Ria's Collection: 2020

Monday, July 27, 2020

CHERRY JAM

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Cherries are without a doubt one of our favourite Summer fruits. No matter how many packs we buy, they get over in a couple of days time. I look forward to seeing them in stores by mid May and when I do, a pack is definitely coming home with us! This year, we take turns in doing grocery shopping and Jobin is the one who does most of our Target shopping. I often tell him how much I miss going there and walking around casually looking at all the wonderful fruits and produce! It's all done in a rush these days. Get into the store as quick as you can and get out even quicker. 

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Talking about doing things quickly reminded me of how I work in my kitchen. I love to cook but I do not believe in spending a lot of time in the kitchen just cooking and doing dishes. I want everything to be done quickly, without wasting time. I sometimes feel that I push our children also into doing things quickly, unknowingly. I try to slow down at times but then the itch to finish things begins quickly! :-)  Are you guys like me? I am sure, I am not alone in this race against time. I always feel that my biggest competition is myself. It's not just in the kitchen... I am always trying to better myself from what I was yesterday. I sometimes fail but I pick myself up and try again! It's a never ending process but a happy, satisfying one!

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I have been making jams and jellies for a while now and I love how quick the whole process is and in the end, you are rewarded with multiple bottles of goodness that you can use over the year and even gift to friends, especially around the Holidays. We go through quite a bit of jam yearly because we love our jammy treats. I use them on our toasts, plop some on my thumbprint cookies and also sandwich my cookies with them. I enjoy thinning it out with some fruit juice which complements the jam and sometimes even water and use it to serve alongside my cheesecake, pannacotta, cakes etc. It's very versatile and handy to have them with you throughout the year! This wonderful jam recipe comes from MJ.
CHERRY JAM
Makes 2 cups
Ingredients:
20 ounces pitted fresh cherries
10 ounces white granulated sugar
Juice of one lemon

Method: Roughly chop the cherries and add to a large pot with tall sides. Add the sugar and lemon juice and cook on medium heat until the sugar melts. Increase the heat so that the mixture comes to a full boil. Cook until the jam reaches 220F on a candy thermometer or when a drop of jam poured onto a cold plate, sets.
Ladle the hot jam into clear, sterilized bottles and let it cool completely. Put the caps on and refrigerate until its used up. If you are canning it, you don't have to refrigerate it.

* There are many ways to check if the jam is done. Using a candy thermometer makes the guess work much easier. You could also do a sheet test or a single string test. Some even draw a line in the hot mixture and if you can see the bottom of the jam pot, it's ready.
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The colour of this cherry jam is so lovely! Once I was done making it, I somehow just didn't feel like washing the pot. It was a lovely deep purple-pink. I don't know how else to describe the colour! :-) When you make the jam this way, the cherry pieces are still visible in the end product. If you don't like it that way, you can quickly blitz the cherries once you roughly chop them using an immersion blender. I have seen people do it once the jam is cooked and before it's bottled. I like to bite into fruit pieces so I've kept the cherries roughly chopped.
Some fruits have natural pectin in them and some not so much. Cherries do not have enough pectin to make the jam set, so lemon juice is used to help it reach the desired consistency. So do not skip it altogether. The jam does not taste of lemon. I hope you like it!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

BAKED CHEESECAKE

Baked Cheesecake

I enjoy trying new recipes because they keep boredom in the kitchen at bay. Ever since the lockdown began, I have been seeing a lot more people cook and bake on Instagram. It's so tempting to follow all of them but then again, I feel I might overlook the updates from people who I know in person because that's what happened to me on Facebook. So I just take a screenshot of the recipes and let them know once I've tried it. 

Baked Cheesecake

I absolutely enjoy when you tell me that you have tried something from here. It's not a sense of accomplishment but it's something that makes me feel that I've been helpful to someone. I get a lot of responses, more than what I can respond to in a day's time on Instagram these days. I enjoy every bit of it and sometimes I fight with the kids to get that extra five minutes to reply to all the queries and the beautiful pictures you all send. It is really heartwarming going through every single one of your messages.

Baked Cheesecake

Whenever I get similar questions, I do a Q & A session once in a while. It's even more fun because I get to interact more with my followers. I just finished doing one today and I am amazed at the variety of questions you had for me. I've heard that variety is the spice of life and it really is true, in this case for me. By doing so, I get to know you guys more. It's boring when it's a one-way interaction. Don't you think so? 

