Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Jewish honey cake

This is a favourite cake of mine.Period.
I should seriously just stop with that and let the recipe speak. But obviously I cant just leave it at that. Its a cake I had posted long back and has fetched brilliant results all the time. 

Its a one bowl cake that is really easy to make and you get a spongy, moist cake perfect on its own. The first time I baked it, I had halved the recipe and still managed to get a large-ish cake. But this time I was baking it to give away some to my neighbour and so made the actual quantity and it came out as a dense and heavy cake, which I am just going to blame on the bundt pan I used as opposed to a pan with a larger circumference.
I was a wee bit disappointed by its fudgy texture (others begged to differ), but after a day of keeping it at room temperature, it actually was quite nice. I mean not that it was not nice right out out of the oven, but a little too rich for my liking, especially because I like my cakes light and airy with tea.

I would definitely not bake this in a bundt pan again, and halve it and bake two separate cakes if I want the entire quantity. So here's the recipe for one of my absolute favs. If you want to see the difference in the texture  check out my initial recipe here
Recipe adapted from here (makes one large 9 inch bundt cake)
Plain flour- 3 1/2 cups
Baking powder- 3/4 tbsp
Baking soda- 1 tsp
Salt- 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon powder- 3 tsp
Ground cloves- 1/2 tsp
Vegetable oil- 1 cup
Honey-1 cup
Granulated sugar- 1 1/2 cup
Dark brown sugar- 1/2 cup
Eggs- 3 
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp
Warm coffee- 1 cup (dissolve 1 tsp instant coffee/ espresso in 1 cup warm water)
Orange juice- 1/2 cup
In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon powder and ground cloves.
Make a well in the centre and add all the remaining ingredients.
Using a wooden spoon first mix in all the ingredients (to prevent a mess really) and then either use a hand blender or use paddle attachment in a free standing mixer and mix away till all the ingredients come together.
Make sure you scrape the sides and bottom so nothing sticks.
Once you have a well blended mix, pour into a well greased pan and bake in an oven pre heated at 176C for 60 to 75 minutes.
Do the skewer test and if it comes out clean then transfer the pan on to a cooling rack and after about 10-15 minutes, unmold and wait till its completely cool to cut a slice.
if you want, you can dust some icing sugar on top. Not really required as the cake is incredibly sweet.
Notes: Original recipe calls for a 1/4 cup of whiskey and almonds to be scattered on top of the cake. I avoided both.
Make sure the coffee is warm and not hot, as it could cook the egg
Increase or decrease the cinnamon powder as per taste. The first time i tried it, I thought the cinnamon was a bit over powering, but this time I was pretty OK with it
Make sure you properly grease your baking tray, as its a bit stubborn when you unmold.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Tandoori chicken wings

Can you believe this is the first time I've made tandoori chicken per se. I have made chicken tikka masala and butter chicken, but never made it on its own to have as part of a meal. After seeing a couple of gorgeous tandoori chicken recipes in the blogosphere, I was itching to give it a go. So I got down to it yesterday and wasn't disappointed :)

I don't get a whole chicken, sliced into small pieces at the grocery store, and I don't know how to cut a whole chicken on my own, which means thighs and drumsticks are what I use in curries and bakes. Its so damn boring to eat it again and again and it doesn't even taste that great. They are huge, chunky pieces and I hate the very look of it. So instead of those I used chicken wings for the preparation and I am so so so glad I did, it turned out perfect. Juicy and moist and no hassle of cleaning and cutting (we get skinless wings here, all cleaned and ready to use).

I bought it yesterday, marinated it and was getting ready to grill it when the hubster called from work saying he was in the mood for Chinese and to be ready by the time he gets home, so we could head out to our fav Chinese restaurant round the corner. I was back late after my swimming session and was in absolutely no mood to cook and had to drag myself off the couch to marinate the chicken. And then when I get all enthu about the outcome, there, I was asked to leave everything and get ready for Chinese grub.
If it was any other day I would have said yes to it before thinking twice, this time however, I didn't want to go out. But Ro convinced me to refrigerate it and use it the next day, in which case the marinade would have caught on better. Now I hate to admit it, but that was such a fabulous idea. It was perfect when I grilled it today. This recipe is very similar to the Grilled chicken wings- Indian style but without the sauce and such, but taste-wise it was a while lot different, somehow.

