Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dorie Greenspan's "Traditional Marble Cake"

My marbling leaves a lot to be desired! This is the third attempt for me to get my Marble Cake "photo-ready"! Oh the taste and texture of this cake was awesome every-time. But what did you expect? This is Dorie Greenspan's Recipe from the baking book "From my Home to yours". This book is one of my favorite baking book ever! I would love to try all of the recipes from that book. What a splendid collection!
  • 2 Cups +  2 Tbsp Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 4 oz Semi-sweet Baking Chocolate
  • 4 Large Eggs, at room temperature
  • 12 Tbsp(1-1/2 Sticks) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1-1/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Milk
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Sift flour and baking powder in a wide bowl.
  • Cream the butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes at medium speed using an electric mixer.
  • Add the eggs "one at a time" and incorporate with the the butter-sugar mixture.
  • The resulting mixture should be pale yellow in color. Add Vanilla Extract to it.
  • Add the flour and milk in small batches and mix only till combined.
  • Meanwhile melt the chocolate in a wide shallow bowl.
  • Add approximately half the white batter to the melted chocolate.
  • Using a rubber/silicone spatula mix gently.
  • Prepare the loaf pan by lining it with aluminum foil and greasing it with butter. Now drop the white and chocolate batter alternatively.
  • Using a steak knife or any sharp knife, cut deep into the batter.
  • Move it in zig-zag patterns.DON"T overdo it! 4 to 5 times should do the trick! No more.
  • Bake the cake for 1 hour and 20 to30 minutes in the top rack or until a tooth-pick inserted into the center comes clean.
  • Cool the cake and slice it with a sharp knife and serve with a spot of tea!

My son loves the marble cake as much as he loves this Zebra Cake:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Savory Whole-Wheat Bread Pudding With Broccoli, Sweet Potato and Summer Squash

I make Sweet bread pudding whenever I have leftover bread cause my son loves it but this time decided to concoct a Savory version with Summer and Fall veggies.. The drop in the weather certainly called for something "Un-Sweet". While it tastes good as is, my son wanted to eat it with a healthy squirt of ketchup. He will eat mud if it had ketchup on it. Oh, he is Ketchup-Krazy. So down into his little food pipe this dish went without any issues at all. Its an extremely nutritious dish with plentiful veggies, eggs and whole-wheat bread. Plus its so easy to put together too.And I am sure I will be making this again soon. 
  • 8 Stale Whole-Wheat Bread Slices, cubed
  • 1-1/2 Cups Shredded Borden 4-Blend Mexican Cheese( Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Asadero & Queso Blanco), just cheddar should be fine as well
  • 1 Medium Sweet Potato, Peeled and sliced
  • 1 Yellow Summer Squash, halved and sliced
  • 1 Green Summer Squash, halved and sliced
  • 1 Small-head Broccoli, florets separated
  • 3 Whole Eggs
  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 1 Cup Half and Half/Heavy Cream
  • 1 Cup Whole Milk
  • 1 Cup Reduced-Fat/2% Milk
  • 1/2 Tsp Dried Rosemary
  • 1 Tsp Cracked Pepper or more/less
  • Cooking Spray
  • Salt as needed
  •  Preaht the oven to 325 degrees F. In a baking sheet, layer the vegetables without overlapping. Spray the oil on the vegetables and sprinkle rosemary, cracked pepper and salt over the vegetables. Bake for about 25 minutes on the upper rack.
  • Meanwhile, add the milk, cream to a bowl. Whisk in the eggs and stir in half the cheese.Add little salt and little bit of cracked pepper.
  • Dunk the cubed bread and let it sit for 20 minutes or so.
  • Remove the vegetables from the oven once its slightly browned.
  • Spray the 9 X 13" pan with oil. Add half the bread mixture, then some vegetables, remaining bread mixture and lastly the remaining vegetables
  • Top with the remaining cheese
  • Preheat the oven at 325 degrees F. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the center is no longer jiggly. The mixture will look a little "Puffed-up" and deflates once its out of the oven.
  • Cool the pudding for 10-15 minutes prior to cutting and serving as is or with a dash of hot sauce or ketchup.
For this week's Black And White Wednesday @ The Well-Seasoned CookWet Grinder In Motion


Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Nuances of Making a South-Indian Sambhar "Lentils And Vegetables"

What's on the menu today?? "Cherry-Belle" Radish Sambhar  on a bed of white rice with a Tsp of  Ghee + Hyacinth Beans/Broad Curry With Grated Coconut Bitter Gourd/Bitter Melon Curry + Homemade Curd/Yogurt +  Indian Hot Lime Pickle

Can the Irish live without Potato? Can Asians((Yes, Indians included!!! So put that question "Are Indians Asians" to rest)) live without Rice? Probably not! Umm, I don't know about the "Russian part" of Asia. Maybe they do, maybe they don't. But I can vouch for the fact that most part of India is addicted to rice.Especially South India..As much as the North Indians are addicted to Roti, I suppose!.

As for me, I could go without eating rice for 3-4 days max. After that I want it on my plate! And I want my damn "Sambhar" and "Poriyal(Vegetable sides)" to go with it. The smell of Sambhar on a steaming pile of fluffed rice always sounds divine for a riceaholic like me. Pretty much every home in TamilNadu(the state I hail from) makes this for lunch. Even though the procedure is somewhat similar, Sambhar taste is unique in every house. My mom's might be a little different than mine which should be surprising (but isn't to me) considering how she was the one who taught me the basics of making this. Well, it all depends on the "Sambhar Powder" that is sort of a secret recipe in every home.

Usually "Sambhar Powder" is a "finely milled" mix of all/some of these ingredients::Coriander seeds, Dry Red Chili, Peppercorns, Cumin seeds, Fenugreek seeds, Mustard seeds, Bengal Gram, Split Pigeon Peas, Curry leaves and Turmeric etc etc. While the amount/proportion of each ingredients in the powder differs from house to house this is how its usually made ->> Each ingredient is dry fried separately until they start emitting aroma. Then they are mixed together,scooped into a lidded basket and taken to a  professional "Flour Mill" and ground to a fine powder. Since this is such a painstaking process, its usually done in a large scale. Portions of it is frozen which obviously extends the shelf life. My MIL always makes this for me and I bring a big bulky packet when I come back from India. For folks who don't care to make it at home, there is always store-bought varieties. My favorite store-bought brand is MTR Sambhar Powder.
"Cherry-Belle" Radish. Don't they look cute?? I adore them.
  • 20-24 Cherry-Belled Radish, cleaned
  • 3/4 Cup Split Pigeon Peas "Tuvar Dhal"
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 Medium Tomato, seeded and thinly cut
  • 4-5 Hot Green Chili, vertically slit
  • 2 Stalk Curry Leaves, finely sliced
  • 1 Tbsp of  home-made/store-bought Sambhar Powder or more/less 
  • 1/8 Tsp + 1/8 Tsp Turmeric Powder
  • Marble-sized Tamarind, soaked and juice extracted
  • 3-4 Large Cloves of Garlic
  • 1/4 Cup Cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2-3 Tbsp of Oil for cooking
For Tempering:
  • A few pieces from the Seasoning Ball (OR) 1 Tsp Mustard Seeds + 1 Tsp Urad Dhal/Split Black Gram + 1 Tsp Cumin Seeds
  • A pinch of Asafoetida/Hing
  • 1 Tbsp Oil for Tempering
  • Cook/Pressure Cook the Split Pigeon Peas along with Garlic pods and Turmeric Powder until they are of mashable consistency. Carefully mash the lentil/dhal and set it aside.
  • Thinly slice the Radishes.
  • Fry the sliced radishes in 2 tbsp Oil until the tips start to brown.
  • Top the browned radishes with onions, tomato, curry leaves, and slit green chilies.
  • Add the Sambhar powder, 1/8 Tsp Turmeric Powder to the pan.
  • Mix to incorporate.
  • Add about 2-3 cups of water and cook the contents of the pan for about 10 minutes.
  • Add the mashed Dhal/Lentil.
  • Extract the juice from the tamarind and discard the pith and seeds. Add salt and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Temper the ingredients under "Tempering" in a tbsp of oil.It could be bits of seasoning ball or the latter option.
  • Switch off the stove and add the chopped cilantro. Sambhar is now ready.
  • Serve warm Sambhar with steaming white or brown rice and choice of vegetable side dishes called "Poriyal" along with some hot pickle/relish and maybe potato chips.
Sambhar can be made with other vegetables. Some excellent choices are:
  1. Vegetables that need browning prior to cooking: Okra, Turnip, Carrot
  2. Vegetables that don't need browning: Small "Purple" eggplant, Thai Eggplants, Raw Mango, French Beans, White Pumpkin, Snow-peas or a "combo" of above vegetables.
  3. A Seasoning ball(Known as Vadagam) is a "sun-dried concoction" of red pearl onions, mustard seeds, curry leaves, garlic, cumin seeds, urad dhal, asafoetida, a pinch of turmeric powder and castor oil to bind them together. Seasoning balls are like treasures. They are made with special care and love. Like Sambhar Powder, MIL either makes it herself or gets it from her mom's village. This is the supply I got for this year. I used up almost 5 of them. When they are tempered, the emit the most wonderful aroma! If one is keen on knowing how it is made, you should check one of my fellow blogger's post here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Goan "Chicken Xacuti"

