BROWNIES (and a little nostalgia)

 

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I have been meaning to post these recipes since a long, long time….but life gets in the way of blogging and the old laptop plays up like your stubborn teen and the Y key needs to be stabbed atleast 5 times before it works…… in the interim moments of inspiration come and vanish and before I know it, its months since I have typed out my story.  I am trying to avoid the Y key but is so damned tough (LOL)

 

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These are the lines that move my heart with a little regret, a little sorrow and nostalgia. It makes me wish I had held on longer to those baby moments, wish I had done some “conscious living” when I held his baby fingers and made him walk, when his dribble slid down my neck, when I bathe him and ended up getting wet,  Wish I had built more sand castles on the beach with him instead of burying my head in a novel, played with his lego blocks more often. Wish I hadn’t used a sharp voice when his little fingers couldn’t colour within the line or when more food ended up on the T shirt than in his mouth. Wish I had spoilt him a little more, laughed and tolerated his naughtiness without feeling the need to correct him, behaved his age and less mine.  I wish and I long for that little baby who made numerous demands on my time, energy, patience and emotions. I long for that little boy who loved to watch “scaredy” movies and wanted stories read in the characters’ voices, who lost his socks, always had untied shoe laces (and still does),  who called out in the middle of the night and always found an excuse to snuggle into my bed.

As I watch my lanky teen silently doing his own thing, wordlessly browsing through is phone I miss that chatter. His eyes roll at “lame” “Mom” jokes, there are no more secretive giggles, all you get are moody nods, monosyllabic expressions and demands of a different kind. Occasional smiles, Thank yous and Hugs suddenly bring that little boy to the fore and light up my bleakest days.  So now I “live” and cherish these hugs, smiles, laughs and conversations to the fullest and when I hear “Can I have some brownies?” instead of saying “Too much sugar”, I wink and say “Why not?”

 

 

 

BROWNIES

The Oreo Cookie Brownies are a family favourite and I carry them as gifts whenever I have forgotten to buy one and to bake sales and whip them up for easy brownie desserts or just thaw the frozen ones in my freezer ( ha…ha). It’s a recipe I sourced from La cuisine d’Helene by Ina Garten.

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The second one is by Jamie Oliver, everyone’s favourite guy. This is the second time I have made them and they are extremely soft, gooey and moorish. I kept the proportions the same but just changed the method.

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Don’t you all think baking brownies is somewhat like mothering? How can you go wrong with so much love (chocolate, butter, nuts), attention (keep an eye on them, don’t over bake, ever) and a little bit of common sense?….. and your brownies will turn out just fine.

 

RECIPE 1

OREO BROWNIES (by Ina Garten from la cuisine d’Helene)

Makes a 10×12  inch pan

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240gms butter

250 grms semi sweet chocolate chips

90 grms dark chocolate

1 1/2 tablespoon instant coffee granules

1 tablespoon vanilla

60 grms flour

1/2 teaspoon baking poder

1/2 teaspoon salt

25 Oreo cookies chopped into tiny pea sized bits

  • Pre heat oven to 180 C
  • Line a 10×12 inch Pan  with grease proof paper. Make sure the corners are neat and not crumpled
  • In a heat proof bowl set over a double boiler melt both the chocolates and butter stirring to break up lumps.
  • In a large mixing bowl  whisk together the sugar, eggs, coffee, vanilla.(I give it a good whisk till the mixture is thick and frothy. this is against brownie making principles. But this is what gives my brownies that crust on top when baked)
  • Add the slightly cooled butter and chocolate mixture to the egg mix and stir till its well mixed and smooth.
  • Sift together flour baking powder and salt. Ad a tablespoon of the flour mix to the oreo and coat well.
  • Add the oreos o the chocolate mxture, followed by the flour. Mix well to ensureno lumps of flour remain.
  • Pour the brownie mix into the pan and bake 35 minutes until a skewer inserted 3inches from the side of the pan comes out clean. do not over bake. cool to room temperature and refrigerate for 2 hours before cutting.

