Sunday, March 28, 2010

Oreo Cheesecake With Ganache Topping

Hurrah!! My first attempt at a cheesecake was a great success!! I made an Oreo Cheesecake from BrownEyedBaker and it came out amazing and couldn't have been easier to make. We had a dinner party last night and this dessert was definitely the star of the evening.
I added a chocolate ganache topping to it as I wanted to have a more chocolaty taste and I am glad I did as the chocolate gave the whole thing a great flavor. Now that my fear of baking a cheesecake is over I am all up for trying out new flavors and combinations.

The recipe said to remove the cheesecake when the center is still jiggly and I was not sure if it was done or not so I returned it to the oven. This caused it to overcook a little bit more and the top cracked, so next time I know exactly when to remove it. Another change I would make is to thicken the crust as I felt it was a bit on the thin side.

Recipe - Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker


1 Cup Crushed OREO Cookies (About 12 Cookies)
3 Packages Philadelphia Cream Cheese (300 Gms Each)
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla
4 Eggs
20 OREO Cookies (Quartered)
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate (Chopped) or Chocolate Chips

1. PREHEAT oven to 150 degrees C (300 degrees F). Grease a 9 inch springform pan lightly with butter. Press the crushed cookies onto bottom and smooth out evenly with the bottom of a measuring cup. Bake for 10 minutes.
2. BEAT cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Gently stir in quartered cookies. Pour over crust.
3. BAKE 1 hour or until center is almost set. Run knife or metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim of pan. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. .
4. Make the ganache after the cheesecake has cooled in the fridge and before serving. Place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer over medium heat. Immediately pour the simmering cream over the chopped chocolate. Let sit for 1-2 minutes and then stir with a whisk or rubber spatula until smooth. Pour the ganache on the top of the cooled cheesecake and, using an offset spatula, spread evenly over the top of the cheesecake. Return to the refrigerator to set the ganache, about 20 minutes.

Happy Eating!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This cake is one of Latif’s favorite and I have made it many times for friends and family with great reviews. On my first attempt the cake came out looking so beautiful that I didn’t have the heart to cut it up. Last weekend I decided to make individual cakes (or cupcakes) as I was taking it to a family BBQ and made them in a muffin pan. The amount of batter from this recipe fit perfectly in a 12 cup pan. I cut small pieces of the pineapple rings and placed it in the shape of flowers. You can just put them in however you like. The brown sugar and butter topping is to die for and the pineapple becomes really soft and moist once baked. The original recipe calls for cherries along with the toppings but I omitted them as I don’t like candied cherries. I also reduced the amount of brown sugar as I found it a bit too sweet the first time around.

This is a very easy dessert and looks beautiful. Serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Recipe Source - Brown Eyed Baker


For The Topping
7 Slices Canned Unsweetened Pineapple
3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
For The Cake
2 Large Eggs
2 Tablespoons Buttermilk*
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
6 Tablespoons (¾ Stick) Unsalted Butter, Softened
6 Tablespoons Buttermilk

1.Preheat oven to 175°C (350° F). Have ready a 9x2-inch round cake pan.
2.Drain pineapple and place in one layer on paper towels to absorb the excess juice. Place the 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in the cake pan. Place the pan in the oven until the butter is melted. Tilt to coat all sides with butter. The extra butter will settle in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan. Place one pineapple ring in the center of the pan and arrange six more around it. Keep Aside.
3.In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, 2 tablespoons of buttermilk and vanilla with a fork.
4.In a mixer bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 6 tablespoons of buttermilk. Beat on low speed just until the flour is moistened, then increase the speed to medium, or high if using a handheld mixer, and beat for exactly 11/2 minutes. The batter will be stiff. Add one-third of the egg mixture at a time, beating for exactly 20 seconds and scraping the bowl after each addition. Scrape the batter over the fruit in the pan and spread evenly.
5.Bake until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and tilt the pan in all directions to detach it from the sides of the pan. Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes before unmolding.

