sriracha buckwheat molten lava cakes

sriracha buckwheat molten lava cakes

This is probably the craziest yet happiest batch of little things I've baked in a while. My not-so-secret obsession with all things chocolate and Sriracha hit it's peak this week when I decided to travel down the path of mixing them together. Maybe they might get married someday and make a happy couple, one could only hope! 

chocolate and whisk

Until now, I had never baked a lava cake, so I scrounged around for several recipes in my stack of baking cookbooks (that are unpacked yet literally piled against the wall of the living room like the entrance to a some ancient monument.....I'll eventually deal with this soon, hopefully), unfortunately I didn't have a recipe in any of my books (could also be an excuse to get more cookbooks)! I went online and found one that looked pretty easy to prepare and decided to take the plunge down the hole that looked dark and messy yet held a promise of sweet peppery goodness.  

lava cake prep

Buckwheat is by far one of my favorite whole grain flours to work with because it has such a lovely color and flavor. Indian cooking uses a lot of whole grain flours but buckwheat is a flour that I came across after I moved to the US and I love, love it! I've adapted the original lava cake recipe from one of my trusted cooking magazines, 

Saveur

 and substituted the flour with buckwheat among a few other ingredients. 

sriracha buckwheat molten lava cake
sriracha molten lava cakes

Here are a few notes that I made during baking and I wanted to share with you; 

  • I had no heavy cream at home but I did have full fat coconut milk and that worked just fine in preparing the truffles.You can make the truffles ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator, just stick them into the cake batter they day you are ready to bake the cakes. 
  • The cakes will rise during baking and you should remove them while they are still hot after the initial 2 minute cooling process. I removed them from the ramekins even though we didn't eat all of them the same day. The cakes might sink slightly once they are too cool which is why I really like serving them as soon as they are baked straight out of the oven.
  • To store, I ended up wrapping the rest of the cakes (after removing them from the ramekins) with cling film and freezing them for long term storage in an an airtight ziploc bag. Before eating the cakes, instead of thawing, I unwrapped the cling film and microwaved them covered with a microwave-safe lid. It worked great and now I have Sriracha lava cakes on demand. 

Also, if you don't like Sriracha you can leave it out from the cakes and make yourself a whole grain buckwheat lava cake. 

buckwheat sriracha molten lava cakes

sriracha buckwheat molten lava cakes

(

adapted from Saveur

)

yields:

6 cakes

ingredients

2 oz semisweet chocolate chips

3 tablespoons full fat coconut milk or heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon sriracha sauce 

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped + additional butter for greasing

1 1/4 ounces buckwheat flour + additional for dusting

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate

1/2 cup (2 ounces) raw brown sugar

1 teaspoon madgascar bourbon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt

3 large eggs

confectioners sugar for dusting (optional, I did not do this)

1. Heat the coconut milk (or heavy cream) in a medium sized saucepan over medium high heat until it just begins to simmer. Remove from the stove and pour it into a heat proof bowl containing the chocolate chips. Whisk until the chocolate melts into a smooth paste. If the chocolate doesn't melt completely, microwave carefully for 10 seconds, just be careful not to burn the chocolate.  Once the chocolate forms a smooth silky sauce, whisk in the sriracha. Over the bowl with cling film and allow it to chill completely for at least 30 minutes. 

2. Remove the bowl from the refrigerator once the chocolate is chilled. Divide into 6 equal parts and mold into small truffles/balls. Place each truffle onto a sheet of parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

3. Place a wire rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450F. Take 6, six ounce ramekin bowls and grease them with butter and then dust them generously with flour. Place the bowls on a baking sheet/tray and refrigerate until ready to use.

4. Melt the butter and chocolate in a medium sized saucepan, stir until combined. The mixture will resemble a smooth silky sauce. Remove from stove, once completely combined and then cool for about 10 minutes. While the chocolate is cooling, whisk the sugar, vanilla, salt and eggs in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until the batter turns pale yellow and fluffy. This will take about 4-5 minutes. Finally, beat in the melted chocolate mixture followed by the flour. Divide half of the batter between the ramekin bowls, then place a truffle in each bowl and cover each bowl with the rest of the remainder batter. Even out the surfaces of each bowl with an offset spatula and bake them for 15 minutes until the cakes are just set (they will rise a little). Remove from oven and allow to cool for 2 minutes.

