Eggless Banana & Maple Syrup Bread

Even though I keep claiming that baking is not my thing, it is still a thing that I love to do. Like everyone else who enjoys it, I find it therapeutic as well . The smell of a warm cake or bread coming  out fresh from the oven is intoxicating, and no matter how many disasters in my kitchen, I am hooked. I guess like everything else, if you keep practicing and don’t give up, you do eventually get better at it, right?

 

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Like this Eggless Banana, Maple syrup & Oats Bread, which I now make religiously almost two-three times a month depending on how many ripe Bananas I can find in the pantry and it never ever fails to disappoint me. Of course, it helps that the recipe is from the very trusted blog of Dassana, where she has a mind-blowing collection of Vegetarian Indian recipes for all kinds of occasions and tastes.

 

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I especially love this Bread because I am allergic to eggs so I can eat it without worrying about any sort of reaction. Infact this bread tastes even better when the Bananas are overripe; they add a certain sweetness to the Bread, which means you can actually get away with cutting down whatever sweetener you like to just half. I always find that over time the flavor of the Bread develops, even more, giving it a subtle depth and making it just taste so delicious.

 

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Also, you can keep this in the fridge wrapped in a foil for up to a week, and it stays fresh. It freezes beautifully too. Eat it on its own or slightly warm with some butter, and it will make you very happy. Please check out her blog for the authentic recipe or check my modified somewhat version here, where I have used Maple syrup and oats.

 

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Recipe – Baking time 1 hour

 

3 ripe bananas (overripe bananas impart a sweeter flavor to the bread)

1.5 cups plain Flour

½ cup Olive Oil

½ cup Maple Syrup or Honey or Brown Sugar or Jaggery powder

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder

1.5 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 tbsp Rolled Oats

A handful of chopped Nuts

2 tbsp Sunflower Seeds

1 extra Banana, this can be slightly less ripe

1 tbsp of Maple Syrup to coat the Banana that we will place on the top of the bread before baking

 

Note : For a more Indian flavor, you can add powdered Jaggery instead of Maple Syrup and 1 tsp Cardamom powder. Melt the Jaggery to coat the Banana on top of the Bread.

 

Steps:

Preheat oven at 180 Degrees C

In a large bowl, mash the three overripe bananas really well, using the back of a fork. Ensure that they are reduced to a Pulp, so they spread evenly in the batter.

Add the maple syrup and olive oil and mix well.

Now add the Flour, Oats, Cinnamon powder, baking powder & soda and gently mix till it has all come together.

Add the Vanilla, chopped nuts and a little bit of the Sunflower seeds and give a final mix

Pour in a baking tin and top with the extra Banana, which is sliced into two pieces and press it gently in the bread.

Coat the Banans with the remaining Maple Syrup and sprinkle the remaining sunflower seeds.

Bake for 1 hour, remove it and insert a toothpick to check that it comes out clean. It is essential to keep an eye on the bread, mainly because every oven works differently.

Cool the bread completely before you cut it and serve.

PS: This bread also travels really well, so if you are going for a picnic, you know what to take.

Oatmeal & Coconut drop cookies with Google Home assistant

I have a fascination for nifty gadgets, especially compact ones that don’t require a lot of space in my tiny little home and are easy to configure. Now I wouldn’t know how to use a lot of them, but it is fun to learn new things right? So I was really excited when Google sent me the new “Google Home Assistant” to play with.

 

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The smart speaker is a fabulous way to build a home ecosystem and took less than 10 minutes to configure and set up. I was definitely impressed that it understood my very desi accent and followed my commands easily.

 

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They suggested that this groovy little gadget could help me with cooking by giving me recipe suggestions and guide me with step by step instructions. They had also sent me some baking goodies along with it, so I promptly decided to bake some cookies and asked it to give me a recipe.

 

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Within seconds it suggested the “Coconut and Oatmeal Drop Cookies” from foodnetwork which I loved and decided to bake. Being a cleanliness freak every time I use to cook from a recipe that I find online or in a book, I wash my hands everytime I touch the book or my phone/laptop which definitely adds to the cooking time and can be cumbersome. However, with Google home, all I had to do is to tell it to Pause or give me the next step without touching it, and it was that simple.

