Potato Skins

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My third recipe for this theme of USA cuisine was supposed to be this awesome s’mores mug cake. The only mistake I did was to wait to make it till the last minute because, mug cake. How difficult can it be? Mix ingredients and microwave for a minute, duh! But then I tried to be smart and made some changes to the ingredients and then it crashed badly, like really badly. Then I figured I would stick to the recipe but found I was out of some ingredients. Yeah, mug cake can actually cause so much grief. Anyway I fell back on potatoes which is the ultimate saviour as also very American. The added benefit is that the daughter loves it and I figured a cool way to sneak in veggies inside all that cheese. So not everything ended badly!

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The original dish is potatoes, bacon and cheese. But I needed a vegetarian version of it and so I replaced the bacon with some vegetables and also some cheese with butter and landed with a super easy evening snack.

Recipe adapted from here

WHAT WE NEED

Potatoes 4

Garlic butter 2 tbsp

Onion, small 1/2

Tomato, small 1/2

Mozzarella, grated 4-5 tbsp

Salt

WHAT TO DO

  • Preheat the oven to 220C
  • Cut the potatoes vertically in half and scoop out the flesh as much as you can leaving just the skin and little flesh
  • Melt the garlic butter and apply it on both sides of the halves and scooped potatoes
  • Place it on a baking tray skin side down and bake for 10 minutes
  • Turn the potatoes over and bake for another 10 minutes
  • Finely chop the onion. Deseed and finely chop the tomato
  • Mix the two with salt and pepper or any other seasoning
  • Take out the potatoes and turn them over
  • Fill each half potato with the onion tomato mixture
  • Top it with grated mozzarella cheese
  • Bake for 2-3 minutes or till the cheese melts
  • Serve warm
  • Enjoy!

NOTES

  1. You can use plain butter or any other flavoured butter instead of the garlic butter
  2. The filling can be any vegetable of your choice like carrots, peas, corn, mushroom, etc. In that case you have either sauté it before adding it to the potatoes or bake it for 10 minutes with the potatoes but add the cheese in the final 2 minutes.

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme, Cuisine of USA.

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Coconut Rock Buns

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During the past week in Mumbai, I accompanied my mother and daughter to many friends’ homes for the ubiquitous Navrathri vethalapakku. The norm is to invite ladies of family and friends and present to them some beetle leaves, beetle nut, turmeric, coconut and fruit. Some people go the extra mile and give additional gifts as well and I got some amazing stuff this time. B what ended up happening was that, at the end of five days, we were buried under a coconut hill. We got so many coconuts from all the houses we visited which was compounded by the fact that the daughter asked for them when she didn’t get one leading to total coconut chaos. 

My mother made me take 6 coconuts (grated, thankfully) back to Bangalore and now I am using it across dishes even in those we don’t usually add them. The only good thing is that the husband loves coconut and is a very happy soul these past few days. So when I read about coconut’s popularity in th Caribbean cuisine, I was thrilled. But I found most recipes using coconut milk and not simply coconut as is. Then I found this coconut rock and I figured I had to make it. I added more coconut than the dish needed but that only ended up making it more flavorful. I also increased the proportion of sugar which worked out well. I also added the sweet cherries on top to give the Iyengar Bakery feels to the husband who was thrilled. So, I managed to hit many birds with one stone, or should I say rock. Yay!

