Saturday, April 15, 2017

Carrot cake


This needed to ferry out faster than I could type. 

That means, as much as I enjoy it, and am urgently believing you do too, we won't have our usual 
lengthy dialogue.

I know you're disappointed.
And that just was not a sigh of relief.

I'll confess I am not as diligent and methodical as I portray myself to be. And the slightly imbalanced to-do list of Easter things needed to be finished by tomorrow and those that actually are is terribly disproportioned as of this moment.

Which is why I'll close up script right now. 

But not before I send you some greetings.

And assign you this insanely moist carrot cake. Which looks more like a carnival, circus and garden show rolled into one.

Still.. it is rank, my friends.

Just like your Sunday should be.

Happy Easter!
He is risen❤️

(Cake recipe adapted from foodandwine.com)
Ingredients:
For the cake~
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp powdered cloves
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1 pound grated peeled carrots (about 4-5 medium carrots)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup canola or other vegetable oil
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs

For the frosting~
  • 1 8 ounce package of cream cheese at room temperature
  • ¼ cup salted butter at room temperature
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
Directions:
For the cake~
  • Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour 2 9" inch  round pans.
  • In a large bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans.
  • In the bowl of stand mixer or with hand mixer whisk oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Add sugar and beat well. 
  • Add eggs one at a time and beat until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the dry ingredient mixture until just combined.
  • Divide the batter between prepared pans and bake on middle rack of oven for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F  and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until cakes are done and toothpick inserted in middles come out clean.
For the frosting~
  • In a large bowl, combine cream cheese with butter and beat in mixer on medium-speed just until blended. 
  • Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating until smooth between each addition.
  • Beat on high for about three minutes until soft and fluffy.
  • Spread on a thick layer on top of one cake. Place second cake over this and cover sides and top of second with remaining frosting. 

** I've updated with some new pictures. Got to show you how good it really is. Right?
******
"And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you." Romans 8:11

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Mixed berry coconut chia smoothie


I have a friend who uses exactly half a tub of vanilla ice cream to make blended drinks. Servings can be anywhere between 1 to 3. If that possibly weren't enough to call in the fat police, she anoints it with a good pouring of sugar, half canister to be precise. Fruit is optional, though, as a prerequisite to slotting it fruity, we've seen the few strawberries that wheedle their way through. Needless to say, this is the best drink I've ever tasted and probably ever will in my entire life. She calls it a smoothie, which by any beverages and drinks mandate, it is not.

Did that deter us from replicating and consuming copious amounts in titan mugs on summer days where water just wouldn't, couldn't do the trick? Though I, in those rare halo moments, and without fail, would always throw in cups of frozen fruit, for the sake of my conscience. And posterity. 

It didn't help that all the love I was running in the blender was wreaking havoc on my get-fit-wellness regime, namely, afternoon treadmill trolls, while watching queued episodes of Netflix flicks, having me a bit more "prosperous' than I'd like. To make matters worse, when heat demands shorts and tshirts, I'd be dressed for the Artic, creatively covering up, newly-formed folds, flab and handles. The painful outcome of coma-esque drink pureeing showed, forced an end to my addictive spiralling towards darkness. I really had to find a less sinful way to contentment  smoothie making.  

Point also to note, the liquid food column here had been in serious need of an update. I mean, on better days I probably would've journaled all the stuff I throw in my Ninja jar. Though it might surely fail to leave you in a state of overawe, unlike the one time my spirit fruit blended into a milkshake, or even when I colored lemonade coral.

When agave nectar tries to recreate what barrels of sugar has done, it's a miracle of sorts.  Certainly so when it affirms much more than the prior could possibly achieve. You see, agave nectar is pure sugar. It tastes good. Yet, it has a low glycemic index. Which in layman terms means it's really good for you.  None of the thigh expanding drama that would otherwise happen if you had made smoothies like my gluttonous, nutritionally unbalanced self always did, and probably still desires to do.

This fuchsia frosty is as pure, precise, and prettier than anything you would see in a glass.  The speck/ snip of fresh/ frozen berries, bites of chia,  and whiffs of coconut transport you to island beach fronts and holiday settings that you've been to or are much needing to go on.

I could see this happening in your kitchen right now. With some necessary provisions and a little determination you could too. So, then...what are you waiting for?
The past weeks have been seeing this as part of my afternoon pick-me-up-off-the-floor plan of action. A 12 ounce mug gives sensational pep to my afternoon runs, having me (truly) believe I may be several years younger than the past birthday went out to try and prove.
Do you see the halo? Having several antioxidant and digestive benefits, ingredients become almost ethereal.
Do both. Fresh and frozen fruits create unbelievable texture and an unbeatable pure flavor.
Beauty in the bits. Snippets of fruit are welcome surprises while sipping the Smooth.
Why chia? Just that it gives texture and tons of nutrition. Is there any more to say?

