Thursday, January 31, 2013

Apple Crisp! A delightful dessert!

Lately, I have been dead serious on the case of finding fruit-filled desserts or cakes (wow, I made that sound like a crime novel!) But, really, I am on the look-out. You know, those sort of treats that you can relish and not feel so guilty like you have just eaten a ton of butter or chocolate? And this time around, I got the help I needed from the amazing you-tube chef Laura Vitale's cooking channel. Do check it out on you-tube - LauraVitalesKitchenShe has a lot of recipes with apples, apple pie, apple bread, apple crisp, you name it she's got it. Well, I decided to try the apple crisp.

Apple crisp or crumble, is an American delicacy apparently with British origin. Now I don't know if apple crisp and crumble are two different things. To me they seem the same. You start out making either, in the end, you have a warm mushy apple base, covered with a crumbly oats topping. Makes for a perfect dessert. But I do feel this is one for apple lovers. Others may not be so fond of it. However, doubling it with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream is surely going to make this one appealing to all, be it apple-lovers or not!

This recipe customized from Laura in the Kitchen.

Serves - 6


For the filling-

4 large apples, peeled and cut into medium-sized cubes
zest and juice of half a lemon
zest and juice of quarter of an orange
6 Tbsp of granulated white sugar
1 Tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp All purpose flour

For crisp topping-

1 cup All purpose flour
3/4 cup of Oats
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter, cold
1/2 Tsp cinnamon (optional, if cinnamon flavour is not your cup-o-tea)   
1/4 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp of baking powder

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 F (190 C)
  • Mix together all the ingredients mentioned under 'filling' in a large bowl. Move the apple filling mixture to your baking dish

  • In same bowl, mix all ingredients except cold butter, mentioned under 'crisp topping'
  • Cut the butter into small cubes
  • Mix the butter into the crisp topping mixture using your hands until a coarse texture is obtained. Here is how it looks -

  • Finally, sprinkle the crisp topping onto the apple filling until completely covered. 
  • Place the baking dish in larger baking tray (to avoid any bubbling apple sauce spilling into the oven) and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, till the top is a golden -brown colour, like so -

 Allow to cool a little. This treat is best served warm, with ice-cream. Give it a try. You'll definitely love it!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Spicy Prawns Curry!

Prawns are easily my favourite sea food.  Be it in prawns gravy, prawns fry or prawns biriyani (*drooool*), they are the most divine things God created. When I need to make a quick-fix lunch or dinner  I just make some jeera or ghee rice and accompany that with this easy-peasy prawns gravy. It's spicy, tangy and most of all super-easy. Here goes!

Serves 4


Prawns   - 1 to 1-1/2cup (I used medium-sized shrimp, tail-off, peeled and deveined)
Onions   - 2 medium
Tomatoes - 2 medium
Green Chillies - 2 Tbsp, chopped
Ginger garlic paste - 4 Tbsp
Curd - 2 Tbsps
Turmeric powder - 1 Tsp
Red chilly powder - 1 Tsp
Garam masala - 2 Tsp
Cinnamon - 1/2 Tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 Tsp
Coriander leaves to season
Oil - 2 Tbsp
water - 1/4 cup 

  •  Marinate prawns with turmeric powder, red chilly powder, 2 Tbsp of ginger-garlic paste and salt. Set aside covered for at least 20 minutes.
  • In a saucepan, heat oil, put mustard seeds and onions. Let onions caramelize slightly
  • Add the green chillies and remaining 1 Tbsp of ginger-garlic paste. Stir and let cook on medium-low till raw smell of garlic goes
  • Add the tomatoes, garam masala, cinnamon and salt. Let cook on medium-low till the tomatoes are tender.
  • Now add the prawns along with marinade, stir and cook for about 5-10 minutes (take care not to over-cook as that makes the prawns rubbery and hard, not a very delightful thing to eat!)
  • While the prawns are cooking, add curd and water. Curd is optional. I like the tangy taste curd gives. You can omit this and add some more water, instead.
And we are done! That's it, its that easy but oh-so-tasty. Season with coriander leaves at the end. Ready to serve!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

A healthy rice variety.. Spinach Pulao!