I hadn't planned on taking pics and blogging it, but it was too good to pass and in spite of it being a gloomy and foggy day, I stepped out on to my balcony, arranged everything and was getting ready to click away when the cleaning lady who was raking leaves called out, 'isnt it a bit too cold for a meal outside love' and I was embarrassed. I was shivering in my shorts and jumper and how on earth would I explain to her I was taking pics for my blog, and about lighting issues. I just shrugged and said I wanted to take a couple of pics and she went back to her job with a quizzical expression on her face. So I couldn't take too many pics, one because it was biting cold and two, the moms going to pick the kids up from the school behind my apt all started staring at this wacko woman in shorts, taking pics of food outside on her balcony.
Chicken wings- 500 gms (about 10 to 12 wings)
Yoghurt- 2 tbsp
Ginger paste- 1/2 tbsp
Garlic paste- 1/2 tbsp
Tomato paste- 1 tsp
Kashmiri chilli powder- 1 tsp
Cumin powder- 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder- 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Garam masala- 1/4 tsp
Lime juice- 1/2 tsp
Dried fenugreek leaves/ kasoori methi- 1 tsp
Dried mint- 1/2 tsp (optional)
Mustard powder- 1/4 tsp
Tandoori masala- 1/2 tsp (optional- I use this just for the colour)
Salt- to taste
Wash and clean the chicken wings and place in a large bowl.
Whisk together all the remaining ingredients and give a quick taste test to see if there is enough salt and spice and adjust accordingly.
Pour over the chicken wings and toss it well it the marinade, making sure all the wings are evenly coated.
Cover using a cling film, or place in an air tight container to marinate over night in the refrigerator. If you are time constrained then a couple of hours should do.
When ready to grill, arrange the wings on a baking tray lined with aluminium foil. Retain the leftover marinade.
Preheat the grill/ broiler and place the tray on the middle rack and cook on one side for 7 minutes.
Remove, flip it over and grill for another 7 minutes.
Take it out and brush the wings with the left over marinade.
Place the tray back in and grill for a about 2 to 3 minutes, just to cook the masala.
You can check if its done by inserting a knife into the fleshy part and if juices run clear, you are good to go.
The wings will definitely be done in a matter of 15 minutes as your are grilling on high heat.
Let it rest for a couple of minutes on your kitchen counter before serving it as a starter or with a salad as a side.
Notes: Not a spicy preparation at all, so increase the chilli powder quantity as required.
I don't see the need to add oil in the marinade, but you can add about a tsp or so of oil/ ghee if you want
I also don't place the rack right below the grill, as it just chars the meat way too fast. So I keep it in the middle, but still grill on high heat, which makes for even cooking and a bit of charring as required.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Bobotie (pie)

Well here I am, earlier than expected, but that's only because I made this amazing pie yesterday for brunch and couldn't wait to share it with you all. Before I lost interest I clicked a few pics (with whatever was lying around- no styling blah, blah) and decided to post it yesterday itself. But the enthusiastic husband instead decided to drag me to Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon, to the midst of all those Christmas shoppers and chaos and then after strolling (pushing through would be more apt) through just 3 department stores, he threw his hands up and said I hate this crowd, I hate Oxford Street (how on earth can you hate OS??)

