Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick-O-Treat

It's SPOOKY......., it's carved, it's orange in color, but wait a minute it's not pumpkin......sooooo does it count as Jack-O-Lantern....U decide.....

Well if you think it's Orange then that's right....yes a carved Orange....I found it on Parents magazine in the morning & had Orange also in the fruit basket so why not try it......well it's filled with chocolate pudding which I didn't had but instead i melted some choc. chips & mixed it with some instant vanilla pudding.....so here's our this year's baby jack-o-lantern over to PumpGrins at Chef in You.

How to do it :
Take one orange, cut the top of it like a lid, save that. Using a fruit knife & your hands take out all the pulp out of the orange(it gonna be juicy task).Carve it with fruit knife.

Make instant chocolate pudding, keep it little thick, use only 3/4 of the milk quantity, mentioned on the pack (for one orange I used only half a pack). Let the pudding set little bit then fill the orange & put the lid back. I tried to put the pudding directly to the orange, which made it come out of all the holes. so I took it out and let it set in normal bowl & once it was set then scooped it into carved orange. Once you set the pudding it sure gonna make u drool.
Hope all of you had a spooky Halloween.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Home Remedies

"Nuskhe Dadi Ma Ke"
While growing up, for routine health problems, my parents always first looked into kitchen rather then medicine cabinet(in fact we didn't had one...only had pain killers at home, for emergency), same is the case with my in-laws and I'm very much sure many of you can relate to this. Now when I'm the in charge of my kids health, I also rely on these remedies a lot.

Disclaimer : I would like to tell my readers that these remedies are practised by me & my family for years and we rely on these as they have been quite effective for us. If you or your child is not well, please seek the assistance of a competent health care provider. I or this blog is not responsible in any way.

I want to send this to Radhika's & Sudeshna's Food For Stages Of Life - Cooking for Infants & Toddlers event. Though I know, this post doesn't have any recipe for the event but then at the same time it's so related to what & when of food, we give them to eat. I hope this post will be of some knowledge to parents like me, who always wish that oh....I wish My Mom or MIL was here to take care of the baby & then pick the phone call them to check what should we do...baby is sick. So, specially for infants & toddlers, here are few of my remedies, I always rely on, for my own kids :

1) Colic : u can call this home made gripe water, half a cup of water + pinch of fennel seeds or dill seeds, boil them till the water remains half in quantity, cool & strain the water then give it to babies 1 teaspoon at a time 2-3 times in a day(2 mths. onwards). In case of babies 5mths. older quantity can be increased to 2 teaspoon at a time. It's good for digestion so it can be given in normal situation also.But effectiveness of this water won't last longer, so I normally make fresh everyday whenever I need.
2) Constipation : this is one very common problem among the kids specially when they start on foods other then milk.
  • Hing(asafoetida) : it helps in relieving the gas,make a paste using few grains(a pinch) of hing & very little water(room temp.), apply it around the naval area in circular motion. In case of an infant, if umbilical stump(cord) is not healed yet, make sure not to touch that with wet hands.Effective for infants & kids.
  • Ajwain(carom seeds) : boil half cup of water and pinch of ajwain.Let it boil for 2-3 min. color of water will change, let it cool now, take the seeds out by draining the water & reserve it for use. For babies 3-5 mths. give 1 teaspoon at a time 2-3 times in a day.for age group 6 mths. & older 2-3 teaspoons 2-3 times in a day.This water can be added to formula also for easy intake. In case of breast fed babies, mothers can always eat a spoonful of ajwain seeds with water, daily. Note : this water won't stay for longer period, so I suggest throw away any water left, at the end of the day.
  • Fruit Juice : prune, pear & apple are good, can be diluted with little, Usually 4-5 months onwards(check with babies doctor first).
  • Prunes : if baby has started on pureed fruits & vegetables then while cooking food for them a prune can always be added to it so that it get cooked & then puree it along with the food(It's always a good idea to strain that puree to make sure there is no big chunk).
  • Pears : pear sauce, steam pears till they are very soft then puree them with a very little water or juice.
  • Papita(papaya) : Fully ripe & soft,always mash it for babies who don't chew.For babies who have started semi-solid food(probably 7 months onwards).
  • Raisin(kishmish) Water : soak 4-5 raisins in warm water overnight & give that water 1 teaspoon at a time 2-3 times in a day(6 mths. onwards, 1 yr. old can even chew these raisins)
  • Avoid BRAT diet, that is Banana, Rice cereal, Applesauce & Toast, these are very basic baby food but also known as binding foods.
  • Fiber rich food : add oat cereal to babies diet(5 mths. onwards), cooked spinach(from 10-11 mths. onward).
  • Gentle tummy massage in circular motion also help.
  • Breast milk : if you are still nursing, it helps.

3)Diarrhea : this is another problem which can make your child feel so sick

  • BRAT diet : Acc. to babies age group banana, rice cereal, applesauce or toast can be given.
  • Fennel water mentioned above for colic can also be given here.
  • Baby yogurt or home made curd if baby is already eating it.
  • Avoid prunes for the time being.

4) Cold :

  • Ajwain Water mentioned above in constipation section can also be used in case of common cold(runny/stuffy nose).
  • Apply baby vicks or regular vicks mixed with little vaseline to baby's feet under toes & put the socks on.
  • For babies 3-6 months old mix 2-3 drops of Eucalyptus oil(essential oil) with 2 tablespoon base oil(almond oil or extra virgin olive oil),keep it in glass jar/bottle.When needed massage 2-3 drops of mixed oil onto the chest & back.Same can be used in the babies bath also. NOTE : never use any essential oil without base oil, directly onto the skin.For babies 8 months & older 4 drops of essential oil can be mixed to base oil.
  • For infants & toddlers who are eating food (6 mths. onwards) it's good to add little turmeric & garlic in there food, it not only make the food taste good but also help them fight cold & flu.