 

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It even allowed me to set a timer for the baking and promptly reminded me when the time was up. I can totally see myself using the Google Home assistant everytime I am looking for a new recipe online and need help remembering the steps or to just have some soft music playing in the background as I cook away to glory

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A happy little addition in my home

 

Ingredients (Baking time 15 minutes)

 

  • 1 cup butter (I used Coconut Oil)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 2-1/2 cups shredded coconut
  • 2 cups rolled Oats

Directions

 

Heat oven to 175 Degrees C. Grease 2 large cookie sheets or baking paper. Cream butter/oil and sugars in mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beat together. Add vanilla, baking powder and baking soda. Then add the flour. Mix until well combined. Mix in the Oats.

Drop individual scoops of the dough on greased cookie sheet/baking paper., spacing about 1/2 inch apart. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, just until the edges begin to brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Memories of school with a boozy Christmas Cake

Christmas reminds me of so much of school, having studied in a Catholic school we looked forward to Christmas more than we waited for Diwali. Months before Christmas we would have a free period every week to do Carol practice in the huge auditorium in school. The fact that we could get away from the stuffy classrooms and go and sing for a whole hour was so exciting.

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Some of the better singers in the school would always lead the group, and we would sing everything from “Silent Night” to “Jingle Bells” in unison with everyone trying to modulate their voices to be obviously heard above everyone else. The girl whose voice trembled after a high pitched note would face the glaring disapproval from a very stern “Sister Mercy” (who according to our adolescence standards had not an ounce of mercy in her bones).

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Obviously, someone would cough and then the cough would be followed by a bout of insistent giggling which would be met by another disapproving glare and sometimes even a very loud reprimand that would, of course, result in pin drop silence. With guilty faces and suppressed giggles, all of us would keep going till the bell reminded us that it was time to go back to the class.

On Christmas Eve, we would have a half day at school, and we were allowed to dress casually. The school would be lit up with lots of Christmas lights, and there would be a contagiously festive spirit in the air. We would spend the day singing and dancing and in the end, would be rewarded with one slice and I mean only one slice of a very delicious Christmas Cake. For all my years in school, I only ate this cake once a year during Christmas, and that memory has stayed with me forever.

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Now that I can bake cakes, I can relive those days of opening the wrapper and finish the lonely slice of the cake in one go. Of course, my version has a generous quantity of booze in it, which I am sure would invite a very well deserved glare from Sister Mercy. Merry Christmas to everyone.

 

Christmas Cake – Donna Hay Recipe

2 1/2 cups mixed fruits (Raisins, glaced cherries, glaced Ginger, Sultanas)

¾ cup (180ml) brandy or rum

One teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

One teaspoon vanilla extract

300g butter softened and chopped

One ¼ cup (220g) brown sugar

Zest of 1 Lemon

4 eggs

Two ¼ cups (335g) plain (all-purpose) flour

¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of (baking) soda

¼ cup blanched almonds

 

Place the mixed fruits, brandy/rum, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in a bowl, mix well, cover and soak for 6–8 hours or overnight. You can soak them upto a week in advance.

 

Preheat oven to 150ºC (300ºF). Put the butter and sugar in the bowl and using an electric mixer beat for 8–10 minutes or until light and creamy. The consistency looks like a thick cream.

 

Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.

 

Sift flour and bicarbonate of soda over the fruit mixture and mix well, ensuring all the fruit is coated in flour.

 

Add the butter mixture and stir to combine well. Spoon into the prepared 22cm-round cake tin. Bake for 3 hours 10 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.

 

Allow to cool in the tin. Serves 8–12.

Recipe courtesy :Donna Hay

A luscious treat for the soul- Raspberry spiked Chocolate Brownies

“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” ― Harriet Van Horne

Any foodie will say this, that the best way to show someone you love them is by cooking for them. There is nothing more enticing than the elaborate ritual of preparing a meal for someone you adore and then serving it to them. Watching their eyes light up when they look at the treat in front of them. And the smile on their face, when they take the first bite, is what a foodie lives for or rather cooks for all the time.

1-IMG_9060 (2)I feel that we all should know how to cook a few dishes that become our signature and that we can make to please the loves of our lives. And when are cooking gratifying meals, they have to be finished with equally fabulous desserts. Something that tops the charts and makes the object of your affection swoon with pleasure. Something that makes them feels as unique as you want them to feel.  And Chocolate is the only thing that comes to my mind.

