Chocolate and bananas? I was sceptical at first. By itelf, chocolate or banana cakes are are quite delicious. But I wasn't sure about combining both. My doubts were erased when I took a bite of this cake. There is something about the mellow comfort of the sweetness of the bananas mixed with the deep dark chocolate intensity, which I hadn't discovered before.
This is one of those tantalizing decadent cakes which you would keep in the freezer for the longest of times to make it last longer and longer or to spread your guilt of having such a rich cake (so me). Of course if you are a glutton who would rather have the cake sitting in your tummy then in the freezer asap, then my previous statement won't apply. I learnt to make this Choc Ganache Banana Cake recently at a baking studio. I was interested to learn more about the creaming and piping aspect of the cakes but came away with a whole lot more!! Didn't last long when I brought home as both my girls are huge choc fans, especially the rich dark choc kind!
To get your hands on this huge yummy Channing Tatum of cakes, firstly, make the cakes according to my earlier post Basic Banana Cake http://www.americanmoments.net/quick--easy-vegetarian-recipes/basic-banana-cake. If I post those pics and instructions, this post will become too long. This post is just to show how to mix and get the right consistency of the ganache and decorating the banana cakes with it.
2 round 7 inch/8 inch banana cakes
500ml whipping cream
500gm choc buttons (55% cocoa)
1) Boil the whipping cream till you can see steam misting. Keep stirring so that it doesn't stick to the base and start burning.
2) Measure out the choc buttons and place them in a metal bowl.
3) Pour the steaming cream into this bowl.
4) Start mixing from the middle using small circles till you get a smooth shiny texture. All the chocs buttons must be melted and mixed well.
5) Put this bowl in the freezer for 30mins to thicken the ganache till its spreadable consistency. Like the consistency of Nutella.
6) Now start assembling the cake proper. Put the base of the cake onto the cake turntable. A turntable is essential as it helps in the smoothening of the ganache on the sides in a hasty fashion. On the base, drop a dollop of the ganache and spread it around into a small circle. This forms the glue to stick the banana cake to the cake base. Place one of the banana cake over this and press a little in the centre.
7) Spread the ganache all over this banana cake using a slightly elevated palette knife. If the ganache is still too thin, pop it back into the freezer for 5-10 mins. The ganache is this pic is too thin. I popped the cake into the fridge too harden.
8) Place the other banana cake over this ganache covered banana cake and spread more ganache over the whole cake. The consistency in the pics below are better for spreading.
9) Start coating the sides of the cake with ganache too. It was already in the evening by the time I reached this stage of the cake decorating and the natural light had decreased. That explains the difference in the colour of the ganache.
10) Use a plastic icing smoother for smoothening the side of the cake.
11) Place the little matte gold balls in a string along the top rim of the cake. Then, just toss more of these balls over the top randomly. I did a bit of piping at the inner edge of the cake, but it looks quite amateurish as I'm so new to piping.
12) Serve cold with a nice cup of plain English Breakfast Tea, my favourite!
Best way to use over ripe bananas? In a cake or bread loaf of course! The recipe below is an easy fool proof recipe for a very basic banana cake. Just involves whisking and mixing and baking! I will post about finessing this cake into a luxurious knee buckling pretty sinful Choc Ganache Banana Cake in the next post.
Ingredients (for two 8 inch or three 6 inch round cakes)
250gm self raising flour
1 and 1/2 tsp baking soda
150 gm caster sugar
4 over ripe bananas (roughly 480gm in weight with skin)
130gm/ml vegetable oil (canola/grapeseed/sunflower)
3 eggs, beaten
1) Preheat oven to 180 deg C fan mode. First peel and mash the bananas into a soggy mess. The bananas must be quite over ripe. The riper they are, the more fragrant and delicious the cake.
2) Into this, add the vegetable oil and beaten eggs. Whisk them together and set aside.
3) Sieve the flour and baking soda first and then add the sugar. Mix well.
4) Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients.
