Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Keep. It. Simple. Stupid.

I realize that my last published post was back in 2012 and I have no excuses for not being regular. If it helps, I have plenty of posts I have stopped mid-way and there are about 5 drafts that I am yet to "edit". I have been looking to get back to blogging, baking and being happy (in that order.)

 I have been cursed with the baker's block( its a thing, or so I would like to believe.) Every time, I try and bake, something goes wrong. I contemplated on renaming by blog "A baker's confession", from buying the wrong kind of flour, or forgetting to buy cocoa for chocolate cake and  baking a cake on "roast" mode in the oven. I have done it all, my friends.

After almost three years of baking, I am still not the baking goddess I hoped to be someday. So I told myself, when in doubt, go back to the start. To where it all began when I would  spend hours of my "research"  time in college going through food blogs, getting inspired to bake and write recipes down in little pieces of paper and file it my recipe book.

I wish to start this blogging thing again, hoping to bring some 2012 magic into my drab 2013 and make the most of it. I kick start my self proclaimed "comeback" - I am posting the recipe of the very first cake I ever baked and what joy it brought to my life. This cake, to date, remains my go-to birthday cake and without any icing  is brilliant with a cup of hot tea.

Ingredients  
Flour 1.5 cups
Powdered Sugar 1 1/4 cup
Oil 3/4 cup
Eggs 4 large(Use 5 eggs if they are very small)
Baking powder 2 tsp
Vanilla Essence 1 tsp

How to: 
 Pre heat oven to 180 degrees C

  • Sift flour and  baking powder twice. Beat eggs till almost 3 times in volume. 
  • Add vanilla essence and sugar and beat again till mixture is frothy.
  •  Pour in the oil slowly beating all the while. 
  •  Fold the flour mixture gently into the egg mixture.
  •  Pour into a greased tin lined with butter paper. Tap the tin against the kitchen counter a couple of times. This will help the air bubbles settle down and give a flatter cake surface.
  • Bake at 180 degrees for about 25-30 minutes. The cake will shrink away from the sides of the pan when ready. It will also be springy to the touch. A skewer or knife inserted in the middle should come out clean. If some batter sticks to the skewer, return the tin to the oven and bake for 5 minutes more. Remove from oven when done.
  • If at any time, you realize, the cake is burning on the top but it is still not cooked, do not panic, cover with aluminium foil and allow to bake.
  •  Remove the pan from the oven and keep it aside for at least 15 minutes to cool. Do not try to remove the cake from the pan when its hot as the cake will stick to the pan. When cool, run a knife around the edges of the cake, invert on a wire rack, give a sharp tap on the back of the pan and ease the cake out. Peel the butter paper carefully.Set  aside to cool for some more time. Voila!

For a birthday celebration or if its just a eat-cake-with-icing sort of day, use any icing of your choice (to view the picture with icing .)



Monday, June 11, 2012

It was all yellow.

Donna Hay says, " I don't think it is good to start a recipe with a confession." But what the heck, I will blurt it, anyway. For the life of me, I can't bake cupcakes. Apparently 5 year old kids can make cupcakes, but not me!

For weeks and months, this bothered me. I decided to let it go an focus on things that I can do. Cupcakes can wait. I am not a big fan of them either. The whole world, on the other hand, is going quite  gaga over them. So world, don't expect any cupcakes from me anytime soon.  Instead, I am making stuff I am pretty good at and tastes even better. 

Summer screams ice cream, lemonades, and lemons! Every cookbook I own has a lemon-based recipe and I thought, why not!

I have never had any lemony dessert in my life and boy, I have wasted a good 23 years without understanding the magic of lemons. I never was a big fan of lemons when I was young; trust me when I say this, a teeny tiny bit of lemon makes so much difference in your food. I am not even joking here. I had this lemon curd with biscuits, bread toast and cakesThe recipe is an adaptation from Martha Stewart and  this one is a keeper ( recipe, I mean!)


