CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

image

 

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).

image

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.
Advertisements

MINIMALISTIC MASALA POTATOES

 image

Hey there my Lovelies…wondering if I had fled the coop! Well, well I am back, yes back blogging but not in the same place, city or country. To cut a long story short I have moved …city, countries, homes. I am in Super organised, well-lined up, super super clean and extremely disciplined Singapore. Yes it’s a change from chaotic, buzzing, “I-don’t-know- What-hit-me” Mumbai, but its not that big a change, not like I have moved to the North Pole and have to live in an igloo and hunt down seals!!

So here I am living out of a service apartment with no baking equipment, no ingredients or tins. It’s like I have been banished from “bake-land”. I have here 2 pans and 3 pots and 2 knives and 3 tablespoons which double up as serving spoons. So whilst I await my 5 mixers, 20 whisks, a dozen bowls and 50 spatulas (LOL) I am literally living on the kitchen equivalent of a shoestring budget. I had the prudence to pack my masala essentials, though junior man was gunning for the plethora of food courts and restaurants that belt out these incredible aromas and food to match.

Never in my life have I cooked with so few ingredients/ masalas and yet have all dishes turning out surprisingly unique and tasty. There is a significant lesson for me out here, just because you have 10 spices lined up, doesn’t mean you have to use them all a few can do the job just fine. I am learning the art of “masala restraint”.

So in this cubby hole of a kitchen (why are there no spacious kitchens in Singapore? The answer lies in the wonderful food courts ), I decided to whip up some wholesome meals without the usual grumbling and hewing.

image

 

Potatoes…. Since I haven’t yet chanced upon any Indian veges, potatoes are a staple and no ones complaining. My Minimalistic Potatoes are just what the name suggests, no curry leaves, hing (asofoetidia), no mustard seeds popping . Just green chillies, onions, garlic and a few masalas with a generous squeeze of lemon and parsley (coriander if you please). The boys are enjoying the Chinese and Japanese and Korean cuisine, I have no such luck as vegetarian food is not exactly their forte. Hence the aromas of my everyday cooking tide me over my home-sick taste buds.

Wherever I go, new home, new country, new people, new friends….no matter how much I miss home…. I am only as far from my home as my spice box.

RECIPE

Minimalistic Masala Potato

6 large potatoes (boiled till well done but not mushy)

1 large onion (cut into ½ cm cubes)

2 pods garlic chopped fine (almost minced)

1 green chilly cut into 3

2 tblspns oil

1tsp whole cumin

1 tsp. chilly powder

½ tsp Tumeric (haldi)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground Corriander seeds

1 tsp sugar

Juice of ½ lemon

Salt to taste

A fistful of coriander leaves chopped fine 

Once the potatoes are boiled, cool, peel and cut into cubes or roughly chop

Add a tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add in the onion, garlic and chilly. Fry on a low flame till the onions change colour but do not brown. Add the spices and a tablespoon of water (to prevent them from burning)

Add in the potatoes =, salt, sugar and juice of ½ a lemon. Stir to coat the potato with the masala. Cover and let it simmer for 5 minutes.

Garnish with chopped coriander.

 

 

KOUIGN AMAAN- DARING KITCHEN CHALLENGE

image

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.

image

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.
  • image
  • 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)

image

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

 

image

 

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.😀

image

 

 

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.

image

image

image

image

 

  • 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.

image

  • 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.
    •  

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.

image

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

image

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.

image

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.

KATMER PIE

image

 

Another regional pie for us from the Daring Kitchen (yes Daring Bakers’ has been re-christened Daring Kitchen, much to my disappointment.)

The host for this month Milkica from Mimi’s Kingdom decided to challenge us with a traditional Serbian Katmer pie. Katmer pie originates from southern parts of Serbia. It is traditionally filled with cheese, meat, leeks pumpkin, combination of cheese and Swiss Chard or spinach. The filling can be sweet or savoury but the crust remains the same. She challenged us to get creative filling the pie with whatever took our fancy. It is not the filling which caught my attention or got me excited but it was the pastry.

