My friend P celebrated her 40th birthday last month. Although I had all plans of baking a birthday cake, it did not happen. I knew she likes my cakes, so I promised her I will bake one for her soon. She said she loves carrot cakes. She also mentioned that she likes her cakes without any frosting on them. I have few recipes of carrot cakes that I have already tried like – carrot cake with apple filling, eggless banana cake with carrots and raisins, banana-carrot cake. I wasn’t sure she would like banana flavor in cake, so I thought of trying out a new recipe. I used Alton Brown’s carrot cake as the reference and changed few spices in it to suit our taste.
The following quantity made two oval cakes. P came in when it was still warm, just out of the oven. Half of one cake was finished before it even had time to cool down. She said she does not want icing, so she had plain one. I packed the other oval cake for her to take home. V and Ishaan declared it was one of the best cakes and Ishaan wanted me to bake one the next day. I have promised him to bake it soon again, may be for his birthday. P told me the cake was completely finished within 10mins of her reaching home.
For the first time I tried cake flour. Read more about cake flour at baking bites. I had read about this flour many times but I always mixed cornstarch and all purpose flour to make it at home like mentioned by joythebaker. I wanted to try store bought cake flour to see what difference it makes. The cake was very light and moist, but it is too early to say if it was worth the trouble of searching 4-5 grocery stores to find this flour. I will know more when I bake more cakes (which is very likely in next 1 month because of lot of birthdays coming up).
Make the spice powder.
Sieve together the dry ingredients.
Mix the wet ingredients.
Fold in the flour and then carrots.
Grease the baking dish.
Pour the batter in the baking dish and bake.
A small piece of nutmeg (almost size of a small cardamom pod)
1 and ⅓ cups sugar
¼ tea spn salt
1 and ½ cups confectioners sugar
5 tea spns orange juice
Preheat the oven at 350F for 10mins.
Grease baking pan/s with butter and sprinkle flour, shake the pan such the the flour covers the the pan Then remove the excess flour to make sure there is only a very thin coating of flour (I used a parchment paper at the bottom of the pan and then applied butter on top of it and sides. This way the cake cake out of the pan very easily).
Take out the seeds of cardamom and powder them with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Sieve together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and the cardamom powder just made.
In a mixing bowl, take eggs, oil, sugar and mix well.
Then add yogurt and beat till mixed.
With a spatula, fold in the flour mixture, a little at a time.
slowly mix in grated carrot (do not over mix).
Pour the batter in the pan. (I equally divided them in two oval pans).
Bake at 350F for about 40mins or till a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let the cake cool before topping with the icing. It can also be served warm.
For the icing, beat together confectioners sugar and orange juice till it forms a uniform mixture.
When cake is completely cooled, add it on the cake.
If you can't find cake flour, it can be easily made at home. For each 1 cup of all purpose flour, take out 2 tbl spns of flour from it and replace it with corn starch
Have you caught up with Kale craze yet? I have been reading about Kale so much in blog world and watching it on TV regularly these days. First time I tried making something with Kale, no one wanted to even try it. I tried few different things and this soup is one dish that we all enjoy very much. I make these kind of hearty soups regularly for V’s and Ishaan’s lunch boxes. Even the little one enjoys few spoonfuls of these soups.
Wiki says – Kale is a vegetable with green or purple leaves, in which the central leaves do not form a head. It is considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms of vegetables.Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and rich in calcium. Kale is a source of two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin.Kale, as with broccoli and other brassicas, contains sulforaphane (particularly when chopped or minced), a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties.
We have always loved the very aromatic Lasuni Dal Palak in restaurants in India. When we moved to US, I tried different recipes to get the same strong aroma of garlic to my dals/gravies. Somehow I could not reproduce the same. Then I read about this recipe where garlic is used in 3 ways on some blog (for the life of me, I am not able to locate that recipe, I will update this post with the link when I find it). I made few twists to it over the years and finally I came up with this recipe which we absolutely enjoy. Garlic is added to the dal in 3 stages – once while cooking dal, then with onions and then again in a seasoning which is poured on top. This is not the regular lasuni dal palak but a mix of that and the Andhra style spinach pappu. Finally I have a recipe of spinach dal which no one complains about. When I make this, I make some extra rice since everyone at my home seems to enjoy this very much.
Cook dal with spinach, garlic, turmeric.
Heat oil, add cumin, urad dal, methi seeds. Then add onions, tomato and fry.
Add dal, chilli powder, cumin powder, salt. Cook.
Slightly crush garlic and chop. Make a seasoning of mustard, curry leaves, garlic and pour over dal.
The bread of the month in We Knead To Bake group were these delicious Black forest buns. I had never heard about these buns before. Since V loves Black Forest cake, I thought this would be a good fit for the Valentine’s day (I baked it on the weekend before Valentine’s day).