To make in a muffin pan, put 1/2 tsp melted butter in each cup. Add 1 tsp brown sugar on top and spread evenly. Trim the pineapple slices to fit into the muffin pan and fill each cup 2/3 full. (I used a 1/4 cup measure to fill them). Bake for 30 minutes or till a toothpick inserted comes out clean. (You will need less brown sugar and butter for topping than in the original recipe if making this way).

*- I don’t buy buttermilk as I have little use for a full bottle in my fridge. So I use this substitute which works great. If the recipe calls for 1 cup buttermilk, add 1 Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice in a 1 Cup measure and top with milk till it reaches the one cup mark. Stir and let it stand for 5 minutes then use in place of buttermilk.

Happy Eating!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Chicken Spaghetti With Mushroom Sauce

Latif and I stand divided on the pasta issue. While I love it, he is not a very big fan (I can’t say he hates it coz he will eat what I make). So I rarely go to make it (as I have mentioned earlier), but this weekend I wanted to use up the spaghetti I had in my pantry and decided to make something with chicken. Usually I just add a few veggies, cut up the cooked chicken, mix and serve. So this time I decided to try a new recipe and went over to The Pioneer woman where there a whole lot of spaghetti recipes. First I wanted to try the Chicken Parmigiana, but knowing that latif is not a big fan of tomato based sauces I went over to the other recipes. And this one just blew me away. Who knew you can use mushroom soup as a base for your sauce! (At least I did'nt!!) Although I had to indianize (is that a word??) the recipe to make it more Latif friendly, the basic idea was the same, and it was a fab idea! I didn’t have canned soup so I made some with the dry mix I had at home. I combined two recipes from there and got this fantastic one which I will definitely make again. I made the chicken using the Chicken Scallopine recipe and with just salt and pepper it was very flavorful.

Recipe Source - Adapted from The Pioneer Woman


200 gms Uncooked Spaghetti
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Olive Oil

For the Sauce
4 Cups Cream of Mushroom soup* (E.g. Knorr, Maggi etc)
1/4 Cup Grated Carrot
1/4 Cup Chopped Capsicum
1/4 Cup Sliced Mushrooms
1/2 Cup Grated Cheddar Cheese
1/4 Cup Chopped Onion
1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 Tsp Black Pepper
1 Tsp Oregano
1 Tbsp Oil

For the Chicken
2 (500 Gms) Chicken Breasts (Boneless and Skinless)
Salt To Taste
1 Tsp Black Pepper Powder
Flour For Dredging
2 Tbsp Butter

* - you can used canned cream of mushroom available in the supermarket. I had a dry powder mix at home so I just made it (just boil it with 1 liter water) and used it.

Place the chicken breast in a Ziploc bag (or any transparent food bag) and flatten them using a rolling pin or mallet. The breast should be flattened to 1/8 inch thickness and should be uniform throughout to ensure that it cooks evenly. Rub them with salt and pepper and keep aside. (I cut the breasts into 4 inch squares for easier handling)
Boil water in a big pot with salt and olive oil. When ready add the spaghetti and cook till done. Drain and keep aside.
Place the flour in a plate and dredge the chicken breasts to coat both sides with flour. Heat the butter in a pot and fry on one side for two minutes and flip. Fry the other side for three minutes till the chicken is golden brown and cooked. It won’t take long since the breasts are quite flat. Remove from pot and keep aside.
In the same pot, heat the remaining oil and sauté the onions, capsicums, mushrooms and carrots. Keep them a little on the crunchy side. Add the peppers and prepared soup. Taste and adjust salt as the soup will have its own seasonings. Add the grated cheese and mix well to combine.
To serve, place the spaghetti on a plate and top with a generous amount of the sauce. Mix well. Place the chicken breast on top and enjoy!

Happy Eating!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Date and Nut Halwa

I have a sweet tooth and am often rummaging around my kitchen to look for a treat to satisfy my sudden cravings. Not always do I have a baked good ready and sitting on the counter and sometime you just don’t want to go through all the trouble of baking. The same thing happened recently and when I opened my fridge for inspiration to make something quick, I found a box of dates lying in there for quite sometime. I don’t like eating plain dates so I chopped them up, softened it with a dash of milk and stirred in some nuts and biscuit powder. A little bit of cooling in the fridge and my halwa was ready. Sweet, nutty and a great treat for a date lover.