Ingredients:
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries
  • ½cup fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into halves
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (fat free if desired)
  • 2-3 tbsp agave nectar
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut slices or chips slices for garnish (optional)
Directions:
  • Stir chia seeds into milk and keep aside for a couple of minutes.
  • Blend ingredients, from coconut milk to nectar with the chia mixture until smooth, or desired consistency.
  • Top with coconut slices.
Notes~

For smoothies, I use the unsweetened carton coconut milk, found in the refrigerated dairy section. The canned milk can be an option, but will have a stronger coconut-y flavor.

A smoother smoothie? No worries. Blend longer until silky, and totally free of fruit grit. Strain if desired

Serve immediately or store refrigerated for up to 1-2 hours.

This makes 4 cups, or 3 generous servings. Need more? Double ingredients.

Coconut slices come frozen at Asian specialty groceries or you can buy the dried unsweetened coconut chips. 

******
2013~ Palappam 
"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Ecclesiastes 3:11

Thursday, March 23, 2017

No knead jalapeno cheese bread


Mystery stories and baking are my perfect comrades on afternoons that don't demand hustling to get dinner on the table at 7, which anyways, always ends up 9. It's especially of benefit, when the author of this new series, you've just begun(which your boss so graciously lent you;-) creates settings for the deepest darkest murders in cozy bistros amidst platters of warm croissants, and stars a chief Inspector who "stands in the light because he knows where the darkness is." Hmm, even my novel reading has started preaching to me.

In all the engrossing twists and turns of your new read, you feel the call. To create and to eat. Because you are truly, maybe always, very hungry. Is this a general phenomenon or am I just specially inclined that way? Please. Let's not answer that.

It's then you also come to the rather appalling fact that you haven't made an appearance over here in almost a month. I digress. And have no real explanation. Though I promise, I may demostrate today something which might dazzle the socks off you, or maybe your loaf pan. So keep the socks on and stay for the rest of the show. Please.

I didn't have to do much trolling for this. It appeared on my Facebook feed, as a gift, like answered prayer, which is, in fact how God talks a lot to me these days. It works. At least you'll see that in the remaining part our discussion. 

A block of sharp cheese is the only item I needed to make a grocery run for. Any and all remaining components are pantry essentials, plus the two or three can't-live-withouts permanently occupying space in my overflowing Indian cupboard. Thus, without much ado, I brought cheddar bread to light.

When I say a mere 9x 5 loaf vaunts a delirious amount of rich flavor, in no way is it exaggeration. There are a number of reasons the bread is as desirable as it is. First, let's get out of the way the truth that there is nothing mounds of cheese can't and will not make right. Two, with those gleaming  golden shreds, a few red jalapenos go a tremendously long way, amping up on the fierce, thereby adding more finetuned dimension. Third, the synthesis of onion, garlic work in unison with the touch of chaat masala, yielding to a final production so vibrant that has your kids and those you may or may not decide to share with begging for a soon second show. 

I tweaked the original cheddar bread to have it salute, somewhat strongly to my tastebuds.You too, should sync any breadmaking fantasy you may be occupying this very minute and bring it to fruition right now, right here. Like those glutenesque visions of  parsley, sage and cubed swiss?  Slices tucked with powdered chicken bullion and parmesan? Flavored and on fire with quatro Mexican cheese and rings of habanero? It's the dive in and experiment sort of instruction, where many things which spin your mind, belly and very orbit delivers an end that's undeniably good.

There are a lot of things this yeast bread recipe boasts. A fluffy, dense interior, carrying enough air pockets that make it springy to the touch. A credible hardy crust conveying an impressive sandwich bread reminiscence, and compels you to have even those end wedges that nobody wants. Moreover, there is practically no need to knead( like the play?). Why, all this wonderbread truly needs is a cape.

It's a recipe for those days where you desire a little bearing, the oomph/ push required to steer you right, and a dueness to a clear sense of accomplishment. It could very well solve many of the world's problems. Or maybe just yours.

Finally, I'll wrap up this brief baking class, and often, to your chagrin, my soul broodings. It's worth it. So go on, it's yours now. The basic no knead that might be a fundamental part of your life. That should in itself be much bread for thought. 


Do we hear angels sing?

