Easy-Mix Fruit Cake

Every now and then, I get this yearning for fruit cake. There’s nothing like a slice of cake to keep your troubles at bay!  This quick and easy mix recipe is super easy and oh, so delicious! It’s perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.

I used up some mincemeat that I had made in 2019. It was still so good and smelt fabulous with all the rum in it. For those of you who don’t eat eggs or have an egg allergy, you could substitute flax eggs instead. Flax eggs result in a “gluey” substance similar to egg whites. There are many recipes for flax eggs online.

One of the main ingredients in this recipe is condensed milk. That’s another thing I just love. It always comes in handy to have it, especially when you run out of milk. Or having a spoonful of it – now that’s something we are all guilty of!

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Each oven is different and my cake was done in 11/2 hours. So, be careful and check the cake after one hour.

I had some of this cake left over and I stored it at room temperature in an air-tight container for about two weeks and it was as fresh as the day I made it. That’s saying something in the heat and humidity of Chennai.

PREP: 10 minutes COOK TIME: 2 hours

Ingredients

4 cups mixed dried fruit

1/2 cup water

1 cup self-raising flour

1 egg

400 gms sweetened condensed milk

Instructions

Line the base and sides of an 8 inch round cake tin with 3 layers of parchment, making sure that the paper is 2 inches above the edge of the tin.

Preheat the oven to 160C.

Place the fruit and water in a pan and bring it to a boil. Simmer for 1 minute uncovered. Remove from heat and cover. Cool to room temperature.

Stir the remaining ingredients into the fruit mixture and spoon it into the prepared pan. Bake in the oven for about 2 hours. Cover the cake lightly with foil and cool in the pan.

Spinach and Mushroom Roulade

Hello everyone. I was on a short vacation and it was such a relief to be away from the heat and humidity in Chennai. However, I’m back home and here’s my first post.

Eggs are the star in this recipe. Did you know that eggs have been used in the kitchen since Greek and Roman times? Early Egyptians, Persians, Romans and Greeks considered eggs to be a symbol of the universe and continuing life and represented the sun of spring. Though I missed posting for Easter, it is spring now and it’s always wonderful to cook with this classic ingredient.

This delicious roulade is perfect for breakfast and brunch. It’s crisp on the outside as it is baked twice. The air is trapped inside and so it rises again on the second baking. It is fluffy and moist on the inside. 

This is actually a swiss roll soufflé. It is easy to make and the filling is flavorful and tastes really yummy. You can use any ingredients that you have in your pantry for the filling and whatever cheese you have as well. I used Parmesan and Mozzarella but Cheddar also works well. Goat’s cheese is also a tasty alternative.

PREP: 20 minutes COOK TIME: 30 minutes SERVES: 4

Ingredients

11/4 cups milk

1/2 cup flour

2/3 cup butter

100 gms Parmesan cheese

4 eggs, separated

21/4 cups fresh button mushrooms, sliced

275 gms spinach leaves, chopped roughly

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp green chillis, chopped finely

1 tsp garlic powder

3 tbsp creme fraiche

100 gms Mozzarella cheese

Salt and ground black pepper

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 190C. Line a swiss roll tin with parchment, making sure that the edges rise above the sides of the pan.

Place the milk, flour and 1/4 cup butter in a large saucepan and bring it to boil over low heat. whisking continuously until thick and creamy. Simmer for about 2 minutes and then mix in the Parmesan and half of the mozzarella. Cool for 5 minutes and then beat in the egg yolks. Season with salt and pepper.

Whisk the egg whites in a glass bowl until soft peaks form. Fold the whites into the cheese mixture. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, level gently and bake for 15 minutes until the top feels just firm. Remove from the oven and cool for about 10 minutes.

Dust a sheet of parchment with some of the remaining mozzarella cheese and carefully invert the roulade onto the paper. Remove the lining from the base and carefully roll it up in the paper and set aside to cool completely.

To make the filling, melt the rest of the butter in a pan and reserve about 2 tablespoons. Add the cumin seeds and then the green chillis and garlic powder. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 3-4 minutes. Cook the spinach in a separate pan until it wilts and then add it to the mushrooms. Be careful not to cook the mushrooms or the spinach too much. Stir in the crème fraiche. Season and cool. Preheat the oven to 190C.

Unroll the roulade and spread the filling. Roll it up again and place it on a baking sheet. Brush with the reserved butter and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 15 minutes until risen and golden. Serve immediately.