                         
                                                                 LEMON CURD





Yields: 2 cups
Stores: 2-3 weeks (but trust me, it will get over before you know it)


Ingredients:


  • 4 large egg yolks
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/3 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornflour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups water



Method: 

  • Whisk lemon zest, sugar, corn flour, salt in a medium-sized saucepan. Add water and lemon juice to the saucepan
  • Whisk continuously till the sugar and cornflour dissolves completely
  • Bring it to a boil over a medium-high heat. Remember to whisk continuously for about 2 minutes
  • Reduce the heat and take 1/3 rd of the mixture and add it to the egg yolks in a heat-proof bowl.  This will reduce the chances of your eggs scrambling in your hot mixture. Last thing you want in your lemon curd is scrambled eggs!!!
  • When the eggs are mixed with the lemon curd, add that  mixture to the rest of the cornflour, lemon juice mixture.
  • This immediately gives a nice pale yellowy color. So beautiful!
  • You need to cook it for a further 2 to 3 minutes. I would suggest, keep tasting it constantly to see if you, need more sugar, or if the eggs need more cooking. 
  • Once you are happy with it, remove it from the stove, and add your vanilla to it. 
  • The next few crucial steps are as follow, 1. allow it to cool completely, 2. make it a day in advance, it tastes even better the next day, 3. try not finish it in one single day (because, I did!).
 TIPS:

  • Strain the lemon curd through a sieve once it is done, just as a precaution to remove any scrambled pieces of egg. 
  • Cover the lemon curd with a cling firm, so it does not make layer on the top. 
  • Refrigerate when not in use.  
Love, 
Shobitha Suresh 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Vanilla Cupcakes with butter cream frosting

  Let me just ask this , what's not to love about a cupcake? I mean, it is portable, it is absolutely cute, it is a cake in a cup. It is divine.  And, did I mention the sprinkles? It just adds to the glam quotient. 


This is the very first recipe I found when I was looking for the recipe for cupcakes. Cupcakes are so versatile, so many different varieties, I cannot begin to tell you. It is a world of its own. I am going to try everything under the sun. I want to make muffins too, but that is for another place and another time. 


For now, all I can tell you this is such a good recipe.  


                                             Vanilla Butter cream frosting Cupcakes








Ingredients:



  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup( 130 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) milk
  • cupcake liners*
  • sprinkles (optiona)
Method

  • Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius and line the muffin/cupcake tray with cupcake liners. If you do not find the cupcake liners* , it is okay, you just need to grease the tin well.
  • In a bowl, add butter and sugar with the help of a hand mixer or a whisk, beat till it is light and fluffy
  • Add eggs one at a time, and with the addition of each egg beat till it gets incorporated with the butter and sugar
  • After the eggs are incorporated, add the vanilla essence, and beat well. 
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt together. With the help of a hand mixer (on a low speed)  or your regular whisk , add milk and flour into the batter, alternatively. Starting with flour and ending with flour. 
  • Scoop the batter with the help of an ice cream scoop into the arranged muffin tray for 17-20 minutes **
  • Remove from the tray and allow it to cool before you can frost them.
                                      Butter cream Frosting 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (230 grams) icing sugar or finely powdered 
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp light cream  (or just milk, if you have it)

Method:

  • Whisk all of them together until nice, smooth and creamy in texture.
  • Spread generously on top on the cooled cupcakes
  • If you are all for piping, you can pipe the frosting on for a nice twirl.
* Cupcake liners are nothing but the paper cup that holds the cake, it helps to remove the cupcake from the muffin tray and it is easy to carry around since it is convenient to eat from the liner. However, you can do with it. You just need to grease the tray well, and allow it to cool on a rack before diving into the deliciousness.
** The clear indicator for a well-done cupcake is the nice rise it has and it become nice and golden, and the skewer comes out clean when inserted. Start checking on them at 17 minutes. 


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Homemade Pasta from scratch

 I am almost embarrassed to admit to  this, my inspiration  to make fresh pasta  came to be because I was watching  "Jersey Shore", I know, don't judge.  They were in Italy and they would not stop talking about how good the food was. I got around to read Jamie Oliver's recipe and he mentioned how old women in Italy get offended by the idea of using a machine to make the pasta. If they can do it, so can I

I can't remember the last time I passed up an  opportunity to eat pasta or make pasta or go out for Italian food. So making fresh pasta was a long time coming. I will polish off a bowl of pasta with no shame what so ever and come back for seconds. I am unapologetic when it comes to pasta. When I  started looking at recipes, I found a million versions to it, but I finally found  one which was not fussy and nonsense-free


I won't lie, it is a little work, but it is worth it.  I cannot begin to tell all of you how good it tasted. It was so good, I stood there and watched over my pasta with such joy. Because, it is that good. Having said that, there is nothing wrong with store bought pasta.




The Verdict : It was unbelievable.


