Monday, August 29, 2011

Chocolate Beetroot Cake With Avacado Cream


Happy B'day To Me





Your birthday's a time for careful reflection
About your life, and its future direction.
You see where you've been when you look at the past;
Most of it's great; you had quite a blast!






You wonder what's coming, what life has in store;
Will it be just the same? Will there be a new door?
Remember this, as you blow out the last candle:
Life holds no challenge that you cannot handle.


Each of these words By Joanna Fuchs seem to be so true . This Birthday I was accompanied by a very special guest Aunt Irene ( Hurricane Irene) & we were so preoccupied with preparing for her arrival that there was no scope for any B'day celebrations or rather I should say that I was in no mood to celebrate this very special day .We had hardly recovered from  the earthquake that rocked us last week when came Irene's news. It was just so nerve racking to go around town looking for bottled water & stocking up on groceries that everything else took a backseat for some time. Every moment the fear of Hurricane Irene's arrival & the constant warning on all news channels made me really sick . That is when I decided to divert my attention from all this & the best way to do it was to divulge in something that I love to do . Yes Baking is something that I can do anytime of the day or even night , so switching off the TV I just barged into the kitchen to treat myself to something sweet & healthy.

I had been wanting  to do a red velvet cake for a long time but I do not know why I detest using any color in my food or bakes  so I decided to use a beetroot instead of the color . It would  just be an experiment & if it did not turn out good all I would do is trash it. Also with loads of fresh avocado in the refrigerator I thought of doing an avocado sweet cream as the filling  although I've never had anything else but guacamole made of avacado. So get set , ready&  go. The experiment was succesful. We cannot even make out that the cake has beetroot as one of the ingredients . The beet just made it so moist & delicious & the avocado sweet cream with a little dash of cardamom was heavenly :














Ingredients:

For the cake:

  1. 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  2. 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  3. 1 tsp baking powder
  4. 1 tsp baking soda
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
  6. 1 stick butter / 1/2 cup
  7. 1 cup brown sugar
  8. 1 cup boiled & pureed beetroot
  9. 3 eggs
For Avocado sweet Cream:

  1. 1 avocado scooped 
  2. 4 tablespoons confectioners sugar
  3. 2-3 tsps  heavy cream or half & half
  4. 1 tsp of cardamom powder
For the chocolate ganache frosting:

  1. 1/4 th cup semi sweet baking chocolate
  2. 1/4 cup heavy cream
Preparation:

For the cake/ start by mixing dry ingredients , flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder & baking soda together. Keep aside.
Beat the butter & sugar together until light & fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time & beat until fully incorporated.
Start adding the dry ingredients 2 tablespoons at a time & mix well until all the dry mix is well incorporated.
Add the beetroot puree and mix well.
Bake on 350 degree F ( this batter will make 3 cakes, 2 small ones in a mini cake pan that have been stacked to make this one small cake & one big in a 9 inch cake pan. The 2 small ones were done in 20 mins & the large one in 45 mins)

For the avocado sweet cream , scoop the avocado & puree in a mixer blender with 4 tablespoons of sugar &  a tsp of cardamom powder. If it looks too thick add a tsp of half & half or heavy cream & prepare it to a piping consistency.

For the chocolate ganache , break the chocolate into small pieces & put it in a bowl. Heat 2 tablespoons of heavy cream in a pan or microwave & pour it onto the chocolate & stir until the chocolate melts & it becomes a chocolate sauce. let it cool a little before pouring it onto the cake. 

Assemble the cake:

The small cake pan has an indentation in the centre & hence it leaves a hollow centre in the cake. 
Fill the hollow centres of the 2 cakes with avocado sauce & stack them, pour chocolate ganache on top starting from the centre of the cake & let it just flow down. Decorate as you desire.





Friday, August 26, 2011

Dahi Payaaz Curry( Yogurt Onion Curry)

I  have no idea if this curry  is something which is popular in a lot of households or is it just something which is typical of my household. I had seen my Mom make this very often even when we were kids & my brother who is a very fussy eater likes it till date. Whenever the meal cooked at home is not to his liking he will opt for Dahi Payaaz ki sabzi & is so so happy having it. Besides from being easy to make it is also very delicious. My brother likes it a little dryer than what you can see here & it tastes exactly like Paneer bhujiya ( scrambled cheese) I like mine a little more curried & is my favourite for lunch with a little fried rice /especially when I'm all by myself at home & in no mood to cook something for myself from scratch.When Hubby got home day before & I showed him the pictures he exclaimed" this is so typical of you, I have never heard of this curry". His words made me wonder if this is something really typical of me..........noooooooo idea.