Well, what did he expect it to be like 5 weeks (eeks only 5 more weeks) before Christmas? empty? I suppose not. So while I waited in line at Starbucks for a cup of eggnog latte, Ro was eating my head about the situation. I had warned him about the crowd and said we should go to a mall in the suburbs to avoid the crowd, but no OS was the ultimate shopping destination. And then I had to listen to all this nonsense and was so so so close to losing it when I suddenly had an idea- tea should do the trick. So I dragged him into the coffee bar at Debenhams, got him a pot of tea and scones and saw that smile return to his face. Really, if that's all it takes to keep a man happy, here I am bowing down to tea and scones.
So anyhoo, after all that galavanting I came home excited at the prospect of going back again ON MY OWN and just when I sat down to write a blog post, Ro came and nagged me again saying it was pizza and movie night. I was convinced pretty easily and so we sat and watched a cheesy mallu movie with wine and pizza :)

So here I am finally in the mood to write a post after I spent the whole of today moping around the house as a reflection of the foggy climate outside. I have a very unassuming cook book a friend gifted to me which has all these really easy but delicious recipes. I am too lazy to get up and go check the name of the book, so you will just have to take my word for it. I came across a Bobotie (pronounced Ba-boor-tea, apparently) recipe in that book and decided to make it for brunch, since its a one pot meal and I had all those ingredients it called for (well most of it, at least). But the internet obsessed me still googled for it and came across a much more interesting recipe. I had some left over herb rice which I served alongside, and it was heavenly. Both of us agreed.

I admit it is not the traditional way of making Bobotie, because I just went ahead and did what was convenient for me. It was tasty nonetheless.
Recipe adapted from here
Minced beef- 500 gms (use chicken, pork or mutton and it should be fine as well)
Butter- 1/2 tbsp (I used oil)
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Onion- 1 large
Garlic paste- 1/2 tbsp
Ginger paste- 1/2 tbsp
Tomato- 1 small (optional)
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Garam masala- 1 tsp
Coriander powder- 1/2 tbsp
Kashmiri chilli powder- 1 tsp (optional)
Dried mixed herbs- 1 tsp (I used thyme and parsley)
Dried apricots and sultanas- 2 tbsp each (I used only apricots)
Chutney- 3 tbsp (I used mango chutney)
Bay leaves- 2 + enough to bake
Single cream- 200ml
Eggs- 3
Salt and pepper- to taste
Heat the butter in a saucepan and add the cumin seeds and bay leaves.
Once it sizzles slightly, add the onions and sauté till light brown in colour.
In goes the minced meat of choice. Break it down with your spatula and cook on medium high heat till they have all changed colour (until you don't see the redness of the meat any more)
Reduce heat to medium and add ginger and garlic pastes and mix it all in and cook till the raw smell disappears.
Add all the remaining ingredients, except the eggs and cream, and stir well to combine.
Season with salt.
Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring in between.
While that's taken care of, break the eggs into a bowl and whisk lightly.
Add the cream, season with enough salt and pepper, whisk together and keep aside.
The water should have evaporated from the meat by now, leaving a moist mixture. 
You can either go ahead and cook the meat completely or leave it 3/4th done, because you are going to cook it further in the oven. I chose to cook it all the way, since I really didn't want to take a chance.
Once the meat is cooked divide between 4 ramekins, pressing it firmly and leaving about an inch space above.
Stick a couple of bay leaves into the meat and using a ladle pour the egg mix on top of the meat. Fill all the ramekins.
Bake in an oven preheated at 180C for 25 minutes or till the topping has set firmly and has become golden brown colour.
Once done, cool on a rack for about 5 minutes and then serve with a salad or rice or just bread.
Notes: If you get curry powder, instead of all the masala's just use a tbsp of that.
Use apricot jam if you don't have dried apricots and whole milk instead of single cream
Original recipe called for 50gms each of dried apricots and dried sultanas. I thought that would be a bit too much. Use according to your preference. Next time id just use the jam instead.
It also called for 25gms of flaked almonds which I didn't have, so omitted it.
After reading a couple of reviews that said the egg mix just got mixed with the meat, I decided to pour the egg on top just before placing in the oven and I think it did the trick. I got a pretty decent layer on top. 
You can just go ahead and make it in one large casserole dish, in which case bake it for an addition 10 to 15 minutes more.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Coffee-walnut cake

This post along with another one is probably the last in my drafts. I am staring at my Picasa album to realize I don't have any more food pics (blogworthy) in it. So I think it would be safe to say it will be a while till my next post. Unless otherwise I get all enthu over the weekend and cook up a storm and then style it and take pics. By the looks of it, I don't think I will be..well for one, its supposed to be an over cast weekend with rains on and off and two, I have so much frozen food, I need to eat it some time or else my freezer would remain full and i wont be able to fill it with more junk.

