Monday, March 29, 2010

Red Velvet without the red...nah

I never have and never will buy red velvet anything at the pastry/cupcake shops- the color is off putting and I can only guess how sweet these things might be. I never have understood the popularity of this cake/cupcake anyway.

I have been looking around for a natural version of the red velvet cake and boy was I glad to see this recipe here from the gorgeous blog by Aparna. I could not wait to try it, in fact I began craving for it. 




 Ingredients, did not modify it, well except I got rose and beets in mine!
 

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour  
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar  
1 1/2 tbsp dark cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)  
1 1/2 tsp baking powder  
1/4 tsp salt  
3/4 cup fresh pureed beets  
1/3 cup oil (I used canola oil)
1/4 cup lemon juice
 
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp rose water 


Method

Wash the beets, scrape/ peel and slice them. Cook them (steam cook or microwave) till they’re well done. Cool and purée the cooked beets along with about 3 or 4 tbsps of vanilla soy milk, in a blender till smooth.
 

To make the cupcakes, first whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a bowl till well mixed. Keep aside.
Put the puréed beets, oil, lemon juice and vanilla extract into another bowl and lightly whisk together till mixed well.
Pour this into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix just enough to combine. Divide the batter equally between 12 cupcake tins lined with paper cups.

Bake the cupcakes at 360F for about 20 to 25 minutes. A skewer/ toothpick inserted into the centre should come out clean once they’re done.


Cool completely and decorate with frosting of your choice. 


For the Frosting, I used about 1/2 cup whipped cream cheese, 1/2 cup gulkand (thanks ma for having made that last minute trip to the store to buy it!), 2 tbsp powdered sugar: Mix everything until they are well blended and frost your lovely cupcakes.

Judgement: The old ways are gone, now I can enjoy these cupcakes anytime I want without an inkling of doubt as to what brought about that redness. The beets did a great job and the frosting- I could not stop licking the spoon! Who cares if it does not taste like the traditional, famed red velvet cake!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tried and Tasted- hell yeah!

I love a lot of the food blogs and eventually I begin to love the food bloggers themselves for their creativity. One such food blogger is Raaga- The Singing Chef. She has a lovely blog filled with wonderful recipes and stories. When Divya announced that Raaga's blog is being featured on Tried  and Tasted, I was thrilled and I had to make something from her blog. I chose a rice dish for a simple reason that Raaga puts it best herself "Pulaos are multipurpose dishes. They are showstoppers at parties, timesavers on weekend and lifesavers during weekday lunches."


Cauliflower peas pulao from her blog

Ingredients: 
2 cup Basmati Rice
1 cup Peas
2 cup Cauliflower florets
Salt to Taste
1-2 tbsp Oil
¼ tsp Asafoetida
1” stick Cinnamon
3 Cloves

Masala (Grind to a Paste): 
 3 tbsp frozen Coconut, thawed
1 1/2 cup Coriander Leaves
3 Green chillies
1" piece Ginger
3 pods Garlic
1 medium Onion, roughly chopped
1” stick Cinnamon
3 Cloves 
1 tbsp Khus-Khus, soaked in warm water for a few minutes before grinding (Mum's idea)


Method
Grind ingredients for the masala. This will look like coconut chutney.
Wash the rice and drain the water.
In a pressure pan, heat the oil and add the asafoetida, cinnamon and cloves. Add the ground masala and fry till the oil starts to separate from it. Add the cauliflower, peas, washed rice and 2 cups of hot water. Cover and pressure cook on a slow flame for 10-15 minutes or for 1-2 whistles. Serve hot.
I served this with Carrot Raita.
 
Judgement: 
What can I say- it was AWESOME especially when we had it under candle light. That is right- we had turned everything OFF for Earth Hour and had ample time to devour this pulao (no TV, so no distractions!).  This is off to Divya for the event and thanks Divya for hosting such a lovely event.