So here goes the recipe:

Ingredients :


1 cup yogurt
1/2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion finally chopped
2 green chillies chopped
salt , red chilli powder & turmeric powder to taste
Fresh cilantro for garnish



Preparation:

Heat oil in a pan & add the cumin seeds , let them splutter.
Add green chillies & onions & saute onions till golden brown.
Now add the dry spices & the yogurt. The yogurt will curdle & looks like you are making cheese so don't be scared.
Let it simmer for 4-5 minutes so some of the water will evaporate . If you'd like it dryer let it simmer for some more time. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Note: The rice showing here is boiled rice fried with onions , red green & yellow peppers , peas & corn with spices according to taste.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Maple syrup cookies

I think we don't need a reason or an occasion  to bake some cookies . Especially small , bite size cookies  that can be a breeze to bake & will be gone in no time. As I'm always looking for a recipe where I can use a natural sugar subsitute  , this idea of maple syrup cookies was intoxicating. I did think of replacing the sugar with Agave Nectar but on second thought maple syrup sounded a better option coz it would impart some maple flavour to the cookie as well. So here I go making these easy breezy melt in the mouth cookies.


Ingredients:



  1. I stick of butter
  2. 1/3rd cup maple syrup
  3. 1 cup all purpose flour
  4. 1/2 tsp pure  vanilla extract
  5. 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  6. Pinch of salt
Preparation:

  1. Beat the butter in   the bowl of a stand mixer  or by hand until soft & fluffy . 
  2. Pour in the maple syrup & mix well for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Mix Vanilla extract & cardamom powder  & salt into the butter mixture.
  4. Start adding the all purpose flour 2 tablespoons at a time & mix well until the 1 cup is incorporated. Do not overmix as that would tend to make the cookies hard.
  5. The cookie dough is ready & will be very soft.
  6. Fill into piping bag with the tip of your choice & pipe cookies onto prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake at 350 degree F  preheated oven for 12-15 mins or until the cookies look perfectly golden.
Note: Don't even try to store them : with a couple of people in the house they will be gone before you start looking for a box to store them.

Enjoy..................

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Aloo Bhujiya ( Spicy Potatoes)


We can never say enough about the versatility of potatoes.  They can be sweet, they can be spicy & they can be savoury. I think most of us love potatoes as an accompaniment or just on their own. Yes I will admit that i myself love potatoes & so does my husband. Although he will keep away from all things starchy but just can't resist aloo bhujiya. Come weekend & with it comes the big question: apart from cereal , upma & poha what would he like to have & I always know the answer .......aloo bhujiya with paratha. My husband hails from the state of Bihar & I think aloo bhujiya & paratha is something special in Bihari households & hence his love for it. ( Can anyone second that please)Since we both love potatoes  i always have boiled potatoes in the refrigerator especially for the weekends as they come in handy for a lot of dishes & a quick aloo bhujiya before we go out for our weekend chores. This time we just had the delicious aloo bhujiya with a butter croissant.

Ingredients:


 3-4 Boiled potatoes  chopped into wedges
2-3 finly chopped green chillies
1 tablespoon oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp salt ( or more acc. to taste)
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp roasted cumin powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp Mango powder
Pinch of turmeric powder
1 tsp dried parsley


Preparation:

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a nonstick pan or wok,when the oil is hot throw in the cumin  seeds & let them splutter . Add green chillies & potatoes .  Stir for  2-3 minutes & let potatoes become a little crusty. Throw in all the dry spices & stir thoroughly. Your cook time will depend on how crusty you want the potatoes to be since they are already boiled. Serve & enjoy .