Baked Cheesecake

So when I was scrolling through my Instagram explore page, I came across Simi's page and found her recipe for this baked cheesecake. Even though I've baked many a cheesecake before, I felt that this one would be incredibly delicious because of the ingredients. Condensed milk is my forever favourite ingredient to add in a dessert. I have been caught multiple times by Ian while trying to scrape and lick the bottom of the tin. I don't know what it is but condensed milk just makes everything taste better!

Baked Cheesecake

I baked this cheesecake over the weekend because a friend of ours was coming over with her baby after what felt like ages. Now, meeting anyone outside the family feels like a celebration. So I felt I needed to bake something different yet something that she would enjoy. As I was scrolling through my screenshots on the phone I quickly thought of this recipe. I had everything on hand so didn't waste any minute and set out to baking this beautiful, delicious cheesecake.
BAKED CHEESECAKE
Make a 9 inch cake
Ingredients:
Base:
250 grams Marie biscuits, powdered fine
100 grams unsalted butter, melted
Filling:
500 grams cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup condensed milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Dulce de Leche, as needed

Method: Preheat the oven to 400 F / 200 C and wrap the outside of a 9 inch springform tin with foil.
Base:  Mix the two together and press into the tin.
Filling: Using electric beaters on medium high speed, beat all the ingredients together in a large bowl until well combined, about 2 minutes. Pour over the base and bake in a water bath for about 40-45 minutes or until the cheesecake is almost set and still a bit jiggly, like jelly. Take it out and let it cool completely. Chill for 6-8 hours to set it further. Top it with a few dollops of Dulce de Leche before serving.
* You can add berries, chocolate, cookie crumbles etc to the batter before baking. Change the topping accordingly. You could also bake it plain and serve with fruit toppings.

Baked Cheesecake

When our friend left, Jobin wasn't around and when he came down later I thought he looked serious when told me that it was the best cheesecake that I have ever made. He kept saying how perfect the slice looked and how soft the filling was and how perfect the base was. I didn't know how to react because I was trying to read his face at first that whatever he said didn't register quickly. I laughed out loud when the compliment finally sunk in. 
Baked Cheesecake

Our friend really enjoyed the dessert and I packed a few pieces for her to share with her family later. This is indeed a good recipe and I am sure there will be multiple repeats and requests for it from now on. The leftovers were happily polished off by Jobin & Zara! I urge you to try this sometime soon, you will really enjoy it! Just keep an eye on the baking time. It can vary from oven to oven. The final jiggle of the cheesecake as you pull it out of the oven should remind you of jelly-jiggle. It will continue to cook and firm up as you let it cool down and later chill in the fridge. To get clean slices, dip your knife into boiling hot water and wipe it. Repeat for each cut. Simple, right? 

Monday, July 6, 2020

MANGO CAKE

MANGO CAKE

I
have been wanting to bake a Mango cake for the longest time and I also had a specific texture and taste in mind as well.Like how Porotta is an emotion in Kerala, the smell and taste of Mangoes evoke a lot of childhood memories in me. We used to spend quite a bit of our Summer vacations in Pallikuttumma every year. Our ancestral home was surrounded by a lot of trees and that included many,many Mango trees.

MANGO CAKE

There were two mango trees on either side of the main gate which were fibrous so we used to eat them raw with salt, chili powder & coconut oil. The ones on the sides of the house were the kind you could just squish and drink the juice (with the peel intact) and the ones behind the house which we all called  Perakka Manga were the best! Amma tells me that Velliammachi planted that mango tree when she was pregnant with Amma & Daisy Mummy. Those mangoes were sweet and the flesh was like butter.

MANGO CAKE

As kids, all of us would pick whole mangoes after lunch and go out to swing on the hammock tied in between the Guava tree and a Mango tree on the East side of the house. We would all squish ourselves, trying to wiggle & fit onto that old white Macramé hammock. We are 24 grandkids on Amma's side and it was usually the girls who were interested on being on the hammock. One such afternoon, the hammock decided to come crashing down when all of us were on it, literally piled up like bricks. I still clearly remember how that felt and every time I sit on our hammock in the backyard, I can't help but smile thinking about that incident which happened over 25-30 years ago.