400 Gms Dates (Pitted And Chopped)
1 Cup Biscuit Powder (E.g. Marie, Glucose etc)
1/4 Cup Assorted Chopped Nuts (Almonds, Pistachios and Walnuts)
1/4 Cup Milk

In a saucepan, pour the milk and add the dates and heat on medium flame. With the back of a spoon press the dates to soften them up and mix with the milk. Once all the dates are mashed, add the biscuit powder and nuts and mix well to combine. Keep a big foil piece on the counter and remove the date mixture on one side. Start folding the foil from the end where the date mix is and roll it up to form a long roll. Press the sides gently to get a cylindrical shape and refrigerate. Remove from the fridge once it is cooled, slice into pieces and serve. (You can also assemble in a lightly greased plate and cut into squares).

Happy Eating!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever.

Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman calls this the Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever. I really don’t know if this is the Best ever chocolate sheet cake coz I have never eaten chocolate sheet cake before. (A sheet cake is a cake baked in a large, flat rectangular pan such as a sheet pan or a jelly roll pan. These single-layer cakes are almost always frosted, and may be decorated on the flat surface on the top.) But I do know that this cake is awesome!! So, it might just be the Best Ever. It is so easy to make, and can impress any chocolate lover. We had company yesterday and I made this for dessert. It baked so quickly that I had a warm, fudgy cake ready in 40 minutes from start to end. I bought some to the office and sure enough everyone loved it.

I halved the recipe as I didn’t want to make a lot and even then I had 12 servings. This is a rich cake so the servings were small. Below I have given the measurements that I used. This was baked in a 9 X 13 glass baking dish as I didn’t have a sheet pan that matched the size but you can use any sheet pan or jelly roll pan. The original recipe called for pecans in the frosting and while I love pecans they are EXPENSIVE over here and so I substituted them with almonds. You can use anything you like. Even Walnuts might taste good.

Recipe Source – The Pioneer Woman


For the Cake
1 Cup All purpose Flour
1 Cup Sugar
1/8 Tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Cocoa (heaping)
1 Stick Unsalted Butter (100 Grams or 8 Tbsp)
1/2 Cup Boiling Water
1/4 Cup Buttermilk
1 Egg
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence
For The Frosting
1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Almonds
87.5 Grams Butter (Approx. 7 Tbsp or 7/8 Cup)
2 Tbsp Cocoa (Heaping)
3 Tbsp Milk
1/2 Tsp Vanilla
3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. In a saucepan, melt butter. Add cocoa. Stir together. Add boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool. In a measuring cup or bowl, pour the buttermilk and add the egg, baking soda, and vanilla. Mix well and pour this into the butter/chocolate mixture. Mix completely with a spoon to combine all the ingredients. Pour into sheet cake pan and bake at 175 degrees C (350 degrees F) for 20 minutes. While the cake is baking, make the icing. Chop almonds finely. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa, stir to combine, and then turn off heat. Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Stir together. Add the pecans, stir together, and pour over warm cake. Cut into squares. Serve warm. Or Cold. Just Eat.

Happy Eating!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spinach, Mushroom and Sausage Quiche

This weekend was a very lazy one. I didn’t step out of the house for two whole days and was hooked in front of my TV watching a marathon of desperate housewives season 1 (yes I am addicted now). I just didn’t feel like cooking anything (as usual he he he) but had to listen to the pitiful growls emerging from the recesses of my stomach. Not wanting to make any rice or roti I decided to make a quiche. Never having made one before, I started searching for a recipe online and came across one on Annies Eats. Of course I don’t eat bacon so I had to improvise on the ingredients. The best part of making a quiche is that you can throw in anything as long as the flavors meld together. It is like eating a giant omelette (yum!) and the crust is perfect omitting the need for bread. My crust was a little under baked so next time I know to fully bake it before adding the filling.
You can add whatever vegetables you like as long as you sauté them before hand. This was very filling and a great dish to make any time of the day. You can have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

P.S - My picky eater at home also liked it!!!

