The Weekend Kitchen

Some hits, some misses…..in my kitchen, over the weekends


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The experiments continue – Wholewheat, Ragi & Carrot

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“Ragi?” they ask in all disdain.

“Carrots are for rabbits, ” they continue.

Poor kids, they still haven’t realized how enterprising their amma can be. To stuff some veggies down their throat, I will do anything. The meat loves are stuffed with all the vegetables that are lucky to be in the referigerator that day. Beef cutlets camouflage broccoli and beets. The all time favorite kanji is boiled in vegetable stock. Yes, this is one evil amma.

Now, grains. That is a different ball game altogether. Chapatis and dosas are the only grainy stuff that they will even look at. The slightest change in colour and it is a strict no-no. But, amma cannot and will not be beaten.

“But amma, this is not chocolate,” the dark brown colour certainly fooled him. But who is bothered, when he picks one, then another and yet another. It is sold, and will come back quite often.

Here are the secret ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup Ragi flour

1 cup grated jaggery

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

1/2 tsp dry ginger powder

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup butter milk

1/2 cup oil ( I used olive oil)

2 tsp vanilla essence

1 Tbsp vinegar

1 cup grated carrot

1 very ripe banana (squashed)

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup choco chips or any nuts of your choice

  1. Sift together all the dry ingredients

  2. Mix all the liquids, add jaggery and blend with a whisk

  3. Add the dry ingredients, blend gently.

  4. Add grated carrots, squashed banana, raisins and nuts.

  5. Pre heat oven at 175 C

  6. Pour 1 Tbsp each of batter into cup cake liners

  7. Bake for 20-22 minutes

Tastes best next day.

 

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What’s in a name?

Brownies are eternal favorites at home. Father and the two offsprings clamour for it, all the time. And each can finish one whole batch by themselves in no time. I’m not exaggerating. As I measure out the butter , sugar and maida, there is a feeling of foreboding. Their favorite one has 150 g butter, 1 1/2 cup sugar, 5-6 bars of snickers and chocolate chips on top of that. Sometimes ganache as well. If the lot ate vegetables otherwise, I wouldn’t have been so worried. Like necessity, worry also causes new discoveries. Tried this yesterday. Yet to name it 🙂

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups chopped dark chocolate pieces

3/4 cups oil (sun flower or olive – olive oil gives extra softness and glow)

1 cup grated jaggery

4  eggs

1 T vanilla

1 cup whole wheat flour

a pinch of baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup grated carrot

1/2 cup crushed walnuts

Sift flour, bs and salt. Keep aside. 

Warm the chocolate chips and oil together on high in a microwave for 40 sec. Mix well using a manual whisk.

Add jaggery, mix well. Add the eggs one by one and mix well after each addition. Add vanilla.

Add the sifted flour in three equal portions and blend till just mixed. Add the grated carrot and 3/4 of the walnuts. Gently blend.

Transfer to a square pan lined with oiled aluminum foil. Sprinkle the remaining walnuts on top. Bake at 170 C for 27 – 30 minutes.

(Optional – Add 1 cup of choco chips along with the grated carrot. You could also pour some ganache on top once cooled.)


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Loafing Apples

“Is there anything to eat?” asks the almost 14 year old as I open the door at noon. He is back from exams.

“Lunch is on the table.”

“What is there to eat?” the question is repeated after less than an hour.

“You should have eaten all your lunch.”

“But amma, rice is so unexciting.”

“There are some apples in the fridge. Go have one.”

“Amma!” an exasperated cry and he is off.

“What is it that you want?” I ask, when the same question comes my way in the next half an hour.

“Brownies,” there is a naughty grin on his face, the kind when he asks for something that he is sure not to get easily.

“Brownies to curb your hunger? You must be kidding!” the indignant mother in me answers.

I know this can’t go on for long. So the puny brain gets racked and the idea of a healthy concoction forms. If it works, well and good. If not, can dunk some milkmaid and make a pudding. Smart, isn’t it?