That's it for now. I hope the information provided will be helpful to others, in case if you know of any more remedies for infants & toddlers please leave a message so that I can update this post.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bunny's Carrot Soup


When somebody on the T.V says let your kids help you make family dinner, that way they are more likely to eat what you cook....did you agree with them.....give it a try it works....Here's another recipe from my DD (first one was her applesauce) it's simple & easy....it's called "carrot soup". During summer vacation once she got a book from the library I guess the name of the book was Bunny's Carrot Soup & she wanted me to make the soup, recipe for which was at the end of the book. She checked each & every ingredient one by one from me..... if I have it or not.... and then she wanted me to cook that soup.She helped me with the making of it and Yes! she loved it. Take a toast of your favourite bread & enjoy it.
Here's our carrot soup going to WYF : Light Meal Event & also to Radhika's & Sudeshna's Food For Stages Of Life -Cooking For Infants & Toddlers event.

Ingredient :
  • 6 carrots peeled & chopped
  • 1 celery stick chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • salt as per taste(if making for babies don't use any)
  • black pepper (don't use it for babies)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil(for babies you can use desi ghee instead)
  • 3 cups of vegetable stock(I use chicken stock/vegetable stock/water whatever i have on hand)

Method :

1) In a heavy bottom pan heat the ghee/oil add garlic stir it, add celery stir it after a minute or so add carrots, stir everything together. If you feel oil is little less just add 2-3 tblsp. of the liquid you are using.

2) Saute everything together for around 5 min. or so & then add stock to it. Also add salt & pepper if using. Cover it & let it boil. Once it start to boil turn the gas to slow & let it simmer for around 15 min. or so, by then carrots should be totally soft.let it stay covered & cool a little bit.

3) Puree it smoothly or to coarse consistency acc. to your requirement.

4) Serve it with a little bit of heavy cream or full cream milk or a chunk of butter on top & with the side of your favourite toasted bread.

As far the benefits of this soup goes, everyone must have heard that carrots are good source of vitamin A & very good for vision other then that Carrots antioxidant compounds help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Note :This recipe is suitable for babies 8 months & old. But before giving it to babies make sure you strain the soup so that no big chunk or any fiber from the celery is left in by mistake.

Tip : If you make baby food in little extra quantity like I do, then this is the tip, freeze extra one in ice trays(pour it into plastic ice-cube trays, cover it with foil or plastic wrap, freeze it for few hours, once frozen take it out & store it in freezer bags inside freezer, for upto 4 weeks, though you can freeze it for longer also but that's the maximum I do. And beleive me it really comes handy on those days when you are really tired after grocerries, cleaning, laundry & what not.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Eggless Carrot Cupcake

My last post was applesauce which in my house means that next thing is going to be cupcakes or muffin......so this time it was eggless carrot cupcake or can we call those muffin ??? well what's in a name....a cupcake by any name will still be a cupcake......just a little frosting and kids are happy.

These were really moist & soft cupcakes because of two reasons: first the carrots of course & second buttermilk.....I've noticed when I substitute buttermilk for eggs, cakes are really moist, soft & light(not very dense).As I wrote in my previous post i eat my cupcakes when they are still hot right out of the oven.....this time I finished half of them(to be exact 6) in less then 1 day. And after that I decided now onwards, I will make half of them with whole wheat & half regular.....my DD eats the whole wheat ones, but not every time, may be every other time.....but wait a sec....I did used handful of oats & almonds plus they are carrot cupcakes, so do you think these count as healthy bites......
Ingredients :
  • all purpose flour(maida) 1 cup + 2 tblsp.
  • almond meal 2 tblsp.(grind almonds using coffee grinder,can do coarsely or fine as per your taste)
  • handful of instant cooking oats
  • pinch of salt
  • baking soda 1 tsp.
  • cinnamon 1/2 tsp.
  • buttermilk 1/2 cup
  • vegetable oil 2 tblsp.
  • light brown sugar 6 tblsp.(carrots & applesauce will also provide some sweetness)
  • unsweetened applesauce 1/2 cup
  • vanilla 1/2 tsp.
  • grated carrots 1&1/2 cup(with their juice)
  • a handful of chopped nuts or chocolate chips(optional)
Method :

1) Sift the dry ingredients then mix almond meal, oats & sugar to it.

2) In another bowl mix buttermilk,veg. oil, applesauce, vanilla & carrots, that's all the wet ingredients.

3) Now mix dry mix to wet mix. Mix everything together gently(no need to mix it for longtime).

4) If using nuts/chocolate chips fold them into the batter.

5)Bake them in the greased or lined muffin pan for around 20-23 minutes in 350 degree F oven.This recipe should yield around 12 cupcakes.

I usually make muffins/cupcakes once a week, so most of the time i kind of eyeball many ingredients & I do substitute one for the other, depending on what I have on hand.....like if I don't have buttermilk I might use apple juice or carrot juice.But one good thing(there are many other too) about blogging is, that I've started to measure the ingredients for these kind of recipes and also now my recipes have one place, where whenever I want I can find them....hopefully no longer they will be hiding from me somewhere on the piece of paper in some cupboard or on the last page of my personnel notebook & now my phonebook will finally have only phone nos. in it & not "flax seed instead of egg in cupcakes" kind of notes written on it.

And now, here are my first Awards passed to me by SE of Denufood, thanks a lot dear. I feel like a little school girl again...Happy.....And I'm passing these awards to some of my favourite blogs....few blogs I'm reading from last few months then there are few to which I'm new but really like them....

To Soma of ecurry, Supriya of Redchillies, Yasmeen of HelathNut, Shilpa of Aayi's Recipes and also back to SE of Denufood.



























Monday, October 26, 2009

Homemade Apple Sauce & Awards

An Apple everyday keeps the Doctor away.


Apple is such a fruit that no matter where you go in the world you'll definitely find apples, may be not your favourite variety but some tasty one to munch on. Today's post is about something very simple but yet delicious & very useful. It's homemade Apple Sauce and credit for this recipe goes to my DD, as a baby she never liked applesauce I use to buy for her (ready to eat baby food).