 

 

RECIPE 2

CHOCOLATE WALNUT BROWNIES (Jamie Oliver)

Makes a 10×12 in pan

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200 g quality dark chocolate (70%)

250 g unsalted butter

75 g dried sour cherries , optional

50 g chopped nuts , optional

80 g quality cocoa powder

65 g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

360 g caster sugar

4 large free-range eggs

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line baking tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Break chocolate into a large bowl, add the butter and place over a pan of simmering water, until melted, stirring regularly.
  3. Sift the cocoa powder and flour into a separate bowl, add the baking powder. Stir through the  nuts (if using).
  4.  Beat the eggs and sugar until froth and add to the slightly cooled chocolate mixture. mix in the dry ingredients until you have a silky consistency.
  5. Pour the brownie mix into the baking tin, and place in the oven for around 25 minutes. skewer inserted an inch or 2 from the edge of the tin should comeot clean and the centre must be soft and goey/
  6. Allow to cool in the tray, then carefully transfer to a large chopping board and cut into chunky squares.
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VANILLA AND CHOCOLATE MARBLE CAKE

 

imageLately I have been letting my other pursuits take over my free time and my passion for baking?……hmmm, not really. I look back on the past month and I have baked atleast thrice (relatively lesser than I did in Mumbai) So the conclusion I come to is that I have been lazy and not putting it down on my blog. So this morning I woke with a firm resolve to shelve the patchwork runner I am working on, the most trying and absolutely pointless book that I am reading so that I can discuss it at a book club (that’s a discussion for another day!) and get to work on my blog. So the morning started with a few clicks of the the cakes (yes 2 cakes) I made last evening and you will notice that they both look similar but nonetheless different in taste and composition. I must mention out here that I have been baking for the last one month without a weighing scale. I eye balled a cheesecake and the 2 cakes yesterday were a combination of eyeballing and cup measurements, which I rarely do. Just when I shoved the tins into the oven, the doorbell rang and my new weighing scale was delivered. Hah!! Looks like someone up there is testing my patience and love for baking.

So why 2 tea cakes?? Its my husbands Birthday week. Every year I ask him with the same enthusiasm “Which cake do I bake for your birthday?”, with a hope in my heart and a prayer on my lips that he will ask for a gooey, yummy, dripping with chocolate something. Nooo, that’s not what he wants. He wants tea cakes. My monster teen looks at him with his “come-on-are-you-serious” look and pips in “who has sponge cake for his birthday?” we do every year in September (LOL). So I decided to bake 2 cakes, ofcourse tea time cakes with a chocolate element . The Vanilla Chocolate Marble cake and Banana Chocolate swirl cake with a streusel topping. Hopefully that would satisfy both the men.

The marble cake has been adapted from Rum scented Marble cake from Epicurious. I have made it plenty of times and I can’t deny that its been wonderful, so chocolatey that the white vanilla cake is lost. The marbling always turned out muddy with just a few grains of white, I might as well have made a chocolate cake. So this time I reduced the chocolate batter to half and did not put a knife through the cake to marble it. The chocolate forms a ripple through the cake. There are 2 distinct flavours in the cake – an orange scented white sponge and a very gooey, rich vein of oozy chocolate running through it.

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Tonight I intend to turn it into a dessert with a dollop of fresh cream and drizzle of melted chocolate. Monster teen must know that his Mom isn’t so boring after all!

RECIPE

VANILLA AND CHOCOLATE MARBLE CAKE

Base Batter

1 1/3 cup all-purpose Flour

¾ cup Sugar

1 teaspoon Baking powder

Pinch of salt

175 grams Butter, softened

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

3-4 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Chocolate batter

50 grams dark/ bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

1 tablespoon cream

¼ teaspoon coffee granules (instant is fine)

¼ teaspoon baking soda

  • Pre Heat the oven to 160o C. Grease and line an 8 inch baking tin.
  • In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients-flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Give it a stir. Add in the butter and mix on low speed until the mixture is a smooth heavy paste. About 1-2 minutes.
  • Whisk the eggs with a fork in a medium bowl, add in the orange juice and vanilla and mix well. Add the egg mixture to the batter in 3 parts, whisking well for a minute after each addition. Scrape the side of the bowl after you complete mixing.
  • For the Chocolate Batter- combine the cream, coffee and baking soda and add it to the melted chocolate, stir well to dissolve the baking soda. Add ¼ cup of the base batter to the chocolate mixture and stir well to combine.
  • Spoon the 1/3 rd base batter on the base of the prepared tin. With a teaspoon drop the chocolate batter in concentric circles on the base batter. Spoon on another layer of the base batter and continue spooning some chocolate batter over it. Once done, gently run a butter knife or a tooth-pick around the tin in S-shape. Do not over mix, r you will end up with a muddy looking cake. I refrained from running a knife and baked the cake as is.
  • Bake in a pre heat oven for 42 minutes (approx), or remove when the centre of the cake feels firm to touch.

