Saturday, 29 March 2014

Banana Bread

It is almost a rule with every baker. If you have over-ripe bananas in the kitchen, you make banana bread!! It is one of the marvels of baking that this recipe transforms those sludgy, sickly sweet, almost black bananas, fit only for the dust bin into a rustic, homey, comforting cake, that once made will be a regular at your home.

I remember the first time, I heard about a banana bread, I was sceptical. The two words just did not seem to pair together. I couldn't be more wrong. The word 'bread' out here refers to the technique used, better known as the 'quick bread' method. You have two bowls of dry and wet ingredients and then you mix the two with a spatula, taking care NOT to mix it too thoroughly and you are done. Remember, smoother the batter, the tougher your cake will be!!

The batter is all straight forward. The addition of the mashed, ripe bananas is what makes this loaf beautifully moist. The walnuts are optional but they do add a nice texture.

You will be alerted to the cinnamon in this cake while it is still in the oven. That feel-good aroma of cinnamon will take over your kitchen and remind you why nothing can beat a cake baked at home!
Straight out of the oven, a slice of this warm cake is instantaneously comforting. While you will taste the bananas, they are not overpowering and with the cinnamon, the flavour is uplifted.
This is not a pretty cake. It is rustic cake that is perfect for weekend baking at home. Lazing around in your PJ's, reading a book with a cup of coffee and a slice or two of this cake will all make for a perfect Sunday afternoon and make that Monday morning bearable!!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Oven Roasted Potato Chips with Homemade Tomato Ketchup

You know how sometimes, a piece of dark chocolate is all that is needed to set the world straight again. Well, I feel the same way about potato chips! I am yet to meet a person who doesn't enjoy a portion of chips, whether it be as a side for dinner or alongside that cold drink, while rooting for their favourite team!
Now, if it were not for a small issue of thickening waistlines and slowing metabolism, I'd reckon we'd indulge ourselves more often than we currently do. But there is hope with oven-roasted chips being the answer we've been looking for! 

Instead of wasting gallons of cooking oil and risking a potential fire hazard and feeling like the unhealthiest person around, try this method. It uses only a tablespoon of oil. Yup, one tablespoon! Oven roast those chips and you can enjoy one of food's great creations guilt-free! Eeps..that sounded so much like a cheesy commercial!
But, honestly, the end result of these chips is just how you'd like them. Crisp and golden brown on the outside and fluffy and soft inside. And without the guilt of frying and all the health risks that come with it. This recipe blanches them before roasting them and ensures a much, shorter cooking time too.

I did also try my hand at a homemade tomato ketchup. Why? Because its something we food bloggers do. Try and recreate something that is shop bought and then talk about how easy it is to make it and how the supermarkets are over-pricing everything! That's just the way it is!
However, this ketchup got mixed reviews. I, personally enjoyed it. You could taste the sweetness of the fresh tomatoes and the various other spices that had gone into flavouring it. There was a complex flavour profile that made the supermarket version seem bland in comparison.
But, my brother-in-law who is extremely fond of his shop bought ketchup wasn't impressed. The shop bought stuff has been his constant companion since his boarding school days and through University,  when it helped make many a bland meal, palatable. Nothing could trump it. Clearly, it was an emotive issue and he was in no mood to switch loyalties. I'll leave it to your discretion on whether you'd like to give it a go!
I will insist that you give these chips a shot.  Because life's too short to deny yourself simple pleasures!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Malai Kulfi

And before you know it, Holi's here! This past weekend, we celebrated the 'festival of colours', here in India. It is supposed to herald the onset of spring but considering how unseasonally hot it was in my neck of the woods, it felt more like summer. The Indian summer is enough to make me one whiny, bothered, tortured soul but in the spirit of Holi, I won't complain today. I'll leave that for another day. Instead...I'll let you know that I made some 'kulfi' - the Indian answer to no-churn ice-cream!!
And lest you think, I slaved over the stove for hours (although you should know me better by now), I'll also let you know that this is a cheat's version that uses condensed milk and milk powder, halves your cooking time and tastes just as good.
This recipe is, of course, all thanks to my one-stop shop for easy Indian cooking, Tarla Dalal! The recipe uses just four ingredients - milk, condensed milk, milk powder and cardamom powder.
The end result will surprise you. In all likelihood, if you live in India, your kulfi is going to be shop bought. But, let me tell you, this kulfi matches up admirably. I do realise that looking at the photographs you are not going to be convinced. But, I did mention that it was hot and moreover, yours truly is hardly the most adept at unmoulding desserts smoothly. But, take my word, it is creamy and smooth with the right amount of sweetness with the cardamom pairing beautifully. This is the real deal!
Did you go all crazy this Holi?? Did you make something special for the occasion? Tell me!
I wish you and yours a very Happy Holi. Much the like colours of Holi, may your days ahead be coloured with love, happiness and good health!!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Homemade Granola

OK.. Put your hands up, all those who made a resolution to eat healthy this year! And now put your hands up, all those who have broken that resolution in disastrous fashion! Hmmm.. thought as much! Well.. you can still make amends for your sins, considering we haven't yet crossed Q1 for the year.
Everyone who is anyone knows that the path to healthy eating starts with a good breakfast. Don't even think of putting up a contrary argument to this. Just go onto the Internet and read why breakfast is so important. In an ideal world, the ideal breakfast would be a freshly cooked breakfast. But, we don't live in an ideal world. So for those rushed weekday mornings, there is invariably cereal and milk to start the day.

And this is where we are all getting it wrong in the first place. Because, those boxes of breakfast cereals have a huge amount of sugar hidden in them, more than we realise. Read this article for a quick read on the topic. There's always Google and its wealth of information for more on the topic.
And the alternative to shop bought is to make it at home. It is fuss-free, healthier and tastier. Search around for granola recipes and I found most of them had a bit too much honey/maple syrup/apple juice for my liking. So, I tweaked this recipe I found on Jamie's website and it worked for me.

This is a lot like the honey-toasted muesli recipe I put up a while back. But, I loaded this with nuts and dried fruits much more. Nuts because they keep me full longer and dried fruits provide their own natural sweetness and hence, remove the need to add extra sugar.
Any blogger will tell you that making your own homemade granola is all about customising it to your taste. Simply add whatever you like and leave the rest out. The end result is a granola that will at first, taste less sweeter than what you usually buy. You probably think that you'll have to add honey when you have it. But, once the dried fruits are added, its just right!!

As you can see, I like my granola with milk and fresh fruit but it works well with yoghurt too! And because of all the nut and dried fruit action going on, a small amount goes a long way. Its works as breakfast as well as for a mid-afternoon snack. Just try making it once. If it doesn't convert you, you can go back to those sugar bombs for breakfast!!
Finally, I have been missing for most of February but I am gonna correct that this month. I have some interesting posts lined up that should hit you very soon in quick succession. Till then, why not make some granola! Hope you had a lovely weekend and Monday morning was kind to you!!

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