Monday, April 28, 2008

Amazing control - Chocolate brownie cake

My 4 year old was so much into cakes, brownies, candies, chocolates, cookies, basically anything and everything sweet that it was next to impossible to control her. She used to cry for something sweet every time. She wanted a sweet fix so often - when she woke up, before she went to school after she came from school, at snack time, at bedtime - that we had started referring to her as the "cookie monster".

Whenever we went to our friends, she would somehow find their stocks of sweets, be it cookies, candies or even gummy bear (children's vitamins). It was embarrassing for me at times.

Last month, I took my 1 year old for his annual check up, while I was waiting for his turn at the waiting area, I came across this pamphlet about baby bottle tooth decay. I was reading about it and just happened to carry the pamphlet home. At home, my 4 year old came to me as usual for a sugar fix, when I showed her the pamphlet.
There were some pretty graphic pictures about the tooth decay; teeth that were very badly discolored, broken and the lips were stretched to show the teeth and gums. I told her that if you eat a lot of sugary things eventually your teeth will have a bad decay and may look like this. I expected her to say, Oh! whatever mum, but I still want candy. Instead I was very much surprised by her reaction.

She started sobbing! She vowed that she is never ever going to touch anything sweet. I was so sure that this reaction will last maybe half an hour, and she will forget all about it and come back for a sugar fix.

Guess what?

It has been more then a month and for a girl, who was always sugar high, has not asked for a sugar treat. Isn't that amazing! She has controlled herself so well that I started feeling guilty about the whole thing, and started telling her that it was okay to have some cookies or candies. So, now we have compromised and she has agreed to have something sweet on Saturdays after lunch. I wish I could be like her and control my sugar rush.

I made this chocolate brownie cake this weekend as we had some friends over. This cake is very dense; it is almost like a tart in that it is not spongy. It is fudgy, like a brownie should be and absolutely delicious. It is lovely as it is, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The method is also very simple; there is no need to beat the eggs a lot. Most of the ingredients are melted on the stovetop in one pot and then the rest of the ingredients mixed through and baked for 30 minutes. This is an easy, no fuss cake, and is just too good to resist.

So this one is for her - for her amazing control.

Love you dear,

  • 100g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 125g chocolate (semi sweet)
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract /essence
  • 100g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
Heat oven to 350 F/180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.

Place the butter, caster sugar, brown sugar, chocolate and corn syrup in the pan and melt gently on a low heat until it is smooth and lump-free.
Remove the pan from the heat.

Break the eggs into the bowl and whisk with the fork until light and frothy.

Add the eggs, vanilla extract or essence, flour, baking powder and cocoa powder to the chocolate mixture and mix thoroughly.

Put the mixture into the greased cake tin and place on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool for 20-30 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.

Serve with ice cream and or plenty of fresh fruit.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Click: Au Naturel

Click: Au Naturel - Vine Sweet Red Mini Pepper

This is my entry to Click the photo event. This months theme is Au Naturel. Click here to see other photos in the image gallery.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Yam side dish/Suran/Chenna upperi/thoran

Just like my mother, my mother in law is a fantastic cook. Over the years I have learned a lot of great recipes from her. And like me, she is a keen cook and is always trying out new recipes.

I grew up in Mumbai and most of my friends were north Indians. I loved eating north Indian food, be it the yummy street food, Mougali or Punjabi dishes. Other then popular south Indian dishes such as idlis, dosas and appams, I rarely ate south Indian food at restaurants and I didn't really care for rice (especially the naadan(Rose Matta rice/Kuthari) par-boiled rice) or the south Indian side dishes that were made at home. It was too coconuty for me. But after I got married to a guy who loves south Indian food, I started trying out the various south Indian side dishes. I now love the sweet crunchy taste of coconut and the sheer simplicity of these recipes.

I have never seen a better recipe for yam/suran/chenna than the one here. This dish, which my mom in law makes, is so lip smacking good that you wouldn’t want to make yam any other way. The dish gets its sweet taste and crunchiness from the grated coconut and the chopped coconut, its kick from the dry red chilies and its tartness from the touch of lemon. Add a chicken cube and this dish is transformed
. The chicken cube changes the dish to a whole new dimension(vegetarians can use vegetable cubes).

