Friday, June 26, 2009

Eggless Chocolate Brownie Cake

It looks like Tarla Dalal has a variety of easy eggless cake recipes. When I came across this brownie cake recipe, that uses yoghurt and has no eggs, I could not wait to try it out. This is pretty different than the brownies I have tasted here in the US. But can pass as a very simple yet delicious eggless chocolate cake that requires no fancy kitchen gadgets and only a few basic ingredients from your pantry. I have successfully baked this cake few times before. My baby turned 7 months old this week. I had this fun monkey shaped cake in mind and this chocolate cake turned out to be the perfect base for the decorations. All you need is some frosting and fun candies to bring this monkey to life. It was pretty simple to make and is sure to bring a smile on anyone's face

For the Brownie Cake

Ingredients -
1. 2 cups plain flour (maida)
2. ½ cup cocoa powder
3. 1½ cup powdered sugar
4. 1 teaspoon soda bi-carb
5. 1 teaspoon baking powder
6. 12 tablespoons curds
7. 10 tablespoons milk
8. 10 tablespoons melted butter
9. 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Method -
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C (350 F).
2. Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl using a wooden spoon, making sure there are no lumps.
3. Pour this mixture into a greased and dusted 9" round baking pan
4. Place in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
5. Cool and proceed with the decoration as given below.

Note - If you like, you can also add 1 cup of chopped walnuts to the cake batter

For monkey cake decoration -

Ingredients -
1. 1 (9-inch) round cake
2. 2 chocolate-covered doughnuts
3. 1 cup pink frosting (I used left over pink icing from my Wilton class. You can use vanilla frosting and tint it pale pink with some red food coloring)
4. 1 Wilton ready to use red icing (You can tint @ 2 tbsp vanilla frosting with red food coloring for dark red color for the lips)
5. 2 tbsp white vanilla frosting
6. 1 can (16 oz) chocolate frosting
7. ½ cup chocolate sprinkles
8. 2 black jelly beans
9. 2 miniature York peppermint patties
10. 1 red Twizzler

Other Tools -
1. A bread knife/
2. A serving platter
3. 2 resealable sandwich-size plastic bags (Ziploc)
4. Kitchen shears or scissors

Trimming the cakes -

1. Place the cake on a clean work surface. Using the bread knife, trim a 1 ½-inch triangle-shaped notch from opposite sides of the cake (see template). Discard scraps. Place the trimmed cake onto a serving platter.
2. Cut ½ inch from one side of each doughnut.

For the white, red, and pink frosting -
1. Spoon ¼ cup of the untinted vanilla frosting into a resealable plastic bag.
2. Add enough red food coloring to 2 Tbsp of the vanilla frosting to tint it red and spoon it into a separate resealable plastic bag.
3. Add a few drops of the red food coloring to the remaining vanilla frosting to tint it a pale pink.

Frosting the cake -
1. Spread the chocolate frosting onto the top and sides of the cake
2. Spread the pale-pink frosting into a kidney bean–shaped area over the monkey's mouth, chin, and cheeks, as pictured.
3. Press the chocolate sprinkles into the forehead, the top of the head, and the underside of the monkey's chin.

Assembling the cake -
1. Press the trimmed edges of the doughnuts onto the cake for the monkey's ears. Press the jelly beans into the center of the cake to make the monkey's nostrils.
2. Pipe a red frosting line onto the pink part of the cake for the monkey's smile.
3. Pipe 2 white circles onto the top of the cake for the monkey's eyes and press the peppermint candies into them. Add a dab of white frosting for the sparkle in each eye, as pictured.
4. Snip the Twizzler into thin 2-inch strands with kitchen shears or clean scissors and insert them into the top of the cake for the monkey's hair.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Swara's Nursery

Methi na Dhebra

Growing up in India, my neighbours were a Gujurati family. I was very close to them and developed a strong liking for Gujju food. Basically, I'm a big fan of rich oily food …that explains why I like Gujju food. Last week I bought a fresh bunch of methi (fenugreek leaves) from Patel Bros. Initially, I was planning to make some methi theplas for dinner. However, I changed my mind and instead made "Methi na dhebra". This is a spicy methi puri made from bajra flour. Gujjus mainly have these for breakfast with hot tea or serve these with Chunda (grated mango pickle). I served this for dinner with some yoghurt based potato bhaji also called batatyache bhareet in Marathi.

