Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tiramisu cake

My dad has a birthday last month, so I wanted to bake him a cake. He's mad about coffee and cricket, and since they haven't invented a cricket cake yet, it had to be this one.

The problems I had were silly, but problems nonetheless. I couldn't find mascarpone anywhere and simply did not have the time to bake it. I also had no one to eat the cake since I was leaving town the very day of his birthday, Amma was in the US, and neither he not my grandma should be eating that much cake. I decided to use a tiny tin, and I have one-third the recipe. Not a bad result at all! Remember to treble it and bake for 2 9inch cakes, or just mosey on over to Deb's and use the original recipe.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes

It's not that I'm not cooking, I just either forget the camera, or lose the recipe, or don't have the time to post. June and July was too much travelling and well work's been hard so here I am finally posting.

I finally did it! I've always been intrigued by this cake, the red velvet cake, and was heavily disappointed to discover its a mildly chocolate cake that's red. Until I ate one at the cupcake heaven on Vine Street in Berkeley. While I love me some luscious evil death by chocolate cake, there's a lot of joy in a plain ol cocoa cake. You can taste the butter. And the salt. And a lot of other things. Anyway, I managed to find some red food colouring, and it set in my shelf in the pantry for ever. Three months into living at the parental house mean I have barely cooked, let alone baked. Plus, every time I did cook, I was left with a giant slab of cake in the fridge that I ended up eating!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lime/Lemon layer cake with White Chocolate Ganache

My momma turned SIXTY this week, and as the only family representative I wanted to make her a cake she'd love. She's a bit persnickety when it comes to cake, so chocolate was out. Thank god - I'm quite sick of it myself. I found this recipe on teh internets, and it really did look like something she'd like, because of the fruit flavour and the tang of the lemon curd. But I needed to adapt it a bit, because I'm not comfy with buttercream yet, and the day temperature being between 35 and 45 C it really wasn't the best idea. I decided to experiment and made a half cake, scaling down to three eggs, as a farewell cake for my last day at work, and while I was in the supermarket getting ingredients I was hit by the idea for the white chocolate ganache. Now, I've never made one before, and at the time I just made it like ordinary chocolate ganache. Later I found out that it's much more complicated and I stuck to my original recipe. I saved her a piece of the trial cake and it was met with some face crinkling because of the sweetness of the ganache - but then the lemon curd kicked in and she got her happy face. Nailed it!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Best. Yellow. Cake. Ever.

All this frantic fancy baking - I was craving something nice and simple. Just, plain cake, you know? Vanilla, and moist, and crusty, and not too sweet; no complicated flavours, no brouhaha to prepare. Just cake. So I scooted over to smitten kitchen, and found these recipes.The second of which I then adapted. I shall babble no more and send you straight to the best cake ever.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Honey Wheatgerm cookies

Somewhere along the way, one of the Tuesdays with Dorie was these. And I really wanted to make them. Only the original recipe called for lemon, and I didn't have any. I did find wheatgerm at the fancy market so was very happy, and decided to make them just plain honey cookies instead of honey lemon ones. When I ate them though I realised, yummy thought they were, they would really have improved with the lemon!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Chocolate Tart

Ello! No I have not been neglecting you, I just didn't have the camera one week I cooked a lot and then I didn't cook much! However, here is the next in the birthday series, Chocolate Tart, from Deb of course. I must admit I was a tad skeptical, since I made a ton of the tart dough the previous week for a lemon tart and it was just too sweet, and a titch crunchy for my taste - I like em flaky and powdery. However, possibly because of the dark chocolate in the tart and the cup of sugar in the lemon tart, it worked fine.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Chocolate Whiskey cake with Baileys frosting

I promised all my friends I'd bake them cakes in March and April, mainly so I could bake all the delish recipes I've been dying to try, and then not have to eat them. A fellow whiskey-loving friend who periodically ensures there is Cutty Sark in my life recently had a birthday, and having seen these over on smittenkitchen, I decided I'd try them.

