Sunday, 30 April 2006

Weekend Baking Session # 10

Carrots are nutritional vaults. They store bulks of nutrients. No other vegetable or fruit contains as much carotene as carrots. Beta carotene, a dimer of Vitamin A, is abundant in the carrot and gives this vegetable its characteristic orange colour. It contains about 87% water, rich in mineral salts and vitamins (B,C,D,E) as well as calcium pectate, an extraordinary pectin fibre that has been found to have cholesterol-lowering properties.

The carrot has a woody texture and is a truly versatile vegetable. It can be eaten raw as in salads or blended into juice. They are cooked in soups, stews, curries, stir-fries, and a lot more. Carrots are also used in baking. Carrot cakes, muffins, cookies and pudding are a few of them.

Carrot is the main ingredient in this 10th edition of Weekend Baking Session. I have decided to bake carrot cupcakes for a change. Added some walnuts as they are carrots´ perfect partner. Also adding some sultanas for extra taste. Cream cheese makes an excellent frosting for carrot cakes.

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

What do we need:

1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs

1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sultanas

1/2 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

How do we do it:

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg powder. Set aside.

Grease the muffin tray with butter or simply line the muffin holes with paper cups.

Beat oil and sugar until sugar dissolve. Add the eggs. Beat again. Gradually stir in the sifted flour mixture. Do not over stir. Then, add the grated carrots, walnuts and sultanas.

Fill the muffin holes with the cake batter to two-thirds full. Bake in a preheated oven at 180º C for 25 – 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, combine all the frosting ingredients together. Beat until smooth.

Spread the cream cheese topping onto the carrot cupcakes. Decorate as per desired.

Sunday, 23 April 2006

Weekend Baking Session # 9

Here comes weekend again. After 5 sessions of continuos cake baking, for this edition of Weekend Baking Session, I have thought of baking a pie.

I had a few lemons. Looking at them, a luscious lemon meringue pie came to my mind. I had wanted to try it out for nearly a year. Lemon meringue pie is a dessert made with a pastry base, lemon curd filling and a fluffy meringue topping.

Lemon Meringue Pie

What do we need:

Pie Crust:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cold butter
1/4 cup ice cold water
1/2 tsp salt

Lemon Curd Filling:

3 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
2 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt

Meringue Topping:
3 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

How do we do it:

In a food processor, place the flour, salt and cold butter. At a slow speed mix the ingredients until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Gradually, add the ice cold water 1 tablespoon at a time just until the dough binds together. Make sure not to over work the dough. Wrap with cling film and refrigerate for 2 hours.

On a floured board, roll out the dough into a disk, 2 or 3 inches larger than the pan. Transfer the pastry onto the pan. Fit the pastry very well on the bottom and side of the pan. Cut excess pastry 1 cm to the outside. Pinch the pastry edges to beautify it. Line with a sheet of aluminium foil and place dried beans or rice as weights. The purpose is to prevent the pastry from bulging out when baking. This method of baking is called blind baking. Bake in a preheated oven at 230°C for 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven. Then, lift the aluminium foil together with the weight. Now return the pastry shell to the oven and bake for another 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, both the flours, salt and water. Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture boils. Stir vigorously, for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Slightly beat the egg yolks. Mix half the boiled mixture with the egg yolks. Then put the egg yolk mixture back into the pan with the boiled ingredients. This method is called tempering of the egg yolks. Cook for 1 more minute, stirring constantly and, again, vigorously. Remove from heat and add the butter. Stir unitl the butter melts. Add the lemon zest and juice and butter. Stir well to mix thoroughly. Set aside.

In a clean, grease free bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Beat in vanilla.

To assemble, pour the lemon curd into the pastry shell and spread it out evenly.

Spoon the meringue over the top of the lemon curd filling. Seal the meringue to the pastry edge. Make sure there are no gaps. Spread out evenly and swirl it into peaks.

Bake in a preheated oven at 150° C for 30 or until meringue turns lightly brown. Remove and let cool on a rack before chilling it.

When serving, cut the pie with a wet knife as meringue pies cut better with a wet knife blade.

Saturday, 22 April 2006

Nibbles For My Toddler # 4

Black grams are also known as urad dal or ulundu in tamil. It is the most nutritious pulse. Pulses are the only sources of protein for the diet, other than meat. For vegetarians pulses are a vital part of the diet. For non vegetarians, pulses offer an alternative source of protein without the fat but with a lot of fiber. Also beans and lentils are rich in complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

The other day hubby bought a big pack of urad dal. I used some to make vadei. Still have a lot more in the pantry. As it is Mahisha´s 19th month anniversary today, I thought of using the dal as the main ingredient to create something interesting for her.

