Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Buckwheat cake

~ Rustic Banana Cake ~ 
(Using up  the festive leftovers, egg free too !!)

India is a land of  colors,traditions and  festivals . Just last 
week  we finished celebrating the spring festival of Navratras . 
Each day of this  nine day long festival is dedicated to nine forms of 
divine feminine power or Devi . Although our family fasts for just the first
 and the last days , there are many who fast , worship and abstain themselves
 from consuming grains and  eggs during the  nine days. Amaranth( ramdana) , 
Buckwheat (kuttu) and wild rice ( sama ke chaval) along with nuts,  fruits,
vegetables n  milk products are consumed during this period. Post the 
festivities I decided to consume the leftovers of buckwheat flour , 
raw sugar, nuts and  overripe bananas for a treat .

Sunday mornings need a bit more !! Its the day when i tend my tiny
 balcony garden , take out lil one for a morning session of skating /
 badminton ,make some special breakfast and of course finish 
the piled up laundry . While I was still in the balcony , I noticed this 
beautiful eagle just on the railing and off came in my camera for 
 capturing the beauty. 

Eagles had become the hot topic of the morning, while lil one was 
still busy in discussion , I headed to the kitchen to bake a treat . 
Today I was not only in a mood to  please the craving palates but also 
to finish up the festive leftovers . After all I love experimenting with new
 flavors !!!!

Buckwheat flour ,  known as kuttu ka atta in local dialect , is high in fiber, 
manganese , copper and  zinc , which are great for immune system. I love to 
use it for making savory  pancakes through out the year and usually grind 
the grits in small batches , as it goes rancid when stored long.We didn't have
 eggs at home , so  flax seeds mixed in water came as a rescue .

Banana Buckwheat Cake 
with Dark  Caramel glaze 

Ingredients - 
1 cup buckwheat flour , 1/2 cup all purpose flour , 
1/2 cup powdered sugar, 2 tbsp powdered raw sugar ,
1/2 cup apple puree(boil 2 apples n puree), 4 small bananas mashed  ,
 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tbsp oil ,  pinch of salt ,  2 tbsp powdered flax 
soaked in 2 tbsp water (or 2 whisked eggs ), 1/4 cup walnuts . 

Method - 
Preheat the oven to 180C. Sift together flour, soda n salt and  keep 
aside .Whisk together sugars, mashed bananas, apple puree , oil and
soaked flax mixture. Gently fold in the flour mix and half the walnuts .
Pour in a greased and; dusted  8" pan , sprinkle the remaining walnuts .
Bake in a preheated oven at 180 c for 35- 40 mins or till toothpick 
inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool for 20-25 mins , unmold 
and pour some  caramel glaze and  top with some more walnuts .
 Slice and  serve with some sliced apples . 
Note- I sliced the cake into 2 layers and poured some caramel 
in between too. .

Dark caramel glaze
Ingredients -1 cup powdered dark raw  sugar ,2 tsp water , 1/2 cup
 cream , 2 tbsp butter,  pinch of salt . 
Method- Melt sugar and  water  in a large pan, till it turns into liquid . 
Turn off heat and gently whisk in butter and  cream till smooth . Finally 
add  salt and  mix well. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Caterpillars ......

~ Very Hungry Caterpillars ~

Big creepy crawly red headed caterpillars was  the theme
 of our fruit platter today .My lil one is a great fan (and me too!)  
of the famous Eric Carle book -' The very hungry Caterpillar '. The
 story that revolves around a red faced caterpillar has been an
 inspiration for our crafts ,parties and activity themes innumerable
 times . Anything and everything on stick has its own magical charm , 
so when grapes got  popped up on skewers to make fruit sticks , 
tomatoes  certainly had to perch up to make yummy caterpillars !!!

Spring is the season of cherry tomatoes ( and grapes too) , although its 
the season of fluttering butterfly parties  yet I feel caterpillars never 
go out of fashion .....they make a great theme for any party !!!!!!! 
The famous Eric  Carle's  Book and caterpillar kebobs  are surely 
an inspiration for putting ones brains in right direction........

Even if you are short of time ,make these a few hours or even a 
day before and let them sit in the refrigerator till serving .

Caterpillar on Stick 

Just thread some grapes and a cherry tomato on a wooden skewer .
Dab some peanut butter and stick the candy eyes ( I made my own with 
royal icing and choco chips - pipe drops of royal icing on an acetate/ 
ohp sheet , place a choco chip on each and leave to set overnight )
 In absence of these cut some tiny cheese circles and top with pickled /
 regular pepper corns or capers. Using a toothpick prick 2 tiny holes
 on top and fix in pieces of parsley/ cilantro stalks to make 
the feelers. Finally use a food marker to make the mouth. 

Don't forget to involve ur lil ones while making these, I bet they would 
have super  fun making and  relishing it too !!!!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Freezing some spring ..

~ Lets Freeze some Spring ! ~ 

Spring is undoubtedly the most beautiful season of the year . Its the 
time of  the year when crisp and cold winter gives way to warm , lush 
and scenic spring and the winter goodies at the fruit mart make way for
 the seasons most awaited jewels - the fresh berries . Strawberries,
 mulberries , cape gooseberries , red and  green grapes (yes botanically
 they are berries too) the market seems to overflow
with the produce . 

Strawberries are the most loved berries of the season. Although the
 North Indian produces  are a bit tart than the sweet , juicy , ripe ones
 from the Western Ghats ,Mahabeleshwar belt yet they are enough to
 pamper us in innumerable avatars - shakes, smoothie, sorbets, 
crumbles, panna cottas, fresh fruit cakes, ice creams, cheesecakes ......
the list is endless. Throughout the season the refrigerator is stacked
 with the red beauties and a glass of freshly made strawberry milkshake
 is what the lil ones gets before heading for school . 

The receding availability of the strawberries this week was enough to prove 
that spring is making way for summer and our dear fruit can be relished for
 just a few more days . After seeing the frozen berries in some speciality stores 
last year I was eagerly waiting to freeze a big batch of my own . The vendor 
was more than happy to offer me a good bargain price for picking up 2 kgs
  (approx. 4.5 lbs). After removing the greens, washing and pat drying I placed 
a kg on a large tray , froze overnight - removed and repacked in a large
 ziploc freezer bag next morning.  

The remaining were made into puree with some sugar to be consumed
 for  milkshake , mock tails and fruit lolly bites on the go . I preferred to 
keep them low in processed sugars, which if required can always be 
added as per the recipe demands.

Strawberry Puree 
( tiny frozen cubed delights)

1 kg strawberries , 100 gms sugar ( adjust to tartness or liking ) 
 few Ice cube trays .

Clean , wash and hull the strawberries .Pat dry and cut into large slices.
Grind along with sugar till smooth. Pour in ice trays and freeze for 5-6 hours 
or till firm . Unmold and pack in 2-3 ziplock freezer bags . 
Can be frozen up till 4-6 months. 

So next time your lil one craves for some strawberries in summer/ autumn- 
 Just whiz together a glass of milk with 5-6 puree cubes and some sugar/ honey
 and serve. Or prick a toothpick on a cube and relish it as a guilt 
free summer soother.


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