Butter Croissants and Coffee

One of the most best aromas on a beautiful morning

Samosa Chaat

Snack a little

Seekh Kabab

Try something different!

Decadent Chocolate

Do not forget to indulge once in a while

Steamed goodness

Various cooking methods bring variety in your palette

Friday, August 21, 2015

Fresh Apple Cake

Apples are in season. My neighbor, Kathy, made this amazing apple cake one weekend, and was kind enough to share two pieces with us. She even included a print of the recipe for us, in case we wanted to know if we were allergic to any of the ingredients, like nuts. Being Indians, I guess we're lucky not to be allergic to most ingredients. The cake was so moist and it had a beautiful glaze over it. We loved it so much that we decided to make a whole batch next time we got apples. And it was simply amazing, just like Kathy's! Special thanks to her.
The recipe was from the Deen family.

No pictures for this post. Sorry. Will post it when I bake this again.

Ingredients:
Honey Glaze:

    1 cup confectioners' sugar
    2 tablespoons honey
    2 tablespoons milk

Apple Cake:

    3 cups diced Granny Smith apples, about 2 apples
    1 cup lightly toasted chopped walnuts (I used pecans)
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 cups sugar
    1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
    3 eggs

Method:


Glaze: Add all the ingredients to a small bowl and stir until smooth. Set the bowl aside.
If you don't have readymade confectioner's sugar like me, just powder some regular sugar in a spice grinder, until its fine like dust.

Cake: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a Bundt pan or tube pan. I used a large rectangular pan for lack of these.

In a bowl, mix together the apples, walnuts, vanilla, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Using an electric mixer beat the sugar and oil, in a large bowl, until its well creamed for about 10 minutes. Break eggs into this one by one, beating well with each addition. Add in the dry ingredients and mix gently until well incorporated. About 10 folds and that's it, just stop and walk away. You don't want to mix it too much and activate the gluten. Now fold in the apple mixture.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Allow the cake to fully cool in the pan, about 1 hour, and then turn it out onto a plate.

Drizzle the apple cake with some of the honey glaze, serve and enjoy!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Olan



Ingredients:
Ash gourd - 2 cups, cubed
Red beans - 1 cup - soaked overnight and cooked with salt
Coconut milk - 1 cup (preferably fresh, not canned)
Green chillies - 3 - 4, slit in half
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Coconut oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp

Method:

Cook red beans with some salt and keep aside.
Cook ash gourd with very small amount of water and salt, covered on medium heat.
Once half cooked, add the red beans and cook uncovered until almost all water has evaporated.
Add coconut milk, leaves and cumin powder. Continue heating until it just starts to boil. Stop the heat and take it off the stove.
Heat coconut oil and splutter mustard seeds.
Add the oil into the olan. Serve with rice.

Chinese chicken dumplings



Ingredients:
Minced chicken - 1 lb.
Shitake mushrooms (dried, soaked and squeezed dry) - 1/4 lb. (half a packet)
Napa cabbage - 5 leaves, shredded (marinated for 20 mins with salt and squeezed)
Sambal - 1 tbsp
Garlic - 1 clove, minced fine
Ginger, minced - 2 tbsp
White pepper powder - 2 tsp
Scallions - 2 stalks, minced fine
Hoisin sauce - 2 tbsp
Light soy sauce - 2 tbsp
Lime zest - 1/2 tsp
Sesame oil - 2 tsp
Gyoza wrappers - 1 packet

Method:

Mix all ingredients except wrappers. Marinate in refrigerator for at least half an hour.

Fill a small bowl with water.
To assemble dumplings: Spoon 1 teaspoon of chicken mixture and place into center of wrapper. Dip the tip of your finger into the small bowl of water and run your finger along the edge of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper over to create a half moon shape, or a triangle if using square wrappers. Pinch the edges of the wrapper starting in the middle to seal, making sure all air has been removed.

To cook dumplings: Place a steamer lined with baking paper over simmering water.
Cook dumplings, in batches, for 15 minutes or until tender and cooked through. Serve.

Chinese dumpling sauce



Ingredients:
Low sodium light soy sauce - 3 tbsp
Tamari - 2 tbsp
Coconut aminos - 1 tbsp (optional)
Sesame oil (i used chilli sesame oil) - 2 tbsp
Malt vinegar - 2 tbsp
Coriander root and stems, chopped fine (cilantro) - 2 tbsp
Ginger, minced fine or grated - 2 tbsp
Green onions, finely chopped - 2 tbsp (1 stalk)
Sweet chili sauce - 1 tsp.

Method:

Mix all ingredients and let marinate for at least half an hour before serving.
Taste and adjust as per your liking.
For an extra kick, I also ground some sichuan pepper corns and sifted it to let a small sprinkling of it into the sauce.
If you have regular sesame oil, then use 2 tbsp sesame oil and 1/2 tsp chilli oil or to taste.
I was making dumplings too, so sprinkled a small amount of garlic in the sauce too (that I was going to use for dumplings).
Sprinkle some toasted white sesame seeds on it too if you like.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Zero-oil Tomato Sambar


I've made this sambar a few times now. Its a one pot meal that requires no effort except for prepping the veggies. When in a hurry, I only use tomatoes and make a tomato sambar. You can add additional veggies to this recipe.
Veggies that go well in this sambar are spinach, carrots, beans,  snake gourd (padavalanga), drumsticks, ivy gourd (tindora/kovakka),sweet potatoes, potatoes, taro (cheppankezhangu/chembu/arbi), bell pepper, green peas.

