Friday, March 5, 2010

Crespelle with Spinach and Garlic Mashed Potato Filling

My first step into the world of exquisite Italian cuisine... Crespelle.... Italian pancakes.. with savory béchamel and garlic sauce.. mmm.. yum.. !!! 


1. Parmesan cheese - 1 cup (grated)
2. Dry basil leaves - 1 tsp

Garlic Sauce:

1. Garlic - 6 cloves
2. Milk - 1 cup (250 ml)
3. All purpose flour - 1 tbsp
4. Freshly ground black pepper - 1/4 tsp
5. Salt - to taste
6. Butter - 1 tsp


1. Milk - 1 cup 
2. All purpose flour - 1tbsp
3. Salt - to taste
4. Butter - 1 tsp

Potato Filling:

1. Potatoes - 2 medium sized
2. Pepper - 1/4 tsp
3. Salt - to taste
4. Butter - 1 tsp

Spinach Filling:

1. Onion - 1 medium sized (finely chopped)
2. Spinach - 2 cups (finely chopped)
3. Freshly ground black pepper - 1/4 tsp
4. Salt - to taste

Crespelle(This batter measurement makes about 5-6, 8" pancakes ):

1. All purpose flour - 1 cup
2. Milk - 1 1/4 cup
3. Eggs - 2 
4. Salt- to taste


Garlic sauce: 
  1. Blanch garlic in boiling water for 2-3 min. Drain and peel.
  2. Sauté the garlic in butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on low heat till it is tender. Make sure the garlic does not brown.
  3. Add flour little by little and mix well with a wooden spatula. Make sure the flour doesn't brown and no lumps are formed.
  4. When bubbles start forming, start adding warm milk, a tbsp at a time mixing constantly. Once the milk is mixed throughly with the flour and butter, add the rest of the milk and stir slowly. Add salt and pepper. The sauce will begin to thicken after a while. 
  5. Once it reaches a creamy consistency, remove it from the stove, pureé and keep aside. 

  1. Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed pan. 
  2.  Add the flour little by little and mix well with a wooden spatula. Make sure the flour doesn't brown and no lumps are formed
  3. When bubbles start forming, start adding warm milk, a tbsp at a time mixing constantly. Once the milk is mixed throughly with the flour and butter, add the rest of the milk and stir slowly. Add salt. The sauce will begin to thicken after a while.
  4. Once it reaches a creamy consistency, remove it from the stove.
Potato filling:
  1. Peel, wash and quarter the potatoes. Put them into boiling salted water. Cook until it becomes soft. Drain away the water and keep the potatoes aside to cool for a while. 
  2. Mash the potatoes well with butter, a pinch of salt and pepper.  Keep aside
Spinach filling: 
  1. Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the chopped tomatoes and sauté until tender. Do not brown. 
  2. Add the chopped spinach. Add salt and pepper. Mix well for about 3-4 minutes, remove from the stove and keep aside.
  1. Pour warm milk into a batter bowl. Sift in the flour whisking continuously till all the flour has blended in well. 
  2. Add the two eggs and salt and whisk well. 
  3. Heat a heavy-bottomed non-stick pan to low-medium heat and melt a little butter in it. Pour a ladleful of batter. Rotate the pan to get thinner pancakes and better shapes.
  4. Once a side of the pancake is done with small brown spots, flip it over. 
  5. Make all the pancakes and keep aside.
Layering and baking:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Take a 9" baking tin and smear with butter. 
  3. Take the largest crespelle for the bottom. Layer with mashed potatoes and garlic sauce.
  4. Place the next crespelle on top and press lightly. Add a layer of spinach, béchamel, parmesan and basil. 
  5. Continue in the same manner with the rest of the pancakes. Pour any remaining garlic sauce, béchamel, parmesan and basil over the top and sides. 
  6. Place it in the oven on the top rack and bake for 15 min.

Enjoy!!! :)

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Monday, February 22, 2010

"The Dawn of the Dinosaur" - Cooking and Me.... How it all began....

