Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daring Bakers, Dobos Tortas anyone ?

This month we had Dobos Torta, a Hungarian speciality as our Daring Bakers challenge ..
The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite
Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.
The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel.

The recipe follows :

Sponge cake layers

  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)
  • pinch of salt

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) caster (ultrafine or superfine white) sugar
  • 4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.

Caramel topping

  • 1 cup (200g) caster (superfine or ultrafine white) sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
  • 8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)

Finishing touches

  • a 7” cardboard round
  • 12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
  • ½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts

Directions for the sponge layers:

NB. The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.

1.Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).
2.Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9" (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn't touch the cake batter.)
3.Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.)

The first thing I had to look at was the Vegatarian-ising the sponge cake from , I tried this recipe - it has too much soda though, so increased flour by 1 cup...still more than a hint of bitterness in the sponge and that sort of spoiled the cake for me :(

I did go ahead with it just for the sake of trying it out fully..some more notes..

Butter Chocolate - melt semi-sweet chocolate, beat in room temp butter...seems like a lot but balanced...I tried this Biscuit cake with the leftover chocolate buttercream and it was amazing !

Caramel - be patient , that white sugar syrup does turns to a dark golden orange caramel toffee mixture..

Overall, this was kinda mixed experiment to me and the first one where most of it went into the garbage (sigh)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Vaishnav Cauliflower pilaf

Last week I checked out couple of Vegetarian cooking books from the library and stumbled across this gem of a book - The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking, by Yamuna Devi.
Yamuna Devi is an American turned Vaishnav follower of Srila Prabhupada - the founder of ISKCON as is widespread now. She learnt the Vaishnav/Vedic way of cooking or Lord Krishna's cuisine as she calls it from her Guru, brahmin temple priests and lavish royal kitchens. In Vaishavs cooking is considered to be a spiritual experience - much like meditation, a means of expressing love and devotion to their God and this is exactly what she brings to the book.
Reading the book itself gives you this easy , mellow and peaceful feeling , the respect for ingredients and fresh produce, willingness to explore the power of each spice and flavor that you use - the aim is to cook ordinary food , extraordinarily well..
The beauty of it is that none of her recipes even use Onion, garlic - things we consider staple for the ubiquitous 'Indian Curry' .. and I have to call this synchronicity - this week is the Jain Paryushan that I try to follow and out of innumerable items that I can or should give up , onion and garlic are the prime ones.
So this week has been a meditation in cooking experience for me and here is the first recipe from the book. I have tried to copy it verbatim just to give a feel of her language and minutiae of the holistic process of cooking as depicted by her. I think Im converted!
Yamuna Devi's recipe for Rice and Cauliflower pilaf :
For the cauliflower:
1/4 cup fresh or dried coconut loosely packed
1 tbsp miced hot green chillies
1 tbsp scraped fresh ginger
3 tbsp coarsely chopped coriander
1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tbsp fresh grated black pepper
1 tbsp oil or ghee
1 small cauliflower , washed , trimmed and cut into medium pieces
salt to taste
For the Rice:
1 cup basmati rice
1 tbsp oil or ghee
1 small bay leaf
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 and 3/4 cup water
1 tsp raw sugar
To cook the cauliflower:
  • Combine the coconut,green chillies, ginger , coriander and yogurt in a blender. Scrape into a bowl and mix in turmeric, black pepper and salt.
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan till hot but not smoking.Drop in the cauliflower flowerets and stir-fry for about 5 mins or till slightly browned.Pour in the yogurt mixture and stir well. Reduce the heat slightly and fry until the vegetable is dry and half-cooked.
  • Remove the pan from heat and transfer the contents to a small bowl. Wipe the pan clean . (Notice the attention to detail and the quaintness of it :) )
To cook the rice:
  • If Basmati rice is used , clean ,wash ,soak and drain as explained . (This is addressed separately - Rice is cleaned in water and soaked for 10 mins and then the water drained and kept aside to be kept later. The rice is air-dried for another 10 mins before we cook it.)
  • Heat a tbsp of oil in the pan over moderate heat. Fry the bay leaf, cumin seeds,mustard seeds till the seeds pop. Pour in the rice and stir-fry for 2-3 mins.
  • Add the water and sweetener , raise the heat to high and bring the water to boil. Stir in the seasoned cauliflower , reduce the heat to low and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Simmer gently, without stirring for about 15 mins. Turn the heat off and let the rice sit, covered for 5 mins to allow the fragile grain to firm up. Just before serving, remove the cover and add a tbsp of ghee/butter and fluff the piping-hot rice with a fork.
The rice was amazingly soft and fragrant and each cauliflower floweret had a subtle and delicious taste to it . A great success and Ive already bookmarked other recipes to try soon.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Friday night, a pie and a cobbler