I blame myself for running around the Indian grocery store like I'm crazy (and Ro for not stopping me). I picked up mooli paratha, peas paratha (I don't even like peas) and paneer paratha by the truck loads and ignoring Ro's eye rolling I even picked up canned pavakka theeyal..really, canned theeyal...who does that you might wonder. Oh well, here's living proof of the fact that I can buy the most bizarre of things. And like that's not enough, both of us hate bitter gourd with a vengeance. I will just have to say a little prayer and open it and pretend to like it, so Ro cant say 'I told you so'
While we are on the 'buying' topic, I have gone ahead and picked up a shelf to keep all my blog stuff. Although it is not as droolworthy as Soma's and Aran's gorgeous collection, I am so proud of it that each time I pass by I exclaim how amazing it looks (with dramatic sighs and oohs and aah's. Now that its all out in the open (before it all used to be in a cardboard box), the not-so-fun part is Ro shooting questions at me like, where did you buy this from, how much did that cost and so on. Of course I understand that he wanted to know what I was gonna do with the Christmas decorations, when we didn't even plan on buying a Christmas tree (Here's the answer...it was because I was doing a post for a magazine with Christmas as the theme and without candles, baubles and holly, it wouldn't have been a 'merry' Christmas would it?). Obviously I didn't say that and distracted him with a tea pot I picked up because Ro is a sucker for anything tea related. (Note to self: first find a place to hide the huge cake stand before I buy it.)

Anyhoo, coming to the cake, its not a fancy schmancy cake, but I loved it. Its a simple coffee cake that pairs well with, err..coffee perhaps? Also, the best part- its a one bowl cake. No cleaning up tonnes of vessels and all that which usually puts me off making a cake altogether. I whipped it up quite a while back to serve with tea for some unexpected guests and strangely had all the ingredients it required. The original recipe calls for a mascarpone frosting which I didn't do, because for one its a painstaking job and two, I somehow have this notion that tea cakes are supposed to be plain. Click on the link for the filling and frosting recipe if you are going all out. I am a sucker for anything coffee flavoured and this cake just made me fall in love with it all over again.
Recipe adapted from Delia online
Plain flour- 110 gms
Baking powder- 2 tsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Caster sugar- 110 gms
Unsalted butter- 110 gms, at room temperature
Eggs- 2 large
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp
Instant espresso coffee- 1 tbsp
Boiling water- 1 1/2 tbsp
Finely chopped walnuts- 50 gms
Dissolve the instant espresso in boiling water. Keep aside.
Into a large mixing bowl add the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk together.
Add all the remaining ingredients except the coffee and walnuts and combine well either using an electric beater or if you are lazy like me, use the whisk or a wooden spoon and get the job done.
Mix till you get a smooth consistency.
Pour in the coffee, add walnuts and fold it in, making sure you have a well combined mixture.
Transfer the batter into a greased 9 inch cake pan, even it out, tap a couple of times to release the air bubbles and bake in an oven pre-heated at 170C for 30 minutes or till the skewer comes out clean.
Cool for about 5 minutes after which you can transfer it from the cake pan on to a wire rack and cool completely.
The cake stays in an air tight container for about 4 or 5 days at room temperature. Mine lasted just one evening :)
Notes: The original recipe calls for self-raising flour, so if you have that, reduce the baking powder to 1 tsp and omit the salt.
For caster sugar, just pulse normal granulated sugar in a blender once or twice for a finer version. Don't over do it or else you will end up with icing sugar
Replace espresso powder with normal instant coffee if espresso is not available. You might have to increase the quantity a tad bit to get strong coffee flavour in the cake though
If you don't like biting into the walnuts, then pulse it in a blender, along with a couple of tbsp of sugar, (from the measurements given) to a fine powder and then add it along with the flour.
Hazelnuts or almonds can also be used instead of walnuts.