Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A birthday and Pineapple Cake

     We celebrated the birthday of my mother in law this month. She is a perky and fun-loving person with a genuine smiling face. It is very easy to talk to her and she befriends you with her laughter charm. Given the special person she is, I wanted to make a cake really suited for her birthday.
    Pineapples are in abundance here and they are as sweet as it can get. We've been feasting on ripe pineapples almost every day during the duration of their (my mother and father in law) stay. So this cake came out to be the perfect choice for this joyous occasion.
    Pineapple layer cake
    Make a 9" round cake (ref: here and here)
    If you are using fresh pineapples then soak the slices in thin sugar syrup. This will prevent pineapple from turning bitter. Otherwise used tinned ones.
    For the Sponge:
    250 gm (1 & 3/4 cups) plain flour
    2 tbsp vanilla custard powder
    4 tbsp icing sugar
    2 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp baking soda/ sodium bicarbonate
    1 tin/400gm sweetened condensed milk
    100 gm (1/2 cup) butter
    175 ml (3/4 cup)  milk (can use water instead)
    2 tsp good quality vanilla extract
  1. Grease and line the bottom of an  9 round cake tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, assemble the flour, custard powder or cornstarch, icing sugar,  baking powder and baking soda, mix with a spoon or a fork.
  3. Preheat the oven at about 150 degrees centigrade.
  4. Put in the condensed milk,  butter, vanilla extract and milk into the mixing bowl containing the dry ingredients. Beat with an electric hand mixer, whisk or spoon  until the mixture comes together and there are no lumps. It should not be overbeaten otherwise it'll cause the cake to be hard.
  5. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for an hour at 150 degree centigrade.
  6. The cake is done when a knife comes out clean when inserted in the centre of the cake.
  7. Cool the cake.
  8. Cream icing
    Whipping cream- 500ml chilled
    Icing sugar- 4 tbsp
    To Prepare the Cream:
  9. Chill 2 Bowls in the Fridge. Chill the Beater/Whisk.
  10. Divide the Whipping Cream in 2 Bowls. Add 2 Tablespoons of Sugar to each bowl along with the Cream.
  11. Put one bowl back in the Fridge to Chill.
  12. Beat the Whipping Cream, & the Sugar in one bowl till the cream is thick,  fluffy & forms peaks.
  13. Repeat with the other bowl of cream.
  14. To assemble the cake
  15. Slice the sponge cake into 2 halves carefully
  16. Keep the bottom half in the serving plate and sprinkle with pineapple juice till its well soaked.
  17. Spread a layer of cream and top it with thin pineapple slices.
  18. Very carefully keep the top portion on the prepared one and soak it again with pineapple juice.
  19. Spread the cream over the cake to cover the sides and decorate with more pineapple slices.
  20. Chill for a few hours or overnight for the flavors to set in.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Inspired Greek salad

There is nothing quite and filling as well as light than a salad. An amazing range of salads can be created with simple ingredients. So when I wanted something filling, yet not really a meal, I rounded up on Greek salad.

Since I did not have all the ingredients for the salad. I experimented around the original which I read here.
    Serves 2
  1. Cucumbers (we call them chinese cucumbers here)-2 , cut into round thick slices
  2. Black olives- 9-10
  3. Tomatoes-2 , quartered ( halved cherry tomatoes are preferred)
  4. Green bell pepper/capsicum- chopped into squarish pieces. Take 1 (small sized)
  5. Olive oil for drizzling- about  1 tbsp
  6. Paneer - about 50 -70 gm, cut into really small cubes, or if its crumbly use your hands
  7. Oregano - 1/2 tsp
  8. Black pepper- 2-3 pinches
  9. Method
    Take a deep bowl and put all the ingredients in it and toss well for proper mixing.
    Serve cold or at room temperature.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pasta with skillet roasted vegetables (and ketchup!)

When you are out of cheese and do not want to work up the oven, but still want to have roasted veggies with pasta, you have to innovate or modify your cooking method. That's exactly what I did. When I read this recipe; I knew I had to make it. And the perfect opportunity presented itself when both of us (me and my hubby) felt like having something light, yet filling.

Serves 2
1 /2 medium sized broccoli, cut into florets
3/4 cups sweet corn
1 capsicum/ bell pepper (you can add red/yellow ones too. )
2 small tomatoes (quartered)
1 tsp salt or to taste
pepper, freshly ground, to taste
1 tbsp olive oil

For vegetables:
Take a skillet. Heat olive oil in it.
Put all the vegetables and cook on medium to to low flame till they get charred. Stir in between to cook evenly.

For the pasta
Cook the pasta as per the direction on the packet

To assemble
1&1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion(medium sized), sliced into half moons
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tbsp Tomato Ketchup ( this is what I added, but if you want more flavour then go ahead and pour according to your taste)- it gave a saucy zing to the recipe.

In a wok, heat the oil over a medium flame. Put in the onions and fry till translucent . Toss in the pasta and roasted vegetables and mix well. Add the oregano and ketchup and toss well enough to coat the penne pasta properly.

Serve hot and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Amiya chutney/ Raw mango chutney with Mint

Right now all the mango trees around us are loaded and we were tempted into getting 4-5 raw mangoes  straight from the tree during our morning walk. Loads of summer foods made with raw mango swirled into my mind like Launji, aam panna, kairi ka sharbat etc. but a chutney was inevitable. If you have kairi/raw mango, you need to make one. No option. 

Both my mother & father in law are food lovers. Its amazing how they can detect the slightest of taste difference in various foods. This chutney was a result of the enthusiastic initiative by my father in law and the prompt action of mother in law.

  1. Kaccha Aam/kairi (raw mango)- 1 medium sized, remove the seed/pit
  2. Garlic- 3-4 cloves
  3. Onion - 2 medium (approximately equal to raw mango after chopping)
  4. Pudina/mint leaves - washed, 1 cup
  5. Green chilies- 2, chopped
  6. Kala Namak (black salt)- 2 pinch
  7. Red chili powder- 1/3 tsp
  8. Salt- 1/4 tsp
  9. Dry mint powder- 1 tsp

Take all the ingredients together  and blend it in the mixer/ food processor till they form a paste.
Enjoy on the side with main course of chapati (Indian flat bread).

Note: the addition of mint powder was prompted only because we ran out of fresh mint leaves. If you have enough mint leaves, then use them as it'll give a fresh tinge to it.