Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hoppin' John - for a Lucky 2012!

Hoppin' John is a Southern American comfort  version of a rice and bean stoup (stew+ soup) originally from Africa. You can have it as a side or main as per choice -atleast thats what my version is. Eating the dish on New Years Day is supposed to to bring you luck and prosperity and the beans are supposed to represent pennies or coin!.Typically dish has rice,black eyed beans and pork or ham or any choice of meat. A vegetarian version can use choice of substitutes. I have adapted the recipe from WholeFoodsMarket where I have replaced the tempeh with soy granules. It is spicy and as thick as a pudding/porridge and is very comforting.

Black Eyed Beans: 1/2 cup soaked
Onion: 4-6 tbsp chopped
Dried Thyme: 1/2 tsp +/- as per taste

Long Grain Rice: 1/2 cup 
Soy Granules: 1/4 cup prepared as per instructions
Green Bell Pepper: chopped 4 tbsp

Cayenne Pepper: a small pinch 
Fresh grated Pepper & Salt: as per taste

Tabasco or any hot sauce: optional / as per taste

Soak the beans overnight and the next day wash it and cook it on stve top adding chopped onion and thyme till almost done. Add the rest of the ingredients except tabasco and cook till the rice is tender and done. Adjust the seasonings and serve ladled in bowls garnished with greens and tabasco.

You can actually take everything and cook it in the pressure cooker and this will considerably reduce the cooking time and process and you can make it more soup like. It thickens on sitting as well. A quick comfort food for the wintery nights and ofcourse looking forward to the future with lots of optimism and wishing lots and lots of prosperity.

Wish You All a Happy & Lucky 2012!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Spicy Nutty Cake Hearts

Man Proposes God Disposes. I proposed cookies it turned out to be cake!. Well I wanted to go on a cookie fest -bars/rounds or whatever, it turned out that one of the recipe I adapted turned out to be a cake or is it cakey cookies? Nah, definitely a cake . It was nutty and spicy what with the addition of white pepper along with the mandatory cinnamon (my favourite)!.

All Purpose Flour: 1 cup
Baking Powder: 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon Powdered: 3/4 tsp
Ground Nutmeg: 1/4 tsp
White Pepper Powder: 1/2 tsp
Salt : a pinch or 1/8 tsp

Butter: 4 tbsp soft unsalted
Packed Brown Sugar: 3/4 cup

Egg: 1 or Ener G Egg :1 or Any choice of replacer. Add water/yogurt 1-2 tbsp extra.
Vanilla Extract: 1/2 tsp

Yogurt/Sour Cream: 6 tbsp

Candied Nuts: 3/4 cup
(The recipe used butter toffee walnuts, but I used candied mixed nuts -walnuts and pecans)

Sift together flour,spices,baking powder and salt.

Cream together butter and sugar till creamy. Beat in the vanilla and egg. The mix may look curdled at this point, but carry on.

I used Ener G egg (1.5 pkd tsp of Ener G blended with 2 tbsp of water) and had to add extra 2-3 tbsp of liquid at the end to get a pouring consistency.

Beat in the flour mix and yogurt alternately starting and ending with flour. Fold in the walnuts and spread the batter - thick pouring consistency- onto a lined and greased 8' square pan. A 6 inch pan also works well as there is barely enough batter to cover the pan.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for about 25-30 minutes or until the center is set and the edges sort of pulls away from the sides of the pan. 

Take out and cool completely in the pan on the wire rack.Cut into bars or choice of shapes.

I went for a heart shape just for a change and garnished it with a sugar glaze which I had made for something else and also drizzled with chocolate sauce. You can also add candied nuts and serve the cake hearts with icecream as a hearty dessert. 

A spicy comforting cake or 'soft cakey cookies' (nah!!) you can say. The overall feeling is comfort from the spices with the crunch and sweetness from the nuts in between. I liked it as such without any embellishments,but feel free to shape and garnish as you like. A perfect cake rather than the traditional cake to ring in the end of the year.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Crumbly Jam Bars

These are delicious bars I baked recently using the orange marmalade which I had and these are perfect for the season. They bring in the Christmassy joy feeling and are scrumptious. They can also be a part of gift parcels, but the top crumbly layer makes them a bit messy - though perfect for children. I had adapted the recipe from here without any changes.

All Purpose Flour: 1.1/4 cups
Brownsugar: 1/2 cup packed
Baking Soda: 1/4 tsp
Powdered Cinnamon :1/4 tsp

Butter: 1/2 cup (8 tbsp) cold cut into 8 pieces

Orange Marmalade/ Any other Jam: 1/2-3/4 cup

Pecans: 1/2 cup chopped

In a blender mix together flour,soda,sugar and cinnamon. Add in butter pieces and pulse through to get a wet mass that resembles coarse bread crumbs. The dough should hold together when the pressed within hands. Remove 1/2 cup of  this dough and keep aside.