But in her preschool once a month she use to have cooking class, where once they made applesauce, that was the day...... she came home taught me the recipe and...... then onwards she loves it, only thing she make sures once in a while "Mom did you used my recipe?" and answer is "Yes"...... because I never knew before that how to make applesauce at home, sometime there are certain things that they are so simple & easily available that we forget about them, I guess we take them for granted. But that day onwards it's been almost 4 yrs. now I never used store bought applesauce, if I'm in hurry I use microwave but only homemade applesauce please.
I'm sending her delicious & healthy Homemade Apple Sauce suitable for any age (infants 6 months onwards) to Radhika's & Sudeshna's Food For Stages Of Life -Cooking For Infants & Toddlers event.
Ingredients :
  • 4 Apples( preferably sweet kind, I used 3 red delicious & 1 granny smith)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3-4 tblsp. apple juice or water
Method :
1)Peel & core the apples & pears then roughly chop them.
2)Put them in a large microwave safe bowl. Add rest of the ingredients. Microwave them till they get soft about 5 min. on high OR
3)Pressure cook them on med. high, after one whistle turn the gas off & let them stay in the steam.
4)Once cooled check them, they should be mushy when you press them between your fingers.
5)Now you can either puree them finely for babies or using hand blender blend them coarsely for toddlers.
Note : 1)Above mentioned quantity would yield you approximately 2 cups of applesauce, though it totally depends upon the size of apples you use.And you can store it in the fridge for up to 5 days or so. But I prefer to freeze it in small portions, if I'm using it for babies, to maintain the freshness or I make it in small quantities....it's so simple.
2)If apples are little tart I normally add one pear, to balance the tartness of apples but it's totally optional. You can also make various fruit sauces using different fruits available in that season like peaches, plums etc.
There are few other ways to use this sauce:
1)For babies it can be mix with any baby cereal like rice or oats.
2)Can be mixed with plain yogurt & you have flavoured yogurt ready with no extra sugars.
3)It can be used as dip for crackers & hard pretzels.
4)As fat & egg substitute in baking.
Go grab some apples,wash, core & chop them, steam them & enjoy your homemade applesauce.Big thanks to SE of Denufood for passing me my first awards, It's really nice of her, I'm feeling happy, good start to a new week. (Uh...oh...I don't know how to post those awards to my blog & further pass them to the blogs I like to read....got to do some research...may be little help here....someone...please).
Update : I posted this post in the morning but then I thought it would be nice to add some benefits of applesauce. Apple Sauce has a good reputation not only among babies but among every age group for various reasons, it's not only tasty snack but also :
1) It contains many phytonutrients that act as antioxidants.
2) It is a great source of fiber, offering almost 4 g per serving.
3) It is full of many helpful flavonoids as well. Some of these help reduce inflammation in the blood vessels and joints, which helps relieve pain from arthritis and also promotes healthy blood flow.
4) The antioxidants in applesauce helps to prevent many forms of cancer that can be caused by the free radicals they fight.
5) The flavonoids found in applesauce help to protect liver cells.
for more details you can click here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fruity Granola


I'm Glad I finally made this.I don't now why, but for some reasons I never made granola till yesterday.Though I always keep roasted almond/walnuts and dry fruits on the breakfast table but not everything combined as one thing, called granola. Yesterday, while baking pasta for the dinner I thought why not make granola also, oven is on, so why not use it for something extra at the same time.But I didn't had dried berries(we are not big fan of dried berries....fresh are always welcome) a common feature in granola, so instead, I decided to use all the dry fruits(love them) I had in my cooler box(yes...i mean fridge).Granola is a very versatile recipe you can easily accommodate any kind of nuts & dry fruits according to your taste.

Ingredients :
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts(almond/walnut/pecan)
  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats(I had instant kind so I used those)
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped dry fruits of your choice(I used dates, prunes, apricots, raisins,candid pineapple)
  • 1/2 cup cereal of your choice (I used cheerios)

For Sugar syrup :

  • 1 & 1/2 tblsp. of light brown sugar
  • 2 tblsp. of honey
  • 2 tblsp. of water
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Method :

1) Preheat the oven to 325 degree F. Either grease the baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.

2)In a large bowl mix together rolled oats, salt & cinnamon.

3)In another bowl mix the ingredients for sugar syrup.Microwave it for 10-12 seconds, it helps in mixing sugar & honey, stir it with fork or whisk.

4)Now pour the sugar syrup over the oat mix & gently mix everything using your hands(make sure syrup is not hot), so that oats get coating of the syrup.Spread it on the baking sheet.

5)Bake it for around 10 minutes then take it out, add chopped nuts and cheerios(if using) to it and mix them using spoon/fork(it'll be hot now).

6)Bake for another 15 minutes, take it out, add chopped dry fruits, mix everything together & let it cool.

7)Once it's cool you can store it in air tight container.Or may be just start eating it, like I did.

Everybody knows granola comes under the healthy food category,to make it more healthy you can also add wheat germ to it once it's baked. And I guess by now you must have figured out why I call it Fruity Granola and not simply Granola,I used more nuts & dry fruit then Oats, and to explain the benefits of all these dry fruits I believe I have to write another post soon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chana Dal Pulav


This recipe came to life in my kitchen only after i saw it on SEDenufood. In one of my childhood memories i remember eating rice & chana dal pulav while sitting in a train going for vacation, one of my aunt made that. It was so simple but so vibrant at the same time....white basmati rice like they are smiling & yellow vibrant chana dal peaking from every where. I still remember that it tasted good and that picture is still there in my mind.So, on Monday when I saw it on SE's blog I told to myself i have to make it. Originally I was planning to make it white only but.......when I opened my cooler box to get something I saw the bottle of rasam paste..........(I know what you all must be thinking store bought rasam paste......who use that......well, we wanted to try it). Anyways, so plan changed a little bit, here's my version of this pulav.

Ingredient :
  • 1 cup chana dal(bengal gram)(Soaked for 2 hr.)
  • 2 cup basmati rice (soaked for 25-30 min.)
  • 1 tsp. jeera(cumin)
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 1 Onion thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 inch piece of ginger(thinly sliced lengthwise)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of rasam paste(I used store bought)
  • salt as per taste
  • 2 tablespoon oil/ghee

Method :

1) In pressure cooker heat the oil then add jeera, cloves, cinnamon stick, mustard seeds & red chillies, when seeds start to splutter add sliced onion.

