Monthly Archives: May 2015

A tale of two friends-Apricot lavender jam 

Standard

I love spring. The weather is perfect, there are blossoms everywhere and the air is fragrant.  I go the farmer’s market every week. And when you start seeing fresh green pea shoots, you know that Spring is here. A few weeks go by and then suddenly you see heaps and heaps of fresh spring peas, sweet, tender and just plain delicious. Right about this time you also see fresh apricots in the market. Although I am not a huge fan of apricots as a fresh fruit, especially when compared to nectarines and peaches, I love dried apricots.

This week I got two gifts from my friends..my neighbor gave a bag full of Apricots and my farmer’s market friend gave me a bunch of Lavender. Last year she had told me about this place not to far from where we live, ‘Lavender Hollow’. As the name can tell it is a Lavender farm and the visit was just amazing. The air was filled with the beautiful lavender frangrance adn there were bunches of fresh cu lavender everywhere.

lavender

I thought it was very sweet of my friends to share these things with me so I decided to make something that I can share back with them. So here is how I combined the two to make one yummy preserve.

Apricot jam with fresh apricots, dried apricot, Fresh lavender & Riesling!

First time tried it with lavender and it was delicious.

Apricot Lavender Preserve

Ingredients:

• 3 pounds fresh apricots

• 12 ounces dried apricots

• 4 cups sugar

• Juice of 1 lime

• Juice of 1 orange

• Zest of 1 orange

• 10 ounces of Riesling

• 1 tsp Lavender flowers

Method

Chop dried apricots, place in glass bowl, add wine and soak overnight.

In a new bowl, quarter fresh apricots, remove seeds, chop to a bite size bit

In nonreactive pan, add fresh apricots, sugar, orange zest/juice, and lime juice.

Simmer about 10 minutes, mixing all ingredients together until sugar dissolves

Remove from heat, cover, refrigerate overnight. Next day, add dried apricot mixture to fresh apricot mixture . Stirring, simmer until thickens

Add Lavender Flowers

Put the jam in jars and seal in water bath

I tend to simmer only for a short time and shut off the heat, letting the jam cool. I reheat for a short time again to thicken the jam. I usually make just enough to last for a few weeks so dont necessarily can it.

I love serving it with some creamy mascarpone cheese on crackers. It makes for a very fancy looking appetizer.

Advertisements

Tres Leches ( or Quatro Leches) cake

Standard

When I came to the US amongst other things I missed eating what we call ‘Pastries’ in India. Desserts like pineapple pastry, Black forest cake, they all tasted different than what I was used to. So when I my husband brought a piece of this cake, I was not to keen on trying it. He insisted and said, ” I guarantee you will love it”. He was right, very first bit and I fell in love with this cake. There was something in it that reminded of the Indian desserts I am very fond of, that cake was ‘Tres Leches cake’

Tres leches cake is a classic mexican dessert, which translates to ‘Three Milk Cake’. Here I share a recipe that is actually Quatro Leches Cake.I also make an Indian version of this cake, I love it. If you want to try here is a link for ‘Thandai Leches Cake’

Ingredients

For the sponge cake

4 eggs at room temperature separated

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1 tsp Vanilla essence     1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Sift flour with baking powder & salt.

Mix the Thandai Masala with the milk.

Separate the eggs. Beat the egg whites for 1min till they start becoming a but frothy.

Add sugar and beat till soft peaks form.

Add one yolk at a time and keep whisking.

Add the flour mixture and milk mixture alternatively.

So it will be something like- 1/3 cup flour

1/4 cup milk

1/3 cup flour

1/4 cup milk

1/3 cup flour

 

Take a baking pan and butter and flour it well. It is very important since that will ensure that the cake comes out of the pan in a clean way.

I also put a parchment paper for extra ease.

Now pour the batter in the prepared pan. Make sure the pan in at least 10 inches round or even 9x 13, if you take a smaller pan the cake is too tall and the liquid does not get absorbed very well.

Bake for about 30 mins until the knife comes out clean. 

Let the cake cool on a stand for about 30 mins.

Now the fun part…

Milk goodness mixture

1 14 oz can of condensed milk

1 can of evaporated milk

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Mix all the liquid ingredients.

Transfer the cake to a deeper dish, large enough to hold the cake and also hold all the liquid volume.

Poke a lot of holes in the cake

Now pour the milk mixture over the cake slowly paying extra attention to the edges.

Keep it in fridge ideally overnight. I feel that it allows the cake to take in all the liquid and develop some harmony.

As you can see the entire amount of liquid is all absorbed.

Frosting

1 cup of heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup of powdered sugar ( optional)

Whip the cream with or without the sugar until soft peaks form.

 

Now the bestest part

Serve yourself a nice big slice. Turn some nice music on. Sit down and enjoy the cake.

You can top the slice with fresh fruit. I like it with strawberries, I feel they add a nice tang that helps cut through the rich sweet, milky cake.

This recipe inspired by a couple of chefs on food network, Alton brown and Marcella.

