May 27, 2011

Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake

I am enjoying every minute of living in Singapore. I have not yet stopped going crazy at the grocery stores and keep finding things that had, until now, existed only in the cookbooks. I did have access to Ricotta Cheese and Mascarpone even in Gurgaon, but this is different. I have bought a can of evaporated milk though I can't remember which recipe had asked for it. That's how crazy I've become. I am the proverbial kid in a candy store.

I also like the deals that come up in supermarkets. Anything that is approaching its expiration date or best before date is sold at reduced prices. I wonder what they do in India. It is something I never thought of before. I found a tub of Ricotta Cheese selling at 1/5th the original price because it was "expiring" the next day. I always wanted to make a Lemon Ricotta Cake and so I bought it. This cake was made the very next day. I have only worked with lime in India and it is a pleasure to work with lemons here.

I found a recipe for an Orange Pound Cake by Giada on the Food Network site. I modified it and made this Lemon Ricotta cake. I baked with butter after ages and so so loved the texture of this cake. I know I will make it whenever Ricotta goes on sale!

1 1/2 cups Cake Flour/Plain Flour
2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
3/4 cup Butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups Ricotta Cheese
1 1/2 cups Sugar
3 Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla
3 Lemons, zested
Icing sugar, for dusting
Butter and Flour/Spray for preparing the cake tin

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Prepare a 10" round tin. (I used a springform ring mould.)

Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt.

Cream the butter with the sugar and ricotta until the mixture is fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and lemon zest and beat well. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the batter, adding a little at a time.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool a little and sieve the icing sugar over it.

Cut into slices when warm and just dig in. Memories of an era gone by will come rushing back.

May 23, 2011

Capsicum Rice

This weekend saw a lot of cooking as I had invited two friends from my college days over for dinner. One of them has two children and the older child loves baking. I had never really taught a child how to bake anything and I had a great time making chocolate brownies with the girls. For dinner, we had Bisi Bele Huli Anna, Coconut Sevai, Lemon Sevai, Cucumber Pachadi, and Carrot Peanut Kosumbari. For starters, we had some potato wedges and pizza.

One of my friends stayed over and we had more fun on Sunday too. I woke up this morning thinking of college and all the fun that we had back then. I decided to make Capsicum Rice for lunch today as that is a dish I learnt from another classmate's mother. It is a simple recipe, but it is always a great hit.

1 cup Basmati Rice, cooked
2 Green Capsicum, seeded and finely chopped
2 Onions, finely chopped
1 tsp Chilli Powder
1 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tbsp Oil
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
7-8 Curry Leaves
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a kadhai. Add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. When the cumin crackles, add the curry leaves. Add the onions and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the capsicum and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add the salt, turmeric, chilli, and cumin powders and stir well. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes. Mix the cooked rice into the capsicum mixture and cook for another minute.

This is about as simple a dish as you can think of and it tastes great. I have made it often for train journeys and once when I traveled to Bombay to celebrate my aunt's 70th birthday by taking her to a restaurant, she said the best gift I could give her was to make this capsicum rice for lunch. This has to be the most effortless way to win some appreciation.

May 2, 2011

Chocolate and Zucchini Cake

About a couple of years ago, a couple decided to go on an impromptu vacation for a couple of weeks and visit a couple of places. They'd known this other couple in one of the places they intended to visit and had met them before a couple of times. The other couple invited this couple to stay with them. Most everything about the stay is a blur today. The only thing I can remember about my dear namesake and her hubby visiting us was that we had loads of fun. Sometimes the best laid plans go to waste and the best times happen when you put in the least amount of planning. This was one such.

Arundati gifted me this book, Deep Dark Chocolate, during that trip in 2009. I've gone through it a few times but never really tried anything. We had an old friend come over for lunch today and I decided to make this cake. It has a whole host of ingredients and today was one of those days when I had just about everything. I modified the recipe in the book to get this beautiful dark chocolatey cake.

2 Medium Zucchini, grated
2 Carrots, grated
1 1/4 cup Flour
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
6 tbsp Oil
2 Eggs
1/2 tsp Orange Zest
1/2 cup Raisins
3/4 cup Chocolate, roughly chopped

Icing Sugar for Decoration

Grease and line a 9-inch cake tin.

Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C.

Sprinkle 1/4 tsp salt over the zucchini and carrots and set aside for 30 minutes. Wash well and squeeze dry.

In a bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl, mix the oil, sugar and brown sugar and beat well. Add the eggs and beat again for a couple of minutes. Fold in the dry ingredients and mix until well blended. Add the zucchini-carrot mixture, raisins, orange zest and chocolate bits.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool. Dust the icing sugar all over the cake. Cut into wedges and enjoy with a cup of coffee or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This is a great way to get anyone to eat their vegetables. I knew there was zucchini in the cake because I put it in. But quite like my chocolate beetroot mini muffins, nobody else could even make it out. This would have to be one of the most moist and chewy chocolate cakes I've baked.
I thought of you, Arundati, the entire time I baked this cake and would like to share a slice with you and with everyone who has been a part of this blog.
The Singing Chef turns 4 today! And I couldn't have done it without all of you. Thank you for your continued support.