2) On med. high gas saute the onion till they become brown.

3) Now add rasam paste & 3-4 tblspn. of water to loosen up the paste.Add salt, paprika, rice & chana dal, stir everything together.Let everything get coated with the masala(spice & onion mixture)around two minutes.

4) Add 4 1/2 cups of water* and pressure cook it on med. high . After a whistle turn off the gas. If your stove is electric make sure you take the pressure cooker off the heated stove.after around 5 minutes open the cooker & using fork fluff up the rice.Serve it with plain yogurt/raita.

Note : *I use 1(rice) : 2(water) ratio while cooking rice in the cooker and I added 1/2 cup extra for chana dal.If you pressure cook rice, make sure not to let them sit for a long time in the pressure otherwise they will be overcooked & become mushy.

Banana Oat and Wheat Muffins


As I mainly do egg less baking and to replace eggs I use different fruit sauces. But banana is one thing I use only for banana bread & not for muffins or cupcakes because the smell of it overpowers all the other flavours and then I have to admit it to my DD that it's not real cupcake(Secret : many times I bake apple bread batter in muffin tins dress it with whip cream top it with sprinkles and yeahhh.....cupcake is ready & DD is happy). This time I had two over ripe bananas and I decided that no matter what I've to bake banana muffins and back of mind I knew that I might be ending up eating these so I thought, why not make it little bit more healthy and I changed my basic recipe for muffins to adjust these changes.

Ingredients :
  1. 2 ripe bananas
  2. 3/4 cup whole wheat flour(I used regular chapatti flour)
  3. 3/4 cup all purpose flour(Maida)
  4. 1 cup instant cooking oats
  5. 6 tablespoons of brown sugar(little less then 1/2 cup)
  6. 2 tsp baking powder
  7. 1 tsp baking soda
  8. pinch of salt
  9. 1 cup reduced fat/fat free milk(I used 1%)
  10. 1/2 tsp vanilla
  11. 1/4 C frozen blueberries mixed with 1 Tbsp flour(Optional)
  12. Handful of semi sweet choc. chips(Optional)
Method :

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2) In a bowl, combine all the dry stuff : flours, oatmeal, sugar, baking powder, soda & salt.Mix it with the fork.
3) In another large bowl, mash both the bananas using the back side of the fork then add milk and vanilla combine thoroughly.(Use whisk to bring everything together).
4) Add dry mixture into wet mixture until just combined. then add choc. chips to it & fold them into the mixture.If using blueberries, at this point fold them also into the mixture.
5)Place in muffin tins (greased or lined with paper cups). Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 mins. or until lightly browned and toothpick comes out clean.

In the picture few muffins show some x'tra chocolate on the top that was to impress my DD. I topped few of them with some choc. shavings. As I said in the beg. smell of banana....when muffins were almost towards the end of baking she came running what's that smell...it's so good.....so both of us ate one each, right away, the moment it came out of the oven.I loved it, gonna make it more often. She didn't liked the blueberries in it but otherwise she enjoyed it.
Note : As I was using non-stick muffin pan, so I didn't lined them, neither did I grease them & muffins came out fine.
Vegan version : Simply use Soy milk instead of regular milk.
I'm sending these delicious Oat & Wheat Muffins to :
1) CFK-Wheat guest hosted by Sireesha of Kidz Delight, event authored by Sharmi .
2)Srilekha's EFM-Oat Series.
3)Madhuram's Wholegrain Eggless Baking Event - Oats .

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lentil Salad

This is one of our favourite salad. Specially dear hubby likes it for lunch in the office. It's quite filling also because the main ingredient is lentils.Though I'm writing the ingredients which I normally use but then agian no restrictions, I always put whatever I have in hand for e.g celery, parsnip, red bell pepper, basically any kind of veg. which you would use in normal salad.

Ingredients :
  1. 2 cups of cooked(boiled)* Lentils( I used Red Chorry available at Indian Grocery Stores)
  2. 1/2 small onion
  3. 1 Large tomato
  4. 2 carrots
  5. 1/2 cup salad greens of your choice
  6. 1 small cucumber
  7. green chillies as per taste
  8. 1/2 bunch of cilantro
  9. handful of raisns
  10. handful of toasted nuts of your choice
  11. salt as per taste
  12. black pepper as per taste
  13. juice of 1 lime


Method :

1) Finely chop all the Salad vegetables including green chillies (this is little time consuming, so I usually chop everything a night before & then assemble the salad hour or two before the lunch time).

2) In a big bowl mix drained lentils, chopped veggies, raisins, cilantro, salt, black pepper & lime juice and gently mix up everything.Keep it in the fridge.

3) When ready to eat take it out add roasted chopped nuts mix them well & one healthy lunch is ready. We usually eat it as a lunch but you can have it as a side salad in full meal.

Note : * For boiling the lentils for salad purpose don't use too much of water just enough water to cover them plus one extra cup, and then pressure cook them. Little salt & a bay leaf while boiling enhance the flavours.Water left after draining the boiled lentils can be used to make dough for the chapatis.

Variations : This salad also tastes good with black eye beans or chickpeas.

While we gonna enjoy this colorful & tasty salad today for lunch, I would like to send the same to My Legume Love Affair : the 16th helping event hosted this month by jeanne of CookSister.com, event created and administered by the lovely Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. Also sending this entry to No Croutons Required event, hosted by Jacqueline.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Irish Soda Bread

"I'm always watching my weight. I don't eat sweets like cookies or chocolate. But bread is different. I can't even have one piece, because when I start, I don't stop." by : Daniela Pestova


Photography by "R" with her original idea

I choose Irish Soda Bread as my first bread to bake by myself for one particular reason : it's very easy to follow instant recipe with few ingredients(i had everything in my kitchen) & i feel it's kind of foolproof recipe for a first time bread baker(maker).Now, what exactly is Irish Soda Bread ?

