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Posts tagged "baking"

(R)oomie is a big fan of the Starbucks Cherry Walnut Biscotti. They stopped selling those more than a year ago and although he makes do with the Vanilla Almond Biscotti, I do often hear him pine and complain. Then one day he asked if we could make them at home.

Now if you consider the cost of buying vs baking your own, the cost is a fraction of the former. But it goes beyond that - you can customize the ones you make at home - substitute the sugar with a Truvia blend or Stevia, replace the flour with wholewheat durum flour, add the toppings you like and the quantity you like. I mean, come on, these reasons should be good enough to make them at home. Get your partner to help out too, that way he/she knows how easy it is. The only fatty ingredient in this ends up being butter, (after all the substitutions) and the egg yolks but if you div it up between the 24 that you can make with this recipe, it hardly even matters provided you are not eating other butter rich foods.

Source: Starbucks Restaurant at Home

Ingredients:

Butter - 1/4 Cup
Truvia blend - 1/4 Cup
Eggs - 2 large
Vanilla paste - 1 Tsp
Whole wheat Durum flour -1 1/4
Baking powder - 1/4 Tsp
Baking soda - 1/4 Tsp
Salt - 1 pinch
Pecans - 1/4 Cup
Dried cherries - 1/4 Cup
Orange zest - 1 Tsp (This kills the ‘eggy’ smell)

I followed all the instructions to the dot. The only thing different was that the second baking took me about 20 minutes. I love making Biscotti because I almost always have all the ingredients on hand and all I need to do is to whip out my hand mixer and turn on the oven.

Disclaimer: I cannot vouch for the taste because I am not a Biscotti fan and never eat it. But (R)oomie loves it and always has it with a cuppa coffee!

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About 4 months back I got a lovely present from Tracy. I opened it up and found this beautifully aromatic almond paste by Mandelin. Did you know that California is known for its Almonds? Also almonds are not as fattening as Cashews and so I can get away with using it in anything I please. 

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I never realized how much I would grow to love these weird tomato-ish looking fruit in such a short time. Mostly it was used for juicing with the juicing buddies and the fruit came straight from their family gardens. Recently a neighbor dropped by and game me some because, she said, her brother in law gave her so many, she didn’t know what to do with them all. I decided I’d make Persimmon Jam and then use that in a puff pastry! How ingenious is that! 

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Also I have been waiting a week for these beauties to ripen a bit more. Would it be weird if I offered some of the jam to the kind lady that gave me the fruit in the first place?

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I have been trying out puff pastry bite size dessert ideas for sometime now. Apricot preserve, Pumpkin butter, pineapple jam, strawberry preserve, orange marmalade, chocolate sauce, cheese, spinach - you name it. In India I used to love the egg puff although not as much the mess it made while eating though. And i think that is one of my main reasons to make them bite size - no mess. These can be devoured by the dozen, can be made healthy(using whole wheat puff pastry) and are fast and easy to make as well.

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I obviously had to pinterest all the little bite size treats i could. And I almost got lost deciding what I wanted to make. Finally i decided on giving these a try with what I had on hand before I went and splurged on fillings.

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Pretty simple, right? These are as simple and straightforward as they look. The prep time is about 15 minutes and the cook time - about 30 minutes. Serve warm or cold, they are definitely a treat to the eye and the tastebuds.

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Preheat oven to 375 F. Get puff pastry at the grocery store and thaw for about 10 minutes. Cut into desired shape and bake for 25-30 minutes. If you like to add egg wash to the top of the puff pastry, thats a good touch as well.

Once done, use a fork or your hand to make a small depression in the middle and add any pre-made topping you like!

About 2 years back, a friend of mine shared this link on facebook. I bookmarked it for later waiting to get my hands on some saffron. I finally did, very recently and have been using it since. I love the saffron flavor, aroma and the color it gives to the dishes it favors.