Makes 22-24 dhebras
Ingredients -
2 cups millet/bajra flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp semolina/rava
2 tbsp besan (gram flour)
Green paste (1 inch piece ginger, 2-3 cloves garlic, 4-5 green chillies -- to be blended into a fine paste)
1 cup finely chopped fenugreek/ methi leaves
2 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 pinch turmeric
salt to taste
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup yogurt

Method -
1. Take all the ingredients except yogurt and the ground paste in a bowl and mix well.
2. Add the green chili-ginger-garlic paste and mix well.
3. Make a dough using yogurt and add some water if needed. Make a firm but semi-soft dough like puri dough and leave it aside for an hour.
4. Heat some oil for deep frying in a kadhai. Make medium sized balls (like you would make for puris).
5. Place the dough ball on a greased sheet of plastic or cut open ziploc bag and start patting the ball with the help of your hand and fingers. Rolling pin can also be used. Some wheat flour can be used to dunk the balls which will make rolling easier.
6. Gently slip them into the kadhai for frying. Fry the vadas on both sides. When the vadas puff up and turn brown remove them and let them drain on a paper towel to remove excess oil. Once cool, these can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated in the microwave before eating.
7. Serve with any accompaniment of your choice.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Grilled Chutney Sandwich

I'm really excited to celebrate Father's day for the first time on my daughter's behalf. Since Sunday is the only day I get to unwind from the daily busy routine, I decided to make something delicious yet simple for Sunday breakfast. This is a very popular street food from Bombay. These sandwiches bring back memories from the good old college days. These are very simple to make and can easily pass as a breakfast/ lunch/ dinner item.

Ingredients –
Cilantro chutney -
1. 1 bunch cilantro/ coriander leaves
2. 1 inch piece of ginger
3. 3 -4 cloves of garlic
4. 4 -5 green chillies
5. 1 wedge of lime/ lemon
6. 1 tsp sugar
7. salt to taste

Other Ingredients -
Slices of bread (Pepperidge Farm sandwich bread gives the best results)
Sliced tomatoes
Sliced cucumber
Sliced onions
Sliced boiled potato
Chat masala
Tomato ketchup

Procedure –
Cilantro Chutney – Grind all the ingredients with very little water to make a thick paste.
Spread butter on slices of bread. Then evenly spread some green chutney and tomato ketchup on the bread. Arrange sliced boiled potatoes on the slice of bread. Sprinkle some chat masala. Layer cucumbers/ tomotoes and onions in this order and sprinkle chat masala between each layer. Cover with another slice of bread. Grill the sandwich on a hot skillet by spreading some more butter on the outer surface of the bread. Grill/ toast on both sides till golden brown. Cut the sandwich diagonally or vertically and serve with green chutney and ketchup.

Tips – 1. You can also spread some grated cheese/ paneer for another variation of this sandwich.
2. These sandwiches can also be served cold. Just skip the grilling part

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Carrot Cake

I baked this carrot cake for Swara's 6th month B'day. I bought this book called "The Cook's Encyclopedia of BAKING" by Carole Clements few years back. Unfortunately, never got a chance to try out any recipes from this book. All the cakes I had baked so far used butter. So I was looking for a recipe that uses oil instead of butter . The carrot cake recipe in this book seemed to be perfect bcoz firstly I had never baked a carrot cake at home and secondly it used oil instead of butter. This is probably the best carrot cake we have ever tasted. It was very moist and delicious. I stored it in the refrigerator and warmed it up for 15 sec in the microwave before serving. I strongly recommend trying this recipe. You will love it.

