Thursday, December 26, 2013

Panforte

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
―     Henry Wordsworth Longfellow

 
If you are wondering what Panforte is, then let me tell you it is nothing but fruit cake. Yes. Panforte is the Italian version of fruit cake. Panforte literally means "strong bread". This medieval confection dates back to 13th century. This nougat like cake is much more than a confection. It is a traditional fruit cake that is packed with dried fruits, nuts, spices, honey sugar and in my case, golden syrup as well. There is flour, but only very little, as it is used to bind the other ingredients.


In this cake, the sugar and honey is cooked together and then mixed with the fruits and nuts mixture. This process gives this Christmas cake a candy like texture. Since this cake has a long shelf life, this makes a great edible gift. This flavor pack confection is quite addictive and hard to resist. Sink your teeth into this heavenly confection and I assure you, you will not be able to stop at one bite. Merry Christmas!!!


Panforte recipe:
Preparation time: 1-1/ 2 hour
Baking time: 35-40min
Makes at least 30-35 cubes
Ingredients:
Mixed nuts (I used cashews, almonds and pistachios) - 3-1/2 cups, toasted and roughly chopped.
Figs-1/3 cup, roughly chopped
Dates- 1/3 cup, chopped
Raisins- 2/3 cup
Prunes- 10, chopped
Apricot- 1/3 cup
Mixed peel- 200gms
All purpose flour- 1-1/2 cups or 360gm
Cocoa powder 2tbsp
Cinnamon powder- 1tspn
Ginger powder- 1 tspn
Cloves- 3-4' powdered
Finely grated nutmeg- 1/4 tsp
Freshly found black pepper powder- a pinch
Sugar- 1-1/4 cups, powdered
Honey-1/3 cup
Golden syrup- 1/3 cup
Icing sugar to dust (optional)



Method:
  • Grease and line 9"baking with a baking sheet and set aside.
  • Combine the nuts, figs, dates, raisins, prunes, apricots, mixed peel, flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger powder, pepper powder and mix till well combined.
  • Combine the sugar, honey and golden syrup in a thick bottomed pan and cook over medium heat  stirring occasionally. Until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Continue to boil the mixture for another ten minutes more till the mixture reaches the "soft ball stage".
  • Remove the sugar syrup from the heat and pour it over the fruit and nut mixture and mix well till all the ingredients are well combined. It will be sticky and gooey  batter.
  • Scrape the batter to the prepared pan and using a spatula spread the batter evenly into the pan and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40min or till a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Allow the panforte to cool in the wire rack for 10min before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Cut the panforte into cubes and serve immediately or store in air tight containers. This sweet treat tastes best after several days as it matures with time.
Notes:
  • If  golden syrup is not available it can be replaced with equal quantity of honey.
  • As long as you stick to the original volume of fruits and nuts you can vary them as you like. You can use hazelnuts, or pine nuts as well. Even the spices can be varied as well. You can use coriander powder or white pepper powder.
  • This cake can  be baked in an 8" round pan and it can be cut into wedges.
  • To check if the sugar syrup has reached the soft ball stage, drop a small spoonful of syrup in a bowl of  cold water. Bring the solidified syrup out of the water with you hands. If you are able to form a soft flexible ball, then the sugars syrup is ready to be used.
  •  

Friday, December 20, 2013

The best Eggless carrot cake


I know i have been missing from action for a couple of days now. The past few days has been hectic, exciting, tiring and fun filled. The past few days has been so exciting, simply because it is that time of the year. The time for Christmas, The time to end 2013 and welcome 2014 and the time for our annual trip to India. Oh yes!!! I am all set for Bangalore and I can't tell you how happy and excited I am. The mere thought is seeing my mom, grand mom, baby sis, my niece and my in laws fills me with joy!!

The past few days were spent in fever of anticipation . There was a lot planning, a lot of shopping and a lot more baking done. It seemed like my oven never went cold. I baked ginger biscuits and the Italian Panforte to be given away as edible gifts (the recipe will be posted soon). Apart from these, I also baked this carrot cake. 




To me, this cake is one of the best cakes I have baked so far. For an eggless version, this cake is incredibly moist and light. I have made this cake quite a few times now and each time, I have got rave reviews. This dessert gets it sweetness from the carrots and condensed milk and lightly spiced with the flavor of cinnamon. I feel that the use of cinnamon lifts the flavor quotient of the cake to a large extent. 