BANANA AND CHOCOLATE SWIRL CAKE

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Banana cake or bread has been an on-off favourite of ours for many years now. I have given it a very healthy avatar (click here) and lately it was starting to become oh so Ho-Hum that my teen son refused it as a pre workout snack unless I cut down on the fancy stuff, namely bananas, dates, oats and wheat flour. In the face of such strong revolt I had no choice but to give my Healthy Banana Nut cake a makeover. So I decided to take heed of the free advice and cut down on the banana, add in a chocolate element and topped it with crunchy nuts, oats and honey mix. A dash of cinnamon ofcourse heightened its oomph factor.

 

RECIPE

BANANA AND CHOCOLATE SWIRL CAKE WITH CRUNCHY TOPPING

140 grams plain flour

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

140 grams castor sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 large banana mashed (you can use 2 for a more pronounced banana taste)

¼ cup mixed nuts chopped roughly (almonds, cashews pistachios)

(*divide into ½)

85ml milk

Chocolate Swirl

30 grams dark/ bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

1 tablespoon cream

¼ teaspoon coffee granules (instant is fine)

¼ teaspoon baking soda

Topping

½ the mixed nuts from above *

2 tblspns oats

2 tblspns honey

1 tablspn melted butter

 

  • Pre heat oven to 180o C. Grease and base line an 8 inch baking tin
  • In a large bowl beat together the sugar and butter until light. Add in the egg, vanilla, cinnamon. Beat to mix well.
  • Add half the nuts, banana and mix.
  • Sift the flour with the baking powder. Add it in 3 parts alternating with the milk and beating between each addition.
  • For the Chocolate Batter- combine the cream, coffee and baking soda and add it to the melted chocolate, stir well to dissolve the baking soda. Add ¼ cup of the banana base batter to the chocolate mixture and stir well to combine.
  • Spoon half the banana batter and top it with blobs of chocolate batter. Continue this process until both the batters are exhausted.
  • Mix the ingredients for the crunchy topping and sprinkle it evenly over the top, gently pressing down with damp fingers.
  • Bake in a pre heated oven for 30-35 minutes. If the top starts browning mid way then turn down the oven temperature to 180. Insert a toothpick to see if the cake is done.

 

 

  • Pre heat oven to 180o C. Grease and base line an 8 inch baking tin
  • In a large bowl beat together the sugar and butter until light. Add in the egg, vanilla, cinnamon. Beat to mix well.
  • Add half the nuts, banana and mix.
  • Sift the flour with the baking powder. Add it in 3 parts alternating with the milk and beating between each addition.
  • For the Chocolate Batter- combine the cream, coffee and baking soda and add it to the melted chocolate, stir well to dissolve the baking soda. Add ¼ cup of the banana base batter to the chocolate mixture and stir well to combine.
  • Spoon half the banana batter and top it with blobs of chocolate batter. Continue this process until both the batters are exhausted.
  • Mix the ingredients for the crunchy topping and sprinkle it evenly over the top, gently pressing down with damp fingers.
  • Bake in a pre heated oven for 30-35 minutes. If the top starts browning mid way then turn down the oven temperature to 180. Insert a toothpick to see if the cake is done.

 

PS: I mixed a tablespoon of the chocolate batter with the topping to add stickiness and flavour.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

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Its been a tough, tough few weeks. Change is good, change is needed, but change is a challenge. When in Mumbai I was raving and ranting about the dirty streets, the mad traffic, the choking pollution and dust, the rogue drivers, the incessant honking, the pot-holed roads and the hawkers and the noise….. Now I am in Singapore- the streets are clean, the traffic is disciplined, public transport is beautiful, no one honks, the roads are satin smooth and I have all my wishes fulfilled!! So why am I mopping around house feeling blue, wearing tattered Tees and tracks?? I am so missing home, the buzz, the noise and the constant doorbell that announces the arrival of maids and the vegetable vendor and the fish vendor who argues and haggles for half an hour…Homesick??? Yeah that’s it. The quiet that I so longed for is almost deafening, I hunger for the excitement of driving in and out of narrow, people packed streets, haggling with the vendors in the markets, challenging my lungs to breath in the fumes (that’s an exaggeration …LOL)….so you see I have become a little batty too! Anyways I mustn’t grumble too much….a little dose of Homesickness is good. It teaches you to count your blessings.