Press the remaining dough on the bottom of an ungreased /unlined baking dish. The recipe mentioned 9 ' dish whereas an 8' square worked for me. Spread with jam if possible evenly leaving about 1/4 ' at the four edges. 

Meanwhile pulse/mix together the pecans and the 1/2 cup of dough. Crumble or sprinkle the dough on top of the jam without mixing it in.

Bake for about 30- 40 minutes in a preheated oven at 350F/ 175C  or more until the edges start browning and the marmalade bubbles and sort of peeps through the top layer. Mine took barely 31-32 minutes. Take out and let the bars cool completely in the dish on the wire rack. 

The baking collage is like..

Cut into pieces and serve with tea as a snack or with icecream as a dessert.

I simply sprinkled the dough on top of the jam rather than shaping with my hands and then placing on top. But this sort of made the dish a bit messy as small brown particles of dough started falling out when I tried to cut into bars/pieces. So slightly press the top layer on top of the jam carefully without mixing in or shape small pieces within hands and place these on top if the jam.

Whatever it is these are perfect to welcome the yuletide.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gaji Namul -Eggplant Side from Korea

This is one of the simplest eggplant preparation or a salad that I have made. Very appetizing and an excellent side with rice and your choice of gravy. In fact the way of preparation intrigued me. Never before I have steamed eggplant and used. Anyway if I am to use cliche, this is a simple side easy to make and very appetizing or hunger enhancing. I have adapted it from Maangchi, an excellent site for Korean recipes.

Eggplants:  2-3 medium sized Asian -purple coloured long thin - eggplants chopped into 1-2 inch strips lengthwise. 

Garlic Cloves: 2-3 small minced
Scallion/Spring Onions: 1 chopped
Toasted Sesame Seeds: 2 tsp
Hot Pepper Flakes: 1-2 tsp
Sesame oil :2 tsp +
 Soy Sauce: 2tbsp +

Chop the eggplant into small strips lengthwise. Steam the pieces in a bowl for about 10 minutes or until cooked in a steamer or pressure cooker on high-med heat. Remove and Keep aside to cool.Once cooled you can drain off all the water collected in the bowl.Lightly mash the eggplant.

Add in  the minced garlic,hot pepper flakes,sesame seeds,chopped scallion,sesame oil and soysauce to the eggplant bowl and mix well. I presume that spicy Korean hot pepper flakes are needed,but I have gone for the regular chilli flakes. Adjust the taste as needed. Salt is present is soysauce and is hence avoided. Serve at room temperature as an appetizing salad.

As per the original recipe, the more the sesame oil and garlic ,much better the salad is. I agree with oil part. But not too sure of the garlic part. I am not a fan of the raw garlic and if you are too lazy to mince the garlic while preparing the salad then you may end up biting into one garlic piece which will put others off you.!I went with the 2 small cloves and it was nicely garlicky without going overboard.But suit yourself. The perfect aroma from the dish will invite you to eat more dinner. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Onion Tomato Gravy / Kande Bhaaji

This is a simple and quick gravy or rather curry- in - hurry.You can have it with breads or rice or atop canapes or sandwiched between bread slices.The curry is quite flexible and we can add more to it. But as such also, its awesome.All credit goes to Sumedha with whom I have been paired with this edition of Blog Hop Wednesdays ,an event by Radhika. You can take a peak into the original post  else read on..

Onion: 4-5 medium or chopped into thin and long strips 3 cups
Tomatoes: 3-4 medium or almost 2 -3 cups chopped into bite sized pieces
Garlic Cloves: 2 big finely chopped

Turmeric Powder: 1/2 tsp
Chilli Powder: 1 tsp+
Coriander Powder:1/2 tsp +
Cumin Powder: 1/4 tsp +

Salt: as per taste
Vegetable Oil: 2-3 tbsp

Chop onions into long and thin strips. Chop tomatoes into bite sized pieces as well. Finely chop/grate garlic cloves.

Heat oil in a deep pan on med-high heat nad add onions and garlic. Saute for a few minutes till they are transparent.Reduce to a simmer and add in the spice powders and saute for a minute. This is to remove the raw taste of the powders but make sure you do not burn them. 

Add in the tomatoes and turn up the heat. Saute for a few minutes till they start to cook and then add little salt, reduce to a simmer and cook till done. This may take about 5-8 minutes after which you will be getting a pulpy gravy which is ready to go with breads or rice or anything as an accompaniment.Do the taste test and adjust the salt and the spices added.