Last friday , DH was out of town nd two girls decided to make it a galz night out with a movie and lot of chatting...
Till my sweet friend wrapped up her great tasks for the next day and joined me , I whipped up - literally whipped up these 2 dishes that I've been meaning to try out since long :

2 years back on my birthday we had been to this beautifully artsy town Asheville (which reminds me of Edinburgh for some reason) and tried this place someone had recommended, which was good but with very few vegetarian choices . The gentleman server there got this tomato pie for me , which introduced me to this delicious concept of savory-pies.. Fast forward to a few days back when I saw this recipe @ and I book-marked it for an appropriate occasion ..and what better occasion then this for a hearty , warm , cuddly there you go..
I followed the recipe to the pat , except a few minor adjustments :
> adding some ajwain in the pie crust , which gave a nice flavor
> skipping the mayo,
> make do with swiss cheese , thats all I had

and it turned out great!
I had some trouble rolling out the pie , but I rolled it around in some flour and it was good to go..the pie was flaky and biscuity on the outside and warm and spice on the inside ..I should be so proud of my pie-making skills ;)

I have also wanted to try this thing I keep seeing around, called cobbler , and I had some peaches handy too and a quick google search revealed this great recipe for an Easy Peach cobbler..and indeed..easy it was..
In case you didn't know (I didn't) - a cobbler is usually a dessert consisting of a fruit filling poured into a large baking dish over a batter that rises through when baking..
So thats what I did..Prepared my fruit, ie peach and can you believe this is the first time Ive tried this great tip and it works like a charm :
Note: you can dunk the peaches in boiling water for 45 seconds, then into ice water, and the skins will usually slide right off.
I have so much to learn yet ..
Next , I prepared a basic batter with 1 cup APF, 1 cup sugar (3/4 next time), 1 tbsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and milk to mix.
In a wide baking dish melt about 2-3 tablespoon of butter and pour the batter into it. Without mixing, arrange the peach slices/pieces evenly on the top.
Now bake for abt 35-40 mins @ 350 degrees. The batter will rise up to cover the peach slices . The end result is this heavenly crust with gooey sweet and sourness of peach embedded within..It will go very well with some ice-cream too ..

Taken just before this last piece was devoured by the trio of DH, my loyal-fan Dora and moi..

Friday, August 14, 2009

DaringCooks August - Spanish rice

This time around at Daring Cooks Olga from Olga's Recipes chose a delicious Spanish recipe, Rice with mushrooms, potatoes(instead of fish) and artichokes by José Andrés, one of the most important Spanish Chefs at the moment...

Rice with mushrooms, potatoes and artichokes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

  • 1 Chopping Board
  • 1 knife
  • 1 medium saucepan
  • 1 Paella pan (30 cm/11" is enough for 4 people. If not available, you may use a simple pan that size)
  • 1 Saucepan

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 4 Artichokes (you can use jarred or freezed if fresh are not available)
  • 12 Mushrooms (button or Portobello)
  • 1 or 2 Bay leaves (optional but highly recommended)
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 2 big potatoes
  • "Sofregit" (see recipe below)
  • 300 gr (2 cups) Short grain rice (Spanish types Calasparra or Montsant are preferred, but you can choose any other short grain. This kind of rice absorbs flavor very well) – about 75 gr per person ( ½ cup per person) .I used Arborio rice since I couldn't find any other type.
  • Water (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice)
  • Saffron threads (if you can't find it or afford to buy it, you can substitute it for turmeric or yellow coloring powder)
  • Allioli (olive oil and garlic sauce, similar to mayonnaise sauce) - optional


  1. Cut the potatoes in little strips.
  2. Add 1 or 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and put the potatoes in the pan.
  3. Cut artichokes in eights.
  4. Clean the mushrooms and cut them in fourths.
  5. Add a bay leaf to the cuttlefish and add also the artichokes and the mushrooms.
  6. Sauté until we get a golden color in the artichokes.
  7. Put a touch of white wine so all the solids in the bottom of the get mixed, getting a more flavorful dish.
  8. Add a couple or three tablespoons of sofregit and mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with the sofregit.
  9. Add all the liquid and bring it to boil.
  10. Add all the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in heavy heat.
  11. Add some saffron thread to enrich the dish with its flavor and color. Stir a little bit so the rice and the other ingredients get the entire flavor. If you're using turmeric or yellow coloring, use only 1/4 teaspoon.
  12. Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than "al dente")
  13. Put the pan away from heat and let the rice stand a couple of minutes.
Sofregit (a well cooked and fragrant sauce made of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and onions, and may at times
different vegetables such as peppers or mushrooms)-

Cooking time: aprox. 1 hour

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 5 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup of button or Portobello mushrooms, chopped (optional)
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • Salt
  • Touch of ground cumin
  • Touch of dried oregano


  1. Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft.
  2. Taste and salt if necessary (maybe it's not!)

