Author Archives: peachesnpebbles

Grape Muffins

Standard

We had a joyful sunny weekend (except for the EQ scare on Saturday)  and we happily assumed that spring is finally over..Summer’s finally here !!! Yipeeeee….time to pull out shorts and flip flops…jackets and thermals go to the back of the closet 🙂  Sadly that was presumptuous of us…. The weather has been really gloomy for the past 4 days  😦

I skipped my reading  cos I was not very happy with my selection of  books this week. I tried reading one of the 3 novels I got from the library and it almost put me to sleep (for the first time in years) 😀  And with such boring weather, I had nothing great to do- so I decided to bake myself some muffins.

This was the first time I was trying my hand at it and wanted to try something easy. Plus I wanted to use the grapes that had been lying untouched in my fridge for almost a week.

This is How I made it:

Source –Food.com

Makes – 12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs  – well beaten
  • 1/2 cup  melted butter ( you can use margarine too)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups red seedless grapes , cut into pieces
  • A dash of cinnamon

Direction:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F / 190° C and line the muffins tray with paper cups.

2. Combine flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Keep it aside.

3. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the vanilla and eggs and combine well.

4. Next add the milk and mix well.

5. Add the dry ingredients (Flour+baking powder+cinnamon) to the mixture and stir until the ingredients are combined.

6. Lightly fold in grapes.

7.  Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown on top

8. Cool in pan.

Muffins and a hot cup of tea certainly make up for the gloomy Wellington weather!!

Advertisements

Garden Spells

Standard

I just finished reading a book called ‘Garden Spells‘ by Sarah Addison Allen. I picked up the book from the library only because it said ‘Adored Chocolat? Be enchanted by Garden Spells’. I loved ‘The Lollipop Shoes‘ and ‘Chocolat‘ by Joanne Harris and have a soft spot for books with food and folklore/magic. I have grown up reading Enid Blyton and ‘The Enchanted Wood’ is my all time favourite book. I am a grown up but in my soul, I am still that small child who believes in magic, miracles et al.

An excerpt from the book –

‘Business was doing well, because all the locals knew that dishes made from the flowers that grew around the apple tree in the Waverley garden could affect the eater in curious ways.The biscuits with lilac jelly the Ladies Aid ordered for their meetings once a month gave them the ability to keep secrets. The fried dandelion buds over marigold-peta rice, stuffed pumpkin blossoms, and rose-hip soup ensured your company would notice only the beauty of your home and never the flaws. Anise hyssop honey butter on toast, angelica candy and cupcakes with crystallised pansies made children thoughtful……………and the salads made with chicory and mint had you believing that something good was about to happen, whether it was true or not’.

The narration is easy on the head but is predictable. The book is all about love, magical food, delightful romance with  good men and villains  straight out of the never-never world. I love happy endings and YES this book has one.

The best part about the book for me was the description of the food, which made me crave for all the magical food (wishful thinking that such food existed) and eat more cupcakes/muffins and candies…..just the way I gorged on chocolates while  reading ‘Chocolat’ and ‘The Lollipop Shoes’.

Well…we may not have the magic ingredients to cook up that extra special meal.. but we do have love – which is sort of magic right??? 😀

Sweet and Salty Ajwain/Carom Seeds Crackers

Standard

Ajwain/Carom seeds is one of my favourite spice besides cummin seeds. I try to incorporate it in most of my Indian/Nepali cooking – I add it to my roti/paratha dough, in my curries and use it to temper my dal. I should thank Maa (my mom) for making me love this spice so much. She would saut’e ajwain in ghee with onions and temper the dals/lentil soups and ‘quanti’ (a nine-bean soup: a newari dish). The whole kitchen would have the fragrant aroma.

Besides, she would also give us roasted ajwain seeds every time we had digestion problem. Now I swear by ajwain and black salt to cure me of my indigestion.

Back to the crackers. Last Friday, I wanted something salty to nibble with my afternoon tea. I searched  for an easy, tried and tested salty biscuits/crackers. I found this simple recipe and was rewarded with a jar of crispy, carom seed flavoured crackers.

This is how I made it:

Recipe Source:Rak’s Kitchen

Ingredients:

All purpose flour 1& 1/2 cups

Oil 1/4 cup

Butter 1 tsp (I added 2 tsp)

Ajwain/Carom seeds 1 tsp

Salt 3/4 tsp

Sugar 1 & 1/2 tblsp

Milk 6 tblsp

Curd 1 tblsp (I added 2 tbsp)

Directions:
  1. In a bowl mix together the flour, oil, butter, ajwain, salt, sugar and curd until the mixture is crumbly and  resembles coarse meal.
  2. Then add the milk to the mixture and knead it to form a smooth dough.
  3. Roll the dough out to 1/8th-inch thickness directly onto a baking sheet.
  4. Using a knife or cookie cutter, cut the rolled out dough into desired shapes. Prick with fork in the center to prevent it from puffing.
  5. Bake at 180° C for 10-15 minutes or until crackers are golden brown. Watch them after the 10 minute mark.
  6. Store in an airtight jar on cooling.
WARNING: These crackers tastes really really awesome….. and you may not b able to stop at one 😀
Cheers and Happy Baking!!

