Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Perad or Guava Cheese ... made with Canned Guavas

** This post contains affiliate links.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!!

Christmas decorations have started going up all over the place, Christmas merchandise is in every store and it's probably just me, but when I see this, my mind starts to wander towards Christmas sweets (mind you that doesn't take much). Yup, before we know it, Christmas will be upon us. I must admit, this is my absolute favorite time of the year. 

Let's talk sweets now, shall we? What's your favorite? Me, I love them all. Old school, traditional Kuswar, new age desserts and sweets, the whole lot. But of all of them I think that my favorite is the Goan Guava Cheese (almost like Guava gummies or candy, but better) known as Perad. I have previously posted a perad recipe using fresh guavas here. But here, in Sydney, I haven't been able to get my hands on any fresh guavas, especially this time of the year. So imagine my joy when I came across this on one of my weekly grocery shops at my local Supermarket.


Ofcourse, I grabbed a couple of tins and knew that I had to try making Perad with them. (I have also used the "Koo" brand with the same great results.) I mean, I knew it wouldn't be like using fresh guavas, but how different could it really be? So I tweaked the recipe a tiny bit and crossed my fingers while the perad cooked and set. To my delight, this was the best Perad I had ever made or eaten. So it's safe to say from now on, while I can get my hands on these canned guavas, I'm going to stick to using it for my Perad.








Perad

2 cans Guava Halves, in Syrup (each can is 410g)
3-4 cloves
500g sugar
1-2 tsps ghee / clarified butter

Place some of the ghee on a large metal cookie sheet / baking pan and spread on the bottom and sides and keep this aside.

Drain the guava halves and reserve the syrup.

Scoop out the seeds and set aside.

Puree the halves till smooth and put the puree in a heavy bottomed vessel. Now Goan sweets are notorious for taking ages to cook, but I have found if you use a wider vessel, its cooks a lot faster because of the increased surface area. So I use a stainless steel 12" Kitchenaid Skillet for all my sweets and it drastically reduces the cooking time.

Now place all the seeds, that were previously scooped out, in a strainer, add a couple of spoons of the reserved syrup from the cans and stir through the strainer to extract all the guava puree from the centres. You may need to do this a couple of times adding a tiny bit of syrup each time to extract all the guava. Add the extract to the pan and now discard the seeds.

I usually end up with about 370g pulp from the halves and about 250g from the centres. In all about 620g of guava pulp. Other recipes call for a lot more sugar, but since these are canned guavas in syrup they are sweeter than the fresh ones, so I've cut down on the amount of added sugar in the recipe.

Add the cloves and the sugar to the pan.



Place the pan on medium heat and stir continuously using a wooden spoon with a long handle. The guava mix tends to sputter and spit while cooking and the long handle will prevent the mix splashing on your arms. Make sure that when you stir, the spoon gets to the edges of the pan to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. If the mix sputters too much, lower the the heat and continue cooking.


When the mix thickens, extract the cloves carefully and discard. Continue cooking till it leaves the sides of the pan. Keep stirring.

Test to see if done. (Use water test - Place some icy cold water in a small bowl and drop a teaspoon of the sweet on it. If it firms up on cooling it is done. If it is still very soft or too sticky, it needs more cooking). 


When done, pour the mix into the greased pan. Using the back of a large spoon that has been greased with some ghee spread the mix to form an even slab and set aside to cool.


When it has cooled down a bit, using a knife that has been greased with some ghee, cut into cubes. You may need to grease the knife a couple of times while cutting to prevent it sticking.

When it has completely cooled, store in an air tight container. If you are making this ahead of time or if it summer like in our part of the world, refrigerate till you are ready to use.



Enjoy!!!


Monday, November 27, 2017

Baby Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Glaze

Whoever said that the simple things are often the best, was a legend. I have proof. What am I talking about? Well a couple of weeks ago, I'd gone to lunch with a friend. Obviously, I had to have the smashed avo toast - beautiful rye sourdough, topped with a generous amount of smashed avocado. This particular version of it was then topped with a simple salad that was so very good, I had to try replicating it at home. It was just a beautiful and well balanced little number, with every mouthful, I could literally hear angels sing.

Since the salad was so simple, there is very little to do to assemble it. This makes it perfect if you have to make a great big batch to feed a crowd this holiday season. The homemade version was so good, I hardly got a couple of bites of it. The husband, who initially was very skeptical about the simplicity and the 'no mayo' nature of the salad, almost wiped the plate clean. So I can tell you that this recipe has been tried and tested and has received the highest seal of approval (well, in my house atleast).

This is not an exact recipe. You simply add the ingredients to your liking and taste and it will turn out fantastic.




Baby Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Glaze

A couple of handfuls of baby spinach (you could also use rocket or any salad greens of your choice)
A few cherry tomatoes
Feta cheese, to taste
Freshly crushed black pepper, to taste
Balsamic glaze, to taste

Place the baby spinach / salad greens on your salad plate.

Halve the cherry tomatoes and place it evenly around the plate.

Crumble some feta cheese on top. (Please note, the feta cheese is salty, so add as much or as little as you'd like. No additional salt in used as the feta seasons the salad.)

Sprinkle a little freshly cracked black pepper on top.

Drizzle a little balsamic glaze over everything to finish it off.

Sit back and look at this gorgeous work or art.

Serve up and enjoy.
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