Spinach, as all know, is a very nutritious veggie, high in iron and Vitamin A. So, I was looking at ways of making this more, other than the usual spinach side dish. I came across this variety rice, a combination of spinach and basmati rice. I tried to cook it in a dum style and surprisingly, that turned out quite good. For those who aren't so fond of the taste of spinach, cooking this way really does not give out its real taste. It rather tasted like a spicy biriyani. This goes very well with a raitha or gravies like aloo mattar, prawns/chicken gravy etc. Do give it a try.

Serves 8


Rice (Basmati or Sona masoori) - 6 cups
Spinach - 6 oz (176 gms)
Onion - 2 medium, finely chopped
Tomato  -2 medium, finely chopped
Potato - 2 medium, cut into square cubes
Ginger, finely chopped - 1 Tbsp
Garlic, finely chopped  - 1 Tbsp
Green chillies, finely chopped - 2 Tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 Tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 Tsp
Garam masala/Biriyani masala- 2 Tbsp
Cinnamon powder - 1/2 Tsp
Some bay leaves, 5 or 6 cloves and 4 or 5 cardomom seeds
Oil - 3 Tbsp

  • Cook the rice, with some salt, bay leaves, cloves and cardomom until 90% done and set aside
  • Blend the washed spinach into a paste (I try not to add water, if you really have to, add very little) 
A pic of the main ingredients, until now -

  • In a saucepan, pour the 3 Tbsps of oil and fry the potatoes for about 5-8 minutes until tender
  • Remove (after squeezing out oil) and set aside on a tissue paper
  • In same oil, pop in the cumin seeds and chopped onions. Fry till they caramelize
  • Add the ginger, garlic and green chillies, let stand on medium heat for about 2 mnts
  • Now add the chopped tomato and season with all the ground spices (including salt). Stir fry and let cook for about 2 minutes
  • Now add the spinach paste and stir. Let cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes till the raw smell goes.   
  • In the same vessel in which rice was cooked, add about 1 tbsp of ghee
  • Add a layer of spinach masala, then half the rice, then the rest of the spinach and finally the remaining rice. Finally add the fried potatoes on top with some coriander leaves. 
  • Cover and simmer-cook for about 10 minutes


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

In blueberry heaven.. Perfect blueberry crumble cake!

The moment I heard of the superb creation called blueberry streusel cake, I knew I had to make it. The very idea of a layer of moist cake, followed by blueberries and a final layer of crumb topping had me hooked. The word 'streusel' in its name is nothing but a fancy name for the crumb topping. Well, this cake is the real deal guys. It goes well with your morning coffee, evening tea and is even superb enough to be served as dessert with a dollop of vanilla ice cream!!.. Yes, it is heavenly..

Well lets get down to the nitty gritty.. Here's the recipe..

Serves : 8
Preparation Time : 30 minutes
Baking Time : 35 - 40 minutes 


For Cake: 

All purpose flour - 2 1/3 cups
Sugar, granulated - 1 1/4 cups
Butter            - 3/4 cup, 1 1/2 stick, 5.5 oz
Milk              - 3/4 cup
Eggs              - 3
Vanilla essence   - 1 Tsp
Baking powder   - 1 1/4 Tsp 
Baking soda       - 1 1/4 Tsp
Salt              - 3/4 Tsp
Blueberries  - 2 cups

For Crumble Topping (streusel):

All purpose flour - 1 cup
Brown sugar      - 1 cup
Cinnamon          - 1 Tsp
Cold unsalted butter, cut into very small cubes - 1/2 cup