1-IMG_9068Talking about Chocolate and Love in the same breath is not unheard off. It is a common belief that Chocolate is an aphrodisiac and food for gods. And if the gods have given it their blessings that are we to say no?. And these “Raspberry spiked Chocolate Brownies” have to be the perfect way to show someone you love them. It is the best way to demonstrate that you care and are ready to get chubby with them, by stuffing your face with these intensely gorgeous and luscious pieces of heaven.

1-IMG_9072The sweetness of the Chocolate combined with the tartness of the Raspberries results in a dessert that is seductively good. These tempting brownies melt in your mouth and have an almost fudgy texture that is so tempting that someone like me who usually avoids desserts ends up eating a few pieces on my own. Is there a better way to pamper your twin soul? I don’t think so.

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Recipe (Cooking time 45 minutes, makes 16 pieces)

200 g Dark chocolate (chopped)

250 g unsalted Butter

1 ¾ cups Brown Sugar

1 1/3 cups Plain Flour

¼ tsp Baking powder

4 Eggs

½ cup Cocoa powder

1 ½ cups Raspberries (you can use fresh or frozen)

Preheat oven at 180 degrees C.

Melt the Chocolate and the Butter over a small saucepan filled with water (I usually cut the Butter into small pieces so it melts evenly with the Chocolate). Ensure the water from the saucepan doesn’t get in the bowl or your Chocolate will be destroyed. Alternatively you can also melt the Chocolate and Butter in a microwave.  Let it cool.

In another bowl whisk the Sugar with the Eggs.

Sift over the Flour, Baking and Cocoa powder and mix will it combined with the Egg & Sugar mixture.

Now mix the Chocolate and Butter mixture and gently mix to a smooth consistency.

Pour into a 23cm (9 inch) greased square tin lines with baking paper.

Top the mixture with Raspberries and bake for 45 minutes or until set.

The brownies are fudgy in the middle. Once cooled dust with some icing Sugar and cut into equal squares.

Recipe source : Donna Hay Simple Essentials Chocolate.

 

 

All we need is Chocolate- Swedish Chocolate Cake

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
― Charles M. Schulz

Chocolate, oh Chocolate what I can say in the ode of this luscious piece of heaven that has not already been said.  If food was sexy it would be in the form of Chocolate because there is something so intensely seductive about a bittersweet piece of Chocolate that it makes everyone go into a tizzy at the thought of tasting it. A perfect aphrodisiac and the food for gods it is the closest we would ever come to tasting seduction in food.

1-IMG_7124I don’t think there is anyone in this world that can resist a succulent piece of chocolate, oozing in our mouths making us swoon and crave for more and more it is temptation at its best. We use Chocolate in so many ways and in so many things but we just can never get enough of it. There are people who have mastered the art of Chocolate making and can do things with it that we cannot even imagine the humble Cocoa bean can be capable off.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetIt yields in the hand of master Chocolatier and bakers and becomes something even more breathtaking then it already is. The food for love, food for depression, food for happiness and food for just nothing it is the perfect food for any mood. So when I decided to bake a cake this week I decided that it had to be a Chocolate cake, because let’s face it if we had to eat Cake a Chocolate cake it has to be.

Processed with VSCOcam with 5 presetI recently discovered the very beautiful blog “Call me Cupcake” by Linda Lomelino. She is an amazing baker and takes the most amazing food pictures I have ever seen.  And her “Swedish Chocolate Cake” recipe looked to die for. The cake was simple and easy to make but for someone who suffers from Egg allergy adding 4 Eggs to a cake was something that scared me a little as I did not know how my body will react to the cake. So I tentatively added 1 cup of Almond flour and a tsp of Baking powder to the recipe and hoped that not only would the Cake turn out good but also keep my stomach happy.

1-Food UsedSince there is so no flour in the cake, it falls a bit flat after it cools down however it tastes lip smackingly delicious. Infact this was one cake that made me feel really proud of myself. So here is the recipe which I have changed a little to suit my tastes.