Recipe Source – Adapted from Annies Eats and Williams Sonoma


For The Crust
1 1/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp Sugar
1/4 Tsp Salt
8 Tbsp Cold Unsalted Butter (Cut Into Small Pieces)
3 Tbsp Very Cold Water
For The Filling
3 Eggs (Beaten)
1 1/2 Cups Milk
1 Cup Chicken Sausage (Sliced)
1 Medium Onion (Chopped)
1 Cup Mushrooms (Sliced)
1 Cup Spinach (Chopped)
1/4 Cup Mixed Vegetables (Carrot, Beans and Peas)
1/2 Cups Mozzarella Cheese (Shredded)
1 Tsp Flour
1Tsp Red Chili Powder
1 Tsp Pepper
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/4 Cup Coriander leaves (Chopped)
2 Tbsp Oil

To make the dough by hand, in a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the water and mix with a fork just until the dough pulls together.
Transfer the dough to a work surface, pat into a ball and flatten into a disk. Lightly flour the work surface, and then flatten the disk with 6 to 8 gentle taps of the rolling pin. Lift the dough and give it a quarter turn. Lightly dust the top of the dough or the rolling pin with flour as needed, then roll out into a round at least 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough a 9-inch pie plate. Trim most of the excess from the edges and use your fingers to create a fluted edge
Preheat the oven to 230 degrees C (450 degrees F). Line the pie crust with foil and fill with pie weights (I don’t have pie weights so I used uncooked rice). Bake for 5 minutes. Remove the pie weights and foil and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes. (My crust was not fully baked at this point so next time I will bake it for longer). Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 165 degrees C (325 degrees F).
To make the quiche filling, in a large bowl whisk together the eggs and milk. Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onions, sausage, mushrooms, spinach and mixed vegetables one by one. Add all these to the egg mixture. Add the salt, chili powder and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings. In a separate bowl, toss the cheese and flour together. Add the cheese to the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Sprinkle the coriander on top. Pour the mixture into the pre-baked pie crust and bake 35-40 minutes or until the filling is almost completely set but slightly jiggly in the center. Let the quiche rest for at least 15-20 minutes before serving.

Happy Eating!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Home made Poha Chivda

I first tasted this chivda at my house in Mangalore when my mom made it. We kids were eating her head to give us something to eat in the evening and she quickly whipped this up for us hungry souls. And I have loved it ever since. Poha is made of beaten rice (yes it is rice that is flattened) and is usually eaten for breakfast. I guess it is a dish native to Maharashtra though we do have other versions of it in Karnataka and other states as well. This chivda is a sweet and spicy variation made by roasting the add ons in a little bit of oil and then mixing the crispy beaten rice flakes to it. It’s great to have as a tea time snack with hot chai and is a breeze to make.

The original chivda contains peanuts in it but since I didn’t have any peanuts on hand (thanks to a certain somebody who always eats the stock I keep) I substituted them with cashew nuts. You can add both as well!


3 Cups Beaten Rice (Poha - Thinnest variety)
1/4 Cup Peanuts (Peeled)
5-6 Curry Leaves
4 Green Chilies (Slit Halfway Vertically)
1 Tsp Mustard Seeds
2 Tbsp Oil
2 Tsp Sugar
Salt to Taste

In a big vessel, dry roast the beaten rice till the flakes curl slightly and are crispy. Keep stirring continuously to avoid burning. Alternatively you can roast them in the microwave or oven. Spread it in an oven safe pan and place in pre heated oven for 15 minutes or microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove and keep in a bowl. In the same vessel, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds, chilies, chana dal, peanuts and curry leaves. (Keep all these ingredients ready on a plate as they need to be added quickly to the oil. If you delay it will get burned!!!) Stir and roast all ingredients on medium flame for 2 minutes. Add the roasted beaten rice, salt, turmeric powder and sugar. Taste and adjust salt. Mix well for a minute and turn of the heat. Cool completely and store in an airtight container or finish it immediately like I did!!

You can also add thin flakes of dried coconut, sesame seeds and other spices like cumin powder, asafoetida (heeng) etc for a variety of tastes!