On the bright side, the ingredients out here are amazing. I don’t have to go hunting for stuff, its right there in my backyard. Fresh and of the finest quality. So as a pick-me-up I went ahead and bought myself the most expensive butter, the best chocolate chips and got to work on banishing my blues. What better way to do it than with cookies! I particularly like the ones which are cakey in the centre and crispy on the edges and that’s what I found on BBC Good Food. They turned out to be a crowd pleaser (Junior, Senior Man and Me).

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The dough is not too sweet, so semi-sweet chocolate chips work well, I added some dark chocolate chunks and they were like the surprise element in every bite. Makes you guess….will it be sweet or bitter.

So as I come to the concluding part of my post, I am into my 4th cookie or is it the 6th…. Who cares! They are homey, cakey, dunk-worthy, fill me with joy and maybe someday I’ll have a friend to share them with. Until then I have the whole box to myself!!

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Makes 25-30 cookies

150 grms salted Butter,

100 grms light brown sugar

60 grms granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 large egg

225 grms plain flour

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

¼ teaspoon salt

200 grms semi sweet chocolate chips or chunks (I added some dark chocolate chunks)

  • Beat the butter and sugars till light. Add in the egg an vanilla and mix well.
  • Sift together the flour, salt and soda bicarb. Add to the butter mixture and stir in well till incorporated. Add in the chocolate and mix in.
  • Lightly grease and line your baking tray with parchment paper. Take your measuring teaspoon (with a scoop) and drop dollops of the cookie dough on the tray keeping an inch and half distance. Chill in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes before baking.
  • Preheat oven to 170o C. Bake cookies for 13-14 minutes until they turn a deep brown and are yet soft in the centre. Once baked leave them on the tray to cool slightly and then transfer them to a wire rack.

KOUIGN AMAAN- DARING KITCHEN CHALLENGE

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For those of you who don’t thing of bread beyond the yeasted dough or a breakfast toast and butter, here is a pastry from “bread-heaven”. A challenge to pronounce- Kwee-Ahmaan and a bigger challenge to control yourself from polishing it off in one go. Imagine the very French croissant’s coupling with buttery puff pastry and sweet Danish and voila! You have Kouign Amann- a round crusty pastry that originated in Brittany in the 1800s. History has it that a baker from a town of Douarnenez in the district of Finistère. in a desperate attempt to save a failed batch of bread dough added a significant amount of butter and sugar turning it into Kouign Amann. Bretons claim that the Kouign Amann is the “fattiest pastry in the world” (your thighs will hate you), its their answer to the Parisian Croissant.

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The process involves making yeasted dough, resting it, beating down chilled butter to a flat, thin layer and encasing it in the dough. It is crucial for the success of the KA to keep the butter chilled at all times, as this is what forms those sugary sheets of fluff. Active time is barely 45 minutes but the resting and chilling can take up most part of your day. I always use cling film to line my counter when rolling and folding the dough. This serves a dual purpose, less mess and since the dough can get sticky and difficult, the film helps to lift it off the surface and fold. Wrap the dough in the same cling film and chill. This way I can carry on with my other mundane chores without having to constantly clean up the counter.

These buns are irresistible, flaky like puff pastry on the outside revealing soft layers of fluffy bread with every bite. I can promise you one is never enough. The filling can be anything from chocolate chip, nuts to Nuttela. I stuck with my favourite- sugar and cinnamon. This is rich, rich, buttery and mildly sweet and doesn’t need anymore fat or fancy but I will leave you to decide. A large mug of tea and a tray of these buns is enough to ruin any hopes you had of getting into those shorts this summer (LOL). As I sweat it out on the treadmill a large poster with a bikini bod reads, “Workout till you are proud of yourself”…… ha …Ha..it will take a lot of workout for me to be proud!!

RECIPE

KOUIGN AMAAN

Servings: 12

Ingredients:

300 grams strong plain flour, plus extra for dusting

1 ½ tsp instant yeast OR 2 ½ tsp active dry yeast

1 tsp salt

200ml warm water

25g / 1 ¾ Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

250grams cold unsalted butter, in a block

75 grams caster sugar,(mixed with ½ tsp cinnamon, plus extra sugar for sprinkling