My tryst with ‘SUSHI’

Standard

I have often wondered why a lot of people like ‘Sushi’ so much.I see people talking about it all over the net. People going gaga over it…sushi this…and sushi that…tweets/fb reading “Goin For Sushi..Yummmm/ Sushi yeahhh’. Never seen anyone say ‘Going to Mc D/Burger King…burgers n fries yummmm’ or ‘Pasta/Pizza …yeah’ 😀 So why is Sushi  so popular and trendy? What’s the deal anyways? 😉

Is it cause it sounds so exotic- raw fish et al…The vinegar-ed rice plus the combination of raw fish and seaweed does make it very pleasing to the eye. Am sure sushi lovers have their own reasons. And me asking the question is the same as people in far off parts of the world asking why is Mc Donalds or Subway so popular. (I am a big fan of Subway BTW)

Well for me the thought of putting a piece of raw fish into my mouth was a huge turn off and so I never gave it a go (Ignorant me wasn’t aware that there is a veg variety of  sushi too). In Bangalore (where I lived for 8 years), I couldn’t do without my bi weekly dose of Chinese 🙂 (and Japanese food was not as popular as Chinese).

Anyways, once we moved to Wellington (NZ), I saw people queuing up to this Sushi takeaway joint during the lunch hour. The queue is so long at times that it spills over to the main road. All this for a bite Sushi!!!

So one not so fine spring afternoon, I decided to try some sushi for lunch while my hubby enjoyed his Burrito. So I picked up few Makizushi and Nigirizushi -all vegetarian with mushrooms, carrots, avocado, lettuce etc. So there I was ready with my soy sauce, wasabi and chop sticks. A mouthful of Nigirizushi with avocado did not impress me neither did the other varieties of makizushi in all it’s colourful glory. I could barely finish it and headed to Mc D for some fries and hot chocolate to fill me up.

Fresh Apple Cake

Standard

Throughout history, apple has been a source of inspiration. Newton, Steve Jobs and now me. One of  my favourite fruit in it’s new form – A scrumptious cake.

I love this recipe because it is a no fail, easy recipe and tastes fantabulous! The cake has a nice moist sweet taste and I am sure that once you have a taste of it, you will want to make it over and over again. A perfect dessert, with its chunks of apples, nuts and raisins, all wrapped in a cinnamon-laced batter.

How I made it:

Source:Grandma\’s Fresh Apple Cake

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup white sugar (I used 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 white as we dont like our cakes too sweet)

1/4 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

A dash of nutmeg

1 Tsp Vanilla

1 and 1/2 cups apple – peeled, cored, and chopped

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup raisins or dates

* I used less walnuts and raisins since I am not a big fan 🙂

Directions:

1. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt (Dry Ingredients). Set it aside.

2. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Grease and flour a loaf pan.

3. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Add the egg and beat well. Next add the vanilla.

4. Stir in the sifted dry ingredients and mix well.

5. Now fold in the apples, nuts and raisins.

6. Transfer the mixture to the greased loaf pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

I have baked this cake couple of times and it comes out great every time. This recipe is definitely a keeper. It’s time for you to join the inspired bunch. Cheers and Happy Baking.

Besan Ladoo

Standard

This was my first Diwali abroad and I had no clue about Indian sweet shops in Wellington (I finally found one yesterday). And what’s Diwali without sweets eh!!!! Though I had a packet of ‘ready to make’ Gulab  Jamun mix at home, I decided to give it a miss. The other options were – kheer or besan ladoo – And since I had a jar of Besan/gramflour at home I gave it a try and ended with great ladoos.

