Thursday, December 8, 2011

I'm still cooking, I swear!

either I gotta stop wanting to photograph everything, or I gotta be happy with homey chilled out recipes. Anyway, I have an oven again, and it's cookie season! Recipe recommendations anyone?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Carrot Cake and life lessons

The first time I heard of carrot cake I was, obviously, revolted. Carrots! Orange vegetables with their very distinct and strong flavour in a cake! Impossible. Gajar ka halwa was made barely palatable only by the addition of obscene amounts of ghee. And raisins. How could you put carrots in cake and expect it to taste nice?

Of course, one day, I finally ate some. It was cake, after all, and one thing I cannot resist is cake. What I found was a ridiculously moist, cinnamony cake that made me purr in joy at every bite. I fell in love. Dark and damp, with fluffy white icing, only faintly sweet, with undertones of caramel, and that suggestion of spice. And raisins, of course. I looked for my dream carrot cake recipe for a long time. I found a few good ones along the way, including an eggless one.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Butterscotch cake with Caramel topping

Staying at the sister's I was asked to bake. Unfortunately, the large and varied group of people meant that my choices were restricted. So I thought about it and decided it was time to try a caramel cake. I know Deb has one, and Dragon makes it a lot. But somehow it's just not caramel enough for me. So I trawled my other two go to sites, and got the cake from Annie, and the topping from Joe. (Joe you're my hero.) (Annie, you're pretty awesome too.)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Piña colada cake

I thought of this before Deb posted, I swear. And you'll see it's not like her recipe. I've been very taken with the idea of making up my own recipes lately, especially ones that incorporate fruit and booze. So I thought, how can I turn a piña colada into cake? I thought about fresh coconut, or frosting with coconut, but I don't like coconut, except as milk. So I decided to put pureed pineapple in the batter and replace the milk/buttermilk with coconut milk. The frosting I finally went with was white chocolate based, because it sets better than a plain buttercream. I think I need to work on it a bit to get the coconut flavour to come out better, but for now, voila!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lemon pound cake with lemon glaze

A cousin whose birthday I missed was the perfect excuse for this. She inhaled the tres leches I had left over, and would emerge from her book blinking sleepily to say 'cake? I heard cake!' every time anyone said anything that rhymed with cake, and so, even though she wanted chocolate, I begged her to choose something else for me to make. She graciously allowed me to choose, with this as the result.

This cake is fabulous. Light, moist, tart, sweet, and mildly crunchy if the humidity doesn't make the frosting gooey, it goes so well with anything at all, and stays for ever in the fridge. Though I don't know, the second time I made it I took three fourths of the bundt off to friends, and it didn't last long enough for us to measure it's longevity!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Link party!

Lisa from Sweet as Sugar Cookies invited me to link up my sugar cookies! I feel so important...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sugar cookies!

Adapted from Annie's Eats

For the party we had to celebrate my job at a place I've always wanted to work at, Dragon and I had a party, themed and everything. So I made sugar cookies, in white, orange and black. (Okay, only the orange ones were orange!) The recipe I used needed icing, so while the chocolate ones turned out delectably chocolate, the plain ones were a bit sad, but the ones covered in orange icing were perfect. So I adjusted the plain recipe.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lentil soup

Or, I'm sick of dal, and I can't be bothered to make veggies.

For pre-cooking and background, see this.

  • 1/2 cup uncooked brown lentils (masoor dal), pre-cooked
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp garlic paste

You can also add any herbs you like, paprika and tomato would be nice, also rosemary or thyme if you like them.

Cook the garlic paste in the oil, add the cooked lentils and the spices, and salt to taste. bring to a boil.

To make this recipe more filling, you can poach an egg into the soup. Simply crack the egg into the boiling lentils, cover the pot and cook as long as you want.

Any dal (this one is awesome with arhar)

For pre-cooking and background, see this.
  • 1/2 cup uncooked dal, pre-cooked.
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds (big black ones)
  • 1/2 tsp jeera powder
  • 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small tomato finely chopped
  • 5-6 curry leaves (fresh if pos, dried also work)
Heat the oil and put the mustard seeds in. When they start to pop, add the rest of the spices, curry leaves (they will leap about if fresh) and the ginger garlic and fry for a bit. Add the onions till pearly, then tomato till juice runs, and then dal and salt. Bring to a boil.

Masoor dal

For pre-cooking and other background, see this.

This works with any dal actually.

  • 1/2 cup uncooked dal, pre-cooked 
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp dhania powder
  • 1/2 tsp jeera powder
  • 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small tomato finely chopped
  • fresh coriander (optional)
Fry the spices in the oil for a couple of minutes. Add the ginger garlic and cook for a minute. Add the onion and saute till pearly. Add the tomato and cook till juices flow. Add the dal, salt to taste and bring to a boil. Garnish with fresh coriander.

