Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Orange. Oats. Almond. Love

The book was renewed till I couldn't renew it yet again. At that point I decided to buy a copy for myself.
By now I have lost count of the vegan recipes I have tried from this book. When I'm not baking from it, I'm simply perusing the recipes. A good read.

The primary reason for diving into the vegan recipes is the need to cut cholesterol for everyday foods. The other and equally important reason is that I can now easily make these for breakfast. On a weekday!
The previous night I mix the dry ingredients and then the wet ingredients (separately). In the morning while the oven preheats, I mix the wet and dry ingredients, spoon the batter in the muffin pan. In under 30 mins, start to end, the muffins are ready to be devoured by the sleepyheads ambling out for breakfast. When they are awake enough to ask 'You made them in the morning?' and I get to nod and smile beatifically. Thanks Camilla Saulsbury.

While I have baked several vegan muffins from this book, the recipe here is my own but definitely inspired by this book. I either use a mixture of all purpose flour and whole wheat flour or just whole wheat flour. I did not like batch made with just all purpose flour. I know it is fashionable to favour whole wheat flour, but in case whole wheat flour does indeed produce a wonderful texture and hearty muffin.

I'm digressing but recently at a party when the topic of discussion moved to preferences in chocolate, a friend leaned over to whisper 'I know it is not fashionable to say this but I really like milk chocolate'. This was such a what-the-football moment. The thing is that I, too, like milk chocolate and am not afraid to say it. In fact, I like it a lot. (I digress while digressing; very Inception-like...a certain blogger has been been gunning down people who use 'alot' instead of 'a lot'. So hopefully she notices the space between 'a' and 'lot'.)

Orange Oat Almond Muffins

½ cup regular oats, give them a quick spin in the spice grinder
1 ½ cups flour (a mixture of all purpose and whole wheat flour)
¼ cup almonds, coarsely chopped
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup sugar (or more)
zest of one large orange (see notes below)
½ cup oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
juice of one large orange, add water to the juice to get one cup of liquid
1 ½ tbsp vinegar (cider vinegar is better but just plain vinegar is just fine)

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Grease a 12-cup muffin pan.
Mix the dry ingredients and set aside.
Mix the wet ingredients and set aside.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir just until combined.
(Go ahead and taste the batter to see if you need more sugar. Vegan batter, it is safe!)
Spoon the batter into the muffin pans and bake for about 15mins (oven times will vary) or till a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out nearly clean.
Cool in the pan for at least 10 mins before removing them; the muffins are crumbly.

Notes: to get more flavour out of the orange zest, rub the zest with the sugar.

If you have any questions or comments, please write to me or tweet @cooker_baker. Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, May 9, 2011

So Many Fools, So Little Time

Dessert doesn't get any easier.
Berry fool: Crushed/ macerated berries mixed with lightly sweetened whipped cream.
An added bonus: the entertainment factor that comes with having the word fool in it's name, as in "Let's have some strawberry < insert the name of your favourite sibling/ cousin>."
Rather lame, I know.

Photo courtesy my daughter, A.

The proportions are a mere guideline.

10-12 medium sized strawberries (hulled)/ 1 cup blackberries, blueberries, or raspberries.
½ cup whipping cream, cold
1 tbsp (regular) sugar
1-2 tbsp confectioners sugar
a couple of pinches of salt (optional, but recommended)
1 tsp (or more) lemon juice
Mint leaves, for garnishing (optional)

Place the berries in separate medium bowls and sprinkle just a little sugar on them.
Using a fork or a potato masher, break the berries.
Add a pinch of salt and ½ tsp lemon juice to each bowl and set aside for about an hour.

Add the confectioners sugar to the whipping cream and beat still you get soft peaks.

Layer the berries and the cream in serving bowls/ wine glasses.
Instead of layering you could also fold the cream into the berry mixture.
Top with the mint leaves, if using.
Chill in the fridge before serving.
Serves four.

Note: the quantity of sugar largely depends on the sweetness of the berries and how sweet you like your desserts.

If you have any questions or comments, please write to me for stopping by.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bread! hic.

My first attempt at making beer bread was an unmitigated disaster. The taste, texture, and smell: all awful. I blame the beer!
It took me a good couple of years before giving it another try. This time I made many changes to the original recipe and ended up with this lovely loaf:

As far as I know, the alcohol in the beer burns off in the 45 mins of baking time. What is left behind is the almost tangy bitterness.

Beer Bread

1 cup all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
¼ cup oats, coarsely ground (optional but recommended if you like various textures in your bread)
3 tbsp oil
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
12 oz beer (I used good ol' Kingfisher)

Preheat the oven to 375F.
If using a pizza stone, place it in the oven.
Lightly grease a pan or an iron skillet and set it aside.

Mix all the dry ingredients.
Add in the oil, give it a good stir.
Pour the beer and keep mixing. The dough will be incredibly sticky.
Add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, if needed. Do not add more than 3-4 tablespoons.
When you are able to form the dough into a round-ish ball, place it in the pan or the skillet.
Bake for about 45 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Let the loaf rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.

If you have any questions or comments, please write to me for stopping by.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A New Favourite

For years my favourite recipe for banana bread came from The Joy of Cooking. Moist, with a fantastic banana flavour, easy to put together; no reason to look elsewhere. Until now.

A recent Home Plates column had not one but two recipes for banana bread; specifically banana-orange bread. Sometimes one comes across recipes that you want to try right away. This was one such recipe. I even had three bananas well on their way to that ugh-I-can't-possibly-eat-that stage which is perfect for banana bread. Firmly ignoring the twinge of disloyalty I felt towards the recipe I'd used for years, I started to preheat the oven.

Picture courtesy my daughter.

As always I made some minor changes to the original recipe: what to do, I'm like that only.
I never tire of saying that and the kids invariably cringe in embarrassment when I do. All the more reason for me to keep saying that!

Here is the recipe with my changes:
Banana-Orange Bread

1 ½ cups sugar
5 tbsp vegetable oil
2 eggs
3 largish bananas (yielding about 1 ½ cups mashed)
¾ cup orange juice
3 cups flour (I used 1 ½ cup all purpose flour + 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour)
½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
1 cup finely chopped walnuts (pecans ok too)
2 tbsp orange zest (packed)
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Grease two 8x4-inch loaf pans and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 325F.
Using a food processor, mash the banana.
Transfer the banana-mush to another bowl.
In the same food processor bowl (rinsing not necessary), combine the sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla extract.
Mix well, till slightly light in colour.
With the motor running add in the banana-mush and the orange juice.
Add the dry ingredients and mix till well combined.
Add the nuts and again mix well.
Divide the batter between the loaf pans.
Place the pans in the center of the oven and bake for about 50 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the center of the pan comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then transfer the loaves to a cooling rack.

Such a lovely loaf!
This recipe makes two generous sized loaves. I was worried that the loaves would turn out dry, given the baking time and the considerable quantity of the batter in the pan, but I was wrong. But, next time I'll definitely divide all this batter into three.
I'll also significantly increase the quantity of the orange zest or skip the orange zest altogether and instead add a handful of chocolate chips.
If one makes three loaves from this recipe, you have less than one egg/ loaf. Immensely veganisable.

If you have any questions or comments, please write to me for stopping by.
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