I used my favorite skillet as you can see and I just can’t seem to have enough of it! The bread came out sweet and flavorful just as I hoped it would so I have no complaints. I also made it a little rich(read fattening) by using some homemade ghee.

Source: The fresh loaf

Ingredients:

Maida - 1 Cup + a lil extra 

Sugar - 1 Tbsp + 1 Tsp for the yeast

Yeast - 1 Tsp

Warm water - 1/4 Cup

Milk - 1 Cup + a lil extra for the glaze

Saffron - 1 pinch

Raisins - a handful

Ghee - 1/2 Tbsp

In a glass bowl mix the all purpose flour and sugar. In a cup add the warm water, sugar and instant yeast and keep aside for about 5-10 minutes and let the yeast do its work.

In another bowl heat some milk and add the saffron strands and mix well. Let rest for a bit so that the saffron flavor and color come to life! If you wish to add the raisins, just add it to the warm milk.

Now add the yeast and the milk to the dry ingredients and mix well to form a dough consistency. At this point the dough will be pretty sticky and you might need that lil extra flour. Use as needed. Add the ghee at this point and knead well. Cover with a well cloth and keep in a warm place for about an hour.

After about an hour visit the dough and punch it down. Make it into the shape you like and place it in your baking dish and make sure you give enough space for expansion. Cover up and place in the warm place for about another hour.

Preheat your oven to 400 F. When the dough has risen(when you push at its surface the dough should bounce back - kinda :)) brush some milk on the surface and bake for about 11-12 minutes or till the top has browned.

Serve warm with some jelly or just bite right into it.

That’s me cutting my 6th year birthday cake baked by my Mom(she’s in the right corner of the pic making sure I don’t hurt myself), wearing a dress she stitched for me. I still have the chair I’m sitting on though I don’t fit on it anymore :) This year I celebrated my 28th birthday away from her and I missed her terribly. This was also my 1st Bday with (r)oomie so its got that bittersweet feel to it. :)

It’s also been a while since I got back to blogging - can’t believe that the last I actually blogged about food was in August for (r)oomie’s bday!!! Life sometimes does that to  you – it flies by so fast leaving you to wonder why you didn’t catch up with it. Google+ seems to have caught on, facebook is making tons of changes, the Govt is trying to control the internet and I’ve finally gotten some time to get back to baking. And because of the long break, this post is going to be super uber long. You have been warned!

We’ve made a few changes to our eating habits. We gave up rice – 100%(Well, it’s been 3 weeks now). We almost gave up all other grains too except for the odd parle-g/marie biscuit we treat ourselves to once a day. So well, what do we eat instead? – Samo seeds/Moraiyo/Vari Tandool/varyache tandul/ bhagar . It is quick to cook and the quantity required is very less compared to the regular rice/chapatti.

We have noticed that the craving for rice/chapatti and other grains have reduced drastically since we started on Samo. I’m not sure how long we will continue with it but as long as it doesn’t do us any harm, why not? I do get a craving for Pasta once in a while though and at such times I go with the flow - I don’t like to deny myself of anything :) An added plus is that it is Glutenfree!

On and I finally found one source that describes Samo a little more in detail here and some more here

An excerpt:

One such food is known here in Marathi as Vari Tandul, Bhagar or Kodri. It is the seed of a grass  ( Echinochloa Colonum) which frequently grows amongst the rice paddy as it requires damp, or even waterlogged, soil. Instead of removing it with weedkiller, farmers harvest it. When cooked, it makes a tasty and filling meal. Tandul means rice and though Vari is not a grain it provides the nourishment and energy that rice does. In the west it is called ‘Samo’ or ‘jungle rice’.

I’ve come across recipes like Khichdi, Upma, Pulav, Kheer, Kadhi, Dhokla, Dosa, Soups with Samo… The easiest way to make it is to wash it and cook it with excess water(1:4 samo:water) in the microwave for about 10-12 minutes. You can add salt and ghee for taste.