The first problem was that they're cupcakes and I needed to make them into a cake. Luckily, trawling the comments revealed a fairly straightforward formula for it. The second and larger problem was the lack of Guinness in our lives and not enough knowledge of beer to know what I could use to substitute it. I decided to ditch the beer entirely - a bad mistake I found out later when the cake itself tasted really bad. Then I needed to get my hands on Baileys, but that was solved by a quick search online, after which I made my own Irish Cream. DAYAM it was good.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bechamel/cheese sauce

This one is always in demand when I say pasta. All my friends, especially the little boys, get this glint in their eyes and OOF has burnt his fingers many times trying to taste it too early.

This is a combination of a bechamel, and some sort of cheese sauce we used to eat with macaroni as kiddies. It usually serves 4, and is lovely in lasagna or with mushrooms. It also is the base for the veggie pasta sauce I make, with spinach ground into the sauce to turn it green.

MinCat's favourite pasta sauce

Somewhere in my time in the US, I realised that tomato sauce is REALLY easy to make - it just takes time. I usually make a huge batch that lasts for about four meals of two people each. It freezes very well, and lasts in the fridge up to a week (I've never been able to resist it longer.)

The basis is tomatoes and onions, with a ton of garlic. After that, toss in whatever you want. Obviously, the more veggies you put in, the more texture it will have; but that's not a bad thing, especially for vegetarian pasta. For pizza I recommend slicing things thinly or sticking to leaves and minced peppers, because that way it doesn't mound up on the pizza, ans leaves you free to add other toppings.

Pizza from scratch!

It took two tries to get this right, and I'd say it still needs work, but I'm SO EXCITED! =) I've been wanting to try pizza dough forever, especially since people tell me it's easy. (Apparently not for me.) So I scooted over to, yup, you guessed it, smitten kitchen, and dug this one out. The first time I tried it I made my usual overestimating-the-power-of-ingredient-mapping error, and tried to have a slow rise in the fridge. Guess what happened? I came home and it was a rock hard, ice-cold ball. Took me over two hours to get it pliable, and of course it didn't rise at all.

The second time I left the dough to rise outside, after activating the yeast. It worked much better, only it took a good 2 and a half hours. The dough was not very pliable; in fact I think it might need more water here in Hyderabad. I don't know how it is supposed to turn out relative to bread dough, but it was a lot harder and tougher.

My second big problem was that I neither have a pizza stone nor a big oven. Never fear, I improvised a pizza stone by using the back a steel plate (good South Indian kitchen) that I heated in the oven, and then oiled with caution to prevent sticking. I needed to roll the dough out really thin though, but the end result was fabulous!

Tortilla de Patatas or Spanish Omelette

I've ALWAYS loved this. Yum. And seriously, don't listen to anyone if they tell you not to put other stuff in, I used to fill em full of mushrooms and paprika and whatnot. I wouldn't advise offering that to a Spaniard though. Especially one far from home. I finally took photos of the process this time, so can remove the unwieldy description of how to cut potatoes!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Oatmeal Bread

After the challah I decided I was feeling brave enough to try for real bread, and surfing the interwebs I found this. Valour might as well be out and out, and since I miss Fairway so much, I decided to try. The result is this luscious, dense almost cake-like bread, that is DIVINE toasted. I never managed to wait the required 40 min, and put butter on it out of the oven so it melts, and then there's strawberry jam too... *drool*

However, it's a little sweet for other uses, so next time I might omit the sugar and add more salt. I also use wholewheat flour and desi yeast so my results might not be what she intended. It is scrumptious though. The first time I made it, I didn't activate the yeast, and so the dough didn't rise, and I had to leave it overnight. The second time, I activated it too early, so the yeast rose on it's own, and then the dough didn't rise too much.

The next time I think I will activate it a bit and let it rise overnight in the fridge or something like that, to see if it puffs up much.

