Friday, 27 November 2015

Flourless Chocolate Cake

I really must love Christmas because I'm sharing my well kept secret recipes. Ahh , the true meaning of  Christmas. I love this cake, I adore it in fact. It's gorgeous, heavenly and all things good.

It is flourless cake, I honestly thought, there could be no such thing.  So every time I found a recipe for one, I carefully piled over it, promising myself I would gather the guts to try it someday. Then again, the recipe is so inviting and enchanting you can't ignore it for long. I first tried this cake, a couple of years ago, when my sister came visiting. I love it at first bite and since then ,there has been no looking back. I've made it for friends who came over, for dinners we hosted , for friends who I was catching up with and every time, this has been an absolute winner.

This cake is super moist, with a chocolate mousse like texture and is as delicate as it sounds. The cake will rise beautifully as it cooks, given the egg whites in the batter, but it'll sink like a souffle once it's out , just the way it is supposed to. To let the cake not sink as much, once it has baked, leave the cake in the oven for a while, with the oven door slightly open. This way, there wont be too sudden a drop in temperature and the cake wont sink as much. The cake is very soft when it is just baked but will firm up as it cools down. Don't refrigerate the cake, or it will turn hard and chewy and lose all its charm. Instead, serve it warm with a blob of ice cream and your guests will thank you. I always make this cake with dark chocolate and I really wouldn't think of making it any other way. If you think your friends don't like dark chocolate, expect some converts.

I agree baking a cake without flour can be both daunting and exciting and I totally understand if you feel a bit nervous to try it out. But, here I am, giving you a fail proof recipe, tried and tested more times than I can remember and I am telling you, this is going to work. Would I really lead you astray?
So gather the chocolate and the eggs and let's get baking.

Flourless Chocolate Cake:

Ingredients :
150 g butter plus extra for greasing
300 gm dark chocolate, roughly chopped
50 gm caster sugar
5 eggs, separated

1. Pre heat the oven to a 180 C. Start with greasing an 8 inch loose bottomed/ spring form tin. Line the base with butter paper and butter the sides.
2. Place the butter and chocolate over a pan of simmering water and leave until just melted, making sure to stir every now and then. Let it cool.
3. In a clean bowl, using a hand held beater, whisk the egg whites and half the sugar till the egg whites form stiff peaks, or till you can hold the bowl upside down over your head and the egg whits don't come crashing down on you.
4. In another bowl, whisk the yolks and the remaining sugar and beat till pale and thick. Fold in the melted chocolate and butter and mix well.
5. Gently fold in the whisked egg whites with a spatula and pour the batter into the prepared tin.
6. Bake the cake for about 20 -25 mins or until the cake leaves the sides of the pan. Le the cake cool for at least 30 mins before taking it out of the tin. 

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Butter Mushroom Rice

I love mushrooms, and one of my favourite ways to eat them is to saute them in butter and salt and gobble  a whole bowl of it. That's all I need to do to enjoy a packet of mushrooms. That being said, I thought it would be nice to make some mushroom rice. This is probably the simplest recipe for mushrrom rice. It is fast, easy and delicious.

I wont lie, so it's true you can add a whole lot more butter and it'll only add to the taste, but I was trying to be a little health conscious and used "just" about a tablespoon. I've said it so many times before and I got to say it again, I am my grandmother's daughter; so I had to add a maggie stock cube. Vegetarian stock cubes are available in Knor and Maggie, so you can use those, though I used a chicken stock cube I had handy.

This is a perfect weekday meal, and is complete on it's own, though I imagine, some creamy gravy would make a great companion. Make sure not to overcook the rice, letting it cook covered till the water dries up and letting it stay covered for a while for the rice to continue cooking in the steam even after you've turned off the heat.  I'm keeping the post short just like the recipe. So here goes.

Butter Mushroom Rice :

200 gms mushrooms, washed, cleaned and roughly chopped.
1 tbsp butter
1. 5 cups basmati rice, washed and drained
2 stalks of spring onions
1 stock cube

1.  Dissolve the stock cube in  3 cups of hot water. Keep aside.
2. Heat a pan, and toss in the butter. Add the mushrooms and spring onion whites and saute them for a couple of minutes.
2. Add the rice and saute for 2 more minutes. Add the stock water and stir well. Check salt.
3. Cover the pan and let the rice cook. This should take about 7-9 minutes.
4. Garnish with spring onion greens and serve hot.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Vanilla Fudge

It's time to bring on those Christmas recipes. I am a very mangalorean gal at heart and I can't think of Kuswar without kulkuls and the usual . That being said, I'm thinking of experimenting a bit this year. I'm thinking of giving the kulkuls a miss this year, (the first time in the 6 years I've been married) not that I've gotten tired of them or anything, God knows that will never happen, ( and I can feast on the ones my mum and aunts make anyway) but I'm looking for a bit new something. I looked at many recipes, and came across this one in the Hummingbird Bakery's book " Home Sweet Home". Now it's hard to ignore a recipe that needs just 4 ingredients and promise you vanilla fudge.