Ingredients:
Lentils – 1 cup (use toor dal/masoor dal/moong dal/ or a mixture of these)
Tomatoes – 3, chopped
Onions – 1, chopped
Green chillies – 3, chopped fine
Ginger – 1″ thick, minced
Garlic – 4 cloves, minced
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Sambar powder – 3 tbsp.
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida – 1 tsp
Water – 2 cups
Additional veggies are optional – eg. spinach, carrots, beans, snake gourd (padavalanga), drumsticks, ivy gourd (tindora/kovakka), sweet potatoes, potatoes, taro (cheppankezhangu/chembu/arbi), bell pepper, green peas.
Salt to taste
Cilantro – a handful, chopped

Method:

Add all ingredients into a pressure cooker and cook for 2 to 3 whistles. After it’s cooked, sprinkle the cilantro over the top – do not forget this step because it lends the tomato sambar that signature flavor. It’s that simple!

You can have it with brown rice, and a side of other veggie dishes. Or on its own like soup.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Stuffed Karelas in makhani gravy


Adapted from Tarladalal.com

Ingredients:
For stuffed karelas:
Karelas - 8 small nos. or 4 large
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Moong dal - 1/2 cup
Green chilli - 1, sliced thin
Ginger - 1" piece
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Cilantro (coriander leaves) - a small bunch, minced fine
Salt

For makhani gravy
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Ginger - 1"inch piece
Garlic - 6 cloves
Tomatoes - 3
Cashews - small handful
Cinnamon - 2 sticks (about 2 inches)
Cloves - 6 nos.
Red bell pepper (capsicum) - 1 chopped or Red pumpkin - 1 cup chopped
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Tomato ketchup - 1 tsp (optional)
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) - a pinch
Low fat milk - 1/2 cup
Cornflour - 1 tsp
Oil - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Cilantro - for garnish

Method:

Stuffed karelas
Wash the karelas and Peel the bitter gourd and keep the peel aside for use in another recipe (Karela Theplas).
Slit each one lengthwise. Using a sharp knife, scoop out the insides carefully creating a hollow in the centre. Apply a little salt to the inside and outside of the bitter gourd and keep aside for 10 to 15 minutes.
Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and add the cumin seeds. When they crackle, add the soaked moong dal (1/2 cup), 1 green chilli, ginger, turmeric powder and salt and mix well.
Add ½ cup of water, cover and allow the dal to cook on a slow flame till it is soft and sticky.
Add the coriander leaves and mix well. Cool a little.
Fill this mixture into the bitter gourd and steam them for 10 to 15 minutes till they are cooked (I baked them at 350 degrees for 15 mins, then turned them and continued to bake for 10 mins. turned the other side and baked further 10 mins and then changed heat to broil for 5 mins). Cut each karela into 2 and keep aside - my karelas were small so I did not do this.

Makhani gravy
Make ginger garlic paste.
In a saucepan - 3 tomatoes, 1 medium onion, small handful of cashews, 2 cinnamon sticks, 6 cloves, red capsicum (original recipe uses pumpkin) with just enough water and cook over medium heat till tomatoes are soft. Allow to cool completely. then strain (save the water) and puree it.
In the saucepan (i washed it again), heat 2 tsp oil and add cumin seeds. Then fry the ginger garlic paste till raw smell goes away. Then add the puree. Add the strained water. Simmer for 7 minutes or so. Add a teaspoon of tomato ketchup, add kashmiri red chilli powder (2 tsp), salt and sprinkle some kasoori methi. Take half cup of low fat milk and mix 1/2 tsp cornflour to it. pour this into the gravy. Adjust salt. It will thicken soon.
Add the cooked stuffed karelas and submerge it. sprinkle some cilantro over it.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Date & Nut Rugelach


How can Christmas be complete without baking cookies! I was debating if I should bake a cake or cookies. I knew they had to have dates in them, because it reminds of my chidlhood and Christmas with my family in Saudi Arabia, where dates are always in the house.
I was searching for recipes on Epicurious and came across this recipe for a Rugelach. This seemed intriguing to me because they looked like mini croissants with a date filing in them. The recipe wasn't too complicated so I decided to give it a try. I also referred Ina Garten's rugelach recipe (video available in link) for the dough.
Initially I found it messy and difficult, but I played around with a few batches and got the hang of it. Refer my notes for pointers. They all tasted really good, so no problems there!
This brings an end to year 2013's series of Christmas recipes. Hope you enjoyed them, and try them any time of the year!

Ingredients:
For the dough:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2-pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 9 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

Confectioners' sugar for rolling out dough
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash

For the filling:
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup fig preserves

Method:
Cream the cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined. Do not overwork it or the dough will become tough. (I combined the flour with my hands) Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball in quarters, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the filling, finely chop dates and walnuts and in a bowl with your hands toss together dates, walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla until combined well.

On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons fig preserves and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling. Press the filling lightly into the dough.


Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges—cutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on the cookies. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.



Notes: Chilling the dough is key. It will make it more manageable.
The first time, I rolled out the dough without any extra flour. It stuck to everything and rolling it with the filling was a nightmare. It did not shape very well and was all mangled. I thought it was going to be a disaster. I even cursed Ina Garten for ruining Christmas for me. But I decided to bake the messy globs anyway. The finished product was really tasty and I forgot all my frustrations.
The glob (first batch - Christmas dessert)
The next batch, I placed the chilled dough between two sheets of cling film. I then rolled it out. The dough rolled out much better this way. I removed the top film and dusted a little flour on the dough. Turned it over, and removed the other sheet. Spread the fig jam and sprinkled the filling, cut it into triangular sections and rolled them perfectly.
The last one, I did the same procedure while rolling it (between cling films). But then I stuck it in the freezer to chill, to avoid dusting flour on it. It turned out to be brittle, so rolling them into crescents were a bit difficult. I think the second option works best.
You can also use confectioner's sugar for dusting instead of flour - in hindsight, I wish I'd done that. Oh well, next time. :)