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Archive for July, 2008

The Perfect Weekend

I want to post, I want to sound massively lazy and relaxed. I ate a lot of food this weekend, more than usual. 

After all it was celebration time, Amma’s grown older by a year, she’s become less “roundy dums” and I haven’t grown old for her at all.  It was the laziest weekend I have had in what seems like years.

Time was of least significance. Even if the clock staring at my face belonged to my grandfather who liked speed and continous work!! The clock reminded me more strongly of the days he’d spend his afternoons slouching in his Easy chair; the days when I’d routinely remove the wooden stick that held the cloth of the Easy chair together and throw it carelessly in an unknown place for him to find later.

The secret Mr. S was at Nagarhole, a wildlife sanctuary near Mysore. I stayed back at home in Bangalore.

Amma first showed off all the house cleaning that she’s been obsessively up to – starting with the garden.  She showed her beautiful earthen compost pot.

She majorly showed off her newest acquisitions – a rustic looking mini treasure chest and two tables with brass work on top. I got to keep a pair :)

It was Amma’s birthday, I’d taken some carrot cake for my brother and brownies for her. She made my favourites – Kalkandu Pongal, Vethal Kozhambu and Colourful Baked Rice. Appa made the world’s best Puli Upma. Nowhere in the world will you get Puli Upma the way Appa makes it – its unique and a result of his many scientific expeditions in the kitchen. You’ll consider the crunchiness of Granola passable if you have this Puli Upma and I am not at all exaggerating.

I slept for hours like a baby. I ate, slept, got more tired and slept more. While Amma kept talking continously.

We went shopping and made a lot of people who owned crockery shops richer by a few significant bucks. I finally found Ramekins at Jamal’s in Bangalore that I’ve been dying to acquire ever since I saw Suganya’s Individual Chocolate Cakes. They will arrive in Chennai with my mom in August.

I made some Focaccia using one of my favourite recipes from Delicious Days for Amma, Appa and my brother (secret Mr. R).

I went to visit my in laws, ate a lot more food – Jangiri, Bhajji, the world’s softest chapatis and delicious cauliflower curry.  I took some brownies and carrot cake for my niece (secret Ms. S) and nephew (secret Mr. N).

My niece and I played hide and seek. We read a book where a Monkey called Bubbles finds a red ball that’s not his. Then he finds the original owner, a cat called Sparks, and returns it.  I read a book of Adventure Stories for 5 year olds. It was a fascinating book with imaginative stories.

My niece also educated me on how crying was “not so much better” but still she had to cry and cry and cry.  She displayed her increasingly complex vocabulary and wanted to be patted on her back for her “attitude”.  

I had a mini adventure on the way to the station with loud heavy rain, traffic jams and roads clogged with rain water.

How was your weekend?

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Carrot Cake

Vegeyum Ganga has a fantastic post on cooking by the senses rather than the “exacting measures“. Cooking for me is a therapeutic experience that is supremely rejuvenating (This is when I am in my “love to cook” phase). I love to cook by the feel of my ingredients, by the smell rather than the time or measurement to the last grain of flour. Unfortunately not all recipes are amenable to such an experience – the recent sponge cake that I made is an example of a recipe high on science, low on senses.  For the first time (I am not so precise even for my breads), I measured to the gram – no approximations. I discovered that a tablespoon is about 15 ml. And that I have a scoop that can measure 30g. The experience was highly educative and  exhilarating – I was mighty relieved when my sponge rose in my third attempt. Three times to get a cake right??!!! And I always thought cakes worked with sensing the right amount of moisture, consistency et al.

I always thought cakes were amenable to experimentation, choosing flavours and ingredients, adjusting sweetness according to taste. I had two eggs purchased for sponge cake trials (I stocked adequately after my first failed attempt for multiple trials). Besides wanting to use them up in a recipe that hides them so well that  I’d forget eggs are even there (I don’t like eggs and usually avoid them), I also wanted to see if I had some of the cake charm left in me.

I love making cakes (no frosting, thank you) . I have never failed in making a cake although I have poured batter all over the kitchen before baking on one occasion.

Was the sponge cake an exception or had I forgotten to bake cakes in my bread baking frenzy? Thankfully the sponge was definitely an exception! I baked a carrot cake today and din’t use any tried and tested, precise recipe. I made my own as I usually do with most cakes. This link here gives an overview of what a  carrot cake is. I made a mental note of the basics and proceeded to bake the cake.  The cake was delicious, soft, just moist and not too dense at all for a whole wheat cake.