Allioli is the optional part of the recipe. You must choose one of the two recipes given, even though I highly recommend you to try traditional one. Allioli is served together with the rice and it gives a very nice taste

Allioli (Traditional recipe)
Cooking time: 20 min aprox.

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh lemon juice (some drops)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (Spanish preferred but not essential)


  1. Place the garlic in a mortar along with the salt.
  2. Using a pestle, smash the garlic cloves to a smooth paste. (The salt stops the garlic from slipping at the bottom of the mortar as you pound it down.)
  3. Add the lemon juice to the garlic.
  4. Drop by drop; pour the olive oil into the mortar slowly as you continue to crush the paste with your pestle.
  5. Keep turning your pestle in a slow, continuous circular motion in the mortar. The drip needs to be slow and steady. Make sure the paste soaks up the olive oil as you go.
  6. Keep adding the oil, drop by drop, until you have the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. If your allioli gets too dense, add water to thin it out. This takes time—around 20 minutes of slow motion around the mortar—to create a dense, rich sauce.

José's tips for traditional recipe: It's hard to think that, when you start crushing the garlic, it will ever turn into something as dense and smooth as allioli. But don't give up. It's worth the extra time and effort to see the oil and garlic come together before your eyes. Just make sure you're adding the olive oil slowly, drop by drop. Keep moving the pestle around the mortar in a circular motion and keep dreaming of the thick, creamy sauce at the end of it all.

Olga's Tips:
(1) In Spain, rice is not stired as often as it is when cooking Italian risotto. You must stir it once or twice maximum. This tip is valid for all Spanish rice dishes like paella, arròs negre, arròs a banda…
(2) When cooking the alternative style you can change the cuttlefish or squid for diced potato - which I did.
(3) If you can't find cuttlefish or squid, or you're not able to eat them because of allergies, you can try to substitute them for chicken or vegetables at your choice.
(4) Sofregit can be done in advance. You can keep it in the fridge or even freeze it.
(5) To watch how Jose Andres cooks this dish click

I dont think it came out as it was supposed to , mainly because of the rice...also , it lacked spice and was quite bland..I had to add lot of pepper to give it a taste..the allioli did add some much-needed zing on it !

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

An award and biscuit cake...

My fellow traveller on this journey, Jaya from Jayaspace nominated me for this award and Im over-joyed and happy to receive my first blogger award !! Thanks a lot Jaya !!
Of-course, it comes with conditions.. namely, listing 7 interesting things about me which is not as simple as it sounds... but here goes ..
  • I went to Medical college for 15 days and left it and joined engineering..I do wonder what my life would've been if I had continued ..
  • I have learnt to 'Never say never' cos we never know where our life will take us and what you will evolve into..for example, I never thought that I would own and love a dog...
  • There was a time in my life when I used to read 2 novels a day..those 350 or so pages ones..
  • I don't suffer fools gladly
  • I really dislike people who give less thought to having a child than buying a car ...
  • I ran my first 5k last november, I trained myself for it , and before that I used to hate gyms
  • This from DH - Im a liberal , eco-conservative activist/feminist
I dont know how interesting the above set of random facts is for anyone, but atleast I tried and also in spirit of kreativity - this childhood favorite recreated :

Biscuit cake :
1 pkt Glucose biscuits from Indian store
1 chocolate butter frosting
Indian style - Mix fresh made butter, cocoa powder and refined sugar to make icing consistency.
Current version - Heat 50g semi-sweet chocolate chips in a double boiler till it melts then let cool. Add 1/2 stick room-temperature butter bi-by-bit and blend in.

Layer each biscuit's smooth surface with the chocolate buttercream and place above the other. Form a layered stack and apply buttercream on the sides. Let freeze. Cut diagonally to enjoy the crispy chocolate-y goodness !

I also get to share this award, and I am passing on this award to :
1. She has got so many awards already but she is 'kreative with a K' and I pass on this award humbly to Lolo @ Vegan YumYum

Ohh...its so tough to pass on the every other food blogger I know already has the award or are way beyond that ..i think I was the last one to join the band-wagon...:( I think I will have to share this on the go...sorry guys ! Though , if anyone thinks of some blogger please let me know and I shall be ever thankful !!