  • First lets get the crumble topping or streusel done-  In a bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon and brown sugar. Then with your fingers, crush the butter into this until you get a crumbly texture. Set this aside
  • Preheat oven to 350 F (176 C) and Grease a 13 X 9-inch rectangular pan or two 9-inch round pans 
  • Dry Ingredients - Mix the flour, baking powder and soda and salt. Set aside
  • Wet Ingredients - Take a bowl and start by mixing the melted butter and sugar till creamy. Add the eggs one by one and vanilla essence while whisking.
  • Mixing the wet and dry - Add a portion of flour mixture into wet batter and gently mix. Now add a portion of the milk and mix. Repeat this till you're done adding both.
  • Fold the blueberries into batter, spreading them in evenly
  • Pour batter onto cake pan, spread it out evenly
  • Now, cover the whole batter with a layer of crumble topping (prepared in first step). This is what the end result looks like just before popping into the oven..

  •  Bake for 35 - 40 minutes. At 35 m, Do a tooth-pick test (Try not to do a knife-insert test as that will leave a wide hole and can mess up the baking) If it comes out clean you're done! 
      And this is what the cake looks like just after popping out the oven..

   This delicious out-of-this-world cake will definitely take you to the seventh heaven of delight! Give this a try, you won't regret it!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Delicious Banana Nut Bread

Well I already have a blog, my first one, about banana walnut cake. This one, for all practical purposes tastes the same. So why a specific blog for this? Well, this one will be in the shape of a loaf bread, so the measurements and timing differ. The good thing about banana cakes/bread is that ripe bananas lend their natural sweetness so you can reduce the amount of sugar considerably. The cake will still taste good. A really good option to include in your breakfast. 

 Here goes -


All purpose flour - 1 1/2 cup
Sugar - 2/3 cup (weight watchers can reduce this to half a cup, just increase the banana content)
Baking powder - 1/2 Tsp
Baking soda - 1/2 Tsp
Cinnamon - 1/4 Tsp
Salt - 1/2 Tsp
Vanilla essence - 1 Tsp
Bananas, very ripe - 2 large  
Butter - 4 Oz (1 stick, or 8 Tbsps)
Milk - 1/2 cup
Eggs - 2
Walnuts, chopped - about 1/2 cup
Some powdered almonds for bread topping


  • Pre-heat oven to 350 F (approx, 176 C) and grease a 9 X 5-inch loaf pan
  • Mixing dry ingredients - Mix together flour, baking soda and powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside
  • Mash the bananas till you get a paste-like texture
  • Mixing wet ingerdients - Take a bowl and start by mixing the melted butter and sugar till creamy. Add the eggs one by one with constant whisking. Complete the wet batter by adding vanilla essence and mashed bananas
  • Mixing the wet and dry - Add a portion of flour mixture into wet batter and gently mix. Now add a portion of the milk and mix. Repeat this till you're done adding both.
  • Finally add in the walnuts and give the batter a final stir, gently (we do not want to over-mix the batter, just ensure all ingredients are incorporated)
  • Pour the batter into greased pan. Sprinkle powdered almonds on top 
  • Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour. 
Since this is a deep pan, baking time is more than a normal cake. Do a tooth-pick test (Try not to do a knife-insert test as that will leave a wide hole and can mess up the baking - learnt from an unfortunate experience. Sob.)


Monday, January 7, 2013

Spiced up French Toast!

French Toast is a simple recipe with its main ingredients being bread, eggs and milk. You make a batter with eggs and milk, soak your bread in them and fry them on a skillet. Thats it! It is basically a sweet dish, with the batter sweetened with honey/syrup. At times, it is taken up a level by stuffing cream or jam between two bread slices and then french-toasting this sandwich!! 

Well, I wanted the same egg-soaked toasted bread thingy, but not sweet this time. So I came up with a very simply spiced up version of this. Its very easy and can make a great breakfast!.. 