Recipe: (Baking time 45 – 50 minutes, makes 8 – 10 portions)

Ingredients
250 g unsalted Butter
250 g coarsely chopped dark chocolate (70%)
1/3 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp (100 ml) strong coffee or espresso (or water)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp (180 g) sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar or 1/4 tsp vanilla powder or 1 tsp Vanilla Essence
pinch of salt

My variation (optional, you can just stick to the original recipe):

1 cup Almond Meal
1 tsp Baking powder

To serve
Icing sugar
Milk chocolate curls

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 175° (350F). Grease a spring-form pan (22-25 cm / 8-10 inches) and cover the base with baking paper.
2. Gently melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan on low heat. When mixture is melted and smooth, stir in coffee, then set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whip eggs, sugar and vanilla until very light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.
4. Stir chocolate mixture into egg mixture with a spatula. Stir until smooth. Add a pinch of salt. Make sure the Chocolate mixture is at room temperature or your eggs will split.
5. Gently add the Almond meal and baking powder and fold it in Egg and Chocolate mixture.  Pour the batter into the prepared spring-form pan and bake for 40-45 minutes. Let cake cool before removing it from the pan.

The cake tasted amazing after I had kept in the fridge for a few hours. Before serving dust some icing Sugar on top.  To make the chocolate curls, put the milk chocolate in a warm place for a few minutes, then use a cheese slicer to make curls. I just grated the Chocolate on top of the Cake and it was heavenly.

Recipe Courtesy : “Call me Cupcake

 

The not so fancy moist Carrot Cake

If there came a time when there was no more cake left to eat in this world, I think I will survive without any problems. There I said it; It sounds almost like a guilty confession doesn’t it?  I have never enjoyed cakes in my childhood because of the terrible Mawa (Milk based) Cakes we would get in obscure bakeries back home. While the sweet makers of Ulhasnagar churned amazingly delicious Indian desserts, their cakes left a lot to be desired, and we bore the brunt of it.

1-IMG_5511Mind you some of the Mawa cakes were to die for but if I remember 9 out of the 10 cakes you ate would make you die or atleast visit the toilet more times than you would care to admit. Laced with all sort of colors the cakes were an exercise in having your fingers painted in all kinds of weird colors that would take days to come off. I would almost dread going to a birthday party because of the bad cakes served along with the trademark Potato Wafers.

1-IMG_3894So I grew up detesting frosted cakes but loving simple plain Butter or fruit cakes that had no icing but tasted delicious nevertheless. A famous local cake shop in India called “Monginis” would make these Butter cakes and sell them by slice and god knows how many of those slices I consumed on my own.

1-IMG_5504Ofcourse things have changed now as the quality of cakes we get back home has risen to incredible levels. I have also started to enjoy a beautiful frosting on a cake once in a while, but my heart still likes the simple everyday cakes that come with no fancy decoration. These cakes might not win the best looking cakes award, but they have always  tasted good.

1-IMG_5478So whenever I bake cakes, they are usually icing and frosting free. I think there is only 1 cake on my blog that has some frosting on it but apart from that all my cakes are simple. And this Carrot cake is my favorite and I can safely say is also the best cake I make. It is unbelievably moist and melts in your mouth with every bite. Ofcourse one can decorate it with some frosting but I love to just sprinkle some Icing Sugar on it and we are happy in each others company.

1-IMG_5553Recipe (Cooking time 60  minutes)

1½ cups (225g) plain (all-purpose) Flour

1¼ cups (220g) Brown Sugar

¾ cup (185ml)  Flavorless Vegetable Oil

1½ teaspoons Baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of (baking) Soda

1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground Ginger ( I did not have ground Ginger so I used grated fresh Ginger, and it tasted good as well)

3 Eggs

2½ cups grated Carrot (about 5 medium sized carrots)

½ cup (60g) chopped Walnuts OR flaked Almonds

 ½ cup (80g) Sultanas/Raisins

Preheat your oven to 180 Degrees C. Grease a 22cm-round cake tin and line with non-stick baking paper and keep aside.

Add the Oil and Brown Sugar in a bowl together and mix them well, using an electric hand mixer or in a food processor.

Add the Eggs one by one till incorporated well.

In another bowl sift the Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda and Cinnamon together.

Mix the Dry flour mixture gently into the Egg mixture.

Add the freshly grated Ginger or Ginger powder and Carrots slowly folding them in the wet Egg mixture.