** Read about my take on Savithiri Satyavan here** 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Karadayan Nonbu

This is a Hindu festival celebrated at the beginning of Tamil month Panguni. It is in honor of Sathi Savithiri who brings back her husband from the clutches of death God Yama. Read more about her story here at Forum for Hindu Awakening. The image below is also from their website.


For this festival, the women folk fast for their husband's health and constant companionship. They break their fast with these adais or cakes made with black eyed peas, hence the name karadai (காரடை).



Basic Ingredients

1 cup rice flour (For the flour, rinse rice in water and then dry them until it is only slightly dry, do NOT overdry)

1/4 cup dried black eyed peas, soaked in water overnight and dry roasted the next day

1/2 cup coconut (preferred form is small chopped slices)

1 cup water

1 tbsp cooking oil/ ghee

For the sweet version

1 tsp elaichi/ cardamom powder
3/4 cup jaggery (this depends on the sweetness you want)

For the salt version

1 tsp mustard seeds
2-3 green chillies (hot peppers), chopped finely
a pinch asaefoetida
salt to taste

Method


Cook the rice flour in 1 cup water in a saucepan on medium heat. Once it is mixed, add jaggery, black eyed peas, coconut, cardamom, and ghee. Mix until combined

For the uppu adai


Heat 1 tbsp oil in a saucepan. Once hot, add mustard seeds and once that splatters, add chopped peppers, asafoetida.

Add one cup water to the tempering and cook the rice flour in it with salt to taste.

Add black-eyed peas and coconut. Mix until combined.

Cooking them


Make small round balls (break the lumps of flour as you go along) and flatten them (something like idlis)- steam them in an idli cooker. This should take about 12-15 min.


Judgement

Serve them hot with some butter on top! Nothing can feel more satisfying than these...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ginger for health

You probably have had this drink, you probably have a different name for it- we, in our family, call it inji sorasam or in my words, अदरक का रस (இஞ்சி சொரசம்). Believe me when I say this one has nothing do with RASAM. This juice essentially brings back childhood memories of the days when we would be given an oil bath (an oil bath is usually an extravagant affair in our household, or at least used to be). On some eventful Saturday mornings when we were required to cleanse our systems, we would be given surathavarai kashayam,. No amount of wailing or running around the house would help, my mom would eventually make us drink the kashayam. One sip of the kashayam and anything else would seem heavenly! Half a day later of ingesting that thing called kashayam, we would be given an oil bath which was followed by light lunch and inji sorasam.

Since my mom is visiting, I made her make the ginger juice for me the day after she arrived. Of course why would I even bother with the kashayam, no more MA!! I am glad I finally got to sharing this recipe (has been a family favorite) with all of you- try it and be healthful.


Ingredients

2-3 inch piece ginger root, chopped coarsely
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds
Juice from 3 lemons
for sweetness honey or brown sugar (anything you might prefer)
2 -3 cups of water

Method

Soak the coriander and cumin seeds in about a cup of water for about 2 hours.

Grind together ginger, coriander and cumin seeds.

Let it sit for an hour at least and you will see a sediment at the bottom. Strain it, squeeze the pulp and you can add more water to the pulp, regrind it and go through the straining process one more time.

Add the lemon juice and the sweetening agent of your choice (amount depends on how sweet and sour you want it to be). Let it sit for a few more hours- you will see it clearing out at which point it is ready to be devoured!

Go ahead and drink without any qualms unless of course you do not like ginger or have allergies to it.

Judgement

YUM, I am going to say no more.

** UPDATE: I am sending this to the Home Remedies event hosted by Ruchika.  Ginger is the tried and tested ammunition to treat a variety of digestive ailments and even motion- induced sickness as it very effective in the control of nausea and vomitting.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Should have made this a long time ago


Chocolate bread:

The original recipe for this bread comes from the lovely book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking

I made a bunch of alternations to include different flours and go eggless on this one. Here is my version (halved the recipe that was in the book)

Ingredients


For the ganache:

2 oz semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup unsalted butter

Yeast and egg susbstitutes:

1/2 cup and 12 tbsp lukewarm water
3/4 pkt active dry yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tbsp flaxseed in 3 tbsp water
1/2 cup and 3 tbsp honey

Dry ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup barley flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 oz dark chocolate, cut to pieces

Egg wash


Method


Melt butter and chocolate ("Ganache") in a microwave, do like 20 sec or so runs and keep an eye on it- do not let it burn. Set aside.