I have realized how hard it is to concentrate on anything these days, with 2 small kids around. I usually start with full interest and by the time I am half done, I literally start rushing things because one of them or both would have lost their patience by then. Same happened with these. I did not pay attention to some of the main details. So these turned out like pull apart rolls in shape instead of the buns that you can see in Aparna’s blog. I used little too much cake in them, so it was a little hard to roll into a log and then cut into pieces. But they were so good, I did not mind the shape at all. They looked rustic (ahem!!) and kind of cute after I drizzled the chocolate on top.
They tasted so much better on the next day. I sent some for Ishaan’s teachers and some for V’s colleagues. I think I was the one who finished the most. The bread, cake and cherries all were delicious together. I am sure I will make these again, may be with a little less cake next time.
Do you remember the spicy stuffed breads we used to get in bakeries in India? Not sure if they are still available, but I craved for these buns when we moved to US. I used to search for these buns in bakery sections here and would get disappointed to see the sweet breads. Finally I deciced to make them at home. Sometimes with paneer, sometimes with eggs and other times with mixed veggies, they were always a hit.
Couple of years ago, V got me a KitchenAid stand mixer as a surprise gift. It has become my favorite gadget in the kitchen. I use it to make bread dough, chapati dough, cakes etc. After some trial and error, I have figured out a way to efficiently use this. Fresh breads are on the menu atleast once a week now.
Last week I bought a oven thermometer (finally!!). I had noticed my breads were not getting baked in the time mentioned in many recipes. I had same trouble with cakes. I found online that some ovens show wrong temperatures. This thermometer costed me about $5. I think it was totally worth it. When I tried preheating my oven to 350F, I noticed the thermometer was showing 325F. So it is off by 25F, which makes a big difference to baking. If you are struggling to get your cakes/breads baked properly, this might be something you would like to invest in.
Now coming to this bread, I try to make them into decorative shapes instead of simple buns. They are always big hits in get togethers. I have started making these instead of chapatis which take a long time to roll. I learn something new with every bread I bake. So this has been ongoing learning experience for me. I make the bread with 50% multi grain flour(the one we use to make chapatis) or wheat flour. I feel the bread gets more dense if I use more of it. But I am working on it, to see if I can decrease the amount of all purpose flour(maida) in it.
Bittergourd has become a latest addition to our diet. Whenever V does shopping at Indian store, he invariably picks up few bittergourds. They have pretty short shelf life, so I have to use them up quickly.Karathe kismuri is the only dish I end up making with it since we love that dish so much. Recently, whenever I fry bittergourd to make this dish, both V and Ishaan keep eating the fried pieces as it is, before even it gets into any dish!. I prepared Aayi’s karathe nonche last time. I was looking for something different again, so I tried this.
I got these small thin potatoes – fingerling potatoes a while back. They taste great roasted just with some garlic and chilli powder. Any potatoes can be used, but these give a nice bite to the dish. A generous squeeze of lemon takes this simple dish to a whole new level. This dish tastes great when made spicy. Serve with rice and simple dal for a comfort meal.
Fry the bittergourd with salt.
Add the potatoes and cumin seeds.
Add the spices and cook till done.
Living in Kansas for more than 9 years now, we have made some very close friends. We feel it is such a blessing when we are so far away from family. One of our friends invited us for dinner during Thanksgiving holidays. I was supposed to take a dish, but I had no energy to make anything that day. So my friend prepared the whole dinner. The dish that I loved most was a eggs in coriander leaves curry. I remember I had tasted a similar curry sometime before, but don’t know where. She shared her recipe with me. I tried it at home with few changes and we loved it.
Boil eggs and cut them into half.
Make the spice paste.
Fry onion and add the ground paste. Make the wheat flour paste. Add eggs tomatoes and the wheat flour paste to the curry.
This month’s bread in “We Knead to Bake” group was Julekake. It is a Norwegian Cardamom scented Christmas bread. I was so excited when Aparna posted the recipe in the beginning of the month. I always wanted to try a bread with dried fruits, it reminds of the bread I used to eat when I was a kid. Also, everyone keeps talking about Christmas breads/cakes during this season. I thought I would bake this soon and post the recipe on time (24th ie). But that never happened. It is winter here and kids started falling sick one after the other in loop. I am having hard time just keeping up with everyday food. Then finally I baked this last week. It was an instant hit. Even my 8 month old tried few pieces and loved it.
Read more about this bread at Aprna’s blog. I did not find candied fruits or I should say I did not have too much patience searching for them. Instead I used dried papaya and dried pineapple along with raisins. I loved these fruits and cardamom aroma of the bread. I think I should have covered the bread a tad bit early, it became very dark before I could get to it. So after 15mins of baking, I covered the bread with a silver foil and baked for remaining 15mins. V kept saying it was just perfect. We had it for atleast 3-4 days.