Black Gram Fritters

What do we need:

1/2 cup black gram or urad dal, split and skinned
1/2 cup water, or as required
4 tbsp plain flour
4 tbsp palm sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
oil for deep frying

How do we do it:

Soak the dal overnight. After washing, grind with water to become a soft and smooth paste. Add the rest of the ingredients to the ground dal. Stir well to become a thick batter.

Heat oil in a frying pan. Drop by tablespoonful into the oil. Fry on low medium heat until brown. Serve warm.

The fritters taste very much like paniyaram. They are crispy outside and soft inside.

Tuesday, 18 April 2006

The Food That I'd Die For # 4

Talk about Malaysian food, one of the topper would be mamak food. The Indian Muslims in Malaysia are fondly addressed as Mamak. Mamak food are very famous in Malaysia. Everybody loves them. So do I. To name a few most popular mamak food would be rojak, nasi kandar, roti canai, murtabak, fish head curry and mee goreng mamak. Mee goreng mamak literally means mamak style fried noodles. It is indeed very rich in taste.

To fulfill my crave for the mee goreng mamak, I tried whipping it up by myself. As the normally used wet yellow noodles are unavailable here, I tried to innovate mee goreng mamak to pasta goreng mamak. Just substituted the noodles with pasta.

Pasta Goreng Mamak (Mamak Style Fried Pasta)

What do we need:

3 cups penne or any other pasta
1 1/2 cup bean sprouts or shredded cabbage
1 tomato, chopped coarsely
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
3 dried chillies (depends to the hotness desired)
1/2 cup peanuts
1/4 cup dried shrimps
2 tbsp chilli sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp tomato ketchup

How do we do it:

Cook the peanuts with water until soft. Drain and leave to cool. Then, remove the skin and set aside.

Boil a pot full of water with a generous amount of salt. Cook pasta in the boiling water to al dente or until the time specified on the pasta package. When cooked, drain and set aside.

Soak the dried chillies until soft. Grind them with washed dried shrimps, the cooked peanuts, onion and garlic. Heat oil in a wok and fry the ground ingredients. When the oil rises to the top, add the bean sprouts or shredded cabbage.

When the the vegetable has cooked, add the cooked pasta, chopped tomato and the seasonings. Stir thoroughly to mix well. Serve hot with lime wedges.

Sunday, 16 April 2006

Weekend Baking Session # 8

It is a long weekend here. Starting from Good Friday to Easter Monday. I am having such a wonderful time resting and being with my daughter.

As it is Easter, I have thought of baking something in line with the theme. Weekend Baking Session this time is going rich and fudgy.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

What do we need:

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
50g cooking chocolate
1/4 cup yoghurt
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

200g cooking chocolate
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp butter

How do we do it:

Boil some water in a pot. Add a teaspoon of salt. Place a glass bowl on top of the pot. Ensure that the water level is lower than the bottom of the bowl. In other words, make sure that the water in the pot does not touch the bowl. Break the chocolate and put them into the bowl. When the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from heat and let cool. This method is called double boiling. The reason of melting chocolate by this method is because chocolate tend to get burnt when exposed to direct heat. So, secondary heat has to be used.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt together. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Stir in the cooled melted chocolate and yoghurt. Add the sifted flour mixture alternately with the water, starting and ending with the flour.

Pour the cake mixture into a greased or lined 7" round cake pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 180° C for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove the cake and let it cake cool completely on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, on a low heat, stir the whipping cream and butter until well blended. Add broken chocolate pieces. Continue to heat until the chocolate melts. Stir constantly. Remove from heat and let the fudge cool completely.

Slice the cake horizontally into half. Fill with some fudge. Cover the cake with the rest of the fudge. Decorate as per desired.

Happy Easter To All

Friday, 14 April 2006

Happy New Year

A very happy and prosperous new year to all the Tamils and Malayalees around the world. Varusha Pirappu has never been greater than being celebrated at home.

During new year's eve, amma would prepare a tray filled with fruits, sweets, jewelleries, money and a mirror at the altar. At dawn, she would wake us up one by one and guide us to the altar while reminding us not to open our eyes. As soon as we reach the altar, we were to open our eyes, look at the filled tray and to look at ourselves in the mirror. The reason is to start the new year properously. So that the whole year would be filled with prosperity. It seems that whatever we see and do on the new year determines how the year would be.