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Recipe adapted from here

Makes 8 rock buns

WHAT WE NEED

All purpose flour                1 cup

Butter, unsalted                  1/4 cup

Sugar                                     1/2 cup

Raisins                                   3 tbsp

Baking powder                    1/2 tsp

Ground nutmeg                   1/2 tsp

Ground cinnamon               1/2 tsp

Egg                                           1

Vanilla                                     1 tsp

Milk                                          4 tsp

Coconut, grated                      1/4 cup + 2 tbsp

Water            

WHAT TO DO

  • Heat 1/2 cup water, add the raisins to it and cover. Once it plumps up, drain the water and set aside. It should take around 10-15 minutes
  • Preheat the oven to 190C and grease a baking tray and line it with parchment paper
  • Using fingertips, rub the butter with the flour till the mixture gets a sand like texture
  • Add the sugar, raisins, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and coconut and mix well to combine
  • Mix the egg and vanilla in anothe bowl and then add to the flour mix
  • Add milk and mix well to form a dough
  • Use a spoon to drop the dough on to the baking tray. Since it is to be rocks, the shape need not be well defined 
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes till done. Broil for 2 minutes to get the golden brown colour on top, if needed
  • Serve warm
  • Enjoy!

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme, ‘Dishes from the Caribbean’.

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Chia seed Cookies

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Finally the cake is done, cut and eaten and I can pack up my cake fears and store it away until next year. I was worried the entire day about what the husband would think about the cake, if he would like it or not. The problem is that if he likes the cake, he would say, ‘you bake so well. You should do it more often’ and if he doesn’t he would say, ‘you had to bake just one cake in the entire year and you could still not get it right?’ It is like being between the devil and the ….well, devil. I was so frightened of frosting that I finished innumerable long pending activities in a bid to postpone the frosting. Finally I started frosting just an hour before the husband was due to arrive and finished it in time. 

He was so surprised seeing the cake that he couldn’t say a word. I like that!

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I am terrified of eggless cakes. It is either a jinx or I am doing some humongous error each time because they never ever turn out good. When I told my parents about my annual cake baking adventure, they suddenly professed a desire to taste some of it. Since I am off to visit them tomorrow, I figured I had to take some over for them. But they don’t eat eggs and the only thing I am more scared of than baking eggless cakes is offering them to my perfectionist mom. Then when I baked my usual egg version of the cake, it turned out to be a disaster. It tasted really good but surprisingly the structure was off. Then I luckily landed on a eggless cake recipe which to my absolute shock, turned out really good. So yay for me! I got to eat a lot of cake because of this entire chaos and I got a decent enough cake for the husband to cut and celebrate his birthday. 

Now on to the real dish of this post -these a,axing lemon flavoured chia seed cookies. I made them quite big and eating one was quite a task and the daughter finished half with significant effort. So if you want, you could make smaller ones for it to be more manageable. But otherwise this is an amazing cookie recipe. It was a vegan recipe which I adapted to my requirements. I used yogurt instead of applesauce and buckwheat flour instead of almond flour to keep it protein rich. I absolutely loved the coconut oil flavour and fragrance from the cookies. This is a one bowl recipe and so it is as easy as it is chewy and flavorful.

I have been telling you too many stories today. Off to the recipe now –
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Protein – Chia seeds, Buckwheat flour

Recipe adapted from here

Makes 10 large cookies

WHAT WE NEED

Lemon zest                      1 tbsp

Lemon juice                     2 tbsp

Yogurt                                3 tbsp

Chia seeds                         2 tbsp

Semi solid coconut oil    3 tbsp

Sugar                                  1/3 cup

Buckwheat flour               1/4 cup

All purpose flour               1 cup

Baking powder                   1 tsp

Salt                                         1/8 tsp

Sugar & salt for coating
WHAT TO DO

  • Mix the lemon zest, lemon juice, yogurt, coconut oil, chia seeds and sugar in a bowl till the sugar dissolves
  • Set it aside for 2 minutes
  • Add the buckwheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder and salt and mix well to form a dough
  • The dough needs to be soft. If it is too sticky, add 1 tbsp of flour. If it is too dry then add few drops of oil or water and mix
  • Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 15 minutes
  • Preheat the oven to 175C
  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper
  • Mix 1 tbsp of sugar and a generous pinch of salt in a plate
  • Take out the dough from the refrigerator
  • Take a small pinch of dough and roll it into a smooth ball
  • Roll the ball in the plate mixed with sugar and salt
  • Place it on the baking tray and press it down so that it is flat
  • These cookies don’t spread much and so you don’t need to leave too much space between 2 cookies on the baking tray
  • Bake for 10-11 minutes and cool for 10 minutes
  • Store at room temperature for 2 days
  • Enjoy them with some milk!