Make the dough.
Add the dry fruits to the dough.
Let it rise again.
Shape the dough and make the egg wash.
Brush the egg wash on the bread and spread almonds. Bake the bread.
It was last November/December when I had invited my friend Leslie and her family for dinner. She brought a big batch of sugar cookies that were beautifully decorated with some colored sugar. Ishaan was around 3 and 1/2 then. He ate atleast 4-5 cookies in one go. I had never seen him liking any cookie like that. I asked Leslie for the recipe and she was very kind to share it with me. It then sat there for a long time. I was pregnant at that time and somehow forgot all about it.
Then last month for Thanksgiving, I thought I would bake some cookies and send to Ishaan’s school. I remembered these cookies because I knew kids would love these. I asked for the recipe again. But then I got busy and could not bake. Finally we decided to bake this yesterday. Ishaan wanted to help decorate them. He decorated using M&Ms and chocolate chips. He said he is practising patterns – he had arranged the toppings in some pattern in all rows. Once done, he counted all to see how many we had in each tray. I really enjoyed the whole experience. I think Santa will get some of these cookies if Ishaan does not eat all of these before 24th!. Thank you Leslie for the recipe.
Mix all the ingredients.
Shape and decorate cookies. Then bake them.
Easy and tasty sugar cookies that are fun to make and sure to impress anyone
1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup oil
2 egg whites
4½ cups all purpose flour
1 tea spn cream of tarter
1 tea spn baking soda
1 tea spn salt
1 tea spn vanilla extract
Beat together sugar, powdered sugar, butter and oil.
Then add all other ingredients and mix well.
Preheat the oven at 375F for 10mins.
Refrigerate the dough for 30 mins. (see notes)
Shape them into small rounds and decorate as you wish.
Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.
In the original recipe, it was mentioned to drop the cookie dough by teaspoon on greased cookie sheet as soon as it was prepared (no resting). Then flatten with a fork to create a + and sprinkle with colored sugars before baking. I wanted to bake round cookies, so I refrigerated them for 30mins and then shaped and decorated them.
Fenugreek leaves are used in variety of dishes in Indian cuisine. In few recipes, they form base and in some other they are just used to give distinct flavor. In any case, they are of great nutritional value and if cooked in appropriate way, they become part of healthy diet. Needless to mention, healthy dish can be a tasty one too. In this category of ‘healthy and tasty’ dishes, this Fenugreek Salad(Methi palya) has remained our favorite for quite some time now.
We have learnt this from a close North Karnataka friend’s family. This friend of mine, hardly likes our traditional dishes, due to his inherent dislike for coconut. However irony is we like everything that is made in their kitchen! Their cuisine has fewer dishes but each dish is made to perfection. Generally in any North Karnataka thali, its a practice to serve few Fenugreek leaves by side. But this dish goes extra mile, as its leaves remain raw and crunchy. The dish by itself is very tasty and competes for top spot on their thali, along with traditional Ennegaayi, Kalu, Mirchi Bajji and Gurellu powder. Just because leaves are not cooked, its always referred as Hasi Palya(raw side-dish) in their home.
We have learnt this from them and in this version, we have made one modification. Please refer to Notes for as authentic version as theirs.
Wash and spread methi on a paper. Chop them.
Grind onions, coriander leaves, chillies, curry leaves, garlic.
Make the seasoning and then add the paste to it. Let it cool to room temperature and then mix with methi leaves.
Fenugreek leaves salad with a dressing of freshly ground spice paste
1 bunch of fresh Fenugreek leaves
2 tbsp oil
Salt as desired.
1 tbsp mustard
1 tbsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tbsp urad dal
1 tbsp chana dal
1 tsp turmeric powder
3 green chillies
6-7 garlic cloves
½ cup onion
2-3 strands coriander leaves
3-5 Curry leaves
Cut and separate roots of Fenugreek bunch, wash leaves, drain and spread over either a paper or dry cloth. This step is very important to get crunchy texture to dish. We need to ensure we get leaves, without any water.
Chop onion and grind ingredients mentioned above, into smooth paste. No need to add water while grinding.
In a thick bottomed vessel heat oil and add ingredients mentioned. Fry them till they start to splutter.
Add paste prepared earlier and fry till raw smell goes off and oil starts separating. Ensure turmeric is added bit later, to avoid burning.
Allow it to cool. Add 1 tsp of salt or as desired.
Chop Fenugreek leaves and mix with earlier mixture. Its advisable to mix when you are about to serve to retain freshness of Fenugreek leaves.
Serve at this stage along with rice and curry or Jowar roti and Ennegaayi.
Instead of grinding onion in to paste, you may shallow fry finely chopped onion along with other ingredients for tampering. This may require little more oil and hence we have used onion, while grinding.