August 21, 2012

Egg-less Vanilla Cake

There is nothing more satisfactory for a chef when the food he/she makes vanishes right in front of the eyes or does not last very long. There is no better complement that you can give a chef when you reach out for the second helping or the third or gets asked to make it again for them sometime soon. It was one such day yesterday for me with this cake I made it for my friend and her family. My eyes popped out when the dish I gave the cake in came back to me in less than two hours and was informed that it got over pretty quickly. Was it that good? Guess it was. I managed to sneak in a piece for myself as I had to test it first before giving it to them ;) . Though it is egg-less, it is probably the best vanilla cake I have made. I use it quite often for my fruit desserts and is the simplest cake ever baked by me. It is moist, soft and not so sweet which makes it perfect for frosting it. If you are not planning on doing a frosting for this cake, I strongly recommend that you increase the sugar a little bit more. I used a Chocolate Ganache this time but have tried whipped cream icing and all sorts of butter cream icing on this one. Enjoy!
You will need:
Cake Flour - 2 1/2 cups
Baking powder - 2 tsp
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Condensed Milk - 1 can
Orange Juice or water - 1 cup
Melted Butter - 1 cup
Sugar - 3 tbsp
White Vinegar - 2 tbsp
Vanilla Essence - 1 tbsp

Preheat the oven to 175C and line a 9 inch cake tin with a parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and the baking soda.
Beat together the sugar, condensed milk, butter, water, vanilla essence and the vinegar.
Fold in the dry ingredients into the condensed milk mixture until just about combined. Over mixing any cake makes it dense.
Pour the mixture into the baking tin and tap it lightly to remove any air bubbles.
Bake for about 35 minutes approximately or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Remove from the cake tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting it. Enjoy!
It is best had slightly warm if you are not frosting it.

August 20, 2012

Eid Mubarak to all with some Spicy Lamb Chops

To start with, Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim friends. Remembering the yummy Mutton Biriyani and all those gorgeous yumm food that my friends used to send over on this day. It has been awfully quite lately and I am missing my husband. We social a lot more when he is at home and enjoy a lot more yummy food. There is no fun cooking for yourself. Don't you agree? This time though I was craving for some really good food. I love lamb chops and it has been quite long since I made a good one. My husband is not a fan of lamb so we cook a lot of Chicken at home. This recipe is inspired from Chef Sanjay Thumma's VahRehVah website and I have made my own changes to it like cooking it in the oven instead of on the stove top. It was quite deli-sh but I would not say it is the best I have tried till now. It is good to have different tasty recipes in your repertoire and will make it this one again. Serve this alongside a good pulav and raita for a complete meal. I am still on the look out for a perfect Indian Lamb chops. If you have one that you feel is definitely better than this one and don't mind sharing, send me an email or comment below.
You will need:
Lamb chops - 10 pieces
Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
Chili powder - 1 tsp
Yogurt - 3 tbsp
Oil - 2 tbsp
Lemon juice -  1 tsp
Flour - 1/2 tsp
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Vinegar - 2 tbsp
Salt and pepper - To taste
Coriander leaves chopped - 1 tsp and a little bit more to garnish

Make a smooth paste of all the ingredients and massage it well into the lamb chops.
Marinate the lamb chops in an airtight container or a Ziploc pouch for about 6 hours. Overnight is best.
Heat a pan with enough oil to shallow fry the lamb.
Fry the lamb chops on both sides for about 3 minutes on medium heat or until it gives a nice charred look. Doing this will also seal in all the juices.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200 C.
Bake the lamb chops along with the left over marinade liquid if any, on an oven proof tray for about 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 170 and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes or until done the way you would like it. Don't forget to turn them over half way through bake time.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot.