NOTES

  1. The buckwheat flour can be replaced with almond flour, wholewheat flour or all purpose flour
  2. Buckwheat flour tends to absorb more moisture making the dough a little dry. If you are not using buckwheat then reduce the yogurt to 2 tbsp
  3. You can add a pinch of turmeric to get the yellow colour
  4. Semi solid coconut oil is when the coconut oil starts solidifying during cooler weather and is not easy flowing liquid

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This is my post for the Mega Marathon under the theme, ‘Protein Rich Dishes’.
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Pita Bread

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This is the second recipe in the Lebanese cuisine theme. It is the classic and most popular dish – the pita. The Pita is a leavened bread made with all purpose flour. It can either be cooked on the stove top or baked in the oven. Having tried both methods, I definitely recommend baking it. The pita puffs up beautifully in the oven and the layers are well formed. It easily gives way to making a pita pocket to put the stuffing in. The pita cooked on the stove top looks well done while the baked one would leave you in doubt as to its doneness. But do not worry, if it puffs up well, it is done well.

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When you make it on a stove top you have to ensure that the skillet is very hot to cook the pita but at the same time not too hot to spoil it. You have to be very careful and vigilant to turn it over at the right time and yet it is not a guarantee that the pita would puff largely instead of small little pockets like a regular roti. But when you bake it, all you need to do is set the temperature and watch while the magic is performed. I also loved the taste of the baked version as against the stovetop version.

You can use the pita with the classic falafel or for a vegetable sandwich. If you have any leftover pitas, simply toast them with butter and garlic and be amazed.

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Recipe from here

Makes 8 pitas

WHAT WE NEED

All purpose flour                       2 1/2 – 3 cups 

Active dry / Instant yeast         2 tsp

Warm water                               1 cup

Salt                                               2 tsp

Olive oil (optional)                    2 tsp
WHAT TO DO

  • Mix the water and yeast in a large bowl and set aside for 2-3 minutes
  • Add 2 1/2 cups of flour, salt and oil to the water and yeast
  • Mix all the ingredients together to form the dough
  • Dust the counter top with some flour and transfer the dough to the counter top
  • Knead the dough well for 7-8 minutes and add some flour if needed to make a smooth and pliable dough
  • Grease the bowl with some olive oil and transfer the dough to it
  • Turn it around in the bowl so that all sides of the dough are well oiled
  • Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel or cling wrap and set aside till the dough doubles
  • It can take around 1-2 hours depending on the climate
  • If needed, the dough can be refrigerated at this point and used to make the pita at a later time
  • Once the dough is doubled, divide it into 8 parts and shape each of them into a ball

If cooking on the stovetop

  • Heat the skillet till it is very hot
  • Take each ball of dough and roll it into a 3″ thick circle
  • Transfer the rolled out dough to the skillet and cook for 30 seconds
  • Turn the pita over and cook for a minute or so till the pita puffs up well
  • Take it off the heat 
  • Repeat the same procedure till all 8 pitas are made
  • Enjoy with some falafel and salad!

If baking 

  • Preheat the oven to 230C
  • Roll out each dough ball to a 3″ thick circlular pita
  • Transfer the rolled out dough (as many as can be fitted comfortably) to the baking tray
  • Bake for 3-4 minutes till the pita puffs up
  • Take it out of the oven
  • Repeat the same procedure till all the pitas are baked
  • Enjoy it with some falafel and hummus

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 This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme, Lebanese Cuisine’.

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Ukranian Christmas Bread – Kolach

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When I was a kid, I had waist length hair that my mother used to patiently braid everyday. The day she declared I was old enough to take care of myself and I needed to braid my hair, I ran to the nearest salon and chopped off my hair to neck length. That shows how amazing I have always been at braiding. I thought the problem was solved almost 20 years ago but it has returned to haunt me now in the form of braiding the bread and there seems to be no escape now. Thought this time, the problem was not with the braiding but my decision to take a smaller baking pan.

