Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Nutty prune Cake...after a long break


Well, I can blame this unexpected break  from blogging on my internet connection,the computer which crashed suddenly,shifting accomodation,settling down with two kids  blah ...blah ...blah.The only good thing that happened with me during these two months was that we shifted into a bigger house and all the extra stuff that was lying for years in those boxes are out and breathing some fresh air and yes how can I forget to mention that now I enjoy my tea and the goan monsoon relaxing in my verandah,the rains lashing trying to spoil the peaceful feeling,the balmy breeze tingling your face and watching the sudden sprout of greenery all around....so therapeutic for the mind ,body and the soul. A respite from the hot weather,the bonding of the family over some hot pakodas ,chai and a game of scrabble ,a ride on the sleek ,flashy Ninja (Biplab is a passionate biker and this is the new addition to our family)in the rains with my better half ...thats what rains are for me.So now everybody knows what I was upto these last few days.....so I shouldn't be cribbing about the net connection and the computer!!!!
This nutty prune cake  was baked during one of those balmy rainy evenings and got wiped out within minutes.The cinnamon and the peanut butter combo imparted a nice unique flavour to the cake.The wholemeal flour with the nuts and prunes make it a healthy cake for the children,a must try and a sure hit!

You Need
125 g (4 oz) butter
1/4  C crunchy peanut butter
1/2 C  sugar
2 eggs
1 C wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking pwdr
1 tsp cinnamon
a pinch salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup chopped prunes

Method

    1. Beat together butter,peanut butter and sugar until creamy.
    2. Add eggs one at a time and beat well.
    3. Stir in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk and beat until smooth.
    4. Lastly add prunes and beat well.
    5. Place in a greased and lined loaf tin or a slab tin and bake in a moderate oven(170 or 180 deg C) 40-50 mins until cooked.If desired, sprinkle with 1/2 C finely chopped walnuts before baking.Leave in tin few mins before turning out.
Our new Ninja

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Guchhi Dum Biryani(healthy version)

The other day it was already more than 12 in the afternoon when I entered the house after my normal weekly market trips.I had an hour in hand to make a filling ,sumptuous lunch for the foodies in my life.The first question thrown to me when they enter the house is "aaj khane mein kya bana hai?"...so much for taking me for granted!Sometimes I also sweetly reply(if I am in a grrrr kind of a mood)Lauki and Karela...Love the look on their faces :)
I rummaged the fridge  to scoop out something of the previous day but then I was in for utter dissapointment.The packet of mushrooms peeped out from my shopping bags  and before I could put it on the kitchen counter the Sanjeev kapoor's Khana khazana"Accompaniments "drew my attention which was lying on the microwave.And lo and behold! the combo did wonders....I rustled up a delicious Mushroom Biryani within an hour with a Aloo ka raita.The saffron and kewra with the whole garam masalas and the aroma of the Basmati wafted through the whole house when my hubby dear entered for lunch.Seeing the pleased look on his face I knew what was coming and before he could open his mouth I silenced him By saying "Aaj khane mein Karela bana hai"!!!
This is a healthy version of Mushroom Biryani and is made with only 2tsps of oil.I gave the name Guchhi to it as it sounded very Nawabi and a little different.Mushrooms are called Guchhi or Khumbi in Hindi.The Biryani turned out to be amazingly tasty and was relished by all of us.

You Need

Fresh button Mushrooms-15 to 20 medium sized,cut into quarters
Basmati rice   -1 1/2 cups,washed and  soaked for 1/2 an hour
Onions-2 medium sized,sliced long and fine
Ginger-1" pc
Garlic-5 cloves
Fresh corinder leaves-1/4 medium bunch,chopped
Fresh mint leaves      -1/4 medium bunch,chopped
Tomatoes  - 2medium sized,pureed
Skimmed milk yoghurt -1/2 cup,whisked
Saffron-5-6 strands,soaked in 1/4 cup warm skimmed milk
Bay leaf -1
Cloves-4
Green cardamoms-2
Black cardamoms-2
Cinnamon- 1"stick
Mace - 1blade
Oil-2tsp
Red chilli pwdr-2tsp
Coriander pwdr-1 tbsp
Crushed Peppercorns-1/2 tbsp
Cumin pwdr-1/2 tsp
Turmeric pwdr-1/2 tsp
Garam masala pwdr-1/2 tsp
Kewra water(optional)-4-5 drops
Salt to taste

Method
  1. Peel, wash and grind ginger and garlic into a fine paste.
  2. Boil 4 cups of water in avessel,add bay leaves,cloves the cardamoms, cinnamon, mace and 1 tsp of salt.When the water starts boiling,add rice.
  3. Cook for 8-10 mins ,stirring frequently or till rice is 3/4th done.Drain in a colander.
  4. Heat oil in anon stick pan,add onions,stir fry on high heat till onions turn translucent.Add ginger garlic paste and cook briefly.
  5. Add chilli pwdr, coriander pwdr, crushed peppercorns, cumin pwdr and turmeric pwdr.Stir fry a little and add pureed tomatoes.
  6. Continue cooking over high heat till masala is fairly thick.Add yogurt, garam masala pwdr and half the quantity of chopped coriander and mint leaves.Stir well and cook for 2 mins more.
  7. Add mushrooms and salt to taste and stir fry on high heat for 2 mins and remove from heat.
  8. Arrange the cooked rice and mushroom masala in alternate layers in a biryani handi or an oven proof dish, sprinkling the chopped coriander and mint leaves ,the kewra water and the milk with saffron.Ensure that the topmost layer is of rice .
  9. Cover the assembled Biryani with a tight lid and seal the edges with a kneaded Atta (wheat flour) dough.
  10. Keep the dish on a tawa or iron griddle and cook on low heat for 10 - 15 mins.Alternatively cook in a pre heated oven at 160 deg C for 10- 15 mins.
  11. Break open the seal and serve Biryani immediately with a raita of your choice.
Enjoy!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Iced Cajun Coffee