MANGO CAKE

However, that house is no longer there. It was sold when my Uncle and family moved back to Goa a few years ago. It was demolished and converted into a beautiful restaurant named 'Memories' on Alappuzha - Changanaserry highway. Their food is amazing and we always go there everytime we go to Pallikuttumma. Another Uncle's family lives next door, so that makes it even more convenient. They named that restaurant perfectly because that home still holds so many memories for all of us. It's where my Amma was born and raised, where we celebrated many family functions and where all of us spent our childhood vacations. 
mango cake

MANGO CAKE
Serves 8-10
Ingredients:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk, room temperature
2 tablespoons vegetable / canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup fresh mango puree, divided
Method:
Preheat oven to 325 F and prepare an 8 inch round cake tin. 
Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. With mixer running on low, add the eggs one at a time and mix until it's incorporated. Add the milk, extract, oil and 1/2 cup mango puree. Mix on medium high speed for 4 minutes till it becomes fluffy and increases in volume by a bit. Add the dry ingredients in three additions and fold it in very gently with a spatula, just until the dry flour is incorporated. Fold in the remaining 1/4 cup of mango puree as well. Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 60-65 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Let it cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then unmold and cool completely.
Enjoy!


MANGO CAKE

I followed Savita's recipe and the cake came out just like how she had described it to be. Moist & fluffy. I personally prefer cakes made with butter over cakes made with oil. However, a cake made with mostly butter and a little bit of oil brings out a good product. It's like the best of both worlds! Butter adds flavor and oil lends moisture. This cake recipe is a good example of that.
We loved this cake! Use good quality mangoes. If not, the flavor will not shine through. I used frozen mango puree that we get in Indian stores here. It was unsweetened, just like how it would be if I were to puree fresh mangoes. If you are going to use the tinned sweetened mango pulp, you will have to make adjustments with respect to sugar in this recipe. I buy our fresh mangoes from Asian/ Mexican markets and they are available in plenty these days. Just like how we enjoy a Black Forest Cake made using fresh cherries every Summer, I am sure this particular cake will make it's appearance on our table every Summer from now on! You don't need anything over the top of this wonderful cake, not even a dusting of powdered sugar. It's a simple, delicious cake!

Thursday, July 2, 2020

EGG DROP CURRY

Egg Drop Curry

W
hen I've made the same curry about 5 times in the last three weeks, it might indicate that  it's a good one!I am usually not the one to make the same curry repeatedly, atleast not this frequently but the flavours of this egg curry are so basic yet so comforting. The method is extremely simply yet time saving. You get the drift, right? This is a curry that you can pull of in no time at all! Usually, when I make my Nadan Motta Curry where I  need to hard boil the eggs separately and peel them later. Here, it's all made in one pot and the results are fantastic!

Egg Drop Curry

The only thing I would suggest you to use would be a little spacious pan. You need to break open the eggs slightly apart from each other, so that they get their own space to cook. Also, if you feel like flipping them towards the end, you need that little room to wiggle your spatula around without breaking the eggs. Other than that little tip, I can only ask you to make this curry as soon as you can because you will love it! It pairs perfectly with Appam, Chapathi, Pathiri, Idiyappam,White Bread, Rolls etc. I found this lovely,quick recipe from here.

Egg Drop Curry

Talking about Appam reminded me of the recipe that I have been making for a few weeks now. It's such a quick one and doesn't need more than 30 minutes to make it...yes, from start to finish. Amma shared that recipe with me and it makes such soft, wonderful Appams. I am hoping to share it with you sometime. I have so much planned and photographed for the blog but when it comes to sitting down to write about it, it requires a little more time than before. It could be the age catching up on me or it could be that it's crazy right now with everyone being at home! :-)


EGG DROP CURRY
Serves 4
Ingredients:

4 large eggs
4 tomatoes, diced
1 large onion, diced
3 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 tablespoon Kashmiri red chili powder
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1/2 - 1 cup coconut milk*
Salt
Coriander leaves for garnish
Method: Heat oil in a wide saute pan on medium heat and once hot, add the fennel seeds and let it sizzle. Then add the onions and a pinch of salt and saute until the onions are translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste and stir for 30 seconds followed by the diced tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes loses it's shape and becomes mushy.Add the spice powders and 1/3 cup water and cook stirring occasionally until the curry becomes little thick,about 2-3 minutes. Add the coconut milk and let it come to a boil. Reduce the heat to low,check for salt and then crack open the eggs directly onto the curry. Do so gently and open the cracked eggs close to the gravy. Cover the pan with a lid and let it simmer for 15 minutes or until the eggs are cooked. Serve the curry garnished with coriander leaves.