This is the new favorite chicken curry at my house. This curry has its origin from Goa, an Indian state, which is a former Portuguese colony with plenty of history and a rich cuisine.I have been looking for a perfect Xacuti (pronounced "sha-koo-ty") for ages and my search ended when my Facebook buddy Sadhana asked to check out her recipe. She is a food editor at BellaOnline and she has quite an impressive collection of recipes. You should definitely check her page and her recipes if you are keen on trying out exotic Indian dishes.For every recipe, Sadhana gives a little insight about its origin and other helpful hints. So you know what you are eating. Sweet, no?

As with all Indian recipes, this curry recipe involves a lot of steps but its well worth the effort. The good thing is that the powder and paste can be made in advance.
  • 8 Chicken Thighs, skinned and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 large Yellow Onion, finely sliced 
  • Marble-size Tamarind, juice extracted and pith discarded(To extract juice, just microwave the tamarind in little water. It will become soft and juice extraction is much easier)
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt for taste
For the Masala Powder:
  • 6-7 Dry red Chilies
  • 1 Small Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 2-3 Cloves
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 Tbsp Fennel Seeds
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp Whole Peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp Coriander Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Fenugreek Seeds
  • 1 Tbsp Poppy Seeds
  • 1 Tbsp White Sesame seeds
For the Xacuti Paste:
  • Masala Powder (above)
  • 5 large Garlic Cloves
  • 1/2 Cup fresh or frozen Grated Coconut
  • Little Water
  • Dry fry all the ingredients under "Masala Powder". Cool and grind into a fine powder.
  • In a tbsp of oil, saute the garlic for a few seconds.
  • Add the grated coconut and Turmeric powder and roast it on a low flame until the coconut turns slightly brown. Grind this along with the "masala powder" with little water to a fine but thick paste. This Xacuti paste can be made up-to a couple of days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
  • Add the remaining 3 tbsp of oil and fry the onions until they are brown
  • Place the cut chicken in the pan over the fried onions.
  • Add the Xacuti Paste and mix to incorporate.
  • Add about a cup of water and some salt. Stir and lid the pan. Let the chicken cook for about 10-12 minutes on a medium flame.
  • Add the tamarind juice and let it cook for another 10 minutes or so. Check for taste. Add more salt or ground pepper if needed.
  • Serve it with plain rice, roti or Ghee rice.

For this week's "Black and White Wednesday" at Susan's The Well-Seasoned Cook::  Array of Glasses