  • Put the flour into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other. Add the water and melted butter and mix on a slow speed for two minutes, then on a medium speed for six minutes. Can be made by your good old hands too. NOTE: If using active dry yeast, activate it in the water for 5 minutes first.
  • Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Put into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for one hour.
  • Sandwich the butter between two sheets of grease-proof paper and bash with a rolling pin, then roll out to a 14 cm / 5½” square. Place in the fridge to keep chilled.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 20cm / 8” square. Place the butter in the center of the dough diagonally, so that each side of butter faces a corner of the dough. Fold the corners of the dough over the butter to enclose like an envelope.
  • Roll the dough into a 45 x 15cm / 18 x 6” rectangle. Fold the bottom third of dough up over the middle, then fold the top third of the dough over. You will now have a sandwich of three layers of butter and three layers of dough. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. This completes one turn.
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  • Repeat this process twice more, so you have completed a total of three turns, chilling the dough for 30 minutes between turns.
  • Roll the dough into a rectangle as before. Sprinkle the dough with the caster sugar and fold into thirds again. Working quickly, roll the dough into a large 40 x 30cm / 16 x 12” rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with additional caster sugar and cut the dough into 12 squares.
  • Grease a 12-cup muffin tin well with oil. Gather the dough squares up by their four corners and place in the muffin tins, pulling the four corners towards the centre of the muffin tin, so that it gathers up like a four-leaf clover. Sprinkle with additional caster sugar and leave to rise, covered with a clean tea towel, for 30 minutes until slightly puffed up.
  •  Preheat oven to 220°C / 200°C (fan). Bake the pastries for 30 – 40 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cover with foil halfway through if beginning to brown too much. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Be careful not to burn yourself on the caramelized sugar, but don’t leave them to cool for too long, or the caramelised sugar will harden and they will be stuck in the tin.
  • Serve warm or cold.

MINI QUICHE (Spinach and Corn)

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My lunch girls, have been clamouring for an afternoon out for ages. Without meaning to be pricey I must have withdrawn from my lunch and /or coffee engagements; reasons ranging from fatigue to flat tyres ………… eventually they threw up their hands in despair and like good chums decided to plonk themselves in my living room (no permission asked or appointment taken). How nice is that….they could have kicked me out of the lunch group instead. Oh they were decent enough to give me a 2 day notice with strict instructions not to slave in the kitchen, a cup of tea and digestives would be great. Cup of tea and sweetened saw-dust for my girls?? I would have heard a few disappointed murmurs at a later date. The weather being the way it is, tea was out. Cold coffee and Lamingtons and my mini quiches sounded just the thing to please my “care two hoots for the waist line when good food is around” friends.image

Spending a morning with your girlfriends is one of the few pleasures of life. Nothing beats chatting aimlessly, venting your ire, crying over a bad haircut, discussing your mean teenager and using politically wrong language without being judged, without a harsh opinion or comment. On the contrary girls are so full of praise for your catty comments, they verbalise so many “oohs”, “aahs” and “yes you should have kicked his ….”, and then there are so many hugs going around for being brave, mean, greedy, lazy and all the other uncalled for behaviour. Where your male soul mate would just say “hmmm”, “oh”, “ok”, the female counterparts are so much superior in their efforts to make you feel wonderful, loved, beautiful and on top of the world. All it takes is cold coffee, lamingtons and quiche!!

Carried away with my unexpected morning affair!! Let me get to the Quiche on hand. Simply short crust pastry, spinach and corn filling and cream, eggs and nutmeg. Obviously there is a twist…..I flavoured the pastry dough with garlic powder and oregano (you pick your spices.) The cases were lined with thinly sliced gruyere (go ahead and use cheese slices, its so much easier). My recipe for the pastry makes the dough quite crumbly and difficult to handle, if you have a recipe which you are comfortable with go ahead. The quiche is light, healthy (I like to believe so) and the right accompaniment with the cold coffee. No fuss cutting it and the eternal embarrassment of the pastry falling off the filling. (LOL)

Life couldn’t be happier or simpler, a group of chatty, nutty, emotional females, sitting with their feet up on the chairs, sipping coffee without counting the calories, eating with their fingers, not bothering about my unwashed hair and flour dusted Tee, laughing, raving and ranting about their blessed life and promising to start the diet after the last bite of Quiche.

 

RECIPE

SPINACH AND CORN MINI QUICHES

MAKES 12

PLAIN SHORTCRUST PASTRY

250 grams plain flour

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon dried oregano (any other herb will do)

125 grams chilled butter, chopped

1 egg yolk

3-4 tablespoons cold water

  • Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and add in the garlic powder and oregano and mix. Add the butter. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until crumbly.
  • Combine the egg yolk and 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Add to the flour mix. Cut with a knife to form a dough, adding another tablespoon of water if necessary.
  • Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and bring together gently to form a dough. I find it very handy to turn out the dough onto a plastic wrap and bring it together with the help of the wrap, wrap it tightly and then gently press it together to form a dough ball. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before using.
  • Roll out the pastry between two sheets of plastic wraps or grease proof paper. Using a plain cutter or a jar cap cut rounds of the pastry to fit 12 cupcake tins. If the dough breaks in places, patch it up with little bits of dough.
  • Refrigerate while making the filling.