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My bread for today is Kolach which is the traditional centerpiece of the Ukrainian Christmas table. Named for its shape (“kolo” means ring or circle), kolach is a wreath-shaped or round bread, formed with elaborate braids and twists of dough. They can range from the merely decorative to the baroque in complexity. The dough is a moderately rich one, with most of the liquid coming from milk, eggs, and butter. The effect of all this enrichment is surprisingly light and fluffy bread. Traditionally, this bread is stacked three rings high, with a candle burning in the middle.

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Country – Ukrain

Makes one 10″ loaf

Recipe adapted from here

WHAT WE NEED

All purpose flour                   1 1/3 cups

Instant yeast                           1 tsp heaped

Egg                                            1

Sugar                                        2 tsp

Olive oil                                   2 tsp

Lukewarm water                   7 tbsp

Salt                                            1/2 tsp

Milk for glaze                          1-2 tbsp
WHAT TO DO           

  • Beat the egg till thick, around 2 minutes
  • Add yeast, sugar, oil and water and mix well
  • Add flour and salt and knead for  to a smooth dough around 8-10 minutes by hand
  • Place the dough in a greased bowl covered with cling wrap and set aside till doubles, around 1 hour
  • Punch down the dough and let it double again, around 1 hour
  • Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes and divide it into 3 equal parts
  • Shape each part into a long rope (around 12″ in length)
  • Join the three ropes at one end and braid them till the end and tuck the ends under the dough
  • Grease an 10″ roundaking dish and place the braided dough inside it in a circle with the centre being empty, like a doughnut
  • Cover and let it rise for around 45 minutes, or almost double
  • Preheat the oven to 175C
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes or till the top starts browning
  • Remove the loaf and brush the milk on top of the bread
  • Bake for another 5-7 minutes or till the top is nicely brown
  • Let it cool fully before tearing into it
  • Enjoy!

NOTES

  1. The bread can also be baked in the oblong shape in which  case, you need to use a baking tray and not a round dish. I chose the round pan because I already did the oblong shape with Challah
  2. I have done the 4 string braid for this bread but you can do a 3 string braid as well
  3. Since I used an 8″ pan instead of a 10″ one, my bread expanded and fused into its layers, else the braids are distinctly visible even after baking. 

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This is my post for the Mega Marathon under the letter ‘U’. 

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Ragi Muffins

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This is my second recipe with ragi as the main ingredient per our theme of ‘Ingredient through mail’ where a pair of bloggers exchanged ingredients and had to cook with it. Padma of Plantain Leaf gave me ragi as the ingredient with which this is my second recipe after the chewy Ragi Bread I posted yesterday.

I found some interesting facts about Ragi from this new book that has me totally fascinated – A Historical Dictionary of Indian Food by K T Acharya.

  • Ragi, also called finger millets, derives from Uganda in East Africa.
  • Ragi grains have been found in western and southern India since 2000 BC and it is called ‘nrtta-kondaka’ in Sanskrit which means the dancing grain.
  • That could also be why it is called ‘nachni’ in Maharashtra, also a reference to dancing.
  • In the days gone by, kings used to honour poets with food made with ragi, milk and honey.

Isn’t that interesting?

To make these muffins, I modified the recipe of Banana Honey Muffins which I made in December to include ragi. The results were good enough for the daughter to agree to eat them as a snack.Mission accomplished!

Makes 12 mini muffins

WHAT WE NEED

All purpose flour                        3/4 cup

Ragi flour                                      1/4 cup

Brown sugar                                 1/4 cup

Salt                                                  1/4 tsp

Egg                                                   1

Milk                                                 3/4 cup

Banana, medium overripe        1

Honey                                              3 tbsp

Oil                                                     3 tbsp

WHAT TO DO

  • Preheat the oven to 200 C
  • Mix the flours, sugar and salt in a bowl
  • Mix the egg, milk, honey and oil in another bowl
  • Mash the banana well and add to the egg mixture
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine
  • Line a muffin tray with muffin cups or grease the muffin tray well
  • Pour the batter in the muffin cups to little over 3/4 full
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes or the toothpick comes out clean
  • Cool for 5 minutes
  • Serve warm
  • Enjoy!