A tangy oniony gravy with pulpy tomatoes, slightly crunchy onions and comforting spices. Good to enter the blog hop edition this time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chocolate Banana PeanutButter Snack Cake

This post was supposed to be up yesterday. But I developed cold feet. The cake as far as I am concerned is just above average with respect to texture.But full marks on the taste category. Easy to make but a bit dense and thick thanks to banana. Then again I genuinely liked the cake and kept on munching on it.Not being a great fan of PB or even the banana I was surprised at the rate with which I kept on munching! I had seen this recipe from Skippy and twisted it a bit by adding cocoa powder. Do give it a try may be you can do better than me.

All Purpose Flour: 1 1/4 cup
Baking Powder: 1/2 tsp

Unsalted Butter: 1/2 cup softened
Sugar: 1 cup

Egg /Egg replacer: 1 large (1.5 pkd tsp of Ener G whipped with 3 tbsp of water + more water in tbsp as needed)

Banana: 1 large mashed

Peanut Butter: 1/3 cup

Cocoa Powder: 4 tsp heaped (almost 2 tbsp )
Boiling Water: 1-2 tbsp


Mix together flour and baking powder. Cream together butter and sugar. Add in egg and mashed banana and beat on medium speed till fully blended. Beat in the flour-baking powder mix on low speed until combined. The batter should resemble cake batter -a bit liquidy, but this one was too thick similar to a spread. So I added 1-2 tbsp of water to get a consistency that atleast resembles a cake batter. 

Remove half cup of batter and beat in the peanutbutter until well blended. To the remaining batter, mix in cocoa powder. It is better to first mix together the cocoa and 1-2 tbsp of  boiling water and then blending this paste with the batter. I feel, if you go for the second method, the cake will be more lighter. But thats my opinion.

Spread the cocoa batter in a lined and greased 8' inch square pan. Tap at the edges so that the batter spreads evenly. Spread the pb batter on top and make sure it spreads uniformly - my wasn't that uniform!. You can leave the layers as such or just swirl it in with a palette knife for a marbled effect. I did not go for the marbled look.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Take out the pan and cool on the rack for 10 minutes, after which remove the cake to the wire rack to cool completely. 

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with fruit or icecream cutting into mini squares. 

A simple cake with a average texture,great choco banana pb taste -none of them too less or overpowering,. Each having a distinct taste,each blending very well with the others. My daughter and myself loved the cake whereas from my husband it was a thumbs down right from the texture. Will I be making this again? Yes,definitely. but with more liquid for sure and would also aim for a better texture. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Buttery Pull Apart Buns

While still on the topic of breads, since I had already posted a sweet dessert/breakfast bread ,I thought I could talk about the buttery pull apart buns that I baked recently.Its nice when you prepare the bread dough the previous evening and right next day you enjoy the buttery buns warm from the oven,especially my daughter who loves to eat her bread warm and fresh!  These are golden pull apart buns which I had adapted from King Arthur Flour and they turned out excellent and as I had mentioned were over within an hour. As usual, I had halved the recipe

All Purpose Flour: 3.5 cups
Instant Yeast: 2 tsp
Instant Potato Flakes: 4 tbsp
Dry Milk Powder:3 tbsp
Sugar: 2 tbsp
Salt: 1.5 tsp

Soft Unsalted Butter: 4 tbsp
Warm Water: 2/3 cup
Lukewarm Milk: 1/2 cup

Topping: Melted Butter: 2 tbsp +

Combine all the  ingredients dry first and then butter,water and milk and mix well to form a rough sticky dough. 

Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead well for about 7-8 minutes till you get a soft smooth dough which might still be sticky. 

Shape the dough into a ball and keep covered in a greased container turning once to get coated and let it rise until doubled or for about 1-2 hours.

Divide the dough into equal sized pieces -diving first into half and each half into fours till you get even no: of pieces -16 as per the recipe though it also depends on the size. 

Shape each piece into a smooth ball and place on a lightly greased baking sheet with enough space between them for rising. Cover the sheets with a plastic wrap and let them rise for about 1 -2 hours until they are puffy and start crowing each other.

Uncover the pans and bake in a preheated oven at 350F for about 22-24 minutes until the tops are golden brown and the edges spring back when you touch it. 

Remove the buns from the oven and brush with the melted butter. After 5-10 minutes, turn them out onto the wire rack to cool completely or till consumption.

Delicious buttery buns that can be had for breakfast or with soup or even as a snack warm from the oven.They are very mildly crusty (atleast when compared to regular dinner rolls /pav rolls) with a softer buttery crumb. Heavenly and filling and very comforting. The crumb was a bit denser I felt as there were no big air holes or the spongy texture that is usually associated with dinner rolls. I felt they were a bit on the heavier side compared to fluffy light dinner rolls.It could be because potato flour and milk were used in the dough.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

The morning sun is slowly peeping up after days of cold. There is still a nip in the  air and the weather is perfect for a nice cuppa and a slice of cinnamon raisin swirl bread.!