Later, after having our bath and prayers, we would help amma with her massive cook out, of course vegetarian. We would invite our neighbours for lunch. Everyone has to sit on the floor. Rice, sambar, rasam, yoghurt, ghee, an array of vegetable dishes and pappadam served on fresh banana leave. Then, on the same curry stained leave, ulundu vadei and payasam would be served as dessert. Ahhh........ nostalgia.

This year, luckily varusha pirapu falls on the same day as Good Friday. Which means hubby and I do not work. I planned a week ago to celebrate it with morning prayers, a vegetarian lunch with vadei and payasam (my favourite indian dessert combo).

On this auspicious day, I would like to share amma's ulundu vadei recipe with everybody. She is indeed a vadei pro. I hope to make vadei half as good as her.

Ulundu Vadei (Black Gram Vadei)

What do we need:
1 cup black gram
1 onion
1 green chilli
1/2 inch ginger
1 tsp salt

How do we do it

Finely chop the onion, chilli and ginger piece. Set aside.

Soak the dal for about 2 hours. Grind it with minimum water. Gradually add little water at a time, if neceassary, until it becomes a very soft, smooth and fluffy paste. Ensure that the paste is not watery. Mix the dal paste, the chopped ingredients and salt.

Heat oil on medium. Place a piece of cling film at the back of a flat surfaced bowl. Take a small portion of the mixture and place it on the cling film. With wet fingers, flatten the mixture and shape round. Then, make a hole in the centre. Slowly slide the vadei into the heated oil. Fry it until brown, turning around once.

Remove and serve hot.

Ulundu Vadei with Payasam

இனிய தமிழ் புத்தாண்டு நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள்

Tuesday, 11 April 2006

Nibbles For My Toddler # 3

Oatmeal is one of the most popular cereal grain. It was once the staple food of Scotland. High in carbohydrates, oats also provide protein, fat, calcium, iron, and B vitamins. It lowers bad cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease.

Iniatially, oatmeal was just popular as porridge. Then, later was introduced in baking too, such as breads, cakes and cookies. It is the main ingredient in müesli. When I was in college, I almost lived on oatmeal. Even while working, back home, I had instant oatmeal porridge as my breakfast most of the time. It is indeed very filling. Been such a long time since I had oats but Mahisha do not like porridges. So, I decided to bake oatmeal cookies for her. I am incorporating some raisins to it as raisins and oatmeal are perfect partners.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

What do we need:

3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar (or as desired)
1 egg
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract

2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins

How do we do it

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.

Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla essence. Add the flour gradually. Stir in oats and raisins.

Shape dough into 1” balls, place on a greased or lined baking sheet and flatten slightly. Bake at 165° C until lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. Remove and cool on wire rack.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies: crunchy, delicious and healthy.

Sunday, 9 April 2006

Weekend Baking Session # 7

This edition of Weekend Baking Session is especially meant for my baby brother. Today is his birthday. He loves cheese cakes. So, I have decided to give him a visual treat of a cheese cake.

Cheese cakes are too sinful. To reduce the richness, I am baking a fusion of butter cake and baked cheese cake. Using less amount of butter than a normal butter cake and less amount of cheese than a normal cheese cake. Also adding some compoted plums that has been sitting in my pantry for a long time. The reason is to give extra tanginess and flavour to the cake. So, here we go.......

Plum Cheese Cake

What do we need:

1 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup coarsely chopped plums in syrup

How do we do it:

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Set aside.

Cream the butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Add the vanilla essence.

Add in the sifted ingredients and the whipping cream alternately, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Finally, fold in the chopped plums.

Pour the batter into a greased and lined 7" cake tin. Bake in preheated oven at 180°C for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

The cake is very moist and soft.

Happy Birthday To You, Dearest Thambi.

Friday, 7 April 2006

A Foodblogger's Meme Around The World

This is my 1st meme ever since I started blogging for almost 2 months now. To my surprise, I have been double tagged, by Anthony and Sumi. This really is fun but it is not as easy to do as it looks.