Besan Ladoo

Source:Besan Ladoo

Makes about 16 ladoos

Ingredients: 

  • 1 1/2 cups gram flour (besan)
  • 2 tablespoons semolina flour (fine sooji)
  • 1/2 cup melted clarified butter (ghee)
  • 3/4 cups sugar (I used less)
  • 4 tablespoons sliced almonds (badam)
  • 1/4 teaspoons coarsely grounded cardamom seeds (Elaichi)
  • 1 tablespoons sliced pistachios for garnishing (I did not have any so used sliced almonds)

Here’s how I made it:

  1. Mix besan (gram flour), sooji, and melted butter on medium heat and begin to roast  until the besan becomes light golden brown in colour and the raw aroma of besan disappears..  Stir the mixture continuously with a spatula to prevent it from burning.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool a little but take care not to let it cool to room temperature.
  3. While the mixture is still warm add the cardamom seeds, almonds and sugar.
  4. When it is warm enough to handle, take about 2 tablespoons of the warm besan mixture  and shape it into ping pong ball sized/lime sized smooth, round balls. Add a little ghee if your mixture is too powdery and does not hold shape.
  5. Garnish with sliced pistachios or sliced almonds like I did 🙂
  6. Allow it to cool and then transfer to an airtight container. It can be stored for 2 to 3 weeks.

This recipe makes for pretty impressive ladoos, and my hubby has now pleaded for one his favourites – coconut/nariyal ladoos. Anyone has a tried n tested recipe???? 😀

Just a thing to note – There will be a little smell of besan on the first day, but it will gradually fade away.

Hope you all had a great Diwali…

Spiral Cookies

Standard

Having started baking about 2 months back, my hubby thought it was about time I tried something more difficult (read more effort taking) than the usual chocolate chip/peanut butter cookies and  cakes that I had baked so far. I started baking inspired by  http://www.cookingandme.com/ as I found Nag’s recipes so simple and easy.

Coaxed by my hubby and running high on the appreciation received from my friends…I felt a little adventurous and decided to give this one a try… and like Nags said,  it wow-ed my friends and tasted great, besides impressing my hubby.

Since I am too lazy to edit my pictures, what I take is what you get to see. I am not very good at it but what the heck…Pictures make the blog look nice and colourful 🙂

Well being a novice at this, I forgot to take the pictures of the first few steps of making the dough. But trust me it aint difficult and I do have the pictures of the cookie dough rolled out 🙂

Here’s what I did :

I started with the 2 batches of dough. Beat one egg yolk (each dough requires half) and set it aside. In a mixing bowl, cream together 1/2 cup unsalted butter and 1/2 cup sugar (The butter was supposed to be at room temperature but I forgot. So I warmed it up a bit in the microwave) . Beat in the half egg yolk, salt and vanilla essence.  Add the flour gradually to the creamed mixture to form a soft dough. And you are done with your first dough.

The process is the same for the chocolate dough except to omit the vanilla and add the unsweetened cocoa powder.So cream together 1/2 cup unsalted butter and 1/2 cup sugar. Add the cocoa powder and mix well. Then add the egg yolk mixing it well. Add the flour gradually to the creamed mixture to form a soft dough.

Cover the two dough and refrigerate for about 30 minutes…. take a shower or clean up 🙂

After 30 mins, roll out the chilled dough between plastic sheets or butter paper – else it can get pretty sticky and messy and you might just give up. Try to roll it into flat squares (mine turned out round/oval …lol)
Now transfer the rolled out chocolate layer over the vanilla layer and roll out from the short end gently as the pic below and refrigerate for about 30 mins.
Pre-heat the oven to 350F/180C. Cut the chilled rolled dough into discs of 1/2 inches thickness and  transfer to a greased or lined cookie sheet.
Bake for 10-15 mins until the vanilla part turns a light golden brown.

And Voila ..there you have it – The enticingly yummy looking spiral cookies.

Here’s the recipe at one go:

Source: Nags

Vanilla Dough:

  • 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 egg yolk, beaten
  • 4 -5 drops vanilla essence
  • A pinch of salt

Chocolate Dough:

  • 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  •  1/2 egg yolk, beaten
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:

  1. Start with the vanilla dough.  In a mixing bowl, cream together 1/2 cup unsalted butter and 1/2 cup sugar.
  2. Beat in the half egg yolk, salt and vanilla essence
  3. Add the flour gradually to the creamed mixture to form a soft dough.
  4. For the chocolate dough, cream together butter and sugar. Add the cocoa powder and mix well.
  5. Then add the egg yolk mixing it well. Add the flour gradually to the creamed mixture to form a soft dough.
  6. Refrigerate both the dough for about  30 mins.
  7. After 30 mins, roll out the chilled dough between plastic sheets or butter paper and roll it into flat squares.
  8. Place the rolled out chocolate layer over the vanilla layer and roll out from the short end gently. Freeze for 30 mins.
  9. Pre-heat the oven to 350F/180C. Cut the chilled rolled dough into discs of 1/2 inches thickness and  transfer to a greased or lined cookie sheet.
  10. Bake for 10-15 mins until the vanilla part of the cookies turns a light golden brown.

Do let me know about your tryst with the spiral cookies. Happy Baking!!