Makes: 8 -10 pieces

Ingredients

  • 1 cup carrot (grated)
  • 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour (finely ground 100% Whole Wheat Atta)
  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg (I used 1 tsp – it was quite spicy. I’d recommend adjusting this to taste.)
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 2 Eggs (Substitute: Usually I replace 2 eggs in most cake recipes with 1/2 cup (milk+1tbsp curd)+ 1/4 tsp cooking soda. Since eggs here are primarily for moisture and some leavening this should work. I had to use the eggs bought for my sponge cake experiment. )
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Cooking Soda
  • Few Drops of Vanilla

Method

  1. Grease and line an 8inch Baking Dish.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, cooking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and sieve once. Add grated carrots.
  3. Grind the sugar. In a bowl beat the sugar, honey and eggs together. Add this to the flour mix, add vanilla and combine.
  4. Bake at 200C in an oven for 40 minutes till the cake is well browned. The cake is done when it springs back if pressed lightly and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Oven timings may vary and it is recommended that you test for doneness at the 35th minute and keep for more time accordingly.
  5. Allow cake to cool. Take cake out of baking dish, cut into pieces and store in an air tight container.

Carrot cake is usually frosted with cream cheese – I run away from any kind of frosting unless its chocolate ganache. :P

Healthy, spicy, moist and yet airy. It was a perfect cake. :)

Carrot Cake is off to Aparna at My Diverse Kitchen for Think Spice, Think Nutmeg. Think Spice is a monthly food blog event started by Sunita.

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Veggie Casserole

Sra very rightly guessed that I’ve become obsessed with baking when I went and bought a book with a 1000 recipes. In fact I have become so obsessed that I baked okras in the oven. It took a whole 40 minutes to get the kind of crispness I’d achieve in 10 minutes on the stove top!!! And NO, it doesn’t take a whole lot of oil on the stove top if one knows how to regulate the temperature. But I can’t be expected to be logical in times like these when I am likely to be diagnosed with an almost borderline Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

I baked a whole lot of bread with Poolish or the french way of pre ferment. I am particularly proud of the way the ciabattas turned out.

ciabattas

You see the holes :) – the texture and shape can improve of course but it looks so pretty already and tastes delightful.

ciabattas

Something had to be made the main course so that between my husband and myself, we could eat up all of that bread. Now given my condition that “something” obviously had to be baked. So I assembled a simple casserole with a few veggies.

Casserole

Ingredients

  • Vegetables – 500 g (Potatoes, Peppers, Tomatoes or similar vegetables of your choice)
  • Onions – 2 Medium
  • Milk – 1/2 cup (or fresh cream/double cream for a richer version)
  • Cheese – 50 g
  • White breadcrumbs – 1/2 cup
  • Salt and Paprika for seasoning (as per taste)
  • Olive Oil – 1 tbsp

Method

  1. Grease a 9 inch Baking dish with Olive Oil.
  2. Slice the Onions into rings. Saute the onions until translucent and set aside to cool. Slice the other vegetables into thin discs.
  3. Preheat an oven to 200 degrees C.
  4. Form layers in the baking dish with the sliced vegetables, starting with the tomatoes. Sprinkle white breadcrumbs and seasonings over each layer before proceeding to the next. Continue doing this till all the vegetables are used. End with a layer of either potatoes or tomatoes (never onions, unless you like black onions!!!).
  5. Pour the Milk into the baking dish. Top with the remaining bread crumbs and grated cheese.
  6. Bake at 200 C for 40 minutes or until the dish turns golden on top.

Serve with bread of your choice.

Notes: Oven timings may vary. Note the browning on top to know when to stop. I finished with a layer of tomatoes for a change this time. Finishing with Potatoes in a casserole is a better idea – browned potatoes taste doubly better than oven baked tomatoes IMHO.

Doubly Note: I also baked samosas along with my baking buddy. Check them out at Baking Buddies.

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Kerala Style Stew

This is one of the first recipes I learnt. When we stayed in the Telephones quarters at Hyderabad, a Nair family moved in to our opposite flat. Mrs Nair was a great cook and we loved her aapam with a simple stew. I prepared this stew as a side dish for dosa as my hubby is not particularly interested in aapam. Stew tasted exactly the way aunty prepares and tasted great with dosa.