Now, ideally this recipe requires a sugar thermometer, but I don't got no sugar thermometer and I'm sure hundreds of people, have made vanilla fudge, without ever feeling the need for one and I'm one of them. For the fudge to set, you need to boil the mixture till it comes to a soft ball stage. To check if the sugar mixture has reached a soft ball stage, you let the mixture boil for a while till it sort of comes together in the pan.  You can test if the mixture is ready by taking a spoon of the mixture and dropping it into a bowl of cold water. If you can bring the mixture together with your fingers to make a soft ball, the mixture is ready.  You can watch this video that gives a quick explanation of the same.when you're cooking this. Also remember, the mixture gets very hot as it boils, so be careful and specially cautious if you got kids running around in the kitchen. Frankly, it really is pretty simple, or like my grandma used to say " you'll just know" when it is ready and boy was she right.

So apart from the little precision you'll need to know for when to stop heating the mixture, this recipe is just about mix and stir. Keep a bowl of cold water and a greased tray ready before you start cooking. Once the mixture is at the soft ball stage, you just want to quickly do the needful and get it into a pan and let it set. Let the fudge completely set before you cut it, even if it means you have to let it sit for a couple of hours.

 If in the rare case, the milk splits while cooking the fudge, worry not. Continue with the recipe and after adding the vanilla, whisk the mixture vigorously till it comes together, and it will. This is tried and tested. A whisk is a magical instrument, specially while cooking puddings and custards.

This quick and easy vanilla fudge makes a lovely addition to Kuswar and is a perfect treat, for both adults and kids. I've reduced the amount of sugar from the original recipe and found this to be the right amount of sweetness for me and wouldn't mind even a tiny bit lesser. This fudge has a lovely creamy and soft texture with delicious vanilla flavour for company. It's all yours.

Vanilla Fudge :

Ingredients :

300 ml milk
300 caster sugar
100 gms butter plus extra for greasing
1 tsp vanilla extract.

1. Start by greasing a 7 inch square tin with butter. Alternatively you can line it with butter paper that overhangs on the sides, which will make it easier to lift the fudge once it has set.
2. In a non stick pan, bring the butter, milk and sugar to boil, stirring continuously. Continue to let it cook,  till it gets to a soft ball stage,  making sure to stir throughout, so it doesn't catch on the bottom of the pan, . This will take about 20 minutes.
3. When it reaches the soft ball stage, take it off the heat and let it cool for about 5 minutes, (without stirring) till a skin forms on the top. Then stir in the vanilla and beat with a spoon for about another 5 minutes.
4. Pour the fudge into the prepared tin and let it cool completely. Do not refrigerate.
5. Cut into pieces after the fudge has completely set.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Squid Butter Garlic

Growing up in Mangalore, I loved eating squid butter garlic at the " Village" restaurant. It was the first dish I'd order and I was often tempted to finish a whole plate of it, all on my own. It still will be the first dish I order there, if I do go there now, but that doesn't happen so often now, on my short and busy trips to Mangalore. So that's the inspiration for the dish, though I must warn you the similarity ends there.

My version for Squid butter garlic is slightly different, nevertheless just as tasty. As the rule in my kitchen goes; keep the recipe simple and I do sincerely avoid deep frying. So here is my version of squid butter garlic and the temptation remains the same; to finish all of it by myself. Having promised to share my life with him, also means I share the food and so, I do with great difficulty, manage to save some for the hubby hubb. Funnily enough he'll say he is not too fond of squid but will gladly eat a lot of it anyway. So I'm beginning to doubt the truth in that "apparent " cat allergy he's got, which is why we can't bring home a cat. Hmmm.

This recipe takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish, provided you have squid that has been cleaned and cut into rings. Most fish mongers will do this for you, so all you got to do is give it a good rinse and drain it before you start. You need to fry the squid in a bit of oil, and I like to cook it, in one flat layer, so that the coating on the squid turns a nice brown. I prefer using a fairly wide pan to fry the squid so I can fry all the squid in just about 2 batches.

Make sure the oil is well heated but not smoking, when you put the squid in. You need hear that sizzle when the squid hits the pan. This way it'll cook at the right temperature and will need very little cooking time; less than 5 minutes. Overcooking squid makes it rubbery so don't be tempted to keep it frying too long. I add a bit of pepper to the squid, just a little for a bit of heat, but not too much that it will overpower the butter and garlic.

