Thursday, September 26, 2013

Chocolate Chip Pie

Look no further if you are a fan  of crustless chocolate chip pie. I made this for folks at my office after receiving a number of requests for baked treats. I have been a little preoccupied with life for what seems like most of this year and have been not been doing some of the things that I love dearly -  spending leisurely time in the kitchen and   nurturing this blog.

 I have been striving to have  balance in my life  and it is a work in progress. I am learning to do the best I can and embrace things that I can't change. The sky will not fall just because there is a storm for the storm will definitely pass.

This does not take much time to whip up . Soak in the comforting aroma of vanilla, sugar and chocolate that will permeate the kitchen ( I baked it in the evening). The best part - it will linger on the next morning as you get ready to welcome another blessed  day....

Chocolate Chip Pie

The toffee bits are key to this recipe, it add a little something  to the pie.

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped toffee bits
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter / 1/2 cup butter - room temperature
1 large egg
1 cup brown sugar
1 tap vanilla etract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 inch pie plate and set aside.

Mix flour , salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Cream butter and brown sugar till fluffy. Add an egg and vanilla extract to creamed butter mixture.  Stir in flour mixture to creamed butter. Finally add in chocolate  chips and toffee bits. Spread batter into the prepared pie plate, smooth top and bake for 30 minutes or until done.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Traditional Vanilla Birthday Cake

The humble vanilla cake has high comfort factor in my books. It reminds me of spending time with my mother in the kitchen on Sunday afternoons , helping to measure out ingredients  and sift flour ( I was always the official sifter ) for her famous cakes and cookies ( or biscuits as we call them). The sounds and smells of baking on Sundays still takes me back to my mother's kitchen.

This is a light , moist cake with tight crumbs. Pretty close to my mother's vanilla cake ( I am still waiting for her recipe. She is not ready to part with it yet ;) now I have to work on cracking the code for her famous orange cake.

Have all ingredients at room temperature prior to baking ( yes, even eggs) as it produces the best results, especially for cakes. The original recipe makes one three layer 9 inch cake. I made it into 2 layer 9 inch cake and baked the cakes a bit longer. It also makes 2 dozen cupcakes

Traditional Vanilla Birthday Cake
1 cup softened unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
A pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2  - 9 inch cake pans or one 10 inch pan  with parchment paper and set aside.

Using medium speed, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Sift and  combine flours and salt in a separate bowl and add into egg -   butter mixture in four parts alternating with milk ( with a gentle touch) . Don't overbeat!

 Divide better between both cake pans and bake 35 to 45 minutes. Mine took 45 minutes. It is a good idea not to open the oven door while cake is baking or it could sink in the middle. Check for doneness. Cool completely on a  rack. I poured  chocolate ganache over the cooled cake prior to serving.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Bread


I am not a vegan but have friends who are. Plus I realized that  many of dishes that I make on weekdays are either vegetarian or vegan . This is due to doing  prep work on weekends and always have a few batches of boiled beans of some kind stocked in the freezer and cut up  vegetables in the fridge. 

We have been enjoying an abundance of vegetables from our garden by experimenting with different dishes. This zucchini bread is  filled with moist, chocolaty goodness and  a drizzle of chocolate would be perfect. It is not an overly sweet cake and dairy yogurt would be a suitable substitute.  Keeps moist for days!

Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Bread
4 cups grated zucchini - squeeze out excess water
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp coffee granules - I used instant coffee
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup coconut yogurt
3/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour or line 2 loaf pans ( 9x5) with with parchment paper.

Sift flour, cocoa powder, salt and set aside.
Using a standard mixer beat yogurt, olive oil, sugar, vanilla extract and coffee granules for about one minute.  Mix in shredded zucchini and flour mixture in three additions. Divide between prepared loaf pans and bake for 50 minnutes ( and use a cake tester to test for doneness). Cool on a rack completely before slicing. Pour over melted chocolate if you wish ( vegan chocolate chips or otherwise).

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cucumber And Peanut Salad

We have been having an abundance of cucumbers  thanks to our bountiful cucumber plants. I have been making cucumber water with lemon, raita and salads. I have made this cucumber and peanut salad on numerous occasions  and we are not sick of it yet. I am a big fan of chopping and adding all ingredients in one bowl which makes weekday cooking just that much easier.

The essential step to this recipe is salting and drawing out the liquid of the cucumber to prevent the salad from becoming soggy. The black mustard seeds add extra nuttiness next to the roasted peanuts and is a nice contrast the cucumber.

