Monday, November 30, 2009

Clutter-Baking

Do you ever get tired of yourself? Do you find yourself wishing you could be a better person, pray for the strength for it and then go back to being your helplessly tiresome self? I'm not about to go into introspective /motivational/preachy speech mode though I find myself in the helplessly tiresome category very often, but in blog terms, it seems that I can't speak about anything these days without bringing up de-cluttering. And yes, this is going to be another post based on that tiresome theme!

I was away for a week a couple of weeks ago. Before that, I had bought a small, orange pumpkin intending to make an Oriya recipe with it but I never could summon the energy to peel and dice it as it seemed rock-solid. I took that as a sign it wouldn't rot or shrivel easily and went away, and sure enough, it was almost as fresh when I returned. For a while now, since the Cereal Killer, I've been fixated on pumpkin cake with walnuts in it, so I searched and searched for a nice-sounding recipe and found this.

Now, I had to de-clutter, of course, and this venture took care of some quantities of the sugar, raisins, a bag of unshelled walnuts that Mom had sent me, some baking soda which I'd bought for the Cereal Killer but ultimately hadn't used, and the entire pumpkin. But I had to go out and buy flour, which, of course, defeated the purpose. And now I am stuck with some flour, which I've already slated for an orange cake and banana something else. A rotting papaya had me wondering if I should make a papaya cake, as awful as it sounds, but funnily enough, it rotted without ripening, so it went into the bin.

For a person who only baked a little, and that in another life, it turned out fine. It was soft and moist but held its shape when I cut it - most of the few cakes that I've ever baked were soft and crumbly. I followed the recipe as much as I could - I had to halve it and I based my measurements on 1 cup of pumpkin puree, because that's how much my little, orange pumpkin yielded.



Sifted all-purpose flour/maida: 1.5 cups
Baking soda: 1 tsp
Baking powder: 1 tsp
Cinnamon: 1-inch stick, powdered
Powdered ginger: 1/8 tsp
Cloves: 2, powdered
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Raisins: 1/2 cup, macerated in mixed fruit juice for an hour
Walnuts: 1/2 cup
Pumpkin puree: 1 cup (I made mine by cutting the pumpkin into two and pressure cooking it with just 1/4 cup of water for one whistle, then peeling it and mashing the pulp)
Sugar: 1 cup
Sunflower oil: slightly less than 2/3 cup
Eggs: 2

1) Preheat oven to 160 C. Grease pan and dust with flour. (I have a square glass dish that's about 8 inches wide and that's what I used.)
2) Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, dry ginger, cloves and salt. Add 1/2 a tablespoon of sifted dry ingredients to raisins in a small bowl. With your fingers, toss raisins to separate them and coat each one with the dry ingredients. Stir in nuts into the raisins and set aside.
3) In a mixing bowl, place pumpkin, sugar, and oil and beat at medium speed (I used an electric whisk-like gadget) until smooth. Add eggs individually, beating after each until incorporated.
4) On low speed, add sifted dry ingredients, beat until smooth. Stir in raisins and nuts. Turn into prepared pan.
5) Bake until a cake tester comes out dry (it took me 90 minutes). Cool completely.

So do you get tired of yourselves? Will you tell me why?

Monday, November 16, 2009

LenDills


Situation: You greedily buy two bunches of rare dill and look for suitable recipes. Then you find out there isn't much that you can make with the ingredients already at home. By this time, a few days have passed and some of the green dill has begun to yellow. You save what's good, use up some in salads and the rest in dal.


As swiftly as that dal was made, so swiftly is this post being written.

Boil/pressure cook 1 cup of toor dal with a little more than a cup of water and a drop of oil.

Mash with a pinch of turmeric and salt to taste.

Add a cup of dill, cut, and cook for about 5 minutes - if it's too thick, you can add a little water to thin it out.

Heat 1-2 tsp of oil, temper with a tsp of mustard seed, 1/2 a tsp of cumin, 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic

My suggestion is to not overload this dal with too many spices, so that the taste of dill comes through. That's why I haven't added any chilli powder.

This is my entry to MLLA-17, which I'm hosting this month for Susan. I am away for a week but keep those entries coming, I will acknowledge them when I resume blogging.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cereal Killer


That title applies to the recipe in more ways than one.

Not only does it effectively decimate your reserves of cereal, it will also give you a fat and cholesterol overload if you don't share it with many others, and fast.

Because there are six eggs and two cups of sugar in this. Not to mention four-and-a-half cups of cereal and one cup of cashew nuts.

And when you consider the original recipe also had two bananas and a cup of coconut in it, this may just qualify to be called a 'somewhat lite' or rather, 'just a little liter' version.

The story, of course, begins the usual way - of good intentions gone amok. Travel brings me face to face with several Bircher Mueslis at breakfast time at the hotels I stay in. Impatient one that I am, I didn't dig deep but just hurtled ahead one fine day and bought a pack of fruity muesli. "My own recipe" for Bircher Muesli (dunk muesli in curds/yoghurt; overnight, if you can wait) soon palled and I was left with a packet of overpoweringly fruity-smelling cereal that I didn't know how to use up.

The words 'bake' and 'cake' kept popping up but the recipe proved hard to find. Was I going to be the pioneer and grind up cereal to bake a cake? It did seem so - all the "muesli" cakes I saw, the muesli only seemed to play a role in muffins or topping or bars; I wanted it to be a one-shot clean-up and continued searching - till I came across the above recipe. Funnily enough, that was also born out of necessity - the original recipe had called for vanilla wafers but there hadn't been any, and cereal it was!