 

Thandai  leches cake 

Standard

I love deserts especially when they involve dairy :). So when I first ate ‘ Trés Leche Cake’, I fell in love with it. All this while I had eaten cakes that were that were like a pound cake so I could not get over the fact that this cake was so moist and yummy.

Usually I try to make something special for my close friends’s birthdays. This very good friend celebrates her birthday in April which is also the time when Indian celebrate ‘Holi’ , the festival of colors.

As you know I love to put an indian twist on dishes. As I was making this cake around Holi, I thought why not make this cake with  ‘Thandai flavors’!

Thandai is a milk based drink made on Holi. The literal meaning of the word is ‘ a cooler’, something that cools the body. It is perfect for Holi since that is summer time in India. To make Thandai, a paste is made with various spices and almonds etc and then mixed in sweetened milk.  It so served in small clay cups.

So back to my cake. It is a basic sponge cake soaked with goodness of the wonderfully flavored Thandai Milk.  It is actually ‘Quatro Leche Cake’, you will see how.

Ingredients

For the sponge cake

4 eggs at room temperature separated

1 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

2 tbsp Thandai Masala ( you can buy it in any store )

1/2 cup whole milk.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Sift flour with baking powder & salt.

Mix the Thandai Masala with the milk.

Separate the eggs. Beat the egg whites for 1min till they start becoming a but frothy.

Add sugar and beat till soft peaks form.

Add one yolk at a time and keep whisking.

Add the flour mixture and milk mixture alternatively.

So it will be something like-

1/3 cup flour

1/4 cup milk

1/3 cup flour

1/4 cup milk

1/3 cup flour

 

Take a baking pan and butter and flour it well. It is very important since that will ensure that the cake comes out of the pan in a clean way.

I also put a parchment paper for extra ease.

Now pour the batter in the prepared pan. Make sure the pan in at least 10 inches round or even 9x 13, if you take a smaller pan the cake is too tall and the liquid does not get absorbed very well.

Bake for about 30 mins until the knife comes out clean. 

Let the cake cool on a stand for about 30 mins.

Now the fun part.

Milk goodness mixture

1 14 oz can of condensed milk

1 can of evaporated milk

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 – 3/4 cup of ‘ Thandai Syrup’

 

Mix all the liquid ingredients.

Transfer the cake to a deeper dish, large enough to hold the cake and also hold all the liquid volume.

Poke a lot of holes in the cake

Now pour the milk mixture over the cake slowly paying extra attention to the edges.

Keep it in fridge ideally overnight. I feel that it allows the cake to take in all the liquid and develop some harmony.

As you can see the entire amount of liquid is all absorbed.

Frosting

1 cup of heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup of powdered sugar ( optional)

Whip the cream with or without the sugar until soft peaks form.

 

Now the bestest part

Serve yourself a nice big slice. Turn some nice music on.

Sit down and enjoy the cake.

I have made the cake toppers with brown edible clay. Filled it with the milk mixture and topped with the whipping cream.

Thai basil chicken

Standard

If I had to pick my favorite food it is obviously Indian, I grew up in India and that was the only cuisine I ate until I came to the USA. When I came to the United States is when I tasted Mexican and Thai cuisines. And now these two cuisines are my favorites. I love the use of fresh herbs in thai cuisine. Galangal, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and of course Thai basil. These aromatic herbs add a lot of flavor without any fat and most of these also have medicinal properties. In spring you get many kinds of basils in the farmers market and one of these basils is ‘Lemon Basil’- it has a unique flavor which is a combination of lemongrass and basil. I love it. Today’s recipe is super simple and can be made in 15 mins if you have all the ingredients ready.

Thai Basil Chicken

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts, chopped in small pieces 4 cloves of garlic 4 thai chilies ( adjust as per your spice level preference) 1/2 tsp oyster sauce 1/2 tsp sweet soy sauce 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce 1/2 tsp sugar A handful of basil leaves

Method

Make a coarse paste with the chilies and garlic. Don’t make it extra fine. I feel like the ingredients are simple and so is the technique. I prefer using mortar pestle for making the chili garlic paste.   Heat oil in the pan. The pan should be super hot. Make sure you are ready with all the ingredients, you don’t want to eat burnt garlic. Sauté the garlic paste for a few seconds making sure it does not burn. Add chicken pieces and sauté for another 30 seconds. Add the liquid mixture of soy sauces, oyster sauce and sugar. If the chicken is cooked, add the basil leaves and turn the heat off.   Cover and let the basil flavor infuse in the meat.      Serve with brown or white rice. Vegetarian option It is made exactly the same way as the chicken. I like to use vegetables like mushrooms, snow peas, broccoli, bell peppers and onions. Make sure you cook the vegetables on high heat so that they don’t give out water and become soggy. Once ready you can also mix these vegetables into your chicken to combine to make a wholesome dish. I always  include vegetables in our meals and also if you have any vegetarian friends they can also enjoy the lovely flavor of the lemon basil if you make this variation.