Time travel -- Some fine morning in the middle of 2007
Location - God's own country.. 
A bit about me - Just graduated from engineering college, no idea about cooking or food other than just "mom-cooks-and-i-eat"..

Here I am.. relaxing on the divan skimming through the morning newspaper with nothing else to do... Mom and dad are getting ready to go to the hospital for mom's regular checkup... 

Me: Mom, how much water do we add to make a chappati dough?
Mom: Almost half as much as the flour.. Why .. ? Are you going to try and make some while we are gone.. ? Don't even try... You'll not get it right.. Maybe we could try and learn while I'm home.. 
Me: Sure... Just asked.. ;)

Well... As some wise man cleverly put it.. "Never challenge a Scorpio (zodiac) .. unless you want to get something done.. " 

Mom and dad left for the hospital soon afterwards.. I finished the newspaper.. Went on to watch TV.. fell asleep on the sofa... Got up for lunch.. (Yeah... that's me.. :D).. Had lunch.. Watched a movie.. And lo..! The thought came back... Chappati... Surprise dinner for mom, dad and brother.. 3 more hours to go before they would all reach home.. I hurried to the bookshelf where mom usually stacks all her Vanitha magazines.. Found the one i had in mind.. It had about 20 chappati recipes.. And there was this recipe.. "Onion chappatti..." With onion, ginger, cumin and cilantro .. Well .. Yeah... must be easy... just 3-4 extra ingredients.. Can do... 

First ingredient.. Wheat flour... Now what does that look like..??!!! Cant be white because wheat is not white in color..  Must be in a big container.. Coz mom makes chappati quite often.. 5 min's of rattle -**** clatter- patter - clink- clunk**** .... Yeah.... Got it...!!! I knew where the ginger, onion and salt was.. Thank God.. and another 10 min for the cumin.. I chopped them all as fast and finely as i could.. And now.. the big one... the challenge... kneading the chappati dough... Cant be hard.. I have seen mom do it... The recipe had the measurements for 6 chappatis. I thought I would try for 12.. I doubled the measurements for the dough.. Put some water and salt... Started kneading... After 5 min... Doesn't look anything like mom's dough.... Very sticky .. Maybe I should put more dough... knead.. oh... too dry... some more water... err... sticky.... dough... knead... dry... grrr....water... sticky.. knead... arghhh.. dough... dry... water.... phew...!!!!  After almost half an hour of adding and kneading, almost broken hand and a very tired and half covered in flour me... the dough looked almost normal.... I added the chopped ingredients too... Kneaded for like 10 more min.. Hmm... Finally.... I got a big lump of dough.... Almost three quarters the size of a football.... And then i let the dough stay for a while as the recipe said.. And then.. started looking for a curry... I quickly found one with potatoes and raw bananas which they said would go well with chappatis and puris.. 
I chopped all the ingredients for the dish.. Found mom's kadai... Started cooking... After nearly three quarters of an hour i made a "curry".. Almost spoiled mom's kadai.... Half of the potatoes and banana's stuck to the bottom... I took the rest of it and transferred to a curry dish... and ye... started with the chappatis.... A long and tiring hour's work.. I made almost 24 chappatis.. only God knows how.. it did smell good... :D... I stacked up all of it in a casserole... Cleared all the mess in the kitchen... Waited for mom, dad and bro to arrive.. And when they did ... There was a smile on everyone's face....

Dad: What's cooking here... ? 
Mom: Did you make chappati?
I just smiled... took them to the kitchen... showed my 3hrs work....!! Dad was all smiles and there were tears in his eyes... 
Dad: You made all that??
Me: Yeah... But the curry doesn't taste good and the chappati is thick... 
Dad: Doesn't matter.. I am going to eat it all.. whatever it tastes like... 
He was all smiles again... 
And the reaction on his face when he tasted it for the first time... Priceless...!!!
And it made my whole day worthwhile..... :)

Oh... by the way... they said the curry was nice.. but i put a little too much bay leaves.. and chappati was a success ...!! 

:D B).. Piece of cake...!!! (Only if they knew... ;))

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