A cupful of sharp cheddar is more than enough to give the loaf the punch it needs without having it taste like Cheetoes. Which probably wouldn't be a bad thing either.
It's the strawberry jam  that did it. Smeared on thickish pieces of bread, you have no way escape. It made me take down 3/4 of my first loaf. Of course, I made a second batch, coz you have to feed the children;-)

Ingredients:
(Adapted from King Arthur Flour's no knead cheese bread)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion, fried to a light brown
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic, lightly browned
  • 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp chaat masala
  • 2 ½ tsp instant dry yeast
  • 1 red jalapeno, sliced into thin rounds(seed if needed)
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ cup milk(at room temperature)

Directions:

  • Lightly grease a 9x5 loaf pan
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix with hand or on lowest setting of mixer, whisk together onion, garlic, flour, chaat masala, yeast, jalapeno and salt.
  • In another bowl, whisk cheese, eggs and milk until blended. Add this to the dry ingredients.
  • Beat for a final 2 minutes on medium speed.
  • Scoop batter (it will be thick) into prepared pan. Cover and allow to rise for approximately 1 1/2 hours- 2 hours.
  • Toward the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Bake the bread for 40-50 minutes until golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and serve warm
Notes:
  • The bread top browns quickly, so tent with foil about 20 minutes into baking.
  • And for those of you asking," What is chaat masala and where have we seen it before?". Click on the colored type and find out. Still wondering? It's what you've been missing all your life, seasoning that brings to life just about anything it comes into contact with. I urge you. Buy!



More breads~

Last year~

******
"As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord's word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in Him."
Psalm18:30

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Spinach rotis/chapatis(Indian flatbread)


Seriously, I ponder about way too many offbeat things. A range of thoughts that can take me hours to recover from, sometimes never wanting to leave. Things that might have you wonder, as it does me, could it just be the results of my overwhelmed/ overworked mind(?) or maybe it's supposed to be that way. I fear on confessing this utterly random headstuff, you may not want to be friends with me again.
And that should never ever happen. Right?

With that said, I'll also mention most of these intentional broodings revolve around food. 

Perhaps now is when I should stop. 

You know, finding recipes and making things that interest my palate are not too difficult a task. The only condition that could have me not sharing would be an interest threshold unmatching yours. Like that bar of chocolate I melted yesterday and poured over my bread, with at least 6 slivers of banana (awesome!) fascinated me no end. I can see how it wouldn't appeal to the general recipe-seeking public.  It's then I believe I should always cede to your likes and demands, though sure can say the three part snack I just gave you is stupendous.

I have them, those peculiarly creative moods, where constant gray days demand bouts of chromatic pop. You've seen how I like to paint my food. It's a nostalgia that stems from grade school, the smell of crayons and playdo that I ate drew with, sentimenting that just doesn't leave you no matter how old you are.

Not that we're using crayons on food. This is where the strange cogitative mindstate I mentioned above shows me I need to color my rice, my dessertsmaybe, even my life.  Really, who wouldn't want to see a rainbow on their plate?

These here are chapatis. Chapatis (chup-aah-thees). What are they? Well, let me educate you, friend, real quick, if you've never encountered Indian food and the thing most normally seen as bread for the entire subcontinent. In loftier parts of the country they're known as rotis and can sometimes be what entire households fixate their meals on. They are made of a fine milled wheat flour, not similar to the horsefeed, some wholewheat often tastes and looks like. Mixed with liquid and kneaded to a soft dough, rotis/chapatis are rolled flat and cooked on a griddle with marginal(in my case plentiful) fat, sometimes not.

Chapatis compensate for the rice/ potatoes, even chewy bread that fill out the richer Western meal.  In actuality, rather than being a mere side, a stack of rotis are main spread on curry splashed plates. They provide a carb source much more nutrient dense than you really want to believe, which could be reason for the thousands of tons of wheat consumed in the world's second most crowded country. That, people, is something to laud. And perhaps model ourselves.

So are chapatis green? No. They are usually the color of wheat. But this is my recipe and if I wish to make them look like superhero skin on fleek, so be it.

They say we eat with our eyes. I did not know, because up until publishing recipes and clicking decently aesthetic pictures of the same, I really did believe my mouth did all the work. Honestly, I like it that way.

However, I do understand that a visually appealing plate of food would make someone with no appetite turn into a wolf... from experience ...hmm(?) Maybe.

The almost neon color is a result of a generous blender yielding me a bountiful supply of leaf-hue pulp to make it so. Fortified with as much as two cups spinach(I use the 16 oz frozen pack) just enough cilantro and a single green chili pepper atta-flour becomes an official foliage-like dough. A task that's actually an easy feat and way better than any smoothie bowl you decided to try this week. Who likes those anyway? 