Mix the ingredients listed as "yeast and egg substitutes" in a separate bowl. Once mixed add in the dry ingredients and the ganache. Mix until just combined. You do not have to knead it at this point. Let it rise and fall, should take about 2 hours or so.

I then refrigerated mine for 2 days, covered the bowl with plastic wrap.

After two days, took the dough out- it was easier to work with at this point. Flour the work surface, take the dough out, cut into halves. Set one half back in the fridge. Shape the other half into a nice ball shape and let it rest at room temperature for 1 hour and 40 minutes on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. In the last 20 min, preheat the oven to 350F. Once you have let it rest, brush the egg wash on the bread and bake it until a fork comes out clean. Mine took about 35 minutes.

Let it cool and enjoy as is or with any kind of spread you might like.

Judgement


The bread turned out to be on the bitter side but I rectified it by using nutella as the spread (goes to show that nutella can do wonders!). It was a bit on the heavier side too, not like some of the airy, yeasty breads. I did love the hidden chunks of chocolate- can never get enough of chocolate, only this time it was too much of bitter chocolate!
Sending this bread to the weekly "Yeast spotting event"




Andorran Trinxat with a sour cream dip (Indian ishtyle), the original Andorran recipe uses bacon and bacon fat.

Ingredients

1 head Savoy cabbage, cleaned and chopped
5-6 medium sized potatoes (I used yukon gold)
1/3 of a package of firm tofu, cut into tiny pieces

1 small bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and freshly-ground black pepper

2-3 tbsp corn flour (as binding agent)


Method


Cook the cabbage (cook, NOT overcook since here the cabbage is already chopped up) and potatoes separately (boil them in lightly salted water). Drain the liquid and mash the potatoes. Drain the liquid from cabbage too (you might have to squeeze it a bit to get most of the water out).


Mash cabbage and potatoes, add in the tofu, spring onions, garlic, salt and pepper.


Make small patties and pan fry them or bake them at 350F for about 25 minutes.


Serve hot with any kind of dip you like.


Here I made a very easy sour cream dip:


1/2 cup sour cream 
1/2 tsp each of amchoor, ground cumin and caraway seeds, chilli powder
2-3 tbsp home made or store bought tamarind chutney
salt to taste


Combine all the above ingredients and serve it in a platter along with the lovely Andorran Trinxat (Soulful creations style!).

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sweet and sour


I chanced upon this recipe while trying to use up my red cabbage for my International Vegetarian recipe series.

Ingredients


  • 1 medium head red cabbage, cored and sliced
  • 2 large tart apples, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium sweet onion, sliced 
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup cider vinegar (substituted with 1/4 cup regular vinegar, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar and 1/2 cup raspberry white balsamic vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (added only about 4 tbsp)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 whole peppercorns
  • 2 whole allspice
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons cold water


Method

In a Dutch oven, toss cabbage, apples and onion. Add water, vinegar, sugar, butter and salt. Place the peppercorns, allspice, cloves and bay leaf on a double thickness of cheesecloth; bring up corners of cloth and stir with kitchen string to form a bag. Add to Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1-1/4 hours.

Discard spice bag. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and cold water until smooth; stir in cabbage mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened.


Judgement

A very simple and tasty dish- loved the sweet and sour combo, the smell of vinegar was heavenly especially when it was piping hot. Even better was the fact that I just had to throw everything in the pot, sit back and relax (I did get up to stir it once in a while). The only problem- I was not sure what to eat it with. While it did not seem like a perfect combo, I did have it rice.