On that note I’ve been making ghee at home for sometime now. Apart from cooking I also use it to light the lamp everyday. I’d love to share the recipe with you but I honestly feel this post by Lakshmi from Purevege does it perfect justice!

A few weeks ago our friends dropped by for dinner and shared with us this unique treat called Turkish delights or Locoums/Lokums. I loved almost all the flavours they had to offer. These are perfect gifts to take home to anyone with a sweet tooth– I have them on my list. They were also suspiciously close to Kerala style Halwa - texture wise.

We also got to contribute to a wine and cheese party for the 1st time ever! I’m the wine “connoisseur”(not) of the family so I reached out to Sala and got a ton of help from her via twitter and finally got our act together. Everyone loved the cheese – can’t say the same about the wine. Since it was a day time event people preferred the white wine to the red which made me sad for some reason. After this party I totally got into the wine and cheese mood and got a pinterest board fully dedicated to it.

I also finally figured out a way to bake eggless cookies so I could share them with (r)oomie!(when we go off of being grainfree) Yay! Will put up the recipe soon. Meanwhile all my friends are having babies and so I decided to bake cookies for one of them. I’m super proud of these cookies because I managed to find a balance with the ingredients and an amazingly mess free way to do the icing. Once again thank you Pinterest! I have so much more to learn about icing though. You’ll notice the boo-boos in a bit. I also dedicated 2 cookies to Dude who celebrated his birthday on Oct 25th!

I just cannot bring myself to eat/break these! :)

It’s holiday season!!! I had to redo the red icing because of a taste issue.

 

I love how soft and white these cookies have come out though I used brown sugar.

Spot the frocks I tried to freehand for the new mommy. :)


Oh and we had a really cozy Thanksgiving this year.


And a really awesome guiltfree/caloriefree cake on my birthday!


I wasn’t going to make a post for this because almost everything is readymade or atleast semi-readymade. But you asked for it and so, here it is…

What you need:

Sujata eggless cake mix(white) {Or any other cake mix of your choice and follow basic cake mix instructions}

The directions on the box suggests that you add 1&1/8 cups water and 2 Tbsp vegetable oil to the mix. I replaced the water with organic milk(1&1/2 cups) and I used canola oil. 

Butter - 2 Oz(melted)

Brown sugar - 2 Tbsp

Pineapple slices(drained) - 4 to 5 (I used canned pineapple in natural pineapple juice(not the heavy syrup) because I didn’t want it too sweet.)

Maraschino cherries - 4-5  (completely optional, I personally did not like the taste of the preserved cherries)

Heat your oven to 350 F

That’s about it! Surprised? well, I was too and then I went on a rampage looking for upside down cakes and found some beautiful recipes, the links which you will find below the recipe…

Now take the baking dish and pour the melted butter in it. Spread it around so that it coats the sides. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly on the bottom of the baking dish. You might not need 2 Tbsps so just trust your instinct with this one. I personally find brown sugar too sweet so I try and use it judiciously.

Place the pineapple slices on the melted butter and sugar mixture - in any shape you like. Decorate with the cherries in between. You can replace the cherries with pecans, walnuts or even fresh cherries if you like…

Pour the prepared cake batter over the pineapple pieces gently so that you dont disturb the base - unless you want pineapple in between instead of upside down if you know what I mean. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the toothpick comes clean. Please keep an eye on the cake because you don’t want it to over bake - this cake is supposed to be moist.