So these went in:

1  cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup quick cooking oats (ground in a moxie for 1-2 minutes)

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp powdered cinnamon

1/2 tsp each powdered nutmeg and dry ginger powder (optional)

1/2 cup grated jaggery

1/2 cup olive oil (you could use sunflower oil instead)

1/2 cup curd

2 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 cups diced apples (skin on , small pieces)

1/4 cup sunflower & flaxseeds (optional. You could use any seeds of your choice)

a handful of crushed almonds for topping

Directions

Sift together the flours, baking soda, spices and salt. Beat the jaggery, oil and curd till well blended. Add eggs one after the other. Beat well after each addition. Add the vanilla essence.

Add the flour mix in three parts. Beat on low for 1 minute after each addition. Add the apple pieces and seeds. Blend in with a spatula till just mixed. Transfer to a well buttered  loaf pan. Sprinkle the almonds on top. The nutty flavour once it is well toasted is something else.

Bake at 180 C for 50- 55 minutes.

Test whether done by inserting a tooth pick at 50 minutes. If it comes out clean, remove the pan from the oven. Cool for 10 minutes and invert the loaf onto a cooling rack.

Note: The apples are normally peeled while making loafs or cakes. Thought I’ll try with skin on this time. Turned out perfect.

And son gobbled it up. Proof of the pudding 🙂

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Going the Grainy Way

There was a time when cakes, cookies and bread was plain old white flour. The notion of health food wasn’t heard of, and the evils of white flour would have been laughed off. Maybe it didn’t do our generation much harm while we were growing up, these were luxuries, not everyday or even a weekly item. Cakes came with Christmas, and cookies were a once in a blue moon phenomenon. As for bread, we had 2-3 slices for breakfast once in two weeks. All that changed with the mushrooming, blossoming and then spreading like wild fire culture of eating out. We had no clue what went into the dishes that we relished with a passion. With the Internet came information and the era of ubiquitous home baking.

Like most others, I started with white flour cakes. When baking became an almost daily affair, the quantity of processed flour, butter and white sugar loomed as a monster in front of my eyes. I had to slay the dragon. If I can point to one person who prodded me in this direction, it has to be Sangeeta of www.healthfooddesivideshi.com. The kind of storm that she cooks up with local, healthy produce has to be seen to be believed. The courage to experiment with multiple grains came from her.

Baking bread is therapeutic. The yeast ferments, just as all the stress and frustrations that had been bottled up for long slowly percolates to the top. The slow kneading eases out the tension in your shoulders and soul. And inhaling the aroma of freshly baked bread can be as peaceful as an hour of meditation. This bread that I tried last week, however doesn’t need any kneading. Just mix, mash and bake. At the risk of sounding like blowing my own trumpet, let me say the texture and the taste was amazing. As certified by the husband, who is not too much into cakes and breads. That in itself is something, I suppose 🙂 image   Ingredients

Whole wheat flour – 1 cup

Barley Flour – 1/2 cup

Maize Flour – 1/2 cup

Almond Flour – 1/4 cup

Cocoa Powder – 1/4 cup

Brown sugar – 1/2 cup (optional, I didn’t use it)

Baking powder – 1 tsp

Baking soda – 1 tsp

Cinnamon powder – 1 tsp

Nutmeg powder – 1 tsp

Eggs – 2

Oil – 1/2 cup (used sun flower oil)

Honey – 1//3 cup

Ripe bananas – 3 (ripened to the extent that next step would be rotten)

Vanilla essence – 1/2 tsp

Crushed walnuts – 1/2 cup

Directions

Sift all the dry ingredients together, thrice.  Mash the bananas with a fork. Add eggs, oil , honey and vanilla. Beat at low speed for 1-2 minutes. Add the flour mixture in three batches. Mix gently. Beat at low speed for just a minute so that all the ingredients are blended well. Add walnuts and mix with a spatula. Preheat the oven for 10 minutes at 160 C. Transfer the batter into a well oiled loaf pan. Sprinkle some quick cooking oats and walnuts on top. Bake for 45-55 minutes.