The downside and the upside

Suffice it to say it was a hit. One person deemed it "first class" and the tub of cake I took to work today was cleaned out, with several compliments. They WERE being nice, but not being kind, so I think you can try it too, if you have cereal to get rid of, or even if you want a different kind of cake.

I'm no baker so I don't know what went wrong or right - the cake took almost two hours to bake and it was dense and moist.

Sugar - 2 cups sugar
Butter - 1 cup, softened
Milk - 1/2 cup
Fruity, honeyed muesli made of toasted oats and wheat flakes - 4.5 cups
Eggs - 6
Cashew nuts - 1 cup
Vanilla essence - 2 tsp
Lime juice - From 1 lime

Preheat oven to 150 C/ 300 F.

Cream sugar and butter until creamy.

Grind cereal as fine as possible.

Add to the creamed mix little by little. Mix.

Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.

Add milk, mix. Add the vanilla and lime juice.

Fold in the nuts. Pour into a baking dish (sorry, I don't know the dimensions - I just used my largest as it seemed an enormous amount of batter) and bake till a knife comes out as dry as possible!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

An As-You-Like-It Curry

De-cluttering is as much about getting rid of unnecessary and surplus stock as it is about shedding undesirable fat. (Let's, for the moment, not talk about clearing the cobwebs in the mind.) Eating your way through your fridge and pantry is probably not the best way to achieve the latter objective, though it's a practical solution to the first. Donation is another, of course, but I want to eat most of what I have.

My resolve to clean out the cupboards began with the kitchen and ended at my computer - I've spent the past couple of weeks trying to eat my way healthily and steadily through my pantry and fridge, but the unceasing supply of nourishment got on my nerves and I ended up bingeing my way through it, neither making a dent in the supplies nor, naturally, cutting out the fat. The wardrobe and other storage spaces are waiting, impatiently.

De-cluttering can be so all consuming (I swear that pun just arranged itself as I was writing the sentence)! It weighs on your mind and enervates you just the way extra weight does - you want to do something about it but simply can't seem to summon up the will; then, disgusted, you attack the problem, but soon, a sense of futility takes over (it's the hard work, you see) and you go on a binge.

I don't know what the equivalent of a binge in terms of de-cluttering My Pictures on the computer is, but in food, a worse kind of binge is when you buy additional stuff to use up what you already have - say, flour, if you have too many eggs wobbling towards rottendom, or sago and extra milk, if you have too much sugar.


Taking myself firmly in hand, I called my favourite cause this morning and made an appointment with them for collection (now I can't not de-clutter); and then I made a completely as-you-like-it egg curry just to get rid of some stuff from the fridge. (Actually I'm lying - the onions got charred because I was inattentive and I had to throw them out and dream up this recipe.)

The amounts are completely arbitrary, all you need to have is some sense of proportion. (I don't.)

Eggs: 5-6, boiled, shelled, scored lightly

Grind to a paste with a little water the next three ingredients:

Coriander: Grab as much as you want
Mint: Same - grab as much as you can
Tomatoes: 5-6, halved

Seasoning: Salt, chilli powder, garam masala, turmeric - per taste
Oil: 1-2 tsp

In a large pan, heat the oil and saute the paste.

Season with all the ingredients and let it come to a boil.

Add the boiled eggs and simmer for a while or till the gravy thickens.

I imagine this gravy would taste good with potatoes, koftas, paneer and tofu too.

This goes to Haalo at Cook Almost Anything where Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging is being hosted this week.

Monday, November 02, 2009

My Legume Love Affair - 17


This month, I will host My Legume Love Affair. As many of you know, this is a well-known-in-the-blog-world, bean-centric event, created by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook.

Here's what Susan has to say about the event: "For those new to the event, your choice of recipes is very broad. As much as legumes are most commonly known as fresh or dried beans, peas, lentils and pulses, they are also the sometimes edible pods that contain these seeds. Add to the list alfalfa, fenugreek, peanuts, carob, tamarind and other members of the Fabaceae or Leguminosae family, as well as derivatives such as tofu, and you'll have a hard time focusing on just one. All courses and cuisines are welcome, as long as legumes are the dominant ingredient. (Please note: In France, vegetables of all sorts are known as l├ęgumes, and are not included in this event.)

To participate, please:

Post a new recipe or a newly posted one from your archives, linking to this announcement, as well as Susan's announcement here with the following details to me [srablogATgmailDOTcom] by November 30 although I will accept late entries if the round-up is not yet posted:

Please say MLLA-17 in the Subject field of your e-mail

The details I need are these:

Name

Blog Name

Name and URL of Your Recipe Post

Location: Optional

Photo: 400 wide

~~~~~

Use of the logo is optional. Participants can send in more than one recipe per cook as well as those submitted to other events. Those who do not blog are also welcome to join and will be included in the random drawing. Friends and family of hosts are not eligible to win.

Prizes:

1) Susan is offering Beard on Bread, as the prize for the lucky one in the random drawing. She will ship it worldwide.

2) Another prize is the Hurst Bean Box - A case of six bags of your choice of Hurst Bean products, suitable for every diet, generously provided by Hurst Bean. (Due to shipping restrictions, this prize can only be awarded if the winner is a US resident.)

I expect to have the round-up online in the first week of December.