Saturday, 22 November 2014

Sweet Potato Bundt Cake with NO glaze (Egg free)

I'm a glaze hater. It reads weird but I really do hate glaze. Every time I come across those moist bundt cakes flaunting their aesthetic curves, I reach out for a piece without a shred of self-control. But the glaze! That almost always dampens (pun intended) my gastronimcal experience. The ugly drips (Sorry, glaze lovers. I don't find them one bit pretty.) on the otherwise glossy, moist bundt cakes put me off. So I decided to do a straightforward no-drips-attached bundt cake with all the richness sans the sugary bits.
This was simple because I had all the ingredients on hand. I adapted the recipe from this site. And it's a pretty good site. I fell in love with the idea because it had a not-so-secret ingredient in it - sweet potato. The sweet potato, you see, has the richness akin to heavy cream. In fact, there are a lot of places where this orange sweet meat could act as an awesome substitute for heavy cream. And they are bursting with beta-carotene, anti oxidants and anti inflammatory properties. And what's more, those nutritional properties can be better extracted if it's consumed in a medium of fat (think butter, oil). So I suppose the 2 cups of sugar that comes along with it is kind of pardonable in grand scheme of things.
Ok, now over to the recipe.
1 stick butter (feel free to play around with substitutes.But take it from me, a bit of butter can better our mundane lives.).
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 cups sugar (I used coconut sugar. But you lovelies could use anything from brown sugar (too caramely), honey (bring down the oil/butter proportionately) or blackstrap molasses (I ran out of this. I so want this in.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs or flax eggs*
3 cups flour of your choice (I used a unruly blend of quinoa, spelt and all-purpose flours)
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon all-spice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
a pinch of salt
and the hero *drum roll please* 2 cups of cooked and mashed sweet potato
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter and coconut oil with sugar in a stand mixer or whatever works the best for you. Add in vanilla extract. Add eggs one by one or if using flax eggs*, in four installments, beating every time before adding in.) In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter, alternating with sweet potato and ending with flour. Mix until just combined and scoop the thick batter into a generously greased bundt pan.
Bake for 50-60 minutes. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack when it is cool enough to handle.
Sod the glaze! this is so moist, rich and unbelievably (ok, believable, given the fact that we had incorporated generous amounts of spice) flavorful.
* Flax eggs - you might be knowing by now that this is by far the best substitute for eggs (apart from Ener G, which is pretty versatile as well.). The substitute works like this - for every egg, you take one teaspoon of flax meal and beat it in two tablespoon of water. Rest the mixture for a few minutes until it turns gooey.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Millet-Kamut Quiche (NO egg and just a dusting of cheese)

No-egg quiche. It sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it? And honestly, it is! The generous amount of eggs and cheese in quiches (sort of an open pie)form a wonderfully gooey custard poured over flaky pie crust. Usually to bump up our nutritional karma, we would throw in a few measly bits of spinach and onion. But who cares? Every bite is swell. Agreed.
But let us talk nutrition here. Refined grain meal like all-purpose flour, which forms central to this, is stripped of all possible nutrients. Plain flour is plain bad (Don't say you don't count because you are buying unbleached. It may not have bleaching agents. But it is bad nevertheless.).
As a home-miller (Not sure if that's the right term. But I love to call myself that!), I had freshly milled kamut and millet flours handy. I threw in some corn meal and a handful of wholewheat flour. I cut the butter quantity to half and substituted it with oil.
So that's the crust.
The custard was simple - tofu, curd and fresh summer vegetables. But beware, tofu can emphatically makes its presence felt. I hope to come up with another recipe without tofu soon but till then tofu-haters have to hang in there. Sorry.
If tofu makes for a good thick custard-like consistency, sauteed vegetables give the much-needed crunch to the otherwise gooey custard. But there is no dearth of crunch in this quiche, seriously. Baked millet tastes like a decent multigrain cracker. In a good way, I promise.

Anyway, over to the recipe.