* The original recipe called for 1/2 cup coconut milk but I have been using 1 cup. I felt the gravy was too less with just 1/2 cup. Maybe my pan is wider or my coconut milk was thick. So use your own judgement here. This is a slightly thick gravy and not a watery one, so don't be tempted to add a lot of liquid.
If you feel the need to flip the eggs around 12 minutes, please do so. I flip ours because we like them set on both sides.


Egg Drop Curry

I must admit that whenever I've made this curry, it's as if I've haven't made enough. It just vanishes before I can even think of taking a photograph of it. Every time I've shared the photographs on my Instagram account, my inbox literally gets flooded with recipe requests from so many! I feel terrible to tell them that I will share it the next time I make it because that's what really happens in our home. Everything I make vanishes...unless I fight with them saying I need to click pictures first before they get a taste of it. It used to be like that long, long ago...like in 2008-2009 time frame but it's all coming back especially after having two little ones who absolutely love to eat! :-)
Anyway, I hope you enjoy making this as much as I do on a weekly basis! 

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

BIRTHDAY UPDATES!

Jobin birthday 1 S
o we have shared ten birthdays together till date. May is our birthday month and we start the month celebrating Jobin's and end the month by celebrating mine. Even though there are many weeks in between our birthdays, it somehow flies by so quickly! The beginning of May is always busy with planning what to make to make his day special and rest of the weeks, I am kept busy being asked what I want for my birthday! Our children enjoy it so much and they are so excited about making cards and gifts the entire month! We get many gifts that they make before, on and even after our birthdays. I wish we all could be as excited about everything as children are!

Jobin birthday 2

As you all might have read here before, we bake each others birthday cakes and it's our own little tradition that we started 10 years ago! We thoroughly enjoy the process and I was telling Jobin how our children enjoy it ( maybe much more than us!) and that they might carry on this tradition of ours into their lives later on. I really hope they do because it definitely feels special! That whole excitement of being asked what cake you want to seeing it being made with full love is worth experiencing!

Ria birthday

Like always it was Lamingtons for Jobin and they baked a lovely moist Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream for me. It has been my favourite for a while. I can confim now that gone are the days when a chocolate cake could excite me like how it used to before. I have lost a little bit of my sweet tooth along the way and these days I bake mostly what the little ones ask me to. I love the whole process as much as I used to (or maybe even more!) but when it comes to eating, a bite or two is enough. I am definitely getting old! :-)  I hope all of you are keeping well in these crazy times! I will be back soon with a lip-smacking recipe for an Egg Curry. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

WATERMELON RIND CHAARU CURRY

Watermelon Rind Chaaru Curry

T
his is one of my most favourite curries to pair with rice. I grew up eating this curry,so it shouldn't come as a surprise to me. Amma made chaaru curry with Vellarikka, Kumbalanga,Chembu etc. All of them are excellent and I enjoy them all! This time when we bought the first watermelon for the season, I wanted to try making something with the rind. I've been seeing a lot of recipes for it online, especially the pickled versions. 
Watermelon Rind Chaaru Curry

As I was peeling the green skin away, the texture of the rind felt so much like Vellarikka and I wondered how it would taste if I made a chaaru curry out of it. That's how this version of my Amma's chaaru curry was born. I must say, it turned out to be fantastic! You can pair this with my Mamma's Urulakkizhangu Mezhukkupuratti & Beef Olathiyathu for a complete experience that I enjoyed as a child.Ian and Zara was intrigued to see what I would be making with the watermelon rind. They were excited to taste it once it was done and couldn't believe that we could eat the rind as well!
Watermelon Rind Chaaru Curry


To prepare the rind, all you need to do is to save them once you are done eating the red flesh. I usually chop the flesh and store it in a container. Whatever method you chose, just wash them up after that and using a peeler or a knife, peel off the green skin completely and slice off any remaining red flesh. You just want the pale green,almost opaque rind alone. No green or red on it. Cut them into small cubes and use them as mentioned in the recipe below. You need only a cup of it for this curry.