So here goes my easy-peasy recipe -

Serves 2


Eggs - 3
Milk - 1/4 cup
Salt - 1 Tsp
Garlic powder - 2 Tsp
Pepper - 1 Tsp
Corn Flour - 3 Tbsp
Bread slices (any type) - 8

For the stuffing (you could go wild here adding ketchup and cheese as well) -

Tomatoes - 2 medium
Capsicum - 1/2 
Butter - 1 Tbsp (I used a low fat alternative - 'I cant believe its not butter')


  1. Prepare a batter with the eggs, milk, corn flour, garlic powder, pepper and salt
  2. Slice the tomato and capsicum into thin rounds 
  3. Spread two slices of bread with the butter and stuff enough slices of tomatoes and capsicum (or the veggies you're using). Press the top slice bread down hard so that the stuffing is well in place. Repeat this to make the rest of the sandwiches
  4. Grease a skillet with some butter or use a cooking spray
  5. Dip the sandiwches into batter making sure all sides are covered well in batter. 
  6. Place the sandwich on the skillet and close the lid and cook on medium heat for a minute. Turn over with a spatula and cook the other side.
  7. Serve hot! You could additionally season with other herbs and spices on top of each toast


Friday, January 4, 2013

Yummilicious Apple Raspberry Cake

I have fallen in love with baking.. Sigh.. there I said it! After trying chocolate and banana cakes, I wanted to make something light and moist. Sort of like a tea cake. I was surfing the net for ideas and came across this combination of apples and raspberries baked in a cake. Just what I wanted! For two reasons, firstly I happened to have some apples and raspberries untouched in the fridge for quite a while. Secondly, well we (me n hubby) loooooove cakes!. I have customized the below from recipes here n there on the net

Serves 8


All purpose flour - 2 1/3 cups
Sugar, granulated - 2 cups
Butter            - 1 cup, 8 oz (2 sticks)
Milk              - 3/4 cup
Eggs              - 3
Vanilla essense   - 1 Tsp
Cinnamon          - 1 Tsp (optional)
Baking powder   - 1 1/4 Tsp 
Baking soda       - 1 1/4 Tsp
Salt              - 3/4 Tsp
Lemon juice    - 1-2 Tbsp
Apples                - 2
Raspberries  - 2 cups approx.

  • Preheat oven to 350 F (176 C) and Grease a 13 X 9-inch rectangular pan or two 9-inch round pans 
  • Peel and cut the apples into small cubes. In a saucepan, cook the apples in 2 tablespoons of water till they are tender. Pour the lemon juice and sprinkle a little flour on them, give a light stir and set them aside.
  • Dry Ingredients - Mix the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside
  • Wet Ingredients - Take a bowl and start by mixing the melted butter and sugar till creamy. Add the eggs one by one and vanilla essence while whisking.
  • Mixing the wet and dry - Add a portion of flour mixture into wet batter and gently mix. Now add a portion of the milk and mix. Repeat this till you're done adding both.
  • Fold the apples into batter, spreading them in evenly
  • Pour batter onto cake pan
  • Insert raspberries into top of batter and sprinkle the top with sugar. Trust me the sugar will give you a great crumbly topping to this moist cake.
  • Bake for 35 - 40 minutes. At 35 m, Do a tooth-pick test (Try not to do a knife-insert test as that will leave a wide hole and can mess up the baking) If it comes out clean you're done! 
 This is a light, very moist and spongy cake... Perfect with tea or coffee.. Try it!   

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bagara Baingan.. with a twist!

Eggplant or as we Indians call it.. Baingan.. is not really a vegetable that either I or my hubby like. BUT, fried egg-plant slices in a thick coconut-cashew gravy.. now thats a keeper.. I got the idea of making this from one our closest friends here in the U.S. So here's a spicy, rich eggplant side dish.. Have it with rotis, naan, parathas, rice or even biriyani.. Believe me guys, its heavenly!!