 

FILLING

50 grams Gruyere/ strong cheddar/ cheddar slices

1 tablespoon butter/ Olive oil

1 medium sized onion finely chopped

1 cup spinach, shredded

1/2 cup steamed corn

2 eggs

200 ml cream

50 ml milk

Freshly ground pepper

½ teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 190oC

  • In a pan melt butter with a dash of oil. Fry onions on low heat until tender. Add the spinach and corn. Continue stirring on low to mediun heat until the spinach wilts and any extra moisture dries up. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Remove the dough lined cupcake tins from the refrigerator. Line the bases with the cheese slices. Divide the spinach and corn mix between the 12 cases
  • In a bowl, whisk together the cream, milk, eggs, pepper and nutmeg. Laddle the cream- egg mix into the pastry shells.
  • Bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned and set. Serve hot.

STRIPED CHEESECAKE

 

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There are days and possibly weeks when I am simply haunted by a failed project and keep looking back as to where I went wrong, why, how, so on and on. Sometimes I chuck a failure out the window, thinking it was not meant to be and continue life as usual, but somewhere in my crazy brain an itch keeps popping it’s prickly head and nagging me to give it another go and succeed. Cheesecakes have been my pet peeve and for years I have kept safe distance, but since I conquered the devil with my Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake, I am becoming better and bolder. So this is where the story leads you dear reader, to my super, amazing, choco-vanilla striped cheesecake. The taste and looks are a match made in heaven.

imageIt’s a recipe from a “nameless book” which I had photocopied (believe me one of these days the print is going to vanish). Everytime I make a recipe from my nameless book I overwrite in pen. This is a truly amazing recipe and what got me all excited and charged up was the method to achieve the stripes. It’s so simple and obvious yet it will leave your family and friends scratching their heads …..pssst, don’t you dare reveal your secret. Let them confer you with the title of “culinary genius”.

There are 3 parts to this beauty, a chocolate base, and the dark and light cheese cake. To create the striped effect you simply have to pour ladlefuls of the dark and light mixture (alternately). Because of its thickness it won’t mix in or merge with the previous layer and that is what gives it the zebra effect. The pictures are the best I could do (its not easy holding the I pad and a ladle and clicking). The taste is rich and I have added a good dose of kahlua to the choco mix which gives it an elegance of a high class dessert. The “in your face” taste of the chocolate is a contrast to the subtle vanilla taste of the lighter cheesecake. All in all it sends your taste buds and texture-buds (?????) into overdrive. This is a dessert fit for a Page 3 appearance. Move over LBDs the striped cheesecake is making ripples.😀

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RECIPE

STRIPED CHEESECAKE

Biscuit Base

120 grams Digestive biscuits (crushed to a coarse powder)

1 ½ tablespoons Cocoa powder, sifted

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

45 grams butter, melted

Filling

400 grams cream cheese (Homemade version Here)

110 grams Sugar

2 large eggs / 3 small

80 grams Dark Chocolate

2 ½ Tablespoons Kahlua

1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

 

  • Grease the sides of a 6-7 inch springform tin 2 inches in height.( I used a normal cake tin and the cheesecake turned out just fine. I lined the bottom with grease proof paper.)
  • Preheat oven to 180o
  • For the biscuit base put the crushed biscuits, sugar and cocoa in a bowl. Stir well and add in the melted butter. Toss with a fork to blend. Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the prepared tin. Bake at 180oC for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and lower oven temperature to 160o
  • Carefully grease the sides of the baking tin with butter.

FILLING

  • Melt the chocolate with the Kahlua over a double boiler. Remove from the heat and leave aside to cool.
  • Put the cream cheese (at room temperature) in a large bowl. Beat using a hand held beater. Gradually add in the sugar, beating continuously. Add the Vanilla.
  • Add in the eggs one at a time, beating only enough to combine them with the rest of the mixture.
  • Pour a little under half of the cheesecake mixture into the melted chocolate and Kahlua.
  • Pour a large ladleful of the white mixture onto the biscuit base tilting the tin to cover the base. Add a little more if required. Add the same amount of the chocolate mix gently on the white layer and let it spread. Do not tilt the tin.