Here we go :

Squid Butter Garlic


1 kg squid, cleaned and cut into rings
Pepper 1/2 tsp
salt to taste
4 tbsp cornflour.

1 tbsp butter
10 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 stalks of spring onions
4 tbsp oil

 1. Wash the cut squid and drain it. In a bowl, mix the cornflour, salt and pepper. Toss the squid in and mix till all the squid is fairly coated with the cornflour.
2.Heat a wide pan and melt the butter. Add the garlic and spring onion whites and let it cook for about 2 mins. If you're using unsalted butter, make sure to add a pinch of salt. Take it out in a bowl and keep aside.
3. In the same pan, add 2 tbsp of oil. When the oil is hot, fry half the squid, spread out in one flat layer. Let it cook for a couple of minutes till it turns brown on one side. Then toss it around, so the squid browns on all sides. This should take just a couple more minutes. Don't overcook the squid.
4. Fry the other half of the squid, in the same pan, adding 2 tbsp of oil before you toss it in.
5. When that is done, mix all the squid with the butter garlic and onion mixture in the pan. Toss to coat all the squid with the butter. Garnish with spring onion greens and serve hot.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Pound Cake

I've baked many cakes in my life, but it is this humble pound cake that has given me my proudest moment as a baker. Yes a pound cake and you will want to know why and how. So here's the thing. I have eaten and baked a few pound cakes, but honestly , consistently found them boring or dense. Which is exactly why, I had a dream to find a recipe for and bake the perfect pound cake. I came across many recipes for pound cake, but none could pursuade me as much as the picture of a pound cake  in Dorie Greenspan's book " Baking from my home to yours." When I saw that picture, I knew, this had to be the recipe I was looking for.

Finding myself in a more than usual compulsive urge to bake cakes, owing to this weather we got going here in Bangalore, I finally put the recipe to test. With this accomplished, I can proudly tick off another item off the food bucket list.. Yayyyyy!!!!!!

I can't stop raving about this cake. I also can't believe I didn't try it out sooner but most of all I'm glad I finally did and that I discovered the joy of baking a melt in your mouth cake. I've baked cakes that tasted great, that were moist and fluffy, that were rich and creamy, but this was the first cake that literally melted in my mouth. The cake has a slightly crunchy top, owing to the slightly longer than usual baking time, but has a perfect "disappear when you bite" texture otherwise. It is a humble pound cake, but trust me, it'll make you feel proud for baking something that tasted so good.

It's a buttery cake, which means , it can keep longer, but it also means, it's buttery and soft, so you'll hog a lot of it too soon too fast and won't have any left to keep for longer. It uses a good amount of butter ; 225 gms and eggs ; 4, so it's a good time to stay off that calorie counting.

I love Dorie Greenspans' books because she narrates so well, telling you exactly what to expect while trying out a particular recipe. The pound cake she says "cuts beautifully" and this couldn't be more true. The cake cuts beautifully, but make sure you let the baked cake cool down a good 30 mins before you take it out of the tin and let it cool completely before you slice it. You can cut perfect slices, thin or thick with this one.

I used a 9 x 5 inch loaf tin as the recipe suggested. You can also use a smaller loaf tin, and it'll require slightly longer baking time.

My few couple of things to keep in mind while baking this cake are ; 1. The batter is quite thick; so don't be alarmed. Light cakes don't necessarily mean light batters. 2. Make sure the butter and eggs are at room temperature before you start. You need to beat the butter a good 5 minutes with the sugar and that's no fun if you have just out of the fridge butter. 3. As the cake needs to bake for a really long time, the crust might overcook. If you do find it browning too fast, cover the cake with a loose tent of foil, after the cake has baked for about 35 mins.

Here we go .

Pound Cake


2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder.
1/4 tsp salt
225 gms ( 2 sticks) butter at room temperature
1 cup castor sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 175 C. Butter a 9 x  5 inch loaf tin. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt and baking powder.
2. In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar till light and fluffy, for about 5 mins using an electric beater.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Toss in the vanilla extract.
4. Add the flour in batches, mixing only till incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.
5. Pour the thick batter into the prepared tin and bake for 70 mins . The cake is done, when a skewer inserted into the deep center of the cake comes out clean.
6. Let the cake cool in the tin on a wire rack for 30 mins before you take it out. Cut the cake into slices when it has cooled down completely.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Karai Chicken

I'm not sure about the origin of this dish. Google couldn't really tell me much about it, for the first time. The one thing I know for sure about the dish is that it is super easy to make and turns out pretty great, specially in proportion to the effort and skill involved.

