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.


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Necessity, the mother of Carrot Apple Cake :)

A post, first time in four months. Better than waiting for one whole year, eh? Says a lot about the lazy cook 🙂

The laziness stops at writing, let me assure you. Cooking and eating has been continuing, unabated. Baking too.

I’ve never been a fan of dressed up cakes. Yes I do admire them, from afar. Maybe it is the envy factor. Neither talent, nor patience my vices, you see. And off late the guilt bug has started biting as well. Too much butter, ugh! Maida, oh no! Sugar, the killer! So goes the soliloquies inside my head. And then, the eternal search for the easy way out. There are a few such easy recipes that I know by heart now, this carrot cake is one such. People who’ve never had carrot cakes before have approached this in apprehension and instantly fallen in love. Perfect texture, moist to the core, the cakes melts in your mouth as you enjoy the crunch of the occasional walnut piece.

Baking has become therapeutic and the carrot cake is almost a ritual. Having started the habit of gifting home made goodies, when Uma suggested we meet up, this was the first dish that I wanted to make. Opened the fridge to find three carrots inside and the recipe asked for three cups of grated carrots. The optimistic in me never gives up, but there is a limit to which the puny carrots could extend themselves. They stopped at two cups. The next raided three apples and inspiration hit. Why not add one cup apples instead of carrots? And whole wheat instead of white? And less sugar? The hands acted in accordance with the mind and thus was born the ‘Carrot Apple Cake’. Best relished the next day

carrot

 

Ingredients

flour – 1 cup

whole wheat flour -3/4cup

baking soda – 2 tsp

baking powder – 2 tsp

cinnamon – 3 tsp

nutmeg – 1/2 tsp

brown sugar – 1 cup

eggs – 4

oil – 1 and 1/4 cups ( used sunflower oil for the cake in picture)

Vanilla – 2 tsp

grated carrot – 2 cups

grated apple – 1 cup

nuts – 1/2 cup 

raisins – 1/2 cup

Method

mix all the dry ingredients except sugar

beat together oil and sugar

add eggs one by one, beat for half a minute after each addition

add vanilla

gently fold in the dry ingredients in 2-3 batches

beat at low speed for about a minute

gently fold in the grated carrots and apples

add nuts nd raisins

bake at 175 C for 45 – 50 minutes