5. Run a sharp knife around the edges of the ramekin bowl and immediately invert onto an individual serving plate. Tap gently to release the cake. Dust with confectioner's sugar. Repeat with the rest of the cakes. Serve immediately.

indian-style salmon burgers

Salmon burgers 5

Guys, I'm super excited because I have a little post up at 

Better Homes and Garden

! More over I'm thrilled that I not only get to cook up one of their recipes but also add my own spin to it.

Salmon burgers1

It was hard not to resist giving the

salmon burgers

an Indian-inspired twist because I absolutely love  to showcase the rich heritage of Indian cuisine and its versatility in everyday cooking. I've been enjoying a lot of the fresh produce and seafood here on the West Coast so I figured a seafood burger for summer would be the perfect thing to share with you.

Salmon burgers 4

Preparing these

salmon burgers

is a breeze, I've made them gluten-free and I think you will love them, since they carry a little bit of heat and spice. Most of these ingredients are available at most supermarkets and local international grocery stores, so you shouldn't have a problem finding them. And since it's summer, you should be cooking up a quick meal on the weekend, so you can spend more time enjoying the sun with your family and friends or even just by yourself! 

So go ahead and pour yourself a chilled drink and check out my

Indian-style Salmon burger recipe

!

Salmon burgers 6

spiced granola bars

molasses spiced oatmeal bars

I'm spoiled rotten when it comes to honey and molasses, we get several huge jars each year from the farm and they make everything more delicious. My honey obsession began early as a child, I'd wake up for breakfast and smear cold butter on warm slices of toast and then ladle a large spoon with honey to cover the bread. I'd make sure the toast was cool enough that the butter didn't melt and would be supple enough to bind the honey because I hated losing any honey that could drip off the slice. That still remains one of my favorite and probably the most simplest of things to eat for breakfast. I do it less often now and occasionally on weekends but each and every single time, I do indulge in my childhood fantasy, it is every bit as as wonderful as I can remember.

old fashioned oatmeal

At 5am, the three block walk to the gym is chilly and I realized today that I've moved on from wearing tee-shirts every morning to double layering and now triple layering. I'm a cold weather wimp and I doubt this year will be any exception. But one of the things, I really look forward to after my workouts are my homemade oatmeal bars. I've been making these bars for several years and I do something different with every batch I prepare. This is my autumn-themed version which uses delicious dark molasses, honey and a little brown sugar for sweetness and a sprinkling of cinnamon and ginger for warmth and flavor.

Molasses spiced granola bars

I've also added a handful of almonds and sunflower seeds for nuttiness and reduced the butter content. There is also a bit of ground flaxseed meal that gives a healthy yet delicious flavor to the bars. Can you imagine the aroma of warm toasting oatmeal with all these nutty and spicy ingredients baking in your oven. It is pure kitchen bliss! These bars make the perfect snack and are also a great treat for adults and kids alike. 

toasted oatmeal

I have an exciting new food photography project that I will reveal to you in a couple of days. It will be a fun new adventure for me that I know I will thoroughly enjoy and I think you will too, so stay tuned!

molasses oatmeal bars

spiced granola bars

yields:

approximately 27 bars

ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds

1/2 cup raw almonds

1/2 cup flaxseed meal

1/2 mixed raisins

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground

1/2 cup dark molasses

1 teaspoon honey

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 325F and line a square 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper. 

2. Melt the butter in a thick bottomed saucepan on medium high flame. Fold the oats into the melted butter with a silicone rubber spatula. Stir the oats every 3 minutes till they are evenly golden brown. Remove the oats from the stove and transfer to a large mixing bowl aside. 

3. Toss the sunflower seeds, almonds, flaxseed, raisins, ginger, and cinnamon into the bowl containing the oats. Mix the ingredients until evenly distributed. Leave aside.