For Crust

1. Millet flour - 1 cup
2. Kamut flour - 1/4 cup
3. Cornmeal - 1/4 cup
4. Whole wheat flour - 1/4 cup
5. Butter - 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons), cold
6. Olive oil - 1/4 cup
7. Salt to taste
8. cold water - 3 Tablespoons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch pie pan or an 9-inch springform pan (yes, springform! it is roomy enough to make delicious deep-dish quiches.).
Mix the flours, cornmeal and salt. Cut butter into cubes, add it to the flour mixture and pulse it in food processor or blender a few times until smooth. Add oil to the mixture and pulse a few more minutes. Gather the crumbly mixture into a ball by adding cold water and knead.
Since it has negligible amount of gluten, it obviously cannot be rolled thin like a traditional crust. So transfer the ball to the pie dish and spread it by pressing outwards with your palm until you cover the sides of the pan. Don't worry if they seem to fall apart. Just bind them together with your fingers. They firm up when baked.
Cover the dough with a parchment paper and add about a cup of dry beans over it to weigh down the paper. Bake it for 10 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and beans. Bake the crust for another 20 minutes until browned. Set aside.

For Custard

1. Onions - 1 medium, chopped
2. Garlic - 2 cloves, minced
3. Capsicum - 1/2, chopped
4. One cup of vegetables of your choice (spinach, carrot, corn, peas, broccoli or just about anything)
5. Parsley - dried or fresh - 3 tablespoons, chopped
6. Silken tofu - 1 block (doesn't matter. Even extra firm tofu works good).
7. Yogurt - 1/2 cup
8. Mozzarella - 1/2 cup, grated
9. Ener G Egg replacer - 2 (I know, you didn't expect this. But hey, you could use any egg substitute - like flax meal or apple cider vinegar. Trust me, they all work.).
10. Whole milk - 1/4 cup
11. Salt and pepper to taste

Blend tofu, yogurt, parsley and egg substitute in a blender until smooth. Heat oil in pan, saute onion, garlic, capsicum and vegetables until the vegetables reach their peak of brightness (for about 3 minutes).

Setting Quiche
Spread the tofu mixture over the crust, leaving about 1/2 inch around the rim of the crust. Add sauteed veggies, spreading them evenly over the mixture. Dust the quiche with 1/2 cup of mozzarella. Pour the milk over the quiche evenly.
Bake it for 30 minutes or until the mixture looks set or begins to brown.
Wait for 10 minutes before you cut the pies. Dig in!
P.S.: As soon as you wipe off your plates clean, come straight to this space and let me know how it turned out. I'd be thrilled to hear you :)

Friday, 26 April 2013

Vegan Cracker-Flat Bread

Yet another post on food. But this time, like all times, it is so totally worth it. After a small respite from baking and generally, cooking anything apart from bare necessity, I had some time for myself but not enough to indulge in an elaborate puff-pastry-ish work. That was when Smitten Kitchen came to my rescue. It's a fabulous blog with super fabulous recipes and ultra super fabulous language content. I picked up her Rosemary Flat bread recipe, which sounded like a zilch effort. And it certainly was!
Since I didn't have fresh rosemary at hand and wasn't willing to substitute it with the intensely flavored dried ones, I decided to use carom seeds instead. It reminded me of lovely carom biscuit sticks my mom use to buy from a neighborhood bakery. Like all store-brought edible entities, this one too triggered greedy cat fights between my bro and I. A key reason for it to be so endearingly special.
So with lots of hope of recreating the childhood memories and a tiny bit ounce of hope of making this a favorite for my daughter, I dove right into the kitchen. The process is simple and the ingredient list finishes before it starts.

Whole Wheat Pastry Flour - 1 3/4 cups (You could also use All-Purpose Flour, but then this makes some health sense)
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Sea Salt - 1 tsp
Carom Seeds - 1 tablespoons
Olive Oil - 1/3 cup
Water 1/2 cup
Nutritional Yeast for dusting


1. Preheat the oven to 450 degree F with the baking sheet placed in the middle rack.
Mix pastry flour, baking powder, sea salt and carom seeds together in a large bowl. If you are sifting flour, throw in all of these except carom seeds, sift into a bowl. Add the seeds.

