the work ;). I still do love blogging, but this just gives me more time to relax and think about my next recipes, and I do have some good ones in store for this month.

So today is a guest post from my cousin, who will never cook anything the day I go to her place, and then tell me the next day that she tried all these great things and I will be like ‘what?’ all the while thinking that this is how she manages to have leftovers the next day. She will also never take pictures, and it is while cooking that she has to become ‘sughar’ because just after the dish is made, she will divide it into portions – one for the house, one for the university group of friends, and one for the sister’s family who lives down the lane.  
Obviously, there’s nothing left but crumbs for the camera then. Once I had finally given up, she finally decides to write a guest post! (this demonstrates the power of reverse psychology & how cousins studying to become psychologists fall for it)

And now I shall pass on the keyboard…
Butter Cookies

Hey everyone!

So Kiran’s been begging me to write a guest-post for her blog ever since the idea popped in her head while she was engrossed in the final Twilight book. She was all “Edward, I mean, Ambreen please, I need your infinite baking wisdom for my blog or it will never stand on its own two feet” and I kept telling her “You don’t need my years and years of culinary expertise Kiran, you will manage this on your own.”
[Kiran] I am not a fan of ‘Twilight’! and this character assassination is the one con of having guest posts written by cousins :p.
So after much grumbling and mumbling and not-so-passive aggression…voila! The blog was up and running and all Kiran needed were my good wishes and blessings ^.^
Ahem alright, so before I am forever banned from the Kay’s House of Treats facebook page and blog, let’s get down to business. I am kind of a disaster in the kitchen, except for times when I really pray before I start cooking, or I try out some of Kiran or my sister’s tried-and-tested cake recipes. This was one of my numerous daredevil attempts at trying something new and well, alhamdolillah it worked!These Butter Cookies were made using a recipe found in Cook’s illustrated. I did tweak a bit and well overall the results look and taste great and I encourage you guys to try it at home because hey, if I can do it, so can you (and probably a 10 year old, too).

Glazed Butter Cookies
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated: Holiday Baking

Butter Cookie Dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour/maida (12 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup superfine sugar (5 1/2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter , ( 2 sticks or 200 grams) cut into sixteen 1/2-inch pieces,
at room temperature (about 65 degrees)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract/essence
2 tablespoons cream cheese , at room temperature
*Note: If you can't find superfine sugar, process regular granulated sugar in a food processor
for about 20 seconds. Please note this is not the same as icing sugar.

1 tablespoon cream cheese , at room temperature
3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups icing sugar (6 ounces)

Note: I used 2 cups flour and 200 grams of unsalted butter, which was a bad idea because the
butter kind of took over the dough, making it hard to control and very very buttery (of course).
Moral of the story: always follow recipe instructions.

1. FOR THE COOKIES: In bowl of standing mixer fitted with flat beater (I used my regular attachment as I didn’t have the flat one), mix flour, sugar, and salt on low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. With mixer running on low, add butter 1 piece at a time; continue to mix until mixture looks crumbly and slightly wet, about 1 minute longer. Add vanilla and cream cheese and mix on low until dough just begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds.

2. Remove bowl from mixer; knead dough by hand in bowl for 2 to 3 turns to form large cohesive mass. Turn out dough onto countertop; divide in half, pat into two 4-inch disks, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate until they begin to firm up, 20 to 30 minutes. (Can be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 2 weeks; defrost in refrigerator before using.)

3. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out 1 dough disk to even 1/8-inch thickness between 2 large sheets parchment paper; slide rolled dough on parchment onto baking sheet and chill until firm, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, repeat with second disk. 

The key to making nice firm cookies is to keep the dough chilled, whether it’s after shaping it into discs, or after rolling it out, or even after using the cookie cutter. If it’s not chilled, you will notice it will start to become really loose and soggy and will become very hard to work with.

4. Working with first portion of rolled dough, cut into desired shapes using cookie cutter(s) and place shapes on parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until light golden brown, about 10 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking time. Repeat with second portion of rolled dough. (Dough scraps can be patted together, chilled, and re-rolled once.) Cool cookies on wire rack to room temperature. 
5. FOR THE GLAZE: Whisk cream cheese and 2 tablespoons milk in medium bowl until combined and no lumps remain. Whisk in icing sugar until smooth, adding remaining milk as needed until glaze is thin enough to spread easily. Drizzle or spread scant teaspoon glaze with back of spoon onto each cooled cookie, as desired.