Posting a recipe for Srivalli’s MW event is not a big deal for me as I cook almost everything in the MW. Still  I have not sent entries to her events in the past few months! Stew is my first entry for this months MEC! :)
stew

Ingredients

  • Potato – 2 no
  • Carrot – 1 no
  • Onion – 1 small
  • Tomato – 1 small
  • Curry leaves – 1 twig
  • Ginger – 1/2 inch piece
  • Green chillies- 2 nos
  • Coconut grated – 1/2 cup
  • Cloves – 2 nos
  • Cinnamon – 2 sticks
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Oil – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt – to taste

Method

  1. Wash peel and cut the carrots into 1 inch sticks. Add turmeric powder and MW high for 3 minutes in a microwave safe container.
  2. Add 1 cup water to the coconut and grind in a mixer. Pass through a strainer and squeeze out the milk.Keep this thick coconut milk separately.
  3. Add 2 more cups of water to the coconut and grind again. Pass through a strainer and squeeze out the milk. This is slightly thinner than the milk extracted first.
  4. In an MW safe bowl, add oil, cloves and cinnamon sticks. MW high for 10 seconds.
  5. Add finely chopped onions, tomatoes, green chillies, ginger and curry leaves  and MW high for 1 minute.
  6. Add the parboiled potato, carrots, salt and the thin coconut milk and MW high for 2 minutes.
  7. Add the thick coconut milk and MW for 1/2 minute. Serve hot with Aapam or Dosa.

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I have heard of people changing their religion, but never their nationality! Some of our food bloggers have now become Japanese! What with names like Omoshiroi, Etsuko and Sakura!! :D I was terrified to see these names in my contact list! These are our new Ninja Warriors. Best way to protect yourself from these warriors is to just post recipes for the events organized by the Ninjas in your blog! Look at me, preparing Yogurt dishes for the event in Etsuko’s blog, though I had planned for some other post! I also have to say “yes boss” to my own Omoshiroi! :D

Does all this sound like Greek and Latin instead of Japanese!? Just relax and get ready for some nice Yogurt recipes! :)

More ( Yogurt) Kali

more kali n more molagai

More Kali and More Milagai

Ingredients

  • Sour Curd – 1/2 cup
  • Water – 1 cup
  • Rice flour – 1/2 cup
  • Curry leaves – 1 twig
  • More milagai* – 4 nos
  • Salt – to taste
  • Oil – 2 teaspoons
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Hing – 1 pinch

Method

  1. Beat the curd well and mix with water and transfer to a MW safe container.
  2. Add the rice flour, Hing and salt and mix well with out lumps.
  3. Heat oil in a kadai, add mustard seeds. When it crackles add the more milagai and fry on a low flame till dark.
  4. Add curry leaves to the roasted Milagai and add this to the curd mixture.
  5. MW high for 5 minutes, stirring in between after every minute.
  6. Serve hot with Milagai podi!

*More Milagai is prepared small variety bell pepper or green chillies. It is readily available in some grocery stores. It can also be easily prepared at home if you a small space to sun dry.

Preparing more milagai at home

Ingredients

  • Mini Bell peppers or green chillies – 100 grams
  • Curd – 1 cup
  • Salt – 1 teaspoon

Method

  1. Wash the chillies or bell peppers and wipe well. Slit length wise into two.
  2. Beat the curds, add salt and the chillies and allow to soak for 1 day.
  3. Spread this mixture into a plate and sun dry for 2 to 3 days till the chillies are completely dry.
  4. These dry more milagai can be used for seasoning in some dishes and tastes great when fried, as a side dish for curd rice.

Bhoondi pachadi

This dip or pachadi tastes good with Pulav and bisibelebath.
boondhi pachadi

Method

  1. Prepare Bhoondi following this recipe.
  2. Beat 1 cup curd well and add 1/4 teaspoon salt, a pinch of black salt and 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder.
  3. Mix well and keep aside. Mix the curd and bhoondi just before serving.
  4. You can add chopped coriander leaves if you like to add more flavour.

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Update: Shameless Self Promotion (Note Lakshmi here not Latha aka Lathamma)

  1. If you liked my No Knead Bread then vote for me at this link for Open Sesame. You need to sign up/ log in to vote.
  2. As if I am deadly at maintaining one blog, I have gone ahead and coaxed a dear friend into food blogging with me. Check out our blog at Baking Buddies.

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