I know that some carrot cake enthusiasts swear by the cream cheese frosting to go with the cake. But I some how prefer the whipped cream. I feel that the whipped cream frosting does not overshadow the taste of the cake and allows the flavors of the cake to shine through. But honestly speaking, this baked goodie does not need any frosting. The can be savored whilst warm by sprinkling some icing sugar on top. 


So if you are looking for a delicious, eggless and relatively healthy cake this holiday season, then this cake is the one!!


Carrot cake recipe:
Preparation time- 30min
Baking time: 35min
Makes- 1, 8" cake

Ingredients:
All purpose flour- 2 cups or 480ml
Baking powder- 1 tsp
Powdered cinnamon- 1 tsp
Baking soda- 1/2tsp
Salt- a pinch
Butter- 6tbsp, melted
Sweetened condensed milk- 1 tin or 14 Oz
Finely grated carrot- 1 cup
Ground almonds- 1/2cup
Thick butter milk- 1/2 cup
vinegar- 1tsp
Toasted and slivered almonds to decorate (optional)

For the whipped cream frosting:
whipping cream- 1/2 cup, chilled
Castor sugar- 3tbsp
A dash of vanilla essence.



Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease an 8"cake pan with butter and line with baking sheet.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Toss the grated carrot and ground almonds and keep aside.
  • In another bowl, combine the melted butter, condensed milk, butter milk and vinegar and mix till the mixture is light
  • Fold in the flour mixture into the butter milk mixture and mix till well combined.
  • Add two tbsp of water if you feel the mixture is dry.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35min or till  an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  • Allow the cake to cool in the pan for five min before transferring the cake to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the whipped cream frosting:
  • Combine the whipping cream, sugar and vanilla in a chilled bowl and beat till soft peaks form.
  • Spread the frosting over the cake and serve immediately.

Notes:
  • I sifted the flour first and then measured.
  • You can omit the frosting completely and serve the cake warm with icing sugar on top.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mango and Tapioca pudding- An easy dessert recipe


S and I celebrated our anniversary on the 30th of November. Yup. A little over seven years ago we were married in a beautiful three day long religious ceremony. I can't believe that Seven years have passed since that day. These past seven years has been nothing but an out and out joy ride. In all these years, S and I have shared love, laughter, pain, success, failures and a special bond that cannot be put into words. 


To me S has been more than just a husband. He has been that friend who is always encouraging and supporting in whatever I did. He has been my strength when I was weak and my rock during hard time. I love him for the caring and selfless person that he is.



What I love about our relationship is that, we get excited about all the same things. Small things like, a good cup of morning coffee, masala dosa, christmas fruit cake, Amitabh Bachchan, dark chocolates and laughter. Oh yes!! There are times when we laugh without any reason and we laugh till our stomachs hurt. We are so alike and yet different in all the right ways. S is certainly more selfless than I deserve. All through these years he has been my best friend and I feel blessed to have a soul mate like him.


Since kheer is one S's favorite desserts, I decided to commemorate the occasion by making tapioca pudding. Only this time, I decided to give the traditional kheer a tropical twist by adding mango puree. The result was just phenomenal. A rich and creamy sauce contrasts perfectly with the texture of soft tapioca pearls. This dessert is bursting with the flavor of mango and is laced with the subtle fragrance of cardamom. It is hard to believe that some thing as luxurious and as rich tasting as this kheer can be put together in 20min flat. Talk about fool proof recipes. Serve this dessert chilled for a wholesome tropical treat.


Mango and Tapioca pudding
Preparation time: 15min+ 15mins of soaking time
Cooking time: 15min
Serves- 6-8

Ingredients:
Tapioca pearls- 200gms
Mangoes- 2, peeled and chopped into chunks
Milk- 750ml
Coconut milk- 120ml
Sugar- 16tbsp or to taste
Cardamom- 6-8 pods, crushed to a fine powder
Slivered almonds and pistachios for garnish


Method:
  • Wash the tapioca pearls in enough water. Drain and let the pearls stand for 15min.
  • Add about 200ml of water and bring the tapioca to a boil. When the peals turn transparent, take off the heat and allow the tapioca pearls to cool completely.
  • In a blender jar, combine the mango chunks, milk, coconut milk and sugar and blend to a fine puree.
  • Transfer the mango-milk mixture to another bowl and stir in the cardamom powder and cooked tapioca and mix well.
  • Chill the pudding for at least 2hours in the refrigerator before serving.
  • Serve the pudding in individual bowls with slivered almonds and pistachios on top.
Note:

  • Chopped mangoes can be used to garnish the pudding instead of the nuts.
  • The mangoes can be replaced with pine apple or raspberries.
  • For a vegan version, substitute the milk with almond milk.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Adai- Rice and lentil crepes


A few months back a reader had commented that this blog lacks some Indian breakfast recipes. And I completely agree with that. The reason there are not many breakfast recipes is because, our breakfast mainly consists of either cheese Sandwich or Granola. The elaborate Indian breakfasts is reserved only for weekends. During weekends, we make sure that we have a relaxed and filling breakfast. In fact, I spend so much time in relaxing and savoring each morsel of my breakfast that I just don't get a chance to photograph the dish. But these days I am working on that. I try and wake up a little early so that I can get the breakfast ready and photograph the before serving. I did exactly that with these crepes a few days back.


During my growing years, Adai made a frequent appearance on our breakfast table. Since amma was working, she used to make these pretty often. Since these crepes does not need any fermentation, like dosa, they can be prepared instantly after grinding. Unlike dosa, the adai has a mixture of all the lentils. Because of which, this crepe is a tad bit more healthier and filling than the dosa.


There are many recipes for the adai. but I follow the recipe that I had read a long time back in a Kannada weekly. This recipe works perfectly for me. The Adais come out brown and crisp. 
The adai can be made served with any kind of chutney or with the humble chutney powder. But personally, I just love having adais with coconut chutney and a huge dollop of butter. Ah!!! That's what I call heaven.



Adai Recipe:
Preparation time: 10min+ soaking time
Makes- Approximately 20 adais

Ingredients:
Rice (preferably sona masoori) - 1 cup heaped
Toor dal or split pigeon peas- 3tbsp
Chana dal or bengal gram- 3tbsp
Moong dal or split green gram- 3tbsp
Urad dal or split black gram- 3tbsp
Poha or beaten rice- 3tbsp
Kashmiri red chilies- 3-4
Freshly grated coconut- 2tbsp (optional)
Salt to taste
Curry leaves a few
Oil to shallow fry- As required

Equpment required:
A wet grinder or blender
A non stick or cast iron girdle or skillet
A spatula


Method:
  • Wash and Soak the rice, lentils, beaten rice and red chilies in 3 cups of water for 5-6hrs or overnight.
  • Grind the soaked mixture, coconut and curry leaves to a fine batter. Transfer the batter to a vessel and add salt and water to make a loose batter. The consistency of the batter should be such that that it coats the back of the spoon.
  • Heat a skillet and pour a ladle full of batter to the skillet and immediately spread the batter in circular motion so that the batter spreads to the edges. 
  • Pour a tea spoon of oil around the edges and cook the crepe till brown and crisp.
  • Carefully remove the adai from the skillet and serve hot with coconut chutney.
Notes:
  • The red chilies can be replaced with green chilies.
  • Pepper corns can be added to make the adai extra spicy.
  • You can add vegetables like grated carrot and finely chopped onions to give the crepes a healthy boost and color.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Curried rice noodles


I love noodles. There I said it!!! Noodles of all forms are my favorite. I like them so much that you can always find a packet of noodles in my pantry. There is something irresistible about this stringy food. To me noodles is the ultimate comfort food. You can cook the noodles in a hundred ways using a myriad of ingredients. 




As for this rice noodles, I have used the humble curry powder and the fiery Sri racha sauce to flavor the dish. This wholesome noodle dish is full of flavor and taste. But what I really like about this dish is the fact that it can be put together in no time. One the vegetables are chopped and the noodles are cooked, it hardly takes anytime to put this dish together. If you feel that veggies are not your thing, then you can cook this vibrant dish with Paneer or tofu as well or with meat as well. Now isn't this versatile?


The curried rice noodle was huge hit with me and the kiddo. But S said that he preferred the hakka noodle to this anyway. But then this opinion is from a man who just can't like a new flavor. As for me, I feel that this is a fun dish to make as well to eat. For I thoroughly enjoyed this spicy noodle dish!!