4. In a small thick bottomed pot, bring the molasses, honey, and brown sugar to a boil on a medium high flame with constant stirring. Once the mixture begins to boil, immediately reduce the flame to a gentle simmer and cook for another 3 minutes, constantly scraping the sides of the pot. Pour the hot liquid over the oats in the mixing bowl. Fold the syrup and the dry ingredients until evenly distributed. 

5. Transfer the oatmeal mix to the center of the lined baking pan. Spray a little cooking oil (I used olive oil) on the palms of your hands and rub your hands against each other. Using your hands, press the oatmeal into a firm flat layer starting from the center and moving towards the outer edges. Once the layer is even, place the pan on the center rack of the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the entire crust acquires a dark golden color. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack in the baking pan to room temperature.

6. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the sides of the granola and transfer onto a cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the granola sheet into 1" X 3" bars. Store in an airtight container. 

chocolate almond and buckwheat tart

Chocolate almond buckwheat tart

If there is one ingredient you'd love to bake with, what would it be? I have several but I think if given a choice, it would be chocolate and cocoa. In my books, I don't think anything can beat that warm sweet scent in the kitchen that I find so addictively comforting. Granted, I invariably end up making a mess every time I work with cocoa or chocolate, my white kitchen table ends up looking like a war zone with dark brown splattered streaks and spots all over the place. I mentally prepare myself going in armed with the knowledge that I will end up making a huge mess. In the end it never really matters. Because of that final moment, when nothing else matters and my eyes eagerly wait for that hot dark brown dessert to pop out of the oven. I'll admit I've burned my mouth a few times when I've been impatient enough to try and taste it hot. This is not recommended one bit, speaking from personal experience!

Baking with eggs

Last weekend, I spent my time baking. I missed using my tart pan, I haven't used it in a long time and I felt it beckon me from the corner where it has stayed hidden for the past few months. A few minutes later, I had the pan in one hand and the other was busy shuffling through the pantry shelf, which is what we also refer to as my "Museum Collection and Assortment of Flours" (it's a whole shelf with several types of flours) which for some reason lacked any regular all-purpose flour. Thankfully, I still had a bit of buckwheat flour left to make my crust. I love buckwheat a lot for its characteristic nutty taste and gorgeous gray color. I made a very simple crust, buckwheat and ground almond meal with a little bit of butter to hold everything together. The resultant pastry reminded me of a graham cracker crust with a buttery and delicious nutty flavor. 

Sugar measuring

When it comes to preparing tarts and pies, I love my faithful trustworthy porcelain pie beads. But if you don't own any and can't find a store that sells them near you, use dried beans. I've had my beads for a few years now and they making blind baking a cinch. Adding the parchment sheet on top of the pastry surface helps to easily lift the beads off as soon as the tart comes out of the oven and there's a less chance of getting burned! 

Blind baking

Now for the fun part, the chocolate filling! Since it is autumn, I snuck in a little of bit cinnamon, not too much, just a little dab for a little bit of added warmth to the chocolate flavors. When this tart came out, it was every bit delicious, a thin fine crust outside with a moist gooey chocolatey inside. That against the buckwheat and almond crust made it simply enjoyable. And yes, I did my burn my mouth again while trying to taste this way too soon!

Chocolate tart slice

chocolate buckwheat almond tart

yields: 6-8 servings

buckwheat almond tart crust

ingredients

yields: enough to cover one 9 inch ruffled tart pan

1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup ground almond meal
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Line the bottom of a 9 inch ruffled tart pan with parchment paper and spray the sides lightly with a neutral oil.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the dry ingredients to mix uniformly. Add the melted butter and mix with your hands to form a dough. If the mixture is too sticky allow it too cool a little, this will help it firm. Transfer the dough to the pan and with your fingers/ or using the bottom flat surface of a measuring cup press the dough up the bottom and sides of the pan to form a layer of even thickness. Cover the crust with clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 mins. 
3. Remove the cling film and prick the surface of the crust a few times with the prongs of a fork. Cover the top surface of the pastry with parchment paper and place some pie beads or dried beans. This will prevent uneven rising during the baking process. Bake the pastry for 20 minutes in the center rack of the oven (this is also called blind baking). The edges will be slightly golden brown at this point. Carefully remove the pie beads along with the parchment sheet paper on the top surface.
4. Pour the warm chocolate tart filling (recipe below) into the tart shell, even the surface with a flat offset spatula or a flat butter knife and bake the tart for another 15-20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean from the center of the tart filling. Transfer the tart from the oven and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes in the pan on a wire rack before removing and transferring it to a clean serving plate. The tart will have a delicate crust on top but a moist gooey texture inside. Slice the tart with a sharp serrated bread knife and serve warm or cold.