Simplest moong dal

For pre-cooking and background, see this.

  • 1/2 cup uncooked moong dal, pre-cooked
  • 1 tsp oil 
  • 1 tsp jeera powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder (optional)
Fry the jeera, and the turmeric if you're using it, in the oil nicely, so it smells all cooked. Like 2 min or so. Add the dal, and salt to taste, bring to a boil. And ta-DAAAAA(L)!

Chilka dal (masoor and moong)

For precooking and background, see this.

  • 1 cup uncooked dal, pre-cooked
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp dhania powder
  • 1 tsp jeera powder
  • 1 tsp kasoori methi (optional but totally worth it)
  • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
Heat oil in pan. Add ginger garlic and spices and cook for about a minute. Pour dal in, add salt and bring to a boil. Ta-DAAAA(L)!


Pre-cooking Lentils
I have established a habit of pressure cooking dals on a regular basis. Now, I grew up in a house where we used a cooker whose entire top came off, and you put tiered vessels inside it with carious things in the vessels. This way we would cook rice, dal to go in the sambar, and the potatoes to make into curry all in one go. Many people in India I have learnt do not follow this system. They use what I refer to as the Hawkins system (ours is the Prestige one), where the lid fits into a hole in the top of the cooker and you can only cook one thing at a time. The other major difference is that the whistle of the Prestige cooker comes off while that of the Hawkins doesn't. More on that another time. Having grown up like that it really feels like a waste to run th cooker and not cook more than one thing in it at a time, so I usually make two batches of lentils at a time, or chana and rajma together, etc. Which means I end up with a lot of cooked-and-awaiting-seasoning dal in the fridge and boy do I get sick of it sometimes, though I am glad that often I need only five minutes to make it.

Ok, I'm rambling. The point is, here you go easy dal recipes! The oil is based on a minimum of half a cup of raw dal, which should do 2 people at one meal. I don't eat chillies, but you can always add chilli powder/green chillies to taste. You can dilute the recipes to any thinness you want - generally yellow dals tend to be thinner than the other ones.

Chilka dal (dal with the skins on)
Take your dal, green moong or brown masoor.
Dal: water = 1:3
2 bay leaves
A medium onion in chunks
15 minutes on the Prestige; 3 whistles on the Hawkins

Yellow dal (moong or masoor)
These guys cook much faster, even in an hour or less on the stovetop without a cooker. Do not confuse them with yellow tuar or arhar dal, which needs 15-20 min in the cooker. Masoor is in fact orange but once cooked turns yellow.
Dal:water = 1:3
10 minutes in Prestige, 2 whistles in Hawkins

Yellow dal (tuar/arhar)
Dal:water = 1:3
15 minutes on the Prestige; 3 whistles on the Hawkins

Down to Earth

Looking at the cooking, and talking to people about it recently, I discovered that I had forgotten why I started this blog in the first place. It has become about perfect baking mostly, while it began as a repository for easy and satisfying recipes. To make up for that, I've got my most basic cake recipe here. It's a ratio that is based on eggs, and you can scale it up as much as you like. I promise you, it's yum. x is the number of eggs, so if its one egg then x=1, and you need 25 g butter, 50 g sugar etc.

x eggs
25x g butter
50x g sugar
50x g flour
x tsp baking powder
50x ml milk
0.5x tsp vanilla essence

Beat eggs, with whisk or beater. Add sugar. Beat till mixed, or arm hurts. Melt butter. Pour into egg-sugar mixture and beat till well combined. Add flour and milk alternately till its all mixed in and you can see little air bubbles forming. Beat in the baking powder. Alternatively, you can mix it into the flour. Bake in a greased and floured pan at 150C/300F for 40 min or so. Test with knife to see if it's done.

To make this into chocolate cake, substitute the 1/4th of the flour with cocoa powder.

Well before I began baking to recipes and the like, this was my standard, foolproof, failproof cake recipe. Enjoy!

Strange culinary discoveries

Telephonic discussion with my cousin, trapped ovenless in Bangalore, resulted in some googlin and some discussion of strange culinary shortcuts. For example, you can use a pressure cooker (prestige not hawkins) as an oven! Simply heat it waterless till its hot, put the batter in a flat bottom steel vessel and put it directly on the bottom of the cooker, close and cook on low flame without the weight.

The cousin told me that discovering she had no baking powder she consulted the Powers that Internet and successfully made pancakes with yogurt and coke as a substitute.

Any such stories from ye peoples?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Apple tart

This is an adaptation of the first recipe I ever invented all on my ownsome. One day I'll give you that recipe, for now I'm saving it in case there ever is a REAL Itteh Bitteh Kitteh Cafeh someday. However, today I modified it slightly, and here we have Apple Tart.