With the summer in, the temperatures soaring and the mercury rising with every passing day the only respite are the summer chillers .Nothing says summer like a desi lassi, healthy fruit laden shakes and smoothies,cool old fashioned lemonade,colourful juices or ice cold ,creamy coffee shakes.Today my post is a creamy coffee shake adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor's store of recipes.The drink is a very easy to make and in a jiffy recipe.The ingredients of this recipe were a little different from the Cajun Coffee I had in Oslo which had rum, molasses and nutmeg powder in it.
You Need

4 tbsp Instant Coffee Powder
4 cups cold full cream milk
4 tsp Vanilla essence
4 small pinches cinnamon powder
Crushed Ice

Method
  1. Blend instant coffee powder, full cream milk and vanilla essence in a blender.
  2. Pour over crushed ice in tall Collins glasses.
  3. Sprinkle cinnamon powder over the top and serve immediately.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Chocolate Sesame Cookies

The heat,the humidity,the holidays are playing havoc with my senses now.Oh ! how I love the Russian summers now.In Moscow I used to crave for Indian food ,the weather ,the people and suddenly here I am missing the colourful and pleasant  moscow summers.After nine months of bone breaking winters the russians love the bright and lovely summer and enjoy the beautiful sunny weather to the fullest.There is a buzz of activity everywhere, people everywhere....sunbathing, cycling, rollerskating, boating, just chilling out with some russian Kvass (a russian drink made from rye bread)and soaking in the summer sunshine.I used to feel energised and lively during the summers there,here in goa the humid and hot weather makes us feel dehydrated with a lethargic feeling all day long.
But then with the holidays starting Mishti plans a tea party every second day for her friends,thank god she atleast has the courtesy to ask me before inviting them,otherwise I would have gone bonkers by now.Thanks to Mishti my baking books are out from the closet now.Last week I baked some nice ,chewy chocolate cookies with sesame seeds sprinkled on it and it was a hit with the children.The recipe is adapted from Nita Mehta's Bakes and Cakes.
You Need

Plain Flour  -60 gm
Cocoa          -30 gm
Butter (softened)-75 gm
Powdered Sugar -60 gm
Vanilla extract    -1tsp
Sesame seeds(white til)-2tsp

Method
  1. Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
  2. Add Vanilla extract and beat again.
  3. Sift flour and cocoa together.
  4. Add flour to butter and mix gently to form a soft dough.
  5. Form into balls,flatten them and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 deg C for 13- 15 mins( my oven took 20 mins)on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
P.S- If the dough feels too soft to form balls,keep it in the fridge but do not add any extra flour.

I am sending these cookies as my entry for Bangalore Bakers' this week's Bake-Off event.
These are some pics of our Moscow stay clicked by us during the summers.

The onset of autumn, end of summers,Monorail with the Ostankino Tv tower
A church near the Ostankino lake near our Apartment

Flowers in full bloom,kuzminki
Roadside landscaping with flowers,opposite kievski vakzal

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mississippi Mud Cake

When Mishti heard the name of the cake she didn't find it appetizing and  refused to touch it...she thought Mama dear used the messy mud to bake the cake...but when she saw all of us gobbling down the sinful chocolate glazed pieces she forgot all her inhibitions about it and gorged on the cake.
The name reminded me of the novel" Uncle Tom's Cabin"in which the river Mississippi featured and which was our syllabus english book in std 6 .I was so fond of the book that I had read and reread the book numerous times.The character had evoked so much of sadness and sympathy for him in me that I would cry thinking about the agonies,the pain and the suffering that he and the other slaves had gone through.The humiliation and the torture faced by them  was too much for a young reader to handle,may be that's why the story is etched in my memory till date.
Do not judge a recipe solely on its title:).The cake was rich, dark and moist ,the taste was awesome which made us crave for more and more!I made the recipe  a bit healthy by adding oil instead of butter and cream.The topping had less dark chocolate than what the recipe asked for as I had run out of cooking chocolate.So me thinks the cake would have been mercilessly tasty if I would not have omitted the above ingredients.So go ahead with this recipe and let me know how it turned out to be.

You need  :

185 g(6oz)  butter ,softened(I used 4 oz vegetable oil)
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup cold black coffee
4 eggs
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup cocoa pwdr
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking pwdr
a pinch salt
1 tsp Vanilla extract
100 g block cooking chocolate,grated

Method:

  1. Put all the ingredients except chocolate into the large bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed for 1 minute,scraping down the sides of bowl while beating.
  2. Pour into a greased lamington or slab tin(i used a round one) and bake in a moderate(180 deg C) oven for 40-45 mins or until done when tested.
  3. Carefully remove from tin onto a wire cake cooler,sprinkle the grated chocolate over the hot cake.Leave for 1 min and then using a spatula or knife,spread the softened chocolate over.Leave until cold and sprinkle some chocolate sprinklers before cutting.
Enjoy!

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