chocolate tart filling

yields: enough for filling for one 9 inch tart

ingredients

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips 
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 tablespoon madagascar bourbon vanilla extract

1. Melt the chocolate, cream, and butter together in a thick bottomed saucepan over a boiling water bath. This should take about 2-3 minutes. Mix constantly till smooth to get a shiny silky smooth sauce. Keep warm. 
2. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, whisk the eggs, sugar, and vanilla at high speed for 5 minutes until you get a pale yellow lemony color and a ribbon can be formed with the eggs, the eggs will have tripled in volume. 
3. Fold the chocolate mix into the whisked eggs carefully with a circular motion. There will be some deflation but avoid losing too much of the trapped air.  
4. Please refer to step 4 above, listed under the tart crust instructions to finish off the tart.  

buckwheat oatmeal raisin cookies

buckwheat oatmeal raisin cookie2

One of the many magical moments in an Indian household is tea or chai time. By some sort of strange ingrained habit we would drink tea somewhere around 4 or 5pm every evening. There would always be some sort of assortment of cookies, sweet buns, pastries, savory chips or crackers that you could dip into your hot chai. It was the equivalent of a short pre-dessert session before dinner, since we rarely ate desserts after dinner. These days however things are different, I occasionally indulge in a cup of tea in the evening and I really don't keep a stash of cookies or desserts stacked away. The big reason for this is my fondness for cookies to be fresh and warm, right out of the oven. This also means that when I do have a hankering for a cookie or two, I'll be scratching the walls of the pantry like a cat. Last week, I had such a craving for one of my favorite cookies, the oatmeal-raisin kind. The kind that's almost like a good granola bar without the excess doughy feeling yet with a crispy texture. 

Buckwheat flour and raisins

There is a special earthiness to oatmeal raisin cookies that needs to be complemented by an appropriate flour to bind and hold it together. What could be better than buckwheat? Buckwheat grain gives an amazing flour with a rich and deep earthy texture that fits perfectly in these cookies. Buckwheat is also gluten- and wheat-free making it an ideal flour substitute in most dishes for those with related allergies. I think the first time I can remember trying buckwheat was in a chilled Japanese soba salad and ever since then I've baked and cooked with frequently.

I had a hard time finding a recipe that used only buckwheat flour without the addition of any other varieties of flours. My recipe is loosely based on an oatmeal raisin cookie recipe from Alice Medrich's Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunch Melt-in-your-mouth Cookies cookbook. To add an extra level of nuttiness and flavor, I melted and browned the butter before incorporating it into the cookie batter. This is one cookie recipe where you can be a little liberal with the amounts of extra cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and vanilla. I really enjoy the taste of these cookies with a little bit of extra ginger, it seems to give the raisins a bit of a bang. Some people like walnuts in their oatmeal raisin cookies, I happened to have a few almonds stored away and I tossed them into the batter. Either nut works great in this cookie recipe.

cCookies and oatmeal

I'll be honest, I was a little impatient after I chilled the dough for about two hours. I quickly baked a few cookies to sample and taste but the results were simply just not crisp enough to my liking. I almost gave up but fortunately it was late in the evening and I figured I'd just wrap the dough and refrigerate it overnight. By the next day, the oatmeal had absorbed all the moisture in the dough and when I baked the next batch of cookies, they came out crisp and delicious. Needless to say these have turned out to be great that they've been accompanying my cup of tea every day!