WATERMELON RIND CHAARU CURRY
My recipe
Serves 4-5
Ingredients:
1 cup cubed watermelon rind
2-3 green chilies, slit
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
Salt
To grind:
1/2 cup grated coconut
1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
Tempering:
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 pearl onions, sliced fine
1 sprig curry leaves
3 dried red chilies, torn 

Method: Into a small pressure cooker, add the rind, green chilies, salt to taste, turmeric powder and enough water to submerge them halfway. Cook for 1-2 whistles on medium heat. 
In the meantime, grind together coconut, cumin seeds and just enough water to grind them to a smooth, fine paste. Add the yogurt to it and pulse once to smoothen it.
Once the pressure has died down on it's own, open the cooker and add the ground paste to it. Turn on the heat to a medium and stir the mix continuously till it just starts to steam. Turn off the heat.
In a sauté pan, heat the oil and splutter mustard seeds. Add the pearl onions and when almost golden brown, add the curry leaves followed by the dried chilies. Turn off the heat and pour the tempering over the curry. Stir well to mix and adjust salt if needed. Let the curry stand for 30 minutes - 1 hour before serving for the flavours to meld.


Watermelon Rind Chaaru Curry

This curry is very versatile like I mentioned earlier. If you want to make it with another vegetable, substiute it for Vellarikka, Kumbalanga, Chembu or even salad cucumber! It's a mild curry, so if you want to spice it up, add more green chilies while cooking the veggies. The only place to take care is when you warm up the curry once the ground ingredients have been added. Do not bring them to a boil, as soon as you see the steam starting to rise, turn off the heat. If not, the curry might split and look curdled.If you want, you can turn off the heat as soon as you feel the curry has warmed up, even before the steam begins to rise.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

POTATO CHIP COOKIES

Potato chip cookies

T
his has got to be one of my favourite cookies that I've baked in the recent times.I am always game for a good buttery treat, be it a cake or a cookie and this one fits the bill! We love potato chips so much that I knew if it's added to a cookie,it would become an instant hit with us! I've been eyeing this recipe for a while now and like most things that I make mental note of these days, this one also skipped my thoughts until I saw a similar recipe in a church cookbook from the 80's which Dorla gave me 9 years ago. Dorla is a wonderful lady that we've known for the longest time in Minneapolis. She was infact one of the first few people that I met here. Dorla & Dan were Jobin's neighbours when he was living as a bachelor here in Minneapolis.

Potato chip cookies

Even though I saw that cookbook recipe, I also happened to see another one on a website I really enjoy.I guess it's an old fashioned recipe which people tend to overlook these days with all the other brilliant cookie combinations that's floating on the internet. This recipe makes for the best butter cookie that can be had with tea, coffee or as a treat post lunch or even dinner. It's so light and crisp and that potato chips lends a slight salty crunch which makes you feel like you've eaten something like this before. I enjoy sweet and salty so if you are anything like me, you will love this one!
Potato chip cookies

One word of caution is that, even though the recipe says otherwise,please take your time to chill the shaped cookies before baking. When a cookie recipe calls for a lot of butter like this one, there's a tendency for the dough to be warm with handling. So if you bake it right away, it will spread quite a bit and will look like thin buttery crackers. It will not alter the taste but it will affect the look of the final product. So I would recommend chilling the shaped cookies for 25-30 minutes before baking or just until it feels cold and a little firm-ish. It's just like a cookie insurance policy!

Potato chip cookies

Both recipes called for using pecans but I chose to omit them because Ian is not a fan of nuts in baked goods. If you were to try this recipe, I would highly recommend it for the added crunch and flavor it will lend to these already amazing cookies! I get a lot of questions regarding the baking time for cookies in general. I can only suggest that you follow the recipe instructions and the feel of the cookie at the end of the baking time. Since every oven is different, the timing will vary. I usually check the bottom of the cookie and if it's golden brown, I pull them out. Most cookies continue to cook while they are cooling on the sheets and eventually on the cooling rack as well. 
POTATO CHIP COOKIES
Makes 30 cookies
Ingredients:
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Scant 2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans / walnuts
1/2 cup finely crushed potato chips*

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare two large cookie tins.
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium high speed for 4 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to combine. Add the flour, nuts, potato chips and beat on low to bring the dough together. Form 30 balls and place them on the baking sheet with 2 inches gap in between each cookie.
Smear some extra butter on the bottom of a drinking glass and dip it in extra sugar. Press the cookie dough balls with this to flatten them to 1/4 inch thickness. Chill the cookie dough for 25-30 minutes and bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes or until it's dry on the top and light golden. Turn the cookie sheets halfway through baking time for even baking.
Cool on the sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in airtight tins and use as needed!
*Use the basic salted wafer-thin potato chips like the yellow Lays. Don't crush it too much because it might powder even further during the final mixing.