I made them into mini cakes, mini cupcakes and two 8” round cakes. In each case the bake time varied but the taste was satisfying… Also bite sizes make (r)oomie happy ;)

On a side note I have made Avalose Podi for (R)oomie - something I happened to “discover” when I was pointedly told “I LOVE Avalose Podi” and I assumed it was some kind of joke till I googled and researched and finally made and mastered{(r)oomie’s words - not mine}

I also finally conquered my fear of macarons - I made some lavender macarons with godiva fruit chocolate filling…

In other news, I also stocked up on pasta(except for the lasagna) from costco…

I end this post with a small prayer for those in danger of the hurricane threat - please be safe and hold on to your loved ones… Also with a lot of love for the ones I love…

I was a marshmallow lover till I got to know that it had gelatin in it. Sometimes Ignorance is Absolute Bliss. Having realized what gelatin was and so on and so forth I decided to give it up. This was a longtime ago(almost a decade). I wasn’t a very conscious vegetarian - in the sense that I never went about looking at labels on sweets to check for gelatin. Hell… I wouldn’t even know what gelatin was if it danced in front of me.

After the enlightenment I kinda felt sad that I had to give up something i really liked but it also made me painfully aware of a number of candies I had to give up on. In the recent few months I’ve been through some absolutely gorgeous sites with beautiful desserts decorated with fondant. Alas the ingredients included the dreaded gelatin. I almost gave up when I got this crazy idea of making a vegan version from scratch. But again, the procedure and the number of ingredients threw me back.

The last google I did in frustration was for vegan marshmallows and bingo - Whole Foods had it. I drove there and picked a packet and tore it open to taste it. There’s definitely a diff in taste but it’s pretty darn good. So I used it to make some Vegan Fondant. I found many videos on youtube which demonstrated how to make fondant with regular marshmallows and I simply substituted it with the vegan version. Surprise surprise, my first batch of vegan fondant :) I even managed to cover a few cookies but to be absolutely honest I did feel it was a little dry. Maybe I should mix it up more. I’m still learning and experimenting with rolling out the fondant and shaping it. I tried some roses which look very immature but are a start nonetheless and I’m only going to get better so I look forward to it.

They tasted nice and so I packed them up for the bake sale though there wasn’t any baking involved :D The white dot shaped thingies is powdered sugar that i used to roll out the fondant. Trust me - these look very immature but they are absolute fun especially when you are not sure of what you are doing!

The other thing is that there has been so much sugar usage for all the baking that I actually am revolted at the sight of sugar. Well, whom am i kidding - not really revolted, I’m keeping myself away consciously. A dear friend constantly reminds me about living and running a healthy lifestyle. That and my dearest Mom who surprises me with amazingly new things she starts up like this cabbage juice she suggested for detox, guava leaves to control sugar and I can keep on going…

Now about the above cookies - I wish I had taken a pic of the cookies when i just piped them on the silpat hoping they would retain their shape(I piped them so close to each other too!). They looked so pretty and when I put them in the oven and checked on them 10 min later and they were bubbling their way all over the silpat - I almost yelled in frustration! The first time I participated in the Daring Bakers and I was supposed to make Florentines they didn’t spread out the way they were supposed to but this time I didn’t even try and these cookies laced out pretty darn well! These cookies have NO EGG and have cocoa, hazelnuts & almonds. They taste really buttery because of all the butter I generously used. When I got the out of the oven I had to use a pizza cutter to gently separate them out!

I had this post in my drafts waiting for find my camera’s connecting wire so that I could transfer some of the pics I managed to click on the Baking Sale(because in my excitement I forgot the memory card-silly me) hosted by Gaby. The bake sale was a huge hit at the BLD restaurant generating more than $2300 at the LA location and more than $22000 all over the country for Share Our Strength. I tasted a macaron for the first time ever and it was delish! I also got some strawberry preserve made by Kate at savour-fare which didn’t last more than a day!

Sources: My cookies are all inspired by Amanda from iambaker and iammommy and Bridget at bakeat350. They make the most exceptional cookies I have ever seen and have even put up videos at university of cookies to add to my pure delight!

I made the meringues by following the step by step procedure mentioned here(it’s in great detail). The Florentines were a trial and error recipe which I am going to work on till I get the desired shape.

Enjoy!