By the way, the 'twist' in my blog title refers to this - traditional bagara baingan is made with ground peanuts and small round egg-plants. I, however, have customized it my way with thin slices of large egg-plants and cashew gravy. Basically because I had neither small eggplants nor peanuts. Duh. But its still yummmmm..  Enuff of yapping I know, lets get started..

Serves 4


Eggplant - 1 large
Onions - 1 large
Green chillies - 4 long
Dry red chillies - 2 or 3
Garlic - 4 pods
Ginger, finely chopped - 1 Tsp
Cashewnuts - 1/4 cup
Grated coconut - 1/4 cup
Coriander leaves to season
Tamarind - small chunk equivalent to 1 Tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1 Tsp
Chilly powder (optional, if you need extra spicy) - 1Tsp
Garam masala - 2 Tsp
Coriander powder - 2 Tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 Tsp
Oil - 3 Tbsp


  1. Cut eggplant into thin round slices
  2. Finely chop onions and green chillies
  3. Soak the tamarind in 3 tbsps of warm water
  4. Roast the cashewnut in a saucepan till light brown and remove them to cool.
  5. In same saucepan, add 2 Tbsp of oil, some salt and fry the eggplant slices separately (not over-lapping) until they are tender and lightly fried. Remove them and place on tissue paper
  6. Grind the roasted cashewnuts, garlic cloves, coconut shreds and dry red chillies with some water to form a paste
  7. Now for the main part, saute cumin seeds and onions in 1 Tbsp oil till onions caramelize
  8. Add the green chillies, ginger and all the spices and simmer cook for a minute
  9.  Add the ground paste to this and cook on low heat for about 8 minutes. If you would like a bit more gravy consistency, you can wash out the remaining paste from blender with water and add that to the cooking gravy
  10. Add the tamarind water and let the gravy cook for a few minutes.
  11. Finally, add the fried eggplant slices into the gravy. Cook on low heat for a final 3 minutes
  12. Season with coriander leaves

Ready To-Go! Nutritious Granola Bars (Breakfast bars)

Granola bars are a great choice for breakfast on those busy mornings. They mainly contain oatmeal, a rich source of fibre. Granola is further enriched with honey and nuts. Baked into bars, they are the perfect choice of breakfast on-the-go! Healthy, protein-rich, energy-boosters! And above all, they are delicious and wholesome!.. Here's how -

Makes approx. 20 bars of size 4 X 1 X 1/2 (inches)
Calories in each bar = 245 cal

Note - This recipe is customized from EatingWithRula 


 Honey (or you could use maple syrup) - 1 1/4 cup
Vegetable Oil - 3/4 cup
Vanilla essence - 4 Tsp
Egg - 2 large
Oats - 4 cups
Wheat cereal (I ground Post's Shredded Wheat in blender to get this or you could use wheat germ) - 1 cup
All purpose flour - 1 cup
Brown sugar - 6 Tbsp
Salt - 1/2 Tsp
Walnut, chopped - 1/2 cup
Almonds, chopped - 1/2 cup
Raisins - 1/2 cup


1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F
2. In a bowl, mix the honey, oil, vanilla essence and egg
3. In a separate bowl mix the oats, wheat cereal, flour, brown sugar and salt until well-combined
4. To the dry mixture, add the nuts of your choice and mix. I have used walnuts, almonds and raisins. (You can alternate with other ingredients like chocolate chips or coconut shreds)
5. Mix together wet and dry mixtures till you get a doughy consistency.
6. Take a rectangular pan, line with foil and grease the pan.
7. Spread mixture on the pan and flatten it out.
8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the surface looks golden brown.
9. Allow to cool and cut into bars of your choice of size/shape.

These can then be wrapped in plastic or aluminium wraps and stored in a cool,dry place for about 2 weeks. 

Note - if you want it chewy, you can take it out when the surface is golden-brown. If your preference is crunchy leave it for a few more minutes until dark brown.