Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal

So baked oatmeal is apparently a thing, and I didn't know until now. I'm wondering where I've been all this while. In a few short months, I've stumbled upon Smoothie Bowls and now Baked Oatmeal. We love the smoothie bowls. They were perfect for summer and we've had a long, hot one. Its not over yet, but the weather has started cooling down a tiny bit and I am looking forward to winter. Enter this awesome Baked Oatmeal.

In our house, we love oatmeal for breakfast. It does take a little more hands-on time to whip up in the morning compared to making toast. However, we all know that oatmeal is healthier for you than bread. And overnight refrigerator oatmeal is perfect for summer, but I prefer a warm breakfast when the weather is cooler. And how good would it be if someone could make me this warm breakfast in the morning while I got an extra ten minutes of sleep. That ain't happening so this baked oatmeal is the next best thing. You make a batch up one evening and it reheats beautifully for breakfast the next morning. The flavor options that I found on the internet are endless. This breakfast option is an absolute winner in my book and I know I'll be making it very often as the weather cools down.

Making baked oatmeal couldn't be simpler. Whisk the wet ingredients. Stir in the oats and bake. An added advantage is that this is clean eating at its best. No refined sugars in this breakfast option. Its like eating banana bread for breakfast, without the guilt. You use the oats instead of flour and maple syrup instead of sugar. Throw in some coconut oil and pecan nuts and you have taken this humble oatmeal breakfast up a couple of notches nutritionally. Don't take my word for it. Make a batch today and you'll have a household that actually enjoys oatmeal for breakfast.




Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal

2 large ripe bananas (or 3 small)
3/4 cup milk, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans (additional for garnish)
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 180ºC.

Grease an 8x8 baking dish and set aside.

Spread the chopped pecans on another ungreased baking tray and let them roast for 4-6 minutes or till they are toasted light golden brown. Cool.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas.

Add the milk, eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla to the mashed bananas and mix well till smooth.



Add the oats, salt, cinnamon powder and toasted pecans and stir till combined.



Pour into the greased baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes or until set and golden brown on top.



Let it cool for a while (around 5 minutes) in the baking dish itself before cutting and serving.

Serve warm by itself or with some greek yogurt or milk, as desired. You could top it off with some fresh fruit and nuts as well.



If you're making this ahead of time, refrigerate and cut and reheat in the microwave as needed.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Blueberry Smoothie Bowl

It's been a while since I've posted anything on the blog and I feel really bad about it. I've just not been able to find my cooking / baking mojo. See, we've had a long, hot summer; really long and really hot. I'm more of a winter person than a summer so I'm all ready for winter now. Unfortunately for us, we haven't had functional aircon for about four weeks now. So you can see why I haven't really been too active on here. I've had to figure out ways to deal with the insane heat levels that heat wave after heat wave brings to Sydney this year.

I was glad to have tried out smoothie bowls recently. They were my saving grace. Healthy, full of flavor and their amazing 'cool you down from the inside out' quality made them a regular occurrence in my kitchen. The first one I tried was this Mango Smoothie Bowl and this blueberry version was really delicious too. I had some blueberries that I should have finished sooner, but I didn't want to waste them so they went right in the bowl for some color. If you love blueberries, this treat is a must try if you are looking for a healthy summer cooler.

A few ingredients and a minute in the blender and a bowl is all you need to whip up this bowl of deliciousness, so I do hope you try it out.




Blueberry Smoothie Bowl

1 ripe banana, frozen
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup milk
4 tbsp Greek yogurt

For the topping -
Sweetened coconut chips
Fresh blueberries
Almonds

Place the banana, blueberries, milk and yogurt in a blender and blitz on slow at first.

Scrape down the sides and blitz till you are left with a soft serve sort of consistency.

Pour this mix into a bowl.

Top with some sweetened coconut chips, fresh blueberries and almonds.

Serve chilled.



Saturday, February 4, 2017

Where can I find Gloria Doublette Paper in Australia?