Potato chip cookies

We sure loved this light,crisp & buttery cookie. I am 100% sure that I will be baking them again and that our cookie tin will be filled with these quite often. If you have baked my Melting Moments before, you will notice a faint similarity in taste. That is also an excellent cookie to try, if you haven't already! These days our cookie tins have been filled to the brim with a variety of cookies and they manage to vanish in no time! 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

MOCHA - WALNUT MARBLED BUNDT CAKE

MOCHA - WALNUT MARBLED BUNDT CAKE

I
haven't come across anyone who doesn't enjoy a slice of Marble Cake. It has a universal appeal. I've grown up eating many Marble Cakes that Amma made for us and I've shared the recipe with you all over a decade ago. It makes for a tender, moist cake and it goes so well with a cuppa. These days you might not find me very active here but if you are following me on Instagram, you will get all the updates and snippets of our day to day life. I've been sharing so much on my Instagram account and every now and then I do a Q & A session where I get to answer my followers more specifically.

MOCHA - WALNUT MARBLED BUNDT CAKE

One of the many requests this time was for more cake recipes. I have been doing cake tutorials on my IG page and my Double Orange Cake has literally been baked by over 60 people in the last couple weeks. It's such a heartwarming experience to see what you all been baking and cooking for my food blog. It's something that I really cherish.Now that everyone is at home and the need for homemade treats are on the rise, I thought I should share a recipe for a lovely marble cake from none other than Dorie Greenspan.

MOCHA - WALNUT MARBLED BUNDT CAKE

Her cookbook Baking From My Home To Yours was a wedding gift from my cousin Roshini. It's a cookbook that I cherish for the recipe as well as the nostalgia it evokes. When this food blog had just begun, everyone was busy baking from this cookbook and it was Dorie's cakes and cookies everywhere! I used to follow almost all the food blogs, read their content, post comments, try and bake the same thing and share here. I cannot even think of doing that anymore because I am so pressed for time with children and other responsibilities. It was a lovely time back then so that cookbook is special to me!

MOCHA - WALNUT MARBLED BUNDT CAKE

This cake is very moist and buttery that you can serve as is with tea or coffee. If you want to serve it as dessert, a scoop of ice cream would be a good addition. Maybe a drizzle of chocolate sauce as well. I think that's exactly what we are going to have as dinner tonight. I just made a batch of homemade vanilla bean ice cream this morning!
MOCHA - WALNUT MARBLED BUNDT CAKE
Serves 12-15
Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup finely ground walnuts
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup plain coffee
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup whole milk, room temperature

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare a 9-10 inch Bundt pan.
Whisk together flour, ground walnuts, baking powder and salt.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter along with chocolate, plain coffee and instant coffee powder over barely simmering water. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat 2 sticks of butter with sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat for 30 seconds after each addition. Add vanilla and mix it in. On low speed,add flour and milk alternately, adding the dry ingredients in 3 portions and milk in 2 portions. 
Scrape a little less than half the batter into the melted chocolate and stir to blend.
Pour both the batters alternately into the prepared cake tin and bake for 65-70 minutes or until the a thin skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. This can vary depending on your oven.
Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then unmould and cool completely.