1. Please list three recipes you have recently bookmarked from foodblogs to try:

a) Pal Appam at East & West & In The Middle Recipes

b) Mango with Pomelo Dessert at Jingle's Kitchen

c) Spinach Cheese Paratha at Saffron Hut

2. A foodblog in your vicinity:

Posie's Place in Basel, Switzerland

3. A foodblog (or more) located far from you:

All those foodbloggers outside Europe. (South East Asia, India, USA and Canada)

4. A foodblog (or several) you have discovered recently (where did you find it?):

a) Sumi's Kitchen
b) Vineela's Cuisine
c) Vaishali's Happy Burp
d) Nandhita's Saffron Trail
e) Revathi's En Ulagam
f) Arthi's To The Tooth

5. Any people or bloggers you want to tag with this meme?

a) Sarah's East & West & In The Middle Recipes
b) Mike's Foodcrazee
c) Fonia's My Zest
d) Evelyn's Tazz In The Kitchen
e) Arthi's To The Tooth
f) VKN's My Dhaba

Tuesday, 4 April 2006

The Food That I'd Die For # 3

I have been coming across fish curries everywhere. Though I am not a curry girl, the only curry I love is fish curry. Fish pieces cooked in distinctively spiced and simmered sauce. Curry has a strong and pungent smell that is irresistible.

The taste of fish curry largely depends on the type of fish and the curry powder used. I never buy the curry powders that are available here in Europe. Mine are specially brought from home; not homemade though. Vegetables like lady's finger or okra, brinjal, tomatoe and raw mango are famous secondary ingredients in fish curries. They help to boost up the taste of the curry. I love fish curry with lots of garlic and tomatoes.

I hardly know names of fishes in Tamil. I have heard of a few names but have no idea of how the fish looks like. Eg. thiruka, koduva and parei meen. I would appreciate if any of you would help me with the English term. I know most of them in Malay as it is the language spoken in the wet markets in Malaysia. Mike, if u are reading this, would you let me know what ikan parang and ikan terubuk are in English and what dory fish is in Malay? Also know a few names in English though. Now, learning them in German as well. My favourite fish curries are pomfret, spanish mackerel and baby shark (sura meen) curries.

Fish Curry

What do we need:

500g fish steaks
1 large tomatoe, quartered
1 onion, sliced
10 cloves garlic, coarsely sliced
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tsp tamarind pulp
1 cup water
3/4 cup thick coconut milk
3 tbsp fish curry powder
1/2 tsp fenugreek
1/2 tsp sugar
salt to taste

How do we do it:

Clean, cut and wash the fish pieces with salt. Set aside.

Mix the curry powder with some water to make a paste. Mix the tamarind pulp to the rest of the water to produce tamarind juice. Set them aside.

Heat oil in a pot. Add the fenugreek, curry leaves, sliced onion and garlics. Sauté until aromatic. Add the curry paste. In goes the tamarind juice. Place the fish pieces into the pot. Let it cook on medium heat.

When the fish is almost cooked, pour the coconut milk. Let the curry simmer on medium low heat. When the fish has cooked, add tomatoes. Season with salt and sugar.

Fish Curry with Rice and Stir-fried Mixed Vegetables

Serve fish curry with hot piping rice, rotis or bread.

Sunday, 2 April 2006

Weekend Baking Session # 6

I had a punnet of strawberries in my fridge. Got to use them soon or they will get rotten. So many ideas came to my mind. As I have never baked an upside down cake, I decided to bake it.

Pineapples, cherries and blueberries are the famous upside down cakes. Strawberries are rather infamous. I am glad to introduce strawberries to this type of cake.

For this weekend, I want to be fair to all the vegetarians. Weekend Baking Session has always been non veg. So, this edition of WBS is a dedication to all the vegetarians out there. Special dedication to a beautiful young lady in Chennai, India who is also a vegetarian.

Strawberry Chocolate Upside Down Cake

What do we need:

500g strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

1 cup bread flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
a pinch of salt

2/3 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vinegar

How do we do it:

Hull and wash the strawberries. On a medium heat, cook them with sugar and lemon juice until the strawberries are soft and liquid is thick. Set aside.

Strawberries, before cooking

Strawberries, after cooking

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Stir and make a well in the centre. Pour the melted butter, milk and vinegar into the well. Stir to mix thoroughly.

Place the cooked strawberries at the bottom of an ungreased baking pan. Pour the cake batter onto it. Bake in a preheated oven at 180° C for about 35-40 minutes or until skewer inserted comes out clean. Invert the cake onto a serving plate when the cake is still warm.

Serve strawberry chocolate upside down cake warm with a dollop of whipping cream.
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