Monday, March 10, 2014

An awesome chocolate treat

Do you have those moments of wanting something so bad- well I had one this weekend. I was eyeing this gorgeous chocolate cookie recipe on Oh She Glows (an awesome vegan blog, might I add) all of Friday (yes, yes even while I was at work). Sunday afternoon after a short one hour nap, I woke up, went to the kitchen and made these damn yummy cookies.

Wet ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil (do not melt)
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter 
  • 1/3 cup unpacked brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dry Ingredients:
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats, processed into flour 
    3/4 cup GF all purpose flour
  • 100 grams finely chopped dark chocolate (1 chocolate bar)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flax and water and set aside for a few minutes so it can thicken up. Whisk the flax egg again once thickened.
  2. Add the rest of the wet ingredients into the bowl with the flax egg (coconut oil, sunflower seed butter, brown sugar, cane sugar, and vanilla). In a stand mixer beat the ingredients until combined and smooth.
  3. Now, beat in the dry ingredients, one by one, as you go down the ingredient list (baking soda, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, oat flour). If your dough is a bit dry, add a teaspoon (or two) of non-dairy milk and beat the mixture again (I did not have to). The dough should be moist enough to form balls without cracking, but not super sticky.
  4. Finely chop the chocolate (it should be the size of peas). Beat the chocolate into the batter or simply stir by hand.
  5. Shape balls of dough (about the size of a golf ball or 2 heaping tablespoons) and place on the baking sheet 2-3 inches apart. Gently press down on each ball with your hand to form a disc (it should be 1/2-inch thick or so).
  6. Bake for about 12-13 minutes (I baked for 13 mins, mine took longer about 15 minutes) until the cookies are spread out nicely.
  7. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for 7 minutes or so and then transfer to a cooling rack for another 10-15 minutes.
Judgement: A soft chocolatey cookie- really yummy!!! 
I took pictures, will post them soon.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A book and a recipe

As a part of our January book pick- it was time to read Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin and make something inspired by the book. While I did finish the book and the challenge a while ago, I forgot to write up a post.

Book Review: The book set in post-genocide Rwanda revolves around Angel Tungaraza, a Tanzanian who moves to Rwanda with her husband Pius and her children (well technically her grandchildren but her own kids were dead so she and her husband are raising their grand kids). She has a cake business and her cakes are pretty popular- every time a client comes in to order a cake, Angel puts on some tea, and her customers pour their hearts out before they order the cake. 
I found this book extremely cloying. Angel could do no wrong...she helped everyone, listened to everybody's stories, made beautiful cakes, took care of her children...

 In one short sentence- I did not like the book.


I read the book while drinking chai, an Indian variation of the Rwandan milky tea. And I also made Kenyan style curried creamy cabbage inspired by this recipe.

http://www.kayotic.nl/blog/kenyan-curried-cabbage
Ingredients:
1 small to medium cabbage head
1 large onion
2 medium carrots
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp chick pea flour
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp curry powder
2 tsp salt
pepper
Directions:
Remove the outer leaves and slice the cabbage in 1 inch thick strips. Slice a large onion.Grate 2 medium carrots. Heat 2 tbsp butter and sauté the onion for a few minutes. Add the shredded carrot and cabbage. Cook everything, over low heat, stirring once in a while until the cabbage softens (about 10 minutes). Once the cabbage has softened, make room in the center and pour in the paste. Cook for a minute before pouring in 1/2 cup of milk, 1 1/2 to 2 tsp salt and lots of pepper. Stir well, pop the lid on and simmer for another 10 minutes.
This dish was awesome though- I thought it tasted similar to pasta with bechamel sauce.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

From "The Baker's Daughter"


I love to read books and I love to cook- so "Cook the Books" event called out to me, what more can I say? When I didn't want to just sit around and catch up Breaking Bad episodes leading up to the finale yesterday, I threw these buns and some great vegan-gluten free strawberry cupcakes in the mix.

 The book chosen for the bi-monthly event Cook the Books is Sarah McCoy's "The Baker's Daughter"- a story about that intertwines food, history and a great narrative (toggles between WWII times in Germany and the present). I am just about a third done and so far like what I have read. I will post the review once I am done reading but in the meantime I leave you with these gorgeous buns that are traditionally made on St. Thomas Day that falls on Dec 21st (which also happens to be the shortest day).

 








Thomasplitzchen Buns

1 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup almond milk

Filling
11/2 tsp ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 cup currants, raisins, cranberries, or whatever dried fruit you have on hand (I used raisins, currants and cranberries)
0.125 cups raw sugar

(I skipped the icing)

Mix the filling ingredients together well and set aside.