5) Prepare 2 of 8 inch springform baking tin. Line the tins with baking sheet. I was making a double layered choc ganache cake today which explains why I have two tins lined with baking sheets. If you are using this recipe as a single cake, just pour the whole banana batter mix into one baking tin and bake (baking tin is slighly longer though at 40 -45 mins). For two cakes, measure the whole amount of batter without the mixing bowl and then divide by 2. Pare the kitchen scale and then pour half of the amount into each tin. So for example, if the total amount of batter is 1060 gm, each baking tin should have 530gm of batter.
6) Bake at 180 deg C for 25-30 mins Fan mode.
7) Use a slighly angled palette knife to loosen it on the sides and then disengage the base of the springform tin. Tip the cake over and place it right side up on a wire rack to cool.
30 mins?? Impossible, you think? Yes, its possible. Using a kitchen equipment found in most Indian households. The one and only what we Indian cooks can't live without - the humble pressure cooker.
Pressure cookers are a godsend especially when we are short of time. Pressure cooking is the process of cooking food using water or any other liquid in a tightly sealed vessel called a pressure cooker. As the liquid boils, the trapped steam increases the internal pressure and allows the temperature to rise to a whopping 212 deg C! (See pic above) So, food is cooked so much faster and it saves time and energy. Almost any food that requires cooking in water can be cooked in a pressure cooker.
There are so many types of pressure cooker in the market. Cylindrical, pan shape, aluminium or non-stick base etc. The market is flooded. Purchase one based on your family needs.
30 min Vegetable Rice involved quick preparation and cooking. There I was wondering on a weekend afternoon at 12 noon what to cook for my family for lunch. I have seen many online videos about cooking our food in a pressure cooker and decided on this option, knowing the risk very well. Since its my first attempt, it can either become overcooked (too much water) and everyone will be having vegetable spiced porridge for lunch or worse undercooked (without enough water) and having carcinogenic burnt food instead. Not much of a choice I had at 12.15, didn't I? With a quick prayer I began....
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
1.5 cups Basmati Rice (mix of brown and white)
3 tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, chopped small
1 heaped tsp mix of ground ginger and garlic
1 green chilli, cut into 3
1 red chilli, cut into 3
2.5 tsps Veg Briyani spice powder (I used National Brand Veg Briyani Spice Powder)
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 cup of mixed frozen vegetables - peas, carrots, corns and french beans, thawed
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1/3 cup of chopped mint and coriander leaves
2.5 cups water (split into 0.5 cup and 2 cups)
Salt per preference
200gm cubed cottage cheese (paneer cubes) - optional
Extra coriander leaves and a handful of roasted cashews for garnish
1) Firstly, wash and soak the Basmati rice for only 15 mins. Preparation of vegs will take up roughly 10 mins.
2) While the rice is soaking, heat the pressure cooker and fry the chopped onion, ginger garlic mix and both the chillies in oil for 5mins on medium high heat.
3) Add the Veg Briyani spice powder and fry for 2 mins.
4) Chopped tomatoes go in next. Stir often after adding them in, to prevent food from sticking to the base especially if you are using an aluminium pressure cooker. Fry for 3 mins.
5) After the tomatoes have cooked and turned mushy, add in the mixed vegs, coriander and mint leaves. Add 0.5 cup water and let the whole mix cook for 5 mins.
6) By now, the 15 mins would have been up. Drain the soaked rice and keep aside.
7) After the vegs have been cooking for 5 mins, add in the soaked drained rice.
8) Combine everything and add the cubed cottage cheese. I added these cubes for addition of protein. Its optional if you have boiled eggs and or other source of protein on the side. Do not add these cottage cheese cubes too early as they are very soft and will dissolve easily.
9) Add 2 cups of water and mix again.
10) Cover and cook on high heat. Once you get a first whistle, reduce fire to medium heat and wait for 2 whistles. Switch off the fire and let it cool down completely.
CAUTION - do not open the pressure cooker when it is still hot. The pressure inside is highly compressed and can be explosive. You can get badly hurt.
11) After it has cooled completely, open the lid and this is how it should look.
12) Enjoy scrumptious Vegetable Rice made under 30 mins!
Hummus can be made using any type of beans. This version using pre-cooked black beans yielded a unique earthy hummus which went well with flatbreads, vegetables and chips. Try it out with kidney beans, cannelini beans or pinto beans. Each will give a different take on the classic chickpea hummus.