Hello my fellow crafters in Australia. If like me, you make or want to try your hand at making paper flowers, you will know how hard it is to find German double sided crepe paper.

After a lot of searching, I am happy to report that I have managed to source some Gloria Doublette Paper. This gorgeous paper is made in Germany and has 135% stretch to it. It comes in folded sheets measuring 50cms by 125cms. I have a few colors for sale at the moment, which I am selling at my new Etsy shop here.

While the Facebook page is still under construction, I will be featuring new offers and discounts on it. If you'd like to follow me, my page can be found here.

If you are new to flower making, I have started uploading video tutorials on how you can make them. The videos are available here. Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel for upcoming videos.

I hope you can find a few colors you can work with. Look out for my flower making kits which will be available very soon.

I also hope to have a few more colors in stock very soon.

Don't forget to share this information with your fellow crafters, family and friends.

Thank you.










Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Basbousa

It's been nice to settle in to my regular routine over the last few days. Truth be told, I do miss being on Holiday and being around family and friends. But there is something deeply pacifying about being back home doing my thing.

I haven't baked in ages. Furthermore, its been about three months since I last shared a baked recipe here. I was tossing between cookies, brownies and tea cakes. And while I was looking, I realized that I had this exotic little gem saved in my massive 'must-try' list. And with a name as exotic sounding as Basbousa, I had to. So as soon as the temperature dipped a tiny bit, I decided to turn the oven on. Basbousa is an Egyptian semolina cake drenched in sugar syrup.

This batter comes together really quick and easily. There's no need to break out the heavy equipment, I just used a whisk. So basically you bake the cake, make a sugar syrup and drizzle it over the cake and top with some sliced / slivered (flaked) almonds and coconut chips and that's it. This is a dense tea cake, so don't expect a light sponge. It has a very different flavor profile compared to a basic sponge too. It has a subtle tang from the yogurt and the lemon in the syrup. Dare I say, it is very deliciously different. My husband really liked this cake. And he is someone who loves a good chocolate cake and the occasional sponge cake. This one though, he has asked me to keep track of, so that we can make it again. Imagine my surprise. But then again, it wasn't overly surprising considering how good this cake is. Try it out for yourself.




Basbousa
Recipe from: The Mediterranean Dish

For the cake -
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup natural, unflavored yogurt
2 cups coarse semolina
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sliced / flaked almonds
1/4 cup sweetened coconut chips or sweetened shredded coconut

For the syrup -
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup water
2" cinnamon
1/4 tsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 170ºC and grease a 9 inch cake tin and keep aside.

Melt the butter and set aside. You can do this in a little saucepan on the stovetop on in a little microwave safe bowl in the microwave. Set this aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt and sugar.



Now add the semolina, milk and baking powder and mix thoroughly.



Next, stir in the melted butter and whisk well. Let the batter rest for a while (about 5-10 minutes or so) for the semolina to absorb some of the moisture.

Pour the batter into the greased cake tin and bake for about 40-45 minutes.



While the cake is baking, make the sugar syrup. Place the sugar water and cinnamon in a saucepan. Bring to a boil on high heat stirring occasionally, but only till the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat down to low and continue to cook for a few minutes till the syrup thickens. Then take off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.



Set aside to cool and then remove the cinnamon.

When the cake is ready, take it out of the oven and immediately pour the cool syrup on the hot cake.



Leave the cake to cool off completely and let the cake absorb the syrup, at least for an hour.

Just before serving, top the cake with the almond and coconut chips.



Serve.







  

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Goan Meatball Curry

After what seems like ages, I'm finally back. And it's good to be back. I was away for a month and spent Christmas with our family in Mumbai, followed by a mandatory trip to Goa and a short stopover at Panchgani. Those of you that follow me on Instagram would have seen some of my pictures there. Those of you that don't, I would love it if you could join me. I'm on IG as @vaztrisha - Do stop by and say 'Hi'.