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until a very fine crumb, add the milk, mix until it all holds together, and form into a rectangle.  Roll out to 1/8th inch thick on a floured board.  Spread the filling over to within an inch of the edges (it will squish out some).  Roll it up like a fat sausage, and then make one inch slices.  Put them pinwheel side up on a greased cookie sheet and bake in a pre-heated oven 350F until barely suntanned on top.  About 15 to 20 minutes

 Judgement

They were a breeze to make and their somewhat of a biscuit nature appealed to my palette. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Padre Island

 This labor day weekend, wise guy and I set off to Padre Island, a 3 hour drive that turned out to be more like 5. The drive was not so great with me pouting ( to indicate my petulant annoyance!) all the way and the wise guy deciding to stop at a random Mexican joint in Refugio for dinner (it seemed like a popular spot except our innumerable ways of saying no carnitas seemed quite ineffective!).

Anyway once I set foot on the beach all was forgotten. Funny how the ocean has that effect on people.




And we found a great place to eat- JBs German Bakery where the smell of freshly
baked bread and the sights of pristine German engineering kept us going back for more.

This picture of a gorgeous grilled chesse sandwich was taken in color and then converted to black and white. 

Submitting this to Black and White Wednesday started by Susan, now taken on by CindyStar. This week the event is hosted at Cook almost Anything.

Just peachy...



Grab hold of 'em awesome peaches that are in season right now!

Once you have eaten them in all forms and shapes, try this refreshingly simple recipe


You will need,

2 peaches, diced into smallish pieces

For the dressing

2 inch piece ginger, grated finely
1 tbsp honey
juice from half a lemon
garden fresh mint, if you have on hand

In a bowl mix the dressing first and then add the peaches.

That is it, really!

Chill the salad before serving.

Trust me on a hot Houston afternoon, you would want something cool.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hippity- hoppity hop to India for some delicious DB challenge this month

Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen was our August 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious!

Ingredients
For the Mawa:
1 litre (4 cups) full fat milk
For the cake:
1/2 cup (1 stick) (120 ml) (4 oz) (115 gm) unsalted Butter (soft at room temperature)
3/4 cup (180 ml) packed crumb
1-1/4 cups (300 ml) (10 oz) (280 gm) castor sugar
3 large eggs
5 to 6 cardamom pods, powdered, (about 1-1/2 tsp powdered cardamom)
2 cups (500ml) (9 oz) (260 gm) cake flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract (optional)
Cashewnuts (or blanched almonds) to decorate (about 18 to 20)





Directions:
1. First make the “Mawa”. Pour the milk into a heavy bottomed saucepan, preferably a non-stick one. Bring the milk to a boil, stirring it on and off, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
Turn down the heat to medium and keep cooking the milk until reduces to about a quarter of its original volume. This should take about an hour to an hour and a half.
2. The important thing during this process is to watch the milk and stir it frequently to make sure it doesn’t stick to the sides or bottom of the pan and get burnt. The danger of this happening increases as the milk reduces and gets thicker.
3. Once the milk it has reduced to about one fourth, 1/4 quantity, lower the heat to low and let cook for a little while longer. Keep stirring regularly, until the milk solids (mawa) take on a lumpy appearance. There should be no visible liquid left in the pan, but the mawa should be moist and not stick to the sides of the pan.
4. Remove the pan from heat and transfer the mawa to a bowl and let it cool completely. Then cover and refrigerate it for a day or two (not more) till you’re ready to make the cake. It will harden in the fridge so let it come to room temperature before using it.
You should get about 3/4 to 1 cup of mawa from 1 litre (4 cups) of full-fat milk.

5. Now start preparations for the cake by pre-heating your oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Beat the butter, the crumbled mawa and the sugar in a largish bowl, using a hand held electric beater, on high speed until soft and fluffy.
6. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on medium speed till well incorporated. Add the vanilla and milk and beat till mixed well.
7. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt onto the batter and beat at medium speed and well blended. If you cannot find cake flour, place 2 tablespoon of cornstarch in the bottom of your 1-cup measure and then fill it with all-purpose (plain) flour to make up to 1 cup.
8. Grease and line only the bottom of an 8 inch (20 cm) spring form pan. Pour the batter into this and lightly smooth the top. Place the cashew nuts (or blanched almonds) on top of the batter randomly. Do not press the nuts down into the batter. A Mawa Cake always has a rustic finished look rather than a decorated look.
9. Bake in a preheated moderate oven for about 1 hour until the cake is a golden brown and a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean. Do not over bake the cake or it will dry out. If the cake seems to be browning too quickly, cover it will aluminium foil hallway through the baking time.
10. Remove from oven and allow it to cool for 10 min in the tin. Release the cake, peel off the parchment from the base and let it cool completely.