It's a type of quick bread in which bread soda (otherwise known as sodium bicarbonate or baking soda) is used for leavening rather than the more common yeast. The ingredients of traditional soda bread are flour, bread soda, salt, and buttermilk. Other ingredients can be added such as raisins, egg or various forms of nuts. Soda bread dates back to approximately 1840, when bicarbonate of soda was introduced to Ireland. Soda bread eventually became a staple of the Irish diet.

Actual recipe is from Parents.com it says Irish Brown Bread over there, but i guess it's same as Irish Soda Bread because it uses Soda & buttermilk which are the key ingredient for this bread.Though i did made few changes after doing my web search and result was pretty good.

Ingredient :

  1. 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour(Maida)
  2. 1-1/2 cups whole-wheat flour(I used regular chappati flour)
  3. 1/2 cup quick oats
  4. 1/2 cup wheat germ
  5. 1-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  6. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder(not in actual recipe but i added it)
  7. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  8. 1-3/4 cups buttermilk
  9. 2 tablespoons honey
Directions :

1. Heat oven to 400°F. In bowl, combine all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, quick oats, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

2. In small bowl, using fork or a whisk mix buttermilk with honey(Spray your measuring spoon with Non-stick spray, so that honey doesn't stick with the spoon). Add liquid ingredients to flour mixture; stir to combine.

3. Turn dough out onto floured surface & gently bring it together(no need to knead the dough) and shape into a circle( I greased my hands using 3-4 drops of Olive Oil while forming it into circle). With a sharp knife cut a X mark on top of the loaf around 1&1/2 inch deep.

4.Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes( You can use a Pizza stone if you have one, I used greased Cast Iron Skillet).
5. Reduce temperature to 375°F and bake 15 minutes more or until the bread sounds hollow when you tap it. Let cool 20 minutes.


Ready to go in the Oven
And It's Ready.


Note : Mine was baked in exactly 30 minutes but timings may vary from oven to oven.


Review by my family : Here in this section I'm planning to keep a note regarding the review of my experiment under the following categories, which i feel will be helpful to anyone who wants to try this recipe & also, if after long time I myself want to repeat the recipe.

Look : We all loved it how it look. My daughter said it's pretty but doesn't look like bread b'coz she never saw a round bread before.Now time to cut it .

Crust & Inside : Had a great hardy crust(for DD it was too hard....did I told you guys that she takes crust of her sandwich bread too)but she liked the inside of it.Inside was kind of textured (crumbly but not falling apart)It's not airy like french baguette but it's hardy.Like to mention here that this bread was quite filling one, i guess b'coz of the whole wheat flour & oats I used in the recipe.

Serving Suggestions : DD eat it with her favorite strawberry jam.Adults liked it eating it plain or toasted slice with butter.I even ate it with lentil soup in the lunch, tasted delicious.

Storing : Kept two slices on the shelf for first two days. Second night moved it to fridge.Because of the milk used in the recipe I was not sure about storing it outside for longtime.

Rating : I had never tasted Irish Soda Bread before, so really can't compare. But i would say overall it tasted really good(everybody in the family liked it).Good choice for bread making beginners like me.Pretty Easy to make.

Don't forget to checkout my next experiment with Bread making/baking. And "Diwali Mubarak" to all of You.
I'm sending this delicious Irish Soda Bread to CFK-Wheat guest hosted by Sireesha of Kidz Delight, event authored by Sharmi .

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Road to Making of Artisan Breads

Mission : Baking Artisan Bread twice a month.


Yes, and why it's a mission??? because from past few months hubby dear wants to buy a bread machine, which I'll be happy to have in my kitchen but only one problem, I told him that if we buy one, then every weekend it'll be his responsibility that he makes fresh bread, so that the machine can be put to it's optimum use. It's not that he won't make it,he'll be happy to do that but, I'm very much sure that in couple of weeks this machine will also be sitting, waiting to be picked, with few other gadgets like Ice cream maker,Meat grinder to name few which we, or i should say, he bought, because like me he also loves the kitchen stuff & get really excited shopping for the same.

So,I decided to take the matters into my hands(fingers crossed). It's not like, that I have no baking experience, but I don't call myself an experienced baker but at the same time I enjoy baking & have my own share of rise & flops.But my experience in baking is mainly with cakes & cupcakes(and I do consider apple/banana breads in the category of cakes) & occasional cookies, pie etc.

I don't know of anybody who doesn't like Freshly Baked Bread still warm to eat. The experience is totally different, if you have never eaten one it's worth a try.Before I go any further in this post let's see

What is Artisan Bread ???

Artisan bread is exactly what its name suggests: bread that is crafted, rather than mass produced. Baked in small batches rather than on a vast assembly line, artisan bread differs from prepackaged supermarket loaves in a number of ways. Special attention to ingredients, process, and a return to the fundamentals of the age-old bread-making tradition set artisan bread apart from soft, preservative-laden commercial breads.

The basic building blocks of bread are flour, water, yeast, and salt. Sourdough is added for some breads; eggs and sugar for others. Bread has been around for centuries. No chemicals were added to the breads baked by ancient Egyptians or those mentioned throughout the Bible, and none are added to artisan breads now. Since chemical additives are not used, the flavors of each ingredient are fully developed. And because of no chemical additives, artisan breads tends to have a much shorter shelf-life than the mass-produced prepackaged store-bought bread. It should be eaten within a day or two of purchase/baked or frozen for extended storage.

The process of crafting and baking an artisan bread remains largely the same as then. Quality ingredients are mixed, slowly fermented, hand shaped, and baked in small batches in stone ovens. Often, steam is utilized during the baking process to produce the crispy golden-brown crust characteristic of certain varieties of the artisan loaf (Source : wisegeek.com).

Why I'm discussing all these, because I think bread making is the simplest daily routine activity(well thru out the world people bake it everyday in the comfort of their home so why can't I) BUT then at the same time it's as complex as science, needs patience also,hmmm....well i some time dig into my cupcakes the moment they come out of the oven.

So, Saturday, October the 10th of 2009 was the day....I set my mind a night before, that first thing in the morning I'm gonna make Irish Soda Bread (Of'course I did my research). Now, the question is why this bread? and answer is I wanted a fool proof recipe to start with, plus the one, which doesn't need lot of prep time as i wanted to surprise my family.Click here to experience my Irish Soda Bread.