Top the muffin with a smear of Nutella or other chocolate spread to tempt your little one to finish it in one go!

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme – Ingredient by Mail.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for other marathoners doing this BM.

Carrot Cake

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Despite baking regularly for around 4 years now, I have yet to make a good carrot cake. I tried quite a few recipes but with mediocre results. Then two things happened – one, I got this amazing recipe and secondly I got those lovely long and thin red carrots for the first time in Bangalore. Usually we get the small and thick orange ones which are great for adding in salads and mixed veggies but fall short when it comes to the dessert  department. This is also the reason I have never made the amazing gajar ka halwa as yet.

Anyways, back to the carrot cake. This one turns out so soft, so moist and so flavorful. It has the perfect sweet taste without being too overpowering and it lets the carrot shine through and through. The daughter loves it, the husband loves it and I am simply drooling. I made it yesterday and it is already finished. Yes, I am gaining weight this week so that I can make the traditional weight loss resolution for the new year. So here goes –

Recipe from here

Makes one 10″ cake

WHAT WE NEED

Sunflower / rice bran oil               3/4 cup

Granulated sugar                             1 cup

Eggs                                                      2

All purpose flour                              1 cup + 2 tbsp

Baking powder                                   1/2 tsp

Baking soda                                         1/2 tsp

Cinnamon powder                             1/2 tsp

Salt                                                          a pinch

Grated carrot                                        1 cup
WHAT TO DO

  • Preheat the oven to 175C
  • Grease a 10″ round pan and line with parchment paper
  • In a large bowl, beat the oil and sugar together for 2 minutes with a hand mixer
  • Add the eggs one by one. Ensure the first egg is fully combined with the oil mixture before adding the second one
  • Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a separate bowl to mix
  • Add the flour mixture into the oil mixture and beat them together
  • Fold in the grated carrots to ensure they are fully combined into the cake batter
  • Pour the batter into the pan
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes or till the toothpick inserted comes out clean
  • Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes
  • U mould the cake and cool completely on a wire rack
  • Enjoy!

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This is part of the Bake-a-thon 2016


Roasted eggplant with lemon garlic sauce

  

   

I finally found these large eggplants which are such a rarity here. We only get the smaller ones which are not the best for baba ghanoush or sutta kathrikai (South Indian brinjal delicacy). 

After satisfying ourselves on both those counts, I still had one large eggplant left and was looking for a quick and easy bake. Voila!

This recipe is super easy and gets you a dish with almost zero effort. And it’s tasty and not really unhealthy. So yay on all fronts.

I found this recipe here and am I excited or what!

  
 

So here goes –

Serves 1

WHAT WE NEED

Eggplant              1

Olive oil               2-3 tbsp

Salt

Pepper

Garlic cloves       2 large or 3 medium

Juice of 1 medium sized lemon

WHAT TO DO

  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Cut the eggplant vertically into  2 halves
  • Slit the flesh with a knife but don’t cut it all the way through.
  • Apply 1 tbsp oil on the flesh side and use your fingers to get the oil into the slits.
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper on it.
  • Bake for 20 minutes
  • Grind the garlic cloves, 1 tbsp oil and lemon juice to make a sauce.
  • Once you take the eggplant out of the oven the slots would have spread open making it easy to apply the sauce all over.
  • Sprinkle some more salt and pepper ensuring they are sprinkled into the slits as well.
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Enjoy!

 

  NOTES

  1. It is essential to ensure the sauce and salt are generously added to reach the inside layers of the eggplant else the taste will not shine through even though it will be fully cooked.

 
 


This is part of the
Bake-a-thon 2015