Curried rice noodles recipe:
Preparation time: 30min
Cooking time: 10min
Serves- 4

Rice noodles- 200gm
Carrot- 1 med, chopped into thin strips
French beans- 6-8, stringed and chopped diagonally
Red and yellow bell pepper- 1/2 of each, chopped into thin strips
Cabbage- 1/2 cup, shredded
Ginger-garlic paste- 2 tsp
Light soya sauce- 3tbsp
Sriracha sauce- 1-2 tsp
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper- 1/4 tsp
Curry powder- 2tsp
Sugar- 1/2tsp
Rice Vinegar- 1/2tsp
Sesame oil- 2tbsp
Spring onion- 3tbsp, whites and greens separated chopped into 1" pieces
Lemon wedges to serve
Bean sprouts- 1/4 cup


Method:
  • Cook the noodles as per the package instructions and keep aside
  • Heat oil in a large thick bottomed wok, and add the ginger-garlic paste and fry till the raw smell goes.
  • Add the spring onion whites, carrot and french beans and fry for 3-4 min till they are tender.
  • Stir in the cabbage and bell pepper and fry for 2min more. Add the soya sauce, vinegar, salt sriracha sauce, and pepper and mix well.
  • Add the curry powder and 2tbsp of water and mix quickly. Stir in the cooked noodles and the bean sprouts and mix well.
  • Turn off the heat. Garnish with spring onion greens and serve hot with lemon wedges on the side.

Notes:
  • I used the every day curry powder for I did not find the oriental curry powder. Despite this I felt that this did have an oriental flavor. Maybe it was because of the vinegar and the sauces.
  • If you do not have the sriracha sauce, then replace it with chili flakes and increase the vinegar to 1 tsp.
  • Rice vinegar can be replaced with normal white vinegar.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Seven cups Burfi



There. I am late again. The Diwlai festivities are almost over and here I am posting the recipe that I had made for the festivities. But you cannot blame me for being late. The last three days has been hectic but equally fun. I had been busy cooking, shopping, visiting friends and family, and more cooking, bursting crackers, decorating the house and some more cooking. This Diwali has been one of the most fun filled Diwalis ever.


Now coming to this recipe, this is one of the most common edible gifts that is given. This dish is extremely versatile and the recipe can be moderated to your tastes. The seven cups barfi is very easy to our together and tastes brilliant. Perhaps it is because of this attribute, this fudge makes a great gift option for Diwali. 


This recipe is from S's paternal aunt who is an excellent cook. Her Mysore Pak and Seven cups are just out of this world. I vividly remember her instructions when she had given the recipe. She had asked me to mix all the ingredients and keep mixing till I could mix no more. That indeed was a great tip. It is only when the mixing becomes difficult that you will know that the fudge is ready to be transferred to the greased plate. This, indeed is a no fail recipe. So this my friends, is my sweet treat for Diwali. It just takes a few minutes to put together and for some thing so simple, it tastes absolutely delicious!!!


Seven cups Burfi recipe:
Preparation time: 10min
Cooking time: 20-30min
Makes- 25-30 pcs

Ingredients:
Besan or gram flour- 1 cup or 240gm
Ghee or clarified butter- 1 cup+2tsp
Freshly grated coconut- 1 cup
Milk- 1 cup
Sugar- 3 cups
Cardamom powder- 1/2tsp
Saffron- a pinch, Toasted and crushed (optional)
Slivered almonds to garnish- optional


Method:

  • Grease a plate or tray with ghee and keep aside
  • Heat a tsp of ghee in a  thick bottomed wok. Add the gram flour and fry till the flour is fragrant and keep aside.
  • In the same wok, heat the remaining ghee, add the milk and sugar and mix till the sugar is dissolved.
  • Stir in the coconut and gram flour and mix on low flame for 5 to 10min. At this point you will see the mixture start to bubble.
  • Keep stirring the mixture by scraping the sides to avoid burning.
  • Continue with the mixing till the mixture thickens and it begins to leave sides.
  • Keep mixing till the mixing process becomes difficult. At this stage, stir in the powdered cardamom and saffron and mix well.
  • Take off the heat and tip the contents to the greased  tray and flatten the mixture with a spatula.
  • Allow the mixture to cool for a few seconds before cutting them into desired shapes.
  • Leave it undisturbed till the burfi is cooled completely and serve immediately or store in an airtight container.
Note:
  • For a variation, you can replace the coconut with ground nuts like cashews or almonds. Or with carrots. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Benne chakli or murukku


The fact that food bloggers are expert cooks is a common misconception. At least in my case, I can say that I am a good cook. But I am far from being an expert. If I was really an expert, then I would have posted the recipe for chaklis ages ago. It's sad that it took me several attempts to master my favorite snack. I had tried making this dish at least five times previously. And each time I ended up with a disastrous mess. I never got the perfect spirals. The dough would just break into small bits. I had almost given up on making this. But then, all those diwali recipes on the blogosphere made me want to try making chaklis once again. 