MOCHA - WALNUT MARBLED BUNDT CAKE

I sincerely hope you all are doing well and that your families are safe during this pandemic. If everything had been how it had been, we would have been packing our bags now for the big trip that we had been planning for over the last few years...10 to be precise! :-) I cannot wait to see my friends in person and have a meal together at ours. It's been just too long! The bright side to this whole situation is that we are safe and that is the biggest thing to happen right now. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and I am sure we will see the light at the end of this tunnel as well. Until then, just hang in there!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

GRILLED FLATBREAD

Grilled Flatbread
I have been making this flatbread for a long time now and it always turns out good! Like soft, roll-able, perfectly chewy flatbread that goes with pretty much everything you want to wrap it with. We usually eat these with the Shawarma that  I make and we cannot think of replacing this bread with another. I love a good Pita bread but I love this one a little bit more. If you having been looking for a perfect vehicle for all your wrap needs, look no further! This is it!
Grilled Flatbread
This recipe comes from the brilliant Mark Bittman and you can never go wrong with his recipes. I recently found a copy of his extensive How To Cook Everything cookbook at our local thrift store for under a dollar! I can never pass on a deal like that. Thrift stores shelves have such hidden cookbook gems! Actually, I have found quite a few amazing books over there. Most of them are in near-perfect condition.
Grilled Flatbread
Flatbreads like these are so easy to pull off. You only need the basic ingredients on hand and it's done in under an hour and a half, including the rising time. I use it plain while making Shawarma but Mark suggests a sprinkle of za'taar over it. He calls it the Grilled Lebanese Flatbread. I am sure it tastes fabulous on it's own. I usually make Pita Chips with leftover Pita bread with za'taar on top. I love the flavor it imparts.
GRILLED FLATBREAD
Grilled Flatbread Makes 8

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon yeast
3 cups all purpose flour
Extra virgin olive oil

Method: In a large bowl, combine salt, sugar, yeast and 1 cup warm water. Set it aside until it foams up,about 5 minutes. Add the flour and mix well until combined. Sprinkle warm water by the tablespoon and mix if you feel your dough is dry. Cover and let rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.
When the dough has puffed up, knead it for 5 minutes on a floured surface until smooth and silky. Divide into 8 pieces and roll out each one into an approximate 6 inches in diameter. Brush one side with olive oil and cook on a hot grill, oiled side down on medium high heat . Brush some more oil on the second side and flip when bubbles begin to appear. Cook the second side for an extra 30 seconds.
Serve it immediately or at room temperature.

* I rolled mine out thinner. If yours is a seasoned grill, you can make it without the oil as well. 
Our kids love this bread! They eat it plain as well as filled. I made these last night because Ian had been asking me to make Shawarma for a while. Now that we have all the time in the World, why not make use of it? You can get the kids to help you in the kitchen when you make bread. They will find it very exciting, especially when the yeast foams up and when the dough doubles in size. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!

Monday, April 13, 2020

VATTAYAPPAM

Vattayappam
Life has been extremely fulfilling over the last one month. We've been under lockdown since mid March and personally, I am so grateful that we got this time to ourselves.  Even though the routines have all been disrupted, we have found a new routine and a new normal and we have been enjoying it as much as we can.  A major chunk of our plans have been cancelled but I am the kind who focuses her energy to the next best thing. I cannot wait for the sun to come out (we are in the midst of a snowstorm as I type this and I can barely see our neighbour's house at this point!) and start gardening! I am not a gardener and I have no idea on how to create a visually appealing one but I am going to try it this Summer. I have also bookmarked a lot of grilling recipes that I have been planning to try for the longest time! Hopefully the gardening and yard work will take care of my waist!
Vattayappam
Now to the topic of the day...our good old Vattayappam! I have tried my hand at so many Vattayappam recipes before and while most of them were really good, they involved a lot of steps. It's either extracting coconut milk and then 'kappi kachuka' and then another round of grinding coconut & rice and what not! In the end, I would be left with 6-7 dishes to wash and one Vattayappam.Whereas this recipe, it's pretty much a one bowl recipe and very straightforward.
Vattayappam
This recipe comes from Bava aunty, the author of Suriani Pachakam. I have shared many recipes from her book already on my blog and all of them have been excellent! This recipe is no exception. It gives you two extra soft, tender Vattayappam. The kind you always wanted to make and never figured how to! I have been making this recipe for a few months now and it's given me consistent results. I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

VATTAYAPPAM
Vattayappam Makes two 8 inch rounds

Ingredients:
250 grams Idiyappam / Pathiri podi
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups grated coconut
1 1/4 cups sugar (original recipe called for 1.5 cups sugar)
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons ghee
Salt

Method: In a large bowl, whisk together warm water, yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar and set it aside for 5 minutes.
In the meantime, grind the coconut to a smooth paste using water.
Once the yeast has been activated, add the rice flour, ground coconut, sugar and mix well. Add just enough water to make a batter of flowing consistency. Cover and let it ferment for 4 hours.
In a medium bowl, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold it into the fermented batter along with ghee and salt.
Transfer the foamy batter into two greased 8inch round cake tins and steam on high heat for 20 minutes. Cool and use as needed.