Add the Almonds/Walnuts and Raisins and pour the batter into the Cake tin.

Bake for 55 – 60 minutes till done or your skewer comes out clean.

Let the cake cool before you remove it from the tin. Sprinkle some Icing Sugar on top and serve. The cake stays fresh in an air tight container in the fridge for 3 – 4 days.

 

Karwachauth Blues with Strawberry Cake

This a post 1 week too late, I meant to write it on the 11th October but I just kept procrastinating till I could procrastinate no more. 11th October is a special day for married North Indian women out there. It is the day we celebrate “Karwachauth”, which is the day when married woman fast all day for the long life of their husband’s long without having a sip of water.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetIn the evening after the Moon rises they worship their beloved and then have the first sip of water from his hands to break their fast. Well I have never been traditional have I, I have never fasted for my husband and I don’t think that my staying hungry will ever increase his life. Infact me being hungry and then grumpy all day cannot be good for his life at all. So subsequently I do not fast.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetNow 11th October is also his birthday and even though I may be a bad wife who does not starve herself for the man I am married to, I am the wife who will surely bake a cake for him to celebrate on his special day. Also this year we are apart from each other and celebrating his birthday in different countries. So there was not much I could do. I however still decided to bake a cake, I mean what is a birthday without a cake right.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetAnd this Strawberry cake is that special cake without being too fancy. I mean if I was going to eat the whole cake alone I had to make sure isn’t a huge task to finish. I also added half a cup of Almond meal in the cake to make it moist. I have never had a more amazing smelling cake baking in my oven before. It was delicious and something he would have enjoyed if he was here.This Martha stewart recipe is a keeper and I would be making it very soon again.

So on the day when I should have fasted I spent it eating a Strawberry cake for him, praying for his healthy and happy life.

Here is the recipe: (Cooking time 60 minutes)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more the cake tin

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup Almond meal (optional)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup strawberries, hulled and halved

For the Decoration (optional)

1/2 cup Cream

2 tsp Strawberry Jam

Almond flakes

Caster sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the cake tin, Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl.

Put butter and 1 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low; mix in egg, milk, and vanilla.

Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour & Almond meal mixture. Transfer batter to the cake tin. Arrange strawberries on top of batter, cut sides down and as close together as possible. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 1 hour. Let cool in on a wire rack. Sprinkle the caster sugar on top of the cake and decorate with some Almond flakes.

Mix the cream and Jam together and serve it with the cake.

Polenta Cake with a Saffron & Lemon drizzle – A warm plate of comfort

I am an emotional eater. I eat not to fill my stomach and give nourishment to my body but I eat to offer comfort to my soul and that comfort gives the sustenance to my body which is so much required.  What I eat when I am happy is completely different then what I would eat when I am sad or stressed.  And of late my soul has been craving for a lot of comfort.

1-IMG_4190Even though I do not eat a lot of sweets and generally just avoid Sugar as much as I can, somehow when we think of comfort and food, something sweet is always the way to go and for me that has to be something warm as well. It is odd I know but I love warm desserts, they make me feel wonderful and gooey and fuzzy.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetAnd this amazing Polenta Cake is that happy thing for me. It is deliciously sweet and tastes as good as heaven when eaten warm with some cream. It is a recipe by Nigella Lawson and I have a few of her recipes on my blog. It makes me laugh when I write this because we all know Nigella Lawson is famous for her midnight hunger pangs and as I write this post I am having another Nigella moment with a piece of this cake on my desk, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan crooning away in his heart wrenching voice on my I pod and me writing this post.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetBefore you think I have completely lost my marbles I will go ahead and share the recipe with you. Trust me this is a Cake that you will make often once you have had the first bite.

Recipe:

200 gms soft unsalted butter (plus some for greasing)

1 cup superfine sugar

2 cups almond meal

¾ cup fine Polenta (or cornmeal)

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

3 large Eggs

Zest of 2 Lemons (save juice for drizzle)

For the Lemon & Saffron Drizzle

Juice of 2 lemons

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

few strands of Saffron

Almond flakes

Line the base of a 23cm / 9inch springform cake tin with baking parchment and grease its sides lightly with butter.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/ 350°F.

Beat the butter and sugar till pale and whipped, either by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon, or using a freestanding mixer.