So-called righteous roti pundits may claim I ruined a beloved staple. That simply cannot be true.  There are several frozen varieties filled and flavored with everything from cheese to pineapple.  Can't you see then I'm only contributing to the innumerable stunning ways to roll roti ?

These have been made in my kitchen quite a lot, with varying levels of leaf dye that sometimes make shades of green slightly unpredictable, but never short of utterly delicious. 

Finally, the below meal can be an archetype of what you place on your tables tonight. A pairing so astounding that it finds place on your weekly supper rotations and may never ever decide leave.


It is terribly hard to mess this up. And if you do, you can blame the two machines, a rolling pin and possibly the skillet for any wrong that could be. Since they do most of the work, I mean.

Ingredients:
  • 1 ½ cups chopped frozen spinach, lightly thawed
  • 4-5 sprigs cilantro, chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper ( Indian green chili), chopped 
  • salt
  • water, if needed
  • 1 ½ cups finely ground wholewheat flour(Indian atta flour), plus more to knead
  • 3 tbsp olive oil or any cooking oil
  • salt
  • water
Directions:
  • In a blender or mixer, process spinach, cilantro, pepper, salt to a smooth puree.
  • Add in only enough water for it to reach a thickish liquid consistency.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer using knead attachment or bowl of food processor, add green puree and upto 1 cup wheat flour, oil salt. Knead in machine till smooth dough turns out, sifting in additional flour, pouring in sufficient water for mixture to be elastic and pliable.
  • Take dough out on work surface and knead gently a few more times. At this stage it should be smooth and shiny. Cover with a damp clean kitchen towel 10-15 minutes.
  • Divide dough into 1- 2" balls. Roll out one and leave the rest covered.
  • Have a flat top pan or griddle heated to medium on stove. Place rolled out round onto skillet.
  • Heat on both sides, brushing with additional oil if needed(or butter:-) till cooked / burnished with brown spots on both sides.
  • Repeat with remaining balls.
  • These rotis/ chapatis make for an awesome meal with a magnificent accompaniment, such as this or this, this or this.. However, seved with nothing but a few smears of butter alone is also ridiculously epic.
Notes~
Alternatively, if you need that arm muscle workout, something I definitely qualify for, yet have no desire to  fulfill, by all means use your hands to knead, pull and roll.

••••••
The story of Joseph in the OT(Genesis 37-50)❤️God had a divine purpose for Joseph and throughout the oft saddening events of his life, Joseph always kept his eyes on God. And in the end, we come to understand that intended evil can definitely become eventual good, in, by and through His sovereign hands.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Tandoori chicken salad with mint garlic buttermilk dressing

Just sitting here wasting hours on end wondering what the 2017 pilot feature of my here space(which is 5 years old, btw!) should look like had me delay it by more than a week. As you can see, I did decide to jump on the overtold, overused healthy resolution theme, much  similar to what I did same time, last year.  And we saw that to be a success. Right?

Taking that very reason into consideration, a quintessential January post should never run into February, where the internet will soon be flooded with pink, chocolate and edible hearts that obliterate any decent recipe demanding attention. So, it is important I rush this out the door. Today. Because the pictures taken two weeks ago are getting old. Even still, these first paragraphs I can't seem to end anytime soon.  It might be a record break, but I'm going to attempt the next ten sentences in less than an hour...maybe two..or even three. Really, who's keeping count?

I do not like resolutioning. Why do you need to tidy up eating habits, when it took all your time on earth to create the food lifestyle everyone desires to have? As many of you know, I can sometimes be that health/fitness/nutritive heathen, especially when it comes to committing my life solely to moderate and slim eating which, by the way, is truly counter intuitive to my very being. I believe healthful consumption (don't quote me on this) can also and not only be limited to slathers of butter and dashes of cream, well endowed bread, ghee laden casseroles and gloriously decked cakes. Much more than I have time to pen.

Really, though the whole spectrum of what I eat can never ever be an ending tale. It goes on. Just as the pages of this online recipe portfolio expand. Food experiences and their preparation can always be made and kept interesting. For the tastebuds. The tummy. The mind. Your existence. Hence, my theorem and guide to wellness and sanity, which I really can write an entire book on, but, then, that's a track for later, because you so need to hear this recipe.