*You can add a few pods of powdered cardamom as well as garnish the top with fried cashews and/ or raisins. It was not included in the recipe . Amma always made hers plain and that's how we like it too!
*You can store the extras wrapped well in the fridge and re-steam it or zap it in the microwave for a few seconds as needed.
Vattayappam

This is one of Ian's most requested things to eat. He calls it 'Vattamappam' and loves it dearly!  Every time I make this, I plan on serving one for breakfast the next day but it never lasts and I never learn! I usually make this for our teatime and somehow a bite of this Vattayappam immediately takes me back home. Our nadan palaharangal always ensures a trip down the memory lane for me.
Every time I share a picture of our Vattayappam on Instagram, I get so many requests for it's recipe. So this recipe is for all of you who have waited patiently for all these months!I sincerely hope you give this a try at home. It's a good recipe!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

NO-BAKE 10 LAYER CAKE for our 10th!

10 layer cake
I knew one thing for sure this year... I wanted to make a 10 layered cake for our 10th wedding anniversary. I somehow didn't want to stand by the oven baking layers after layers this year since we were all going through a round of fever,cold and cough and cake baking,even if it was for our anniversary was the last thing on my mind at that time. Even though I tried to push the thought of making a 10 layer cake away as much as I could, it came back to me with double the force! So I knew, I would be disappointing myself big time if I didn't put my plan into action!
10 layer cake
This cake is a no-bake layered cake which you can customize to the number of layers you want it to be! I needed 10 and this particular measurement gives you 10 with enough frosting to cover it up. So if you need to build a bigger or a smaller cake, please scale the recipe accordingly. There's absolutely nothing to go wrong here,even a child can make it! It's super simple and extremely delicious!
10 layer cake
So you basically need graham crackers and a good frosting. I chose the chocolate graham cracker because our kids love chocolate cakes and I was pretty sure it would do down well with them as well. You can choose to use regular graham crackers or even honey flavoured. This recipe is inspired by the Russian Honey cake where you make a batter first and then make several layers of cake by baking them separately.I've made the original version quite a few times before when we had friend's over and it was a massive success!
10 layer cake
Given a choice, I would have gone for the longer route but with all what was going on at home, I just wanted to do the quick version and literally be done with it and have a cake for ourselves to enjoy the next day! So this cake barely needs 15 minutes of your time to be put together but it needs some good amount of chilling time so that the crackers get the the time to soften up and become cake like! It absorbs the moisture from the frosting and becomes really soft and a bit plump. No one can ever tell they were made using graham crackers!
NO-BAKE 10 LAYER CAKE
10 layer cake Serves 12-15

Ingredients:
4 sleeves of chocolate graham crackers (1 box + 1 sleeve from another box)
Frosting:
16 ounce / 2 cups heavy cream, chilled
One 8 ounce packet cream cheese, room temperature
4 ounce unsalted butter, room temperature
One 14 ounce can condensed milk
Topping:
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream
Crumb:
4 extra crackers

Method:
Frosting: In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks and set aside.
In another large bowl, beat the butter along with softened cream cheese till it's smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the condensed milk and beat until it's well incorporated, about 1 minute.
Fold the whipped cream into the butter mixture carefully in 2-3 batches. Your frosting is ready!
Topping: Gently melt the chocolate and cream together in a microwave oven for about 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Set it aside.
Crumb: Crush the crackers into a fine powder using a rolling pin
Assembly : Take a large platter and dab a small amount of frosting in a rectangular shape. Place three chocolate crackers over it. Cover it with some frosting and repeat till all 10 layers are done. You will need 30 crackers in total for a 10 layered cake. Cover the top and sides with the frosting. Pour the ganache carefully just to cover the top. Gently press the crumb mixture to the sides of the cake. Let it chill for a minimum of 6 hours before serving.

This cake tastes absolutely delicious! Just look at that list of ingredients...how can it go wrong! :-)
It is a heavy, rich cake mostly because of the frosting, so serve them in small slices. Ian kept saying this is the best cake I've ever made and then he corrected himself saying...'Well, it's always like that!'
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