Mix together the almonds, Polenta and baking powder, and beat some of this into the butter-sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating all the while.

Finally, beat in the lemon zest and pour, spoon or scrape the mixture into your prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.

It may seem wobbly but, if the cake is cooked, a cake tester should come out clean and, most significantly, the edges of the cake will have begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin. Remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack, but leave in its tin.

Prick the top of the cake all over with a cake tester (a skewer would be too destructive), pour the warm syrup over the cake, and leave to cool before taking it out of its tin.

Make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar in a smallish saucepan. Once the confectioners’ sugar’s dissolved into the juice, add the Saffron & Almond flakes and turn off the cake. Drizzle over the cake and serve warm with some Cream or Curd.

Recipe Courtesy : Nigella Lawson

Apple & Pear Galette with Ricotta cheese & Saffron

Let me tell you something cooking food and writing about food are two different things all together. The first is something I do easily and the latter is something I struggle with more often than not. I go through days of feeling uninspired and feeling completely lost for words, where I have no idea what I want to write and then sadly this bout of being completely loss at words creeps into my cooking and then I don’t know what to cook either.

IMG_3950For a food blogger you do want to be able to think of what to cook and what to write easily isn’t it? But in my case it is a battle that I fight almost every time I want to blog about something. And it can be really hard.And having a full time job means I can only cook for the blog on the weekends. So I usually have to plan the recipes I will make in advanced and then go to the local farmers market or grocery store to pick up the ingredients I would need to make whatever I had planned.

IMG_3910Last week I had seen a beautiful “Apricot Thyme Galette” on the lovely Cottage grove house blog, I was immediately drawn towards the simple and beautiful looking Galtette and wanted to make it for the weekend. But unfortunately in the mayhem of a busy work week between troubleshooting, running for meetings and chaperoning visitors I ended up with no apricots in my fridge.

IMG_3915But I was still obsessed with making a Galette, I had to make it. So when I saw this other gorgeous “Peach Galette” with an Indian twist I crossed the point of no return. To be honest I had never tasted a Galette before, it is really a rustic fresh sweet or savory pastry with gorgeous fruits or vegetables thrown in and cooked to perfection. Even though I do not have much of a sweet tooth I craved and craved for it.

IMG_3947Thankfully I had a tub of “Ricotta” at hand which is unusual as I never really have it. I substituted the peach with Apples and Pears and the Brown Sugar with some Coconut Sugar.

IMG_3964As this beauty baked in my oven and my kitchen was filled with the heavenly aroma of the fruits and the pastry and the Ricotta I knew I had made something truly wonderful. The delicious flaky pastry with the fruits and the cheese just work together to create a perfect harmony of flavours which is definitely out of this world.

IMG_3967The recipe is from the lovely blog Spices and Spices and let me tell you it is addictive.

Apple & Pear Galette

Ingredients:

One sheet of store brought puff pastry, thawed.

2 Apples and 1 Pear or vice versa

2 Tbsp. Coconut Sugar

1/3 Ricotta cheese

A pinch of Saffron

One egg white or little melted Butter to brush the pastry.

2 tbsp Milk

1 tsp Cardamom powder

Parchment paper

Plain Flour to dust the parchment paper

1 tbsp of crushed nuts – I used Walnuts & Pistachios and some Almond flakes.

Step 1

Cut the Apples and Pears evenly into thin slices. Mix them with the Coconut Sugar and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Step 2

Heat the milk and add the Saffron.

Once the milk is cold mix it to the Ricotta Cheese. Add the Cardamom powder mix well and leave it aside.

Step 3

Once the pastry is completely thawed, sprinkle the flour on the parchment paper and roll out the pastry and lay on the baking sheet.  Spread the cheese & saffron mixture on the pastry leaving one inch border space.

Fold the sides leaving most of the fruits uncovered and then keep the entire thing in the fridge for atleast one hour. You can leave it overnight as well.

Once you are ready to bake pre heat the oven at 180 Degrees C. Remove the pastry from the fridge, brush with the Egg white or Butter and sprinkle the chopped nuts on top.

Bake for 45 minutes or until nice and golden. The baking time depends on your oven temperature so do keep an eye on the pastry to make sure it doesn’t burn. You can remove the pastry after 30 minutes and brush it with the Egg white once more. Let it rest for atleast 10 minutes before serving.