It’s a traditional type of puff pastry. This type of dough is made with lard instead of butter and is much simpler than puff pastry. This pastry is made as it was in the olden days. It’s a much simpler version of puff pastry that we are used to making and that’s the part of the challenge that I enjoyed the most. The pastry dough is wonderfully stretchy and easy to handle which makes the process a whole lot less frustrating! No butter or fat seeping out of the edges. On baking its supposed to flake, though mine was rolled out quite thick yet it did not flake as much as I would have liked it to. It was a little tough on the teeth a few hours later, but that could be because I stinged on the fat. Another “tradition” I did not follow was using lard. I used ghee instead. Maybe I didn’t rest it in between rollings…there was a good recipe that I did not get right and after the work I put in, my spirits drooped a little.

The proportions given by Mimi were large enough to feed my neighbourhood so I halved them. For the filling I made savoury cottage cheese scattered with nuts and raisins. Since the pastry was tough in a few places my teen and I practically scooped out the filling and ate it as is. (LOL). Don’t ask what I did with the pastry. I could have easily said “Oh the pie was a success…ten on ten…yummm….delicious….will make it again” but honestly it was one of my failed projects. The crusty pastry was really a struggle to eat and too chewy. It was a pity I couldn’t get it right, though I enjoyed the process immensely.

So dear friends I am going to give you Milkica’s recipe as is and if one of you can figure out where I went wrong, you know where to find me! Till then “Doviđenja” (doh vee-JEH-nyah)

KATMER PIE

Recipe-DOUGH

Servings: One large pie baked in a dish approximately 8×8” (Serves 4)

2 cups spooned & scraped / 250g all-purpose (plain) flour

½ teaspoon salt 150-175ml warm water

More all-purpose (plain) flour for dusting

2 – 3 tablespoons / 30 – 45g soft lard/ Ghee/ Butter

  • Measure all purpose flour, warm water and salt.
  • Put lard/ ghee/ butter in a small bowl and leave in a warm place
  • Mix all ingredients except lard in glass bowl and knead to form a soft dough.
  • Transfer dough on a floured surface and knead it a little until you achieve elastic, but soft dough. Use additional flour if required to make a smooth, soft dough.
  • Divide dough into six equal pieces and shape every piece into a round ball. Leave them to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Using a rolling pin roll every piece of dough into a flat, round shape, approximately 1/8” / 3 – 4mm thick. Divide pieces in two groups of three. Brush first piece of dough with melted lard and cover with another piece of dough. Brush second piece of dough with lard and cover with third piece. Do not brush this third piece of dough with lard! Repeat the same with another three pieces of dough.
  • You will have two piles of dough (rounds, placed on top of each other). Leave them again to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Roll every pile using rolling pin into round shape, approximately 1/4 – 1/3” / 5 – 8mm thick.
  • Using sharp knife make eight cuts around the formed circle (see picture).
  • Brush surface with melted lard/ fat of your preference
  • Fold brushed, cut petals onto the centre part of dough (see picture).
  • Continue until you fold all eight of them.
  • Turn the dough so the folded parts are underneath. Do the same with another pile of dough. Leave both pieces of dough to rest until you prepare the filling.
  • Once the filling is prepared and cooled turn on your oven on 350°F / 180°C / Gas Mark 4. Roll one of the pieces of dough on lightly floured surface into large, square or rectangular shape to fit your baking tin.
  • Transfer layer of dough on baking tin brushed with melted lard.
  • Arrange your filling all over the first layer of dough.
  • Roll out the other piece of dough and transfer it to baking tin, covering filling completely. Press edges with your fingers to stick together.

 

  • Brush surface of pie with melted lard.
  • Cut whole pie into small square pieces. Bake pie in preheated oven around 30-40 minutes until deep golden in colour.

