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Fruit cake

But not the Christmas cake. I know it is not fair to post a fruit cake recipe as a teaser around this season. But I made this cake a few days back and it was almost as good as a Christmas cake and since I didn’t get to bake a good Christmas cake this season, this one will have to do. I heard about this recipe at a potluck dinner a few days back and a quick Google search landed me here which was an exact match to what I was looking for.

I made some slight changes but overall stayed true to the recipe and it is definitely a winner, if you overlook the use of a can of condensed milk that is. Anyway, without further ado, let me present the recipe

1 1/4 cup of All purpose flour (you can also use wheat or cake flour)
1 tsp Baking powder
1 1/2 tsp Baking soda
1 can condensed milk
1 stick Butter
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup warm milk
5 dried figs

Ideally, soak dried figs overnight in warm milk (gives a richer taste than plain water). If you forget to soak, don’t fret and soak it in slightly hot milk for about an hour. Grind it to a fine paste along with the milk. Use only as much milk as required as the paste should not be too runny.

Mix this paste with condensed milk and keep it aside. This is your wet ingredient.

Pre-heat your oven to 350 F.

Sieve and mix the dry ingredients including nuts together, as you normally do while baking. Cream the butter after bringing it to room temperature and add the dry/wet ingredients alternatively in batches incorporating it all together.

Bake for about 30 mins; test to see if an inserted tooth pick comes clean and bake more, if need be.

Dear Shy, Merry Christmas and this is for you.

The figs add a nutty taste and go very well with walnut. Given that it uses a can of condensed milk, I was worried if it will be overtly sweet but it was not. You can of course, add different nuts and even candied fruits to it to make it richer.

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2011 in Cake & Bake, General

 

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What we eat…

Growing up, some vegetables were a strict no-no almost always and some were forbidden on upvas(fasting) and other auspicious days, as my parents practiced a modified (modern?) form of saatvic diet. Of course, when there were strict rules about vegetables, the words eggs and meat were not even uttered. So, it is not very surprising that “we are what we eat” is ingrained in my psyche, though I didn’t give it too much thought until recently.

As cooking and food slowly piqued my interest, I wanted to know more about what I (and we as a family) are eating. That led me into looking for Farmers’ markets and local produce stores in my neighborhood where I could get vegetables and fruits instead of going to super-market chains. I started to shun even the organic super-markets as I got to know about food miles. That’s when I realized sometimes it is fine to eat the non-organic locally available in-season fruit, instead of an organic one transported all the way from Brazil or Australia. As with many other things in life, it is all about making the right choice.

Then, I got to read Michael Pollan and his many books but the one that I truly love is “Food Rules“. As the tagline says, it is truly an eater’s manual and every eater should read this book. It is one of those no-nonsense books that is not based on any new fancy studies which will be discredited 10 or 20 years on, but on centuries-old traditions from across the world. To make it easier for the reader, Michael lays out a set of rules that are easy to follow like:
a) Shop at the edges of the supermarket as fresh foods like vegetables, diary, meat are laid out here and not in the center aisles which are filled with processed junk
b) Avoid ingredients that you don’t understand or recognize – some are preservatives, some are stabilizers and you don’t know the long-term effect of these ingredients, so stay safe and avoid them. Better yet, if you don’t use them in your kitchen, why bother buying food with these ingredients?
c) Avoid any food your grand-mom (or great grand-mom) won’t recognize – as these are probably not from nature but from a food processing plant and better to avoid.
You get the drift. There are more rules in the list, which are also fairly easy to follow.

Reading all this made me realize, unless we grow our own food or live closer to where our food is grown, we will never really know what we eat and that is when I came across this talk by Joel Salatin of PolyFace Farms:
 

 

He has a very interesting story and an important message to say and he conveys that beautifully. I urge all you readers to listen to his talk and think about whether we are leaving the world as a better place than the one we inherited? For the last few generations, we probably did not but I don’t think we can continue like this for long…

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2011 in General

 

WW: Badam Roll for Diwali


 
6 Comments

Posted by on November 17, 2010 in General

 

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Diwali @ Lemon & Chillies

As with every Diwali, I started out with Mysore pak this diwali too. I overestimated the amount of mysore pak I made, so ended up pouring it onto a bigger plate resulting in anorexic-looking mysore pak, instead of healthy-looking ones 🙂

Followed this with thenkuzhal, a savory murukku without the spikes and spice; thenguzhal is fairly easy to make, provided you have the murukku mould.