2. Make a well in the center, pour oil and water into it, and mix gently with a wooden or rubber spatula.

3. When the mixture visibly comes together, get your hands dirty. Knead them as gently as humanely possible.

4. Divide the dough into three parts. Roll the first dough on a parchment paper in no particular shape. Roll as thin as you can manage. Do NOT let the ends taper very thin as they tend to get burnt (My first set did!).

5. Brush the surface with olive oil, sprinkle some sea salt and nutritional yeast. Press it gently for the flaky yeast to settle in comfortably.

5. Pull out the baking sheet from the oven, slid the parchment paper onto it.

6. Bake for eight minutes, or until the edges starts browning. Repeat with second and third batches with fresh parchment papers.

The yeast adds a cheesy flavor to the already awesome flat bread. You could throw in some cheese too. They also work fabulously.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Tortilla-ish roti wrap

Strangely, this is my third post about cooking, though I am particular not to make it a cookery blog. Whatever. This particular stuff is a clear winner in the eyes of my husband, and I have made it countless times. It makes it blog-worthy because it's a cinch to whip up.
Ingredients (Makes 4)

Wheat flour - One cup (Seriously, that will do)
Water - 1/4 cup (approximate)
Oil - One teaspoon
Onion - Half of a large one; finely chopped
Tomatoes - One small; finely chopped
Avocado - Half; diced
Walnuts - toast on a griddle or oven for eight minutes, chop finely
Strawberries - Three; chopped
Lemon - Half
Cilantro - a handful; chopped
Chaat Masala (Optional. Makes it Indian)
Pepper and Salt to taste


Warm the water, first step. Then by gradually sprinkling it over wheat flour, knead it nice and hard, until the dough becomes pliable and non-sticky. Dab Olive oil over it, ball it up and keep it covered for 15 minutes, minimum.
Divide them into golf-sized balls, roll them out into 1/8 inch chapathis and cook them on a tawa/pan. When a chapathi is ready, take a pinch of everything - onion, tomatoes, avocado, strawberries, cilantro, and place them in the center. Squeeze a little of lemon over it, sprinkle salt and pepper, chaat masala and wrap it, closing both ends.
An interesting way to make sure the wrap stays together is to make a paste of wheat flour with water, and apply over the edges and glue them over. Keep the tawa on high flame, and place the chapathis with the glued side facing down, and cook it for a few seconds, until the edges stick together.

This is how it looks once done

Pluses: It's healthy, salady and easy
Minuses: It's too yumm you tend to overindulge.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Lemony cheese-free Cheesy Awesomey Vegetarian Linguine

Phew... That's a lot of adjective for a humble linguine. But you know what, this linguine deserves all that commendations and a truckload more. Because, for starters, this is entirely my own creation. And, for a change, my creativity stood by me like a good friend. It turned out freakishly delicious (I'm missing something here. Something that spells like M.O.D.E.S.T.Y.).
And ever-so-picky-eater daughter loved it. My husband, a pasta hater, ate it without complaint, which precisely mean this is uber delicious.
Ok, without much further ado, let me introduce you to the yummy world of vegetarian linguine.

