Monday, January 3, 2011

Mascarpone & the culinary resolution

This year the one thing that I really want to achieve in my 'cooking life' is mastering a few cooking techniques that I have been letting crust on the back burner. I have this weird habit of trying to re-create dishes I love eating out, more so if I expect a dish to turn out a certain way especially the look, the taste, the texture; let's say the whole works has ruined the good mood that was set before the meal. So, if it doesn't turn out good; there's a problem - I have to make it to see what could go wrong. If if does turn out good; I want to be able to make it just the way it is. Either way, The love of food wins over my will.

This eve, my love for tiramisu won over & here I am, making the mascarpone that will be ready to be used to go with the sponge.

Here are a few things  to attempt:
 Mysore paak
lady finger sponge
pastillage flowers
tomato sauce
rumali roti
graham crackers
tomato soup(yeah, pathetic!)
and so on...

Here's a few more that were a failure in the past:
yogurt ( to be a desi & not know this...gasp!)
a perfect tiramisu

chicken makhni
scala loaf

Source: Giuliano Bugialli's Mascarpone
from his book "Giuliano Bugialli's Classic Techniques of Italian Cooking"

1 quart fresh heavy cream
1/4 tsp. tartaric acid (available from pharmacies and some grocers)

Place cream in a glass casserole or bowl, and place casserole into a larger pan.
Add cold water to a larger pan. Place the pan over medium heat and bring the cream to a temp of 180 degrees (75-80 Celsius). Use a candy thermometer, stirring every so often with a wooden spoon.
As soon as the cream reaches the EXACT temperature, remove from the heat, add tartaric acid, and stir with a wooden spoon for 30 seconds.
Remove glass casserole or bowl from the larger pan, and stir another 2 minutes.
Line a fine-mesh basket or strainer with thick cheesecloth and pour in cream mixture.
Allow to stand for 12 hours in a cool place or on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.
Prepare four 9-inch squares of cheesecloth.
Divide mascarpone in four.
Place a quarter of it on each square of cheesecloth and fold like a package, without tying it.
Place packages on a plate and refrigerate for another 12 hours before using.

How To Substitute For Mascarpone

Sometimes, it's a lot easier just to substitute. Tiramisu creators have used ricotta or cottage cheese as successful substitutes by whipping the cheese until it is smooth.

Other sources have created their own substitutions. In the Epicurean Chef's Forum, "Kim" posted the following: "I found a substitution that worked okay is 8 ounces of softened cream cheese, plus 3 tablespoons of sour cream, plus 2 tablespoons of heavy cream (liquid, not whipped).

In "The Cook's Thesaurus," the following are suggested:
(1) Blend 8 ounces softened cream cheese with 1/4 cup whipping cream, or
(2) blend 8 ounces softened cream cheese with 1 tablespoon cream or butter or milk,
(3) Blend 6 ounces softened cream cheese with 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup cream
Use within one week

Avro Saar-upkari/ kulitha saar-upkari

 In my house, the easiest way to get my family to eat healthy is to bowl them over is with a soup that is pretty much a simple but forgotten saaru's :  tomato saaru, limbiye saaru, rasam & saar upkaris. So here are a couple of the most nutritious of them all - kulithu/ horsegram  saar upkari & avro saaru upkari.  Prep for all saar upkari's are the same except that avro/ navy bean cooks much faster and doesn't require as much soaking like the horsegram.
Avre saar upkari (pic 1) Kultha saar upkari (pic2)

Kulithu/ horsegram 2 cups
red chillies 3
garlic 3 cloves
oil 1 tbsp

 Soak the  gram overnight. Pressure cook kulithu with  about 3 times as much water for about 10 minutes.( 5-8 whistles).  When the pressure is off,  add salt to the gram  and simmer to thicken the stock. Thickening this enhances the flavour. ( At this point, we can remove kuluthu to make seperate upkari or for koddel or leave it as is and season it,  Some also remove the kulithu by straining and continue with the further reduction of liquid to make it kattu saaru which is tasty in itself without any additional seasoning). 
Temper by heating a tbsp of oil, crushed garlic & red chillies.  When the garlic have been roasted, add it to the saaru & turn off heat.