Recipe- Filling

200 grams cottage cheese

1 small onion diced

Small or 1/2 Bell peppers (red & yellow) diced

1 green chilly chopped or 1/2 tsp chilly flakes)

Salt and pepper to taste

1-2 tablespoons butter

50 grams Cheddar Cheese grated (optional)

  • Fry the onions in butter till they change colour.
  • Add in the bell peppers, chillies. Sautee on medium heat for a minute.
  • Add in the cottage cheese (broken into rough pieces). Season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly, breaking any large pieces of cottage cheese as you stir. Put off the heat. Add in cheddar cheese and mix.
  • Cool slightly and the filling is ready to use.

 

LE DIABOLO- THE SUPERIOR CHOCOLATE CAKE

image

 

This post is long overdue. Its been a month of cookies, cakes, bars and a few failed projects. On the positive note my anniversary cake has been a big hit and was lapped up in two sittings. I had no time to decorate it and the boys had no patience to wait for it to be covered in chocolate clay or ganache (not that it needs any more additions!) I couldn’t hold them and myself off any longer, so we unleashed ourselves on my heart shaped anniversary cake sans the frosting, the roses or the ribbons and enjoyed it just the same.

I must mention here that I have been on a mission to teach myself how to decorate a cake and make it look pretty. This futile exercise in cosmetics has been going on for a few years now and at the end of it all I throw up my hands in frustration, chuck the fondant, chocolate clay into the bin….only to get back and bind myself up, in thick fondant and chocolate clay all over again. This year I resolved to try making chocolate clay and went after the recipe like a woman possessed. I made dark chocolate and white chocolate clay. The end result was a slab of hard rock that wouldn’t budge but would do the job of a murder weapon or a meat mallet quite well!! (LOL)😄

I did manage to get a few roses from the dark chocolate but the white chocolate clay remained stubborn and stiff refusing to give in to my desperate kneading and massages. I must also clarify that it has nothing to do with the recipes, it has to be something to do with my mindset or the reluctant vibe that I give off when planning a beautification project. Until I get the science of clay making right I will keep looking enviously at the lovely pictures on other blogs.

I must apologise for photographing only part of my heart shaped cake. We got so caught up in the taste and dense beauty of this beautiful patisserie that photography wasn’t on my agenda, until my teen jerked his head out of his plate and screamed, spewing cake bits and vanilla ice-cream all over the table “Mom, the blog”. I looked at the half eaten heart with a broken heart and quickly halted the party, whipped out my ipad and clicked the left-overs. Don’t get put off by the pics, I promise you this half eaten heart holds a lot of promise and no one will notice or ever critic you for the lack of fuss and frills. It is immensely chocolatey, with a melting texture and just needs an accompaniment of whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream or just enjoy it as is. Thank God your taste buds have no eyes!! 😆😆

RECIPE

LE DIABOLO- THE SUPERIOR CHOCOLATE CAKE

150 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped

150 grams unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 ½ teaspoon Vanilla extract

3 eggs separated

115 grams Caster Sugar

50 grams ground almonds

40 grams plain flour, sifted

½ teaspoon salt (scant)

  • Preheat oven to 190o C. Grease and line with parchment paper an 8-9 inch springform cake tin. An ordinary tin will do just as well.
  • Melt the chocolate and butter together over a double boiler, careful not to overheat. Once most of the chocolate has melted get it off the heat and stir the remaining bits and they will melt.
  • In a medium bowl beat the egg yolks with 70 grams of sugar until pale and thick. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture followed by the almonds, flour and salt.
  • In a squeaky clean bowl, whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks, add in the remaining sugar and whip until the whites are stiff.
  • Fold a large spoonful of the egg whites in the chocolate mixture to lighten it and then fold in the remaining whites.
  • Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre shows moist crumbs. The cake will rise and a crust will form on the top. Let the cake cool in the tin placed on a wire rack. Press down the cake before removing from the tin.
  • Serve with a dollop of fresh cream or vanilla ice cream. Serves 10.