I can't wait to share more about the trip with you. However, that wonderful trip ended with an anti-climatic couple of days of jet lag followed by 2 weeks of a cold, stubborn cough and a couple of days of a fever. Am I glad that's over. I hate being unwell mostly, because that means I cannot be up and about cooking and enjoying the simple pleasures of life. But I'm well and truly glad to be back.

One of the first few things I cooked up after getting back on my feet is my beloved Mama's Meatball Curry. I've always loved this curry right from the time I was a little girl. This time when I went to Mumbai, I knew I had to learn this recipe from her. See this is the thing with her recipes, she can whip them up with her eyes closed, but ask her to tell you how she makes it and she may leave out a thing or two, not intentionally of course. So this time around, I got into the kitchen and watched her make it. Yes, I watched her, like a hawk ;)  And I'm happy to report that I got the recipe down and made the curry today and I was really pleased with how it turned out. Ofcourse, nothing can beat the food my Mother makes (even though I follow her recipes to the T, her food always turns out better), but this came pretty close, I tell ya.

This recipe is a little more intricate than most of the recipes I share here, but it is really easy. There are two parts to it - one is making the meatballs and the second is making the curry itself. This curry is full of flavor and goes really well with either plain steamed rice or this fragrant Peas Pulao. If you're not in the mood for rice, it goes well with some Goan bread (Poee) or dinner rolls too.



Goan Meatball Curry

For the Meatballs
1/2 kg beef mince (ground beef)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1-2 green or red chillies, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves and stalks, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2-1 tsp red chilly powder
1 egg
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce (optional, though it does add good flavor)

Mix all the ingredients together.

Form the meatballs and set aside.


For the curry
1 small onion, finely chopped
6 curry leaves
2 tbsp oil
Salt, to taste
Tamarind, to taste (Soak tamarind in warm water to form a pulp)
Fresh coriander leaves and stalks, finely chopped
1 large potato, peeled and cut into large cubes

Grind to a fine, smooth paste (masala) using a little water -
8 Kashmiri chillies
4 Bedki chillies
3 large cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
6 cloves
10 black pepper corns
2" cinnamon
1/3 tsp turmeric powder
1 tomato

Heat the oil in a pan and carefully drop the curry leaves in.

Add the onion and saute on a medium high heat till the onions are translucent.

Add the masala and continue sauteeing for a few minutes till the raw smell of the masala goes and the oil starts to seperate.

Add salt, to taste.

Add water to get it to the desired consistency, depending on how thick or thin you'd like the gravy. Keep in mind that the gravy does thicken a little as it cooks. Err on the side of less, you can always add more water as you need.

Gently place the meatballs in the gravy.

Place the potato cubes in the gravy without smashing the meatballs.

Once the gravy comes to a boil, turn the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and let the curry cook.

After about 15 minutes, check to see if done.

Check and add more salt, if needed.

Add tamarind pulp to taste.

Once ready, garnish with some fresh coriander and serve hot.

 Enjoy!!!


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

As 2016 draws to a close, I'd like to wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed Holiday Season.

I am spending this season with family and it has been more hectic than I could have ever imagined. I will be back in the New Year with what seems to be a very promising line up of posts. I have so much inspiration at the moment, its kind of dizzying. I hope you take this opportunity to spend time with your loved ones and enjoy their company with good food and create lots of wonderful memories.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Kulkuls

As Christmas comes closer, I see so very many posts of Christmas cookies and treats pop up all over the place. A lot of the treats that you now see have evolved over the years. In the last couple of years, I have seen and tried out a few that are brand new to me and I wouldn't have known of if it wasn't for the internet. These were so much easier and quicker to make than the kind of Christmas sweets I am used to making, not to mention absolutely delicious. Today, however, I'm going to share with you a Christmas treat that I've grown up with. It's a traditional Goan sweet.