Ingredients (yields 2 cups)
1 can of Black Beans (15oz or 400gm)
2 tbsp tahini
3/4 cup EVOO
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove
1/3 green bell pepper, roasted, charred skin removed and sliced
Salt per preference
3-4 tbsps water
Extra EVOO, a few black beans, a sprig of coriander leaf and a dash cayenne pepper for prettying it up :)
1) Put everything into a food processor and blend. Blender doesn't work as well so please ensure you use a food processor.
2) Garnish with a dash of paprika and a swirl of olive oil. Drop a few black beans and center a sprig of coriander leaf. Serve warm.
This is one of the recipes I hae learnt recently in a shortcrust pastry baking course in June. Held over 5 days from 8-2pm, I learnt Apple Cranberry Pie, Flan Parisian, Tarte Normande, Tarte Bourdaloue and Quiche Lorraine... the latter two were the ones that brought me to my knees (with all that butter and cream!). I devoured with my family as soon as I brought them home.
Tarte Bourdaloue is a classic pear and almond tart and originates from Paris in 1906. I omitted the pears this time I didn't have any preserved pears at home. So what resulted was an Almond Cream Tart which is equally delicious. Don't be alarmed by the number of ingredients and steps. What results is a beautiful decadent tart which you can enjoy for days :)
I will make the classic Tarte Bourdaloue in one of the future blog posts.
Ingredients (yields a 8inch round tart)
200gm plain flour
100gm unsalted butter
2gm vanilla essence
Almond Cream Filling
60gm softened butter
60gm ground almond
10gm plain flour
2 gm vanilla essence
1 cup almond flakes/almond slivers
40gm Apricot glaze (for the shine - optional)
1) First and foremost, cut the butter into cubes, put them in a small bowl and place them in the freezer. I can't emphasize how important it is that the butter is ice cold. It can't be soft as then it would affect the pastry dough texture. It will not hold itself well and will crack easily in the later stages.So, please please make sure the butter is hard and frozen.
Sieve the plain flour, sugar and salt.. After sifting, put these ingredients into a mixing bowl.
2) Now, take out the hard cubes of butter from the freezer and place them into the mixing bowl with the flour mixture. Use a plastic scrapper for 5 mins to break the butter into the flour.
3) Working very quickly so that the dough still remains cold, use your finger tips to get a flaky dough texture like glass shards.
4) Mix the egg, ice water and vanilla essence in a another small bowl pour this mix into the butter dough.
5) Knead the entire mix quickly into a ball. Don't over knead.
6) Using your cleaned kitchen counter or a pastry mat, sprinkle a little flour (don't use too much flour - this will result in a hard dough) and crush the dough little by little using the heels of your palm. This is called fraisaging.
7) Continue fraisaging until all the dough is used up.
8) Again, working very quickly, join the fraisaged dough pieces into a round lump. then wrap in cling wrap. Keep it in a chiller for 20mins.
9) At this juncture, preheat the oven to 180 deg C. Start preparing the almond cream. Cream (beat with a wooden spoon) the softened butter by hand for a few minutes. Sieve the flour, ground almonds and sugar and then add this to the creamed butter. Cream again for another 2 mins. Mix the beaten egg and vanilla essence in a small bowl.. then add a little at a time (like 1/3 at a time). Mix well till well combined. Set aside in a cool place.
10) Take the chilled dough after 20 mins and roll it out on a slightly floured surface. It shouldn't be too thick and should be big enough to fit into a 8 inch tart ring or pan.
11) Butter the ring or a tart pan. Then place the rolled out flat dough into the ring gently and carefully. Smooth the dough into the ring and press along the edges. Trim off any extra dough using a rollling pin to go over the top of the ring. If there are holes or parts where the dough has been stretched out too thin, patch it up with small pieces of dough.
12) Pour in the almond cream and spread it out evenly.
13) Top with almond slivers/flakes.
14) If there is any extra dough and almond cream, make mini versions of this almond cream tart.
15) Pop the big tart and the mini ones into the oven for 25-35 mins till the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let it cool down for 10mins. If you are using the apricot glaze, warm the glaze in a small pot till it reaches jam consistency. Then, brush over the tart. Enjoy delicious Almond Cream Tart!