The strange thing about cooking is that the same ingredients can produce very different dishes, depending on the way you cook them . That's something I realized profoundly, after making this dish. The recipe uses onions, ginger garlic paste and chilly powder mainly and I wondered how good the dish would eventually turn out. It turned out great and is now, definitely on my list of go to recipes. I loved making it and loved even more eating it and can't wait to make it again.

You really can't go wrong with this recipe so I urge you to try it, even if you have never stepped into the kitchen before . I used one cooking pot for this recipe, start to finish, which made it all the more appealing, considering I had fewer dishes to throw into the sink. It is a sorta dry, semi masala dish, so paratas or chappatis will be best for company. And yes, follow the golden rule: " Use homemade ginger garlic paste and not store bought ".

I found this recipe in Zarine Khan's book Family Secrets and tweaked it a bit, mostly skipping on the green chillies and sticking to one pot to make the dish. I bought the book in the profound hope of learning some Indian cooking, because I got a little secret of my own; apart from Mangalorean curries, I can't really cook Indian much. But now that is going to change with this book for company.

Karai Chicken :

Ingredients :

Chicken : 1 kilo cut into pieces
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 large onions sliced
2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 1/2 tsp chilly powder
Coriander leaves for garnish
Salt to taste. 

1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a non stick vessel. Add the chicken on high flame and cook for 5 mins, browning on all sides. 
2. Reduce flame, add salt and turmeric and fry for a couple of minutes. 
3. Add about 1/2 cup water, cover the vessel and let the chicken cook till done. 
4. Remove the chicken and keep aside in a plate. In the same vessel, heat 1 tbsp oil and fry the onions till they turn colour. 
5. Add the ginger garlic paste, salt and chilly powder . Mix well and fry for 5 minutes. 
6. Add 2 to 3 tbsp water and let it simmer for a few minutes.  
7. Add the cooked chicken to the pan and toss well. Serve garnished with coriander leaves. 

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Lemon Syrup Cake

There are two kinds of "fruit" cakes I just love; banana and the other lemon. So, don't be surprised if  recipes for these keep popping up on the blog. Check my recipes for banana bread and banana cinnamon bread if you love baking with bananas. If lemon is in your favourite ingredients list, then you'll love this recipe for orange and lemon cake and this starbucks lemon loaf too. I'm adding this recipe for lemon syrup cake to the lemon diaries with much love.

Contrary to the belief that baking involves effort, is the truth that it doesn't. Really. This recipe took 7 minutes to whip up,  and I know that because I checked the time on my oven as I set it to pre heat. Once you've lined the baking tin and measured out the floor, this batter will take only a few minutes.

I picked this recipe from Nigella Lawson's How to be a domestic goddess. It's a fantabulous book to have in your kitchen library .I've  found recipes for all sort of baking moods I've had; cakes, biscuits, puddings, desserts, sweet cravings everything.

The recipe uses self raising flour. I used regular flour with added baking powder and baking soda and it worked just fine. What makes this cake so irresistible is the lemon syrup that works as an icing, so don't think of skipping it. It's the simplest thing to make. You can make this as a loaf cake using a medium sized loaf tin, though I used a small square baking pan and a small loaf tin and both turned out fine, the square pan taking slightly lesser cooking time.

Make the lemon syrup as the cake cooks, so you can pour it on the cake as soon as it is ready. The syrup will thicken as it cools down, but will spread easily on the warm cake, so don't worry about that. Also, pour the syrup on the cake while it is still in the tin. Take the cake out of the tin only when it has completely cooled down. Lining the cake tin with baking paper that slightly overhangs also helps in getting the cake out with ease, considering it will be sodden with syrup.

Now that we are done with the story, here's the recipe.

Lemon Syrup cake

For the cake:

125 gms unsalted butter, softened
175 g caster sugar
2 large eggs
zest of one lime
175 gms flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 tbsp milk.  

For the syrup:

Put 4 tbsp of lemon juice and 100 gm icing sugar in a small saucepan and heat gently till the sugar dissolves.

1. Butter and line a medium sized loaf tin. Pre heat the oven to 180 C
2. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one by one .Grate in the lemon zest.
3. Toss in the flour, baking powder and baking soda and fold in gently.
4. Add the milk and mix till just incorporated. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for about 45 mins.
5. While the cake cooks, make the syrup.
6. As soon as the cake is done, take it out of the oven. Puncture the top of the cake and pour the syrup all over the cake.
7. Let the cake completely cool, before you take it out of the tin.