Chakli or murukku is a traditional snack that is prepared during any auspicious occasion. Be it marriage, or baby shower or festivities like diwali or Ganesh chaturti, you are sure to have chaklis on the menu. So you see, this savory, crunchy snack is a part of every auspicious menu.
I have always loved murukkus with black lentils in them. But I could not get hold of the urad dal flour in the super markets near by. And my mixer is not in such a good shape that it can powder lentils. I was looking for some alternatives when I came across the murukku recipe on Deepthi's blog.  Her recipe used cooked urad dal to make the murukkus. It sounded perfect. So there I was, trying to make my favorite snack again. This time, the chaklis came out perfect without any breaks or mess. To me, this recipe is a keeper.


To make these delicious spirals, the murukku press is required. Since I wanted my murukkus like mother's I used the old fashioned wooden press to make the murukkus. Although, the murukkus came out great, my poor arms had to pay the price. My arms were sore with all the pressing and they ached for the rest of the day. To prevent this, you can use the press where you can turn the dough into spirals rather than pressing it. 
Do not fret if you do not get perfect spirals the first time. Even if the murukkus are shapeless, they  will still taste delicious!!


Benne chakli or murukku recipe:
Preparation time: 10min
Cooking time: 30min
Makes- approximately 25-30 chaklis

Ingredients:
Rice flour- 4cups (my cup measured 80ml)
Urad dal- 1 cup
Salt-1tsp or to taste
Asafetida or hing- a large pinch
Paprika powder- 1 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1tsp
Butter- 2tbsp, melted
Oil to deep fry


Method:
  • Pressure cook the urad dal in 1-1/4 cups of water for 3-4 whistles or till completely cooked. Mash the dal and keep aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix the rice flour with the salt, paprika powder, asafetida, cumin seeds and butter and mix well.
  • Add the cooked urad dal and mix well. Add water little by little and mix to form a soft but firm dough. Divide the dough into 4-5 equal portions and keep aside.
  • Grease the insides of the chakli or murukku press with a little oil and fix the plate with one star. 
  • Place one portion of the dough in the press and place the other potion of the mould through the other hole one the top and press the dough onto a greased plastic sheet. Slightly rotate the murukku press round and round to get the spirals.
  • Remove the pressed dough from the plastic sheet and drop it into the hot oil. Fry the murukku on med high heat for a min. Reduce the flame to low and fry for a min more till golden brown.
  • Remove the fried murukku from hot oil and drain them on paper towels. Repeat the same procedure for the rest of the dough and serve with hot coffee or tea




Sunday, October 27, 2013

Beet and strawberry smoothie


Did I tell you that Purvi has started going her new school?? Oh yes. She has been attending the new school since the month of August. The thing with this new school is that, she has to attend full school two days a week. Needless to say, the long hours at school tires her out. Although she is provided with lunch and snacks at school, she comes back home with a hungry look in her eyes. Since 4:00 pm is an odd hour to have lunch, I make smoothies and keep it ready for her. This smoothie is one of those "after school smoothie"



Apart from the fact that Purvi loves this"pink" smoothie, I find it extremely easy to sneak vegetables, seeds and other healthy ingredients in her food. This smoothie is great as an after school snack or for quick healthy breakfast.



Since October is the breast cancer awareness month, I thought of making this smoothie as a way of honoring the lovely campaign. Since this smoothie is made up of all the super foods that fight cancer, I thought this is a great recipe to be shared for the Pinktober event. 
An antioxidant and anti-inflammatory packed drink that is sure to impress your loved ones. Do not let the beets mislead you from making this delicious drink. Try taking a sip from this drink and you will be happy you did!!



Beet and strawberry smoothie recipe:
Preparation time: 15min
Cooking time- nil
Serves- 4

Ingredients:
Beetroot- 1med, peeled and cubed
Strawberries- 10-12, washed and hulled
Flax seed powder- 1tbsp
Strawberry or plain yogurt- 1 cup
Milk- 1 cup
Sugar- 3-4 tbsp

Method:

  • Cook the diced beets in a little water till soft and cool completely.
  • In a blender, combine the cooked beets, strawberries, flax seed powder, yogurt and milk and blend until smooth.
  • Garnish with sliced strawberries and serve immediately.




Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...