Cinnamon as you might know is my favourite spice. I love cinnamon in sweet as well as savoury dishes. Ofcourse, I will not go out of way and add it to all the dishes that I cook, but I do make sure to use it atleast once a week in my bakes/desserts. Long time back, I was in love with Thomas Cinnamon Swirl Bread and after a bit of googling, found a recipe for the same in Pete Bakes. Since then I have made it twice but am blogging about it now only. A slice of this bread does surely lift your moods.Its like morning raga. I had halved the recipe but still had almost 2 medium loaves -well, 1 big regular and 1 small to be honest)

All Purpose Flour: 6-7 cups
Instant Yeast: 2.1/4 tsp
Warm Water: 2 & 1/4 cups
Sugar: 3 tbsp+ 4 tbsp separate
Salt: 1 tbsp
Butter: 2 + 2 tbsp melted
Raisins: 1 cup
Cinnamon: 1 tbsp

Dissolve yeast with 1 tbsp sugar and 1/2 cup water and let it foam for 5-10 minutes

Stir in remaining water, 2 tbsp sugar,salt, 2 tbsp melted butter, 3.5 cups of flour and all of the raisins and mix well. Knead well adding remaining flour as needed to get a dough which will definitely be sticky. 

Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for almost 10 minutes till you get a smooth and elastic dough. You can give the dough a break after few minutes for about 10 minutes. This process called autolyse allows the dough to absorb more water and the dough becomes easier to handle. This is what I did and it is not there in the original recipe. 

Once the dough is smooth and elastic, shape it into a ball and keep it covered in a greased bowl in a warm place, turning once so that it is smeared with oil and let it rise until doubled.It almost took 3 hours for me. It was a very particularly cold day that I started the work on the bread. ! 

While the dough is rising, mix together the cinnamon and 4 tbsp of sugar. Keep aside.

Once doubled, punch down the dough,divide into half and roll out each into a rectangular shape whose width is same as the length of your loaf pan.

Here I must remind again that, I had halved the recipe and normally would have got 1regular loaf.But I handled the dough a bit too much and was left with a too long rectangle which I had to cut and re roll into a mini loaf shape.All these took away the perfect smooth top surface of the dough and my loaves look sewed up or patched up.!

Sprinkle each rolled out rectangle with 1 tbsp water and half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.Instead of water, I brushed melted butter on the surface of each rectangle and then cinnamon-sugar. Roll the dough from the shorter side or the width side and pinch the seams shut. Place the loaves in greased loaf pans,brush with remaining melted butter  and let these rise for another hour.

Bake in a preheated oven at 400F/200C for about 25-35 minutes, with the mini loaf taking 5-10 minutes lesser than the regular loaf. A nice aroma emanates from the oven and you can feel the baking!. 

Take out and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Serve sliced as such or with your choice of sweet spreads as a snack or breakfast or even dessert with ice cream!. Choices are unlimited.

A delectable and mood uplifting bread. The pics were in a hurry. Almost half of the big loaf was over. Lookwise average,but tastewise perfect. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tomato Sambal

Sambals are fiery sauces or dips used as condiments popular in Indonesia, Philippines and SriLanka.  These are usually  are chilli based and this one is adapted from Madhur Jaffreys World Vegetarian and is supposed to be a family recipe from Sri Lanka.

Ripe Red Tomatoes: 3-5 sliced thinly.
Salt: as per taste
Chilli Powder: 2-3 tsp as per taste

Oil:2-3 tbsp
Garlic: about 8 cloves : half of them preferably unpeeled and crushed and rest peeled and finely sliced lengthways

Fresh Curry Leaves: 15
Cinnamon Stick: 3 inch stick
Onion: 2 medium peeled and cut into fine slice (I thinly chopped them)

Lime Juice: 2 tbsp +/-
Caster Sugar: 2-3 tsp

Slice the tomatoes and layer them in a big plate. Sprinkle salt and chilli powder over the top and keep aside.

Heat oil in a deep pan on medium-high and add in the unpeeled cloves. Stir and fry till dark brown and the oil is garlicky in flavour. Add in curry leaves and cinnamon. Saute till they sizzle and turn aromatic. Add in the onions and saute till golden brown. Add the tomatoes and flaked garlic,stir well and cook till they start to soften. Lower the heat, and cook till the dish appears like a pulpy sauce and the tomatoes are completely soft. Adjust the salt and add in caster sugar and lime juice. Stir well.Remove the cinnamon stick and unpeeled garlic before serving.

Serve as a simple dip or side.

A tangy tomatoey dish which is also garlicky and spicy. The use of chilli powder depends on ou though the author prefers Lankan style powder and I have used the regular Indian one. Don't skip the sugar,as it is needed to balance the heat and tanginess. 

Thanks for visiting my Blog

/*TYNT script starts here */ /*TYNT ends */