And the final result should look something like this before the glaze:
And something like this after the glaze:

Words of Caution:
Make sure you watch your cookies like a hawk when they are in the oven. I mean it. You can’t even turn around to look at the clock because they will go all spray-tan overdose on you in minutes. Think I’m kidding?

See for yourself:

Also, if you do not chill your cookies as much as instructed earlier, they will soon give up on life and begin to deform, making YOU question the purpose of their short-lived cookie existence. Have a look:

So that’s pretty much it. The cookies taste great and smell richly of vanilla, which I personally *love* in anything baked. These are perfect for winters, specially when they are hot out of the oven. Oh and when describing them to your family members, make sure you call them biscuits and not cookies because they will be all like “Why are they so thin? Why aren’t they chewy? You haven’t made them right” and that really isn’t the way the cookie crumbles. Get it get it? HAHAHA-no? Okay I was done anyway *hmmph*

Enjoy! :D

-Ambreen Ashraf

Labels: , ,

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mong Chow - Bringing South East Asian flavors to Karachi

Mong Chow is a relatively new entrant on the Karachi food scene serving 'South East Asian Bowl Food', however, currently their menu features primarily Burmese cuisine. For Karachiites, Burmese food equals Khow Suey/Khausey/Khauk Seuy (however, it is pronounced), however, theres are a lot of other dishes & flavors that represent Burma.
The menu is small, and currently offers 12 items comprising of appetizers, main courses & desserts. However, since they are specializing in flavors that are not run of the mill, I do like the idea that they are focusing on making sure that those few items are done well instead of having a hotch potch of items. At the same time, I do wish they would add other South East Asian flavors on the menu - would love to have a good Pad Thai or Vietnamese Pho *sigh*. We were three people and we all ordered different things in order to try out the menu. Timely delivery by Urbanite, with excellent packaging by Mong Chow - there were multiple boxes for every dish all labelled and they were plastic wrapped to ensure no spillage.
Needed to keep a newspaper below all the items for easier clean-up later :)
My favourite thing out of what was ordered had to be the 'Mandalay Chazan'. Comprising of thin Vermicelli style noodles with a chicken & mushroom curry, served with boiled eggs, chilli flakes, fried onions, coriander & lemon. I loved the thin noodles along with mushrooms in the coconut curry, which provided such a refreshing change from the typical Khaw Suey that is served. 
Mandalay Chazan all mixed up
Mung Bean Vermicelli Noodles




Ohn No Khauk Suey

The 'Ohn No Khauk Suey' was similar to the style of Khow suey that is made/available in Karachi. Comprising of egg noodles (which I have always preferred over wheat) in a chicken and coconut curry served with coriander, spring onions, boiled eggs, crisps, chilli flakes & lemon. Flavors were good, but I preferred the Mandalay Chazan better.

The third item we ordered was the Beef Rendang served with Yellow Rice & Pickles. Its an Indonesian dish, and it was the inspiration behind my version of Chicken Rendang. I remember reading Mong Chow's menu when it opened and loving the description of the dish, but since I rarely eat beef, I had to improvise. Since I rarely eat beef, specially not this beef cut, my opinion on the taste would be biased but loved the fragrant yellow rice served with it. My little brother on the other hand liked it and found it similar to a 'Bhuna wa Salaan' with Oriental flavors. It's not something I would order again for myself, unless they come with a Chicken version or if they start selling the rice separately.  
Beef Rendang
Yellow Rice


Food: 8.5/10
Price: 8.5/10

Service: 9/10
Packaging: 10/10 
Overall, Mong Chow is a refreshing change to the Karachi food scene and would be loved by people who love South Asian flavors and/or are willing to try new things. They have a take-away outlet in Farids at Ocean Mall & they also deliver via Urbanite. In terms of pricing, most of the main dishes are priced at PKR 400 - 450 and the portion size is easily enough for one person. 