So, I'm starting my experiments with bread making, while keeping this Russian Proverb in my mind ......"One can get sick of cake, but never of bread.". All of you are welcome to join me in this adventure.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pasta Primavera


Past Friday night was the Pasta night in our family. This pasta dish is one of the favourites in my family, even my 11 months old loves this one. Though her favourite is pasta in this but a little veggie here & there is welcome. It's not only easy to make but also tasty and satisfying One Pot Dish. There's no fixed list of ingredients for this dish as one can easily put vegetables of there choice, as I believe it's more of a method then a recipe. I make this almost once a week, and every time it has different things in it. Many a times it's the dish which I make usually when I'm cleaning the fridge(a day before fresh groceries)So whatever veggie is sitting alone in the fridge gets to go into this melody of veggies.It's also a good one for make-ahead, just warm it up when ready to eat.

As far the dictionary meaning of Pasta primavera, It's is an Italian-American dish that consists of pasta and fresh vegetables. A meat such as chicken, sausage or shrimp is sometimes added, but the focus of primavera is the vegetables themselves. The dish may contain almost any kind of vegetable, but cooks tend to stick to firm, crisp vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, peas, onions and green bell peppers, with tomatoes. Pasta primavera is usually highlighted by light flavors, aromatic herbs and bright colors ('primavera' meaning the season of spring). Source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasta_primavera

Ingredient :
  1. 4 cups or more of diced raw vegetables of your choice.(e.g carrots, zucchini,peas,onions,celery,cauliflower etc.)
  2. 5-6 cloves of garlic - minced.
  3. 2 cups of chopped ripe tomatoes or marinara sauce (whatever is handy)
  4. 1/2 lb. sausages (any kind u like)
  5. 1/2 lb. of any small pasta(elbow,fussili,bow tie)
  6. salt as per taste
  7. 1 tsp. red chilli flakes
  8. 1 tsp. black pepper
  9. 3-4 green hot chillies chopped (optional)
  10. 1 & 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning(or one can use only basil, parsley, thyme or oregano as per taste)
  11. 2 tbsp. olive oil
  12. Handful of grated Parmesan cheese(optional as per taste)

Method :

  1. Boil the pasta according to the package direction & while pasta is boiling get the veggies ready.
  2. Heat the oil in a large size skillet/pan & then add garlic to it. Once it get cooked around 30-40 seconds add diced veggies to it & gently stir everything so that all the veggies get coated with the oil. Saute the veggies for around 5-7 minutes or until they are tender but crisp. Add salt,pepper,chilli flakes & green chillies.Stir everything together.
  3. In the meanwhile if using sausages cook them acc. to the package direction & slice them.Once the sausages are done add them to the veggies.
  4. Now add tomatoes & italian seasoning.Stir everything together.Let everything cook together for around 2-3 minutes. Now add boiled pasta(drained) to the veggie sauce mix it gently.
  5. Serve with grated parmesan cheese on top.I don't do this everytime b'coz that's the beauty of cooking at home u can totally omit something, u don't want.But my DD loves her's topped with grated mozzarella cheese so do my husband, i just love it without any cheese.

Note : For Vegan version one can simply omit chicken/sausage part & cheese.Also i usually make it with marinara sauce as my DD tends to find the tomatoes in her portion & separate them as --not to eat category food, but she loves to eat raw tomatoes in salads isn't that funny.

Variations : For this part the credit goes to my brother, as this is one dish he also makes very frequently but with the twist. Twist here is that instead of making it with Italian seasonings he makes it Chinese style with a dash of soya sauce & ketchup, no tomatoes & instead of sausages he puts scrambled eggs, One of his all time fave.

As I wrote in the beginning of the post that this is a favourite food as of now for my little one also. When i say fav. means I even don't have to turn on any music or t.v to make her eat this (my fingers crossed).And yes, if cooking for kids please omit or reduce chillies. So here it goes, my little ones favourite, to Srivalli of Spice your life for her First Blog Anniversary with Kids Delight,an event to focus on Kids and also my best wishes for the same. I feel excited, as this is my first time ever, being a part of any blogging event.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Roasting the Aubergine(Eggplant)

For roasting the baingan aka eggplant, there are different techniques :

1) For the most tasty one roast it directly on the fire(if u r lucky enough to have a gas stove). B’coz no other way can beat the taste of fire roasted eggplant. Wash & pat dry the eggplant then rub little cooking oil all over the eggplant. Put it directly on the gas (med.-high) & when the skin start getting charred (burn marks) just rotate it. Do it till its roasted from all sides.The aroma will tell u it’s roasted(takes around 10-12 min.).
2) Now for those who like me don’t have luxury of gas stove can double wrap the eggplant in a heavy duty foil, put it on the stove top(med-high). Make sure u wrap it nicely-no open ends, otherwise the juices will run out on the stove(so be ready to do the cleanup).Same as first method u got to rotate it but this time to check if it’s roasted or not just press the packet with a wooden spoon and if u feel it’s hard means need more roasting on that spot otherwise if it’s firm means done (takes around 15 min.).
I only do this when I’m roasting just 1 eggplant as I need to baby sit this.
3) For most easy & efficient way just wash & pat dry the eggplant then rub some cooking oil on it & put them in a baking sheet & broil in the oven. You need to rotate these one also may be 1 or 2 time so they are charred from all the sides.

This method is very handy when u want to roast more then one(like I do 3-4 at a time). As u can freeze the x’tra ones for later use.

Now the major part is done. Next either dip the roasted eggplant in cold tap water or let it cool then take off all the skin, which will be easy to peel now.Take all the meat(pulp) of the veg. and using knife or backside of the fork just mash it.It’s ready to be used.

Note : If not using it right away just sprinkle little salt & cooking oil on the roasted eggplant meat, mix it nicely & freeze it.Next time when u crave baingan bhartha no need to go thru all the roasting part.
Baingan Ka Bhartha with Matar(Peas)


(Baba Ghanoush-eggplant dip)

This is one of those dishes which me & my dear hubby both likes or I should say love. We can eat it everyday with anything like roti, parantha, bread, rice,salt crackers or just with the spoon yep! to get it’s real taste you just need to eat it by itself. Though the bhartha I make is fairly tasty enough but I still love the taste of bhartha which my mom makes, it use to be in big demand among my colleagues back in India.