Test whether done at about 45 minutes by inserting a toothpick. If it comes out clean, take the pan out, cool for 10 minutes, and transfer to a cooling rack.  Tastes best the next day.


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There is something about walnuts

image There is something about walnuts, especially when it decides to give company to carrots. Fresh and crispy roots coupled with slightly bitter crunchiness. So much power, packed with goodness. Carrot walnut cakes has been a favorite with family and friends. People who would run for their lives when faced with a fresh carrot has been known to run back at double the speed when it turned to these dense cakes. The recipe that I follow has some sugar in it and I don’t have sugar. But I love cakes. And walnuts.

By the way, did you know walnut trees were first brought to California in the 1700s? From Central Asia. And how they have taken root! Today, that small area produces almost 3/4th of world’s walnuts. The shell and the kernel inside looks like a miniature human head and the wrinkly brain inside. No surprise then, that it is considered brain food. Considered the king of nuts, it is supposed to boost the health of your heart, fight cancer, decrease the risk of diabetes and even aid weight reduction. Eating a quarter cup of walnuts every day is supposed to even reduce fasting sugar levels. Talking about walnuts and California, wonder is that why you find all the brainy types there.

Anyway, getting back to cakes and me, browsing through food sites and pictures is an addiction. Some recipes are bookmarked. More favourite ones (read easy ones 😉 ) are written down. Yes, I do that. There is something prosaic about butter stained cook books. Virtual love is just that. Virtual. You need to feel a person, the bare skin, that special smell, the sheen of sweat on the hands, caress their face, hug, kiss and hold to know what real love is. Just like hand written cook books. image The most difficult part in baking this? 1/3 rd tsp baking soda. Can you believe it? 1/3rd of a tea spoon. How in the world are you supposed to measure that out? There was a half tea spoon. And the brain started working. What they say about walnuts is true, you see. A little less than 0.5 and little more than 0.33 and crossed my fingers. No oranges in stock. So no zest. No big deal. The recipe asked to check the loaf at 45 minutes. The tooth pick that went in came out dry by look and sticky by touch. Another 15 minutes. Toothpick didn’t change its diagnosis. But the top looked brown enough. And the roasted walnuts tasted just perfect.

Patience has never been one of my virtues. After an hour of cooling time, tasted a small slice. It was okay. Just about. And I told myself, “you win some, and then you lose some more.”

Early morning hunger made me attempt another slice. What they say about carrot cakes is true. They taste better the next day. Much better. Far better. Always.

Leftovers are good :)

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I’ve always been a lazy mother, letting my kids be, finding their own way and telling myself that I’m teaching them to be independent. Never in my dreams could I have thought I was a horrible one as well. Well, what else do you call a mother who has neglected her child for almost two years?

Let me tell you my child, you’ve never been far from my mind. In fact, you should see the stuff that I’ve been making for you all this time. Cakes and breads and what not! And did I tell you, people are willing to pay money to get this stuff? So, let me shower some attention on you, my dear blog.

Life has changed over the past two years. But this mother hasn’t much. I still find it difficult to stick to norms and exact measurements. There is an itch if something extra is not added even to a cake mixture. And that habit of making even the last grain count still persists. Left overs continue to excite me. Especially when it is meat. The possibilities are endless, you know. Add some mashed potato here, a few spoons of steak sauce there, you have a different dish each day. No surprise then, this dish followed the time tested path of The Weekend Kitchen. You never know what would go in and what would come out.

Meat loaf is a staple in the kitchen now. The sneaky one in me stuffs it with all the vegetables that can be found in the fridge. A revenge on the kids who are more precise than the most advanced microscope and pick out the tiniest pieces of vegetables from anything that is served to them. Even they cannot find the veggies that get baked inside the beef and camouflaged by the steak, barbecue or any other sauce that my hand touches in the kitchen cupboard.