Masala Biscuits (Spicy Savoury Indian Cookies):
Servings: Makes about 2 dozen biscuits/ cookies that are 2 1/4” (55 mm) to 2 ½" (65 mm)wide. (I halved the recipe, skipped green chilli peppers, added some caraway seeds and dill seeds)

Made these late last night and they tasted awesome- more importantly the house smelled heavenly (oh I had almost forgotten how awesome fresh curry leaves smell!)

Ingredients:
1-3/4 cup (420 ml) (9 oz) (250 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
2 tablespoons (30 ml) fine white or brown rice flour (optional)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (or according to your taste)
1/2 cup (1 stick) (120 ml) (4 oz) (115 gm) chilled butter, cut into small pieces
3 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
3/4 inch (20 mm) piece of ginger, finely grated
1-1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorn, crushed coarsely
1-1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and crushed coarsely
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (½ oz) (15 gm) granulated sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped curry leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander/ cilantro
3 to 4 tablespoons (45 ml to 60 ml) cold yogurt
1-1/2 tablespoons black sesame seeds (or white sesame seeds)
A little oil to brush the tops of the biscuits/ cookies

1. You can do this by hand also, but I prefer to use my food processor. The advantage with using the processor is that the warmth of one’s palms/ fingers doesn’t warm up the dough and melt the butter.

2. Put both flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda into the bowl and add the pieces of chilled butter. Pulse until the mixture takes on the texture of breadcrumbs. 
3. Now add the chopped green chillies, finely grated ginger, crushed peppercorn and cumin, sugar, the chopped curry leaves and coriander leaves. Pulse a couple of times to mix well.

4. Then add 2 tablespoons of yogurt and pulse again. Add one more tbsp of yogurt (or two, as much as needed), and pulse again until the dough just comes together and clumps together. You want a moist dough, not a wet one – somewhat like pie dough.

5. Do not over process or knead. The dough should be just moist enough for you to use your hands and bring everything together to shape into a ball. Flatten it into a disc and cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least hour. You can also leave it overnight (up to about 24 hours) and work on it the next day.

6. Pre-heat your oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 and line your baking trays with parchment or grease them with oil.

7. Lightly dust your working surface and roll out the dough to 1/8”(3 mm) thickness, not more or your biscuits/ cookies will not be crisp. Sprinkle the sesame seeds uniformly over the dough and use your rolling pin, very lightly, to press them in.

8. Using cutters of your choice (about 2-1/4 inch (55 mm) to 2½ inch (65 mm) in size), cut out biscuits/ cookies and place them on lightly greased baking trays. Brush a very thin coat of oil over them. This will help them brown while baking.

9. Bake them in a preheated moderate oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or till they’re done and golden brown on the top. Remember the baking time will depend on the thickness and shape of your biscuits/ cookies. Let them cool on the trays for about 5 minutes and then cool them on racks. Once they’re completely cool, they should be a bit crunchy and not chewy.



Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sometimes...you just have to...


...you just have to given in and make it yourself rightaway.

A few days ago I was craving Nam Nam noodle's seven spice tofu rice platter and I realized that I find myself wanting to eat this fairly often- so decided to take charge and create my own version of this really flavorful dish.


For the tofu

Remove the tofu from the packaging. Place the tofu in some paper towels and keep heavy weight on the tofu in order to drain all the liquid , about an hour(keep removing excess liquid every 20 - 30 minutes or so)

Cut the tofu into slabs and marinate with the concoction below (WARNING: the marinade is spicy)

~ 2-3 tbsp tamari
~ 2 tbsp chilli garlic sauce
~ 1 tbsp minced ginger
~ 1 tbsp sesame oil


Rub the marinade on both sides of the tofu slabs and refrigerate for at least an hour (can do overnight too)

Bake the tofu in an oven preheated to 350 F for an hour turning every 20 minutes or so

While the tofu is baking, cook jasmine rice as per packaging instructions (I made basmati rice)

For the veggies

Adapted from No face plate

Veggies

1 orange or red bell pepper, juliened
1 can baby corn, drained
1/2 onion, sliced
1 luffa, juliened (mine was from a friend's garden)
1 minced garlic

Spice mix

1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground star anise
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons soy sauce

In a saute pan, add a bit of oil and saute the ground spice mixture sans (minus) soy sauce until the aroma builds.

Add the onion and garlic and saute for a minute or two

Add the rest of the veggies and saute them on medium high heat (you want the veggies to cook quickly- like they will in a wok, or if you have one, better yet- use the wok)

Once the veggies are tender, drizzle with soy sauce and cook for a few more minutes

Serve hot- plate the rice with tofu and veggies on the side

Judgement: Now that is one damn good staple- you can make ahead the tofu, the rice and the veggies.  It tasted awesome, if I may say so myself.




Submitting this recipe to MLLA #62 started by the most gorgeous Susan and taken over by another gorgeous blogger Lisa.  This month the event is hosted by yet another gorgeous blogger Siri. This event has been running of 6 years now- that is right 6...