Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I'm posting something after a really long time - blame it on two big events - new job and new house. My new job is located in a very exciting area of SF, especially from a foodie's point of view. I can eat lunch and buy produce at the Ferry Building everyday if I wanted to. What more can a food-lover ask for?

Friends and family have been visiting to see the new house. Recently at one of the parties I baked a cake that is so perfect for fall.

Recipe based on Pumpkin Sheet Cake

Serves around 12

canned pumpkin             1 15oz can
white sugar                     2 cups
vegetable oil                   1 cup
eggs                                4
all-purpose flour              2 cups
baking soda                    2 teaspoons
pumpkin pie spice mix    3 teaspoons
salt                                  1/2 teaspoon

For the frosting:

cream cheese                 8 oz
butter, softened              1/2 cup (1 stick)
vanilla extract                 2 teaspoons
confectioners' sugar       1 & 1/2 cups
milk                                 few tablespoons
pecans                            3/4 cup

  1. In a mixing bowl, beat pumpkin, 2 cups white sugar, and oil. Add eggs, and mix well.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice mix and salt. Add these dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, and beat until well blended. Pour batter into a greased 15 x 10 inch baking pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until done. Let cool.
  4. Beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add 1 & 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, and mix well. Add milk until frosting reaches desired spreading consistency. Frost cake, and sprinkle with pecans.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Baked Eggplant Chips (Vaangyache Kaap)

Serves 3-4 as an appetizer

regular large eggplant              1

salt                                        1/2 tbsp
powdered black pepper            1 tsp
red chilly powder                     1/4 tsp
amchur (raw mango powder)    1/4 tsp  (You can find this in an Indian grocery store. It adds tartness.)

Method -
1. Cut eggplant into very thin round slices of roughly 3mm width. A mandoline slicer comes in handy for this. For slices that are too big, cut in half.
2. Put all the spices and the salt in a bowl and mix well.
3. Take a large baking tray, cover it with aluminium foil and grease it with oil or spray generously with oil spray.
4. Take half of the eggplant slices on the baking tray. Drizzle oil or oil spray over them. Toss them well with half of the spice mix, making sure you rub both sides of every slice with the spice mix.
5. Then arrange them in a single layer on the tray and once again drizzle with oil or oil spray.
6. Repeat steps 3, 4, 5 for the rest of the eggplant slices.
7. Bake at 350 deg for 15 mins and then broil at 350 deg for 5 mins. Watch them frequently as they can get burnt easily. You may have to adjust the oven times according to the thickness of the slices.
The slices may look burnt when done but taste great and crispy! The thicker slices will most probably remain soft. I combined them with some crispy slices and put them in a sandwich - tasted pretty good.
We had the eggplant chips with a very simple and quick dip. For the dip, take a half cup of low fat ricotta cheese and add 2 tbsp of mayonnaise to it. Mix well to make the ricotta a bit more creamy and less grainy. 
Other creamy dips would also go very well with the chips, such as a greek yogurt-garlic dip.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Nigella's Coffee Ice cream - Recipe Review

Last year I had the opportunity to meet Nigella Lawson at a book signing for her book 'Nigellissima'. In an interview before the signing she mentioned that her coffee ice cream recipe from the book is one of her favorite recipes. What's good enough for Nigella is good enough for me, so I tried it and it turned out to be fabulous! It was hard to believe it was made without an ice cream maker and yet tasted exactly like great ice cream.

Apparently it is the alcohol that keeps the ice cream from become icy.
I followed the recipe from the book, which is slightly different from the recipe from her blog, though I don't know if that matters.

For the instant espresso powder I used Medaglia D'oro brand. Next time I would reduce its amount from 2 tbsp to 1.5 tbsp as I thought the ice cream was a tad stronger than I'd like.
I think it would be ok to use instant coffee too, though in that case you might need more of it.

For the coffee liqueur I used Kahlua and it seemed to have worked well.
I also thought the ice cream was a bit too creamy. I don't know if half-n-half can do the job of heavy cream in the recipe. I might try out a 60-40 mix of heavy cream and half-n-half next time.

I served the ice cream with a stick of chocolate wafer. Next time I'm planning to add some kind of nuts such as walnuts or chocolate-covered almonds to the ice cream before freezing it. Or even choc brownie pieces. The possibilities are endless!

One thing to note: The ice cream took an awfully long time to freeze. I made it in the morning and served it at night, but it was far from set. But after a couple of days it set beautifully and the picture above was taken at that time.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Breakfast Casserole with Sausage and Roasted Red Pepper

Dishes like casseroles and lasagna - as you can figure from my recent posts - are my newfound favorite type of recipe. They are pretty easy to make, especially for large groups and require little active time.

Recently I made a cauliflower and penne casserole with white sauce (bechamel) the night before we were heading out of town. Worked out perfectly to finish off some leftover cauliflower that would have gotten really sad sitting in the fridge for a few more days.

Here's the recipe for the breakfast casserole. I'm looking forward to making this for a larger group by doubling all quantities. If you try that, remember to use a larger baking tray!

Serves 4

sausage                       3/4 lb (I used Isernio's Italian chicken sausage)
bread                           4 slices of regular pre-sliced bread
milk                             1.5 cups
eggs                             4
grated cheddar cheese  3/4 cup
roasted red pepper        1/2 pepper

Seasoning -
dijon mustard               1 tsp
salt                              1 tsp
ground black pepper      1 tsp

Method -
1. Make bite-sized pieces of the bread.
    Dice the roasted red pepper.

2. Cook sausage in a pan with a little bit of oil while breaking it up into pieces until brown and thoroughly cooked.

3. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Add all other ingredients to the bowl and mix well.

4. Pour everything into an 8x8 baking pan. Bake at 350 deg F for 25 to 40 mins or until set.

If desired, top with some more cheddar cheese and bake for a few mins until cheese melts.
Take out when it is still moist and juicy.
If using french/ italian loaf bread, soak the bread in the milk mixture for 30 mins before baking.