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cardamom Flavoured Chocolate Pistachio Cookies

"Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o`clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap" Al Hutchinson 


I am just wondering today as to why I have been baking all these cookies. Probably coz baking cookies brings back a lot of childhood memories. I remember my father bringing us all those delicious fresh baked cookies from local bakeries around town , and not only the bakery ones but the boxed branded ones like chocolate bourbon & wafers were our favourites as well. I have some faded memories of an assorted cookie box that my parents would get quite often & apart from the cookies being delicious the box used to be something worth saving as well. As kids we never had morning tea but we never forgot to have cookies  & we have them till date. My family & I myself are cookie lovers & they are an essential part of our morning & evening tea .I always try to incorporate an Indian flavour so the cookies would taste indian & they were really fun to make. 


Ingredients:
For the Pistachio Cardamom dough:



  1. 3/4th cup all purpose flour 
  2. 1/4th cup pistachio powder
  3. 1/4th tsp salt
  4. 1/4th tsp baking soda
  5. 1 stick unsalted butter
  6. 1/3rd cup powdered sugar
  7. 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  8. 1 tsp cardamom powder
For the Chocolate Cookie Dough:

  1. 3/4th cup all purpose flour
  2. 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  3. 1/4th tsp salt
  4. 1/4 tsp baking soda
  5. 1 stick unsalted butter
  6. 1/3rd cup powdered sugar
  7. 1 egg
  8. 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
Preparing  the Pistachio dough:

  1.  Mix  together the dry ingredients , flour , pistachio powder, baking soda , salt & cardamom powder , keep aside.
  2. Beat the butter & sugar together until light & fluffy.
  3. Start adding the dry ingredients a couple of tablespoons at a time until fully incorporated.Add vanilla extract & beat again . Divide the dough into two equal parts roll it into balls. Keep aside

Preparing the chocolate dough:
  1. Mix dry ingredients together , all purpose flour, baking soda, salt & cocoa powder. Keep aside.
  2. Beat the butter & sugar together until light & fluffy.
  3. Add the egg & beat again for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Start adding the dry ingredient mix & beat until fully incorporated.
  5. Add Vanilla extract & mix again.
  6. Divide  the dough into two equal parts & roll into balls.
Place the halves in between parchment paper or cling foil & roll each ball into 10/12 1/4 inch thick  rectangles.
Do this one sheet at a time, one pistachio & one chocolate., the chocolate sheet being the lower layer.  
Place  the pistachio dough sheet on top of the chocolate dough sheet . Press lightly so the sheets stick together.
Position the sandwiched dough with the long edge facing you. Using the edge of the paper as a guide roll the sheets into a tight cylinder around 2 inches wide.  Roll the dough cylinder into cling foil & refrigerate for atleast 30 minutes. Repeat the same process with the other two pieces of dough.
Remove dough rolls from the fridge & cut into 1/4 inch thick  rounds. You can trim the edges of the roll if it looks too uneven.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F & bake for 12-15 minutes . Let cool completely for the perfect crunchiness.




Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chocolate Coconut Macroons( Eggless)

SmartSnacks: Chocolate Coconut Macroons( Eggless): "So here comes the recipe for these macroons.......one of the easiest recipes I have come across while I was looking for coconut cookie ..."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hazelnut Chocolate Marble Cake

Last week my friend was here visiting me & we had a nice time shopping, watching movies & baking. I have posted a couple of cookie recipes that we baked during her first visit & here she comes next week  again & what a co-incidence  she gets a big hazlenut  chocolate bar for me. I had already been going crazy for Nutella(hazlenut spread)  ever since I laid my hands on the first jar . It was just so exciting to hold that 400 Gram bar of chocolate & knowing that we could not eat the whole thing I had to  use it in some way. My friend suggested we make a chocolate cake  as she also wanted to learn baking it. So I had all the ingredients for a good recipe: a friend , a hazlenut chocolate bar, a chocolate cake in demand & a student for my one on one baking class : what more could I ask for.  So we started with a basic cake recipe with the thought of just adding the chocolate in the end & decorating the cake with chocolate shavings when done. As I started with the batter my thoughts kept on changing. Why not make a double layer cake : vanilla & chocolate & so I poured half of the prepared batter into the baking loaf pan, I added almost 150 gms of the melted hazlenut chocolate  to the remaining half batter & as I was pouring it  on top of the vanilla batter it just felt too light in colour & not very chocolatey . So I poured just half of that batter into the pan & then added a couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder to the remaining 1/4 batter  to get the dark chocolatey taste. And once the cake was out of the oven we could not wait to decorate it with the chocolate shavings, we just ate it as is.