Here is that invitation... to a salad which intrigues far more than any other food group has ever attempted. Moreover, it carries a cool factor that makes it unbelievably healthy in such a way. And by such a way, I mean the number of fusion flavors that commingle and produce a mad stunning plate of green. It is the canvas of garden contrasted with lean protein flavored better than your skinny thinking mind could ever imagine.

Tandoori chicken will just about up any salad ante. And while I've recorded here in detailed elaborateness, I did tailor this ingredient list to aid in speedy assembly, yet, still maintain pieces that scream loud enough mise en scene. Crunchy bites of bright red mini tomatoes and mellow from the avocado add adequate lift into a brilliant, right flavor direction.

The yogurt dressing is not an afterthought. It adds sufficient drama to have you actually believe you are eating at a grand Indian table as opposed to, maybe, a blah package of mixed greens(which, for sure, you shouldn't be doing). Moreover, you could enhance the same dressing with a sprinkle of Madras curry powder, a pinch of cayenne, maybe bring in a naan or two, evening out the whole show to a well rounded dinner setting.

In all definiteness, this take on Magnificence will own your tastebuds. Not because it can go into a pure eating guru's recipe file. It is one of those things you should experience and will most surely benefit from. Further, you need to hear the tried testimony of a few good people, in particular, the teenager who shuns edible grass and slams any sort of vegetable that lands in her plate. It's with this almost-adult where I saw the impossible happen, all twenty times. With not a sigh of hesitation, not even an eye roll, and second servings taken , she was fascinated enough to lick the plate clean. But, we shall keep that between us. Since maintaining adolescent integrity is topmost on my list of priorities these days.

There you go. The meal that mimics a fine Indian dhaba. And a salad you'll want to spend the rest of your life with. Happy healthful 2017.
Halfway through this very first month of a New Twelve has me naturally think it could be rather unneedful to exchange pleasantries and greetings. Still, I sense a conscience driven pull to bide and wish. So, before you decide I'm an inconsiderate ape who wants you just read her random unscheduled, uncoordinated scripts which are usually put together in throes of madness....I do...wish you...
A joyous and abundant year. All hopes that it be filled in overflow with fun, family, friends and, no doubt, fabulous food.

Ingredients:
For the salad~
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp ground garlic
  • 1 serrano pepper, minced finely
  • 1-2 tsp cayenne pepper or Indian red chili powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1 english cucumber sliced thin
  • 2-3 avocado diced
  • juice of half lemon
  • salt, as required 
For the dressing~
  • 2-3 sprigs mint 
  • ½ tsp ground garlic
  • juice of half lemon 
  • 1 cup fat free plain yogurt
  • 2-3 tbsp mayonnaise(optional)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • ½ tsp sesame seeds(optional)
Directions:
For the salad~
  • Combine yogurt ginger, garlic, serrano, cayanne, garam masala, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  • Add chicken and coat with the above ingredients. 
  • Cover and chill. Keep for 30 minutes upto one hour.
  • Make dressing(below)
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Take chicken out of refrigerator. Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Turn chicken over and bake for another 20-25 minutes until juices run clear.
  • Keep chicken aside. 
  • In a large bowl, combine spinach, tomatoes, cucumber.
  • When chicken is cooled, slice and place over or toss with vegetables.
  • Stir together avocado and lemon juice. Sprinkle salt if required. Add to salad.
For the dressing~
  • Throw in the all ingredients from mint to pepper, leaving out sesame seeds, into a food processor or blender and blend till combined. Add upto 1/4 water to create the desired consistency for dressing.
  • Mix in sesame seeds.
  • Add to salad when serving.
Notes~
Grind ginger and garlic in an electric mixer/ mini food processor or even with a mortar and pestle. You can also sub in powdered to timesave.
Adjust any or all spice to your liking for the chicken marinade. We inherently like to breathe heat, so have twice the amount of some of those beautifully colored powders:-)


This. Deemed to debut on Friday the 13th, though that's a thing that hardly fazes me. Instead, procrastination and a hyper busy weekend( it was take-down-Cmastree weekend:)) has the salad dialogue reach you the Monday after, which whether you believe, in luck, providence or not, should set off any qualms on the verity of my words and the magnificence of the late-out-the-door compilation. 
Yay!! BKMK is 5 years old. Thinking it through, I find no logical explanation for how a slacker, such as myself, could keep it going this long. Thank you for your page visits, your likings or just coming by to pay me a visit. Hopefully 2017 will show me greater ways to surprise you (why, just being here does that, right?:)) and bigger, badder, more epics recipes to lay at your doorsteps.

Where tandoori has also starred~
******
"God never wastes a hurt." Christine Caine
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."2 Corinthians 1:3-4