Ingredients -
1 pound carrots, peeled
11/2 cups flour
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsps ground cinnamon
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
11/4 cups oil
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup raisins

Procedure -
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the baking pan with wax paper and grease it with some butter/ oil. You can also just grease the baking pan and dust with some flour.
2. Grate the carrots and set aside.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a bowl. Set aside.
4. With an electric mixer, beat the eggs until blended. Add the vanilla, sugar and oil, beat to incorporate. Add the dry ingredients, in 3 batches, folding in well after each addition.
5. Add the carrots, walnuts and raisins and fold in throughly.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the cake springs back when touched lightly, 40- 45 mins. Let stand 10 mins, then unmold and transfer to a rack.
7. Decorate the cake as you please.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Traditional Kerala Fruit Cake

Few months back Mrs. AMMINI RAMACHANDRAN appeared as a guest on Show Me The Curry, where she baked a traditional fruit cake from her home town of Kerala. When I saw her bake this cake, I immediately wanted to give it a try. This is a very authentic fruit cake which is traditionally made during Christmas and the nuts and dried fruits are soaked in rum or brandy for several days. However, to cut down on this long prep time, Ammini suggested soaking the fruits in brandy/ rum and warming them over low heat for a few minutes. I chose to follow the recipe without making any changes, to maintain the authenticity of this traditional cake. The cake turned out to be very delicious and we loved the taste of the rum soaked dried fruits. This recipe rocks...I'll surely treasure it for the rest of my life.

Ingredients -
Raisins - 1 cup
Dates - 1 cup, chopped
Candied Orange/Lemon Peel - 1/4 cup, sliced thin
Brandy or Rum - 1/4 cup (I used Rum)
Unsalted Cashew Pieces - 1 cup
Sugar - 6 Tbsp
Water - 3 Tbsp
Lemon Juice - few drops
Boiling Water - 1/2 cup
Unsalted Butter - 2 sticks (8 oz) at room temperature
Powdered Sugar - 2 1/2 cups
Eggs - 3 large or 4 medium (separated)
Vanilla Extract - 1 tsp
All-Purpose Flour - 2 cups
Baking Powder - 1 tsp
Cinnamon Powder - 1/2 tsp
Ginger Powder - 1/4 tsp
Clove Powder - 1/4 tsp
Nutmeg Powder - 1/4 tsp
Brandy - optional for soaking cake

Method -
1. In a medium pan, add Brandy/Rum, Dates, Raisins and Orange Peel. Cook for 1 minute on medium heat.
2. Add Cashews and continue to cook for 1 minutes until heated through. Keep aside.
3. In a small pot, add 6 Tbsp Sugar and 3 Tbsp water and few drops of lemon juice. Swirl pan to mix - do not use spoon.
4. Heat until sugar changes color and becomes caramelized. (approx 7-8 minutes).
5. Add 1/2 cup boiling water and swirl pan again to mix well. Keep aside.
6. In a large mixing bowl, combine softened butter and powdered sugar and beat with hand blender.
7. Add one egg yolk at a time to the mix and blend well.
8. Add Vanilla Extract and blend.
9. Combine all dry spices, baking powder and flour and sift it into the bowl, adding little at a time and blending.
10. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
11. Lightly coat baking pans with spray cooking oil or regular oil.
12. Add caramelized sugar syrup a little at a time into mixing bowl and blend.
13. Add fruit/nut mixture into mixing bowl and mix with a spoon.
14. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until they are fluffy and soft peaks form.
15. Fold beaten egg whites into the cake batter.
16. Pour batter into greased baking pans and bake for approx 1 hour at 325 degrees. For smaller pans, baking time may vary.
17. Remove cake from oven and allow it to cool for few minutes.
18. Garnish with powdered sugar.