April 23, 2014

semolina halva

semolina halva

Thank you so much for all your kind words and support. To be honest, things have definitely become a little crazy here but we're trying to tackle the madness together and that's what makes it fun! I've chalked out my bucket list of places I've wanted to eat at or want to eat at again, sights I want to see; but how much of this I will get to accomplish, I'm not sure but I'm going to give this my best shot.

semolina and golden raisins

Have you ever tried a semolina halva? It's probably my favorite halva because of its simplicity and  the toasted aroma of semolina can be pretty delicious and comforting. This halva is wickedly two-faced and satisfying, you can eat it for breakfast or serve it as dessert, either way it never disappoints!

Semolina is the tinier cousin of bulgur and it resembles a fine sand. You need to lightly toast the semolina but be careful while doing this as it can burn fast, the photograph below shows how deep I let it brown and should give you a rough idea of what the semolina must look like. You can also use ghee instead of coconut oil (stick to the same amounts) in this recipe. The semolina itself is lightly sweetened but the golden raisins impart a pop of sweetness with every bite you take. The rose water is completely optional and I don't like nuts with this halva so I didn't add any but feel free to add a few mixed nuts with the raisins if you prefer to.

toasted semolina for halva

Here are some of my fellow blogger peeps that made me very hungry this week!
  • What's for Breakfast, Today? by Marta is a spectacular collection of food and travel photographs that if you haven't come across already, you need to check it out! Her work is inspiring and tasty!
  • Molly of My Name is Yeh whipped up a batch of pretzel shortbread cookies and then drizzled them with chocolate. I want to eat each and every cookie she baked.
  • I'm on a breakfast kick these days and Kelly of The Gouda Life is responsible for this, reason being her blackberry sour cream muffins.
I'm also super thankful to the wonderful folks at The Kitchn for mentioning my Fennel Roasted Strawberry Frozen Yogurt as part of their Delicious Links series, last week!


semolina halva with golden raisins

semolina halva

yields: 2-4 servings

ingredients

1 cup semolina
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup green cardamom, freshly ground 
3-4 tablespoons sugar
2 cups water
1 tablespoons rose water (optional)

1. Take a large non-stick wok or large saucepan (you need a pan with large surface area to evenly brown the semolina) with a lid and heat the wok on a medium-high flame. Pour the semolina into the wok and toast the semolina until the granules just begin to turn golden brown. Stir the semolina while toasting to prevent any burning. As soon as the the semolina starts to turns golden brown remove from the wok from the stove and add the coconut oil, raisins and cardamom. Place back on the stove and cook for one 45 seconds with constant stirring.
2. Add the sugar and water, stir the contents. Cover the wok with a lid and reduce the flame to medium-low. Cook the contents for about 5 minutes or until most of the water has evaporated. Remove the lid and stir the contents, all the liquid should be completely evaporated at this point and the semolina should be soft and fluffy. Remove the wok from the stove and sprinkle the rose water over the halva. You can serve the halva as is or use a mold to shape it. Serve this halva warm, store in airtight container and refrigerate excess, reheat before serving.

Note: You can also garnish the halva with toasted nuts or sweetened shredded coconut. I haven't done that here but feel free to do so if you like.

April 18, 2014

cilantro coconut chutney

cilantro coconut chutney

I have big and exciting news to share with you today;

1. We're moving to the Bay Area.
2. We got engaged! I can't believe, I get to marry my best friend and now we are on our way to start and share an exciting new chapter in our lives! We've known each other for six years, been through the ups and downs that life has to offer, laughed, argued, and cried together, traveled to places, and once narrowly escaped a bear on a hike. Yep, the usual things that all couples do, but above all we're happy and home is where the two of us are together.
3. Finally, I am also super excited to have my first post up at Food52 today where I talk about my love for this bright green chutney aka the Green Goddess, with so many fresh and bright flavors, it will surely brighten up your day. So head over to Food52 to get the recipe.

coconut chutney

April 14, 2014

berry, lime and cardamom spring cake

berry lime cardamom cake

There are things that I have learned that I do as a blogger that normal people don't. For example, baking yourself a cake and then trying to figure out if it's more birthday, spring or Easter appropriate for the blog. You see April is my birthday month (though my birthday falls at the very end of the month) and this year it falls on one of the solar eclipses (perhaps it might mean something), Easter too tends to bounce around the calendar every year, so I fell into the blogging dilemma of when to make the cake and when to share it on the blog. The only thing I was surely certain of, was making it! Last year I made myself chocolate butter cookies but this year I wanted a big fat cake full of berries, I should rephrase that, I mean't to say LOADED with berries! 

a dozen eggs

I love angel food cakes because they are so airy and light yet so soft and spongy. I zested a couple of green limes into the batter and tossed in some ground green cardamom. Instead of a frosting, I slapped the cake layers with an extra generous amount of lightly sweetened Greek yogurt and stuffed the cake with fresh strawberries and blueberries.

cornflour

This is not a very sweet cake but when you taste the yogurt and the cake together, the yogurt brings out the sweetness of the cake and the fresh flavors of the lime, cardamom and berries. I'm very happy with this cake, it's a little less guilt-free and makes deliciously light dessert. Needless to say, to balance things out, I cut myself a huge fat chunk and ate  devoured it! So here's to happy spring, birthdays, Easter and celebrations of all sorts and for that matter any reason.

lime zest and meringue 

I adapted the angel food cake recipe from Great Cakes by Carole Walter.