Cauliflower and Broccoli Crust Pizza

Since both Broccoli and cauliflower have the same origin, I decided to combine them in this delicious and healthy crust for pizza. You can have pizza everyday if you make it this way. It’s really simple. 

The health benefits of cauliflower and broccoli need no introduction. I used a small quantity of low fat mozzarella cheese mixed with the base and on top. Just shape the dough, top it with tomato sauce and your favourite toppings. 

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The base will not be as firm as regular pizza dough but it’s delicious. 

This recipe makes about 6-8 slices of pizza.

PREP:  25 minutes  COOK TIME:  30 minutes

Ingredients

1 medium cauliflower

1 medium broccoli

2 eggs

1/2 cup + 3 tbsp low fat mozzarella cheese, grated

!/2 cup tofu, cubed

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp peanut butter

1 tsp red chilli flakes

5 tbsp tomato sauce

1 small onion, sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Prepare a baking tray by lining it with parchment. Preheat the oven to 200 C.

Combine the soy sauce and peanut butter. Add the tofu and mix well. Set aside.

Remove the stalks from the cauliflower and broccoli. Reserve them for something else like soup. Steam the florets until they are tender. Blitz them in a food processor and strain through a cloth. Make sure that all the water has been removed. 

Break the eggs into a bowl. Add the salt, pepper and chilli flakes. Beat well and add the cauliflower mixture to it. Add 1/2 cup of the grated cheese and mix well. Turn out on to the baking tray and shape into a round or square with the help of a silicone spatula and the back of a spoon. Make sure that the edges are slightly higher. Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and spoon the tomato sauce on the base and spread it out. Add the onions, tofu cubes and any other toppings that you like. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake for 10 minutes until the cheese has melted.

 

 

 

 

Caramelized Onions and Mushroom Tarte Tatin

I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t love a pie! Pies are not only delicious to eat but it’s also wonderful to cook them for your loved ones. Sweet pies are just heavenly topped with cream or ice cream but the savoury ones are bursting with flavour too. Pies topped with mashed potato or with another layer of shortcrust pastry are just so satisfying. Not to mention tarts, quiches, turnovers, samosas and even pies made from pasta are all rich and comforting.

The tarte Tatin is named after the Tatin sisters who invented it and served it in their hotel as it’s signature dish. When you think of a tarte Tatin, one immediately thinks of the classic apple tart. But they are wonderful with other fruits as well.  I have used a savoury version to highlight the manifold delights of this superb French classic. You can use any vegetable that you want or currently have in your pantry.  I had a lot of mushrooms and decided to use it with caramelized onions. I used fresh button mushrooms and some dried shitake ones as well. The sweetness of the onions combined with the spices was perfect!

To speed things up, I cooked the mushrooms and onions in separate pans at the same time. I served this tart with a simple yoghurt dressing. Just mix Greek yoghurt with some crushed garlic, chopped fresh coriander/mint and a squeeze of lemon juice. 

Puff pastry tastes great in this recipe as opposed to the traditional shortcrust pastry. Readymade puff pastry is very quick and easy. If you have unexpected guests and want to showcase your cooking skills, this dish will definitely do it.

PREP:  30 minutes  COOK TIME:  60 minutes  SERVES:  4-6

Ingredients

2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp olive oil

500 g onions, sliced

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp dark brown sugar

400 g button mushrooms

4-5 dried shitake mushrooms

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp cumin powder

Salt to taste

250 g readymade frozen puff pastry

Instructions

Wipe the button mushrooms gently with a clean, damp cloth. Cut them into slices and set aside.

Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl. Heat 2 cups of water to boiling point and pour over the mushrooms. Cover with plastic wrap to stop the heat from escaping. Soak for 20 minutes.

While the mushrooms are soaking, heat a large heavy based frying pan and add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in it. Add the onions and saute for about 20-30 minutes until very soft and translucent. Stir in the salt and pepper and keep stirring for another 5 minutes until the onions are golden and caramelized. Set aside.

Make the mushroom filling separately. Strain the dried mushrooms and preserve the water. It tastes wonderful in soups and even to just cook your rice or vegetables in. Chop the mushrooms. Heat the remaining butter and oil in another frying pan and add the button mushrooms and dried mushrooms. Saute for about 5-10 minutes until they soften and add the red chilli powder, salt and cumin powder. Mix well and cook until they are completely done. Mix the caramelized onions into the mushroom mixture. Cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of about 3 mm. Cut a circle that is slightly bigger than the diameter of the frying pan that you are going to use. Place the onion-mushroom mixture on the frying pan and lay the pastry over it, tucking the edges snugly over the filling, down around the inside of the pan. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden. Remove from the oven and cool for about 5 minutes. Carefully invert the tart on to a serving plate or wooden board. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander and serve hot.