I give all credit for putting up this post to (R)oomie. The moment this idea started building up in my head I jumped out of the couch and started working on all the vegetables and worked my way through it. It took a LOT of time and by the time I was done I lost all my appetite for it. But (R)oomie got in on the action from there on and ate it - He ate it through the night and just watching him devour it somehow made up for my lack of appetite. I decided I would blog about it.

Just make this on a weekend or someday you have a lot of time and you need to unwind(if cooking is your way of unwinding that is).

Have I mentioned how much I love pasta? In any form appetisers, main courses maybe even desserts(who knows right?)! Don’t puke just now, since you’re here anyways why don’t you read the post and decide if its fun experimenting with food(pasta in particular)

I boiled and drained 3 sheets of lasanga and kept it aside. If you have some leftover stored in your fridge I’d suggest you use that. The lasanga is for the bottom most layer of this heavenly savoury cake, so you could actually layer it with any shaped pasta you like. How’s that for fun?

I’m really sorry that I didn’t take any pictures while I was doing all the prep because that’s really the time consuming part. Also maybe I should ask you to run 2 extra miles because of all the calories this dish is guilty of. We’ll try to make it work :)

What you will need:

Boiled and drained pasta/lasanga - About a cup, just about enough to layer the bottom 1 inch of your 9” cake baking pan.

Olive oil - 1 Cup and enough to oil the cake pan.

  1. All purpose flour - 1 Cup (To go the healthier route you can replace this with whole wheat flour or other whole grain mixes)
  2. Baking powder - 1/2 Tsp
  3. Baking Soda - 1/4 Tsp
  4. Salt - to taste(Because of the cheese you have to be careful on how much you add)
  5. Sugar - 1 pinch or 1/8 Tsp(Similar to how we add a pinch of salt to bring out the flavour in sweet dishes)
  6. Parmesan cheese - grated 1/4 Cup. You can be bold enough and go to 1/2 Cup but I have a feeling it would be too much.
  7. Paprika powder (optional)

Blanched Veggies of your choice - I blanched carrots, peas and spinach

Roasted Veggies of your choice - I roasted onions and zucchini.(Both were sliced thin and long)

Whisk the above 6/7 dry ingredients in a bowl and keep aside. We are just making sure that the dry ingredients combine well before adding the wet ingredients to it.

The only wet ingredient is the olive oil. Add that to the dry ingredients and mix well and keep aside. If you like you can add some water or some more olive oil to make it a thick semi solid dough like consistency.

The other thing you can do is prepare the veggies on the side. I had blanched carrots, peas, spinach along with roasted/pan fried zucchini, onion.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Oil your baking dish with olive oil.

Start by layering the boiled and drained pasta (I think using the lasanga layers would give it a kind of a base)

Layer the spinach and veggies over the pasta. Now pour the batter over and spread evenly. Make sure you leave enough space for the cake to rise. This mix rises easily. Bake in the middle rack for 35-40 minutes or till the toothpick comes on clean. I would suggest that you turn the pan around after about 20 min(midway) for even baking. You might find the cake a tad bit oily(duh!) The cake rose quite well but fell soon after but I wouldn’t worry about it, unless anyone could tell me what I did wrong?

I added some heart shaped pasta pieces as a topping/garnish to please the (R)oomie but it wasn’t necessary.

After a really long break Im glad that I can participate in PPN212 hosted by Ruth this week.

Dilbert is one of my favourite characters and I made some sugar cookies based on him. The cookies look like they’ve been made by 4 year olds but it was my first experiment with cookies/frosting and I thought I’d share… Bake em frost em and share em!

Cheers

Remember the Baked Apple crisps that I royally screwed up? I tried again! And this time I succeeded! Please follow Ria’s recipe to the T and you’ll do fine.

The only differences are that I used Golden apples and I sliced using the sharpest, thinnest knife in the kitchen. :D

And before I forget, Happy World Cup peeeepal!!!