Note: When sifting flour, I recommend taking out a leveled cup of the flour, then sifting it and remeasuring the sifted flour. You can store the extra bit that's left behind. Also, with the strawberries and blueberries, you can use less and I indeed did have fruit left behind after I put the cake together. Feel free to play around with the amounts of the berries. You might notice, that I've used cornstarch/cornflour here to make my own cake flour and yes, this kitchen hack indeed does work!

berry lime cardamom spring cake

These are some of the delicious and beautiful spring recipes and blogs that I'm definitely gearing up to try out from my fellow bloggers;
  • Sini of My Blue and White Kitchen made her version of Finnish Raspberry Meade that looks and sounds absolutely gorgeous.  I might need a few pitchers, just saying!
  • I came across a new blog called Kiss My Spatula and I've fallen in love with the rich and colorful photography. 
  • The talented duo, Alex and Sonja at A Couple Cooks made these Ricotta Scrambled Egg and Asparagus Tacos that looks perfect for a spring brunch.
  • One of my favorite inspirational bloggers, Linda of The Tart Tart made some amazing Black Sesame Macarons that I really, really want to taste!
  • Imen has a Rhubarb and Rosemary Syllabub with Poitin up on the Farmette. It's no secret that I love farms and I'm adore the photographs she shares of her family farm on Instagram because it reminds me of M's parents' farm in Virginia. 
lime berry cardamom cake

berry, lime and cardamom spring cake 

yields: 6-8 servings / one 10 inch diameter angel food cake

ingredients 

32 ounces plain non-fat/ low-fat greek yogurt
1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) sifted flour 
2 tablespoons cornflour/cornstarch
1 1/2 cups fine sugar
1 1/2 cups (15 3/4 ounces) 12 egg whites, at room temperature
1 tablespoon warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons madagascar bourbon vanilla extract
3 limes
1/4 teaspoon green cardamom, freshly ground
1/4 cup (1 1/4 ounces) confectioners sugar
32 ounces strawberries, rinsed, drained, hulled and sliced in half 
6 ounces blueberries, rinsed and drained

1. Place the greek yogurt in a colander or sieve pre lined with a piece of clean cheese cloth or a kitchen towel over a large bowl. Allow the yogurt to drain in the refrigerator for at least 2 to 3 hours and discard any whey the collects in the bowl. Reserve the yogurt until ready to use.
2. Place a wire rack in the lower-third of the oven and preheat to 375F.  Take a 10 inch diameter angel food pan, trace and cut out a circle of parchment paper to line the base of the pan. There is no need to grease the pan. Keep the prepared pan aside until ready.
3. Sift the pre-sifted flour, cornflour and 1/2 cup of the sugar three times on to a sheet of parchment paper and keep aside.
4. Place the egg whites and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer and using the whisk attachment beat on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes or until the eggs get frothy. Stop the mixer and add the cream of tartar, salt, and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla extract. Whisk until the mixture begins to form soft peaks (ripples should form in the foam at this stage). At this stage, add the freshly grated zest of two limes and the ground cardamom and whisk for another minute .  Add 1 cup of the sugar, two tablespoons at a time from the side of the bowl and continue to whisk for about 2 minutes in total time. Remove the bowl from the mixer and transfer any of the white meringue mixture and lime zest bits that might have collected onto the whisk, back into the bowl. 
5. Sift 1/3 of the sifted dry ingredients from step 2 onto the egg whites and using a large wire whisk and carefully fold the dry ingredients into the meringue. Do not overmix or stir the batter as it will deflate. 
6. Using a rubber spatula, carefully transfer and push the batter into the prepared cake pan. Gently press the cake batter with a clean tablespoon and flatten the top surface. Finally, run a knife along the edges of the pan in a circle to remove any trapped air bubbles and once again smoothen the surface with the tablespoon. 
7. Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the center of the cake is soft and springy to touch and becomes golden brown. Avoid over baking the cake or it will deflate. Spray a wire rack with a little non stick spray and then once the cake is done, immediately invert the cake onto the wire rack. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan. Once the cake has cooled, run a sharp knife along the edges of the pan and around the inner tube to loosen it. Transfer the cake on to a cake rack and remove the pan. Peel and discard the parchment paper from the top of the cake and discard. 
8. To prepare the yogurt "frosting", place the drained yogurt in a large mixing bowl, add the remaining 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and the confectioners sugar. Whisk the yogurt until the sugar is completely blended. 
9. To assemble the cake: Slice the cake in half using a sharp serrated bread knife. Remove the upper layer and keep aside. Spread a generous 1/2 cup of the yogurt on the lower half and place the sliced strawberries with the bottom surface onto the yogurt. Scatter some of the blueberries in the space between the yogurt. Layer the berries with another generous 1/2 cup of the yogurt and place and align the upper half of the angel cake on top. Layer the top of the cake with a generous amount 1/2 cup of the yogurt and fill the hollow center of the cake with the rest of the yogurt. Layer the top of the cake with some of the strawberries and blueberries and fill the hollow center with the rest of the fruit as desired. Just before serving the cake zest the last lime over the cake. Store the cake in the refrigerator. This cake is best eaten the day it is prepared but you can make the angel cake a day in advance and assemble the cake the following day.