As usual, the loaf was made. Then happened this longing for some home made stuffed buns. It was ages since I’d baked bread. That was saying I’ve been pretty stable for ages. It’s normally when I feel like punching someone repeatedly that my home smells of freshly baked bread. So some potatoes and a carrot was boiled, peeled, mashed and added to the now crumbled loaf. The buns were made, the meat was still not over. And off it went in the freezer.

My laziness reaches its peak when my woman Friday goes home. Making one curry itself is such a chore, so imagine preparing rice, two to three curries and then something to pour into the rice. My creativity suddenly blooms, a bulb lights itself in the brain. That frozen meat loaf!

So some biryani rice is soaked, drained and cooked. The baking dish is out and buttered. Two onions get chopped and almost burnt in a tsp of butter. And this is the only added fat in the whole process. The cooked rice is spread in the dish and the blackened onion over it.

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Kids keep asking, “Amma, can’t you make something that doesn’t have vegetables?” And the horrible mother that I am have to say, “No”, with a twinkle in my eyes. So grated carrots are added.

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Then some yellow and green pieces of capsicum and spring onions..

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It’s the turn of the crumbled mince meat now

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A few few drops of steak sauce and some grated mozzarella cheese, it’s ready for the oven.

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15 – 20 minutes at 200C and lunch is ready

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Now what what if something is left over from this? I’ll cross the bridge when it comes to me.

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Choco Rum Pie

I am a creature of comfort. Get a new dress, like it, you can see me in that almost every other week. It is the same with recipes. Someone tells me a dish is good, it is repeat performance. Tried tarts last week and the crust came out better than my modest expectations. So here it comes again, in another form 🙂

Pie Crust:

Flour – 1 1/3 cup
Butter – 6 tbsp (around 85 g)
Castor sugar – 1/4 cup
2 egg yolks

Freeze butter and cut into small cubes
Mix flour and sugar
Add butter cubes to the flour & sugar mix. Rub with fingers till all the butter cubes are crumbled and coated with flour. The flour will now be slightly moist and cool and will resemble bread crumbs. Make sure no part of the flour mix is dry
Stir in the egg yolks and make a smooth dough
Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes
Flour a flat surface
Knead the chilled flour gently so that it turns soft
Roll it out on the flat surface. Gently lift and place it in the pie pan.
Press it to the bottom and sides of the pan gently. Prick the bottom with a fork
Press a piece of greased foil tightly on to the shell.
Bake at 200C for 20-25 minutes till it turns slightly brown.
Remove the foil and bake for another 7-10 minutes. Take care not to brown too much

Filling 1

Sugar – 1/2 cup
Milk – 1 cup + 3 tbsp
Gelatin – 1 1/2 tbsp
2 eggs, separated
White chocolate pieces – 50 g
Rum – 1/3 cup ( avoid this and you get Choco pie instead of Choco Rum pie 🙂 )

Lightly beat the egg yolks
Sprinkle gelatin over 3 tbsp milk and keep aside
Boil 1 cup milk with sugar. Remove from fire and add to egg yolks, stirring all the time. Return back to the stove, keep stirring on low flame till the mixture thickens. Remove from fire
Add gelatin mix and the chocolate pieces immediately and stir till chocolate melts completely.
Add rum and mix well
Meanwhile, beat egg whites till stiff
Gently fold into the chocolate rum mix
Refrigerate till almost set. Stir in between so that no lumps are formed

Filling 2:

Whipped cream – 1 cup
Chocolate pieces (brown) – 50 g
Icing Sugar – 2 tbsp

Heat the cream. Remove from fire just before boiling
Add chocolate pieces. Mix well till all chocolate melts. Cool
Beat well till stiff adding sugar in two batches.

Spoon the first filling into the pie crust to form a layer. If the filling is watery, chill the filling in the crust till almost set. Now spoon in the second filling over it. Repeat layers and chill the pie for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.