Serve warm or cold with some clotted Cream or Vanilla Ice cream.

The perfect Oatmeal & Chocolate chip cookies

We did not have an oven when I was growing up so never really ate cookies. I don’t have any fond memories of standing in my mother’s kitchen and licking the cookie dough or shaping them into funny shapes. The closest to cookies I would assume that we ate were biscuits, unless we had relatives visiting from abroad who would carry a tin of cookies for us a gift. And those were not even proper cookies, they were really just fancy biscuits.

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So cookies were something that were a bit of an enigma for me and I have generally avoided them. Although mind you the husband loves them, so I have now started to bake them. Infact to be honest I have been baking a lot of cookies lately. Don’t know why though as we hardly have anything with Sugar anymore but I have this obsessive need to bake and since cookies are the easiest things to make, I keep baking them continuously.

1451445_802604206440458_5252923208253832656_nAnd as I learn how to bake them I realize I seem to finally have mastered the art of making a decent cookie. Not that I was pursuing the art of making perfect cookies by design, it just happened by chance, with constant experimenting and separating the bad cookies from the good ones and the perfect ones from the imperfect ones. And let me be honest even the bad cookies don’t taste that bad either.

IMG_3726I searched a few blogs for a good cookie recipe till I stumbled upon a lovely blog called “Half Baked Harvest” . Her “Simple Oatmeal Chocolate Cookie” recipe is the closest I have come to believe to having the perfect fail proof cookie recipe. It is easy, simple and has all the ingredients that one has in their pantry already.

IMG_3724A few things I did differently was substituting Coconut Sugar instead of Brown Sugar/Granulated Sugar in the recipe and I refrigerated the dough for atleast 30 minutes before I shaped the cookies. You can let it rest for as long as 36 hours. Infact with this recipe I froze half of the dough and  only used the other half. A few weeks ago I had read in online article on NY Times that a long hydration time is important because eggs, unlike, say, water, are gelatinous and slow-moving making matters worse, the butter coats the flour preventing the liquid from getting through to the dry ingredients. The extra time in the fridge dispatches that problem. And the last thing to remember is NEVER FORGET THE SALT. The salt is the main ingredient that lifts the cookie up. Trust me on this, I have tried cookies with and without salt. Also I have used Butter instead of Canola oil and it works just fine for me.

I can now safely say that if I ever have kids they will boast that their mom makes the best Cookies in the world 🙂 Don’t you think?

Ingredients (Cooking & assembly time 30 minutes, refrigeration 30 minutes)

2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar & 1 cup Brown Sugar (I used 1 1/2 cup Coconut Sugar)
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup canola oil or melted coconut oil (use a little more if dough seems is too dry)  I used 1 cup unsalted Butter at room temperature
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (use really good quality ones)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 160 C degrees C. Line a baking sheet with a parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer add the oatmeal, flour, Sugar/brown sugar or Coconut sugar, Baking soda, salt, canola oil/Butter, Eggs and vanilla, beat until the dough is moist and all the ingredients are combined. The dough will be crumbly. Mix in the chocolate chips. Now refrigerate the dough for atleast 30 minutes. If you don’t want to use all the dough you can freeze half of it.
After 30 minutes remove the dough from the fridge and using your hands clump together a tablespoon of dough. Use you hands to really squeeze the dough into a ball. If the mixture is not holding add 1 tablespoon more of oil. You will have to work fast as the warmth of your hand will start melting the Chocolate chips.

Place on prepared baking sheet. If your balls are a little crumbly do not worry, they will come together while baking. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake for 10 -12 minutes or until set and golden. Let them cool on a rack before you put them in an air tight container.

PS: *Information about refrigerating the dough quoted from NY Times.

Coconut and Chocolate Slice to celebrate a special week

Deserts and Sweets are something I generally avoid as much as I can. But there are celebrations that are special and they cannot be complete without something sweet tantalizing your taste buds. I don’t know what it is about sweets and celebrations; they just go hand in hand.

I did not want to bake a Cake as it can get too heavy and since both the husband and I are staying away from Sugar it would be a waste of time and energy to bake a huge cake and then also decorate it. I also did not have the time to make something so elaborate.  So I decided to make a very delicious “Coconut & Chocolate Slice” from Sonali’s beautiful blog Sugaretal.