August 11, 2012

Moist Chocolate Date Cake

I have been waiting to make this cake for over 3 weeks now and today I finally had the time and opportunity to bake it. My super baker friend who gave me the recipe for Banana Cake gave me the recipe for this too. Thank you once again Nithya :) ! I have never had a cake so moist and soft that it almost melts in your mouth. This one is a sure keeper. Will I make it again? You bet I will make it over and over again. If your children love cakes, do not let this one pass by so quickly. Its healthy, yummy and an easy way to make them eat this nutrition packed fruit. Unlike other date cakes, you will not bite into big pieces of dates but will still be able to taste the wonderful flavors of  Arabia. 
 You will need:
Chopped seedless dates - 1 cup
Water - 1 1/2 cups
Baking soda - 1 tsp
Eggs - 2
Melted Butter - 1 cup ( This one is the secret to this wonderful moist texture)
Powdered Sugar - 1 cup
Plain Flour - 1 1/2 cups
Cocoa Powder - 2 1/2 tbsp
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Bring the dates to a boil with the water.
Add the baking soda to the cooked dates and allow it to cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, make a smooth paste of the dates and water mixture. Strain to get a fine puree. 
Preheat the oven to 170C degrees.
Cream together the melted butter, eggs and the sugar until pale and fluffy.
Sift the flour, baking powder and the cocoa powder.
Add the sifted dry ingredients and the date puree into the egg mixture. Mix until just combined.
Pour the mixture into the parchment lined 9 inch cake dish.
Bake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. The timing will vary from oven to oven so be your own judge by doing the skewer test.
Resist the temptation to cut the cake immediately and wait for it to cool completely.

August 9, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is my very first recipe in the blog which I made specially for my adorable naughty little sunshine - Aaron. Just like everyone who loves a well made Chocolate Chip Cookie, Aaron too seemed to have taken to it so far. Whew! Am glad. With only nine teeth so far, he has done a mighty good job with those cookies. Now it will encourage me to make all these and more for him especially when he starts school. Apart from him, I am also quietly indulging in these wonderful little tea time goodie too. It makes me all warm and fuzzy inside as I nibble on these yummy crunchy yet chewy cookies with a cup of hot chocolate on an otherwise dull cloudy day. It makes me all nostalgic as I remember the days when my mother used to bake for us.

You may notice the little sugar granules in the pictures. I am not sure if they were supposed to be like that but I really do not mind it as it definitely adds to the crunchiness of the cookie and tastes better. If you prefer it without the granules, maybe you could try using really fine white sugar instead. Recipe adapted from here!

You will need: 
Butter kept at room temperature - 1 cup
White Sugar - 1 cup
Brown Sugar - 1 cup
Eggs - 2
Vanilla Essence - 2 tsp
Plain Flour - 3 cups
Baking Soda - 1 tsp
Hot water - 2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Cream of Tartare - 1/2 tsp (Optional. I used this as suggested by a baker to give the cookies the cracked look instead of a smooth top)
Chocolate Chips - 2 cups

Preheat oven to 175C Degrees.
Cream together butter and the sugars using an electric beater.
Add the eggs one at a time.
Add the vanilla essence and mix well.
Dissolve the baking powder with the hot water and add to the sugar mixture. Mix well.
Add the flour, chocolate chips, cream of tartare and salt. Stir together with a wooden spatula and ensure that all the ingredients have been combined well.
Make small lime sized balls and place on a ungreased cookie tray leaving an inch or a little more space between them.
If time permits, refrigerate the mixture for about 10 minutes before putting into the oven.
Chill the rest of the prepared cookie balls while one batch of the cookies are baking.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 to 12 minutes or until the bottom sides have browned slightly.
It will still feel soft if you feel it whilst in the oven but don't be tempted to bake longer as it becomes very hard once cooled.
Gently remove the cookies with the help of a flat spatula and cool on a wire rack. 
Store in an air tight container. I got 45 cookies with this recipe.

August 8, 2012

Teriyaki Chili Veal

Veal is the meat of younger cattle. It is quite tender as opposed to the older meat we call beef. The Captain (my husband of course) loves Beef especially if they are on the spicier side like the ones they make in Kerala. This time however, I wanted to make something very different. This dish leans towards the sweeter side as how a Teriyaki dish should be. The flavors of the Basil, Chilies and Garlic marry so well and lift this veal appetizer to a different level altogether. Serve this hot for your next dinner party as an appetizer and let me know too what your guests think of it :)!
You will need:
Veal or Beef cubed - 1 kg
Corn flour - 3 tbsp
Teriyaki Sauce - 3/4th cup
Bbq Sauce - 3 tbsp
Red Chilies cut into big pieces - 8 to 10
Basil Leaves - 4
Garlic Sliced - 15
Shallots Sliced- 5
Sesame Seeds - 1 tbsp (Optional)
Oil - for deep frying
Salt and pepper to taste
Wash the veal well. Add the corn flour and salt. Massage the meat well.
Heat the oil in a deep vessel and deep fry the veal in batches for about 10 minutes each batch or until well cooked. Drain on a kitchen towel to remove excess oil.
Once all the veal has been fried, heat a shallow pan with about a tbsp or two of oil.
Sauté the sliced shallots and the garlic for about 2 minutes.
Add the Chili and sauté for another minute. Turn off the flame.
Now add the sauce, basil leaves, fried veal, and sesame seeds. Toss to coat well.
Serve hot.