I call Bhartha the Indian version of Baba Ghanoush, which is a dish from Middle East & use tahini in its preparation.I know many people who think bhartha is a time consuming dish, but it's not. It's only the roasting part which take some time other than that it's very easy to cook. For roasting baingan(eggplant) you can click here.

Ingredients :

  1. Pulp(meat) of 2 Medium size Roasted Eggplants
  2. Half a cup frozen sweet Peas
  3. One Large Onion diced
  4. Two Roma Tomatoes diced
  5. Green Chillies chopped 3-4
  6. Jeera(cumin seeds) – 1 tsp.
  7. Turmeric-1/4 tsp.
  8. Red chilli powder-1 tsp.
  9. Dhania(coriander) Powder-1& ½ tsp.
  10. Garam Masala-1/2 tsp.
  11. Salt-as per taste
  12. Oil-2 tablespoon
  13. Fresh Cilantro-handful

Method :

1. First & the most important step for making bhartha is to roast the baingan aka eggplant. How to roast an eggplant.

2. Once the roasting is done, heat little oil in some heavy Karahi or wok.Add cumin seeds to it & when they start to splutter add onions and sprinkle half a tsp. of salt. Saute them a little bit on med. high flame around 5-7 min.

3. When the onions become translucent add tomatoes and chopped green chillies, stir them.

4. After 5-7 min. when tomatoes become soft add eggplant meat & peas(frozen). Mix everything gently and let it cook for 2-3 min. then add turmeric, chilli powder, dhania powder, garam masala & salt(remember we used the salt on the onions also so please adjust the quantity) mix it & let it cook for around 10 min. covered in med.-low gas( If u are using less oil then u might need to stir it more frequently).

5. Before serving put chopped cilantro on top & serve it warm.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Ratatouille Masaledar
(Indian Style)

For those who are not familiar to the term ratatouille, let me please tell you that it doesn't have anything to do with Rats. Ratatouille is a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice. The full name of the dish is ratatouille niçoise(source : wikipedia). I have seen many different versions of it on food tv so there is no hard & fast rule except that it's mainly tomato based dish with zucchini, aubergine(eggplant) & onion as the main vegetables plus some herbs of your choice.So today morning when i woke up thinking in my mind what to cook for lunch & open the cooler box(yes i mean fridge). It was full of vegetables thanks to our love for fresh veggies whenever me & my hubby dear go for groceries together, result is lots & lots of fresh veggies & fruits. So i guess you guessed it that we had a trip to the grocery store yesterday.I didn't wanted to make aloo-baingan, except me no one is very fond of zucchini as a subji with roti in my house but for some reason i wanted to cook these two things. So here comes Ratatouille Masaledar. I hope all of you gonna enjoy it as much as we did.
Ingredient :
  1. One medium size Eggplant
  2. 2 Green Zucchini
  3. 1 med. Size potato
  4. 1 white Onion
  5. 1 large tomato
  6. 2 Carrots
  7. ½ cup chopped green beans
  8. 4-5 garlic cloves
  9. Salt as per taste.
  10. Green chillies 3-4
  11. Fresh cilantro or parsley chopped a handful
  12. Enough oil to saute all the vegetables(preferably Olive Oil)
  13. Panch Puran spice mix 2 tsp.
    Panch Puran is a fragrant mix of five whole spices - fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, kalonji (onion) seeds, fennel seeds and cumin seeds. Mainly used in Bengali & Oriya cuisine.

Method :
Chop eggplant,zucchini,potato, onion & tomato into 1 inch cubes. Slice the carrots(not too thick)& chop the garlic too(I like it sliced).

In a heavy bottom pan heat up some oil(enough to coat the bottom of the pan). Add eggplant saute them around 7-8 min. on med. high. When they turn brown from all the sides take them out using a slotted spoon.Now add zucchini to the pan (if needed add little bit more oil)saute it too. Once done take it out of the pan. These 2 vegetables can easily become mushy so be careful not to overcook these, they should be holding there shape & a little bit of crunch too.

Next add little bit more oil to the same pan & shallow fry the potatoes & when potatoes are half way done, move them to the side of the pan & tilt the pan onto one side (by holding it little bit up from the opposite side) & add garlic saute it add panch puran let the spices saute little bit now add carrots & beans(If needed add little bit of oil) . After 2-3 minutes add chopped onion. Let everything cook for roughly 5 min.

It does sound little bit of confusing but the order in which we are adding vegetables is just to make sure that all of them get coating(flavor) of olive oil & believe me sauteing the veggies one by one really adds to the flavours as compared to putting everything together.

Now it's time to add tomatoes & chopped green chillies.Let them cook for 3-4 min. and it's time to return the sauted eggplant & zucchini to the pan. Add the salt too & stir everything together very gently, you don't want to break eggplant & zucchini.Cover it & cook it for another 5 minutes or till the potatoes are done. Before serving add the fresh herb on top.......we had ours with the thinly sliced green onions on top.

Serve with warm roti or naan.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Eggless Chocolate Almond Cake


My experience of baking cake goes way back to my school days. I guess that was the first thing i ever cooked(does baking cake counts as cooking??) for so many years & loved it. It use to be basic cup-a-cake, no frosting & i use to do it in the old fashion way with no oven, yes you read it right, No Oven. So what's the secret, "cooker", that's how i learned it from one of my friend's mom and that's how i made it for years before my mom got the oven & even after that. That was then but what about now, I still loves to make cakes but now they are mainly in the form of cup cakes(hello....I've kids & who doesn't like to get the whole cake & sometime two....it's a different kind of satisfaction).