IMG_1998The fact that it is so easy to make and all I had to do was mix everything together in stick it in the oven just pushed me further to bake the slice. And oh my god was I glad I made these. They tasted like little bites of heaven, a cross between a brownie and a cake and just like Sonali I couldn’t stop eating them. Infact for someone who claims to not eat deserts, I ended up polishing half of them in 2 days.

IMG_2001So while I finish the other half and celebrate what I am celebrating J You can go and check the recipe on Sonali’s blog or use the one mentioned below:

IMG_2004Ingredients (Cooking time 30 minutes, makes 16 slices)

150g butter, melted, cooled
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain flour
1/3 cup self-raising flour (I just used plain flour and added 1 tsp Baking powder)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup desiccated coconut

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a 20cm x 30cm rectangular pan and line with baking paper extending paper 2cm from edge of pan at long ends.
Place butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla in a large bowl. Stir until well combined. Sift over flours and cocoa. Add 1/2 cup coconut. Stir to combine. Spread mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until firm to touch

Chocolate Icing
1 cup icing sugar mixture
1/4 cup cocoa powder
20g butter, finely chopped
2 tbsp. boiling water

Make Chocolate icing: Sift icing sugar and cocoa into a medium heatproof bowl. Add butter and boiling water. Stir until smooth. Spread hot slice with icing. Sprinkle with remaining coconut. Set aside to cool completely in pan. Cut into pieces. Serve.

 

Memories of my father with a Coconut Bread

“I suddenly remember being very little and being embraced by my father. I would try to put my arms around my father’s waist, hug him back. I could never reach the whole way around the equator of his body; he was that much larger than life. Then one day, I could do it. I held him, instead of him holding me, and all I wanted at that moment was to have it back the other way.”
― Jodi Picoult

When I was a child I was a Daddy’s girl. I waited for him to come home every night and hung on to his every word.  He would take us to museums and read us history. His love of books was legendary and I inherited that passion from him. He would listen to Ghazals and make hot piping pakoras on Rainy day and then we would make us sit with him and tell us stories. My mother was the disciplinarian of the family but he never even raised his voice on us. The best memory I have of him is when a teacher complained to him about me, he didn’t tell my mother and just let it be.

And now when I am all grown up I see a frail man who is confined to his bed from the past 18 years. He has been very sick for a long time and of late his illness seems to take a lot of him. But he smiles, he always does through the unbearable pain that he goes through; he still manages to tell me “I am ok”, every time I call him.

It is terribly heart wrenching to see someone you love suffer so much and it is hard to be so far away from him and see him slowly fade away. But life has so many different plans for us and takes us to places we never thought we would be.

IMG_1027Even though I don’t celebrate any special days personally, when my mother told me how sick he was today I couldn’t help but cook something while thinking of him on “Father’s Day”. After all he is the only father I know and he has given me so many beautiful memories to hold on to.

IMG_1020So I baked a beautiful “Coconut Bread” from Bill Granger. Bill is one of my favorite chefs and from what I have seen of him, he looks like a very dedicated father to his beautiful kids. Hence it was apt that I cook something from the collection of my favorite chef for the first man I knew in my life.

IMG_1117Recipe – Cooking time 1 hour, preparation time 10 minutes

2 eggs
300ml milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 1/2 cups plain (all purpose) flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup caster sugar
150 g shredded coconut
75 g unsalted butter

To serve (you can use anything you wish to or nothing at all)

Butter/ icing (confectioners’) sugar/Cream or Berries.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F). Lightly whisk eggs, milk and vanilla together.

Sift flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl, add sugar and coconut, and stir to combine. Make a well in the center and gradually stir in the egg mixture until just combined. Add melted butter and stir until the mixture is just smooth, be careful not to over-mix.

Pour into a greased and floured 21 x 10 cm (8 1/2 x 4 in) loaf tin and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour, or until bread is cooked when tested with a skewer.

Leave in the tin to cool for 5 minutes, and remove to cool further on a wire rack. Serve in thick slices, toasted, buttered and dusted with icing sugar or with Cream and Berries.

Recipe source : http://www.aww.com.au/food/recipes/2001/3/coconut-bread-bill-granger/