                                                                       Fresh Pasta

 Ingredients:



  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • pinch of salt
Method:




  • Have clean working area, like your kitchen counter. Make a  well  in the dough and beat the eggs  in the welland slowly whisk them into the dough.
  • Combine the eggs with the flour with a fork till the flour is coated and it is good enough to knead with your hands.
  • The key is kneading. You have to knead for  at least 5 minutes, till you get a nice soft dough. 
  • If your mixture is too wet, add a little flour. If it is too dry, add a little egg mixture. 
  • Chill the dough for 45 minutes in a plastic wrap. 
  • Here is the little difficult part in the whole process--rolling the dough You need to roll it 1/4th thickness. 
  • To cut them into the shape of pasta. You can do it two ways, you can either roll the dough out into a big circle and roll it and cut them out. Open each cut piece and allow it to dry for 10-12 minutes. The other way is to fold it into a square and cut from the open corner. ( I know it looks super complex, but once you start rolling the dough out, it is quite simple, trust me. Like Jamie Oliver says,  "use your head and you'll be fine)
  • The drying phase is quite important as it allows the pasta not to stick to each other when it cooks. Allow it to dry separately for 12-15 minutes
  • Cook al-dente for 5-6 minutes Use to your preference. I made a quick pasta with red peppers, chilli, basil, pepper, olive oil and parsley. 




Friday, December 30, 2011

Stuffed Parathas ( Indian Bread)

Last year, this time, I was in Delhi and all my North Indian friends from college would not stop talking about  these little food stalls in Delhi where they have separate streets for parathas and chole bhatura. I had to go and check those places out. Boy, did I eat! I was wowed. I ate like I have never eaten before and no, I was not guilty.


 Delhi is my most favorite place to go to. Ever. Since then, I have been eating stuffed parathas. I order them when I go to restaurants and  they are so good. With melting butter on top. I know, I can eat it! However, eating parathas is directly proportionate to increasing waistline. They are a bit indulgent, but I am eating healthy and I have substitutes to make it healthier. On really good days, I do indulge in buttery parathas and once you know how to make them, they are irresistible.I make them at least twice or thrice a week. They are a big hit.


In this blog, I am giving you the recipe for making the dough (which is very important thing to know, in  Indian cuisine, especially.), couple of stuffings - a potato( aloo) stuffing and a cauliflower (gobi) stuffing. Parathas are very versatile, you can do any stuffing if you just know the basic idea of it, I have friends who tell me about cheese parathas ( I can't wait to try that one out), peas parathas, mixed vegetable paratha and mooli (raddish) parathas. The options are endless.


                                                           




                                                                 DOUGH


Ingredients:
2 cups of  whole wheat flour ( atta )
water as needed
salt (optional)

Method:
  • In a big bowl/ plate/ kitchen top. Mix all the ingredients and knead till it makes a nice smooth ball. 
  • Add the water gradually, as required. If the dough is too dry, add water. If it is too wet, add flour. This dough is very forgiving that way. 
  • Knead for at least 5 minutes. I call it the massage for the dough. 
  • Variations: - You can use all purpose flour - you can add a tsp of oil to the dough if you want it smoother or 2 tbsp fresh curd. However :  It does not matter, really. I do not use any oil or curd, but the dough is still smooth and beautiful.
  • This is a multi purpose dough,   you can just make small balls, roll it out and toast them on a tava (skillet) for minute on each side till they have small brown spots on them and they puff up a little.
  • You can add a little butter/ oil on each side when they are toasting. You can also make stuffed parathas with them.
                                                     Stuffing 

                                                  Cauliflower stuffing ( Gobi) 

Ingredients:
  • 1 small cauliflower - finely grated
  • 1 small onion – finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 3 tbsp butter/ oil (of any choice)  I use olive oil, but feel free to use anything.

  • To make the stuffing:
  •     In a  kadai (pan ). Add the cumin seeds (jeera) wait till it splutters and the chopped onion and allow it brown just a little.
  •          Now add the grated cauliflower and all the spices.
  •        Allow it to cook for about 10-12 minutes. It should turn brown.
  •         It is okay if it is a little under done, because it gets cooked when the parathas are cooking too.
  •          You can turn the stove off when it is about 95% cooked and allow it to cool.
                                          Potato Stuffing (Aloo)     

Ingredients :          
  • 3 big potatoes- boiled and mashed
  • salt as needed
  • 2 tsps chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 small chilli finely chopped
  •  2-3 tbsp Butter/ oil 
Method:   

  •       Same as the Cauliflower stuffing, but it does not take more than 5-8 minutes because the potatoes have been boiled and mashed. 
  • Just cook till all the masalas are incorporated into the potato.  Allow it cool. 