 

  • Alternate the layers using about half the remaining mixture each time until both the mixtures are used up. You should get 4 pourings of the light mixture and 3 pourings of the chocolate mixture. A little here and there won’t change the equation or look of the cake. As you keep pouring in the layers the previous ones will spread creating a ripple effect.

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  • Put a pan of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven and the cheesecake on the rack above. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the light mixture in the centre is just set. The chocolate mixture will firm up as the cheesecake cools.

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  • Remove from the oven and set the cheesecake on a wire rack to cool. Run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake before removing the tin. Carefully remove the tin and refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.
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PIZZA PINWHEELS

imageIt is such an uphill task competing with the famous neighbourhood pizza delivery guy. He has invaded every nook and cranny of our city, streets, malls, business areas with his presence. He sends in mailers with attractive discounts, weird Wednesday offers (to get over the mid week slump), gigantic weekend deals and all the gimmicky stuff you can think of. So, how is a stay-at-home mom supposed to fight with this omnipresent monster who has made a fan out of son, father and herself (I am no saint), strictly in that order. Reasoning with the boys to eat healthy during the cricket season is no mean task. The horrors of trans fat, bleached flour, MSG and all the preservatives that come as additional toppings to the extra cheese, are lost in the taste.

So out of sheer desperation and the need to fight the friendly neighbourhood pizza guy, I have twisted the pizza (literally) into a pinwheel and given it a healthier, super tasty look and taste.

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These pinwheels are 100% homemade except for the cheese (so make it 85% homemade). The bread is super tasty, seasoned with herbs, part healthy, with wheat flour and olive oil. The sauce is homemade with real tomatoes, onions and herbs and no MSG!! You can play around with the cheese and add goat’s cheese or cottage cheese instead of pizza cheese or mozzarella. The topping options are endless. The bread is an adaptation of a focaccia recipe I followed from the Bread Bible by Christine Ingram and Jeannie Shapter. Half of the bread I turned into a Focaccia and the other half into Pizza Pinwheels. The idea for the pinwheels is not mine entirely and comes from a Youtube video I saw a few months back.

After reading the recipe some might argue- that’s too much effort for a mere pizza! Yes it is, but the sauce can be pre made in large quantities and only the bread needs to be made fresh. The effort is worth the oohs and aahs and then we all know, that nothing good and wholesome comes out of a cardboard box and gets delivered in half an hour! Hah!

RECIPE

PIZZA PINWHEELS

Makes 20- 25

Pizza Bread

200 garms whole wheat flour

300 grams all purpose flour

2 tsp salt

2 teaspoons dried yeast

325-300 ml lukewarm water

2 teaspoons salt

45 ml/ 3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon each thyme and rosemary finely chopped

  • Dissolve the yeast in the water ( use about 325 ml leaving the rest for later if you require)and set aside for 5 -10 minutes until it starts to bubble on the surface. Add in the oil.
  • Sift the flours and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centra and add in the yeast mixture. Mix to form a soft dough.
  • Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until soft and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a lightly oiled cling wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for 1-1 ½ hours or until doubled in bulk.
  • Once risen turn out the dough onto a floured surface, knock out the air and knead in the herbs.

 

 

Sauce

3 large ripe tomatoes

1 medium sized onion

4-5 cloves garlic

Fistful of fresh basil leaves (broken into rough pieces or cut fine)

1 teaspoon red chilli flakes

3 tablespoons ketchup

½ teaspoon sugar

Salt to taste

½ teaspoon pepper

  • Cut the tomatoes, onions and garlic into rough pieces. Put them in a pot and pour over water to just about cover (submerge ) them. Boil on medium heat until the veges have softened and the water has almost dried out. It’s alright if there is some water left behind.
  • With a hand blender, blend the mix to a smooth mixture and return to the pot. Add in the other ingredients and boil on medium –low heat until the sauce is thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

 

 

Toppings

8-9 green/black Olives (chopped)

3-4 cloves garlis finely chopped

1 onion thinely sliced and sautéed in olive oil

2-3 slices of smoked ham

Mozarella cheese/ Pizza cheese

Assembling

  • Divide the dough into 2 parts.
  • On a floured surface stretch out the dough into a rectangle about 11x 6 inches and 3 mm thick. It doesn’t need to be perfect or evenly thick. The longer side of the rectangle should be towards you.
  • Spread 3-4 tablespoons of sauce on the surface of the dough, leaving a ½ inch margin on the top and bottom (broad) side. Use the sauce sparingly or it may leak out.