Spinach & Cottage Cheese Gravy is often referred to as Palak Paneer in Hindi and is a very popular dish in the Indian cuisine. It is a vegetarian dish consisting of pureed spinach cooked with tempered spices and either cottage cheese cubes or potato cubes (I used both!). Because as both butter and cream are involved in making this dish, it can be rather heart unhealthy and should only be enjoyed occasionally. By the way, I used canola oil instead of butter and a lowfat (31% fat) version of the cooking cream. So we can call this Skinny Palak Paneer.
I had avoided attempting to make this dish as firstly I wasn't getting access to the spinach used in the authentic Palak Paneer and secondly assuming wrongly that it would involve a long cooking process. I realised only yesterday that I could just as easily substitute baby spinach and it actually is an easy quick dish to whip up.
Ingredients (2-3 servings)
100gm baby spinach
2 cups of ice cold water
200gm cottage cheese cubes (paneer cubes) or boiled potato cubes
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion, chopped roughly
1 heaped tsp ginger garlic paste
1 medium tomato, cubed medium
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp chilli powder
Salt per preference
1/3 cup low fat whipping/cooking cream (extra for garnishing)
1) Wash and drain the spinach. Cut the vegetables.
2) Steam the baby spinach in a covered pot instead of blanching them in hot water. This way you would retain the nutrients of the spinach.
3) After 3-5 mins, the spinach would be cooked and wilted. Drain and immediately pour ice cold water over them to retain that gorgeous green hue. Set aside.
4) Take a medium sized pot, heat the 2 tbsp canola oil and fry the cumin seeds, chopped onions, sliced chilli and ginger garlic paste. When the onions are light brown, add in the chopped tomatoes and cook till soft.
5) Blend this tomato onion mixture with the drained cooled spinach till you get a smooth paste.
6) Heat the same pan again, add another 2 tbsp canola oil and fry all the spice powders for 5mins.
7) Pour in the spinach blend and stir to mix well.
8) Add in the salt and cream.
9) Mix well and simmer for 5 mins.
10) Add either potatoes or cubed cottage cheese in and simmer for a further 3 mins.
11) Garnish with a swirl of cream. Serve hot with boiled Basmati Rice or wholewheat flatbreads called chapathis.
My sister's husband Shahid was kind and generous to order for my family a crate of sweet Pakistani Chaunsa mangoes recently. Chaunsa mangoes are exceptionally sweet, succulent, almost fibreless and emit a wonderful sweet fragrance. They are commonly called the 'King of Mangoes'. What better way to use so many of them (there were 8!) then to use them in a refreshing smoothie perfect for hot summer days? Simple and quick and so so refreshing. I didn't add any water as I wanted it to be thick and creamy as a dessert.
Ingredients (yields 3-4 ice cream cups)
400gm Mango pulp (roughly 2 large ripe mangoes)
300gm plain yoghurt
30gm brown sugar
8-12 ice cubes
2 tbsp chopped pistachios for garnish
1) Get all the ingredients ready.
2) Blend all the ingredients (except the chopped pistachios) till they are all well incorporated and till you get a thick creamy smoothie. Chill further, garnish just before serving and enjoy!
Full Disclosure - I had ricotta cheese which were about to turn bad in a day's time and that was the main inspiration for this recipe. This is another one of my favourite recipes as it involves blending, scooping and baking all in line with the quick and easy theme of my blog. This recipe was adapted from Not so Nigella but I tweaked it to make it my own.
Ingredients (12 meatballs)
250 gm ricotta cheese
75 gm baby spinach, washed
1 red onion, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
75 gm cheddar cheese
30 gm parmesan cheese
100gm plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 cups of ready made marinara sauce
chilli flakes (per your heat preference)
extra parmesan/cheddar cheese for topping
dried parsley for garnish
1) Get all the ingredients ready. You hv to ensure that the ricotta cheese is still relatively firm, otherwise you'll hv a watery batter which will then make you add more flour to firm up the batter whch will in turn make your end meatballs hard (that is a very long sentence!). Preheat the oven to 180deg C or 350 deg F.
2) Fry the chopped onion for a while so that you don't get the raw taste of onion when you bite into your meatballs.
3) Blend all the ingredients except the flour, baking powder, marinara sauce and the garnishes.