Happy Eating!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Baingan Ka Bhartha

When I was a kid I would hate eating brinjals (also known as eggplants or aubergines). I used to eat only one type of brinjal dish that my mom used to make, eating only the gravy from it and happily leaving out all those poor pieces brinjals. Then one day my sister (the third one, directly elder to me) made me taste Baingan ka Bhartha from her plate and that day I realized the beauty of this vegetable. Now, I still don’t eat it in any other form but this is one dish that I have wholeheartedly adopted.
When I got married, my husband grandly announced – "I don’t eat two vegetables - ladyfingers and brinjals. So please don’t ever cook them." Hmmm, I thought. Let’s see how you don’t eat this Bhartha. And make him eat I did. And he too has adopted it, albeit not wholeheartedly.
Baingan ka Bhartha literally means Eggplant mash in English and that is exactly what it is. The brinjal is roasted over a slow flame till its skin is puckered and crisp. Then it is gently peeled and mashed and mixed with the other ingredients. There are many different ways of making this dish but this is the type that my mom makes and I have learned this from her. This is a very easy and quick recipe and goes perfectly with roti or chapathi.



1 Large Brinjal (Approx 200 Gms)
1 Cup Sliced Onions
1 Tbsp Cumin seeds
1 Tbsp Chopped Garlic
3 Green Chilies (Slit Halfway Vertically)
5 Curry Leaves
2 Tbsp Oil
Salt To Taste
Fresh Coriander Leaves For Garnish

Wash and pat dry the brinjal. Roast it over an open flame on the stove top until the skin scorches and starts peeling off and it starts to shrink. Mine was done in about 10 minutes. Hold the head of the brinjal (the green stem) and keep turning it every few minutes to ensure that it is uniformly roasted. I have also tried roasting it in the oven but it takes a long time and you don’t get the smoky flavour that the Bhartha is all about. But if you don’t have the patience or time to stand in front of the stove, prick the brinjal all over with a fork and place in an oven proof vessel or foil. Turn on the oven to 260 degrees C and roast till done, turning it every 15 minutes.
Once it is roasted, dip it in a bowl of cold water. Remove and keep on a plate. Start peeling off the skin and then cut off the stem. Take a fork and mash the pulp completely. Keep aside.
Heat oil in a pot and add the cumin seeds and curry leaves. Cook for a few seconds then add the onions, garlic, green chilies and sauté until browned.
Add the mashed roasted brinjal and salt. Mix everything to combine and taste the salt and spice. Adjust accordingly. Cover and cook over low heat for 5 - 10 minutes till all the flavors mingle.
My favorite way of eating the Bhartha is along with curds. Take 1 cup of yogurt and 1 tsp sugar. Whip it till the sugar is mixed. Pour this on top of the Bhartha and eat with hot rotis.
Happy Eating!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Home Made Cinnamon Rolls or Bon Bons!!

The first time I ever read about the wonders of a Cinnabon was on a blog. The description of those amazing rolls had my interest piqued to the max. However I had not yet come across the temptations of this wondrous things and left things to that. After we moved into our new apartment, we went to the food court that resides in the mall near our house. Lo and behold, as I entered the food court, a faint smell of cinnamon greeted my nostrils. On walking further, this smell beckoned me towards it and then I saw it! Cinnabon! I knew I had to try one and after one bite I was hooked. I would always buy it for myself as an occasional treat but the heavy price tag didn’t really justify it. I did search for the recipe and came across many recipes including the Pioneer Woman’s gooey rolls (see it to believe it) but was intimidated by the whole process.

However, after I tackled the yeast beast, I knew I had to give these a try. I once again started searching and came across this recipe at Confections of a Foodie Bride. The recipe is Alton Browns recipe from the Food Network. These are soft, yummy rolls filled with cinnamon goodness (it makes sense to increase the filling). My only gripe with these is that they taste the best when eaten fresh out of the oven. I don’t think they are meant to be kept for any longer. Next time I will halve the recipe as 6 rolls is more than enough for the two of us and this makes 12. Or maybe I will try the Pioneer Woman's recipe!

When I showed Latif this pan before putting them in the oven, he jumped from the bed and said “Bon – Bon, you are making Bon – Bons!!! “ Wahahahah, I went to the kitchen and laughed my head off!