 

  • Spread the toppings, grate the cheese.
  • Start rolling the long side of the rectangle (closest to you), away from you to form a long tube, like a swiss roll.
  • With a floured knife gently cut the roll into 11-12 slices (about 1 inch thick). Hold the roll and cut slowly with a sawing (back and forth) motion. Do not panic if the dough breaks open and the filling spills out. Carefully seal it and put it in the baking tray. The pinwheels will stick together on baking.
  • Gently lift each piece and arrange it in an 8×8 inch well oiled tin. Leave half an inch gap between the pinwheels. Grate a tablespoon or 2 of cheese on top and cover with a cloth and leave to rise in a warm place. ½ hour to 45 mins.
  • Meanwhile preheat oven to 200oC. Bake for 25-28 minutes until golden brown. Remove from tin and cool on wire rack. They are best eaten warm but stay well in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped in cling film for 4-5 days.

 

Notes: The other half of the dough was used to make a Focaccia.

ORANGE ALMOND CAKE

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Hey, I didn’t realise I had reached my one year mark and it was time for celebration. What do you say when your blog is a year old, “birthday”, “anniversary”,”Happy Blogday”, “Many Bloggy Returns”??? (LOL!!)

Last year seems like a light year away. My struggles with just setting up the blog….OMG the goof-ups and the frustrating hours trying to find my way around. Oh the terminology got me all wired up, wicked widgets, Sidey bars, felt like Whipping the Admin, and kicking the categories into outer space and de-Linking from the keyboard forever. I was so close to giving up and when I went through some blogs and saw the content I was brought closer to binging on a whole cake! How was I to keep up with the Jones. The passion for baking and chronicling my adventures was too deeply seeded and there was no way I was going to give in to mere technicalities. I trudged along and I can see myself today, charged, happy, unstoppable and hoping to leave behind a Food-print that I hope someone somewhere will walk on or discover.

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So now let’s get on with the sweet present and celebrate. Orange Almond Cake is a Jewish creation baked during Passover. I first came across it on a food show “Food Safari” and I had to make it so I went googling. This recipe is adapted from a blog which is a delightful mix of two better halves coming together to blog about their personal passions…he cooks, She Sews.

image I have modified it a little to suit my tastes and altered the method to Jill Dupleix’s who suggests whipping the egg whites separately to make the cake lighter. It’s a pretty straight forward cake, eggs, almonds, no flour, no butter (Yippee!!), but what intrigued me was the way the orange is incorporated. It made so much sense. The whole orange is boiled for an hour and a half, to soften it and remove the bitterness. Then pureed, it looked like orange nectar. The moist boiled fruit gives the cake an almost puddingish texture. If you over-bake it, worry not it will yet turn out moist. The taste is to die for, it’s like eating an orange candy pudding. But make no mistake it is definitely a cake. It’s just so sweet, moist and lush that you can’t decide if it’s a pudding, a candy or a cake.

 

RECIPE

ORANGE ALMOND CAKE

1 medium/small Orange

3 eggs, separated

100 grams Caster sugar

100 grams Almonds, skinned and lightly roasted

¾ teaspoon Baking powder

 

  • Line a springform tin (7″ diameter) with parchment paper and lightly oil the paper and the sides of the tin. Preheat oven to 180oBoil the orange for 1-1 ¼ hour. Top up the water when the level reduces. Remove from the water. Let it cool. Cut it open. Remove seeds. Puree with a hand blender and set aside
  • Grind the almonds with a tablespoon of sugar to a fine powder or as fine as you can it.
  • Whip the egg whites to soft peaks in a clean glass bowl. Set aside.(In order to save washing up I prefer to whisk the egg whites first)
  • In another medium sized bowl, with the same beaters as the ones you used for the egg whites, beat together egg yolks and remaining caster sugar until light. Add in the orange and almonds and baking powder and beat until its one smooth mixture.
  • To the cake mix add a heaped serving spoonful of egg whites and whisk in to lighten the mixture. Add the remaining egg whites in 2 batches and fold in gently with a spatula.
  • Pour cake mix into the lined and oiled spring form tin 7’ in diameter and bake the cake at 180o C for approximately 25-30 minutes until the cake has browned and a skewer inserted in the centre has a few crumbs sticking to it.
  • Tips:
  • If the cake browns too fast, cover with a tin foil.
  • Cool the cake and unmould it carefully if you are not using a springform cake tin. Mine cracked right down the middle.
  • The cake keeps well in the refrigerator for atleast a week. Just give it a few minutes to thaw. Serve it by itself or as a dessert with a dollop of fresh cream and honey.