                                       Stuffed Parathas             

Method :
  • Take lemon sized balls from the dough and roll it and note that, you need to flour the surface while you are rolling , because it sticks otherwise.
  • Take a teaspoon sized stuffing and place it in the middle.
  • Fold the dough into a package and sealing it completely. If not sealed, the stuffing will come out and makes it difficult to roll it out.
  • Do not worry about sealing it, remember : roll the dough out into a small circle, add the stuffing, and close the stuffing with the dough from all the sides. Like dumpling or momo, we find.
  • Now, roll it gently, if rolled too fast, stuffing will come out. Roll it as thin as possible, so the stuffing spreads to all the corners and there is no doughy bits left.
  • In a hot pan/ kadai, add a tsp of butter or oil and toast on both sides. It takes about 3-4 minutes on each sides. They have to have these nice brown spots evenly on them.( If there are no even brown spots, it is okay. Do not break a  sweat over it. It still tastes delicious)
TIPS

  • Knead the dough previous night and use it when needed.
  • Stuffing can be kept in the fridge for a day or two, but I would suggest for you to use it the same day, as it is healthy and fresh.
  • Do not worry if the first few are not perfect, you ace it by practice. 
  • You need not  use the exact same masalas that I have mentioned, you can add spices for your taste. Like I said, these are very versatile and it is your taste and preference that  matters.
  • For peas parathas, you need to grind your peas for the stuffing. For the raddish stuffing, it  has high water content, so add salt towards the end and drain them before stuffing inside the dough.

                                           



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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wholewheat Pancakes with caramelized pineapples.


I have made a list of things of all the place I'd like to go...to eat/ restaurants to visit/ cities I would love to visit, like a food tour of sorts. This is  a big list, trust me. The one that takes the first prize is a diner. My love  for diners started when I started watching  Seinfeld when I was little. You know, meeting people for breakfast, being a regular or there is a chance  that I watch way too much TV for my own good. I know this sounds very out there, but it is true. I  love the idea of a diner,   meeting people for breakfast. Two of my favorite things to do, eat and talk to people. Who in their right mind will complain about fresh pancakes drained with  maple syrup, eggs and what not, sounds delish! And, their selection of pies and everything sweet. Yum!

 Few years back, I made pancakes and I admit, it was not that great. I thought it was, but nope tasted like rubber and it was  burnt.  But now, I know where I had gone wrong. Anyway,  my famous food craving hit me out of the blue and let me tell you something about my food cravings: I do not crave for food (generally), but when I do, I go great lengths to eat what I want. I am quite annoying that way.

 So, when I wanted to eat pancakes, I knew I was going to do justice to it this time around  and since I am "eating better" ( my fancy way of saying, I am on a diet. Yes, me, on a diet, I know) I wanted to make it healthy and wholesome  and I just found the right recipe for it. I wanted to make strawberry coulis to go with it, and yet again, this city disappoints me and I could not find it in the stores near my place. But, when I do find them, I am going to share  this amazing  accompaniment to pancakes, cakes, biscuits and ice creams: strawberry sauce/ coulis.

This is my recipe. Enjoy it . May I add, the caramelized pineapples were just....mmmm...out-of-this-freakin'-world.

Pancakes : 
makes 4- medium
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of wholewheat flour*
  • 1 cup skimmed milk*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar (Go easy on the sugar, because the caramelized pineapples are quite sweet)
  • splash of vanilla
  • a pinch of nutmeg ( I think, this is the secret ingredient)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil * 
  • 2 tablespoon butter; melted*(for the batter)
  • Butter/ vegetable oil/ cooking spray to make the pancakes
Method:
  1. It is important to sieve the flour because it removes any lumps or dirt that might be there in the flour. Mix all the dry ingredients together and mix it well.
  2. Heat a skillet and the added butter and melt it. Add it to the dry ingredients and add the rest of the ingredients with the dry mixture and mix it well. Batter should be smooth, lumps-free, and it should not be too thick or too loose. 
  3. Heat a pan and add oil to it. Ladle 1/4th of the batter, on a medium- high heat. It takes 3-4 minutes for each side to cook( this depends on how heavy/ large the pancakes are). Flip them when bubbles start forming around the pancake . Do not fret if the first one does not turn out properly. 
  4. The other side takes 1-2 minutes to cook. They tend to rise a little when they are  cooking, they are not like crepes, they are not as flat as them. 
  5. Serve hot with fresh fruits, maple syrup. You can add your own variations to this; add chocolate chips, add berries. Before flipping them, you can add bananas for delicious banana pancakes.  Or you can try caramelized pineapples or bananas to go with them. 
CARAMELIZED PINEAPPLES: 
There is nothing as easy as this. It literally takes minutes to make them. All you need is fresh pineapples, brown sugar. That is all. Heat a skillet, add fresh pineapples, cut, of course. Pineapples give their juices out, generously add brown sugar on top and allow it to cook down, for 8-10 minutes. You know  they are done, when they have shrunk and have turned a nice golden brown. Save the syrup, it makes for a very good sauce and has a beautiful glaze and sweetness which compensates for the less sugar  in the pancakes.