August 7, 2012

Pita Bread and Falafel

I am lagging quite behind on my blogging and I ain't feeling too good about it either. The weather is dull, cloudy and depressing, making food photography impossible as I always use only natural lighting. So much has happened in our lives the last one month that sometimes I wish I could stop time and enjoy life a little bit more.Time is flying by so quickly that I realize it only when I watch our son grow and amaze us everyday with his non stop imitations of everybody around him. I have made tons of new recipes but have not been able to post any of them due to lack of time. My "to-make" list is growing longer with so many requests to keep up. Time for me to buck up and get those creative juices flowing again. My first recipe after what felt like ages is one of my favourite - Pita Bread and Falafel. We had Falafel recently at a new restaurant in Chennai and it is then that my friend and I decided to make our favourite Middle Eastern cuisine. My menu included Hummus, Falafel, Chicken Kababs and Pita Bread but today I am posting the recipes only for two.

Falafel as you know is a Middle Eastern deep fried balls made out of ground Chick peas or Fava beans and is an excellent vegetarian option for an otherwise meat laden cuisine. It can be had as it is or sandwiched in Pita Bread Pockets with fresh salad and Hummus. The variations are many. Pita Bread is "the bread" of the Middle Eastern countries. The Arabic word for this is Khubz.
For the Pita Bread, you will need:
Quick Rising Yeast - 1 packet of approximately 8 gms
Warm Water - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 1 tsp
Salt - 1 1/4 tsp
Plain Flour - 3 cups
Luke Warm water - 1 cup
Extra flour for dusting - as needed
Olive Oil - as needed

Dissolve yeast in half cup of warm water with sugar. Give it a quick stir and leave it to froth for about 10 minutes.
Mix together flour, salt and the yeast mixture in a bowl with a wooden spatula.
Add 1 cup of lukewarm water gradually and stir well until the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl.
Grease a deep bowl with the olive oil and transfer the dough into it, turning it over once so that the oil coats the dough too.
Cover and allow it to rise for about 3 hours or until it has doubled in size.
Once risen, gently pull out the dough onto a well floured surface.
Knead it well for about 10 minutes until the dough is no longer sticky but smooth and elastic. Add extra flour as required during the kneading. Kneading allows the gluten to stretch and make the bread crispy on the outside.
Make 12 small balls out of the dough and leave it to rest for another 10 minutes.
Flatten the balls into a 5- 6 diameter circle.
Now the original method asks you to preheat the oven to 250C and bake the rolled out bread for about 5 minutes on one side, flip it over for another 2 and then remove. You may try this if you wish.
I did try the oven method and found that the Pitas turned out quite dry.
So instead, I heated a tava well on the stove.
Put the rolled out Pita on the hot pan. In a few seconds, you will see small bubbles forming on the surface.
Turn it over and slightly press down with a wooden spatula. This allows the Pita to puff up well. (Give yourself a pat on the back when your Pita Bread puffs up completely, because that is how it should turn out.)
Turn over once more and transfer it to a foil to keep it warm. Repeat with the other rolled out Pita Breads in the similar fashion. 
As soon as you take it out of the pan, deflate the bread by making a small incision on it.
Serve it hot.
(It did not taste as good the next day for me though the original recipe says that you can store it in the freezer for a month. Try it and let me know too.)

For the Falafel, you will need: (Adjust the ingredients to suit your taste. I have added the following ingredients to our taste and may differ to the authentic ones)
Chickpeas/ Chenna - 1 cup
Garlic pods - 10
Chopped Chilli - 1
Coriander Powder - 1 tsp
Cumin Powder - 1 tsp
Plain Flour - 2 tbsp
Salt and Pepper - to taste
Parsley or Coriander chopped - a handful ( try equal quantities of both too. Add this generously)
Chopped Onions - 1 Big
Oil for frying

Cover the chickpeas with enough water and soak it over night.
Drain and add the soaked chickpeas to a food processor.
Blend it well to resemble coarse bread crumbs.
Separately blend the onions, cumin powder, coriander powder, coriander leaves, garlic and chili to a fine paste.
Mix together the coriander leaves paste, the ground chickpeas, the plain flour and the seasoning. The result will be a thick paste. Refrigerate it for about 15 minutes.
Make small lime sized balls with the mixture and deep fry them until they turn a lovely golden brown.
Serve hot else they will become soft.