Final Comments:
Not serving run of the mill food is what sets Mong Chow apart, at the same time the food they offer is an acquired taste and hence may not to be everyone's liking. Thus when trying it out for the first time, order something simple like the Khaw Suey, and then go with adventurous by trying out new things.
One last advice for any broth like dish - its all about adding the different condiments and mixing it all up and then its loads of flavors in every bite. Same is the case with Mong Chow - Don't and I repeat this again DON'T take out servings of the noodles & the curry separately and try to mix it up in your plate. Just mix the noodles & the curry & half the condiments ten adjust to taste. 

Contact Details:

Website: www.facebook.com/mongchowpk

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Cinnamon Chocolate Squares

It's the first week of November and here in Karachi, we have just felt the stirrings of the winter season. A small drop in temperature - a little bit of wind in the mornings and in the evenings.  The popping up of billboards displaying the many different types of textiles & designs that are oh so important for Karachi winters. My cats preferring to go outside instead of spending the night on the cold tiles. Lastly, the beautiful fresh produce in the markets - pomegranates, apples & oranges and of course the vegetables -fresh tomatoes, carrots, peas & more. 

Winter is also a great time for food - not only does the kitchen stop feeling like a furnace but the cold weather is all about comfort food & hearty meals with the entire family gathered and enjoying food together. Hot soups with garlic bread on the side, Kashmiri Chai being served at weddings, Hand whisked coffee and and shelling peanuts or chilgozay/pine-nuts on the side, Degh ka Haleem & Baazar ki Nihari, they all spell winter & family. 

For me, there's one spice that screams winter and that is cinnamon. I have always loved cinnamon, and I would keep grinding up "daalchinni/cinnamon bark" to make fresh batches of the powder & add it in just about everything. But its in winter desserts where this spice truly shines - apple pie with loads of cinnamon served with fresh vanilla ice-cream; carrot cake specked with walnuts & spice with a rich cream cheese frosting. This time going with the cinnamon theme, I decided to try out a new recipe from one of my favorite books - Cinnamon Squares from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan.

It's a rustic looking tea-cake, with a gorgeous swirl of cinnamon, chocolate & espresso. The chocolate ganache (which I didn't do this time) would just be that extra element to turn into a delicious fit for a party cake! 
Cinnamon Squares
from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon*
1 1/2 teaspoons coffee powder
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

*Note: Cinnamon is made by grinding daalchinni/cinnamon bark in a spice grinder till its powdery. Keep it in an air-tight container in a cool place or in the refrigerator to preserve the flavor. Make a fresh batch every 2-3 months for the best flavor. 

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper. Place the pan on a baking sheet.

To Make the Cake: Stir 2 tablespoons of the sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon and the espresso together in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, the remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar, the baking powder, salt and the remaining 1 tablespoon cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients over the flour mixture and gently whisk until you have a homogenous batter. Now, using the whisk or a rubber spatula, fold in the butter with a light touch, just until the butter is absorbed. You'll have a smooth, shiny batter.
Scrape half of the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the chocolate over the batter and dust with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Cover with the rest of the batter and smooth the top again.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan; a thin knife inserted into the center will come out clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it rest for 15 minutes before unmolding it onto another rack. Peel off the paper, invert it onto the first rack, and cool to room temperature right side up.

To Make the Frosting: Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and fit the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cook, stirring gently and often, just until they melt. Be careful not to overheat the mixture so much that it thins out; the chocolate should be smooth, very shiny, thick and spreadable. (If it thins, leave the frosting at room temperature for a bit, until it thickens a little.)
Using an offset metal icing spatula or a table knife, spread the frosting in generous sweeps and swirls over the top of the cake. Allow the frosting to set at room temperature, then cut the cake into 9 squares, each about 2 1/2 inches on a side.

Serving: Serve the cake as is or, if you would like, with whipped cream.

Storing: Wrapped in plastic, the cake will keep at room temperature for 2 days. It can be frozen for up to 2 months, but it's best to put the cake in the freezer unwrapped and then, when the frosting is firm, to wrap it airtight; defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator. 
Playing Around
Cappuccino Squares: If you like the cappuccino flavor combination of coffee and cinnamon, you can easily switch the balance in this recipe by adding a jolt of coffee flavor to the batter. Just mix 1 tablespoon instant espresso into the milk and warm the milk in a microwave oven until it is hot enough to dissolve the coffee. Cool the milk and carry on.

Labels: , , ,