*This recipe is so versatile; you can use all-purpose flour instead of wholewheat flour. You can use 2% milk or full-fat milk for richness. Also, it is important to use, vegetable oil or sunflower oil for the pancake batter because other oils tend to over power the taste, which you would not want in your pancakes. 

Enjoy! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chole Masala

Since I always bake and post about it, I thought I would switch things up and cook for a change. I made Dutch apple cake .  I wanted to cook something very Indian. My biggest obstacle still is Sambar and Rasam, which I will face head-on, but not immediately. This time, I decided to head the North Indian way instead.
My mom was a very good cook. To this day, I listen to stories about what a wonderful cook she was and how her chole was to die for; I remember her making us chole and pulav for our birthdays. That the highlight of our birthday (apart from the brilliant birthday parties my sister and me had) my dad could talk about her cooking for hours. I think passion for cooking is inherited. It is a legacy.  My grandmother was such a brilliant cook and I believe my mom inherited that from her. My sister and me, we try.
When I found an old diary of my grandmother’s with her handwritten recipes. I wanted that. I spent a whole day going through recipes, which she had collected over the years from TV shows, magazines, some given to her from family and some her own. I was thrilled! This is exactly what I love about cooking- handing down recipes, sharing and leaving something for the younger generation. Other day, when I was watching Nigella Lawson’s show, she was talking about how close she was to her grandmother and how she cannot wait to be one, I could relate to her. I want to that kind of grandmother.
I saw the recipe for Chole and I had to make it! Here is the recipe, from the recipe book of P.K. LAKSHMI.
CHOLE:

Paati's Recipe


Ingredients:
For masala:
·         2 onions (3, if they are small. Chopped roughly)
·         7 cloves of garlic (you can use 5, if you do not like the taste of garlic so much)
·         1inch piece of ginger
·         Some boiled channa.
For tomato juice:
·         3-4 tomatoes blanched and pureed. It is okay if it is pulpy.
Other ingredients:
·         200 grams channa (soaked overnight, pressure cooked up to 8-10 whistles. Save the water in which the channa is cooked, makes for good stock for the masala. I used red channa, you can use white channa, if you want. )
·         1 cinnamon stick
·         2 cloves
·         1 bay leaf
·         2 cardamom pods
·         1 tsp jeera
·         3 tablespoons oil
·         1 onion chopped, finely
·         2 green chillies, split.
·         Tamarind ( size of lemon or you can use tamarind paste instead- I used about a tablespoon)
·         1 tsp chilli powder
·         A pinch of turmeric
·         1 tsp  coriander powder
·         1 tsp garam masala
·         ½ tsp mango powder
·         A generous bunch of  coriander leaves
·          2 tablespoons butter
·         ½ cup cashew nuts (ground to paste with little water)
Method:
1.      Grind all the ingredients for the masala and keep aside. Do the same for tomato juice.
2.      In a kadai, add the oil, while the oil is heating up, add jeera and allow it splutter. Add cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaf. Sautee the onions and green chillies till they turn golden brown
3.      At this point, add the masala and cook until the masala is cooked and the raw smell is gone.  To this mixture, add the tomato juice and allow it to boil for couple of minutes.  Mix the tamarind juice to masala.
4.      Start adding all the spices except for garam masala.  Add salt to taste.  
5.      Add the water in which the channa was cooked, at this stage. Turn the heat down and allow it cook for 10 minutes.
6.      Add the garam masala and mix it thoroughly. Chop some pudina and coriander leaves; it adds flavour to the chole.
7.      Before switching off the stove, add the cashew nut and mix thoroughly. Cut pieces of butter, drop it into the sabzee, and allow it to melt on top.
8.      Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with roti or steamed rice.
 Things to remember:
·        Try not to overcook the channa, as it will turn mushy.
·        If you add salt to the channa while pressure cooking it, do not salt the masala too much
·        Cashew nut paste was just to add richness to the dish it is an optional.
·        Take the bay leaf and cinnamon stick before serving



·        Tomato puree need not be pulp-free.

P.S- Sorry, I could not make an entry with step-by- step pictures. One, the kitchen looked too dirty for the world to see it. Two, too  many processes to document. I knew I would be bored by the 5th step.
P.P.S- I am not much of a cook, but I must admit, this tasted phenominal! *patting my back*