This sweet called Kulkuls (cuhl-cuhls), is something I've grown up with. Every year, at around this time the family would gather to make these little treats. And yes, it is a family affair. This little bites of fried, sweetened pastry take a while to make. Since, many hands make for light work, my Grandma, my Mum, my Father (whenever he was on leave from work), my brother and I would sit down to make these sweets. We'd make a massive batch of this every year and it would take a whole evening from start to finish. That being as it is, we'd make Kulkuls every single year. These little fried dumplings can be sweetened to your liking and they have a long shelf life. The batch that we used to make around this time, would last till the end of Jan. In all honesty, they'd probably keep much longer, but they are so tasty and addictive, they'll be finished long before that.

Most of my family recipes, the old Goan ones have been handed down from one generation to another. The weird part is almost all of these recipes, never had fixed quantities of ingredients mentioned. The recipe is very forgiving and I've managed to chart down some quantities for reference. This quantity is a much more manageable batch size than what I'm used to, but you could cut it down further, if you need to. The process should take a couple of hours but I think its all worth it. While I did manage to get step by step pictures of the process, I didn't manage to take a picture of the batch after it was done frying. So for the time being, I am putting up a picture of our platter of traditional Goan Christmas sweets from last year which has some kulkuls on it. I''ll try and get a better one this year.


L-R: Date Rolls, Nankatais, Kulkuls, Chonya Doce, Perad, Milk Cream 

Kulkuls

1/4 kg Semolina (rava)
1/4 kg All purpose flour (maida)
1 egg
A splash of milk
3 tbsp clarified butter (ghee)
1/3 can coconut cream
2 pinches of salt
Superfine sugar, to taste (Start with a couple of tablespoons and add more as needed)
Oil, for deep frying

Knead all the ingredients to a dough using milk as needed.

Kneading the dough once its done, should leave a slight trace of ghee on your hand, but only just. If your dough is on the dry side, add a little more ghee and knead again. This ensures that the dough doesn't stick to the forms we're using to shape the kulkuls.

Taste a little pinch of the dough for sweetness. I tend to not make these too sweet so that it cuts through all the other sweetness on the plate. If you think you want the kulkuls sweeter, add some more sugar and knead into the dough.



Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for about half and hour.

To shape the kulkuls, you can use a variety of things. We now use these paddles that are specifically used for kulkuls. If you don't have these paddles, you can use the back of a fork or a new, clean haircomb.


Work with a small portion of the dough at a time. Keep the unused dough covered with a damp cloth while you work with the rest. Roll into a long sausage shape and cut into pieces.

Working with one piece at a time, place the piece of dough on the paddle.

Using your thumb, flatten the dough into a rectangular piece as shown in the pictures below.

Starting with the end closest to you, gently life the dough and roll away from you, keeping the roll fairly tight.

Lightly press the edge of the roll to seal it up so that it doesn't open up while frying.

Adjust the size of the pieces of dough to suit the size of the kulkuls you need.

Repeat with the rest of the dough. As you shape the kulkuls, keep them on a flat tray. I turn a cookie sheet upside down and use the back of the tray.


When they are all done, heat some oil for deep frying.

Test that the oil is hot enough by gently dropping a small bead of dough into the oil. If it bubbles in the oil, instantly and comes to the top, the oil is hot enough.

Keep the oil on medium heat.

Gently tip the kulkuls into the oil. Don't overcrowd the pan. Start with the ones that were shaped first.

When the kulkuls are golden brown, drain using a slotted spoon and place on some kitchen paper to drain off any excess oil.

Repeat with the rest of the kulkuls until they are all fried up.

When the kulkuls have completely cooled down, store in an airtight container.

Enjoy this lovely addition to your Kuswar platter.


** I'm hoping to get more pictures this year and will add them to this post.


If you're looking for other Kuswar recipes, you can find them here -

1) Marzipan
2) Date Rolls
3) Nankatais
4) Chaklis
5) Baath / Badca
6) Peraad
7) Coconut Toffee
8) Milk Cream
9) Jujups
10) Coconut Ladoos / Coconut Snowballs