I could not do step-by-step pictures for this recipe because, let me be honest with you, when I began to make dinner with linguine, I did not think it would be blog worthy. But when I whipped up this scrumptious... someone stop me from rambling!
To make the sauce:
Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
Garlic - 2 cloves crushed
Red Onion - 1 (medium)
Well-ripened tomatoes - 2 (medium)
A cup of mixed vegetables - Carrots, Peas, Beans, Cauliflower, Broccoli - All chopped as finely as possible
Fresh Thyme or Dried Italian Seasoning - couple of sprigs
Sugar - 1 teaspoon (yes One!)
Pepper - 3 teaspoons
Milk - 2 Tablespoons
Heavy Cream or Milk Powder (Optional, entirely)
Butter- a dollop (diet freaks could drop this)
All Purpose Flour - 1 teaspoon
Lemon - 1 large
Nutritional Yeast - 1 Tablespoon (again optional, but it's yumm and totally true to its name)
Salt to taste
Dry roast All Purpose Flour on a pan till it turns pink with a few brownish tinges. Keep it aside. Heat Oil in the same pan, add one clove of garlic and onion to it, and saute till onion turns translucent. Meanwhile in a saucepan, add tomatoes with a cup of water, remaining garlic, a pinch of sugar, pinch of salt and a sprig of thyme. Bring it to boil, reduce to simmer and close the lid. Cook for 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are mushy.
Add the mixed vegetables in the onion-garlic mixture and saute it on low flame with a pinch of salt. Mash the tomato mixture with a ladle and add it to the vegetables in the pan.
Boil water in a saucepan and cook linguine as per instructions (My two cents' worth: Do NOT break linguine. It spoils the thrill of eating nice, long strips. If your saucepan is small for the whole linguine strips, dip the bunch in and wait till the dipped end becomes flexible enough. Swirl it in, and push some more of the linguine in the water, and work around till all of the strips get in whole.)
In a small bowl whisk the roasted all purpose flour with milk or cream or water until smooth and pour it right into the pan when the veggies are cooked to a consistency of your liking. Add salt, pepper, sugar and give the sauce a nice stir, and let it boil till a sauce-like consistency is reached. Remove from the flame, and, add thyme and a zest of one lemon. Add butter and now is my favourite part, add the nutritional yeast into it. The nutritional yeast, an inactive yeast, gives the eggy, meaty, cheesy flavour to the sauce. If you are vegetarian, it's the best that can happen to any sauce, trust me.
Digressing again, people, digressing.
Drain the pasta, and dunk it into the sauce. Delicious as it can get.
By the way, I suppose you could use all those squiggly jiggly pasta types like fettuccine,fusili, or linguine's better-half, sphagetti, as well. Try it and let me know.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Rose Essence - A right-from-scratch method to prepare your own

It's been a long, long break from the blog. Despite my fervent promises, I totally orphaned it for a few months, and got carried away with mundane chores. Since I also had a few writing projects and book reviews coming on, I think I have a legit reason for this delay.
So yes, I thought I should stay true to the reason behind the creation of the blog - lead a life closer to nature, resist buying any kinds of bottled products - edible or otherwise.
Now we all know rose water is an excellent toner, even more excellent flavour-enhancer to desserts. We had a festive occasion during fall, so kind of overindulged in roses. What was left was a mound of nice-smelling fresh roses and I didn't have the heart to dump them.
I checked with Dr.Google, and no surprises there, I came upon a lot of homemade rosewater methods. This one is kind of a mix of many methods, so I couldn't offer credit to each one of them. But this is to all those innovators who have tried rose essence extracting. I'm just a plain copycat.
Here it goes:

Pull out a large pan and add half-a-cup of water. Sprinkle rose petals all over it. (Do not hesitate to overcrowd it. The more the better.)

Place a stone or a slab or any raised platform that is flat enough to hold a vessel in the center.

And a tiny, little bowl that could hold the essence.

Flip the lid upside down and close it over (Reason: Upside down provides a nice smooth convex surface for the rose essence droplets to slide down right into the bowl.). Simmer it for 30 minutes. Check the water in the base after 15 minutes, add a quarter cup, if need be.

And bam! here is your purest form of essence that has a heady fragrance(that totally depends on the type of rose you use, like Incense Rose or Fragrant Plum.)
Just if you are wondering what to do with the left-over mushy roses and water, squeeze the petals and collect the pink water in a bottle. It is the best and most effective toner you could ever get. Take my word for it since my skin on face is soft bordering on loose and this, I really really think, has helped tone it to a great extent.
Like I said, the essence could be used for to enhance flavor in desserts or a toner as well. Don't worry if your rose petals didn't quit give you the fragrance. Nonetheless, it's a pro in toning job.
Happy Extracting!

Friday, 7 December 2012

My book review

In an act of pure self-indulgence, I'm positing the link to my review of Arnold's book published in The Hindu. Take a look, folks.
The Hindu : Arts / Books : Autobiography of a secretive American