August 24, 2011

Methi Mushroom Malai

There are simple dishes. There are yummy, creamy, restaurant-like dishes. And then there are those that are both. The ones that are both are not common. This is one of those dishes. Simple to make and yet classy affairs. I had gotten bored of our rice-dal-vegetable-sambar-rasam routine and was craving something different. I had all the ingredients on hand and made this last night. The perfect accompaniment to hot rotis.

2 cups Fenugreek Leaves, washed and chopped
½ tsp Cumin Seeds
2 cups Mushrooms, quartered
½ cup Milk
2 tbsp Cream
¼ tsp Sugar (optional)
1 tbsp Oil + 1 tsp Oil
Salt to taste

To be ground to a paste:
1 Onion
2 Green Chillies
½” piece Ginger
2 cloves Garlic
2 tbsp Cashews
1 tsp Poppy Seeds (optional)
Saute the mushrooms in one teaspoon of oil. Keep aside.

Heat the tablespoon of oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. When they crackle, add the fenugreek leaves and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the paste and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the milk, cream, sugar, salt and mushrooms. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Serve with rotis.

August 23, 2011

Eggless Butter Cookies

I have always loved this time of the year. It sort of marks the beginning of the festival season for me.  Janmashtami or Sri Krishna Jayanti is one of the more important festivals in my family. Now that I have a little Krishna of my own, it becomes even more important.

As always, there was some confusion about the dates. I just picked a date that was convenient to me and celebrated the festival. I have never tried making any traditional sweets. I was tempted to try the 7-cup cake, but better sense prevailed. I like the story of little Krishna loving butter and ghee, but I give my story a modern twist. I have believed that if Krishna lived in this day and age, he'd probably have liked chocolate and cookies just as much. So while Krishna must have had his fair share of seedai and murukku from the other households, my naivedyam this year was a plate of eggless butter cookies.

¾ cup(generous) Flour
1/8 tsp Baking Soda
¼ cup Powdered Sugar
1/3 cup Butter
1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.

Melt the butter. Cream the sugar and the melted butter until well blended.
Sift the flour with the baking soda. Add this to the sugar-butter mixture. Add the vanilla essence. Make a dough and divide into small balls. Flatten each ball onto a cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes.

Srijayanti is celebrated in my father's side of the family today. So, I am not late in wishing you all a very Happy Krishna Jayanti.

August 22, 2011

Very Berry Vegan Cake

The cake monsoon is on at The Singing Chef. I would like to believe that the season will change shortly or else I may need a new wardrobe very soon. I am on a baking spree and there is no proverbial light at the end of this tunnel.

I have had a lot of people ask me for eggless versions of my cakes. I have to admit, I never really baked too many eggless cakes. And whenever I absolutely needed to, I used the egg replacer powder that one gets in supermarkets. But for about a month, I was asked by Baby A's paediatrician to stay off certain foods to test if he was allergic to something. When something is denied to you, you tend to miss it the most. No eggs, no nuts, no dairy. Technically, no cake. But I simply wanted it. And I was adamant to find a way out.

Recipes for eggless cakes are easily available. I didn't find too many vegan cake recipes that jumped out at me and said "Bake me!" I decided that I'd find no-egg and no-dairy alternatives and use them in a regular cake. That is what I did. The resulting cake was a tad dense, but otherwise divine. It was just perfect to satisfy that craving for something sweet when I was being denied everything else.

1/4 cup Oil
1 2/3 cups Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
2/3 cup Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Lemon, zested and juiced
1 cup of Soy milk (approx.)
1/4 cup Silken Tofu, pureed
1 cup Mixed Berries (Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries and Blackberries)

A few drops Pink Food Colour (optional)
Icing Sugar for dusting

Pour the lemon juice into a large measuring cup. Add enough soy milk to make 1 cup.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease and line an 8" cake tin.
Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) together.

In a mixing bowl, add the pureed silken tofu and sugar and beat well. Add the oil, curdled soy milk and the lemon zest and beat together. Add the dry ingredients a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the colour, if using. Add the berries and mix gently.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. Dust with icing sugar. Cut into wedges and serve.

August 6, 2011

Mango Melon Smoothie

I know a lot of people who start their day with a bowl of oatmeal porridge. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. I've always craved some sort of a breakfast routine and am very envious of those who manage to stick to one. My parents, for example, will start six out of seven days in a week with a bowl of oatmeal. Outwardly, I make fun of them and ask them whether they never tire of it. But secretly, I wish I could be like them. Amma doesn't miss out on the poha, upma, idli, dosa, bread routine at all. She puts them on the dinner table instead of the breakfast table.

For the past few weeks, I have managed to eat oatmeal every morning. I usually mix some curd and left over veggies/dal and eat it. Some days, I blend it with some cumin powder, salt and curd into a salty lassi of sorts. On days when I have fruit on hand and am in the mood for something sweet (which isn't often that early in the morning!), I turn it up into something like this.

1/4 cup Quick Cooking Oats
1/2 cup Water
1 tsp Sugar (optional)
1/4 cup Mango cubes
1/4 cup Melon cubes
1/2 cup Milk

Cook the oats with the water for 3-4 minutes and allow to cool. Blend this along with the other ingredients in a liqiuidizer. Add more milk if you like your smoothie a little thinner.

Pour into a glass and enjoy your breakfast. I can guarantee that something like this will keep you satisfied until lunch time and that you're quite likely to not reach out for something else in between.

August 3, 2011

Orange Ricotta Pound Cake to say Happy Birthday!

It is still raining cakes here. It is not as though I have not been cooking. I have been cooking a great deal. We've been eating new versions of old food as well as a lot of new foods. However, I'm also very hardpressed for time. My almost 6 month old is a handful, but I have also taken up studying for another master's degree. So, even if I do remember to take pictures of the food I make, they don't reach the blog very soon. I hope to change that soon.

One of my discoveries of this year was the Ricotta Pound Cake. I knew I had to bake it again (and again). I decided to stick to the very same original Giada recipe. So, this time it was an Orange cake. My favourite variety of oranges, Honey Murcott, is back in season, so the choice was but obvious. Since there were no modifications to my Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake, I knew this was going to smooth sailing. And it was.

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
2 Oranges, zested

A few drops Orange Colour (optional)
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 orange zest and beat well. Add the food colour, if using. 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.

Ricotta in cakes has to be my discovery of the year! Probably my baking discovery of a lifetime. Afterall, when the spouse who has eaten every kind of cake baked in the last 5 years says, "This is the best cake you've ever made." it must mean something! There couldn't have been a better cake to celebrate today. (However, the real birthday cake is the Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake.)

And as I have in the years that have gone by, regardless of how busy I may be, I come back to the blog to say:

Happy Birthday, Dearest Sachin!