Cucumber and Peanut Salad
1 English cucumber or 3 small cucumbers - peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1/2 roasted peanuts - chopped
1/2 freshly grated coconut
salt to taste
1 medium sized green chilli - chopped
2 tb cilantro - finely chopped
juice from half a lemon

2 tb ghee/clarified butter
1 tsp black mustard seeds
5 curry leaves - optional

Salt cucumber pieces and set aside for 20 minutes to half an a hour to drain . Dry cucumber pieces on a kitchen towel and place in a bowl. Add chopped peanuts, chopped cilantro, green chilli,  grated coconut and lemon juice . 
  Heat ghee in a pot over medium heat and saute mustard seeds till it starts to pop, add curry leaves and take off the heat. Pour over the cucumber mixture. Add salt to taste. Serve as a side dish.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Frozen Yogurt With Mint And Chocolate Chip

 My cravings for frozen treats usually hits all time high around this time of the year. This frozen yogurt with mint  and chocolate chip could rival Pinkberry's! Seriously, you have to try it to believe it. I was pleasantly surprised when I tasted the cream- yogurt mixture prior to turning on the ice cream maker. The minty  and cream balance was just right.

The recipe calls for rice syrup but maple syrup or honey can be used  in its place. Add in your fave chopped chocolate, we love dark chocolate here but go ahead and use whatever  chocolate your heart desires :)

Frozen Yogurt With Mint And Chocolate Chip adapted from here
2 oz dark chocolate - chopped
2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt ( unsweetened)
1 cup fresh mint
1 cup cream
1/2 cup plus 2 tb brown rice syrup

Heat cream in a saucepan and add chopped mint . Bring cream to a simmer, add rice syrup,stir and  turn off heat.  Leave cream - mint mixture to steep for at least half an hour.

Pour cream in a strainer to remove chopped mint. Add yogurt to steeped cream  and mix well. Chill in fridge  30 mins to overnight. Churn mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instruction. . Once frozen yogurt is ready, add in chopped chocolate. Store in freezer until ready to serve.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Pasta Salad With Tomatoes, Lemon And Broccoli

I have made this pasta salad a few times this summer. The  dressing is a riff of the classic mayo dressing but the addition of lemon makes it taste a bit lighter and seasonal. Cherry tomatoes have been ready for the picking in my garden and I also have pots of basil that are growing faster that I can use them.They both make an appearance in this salad .

I used whole wheat pasta for this as that it is what I had in the pantry, regular pasta can be substituted, adjust the cooking time accordingly. This pasta can be made a few hours prior to serving, great for a picnic this weekend!

Pasta Salad With Tomatoes, Lemon And Broccoli
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 lemon juiced
1/4 cup whole milk
salt to taste
black pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl, adjust seasonings and set aside.

1 box whole wheat pasta  ( penne) - 13.25 oz
1 head broccoli - cut into florets
10 oz cherry tomatoes - halved
12 whole basil leaves - chopped
1/2 cup  whole leaf parsley - chopped

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta till done. Add in broccoli florets in pasta ( with pasta)  water the last 2 minutes of remaining cooking time, drain.
Stir pasta - broccoli mixture, halved tomatoes, basil, chopped parsley and dressing together in a large bowl. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving .

Monday, July 22, 2013

Strawberry Cake

I adore this cake for its simplicity and the sheer deliciousness showcasing  fruits of  summer. Swap the strawberries with blackberries, blueberries or even cherries. The batter is straightforward and buttery. I have already made this a few times this summer and most probably will make it a few more times before the season is over.

Make it right away, you wont regret it,  :)
You could also try this dimply cake.

Strawberry Cake - adapted from Martha Stewart
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
7 tb unsalted butter - room temperature
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar plus some for sprinkling
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1 lb strawberries -hulled and halved ( or quartered if large)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9 inch deep dish pie plate and set aside ( otherwise  batter will overflow, 10 inch spring form pan  would work too).

Mix flour, salt, baking powder in a bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, using a standard mixer, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Pour in egg, vanilla extract and milk. Mix till well combined. Add flour mixture  into butter mixture, combine until batter is smooth.

Pour into buttered pie plate, arrange cut strawberries on top of batter and sprinkle 2 tablespoon of sugar on top of arranged fruit.

Bake cake for 10 minutes and reduce heat to 325 degrees. Bake for  50 - 60 minutes or until cake tester comes clean. Cool and serve.  Keeps well , can be made a day ahead.