Double Chocolate Cake

So I quit my job recently and decided to have a party to celebrate. Heck, who'm I kidding, I just wanted an excuse to bake. Hee. I've been dying to try more from smitten kitchen, and it's been a long time since there was chocolate in my life. Therefore, double chocolate cake. As usual, it lived up to everything I am now coming to demand from anything of Deb's, and was inhaled by my friends. Not a crumb left.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bananananana bread. Again

Now I know I've posted a Banana Bread recipe already, but hey, when Deb's got a recipe up, I have to try it. And boy was it worth it.

I had these bananas left over from the GM, that were black on the outside. I mean, I know I'm OCD about bananas, but even my mother wouldn't have eaten these. I also didn't have bourbon in the house, but the smell of the cinnamon and the bananas made me think of Old Monk, and would you know it, there is one way to make Old Monk taste good. I don't have a loaf pan, as previously discussed, so I baked it in my borosil lasagna pan. Worked. Turned out skinny as hell, but hey, so what.

Heads up, don't look closely at the pictures of the batter. Seriously. I had to toss most of them they made me nauseous.

Alu Gobi

Yay! Potatoes are back! This recipe can be used to make dry alu mutter, and gobi mutter as well. Staple food. Serve with rice/chappatis and dal.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Spinach, Mushroom and Corn Bake

There's a pub I love to go to, that has the most AWESOME bake. It's cheap too, and soooo yummy. But the pub is very far. So laziness, and of course, the buying of my staples spinach and mushrooms, resulted in this for dinner.

Pastel de Tres Leches (Three-milk cake)

Yeah, nothing to write home on the face of it, innit? Until, one day, at a Mexican restaurant in Montclair NJ, my uncle made me try some. Holy. Mother. Of. All. That. Is. Sacred. And. Tastes. Good.

Take a sponge cake, and soak it with condensed milk and cream - bleurgh you say. I don't like condensed milk you say. That really doesn't sound very appetising you say. And then you eat two pieces. (True story, of my colleague who is addicted to all that is chocolate.)

When I came back to India and realised I would never be able to stroll out to a restaurant and eat it again, I was desperate, desperate to find a recipe that worked. Much research revealed that it is a Central-American dessert, and called so because the soaking syrup calls for three kinds of milk: condensed, evaporated and cream. The first time I tried it was for my gramma's birthday last year. I assumed evaporated milk was milk powder, and proceeded to toss some in. Bad idea. If you can't get evaporated milk, skip it! I also found that the damn cake wouldn't drink the syrup as promised, which just meant much more work. And then I left it to soak in the fridge, which meant it set instead of soaking and wasn't all gooey right through.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Is so important to me. Living the US made me just so happy, because they take breakfast almost as seriously as we do down south. There are pancakes, and waffles, and eggs, and toast, and lordy lordy, home fries! Never been so happy in my life. Whenever I have the time, I like to make sure I have a nice cooked breakfast, otherwise i make do with cereal or porridge or something. This morning, I managed to have a cheese omelet, home fries and a slice of my oat bread.

Now there are tons of recipes for home fries, and everyone has their favourites. I remember one place in Berkeley that puts SOUR CREAM and green onions on their home fries. The horror. Me, I like em Burger Heaven style, with green peppers, caramelised onions and a titch of paprika. Or like EJ's, in big chunks, with the skins on and loads of paprika. Today's was a super simple recipe, that took about 20 minutes to make.

Eggs are also deeply subjective, I hate mine runny, and have never willingly eaten a sunny side up fried egg. I usually like them scrambled, but nice and creamy, with only cheese and salt - egg bhurji is for other meals. Omelets are I like with minimum additives, especially not tomatoes or green chillies!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Kerala Stew

But you're vegetarian you protest. Tis true,but this won't be the first time stew's been adapted. My dear friend Mungi will also shriek in horror to hear of green chillies, cinnamon AND a bay leaf all being used at the same time. However, much like sambar, I think everyone has their own recipe. Et voila.