4) Pour the batter into a mixing bowl and add in the flour and baking powder.
5) Mix in gently but don't overmix. You should get this consistency.
6) Pour the marinara sauce onto a flat rectangular baking dish. It should be a bit high so that the meatballs soak in the sauce while baking.
7) Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop out the spinach ricotta mix and place them into this sauce.
8) Top with more cheddar/parmesan cheese and add a bit of chilli flakes for a little bit of heat in your meatballs.
9) Bake for 45 mins or a little longer till the top is golden brown.
10) Garnish with parsley flakes and enjoy these delicious vegetarian meatballs on its own, with a toast or on your pasta.
Tagine or Tajine is a North African and Middle Eastern dish and is named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked. It usually involves meat or fish but a vegetarian version is also very popular among many. Tagine pot was first mentioned in the famous Arabic story collection from the 9th century - One Thousand and One Nights.
A tagine pot consists of 2 parts. A circular base that is flat with low sides and a large cone that sits on this base during cooking. The conical shape of the cover is designed to help to return all the condensation to the bottom. I don't own a Tagine pot and I'm sure many of you won't as well. Don't fret - a heavy based non-stick pot with a tight lid will work just as well.
Ingredients (for 4)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pounded
150gm Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into medium sized chunks
150gm Eggplants, cut into large chunks
1/2 a tin (200gm) diced petit tomatoes (Hunt's)
1/2 red bell pepper
1 tin (400gm) chickpeas, drained
1 cup (200ml) vegetable broth
A small bunch of coriander leaves
A small bunch of mint leaves, extra for garnishing
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 and 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli flakes (optional for those who need that extra heat)
1/2 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1) Get all the ingredients ready.
2) Before preparing all the vegetables, rinse and cook the quinoa in a small pot till the water is absorbed. I have used a tri colour quinoa but a white quinoa will do as well. Instead of water, use veg broth for a flavor enhanced quinoa.
3) Take a medium sized heavy based pot and heat the EV Olive Oil. Fry the chopped onion and garlic for a 3-5 mins.
4) Add in the butternut squash chunks. Add a few tbsps of water, stir and cover. This is to ensure the squash chunks don't stick to the base. Let it simmer and cook for 5-7 mins.
5) Next add in the spice powders and salt.
6) This will be followed by the diced tomatoes, eggplants, bell pepper, coriander and mint leaves. Stir and let it cook on medium heat for 5 mins. I am amazed by the vibrantly beautiful red green colour of this dish. And these photos didn't involve any filtering whatsoever.
7) Add in the veg broth and chickpeas. Stir and cover and let the Tagine simmer undisturbed for 10mins on low heat.
8) Serve on a bed of quinoa (or brown rice) garnished with mint leaves. Top it off with more chilli flakes, if required.
A friend of mine from my secondary school, June, gave me a great recipe for a basic choc chip cookie recently. Choc chip cookies are what even an amateur cook will be able to bake. I mean its such a basic recipe. But to some, like me, I like my cookies soft and chewy in the center and crispy on the outside and to get a perfect texture in a cookie like that is not easy. I tried Martha Stewart's recipe but my cookies turned out flat like pancakes! Literally - I'm not exaggerating. So when June had posted in her FB account her recently baked choc chip cookies and they all looked like my preferred version, I immediately requested her recipe. Thanks darling - its a very simple quick recipe even kids can attempt!
I was very surprised that it didn't involve any creaming of butter and sugar or whipping. There was just a lot of mixing which is my fav kind of recipes :) But I did reduce the sugar and the choc chips to suit my family's tastebuds. And because I like texture in my cookies, I added oats and pecans.
Ingredients (around 30 cookies)
1 cup melted butter
1/2 tbsp vanilla essence
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semi-sweet choc chips
1) Mix all the ingredients A and whisk them well.
2) Then, add in all the dry ingredients B. Mix together.
3) Use a 1 tbsp measuring spoon to scoop out and place the cookie dough in rows of 3 on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
4) Bake in a preheated oven at 180 deg C for 20-25 mins.
5) Enjoy soft chewy healthier choc chip cookies!
Hi guys! I have shared my dishes here for you to cook for your own family with love and most importantly with their long term good health in mind.