But now with the experience i try my hands on different kinds of cakes mainly eggless & less butter & sometime butterless. Now what's with this cake.... O.k it was my hubby's birthday past week & my daughter was saying can u make a real cake.....means cake with layers & frosting(which i usually don't do). Birthday boy wanted it to be something like he saw on the food network a day before, a "German Chocolate Cake with Nuts" & he really wanted it to be full of nuts. The moment he described his desire for the cake, dear "R" announced if you put nuts in it I'm gonna take them out from my share. Well I myself, was looking more towards "German Black Forest Cake" from past few days. So 3 different tastes to cater but one common thing : "Chocolate".

So the solution, half side of the cake was decorated with the coarsely chopped roasted almonds & rest half with the sprinkles. Icing was basic chocolate icing. I did put some whip cream & a cherry on the top for my satisfaction that it has some touch of Black Forest plus a lot of whip cream on the side.I did do a little bit of cheating from R, while putting the layers together i added chopped almonds to the chocolate filling. While eating she thought that those were chocolate chips...ha...ha...ha..

End Results : One Tasty & good looking Cake + One Happy Family.

Before you read this recipe I have to tell you, this is not how i make my usual cakes, normally i use very very less fat in my cakes but this is after a long long time that i used this much butter but then i really really wanted to make something like this & then it's a four layer cake also.But one good thing it's eggless and c'mon it's not bad to indulge yourself occasionally & believe me this was really really Moist Soft Rich & Tasty Cake. I'm gonna make it again but may be with half the butter & if u want sugar can also be reduced in case if icing is to be done, so u can eat it guilt free.

Ingredient :
  1. All purpose flour : 2 cups
  2. Unsweetened Cocoa powder : 3/4 cup
  3. Baking Powder : 1 tsp.
  4. Baking Soda : 2 tsp.
  5. Salt : a pinch
  6. Unsalted Butter : 1/2 cup (1stick) at room temp.
  7. Buttermilk : 1 cup at room temp.
  8. Milk(i used 1%) : 3/4 cup at room temp.
  9. Vanilla Extract : 1 tsp.
  10. Sugar : 2 cup (can be reduced up to 1& 1/2 cup)
  11. Roasted almonds(chopped) : 1 cup or more(plain & not salted) (optional)
  12. Semi-sweet choc. chips : 1/2 cup
  13. Milk for choc. filling : 3-5 tblsp. (2% or full cream)
Steps:

1. Sift first 5 ingredients together to make sure that there are no lumps.

2. Take a large mixing bowl & beat the butter in it, add sugar & keep beating. Once the sugar is mixed nicely with the butter it's time to add buttermilk.Now add the milk.While mixing the batter remember to mix it in one direction only.

3. Next add the dry ingredients in batches. At this stage if batter is of little tight consistency add 2 more tblsp. of the milk, mix it well & repeat the process till u get nice cake like batter.Add vanilla mix it nicely.

4. Grease 2 round baking pans with little butter & dust with some all purpose flour. Shake the extra flour off the pans by turning them upside down.Pour the cake batter evenly in both the pans.Bake these at 350 degree oven for roughly 30 minutes (mine were done in around 28 min.). As time & temp. varies from oven to oven so i always give it a check after first 25 minutes & after that go accordingly.

5. Once they are done(do the toothpick check-toothpick inserted in the centre should come out clean) let them cool on the shelf for around 20 min. or so. To take them out of the pan run a knife around the sides of the pan to make them slightly loose & then put a plate on top of the pan & while holding it together turn it upside down & very gently shake it. Now let the cakes cool down completely.

6. Time to assemble the cake : first make the chocolate filling, microwave the choc. chips with 3 tblsps. of the milk for 20 sec. stir them again microwave for another 10 sec. stir it. Keep repeating the process till choc. chips are melted. Also you might need to add more milk but 1 tblsp. at a time only. This filling gonna be of smooth & thick consistency(it should coat the back of the spoon ). in case of it getting too liquidy you can always add more choc. chips but that will add to the quantity of filling at the end.So go slow on the milk.

7. Once the chocolate is melted add half of the almonds to it & mix them well so that they are fully coated with the choc.

8. As i wanted to make it 4 layer cake i had each cake cut into two circles so that I've 4 cake rounds. Now take the first cake put it on a flat surface & spread the chocolate almond filling on it, top it with the other cake & repeat the process for all the 3 layers. Top it with the final(4th) layer.

9. Now finally cover the whole cake with the basic choc. frosting. Spread rest of the almonds on the top & you can also put them on to the sides as the icing will hold the almonds, you might have to press them a little bit......messy but a tasty job.

10. Let it set in the fridge for at least 20 min. but only if you could wait that long. In our case we (me & my daughter) did till step 8 in the afternoon & put it back in the cooler box(yeap i mean fridge) and when we were doing final decoration my dear hubby came & we forced him to cut the cake quickly so that we can feast on it.Yummmmmmm.

Note : I will post the Basic Chocolate frosting recipe also in few days.

Welcome to Spicebuds

Birthstory of Spicebuds......

How a food blog is born?

Well, i guess one need to have a lot of interest in food. So as far that part is concerned me & my husband both love food, cooking as well as eating. Sometime I joke people eat to live we live to eat...ha...ha...ha....Now, other then that you need to have some sort of inspiration, so here comes my dear hubby, he always loves my cooking and inspires me. He even thinks I should try to concentrate on my career in the food world but then sometime I think don't all the husbands think that there wife is the perfect cook.So, one day he came back from the office & says to me start a food blog and surprisingly that was the day when i also had spent some time thinking about the same stuff.

Now comes the time to name this baby. Once again thanks to him, as he was more then happy to help me with this & after couple of days of Yes to this No to that we both agreed on Spicebuds. Finally it's the time. I think I'm ready to launch this baby with my first recipe "Eggless Chocolate Almond Cake" for two reasons : 1.Cake is the first thing i cooked in my life & 2. I wanted to start Spicebuds as a birthday gift to him as he always encourages me.

I feel Spicebuds is not only going to help me share my cooking experiences with the food world but it's also gonna help me learn new things on the way.Spicebuds is the way thru which I would like to Welcome all of you out there in the food world to my kitchen, do leave your thoughts & queries I'll be happy to answer them.

I would like to say thanks to Soma of ecurry.com as she was so nice & helpful to answer my initial queries related to opening of a blog.

Finally nothing more to say then bon appétit.