Ingredients:
  1. 2 cups all purpose flour
  2. 1 tsp baking soda
  3. 1/2 tsp baking powder
  4. 1/4 tsp salt
  5. 1 cup light brown sugar
  6. 1 stick butter at room temp.
  7. 4 eggs
  8. 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  9. 150 gms hazlenut chocolate( or cocoa & whole hazlenuts will be fine as well)
  10. 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  11. 1/4 cup lukewarm milk
Preparation:

  1. Mix the 1st four dry ingredients together , flour , baking soda, baking powder & salt. Keep aside
  2. Start with beating the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment , beat 3-4 minutes until light . Add sugar & beat again until the mixture seems light & fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one by one beating a minute at a time.You might need to scrape the bowl from the sides. 
  4. Add the vanilla extract & start adding the dry ingredients  little by little until fully incorporated. If the batter seems too thick add some milk until it reaches a semi solid texture. 
  5. Pour half of the prepared batter into well greased 9" By 5 " baking loaf pan . Pat the pan on the work surface 3-4 times to even out the batter. Now add the melted chocolate ( i microwaved the chocolate bar for about a minute ) to the remaining batter & mix well.
  6. Pour 1/4 of this chocolate batter on top of the vanilla batter in the pan. 
  7. Now add 1/4 cup of cocoa powder to the remaining 1/4 batter . Mix well. Add some milk to bring it to the right consistency as adding the cocoa powder makes it thick.
  8. Pour it as the top layer. 
  9. Bake on 350 F for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
We could not wait to decorate the cake with more melted chocolate & chocolate shavings / just ate it as is.




Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Muffins with Granola Topping

 Nowadays I just spend more time in the Baking Isle whenever I go grocery  shopping . I keep looking at all the lined up  baking ingredients  ,sometimes even grab a box or bottle  of something that is new to me & look for recipes on the box or bottle  to introduce myself to what that particular ingredient could be used for. Last week  as I was going thru my regular ritual of browsing the baking isle I saw this boxed mix of Apple Cinnamon Muffins , the picture on the box was so tempting that I put it in my shopping basket. But on second thoughts I planned to bake those muffins from scratch as the boxed mixes are sometimes overly sweet. So I looked at the box one more time before putting it back & kinda registered in my mind what ingredients it had. I wanted to bake them for my Nephew who was visiting us the same weekend & who is really loves   Brownies , cookies & muffins (Ha ha - Hope he dosen't kill me after reading this). So the moment I was back home I grabbed my laptop & contacted my best friend - The Internet. Yes all my recipes are either internet inspired or baking isle inspired  & Food Network Ofcourse  not to forget memories of my childhood & the local bakery in my hometown that inspires me to bring an Indian touch to my baked goods.( believe me I do not have a single baking book at the moment) . I did come across a lot of apple cinnamon recipes but also I had in mind the picture i had seen on the boxed mix- the ingredients in the box also had a pouch of apple sauce & granola as the topping. So here I am following a recipe for a apple cinnamon cake & I added a diced , caramalised apple just on my own.


Ingredients: ( Makes 12 Muffins)


  1. 1 apple peeled, cored , diced & caramalised with a tablespoon of sugar & pinch of cinnamon.
  2. 2 cups all purpose flour
  3. 1 tsp baking powder
  4. 1/2 tsp baking soda 
  5. 1/4 tsp salt
  6. 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  7. 1 stick unsalted butter. ( Skip the salt if using salted butter) 
  8. 1 cup brown sugar
  9. 2 eggs
  10. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  11. 1/2 cup apple puree
  12. 1/4 cup lukewarm milk or water 
  13. 1/2 cup readymade granola( oats rolled in sugar or honey & baked)

Preparation:

  1. Peel & dice the apple into 1/2 inch pieces . Transfer to a heavy bottomed skillet -add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar & a pinch of cinnamon . Cook on medium heat until the sugar coats the apple pieces. Let it cool.
  2.  Mix together all the dry ingredients, flour, baking powder, baking soda , salt , cinnamon .
  3. Beat butter & sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light & fluffy. Mix in the eggs one at a time & beat again - a minute at a time. 
  4. Add the dry ingredient mix 2 tablespoons at a time until fully incorporated.
  5. Stir in the chopped, caramalised  apples,  vanilla extract & apple puree . Mix well 
  6. If the batter looks too thick add some lukewarm milk or water to bring the mixture to a dropping consistency.
  7. Transfer batter to muffin pan with an ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, pat the muffin pan  on a work surface so the batter is kinda leveled  & top with granola ( whole oats rolled in sugar or honey)
  8. Line  Muffin pan with paper muffin liners & bake on 350 F for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. 
The muffins come out of the oven & comes in my nephew & family .
Gosh!!!!!!! The muffins were gone even before I could take  some nice pictures as I was still in the kitchen cooking . I  hardly managed  to take the one above with my small Canon Sx 210.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sesame Seed Cookies


So here I am browsing the internet looking for some sesame seed cookie recipes & all the recipes I came across had the cookies just rolled in sesame seed or just topped with sesame seeds . I was really looking for a recipe that would have a lot of sesame coz I love the taste of it. Not finding anything like it I just picked up the basic sesame seed cookie recipe & tweaked it by adding some baking soda & a cup of sesame seeds. My friend & myself just freaked out when we tasted these cookies as they were one of the best tasting cookie we have ever had.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup toasted Sesame seed
  2. 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  3. 1/4 tsp salt
  4. 1/8  tsp baking powder
  5. 1/2 stick Unsalted  butter( skip the salt if using salted butter)
  6. 3/4  cup brown sugar
  7. 1 tsp lemon juice
  8. 1/2 tsp  pure vanilla extract
  9. 1 egg lightly beaten
Preparation: 

  1. Sift together all the dry ingredients, flour, salt & baking soda .
  2. Toast the sesame seed in a heavy bottomed pan on medium or low heat until they are perfectly pink in colour/ make sure not to overbrown the sesame seeds . Transfer them to a plate to stop them from browning any further.
  3. Beat the butter & sugar together until light & fluffy. Add the egg & beat again .
  4. Start adding the dry ingredient mix to the butter sugar & egg mix. Mix well.
  5. Add the lemon juice , vanilla extract & sesame seed  &  mix well.
  6. Drop about  1/2 a tablesppon of the  dough onto the prepared cookie sheet.
  7. Bake at 325 F for 11-12  minutes. I kept on checking in between to make sure the cookies don't turn  too dark.  Transfer to cooling rack & let cool completely for the perfect crunchiness. 

Salty Tea Cookies ( Eggless)




Having a friend over for a couple of days each for the last two weeks was just so much fun, shopping, gossip, watching movies & ofcourse we had baking on the agenda . I was all the more excited coz I was having my first one on one baking class with her. My friend suggested we make some salty cumin cookies that she called tea cookies & I have had sesame seed cookies on my mind for a long time & what better excuse than having a friend  to try some new recipes > so for the salty cookies we just came up with a recipe of our own & they were just awesome as it is & with some home made guacamole as well.

Ingredients:


  1. 1 cup all purpose flour
  2. 1/4 cup gramflour ( Besan)
  3. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  4. 1/2 tsp salt
  5. 3/4 tsp cumin seeds
  6. 1 tsp sugar
  7. 1 stick butter
  8. 1 tablespoon cream cheese
  9. 1 tsp lemon zest
  10. 1 tsp lemon juice 
Preparation:

  1. Mix together all the dry ingredients , flour, gramflour, salt , baking soda ,sugar & cumin seeds, keep aside
  2.  Beat the butter & cream cheese together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light & fluffy. Add the lemon zest & lemon juice & start adding the dry mix a tablespoon at a time until incorporated . 
  3. Finish adding all the dry mix until just well blended.
  4. Roll out the cookie dough into 8 inch long logs ,wrap in cling foil & refrigerate for 15-30 minutes .
  5. Cut the logs into 1/2 inch thick slices & place on baking tray approx 1 inch apart.
  6. Bake on 350 F for 13-15 minutes or until the cookies turn slightly pink.

Next time I'm gonna improvise a little on this recipe by increasing the amount of lemon zest & lemon juice & ofcourse cut them with a cookie cutter .