*I have used frozen yam, as the Indian grocery store that I go to doesn't have fresh yam. Ideally it is best to make it with fresh yam, but frozen also works. If using fresh yam, you will have to cook it first till just tender. If you are using frozen ones then you can heat the yam in the microwave for a minute or so depending on your microwave.

  • 1 ½ cup Chenna/Suran chopped & cooked*
  • 1-cup coconut grated
  • 1 chicken/vegetable cube bullion
  • 1-cup onions chopped
  • ½ tsp Chili powder
  • ½ tsp Turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • ½ tsp Mustard seeds
  • 2-3 red chilies
  • ½ tsp Urad dal
  • 3 green chilies
  • 1” ginger
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp jeera powder
  • ¼ cup coconut chopped
  • 1 – 2 tsp of lemon juice
  • Curry leaves a sprig

In a pot, put the oil and add mustard seeds, when they pop add the dry chilies, urad dal & curry leaves (Keep all this ready, otherwise you will burn either the urad dal or the chilies).

Add the chopped onions, green chilies and ginger. Sauté till the onions or translucent.

Add the grated coconut, turmeric, chili, coriander and jeera powder and sauté for a bit.

Add the chenna/suran/yam, sauté and mix well.

Then add the chopped coconut, chicken/veg. cubes (powder the cubes with your hands).

Add lemon juice. Adjust the seasoning.

Serve hot with rice or chappati and dal

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Chocolate Hazelnut Praline Tart

My husband and I complement each other when it comes to entertaining. He loves to have people over and I love to cook; I get a chance to try new dishes, be it curries or desserts.

Each one in our family has a sweet tooth. So, I make brownies, tarts and cakes usually when we have people over or I take them with me when we are invited over to someone's place.
Although, I must say that with a clingy toddler and a 4 year old who wants to help me cook, the kitchen usually looks like it was hit by a tornado by the time I have finished cooking. Pots and pans, kitchen towels, spoons, and the bottom two shelves down from the pantry are usually scattered on the floor. With all this commotion, it certainly has been hard for me to cook with high speed or efficiency. The time I enter the kitchen to cook a simple meal is a lot longer and time consuming, so we don't entertain as much as we used to. But occasionally we still do have people over.The last time we had guests, I made this chocolate hazelnut praline tart. My friends absolutely loved it and wanted the recipe right away.

Adapted from BBC GoodFood Magazine

For the PASTRY:
  • 140g/5oz Butter
  • 100g/4oz Golden caster sugar(I used regular caster sugar)
  • 225g/8oz Plain flour
  • 50g/2oz Almond meal or ground almonds
For the FILLING:
  • 85g/3oz Blanched hazelnuts (I didn’t blanch, I used store bought chopped hazelnut)
  • 50g/2oz Golden caster sugar, plus 4 tbsp
  • 200g/8oz Dark chocolate (70% cocoa) – (I used Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate bars)
  • 100g/4oz Butter
  • Splash of Frangelico liqueur or brandy – I didn’t use any
  • 1 Egg, plus 3 Egg yolks

Make the pastry. Cream butter and sugar, and then add flour and almonds. Bring everything together with the egg. If the pastry is very soft, chill it for 20 minutes or so. If not, roll out to fit a deepish 23 cm fluted flan tin, if the pastry breaks, press scraps of pastry into the gaps, leaving a light overhang. Chill for 20 minutes.

Heat oven to 400F/200C/fan 180C/Gas 6. Line the case with baking parchment and baking beans, then bake for 10 minutes. Remove beans and cook for another 10 minutes until golden.

Meanwhile, toast nuts in a pan until starting to brown. Scatter over 4 tbsp of sugar; cook until it caramelizes, then tip nuts onto a baking tray lined with parchment. Leave to cool, then roughly chop. Over a pan of barely simmering water, melt chocolate, butter and alcohol (if using) together, and then set aside to cool slightly. Over the same pan, use a hand blender and beat the egg, yolks, and remaining sugar until pale and fluffy. Take off the heat, and then fold in the chocolate mix.

When case is cooked, remove from oven and turn the heat down to 320F/160C/fan 140C/gas3. Scatter most of the hazelnuts over the base, then tip in the chocolate mix, pressing it down slightly. Cook the tart for 15-20 minutes until chocolate has almost set. Leave to cool, the serve scattered with remaining nuts.

NOTE: Use cold ingredients for the pastry. The tart can be made up to 1 day ahead.