Traditionally, this stew is made with mutton. I make it with root vegetables and tubers. This time it only had potatoes, but I also use yams, sweet potatoes, and carrots. Sometimes green beans!


This one is out of Nigella. I wasn't very convinced when I found out what pavlova is, but, despite the disastrous ending, it was quite yum. FAR too sweet. I'll use about 2/3rd the sugar when I make it again. Halfway through the meringue, my electric beater died. We were far too tired by then to beat it by hand. So we just baked it half beaten, and topped with very tart kiwis, and skipped the cream entirely.

Challah bread

When I went to diners on the Upper West Side, especially, EJ's on 81st and Amsterdam, They used to make Challah French toast. I always wondered what it was. One day our water was a cute jewish boy who bantered a lot, and he talked me into trying challah. I loved it. He also taught me to pronounce it heh. I had no idea why it was special etc, but I had to learn to make it. So when Israeli friend offered to teach me to bake I said yespleasechallah! With a little help from Peter Reinhardt.

No-bake Strawberry Cheesecake

I've adored cheesecake ever since the first time I ate a real one, not the eggy, gelatinous ones we get here in India as a rule. When I was in college, we discovered this bakery in Khan Market (I can't even remember the name, but it doesn't exist anymore so it doesn't matter I guess) that had divine blueberry cheesecake for the decadent sum of seventy rupees. (My daily budget was about 50), and as a special treat we'd go eat some occasionally. I've met many more of note, like the strawberry one at the deli at the southeast corner of central park, and lets never forget Rocco's in the West Village. Most recently it was the blueberry at Big Chill, in Khan Market again. So when my kind friend offered to teach me how to make one, I nearly peed in excitement.

So heeere it is at last my loverlies. Adapted from here.

This was part of the mad six-hour baking marathon some days ago. Also from then is the challah, the knish, the stew and the pavlova. It's best left to set overnight so make it the day before.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Orange Yoghurt Cake

Now, it's been a while since the sistah introducted me to smitten kitchen, and I have been DYING for a chance to try out some of her stuff, especially the non chocolate desserts. It being the gramma's eighty-sixth, I decided to make her lemon cake. But there aren't enough lemons around, and deffy not nice ones. It is also orange season, and we have these that I think are clementines, but we call them khinu. So I decided to tweak it a bit. And add cream cheese frosting. Which didn't really work out too well cos I wanted it more like a glaze and it wasn't, and I suck at icing cakes so it took a gorgeous looking cake and made it look lame. But. The flavours went wonderfully. Still, I want to make this one plain some day. My soaking syrup wasn't very syrupy, but the ohh the moistness! I was also making it in a tearing hurry so I didn't have time to document the process. Next time!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Potato Knish!

On my first non jetlagged day living in New York, my cousin's girlfriend, just done with law school, was kind enough to babysit me all over town. She took me a bakery somewhere on Columbus (never went back cos I'm too lazy to walk TWO avenue blocks) in the 80s, and fed me this amazing Jewish thing, Knish. I swear it was like the samosa made for me, because it has no spices, only delicate flavours and such lovely pastry!

This weekend, three (four?) years later, my dear Israeli friend came over for a big cookout and taught me to make it. Along with challah bread, no bake cheesecake, and a pavlova. But more on those later.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Potato Mushroom Thingummy

I know, I know, I need a better name.

This morning I found a packet of mushrooms that had to be cooked. I also needed something for lunch. The only other vegetable (yes yes) in the house was potatoes. Much googling came up with lovely, drool-inducing things like potato mushroom gratin and so on, but they really were pushing the trying to eat healthy boundaries. Plus I simply didn't have the time before I left for work. So I invented this.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Spinach and Mushroom Soup

So the supermarket had the most GORGEOUS mushrooms and spinach yesterday. Of course, I bought too much. The joys of having a maid meant that when i got home from work I had me a big pile of chopped veggies! I figure it's time I made something here that's mildly healthy!