Buckwheat oatmeal raisin cookie

buckwheat oatmeal raisin cookies

yields: approximately 30 cookies 

ingredients

2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup water
1 1/4 cups buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger powder
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup almonds/walnuts, chopped
1 cup raisins

1. In a small bowl, place the oats and sprinkle the water. Keep aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger powder. Toss any left-over grain bits back into the flour mix. 
3. Chop the butter into cubes and melt the butter in a thick-bottomed saucepan over medium-heat. Keep heating the butter with constant stirring until the milk solids turn brownish red. Remove the browned butter from heat and stir in the sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Briskly mix in the egg.
4. Pour the browned butter mixture into the flour mixture and combine quickly. 
5. Fold in the almonds (walnuts), raisins and the oats into the batter. Let the cookie dough rest for an hour at room temperature. Cover the bowl with cling-film and refrigerate overnight.
6. Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two cookies sheets with parchment paper.
7. Scoop out 1 tablespoon of cookie dough and with your palms flatten and shape the cookies into circles around 2 inches in diameter. Place the cookies on the prepared cookie trays about 1 inch apart from each other. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Halfway during baking, rotate the pans from top to bottom and from front to back to ensure even baking. Allow the cookies to cool completely on a wire rack and then transfer and store in air-tight container. 

lemon and poppy seed rice cookies


The rain and wind are pounding on the windows and it's a bit crazy outside. Though, hurricane Sandy might have extended the weekend by two days, sitting at home and preparing for the worst possible scenario is a bit stressful. Walking the dog out in the rain was no fun either, he wasn't ready to budge and I honestly just wanted to be indoors. Over time, I've realized that you just need to make the best of any situation that life throws your way. For the most part, I have enjoyed the extra free time at home and made the most of it. So here I am sharing my "hurricane-coping cookies", this is what got me through the crazy moments of the hurricane. I hope the rest of you in the East coast are staying safe, warm, and dry!


You've probably eaten lemon and poppy seed cookies before but these rice flour based cookies are very different. The cookies are much more delicate and crumble easily making them a perfect accompaniment to tea or coffee. I used stone ground rice flour which has a slight grainy texture but you are welcome to use a finer grade of rice flour if you prefer. I can't stress enough on the importance of using fresh lemons here, they make a big difference to the flavor of the cookies. For that matter, everything around you in the kitchen will also smell wonderfully citrusy when you work with the lemons. These cookies are also great for those on a gluten-free diet due to health reasons. As always, chill the dough for at least 2 hours (overnight is even better) for a crisp cookie. The cookies should be white when completely baked. The crushed pistachios are optional and I love the contrast of the green salted nuts with the white rice cookies. Salted pistachios are also easier to find than the plain variety and they also give a wonderful flavor. 



lemon and poppy seed rice cookies

yield: about 45 cookies 

ingredients

4 cups rice flour
4 large egg yolks at room temperature
1 cup melted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 tablespoons poppy seeds
3 tablespoons crushed salted pistachios (optional)

1. Dissolve the sugar and water on a medium flame. Bring it to a boil and let it cool to room temperature. Once it has cooled, add the lemon zest and lemon juice.  Keep aside.
2. Whisk the eggs yolks for 8 minutes with the paddle attachment of an electric stand mixer. The yolks will become light and fluffy.
3. With a whisk, mix the flour and salt together in a separate bowl.
4. Pour the cooled lemon-sugar syrup from step 1 into the yolks and continue whisking.
5. Now add the melted butter to the yolks and continue whisking till completely blended.
6. Mix in one cup of the flour at a time into the egg yolks until no trace of the flour can be seen. The batter will be soft. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before baking the cookies.
7. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line several clean baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out 1 teaspoon of the chilled dough. Keep the cookies about an inch apart from each other to prevent them from sticking. Flatten the surface of each of cookie dough with an offset spatula. Sprinkle a few poppy seeds and pistachios on the surface. Bake for 10 minutes till the cookies are dry on the surface but still white. Remove from the cookies carefully from the baking sheet and allow to cool to room temperature. Be careful while handling the cookies once they are out of the oven as they can crumble quickly. Store the cooled cookies in an air tight container, with each layer of cookies sandwiched with wax paper, to prevent any sticking.

Note: Dipping the offset spatula in water before touching the surface of each cookie before baking will prevent the dough from sticking to the spatula.