Mix 4 parts of rice flour to one part of urad (black gram) dhal flour, add a tsp of cumin seeds, salt (~tsp), a dollop of butter with water to make a dough that is almost like a pizza or chappathi dough.

Fill the dough into the murukku mould, and press it into the oil, in a circular motion. Fry them till they are done – as soon as you press them into the oil, it bubbles up and then it subsides. Wait for a few seconds after the bubble stops, turn it and let it cook for a few seconds (a minute maximum) and then take it out using a slotted spoon.

Take care not to brown it and also, do a taste test for crunchiness so you can adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Easy-peasy!

And finally, inspired by Soma, I also made a dried fruit & nut burfi. Picture & recipe to follow soon.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on November 12, 2010 in General

 

Fall Soup

We are well into November and there is no doubt that Fall has arrived unlike the hide-and-seek that Summer played, at least in this part of the world. The evenings are dark and gloomy, especially so after the time change. It is so cold, even inside the house, that I don’t feel like spending long hours in the kitchen to cook. Time for one pot dishes (are you listening?) and more specifically, soups. Nothing feels more comfortable than snuggling over a warm bowl of soup and to make it more luxurious, some garlic bread.

Fall is the season for squashes and melon, and my local produce store has an abundance of these. These beauties look very tempting; it takes a lot of self-control to not splurge and buy lot more than the two of us can possibly consume. Over the years, I have devised a system whereby I don’t buy more than one variety of squash every week, lest I end up wasting them. Anyway, it was time to buy butternut squash last week, which, to me, is easily the best among equals. They have a vibrant orange color with a deep nutty, sweet taste that is amplified when roasted. I have made pasta with these occasionally but the soups are easily the best.

Roasted Butternut Squash – Apple Soup

1/2 Butter nut squash (cut vertically)
1 Apple – cored and cubed
1/2 Onion – chopped coarsely
1 Tomato – quartered
2 Green Chillies – split length-wise
1/2 cup Black (kala) Channa – soaked for about 8 hrs
Seeds from 1 Pomegranate
1 Tbsp Almond Butter
1 Tsp Tamarind paste
1 Tsp Sugar
1/2 Tsp Salt (more or less, based on your taste buds)
1 Tbsp – roasted and powedered coriander, cumin & redchillies
2 Tsp Oil

Chop the butternut squash into 4 big pieces, brush them with oil and roast them till they are fork-tender. Scoop the roasted squash using a spoon, while leaving the skin intact. Alternatively, you can peel the skin before roasting the squash.

In a thick-bottomed vessel or a cast iron pot, add a tsp of oil, followed by onion, tomato, green chillies, apple and salt; close the lid and let it sweat for a while.

After about 10 minutes, add the roasted squash, kala channa, tamarind and the coriander-cumin-red chilly powder. Let this cook for another 10-15 minutes. Do *not* add any water.

Add a cup of water and puree this concoction either in a blender or using a hand-held blender. Add the almond butter and pomegrante seeds, not before saving a couple of spoonfuls for garnishing, and let it simmer for a few minutes.

Ladle it into soup bowls, garnish with the reserved seeds and serve. Perfect meal for Fall evenings.

For those of you who are wondering at the unconventional list of ingredients: I did not follow any recipe for this soup, that I made yesterday and improvised as I went along. I craved for something that is spicy but sweet, nutty and tangy, which resulted in this soup. So, be creative and feel free to add or omit ingredients that you prefer (or not) and believe me, you will not go wrong 🙂

More Thursday Challenge pictures.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2010 in Cooking, General, Soup

 

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WW – Pizza for all (r)seasons

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2010 in General

 

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Going crafty for 100

Given that this blog has remained more inactive than active, I never thought that the blog would hit the 100 mark, post-wise. So, having reached the century mark, I feel more relieved than happy that the blog has survived, atleast so far. Knowing me, I don’t know if I would still be blogging next month leave alone next year, so celebrating my blog when I can, in the now!

Thank you all for your encouragement and support, for without you, I would not be here.

More Thursday Challenge pictures.

 
13 Comments

Posted by on November 4, 2010 in General

 

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