Pear and Pistachio Ganache Mille- Feuille

What could be better than making this lovely mille-feuille for a special occasion? Crisp layers of puff pastry with juicy pear and a delicious white chocolate pistachio ganache – It just melts in your mouth!

Readymade puff pastry makes this an easy option. I made the pistachio paste from scratch because it’s not available here. I got the recipe from here https://www.sweetandsavorybyshinee.com/homemade-pistachio-paste/. It was really good. Instead of the usual Creme Patissiere I opted for a white chocolate ganache for the filling and mixed it with the pistachio paste. It blended perfectly with the pears. I used regular baking chocolate and I was happy with the result. You could use Guittard if it’s a special occasion. 

There are many good white chocolate ganache recipes available on the web. It’s also really easy to make either by the stovetop method or by microwave. However, this is the recipe that I used – https://letthebakingbegin.com/white-chocolate-ganache/.

I cut out the pastry heart shapes before baking them. This makes it much easier to handle and assemble. I hope you enjoy making them. This recipe makes around 7-8 mille-feuille pastries.

PREP:   15 minutes  COOK TIME:  30-40 minutes  

Ingredients

250 grams puff pastry

1 large pear, thinly sliced

1 cup white chocolate ganache

5 tbsp pistachio paste

Green food colour (optional)

Icing sugar 

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Blend the white chocolate ganache with the pistachio paste and a drop of green food colouring, if using. Transfer this mixture to a piping bag and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes. 

Roll the puff pastry to a thickness of about 2mm using a little flour to dust the surface and cut out the heart shapes. Use the remaining pastry in the same way. Prick the pastry with a fork to prevent them from rising. Line a baking tray with parchment and place the heart-shaped pastries on it. Cover it with another piece of parchment and place a baking tray over it. Bake for about 20 minutes rotating the tray halfway to ensure even baking. The pastry should be golden brown in colour. Remove the tray from the oven and transfer the pastries from the parchment on to another tray. Let the pastry cool completely.

To assemble, place some pear slices on top of a pastry and pipe some pistachio ganache on it. Place another pastry on this and repeat the same process. Top with another pastry heart and dust with icing sugar on top. Assemble all the pastries this way. 

 

 

Millet Pancakes with Grilled Pineapple and Date-Tamarind Sauce

Amaranth is a psuedocereal, which simply means that it is a seed which acts like a grain. It has been cultivated for about 8000 years.  It contains all nine essential amino acids and is a protein powerhouse. It contains lunasin, a peptide believed to have anti-inflammatory and cancer-preventive diseases. It has a distinctive peppery taste with a pleasant aroma of grass. 

I combined amaranth flour with powdered oatmeal and coconut flour for these pancakes which are both vegan and gluten-free. It’s an ideal breakfast option and it’s quite filling as well. The grilled pineapple and the date-tamarind sauce paired beautifully with the pancakes. It was sweet, sour and salty, all at the same time! And very delicious.

This sauce is usually made in India to go with chaats, which are savoury snacks or hors d’oeuvre, available all across the country in roadside stalls, food carts, restaurants, etc. It’s a combination of several things blended with different chutneys and spices, sometimes with yogurt and topped with crisp vermicelli called sev and freshly chopped coriander leaves. It’s an amazing explosion of flavours in your mouth. 

You can mix the batter and let it sit overnight in the fridge to speed up the cooking process. Coconut oil exudes a wonderful aroma while cooking and it also complements the pancakes and pineapple. The spices are also quite subtle and you can taste them on your palate. A very simple and comforting dish.

PREP:  20 minutes  COOK TIME:  20 – 30 minutes  SERVES:  4

Ingredients

11/2 cup old fashioned oats, powdered

3/4 cup amaranth flour

3/4 cup coconut flour

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp flaxseed meal, mixed with 6 tbsp hot water

2 cups coconut milk/almond milk

Coconut oil

2 tbsp organic brown sugar (optional)

Salt to taste

For the pineapple

1 pineapple, cut into cubes

2-3 tbsp coconut oil

For the Date-Tamarind sauce

250 gms dates, seeded

75 gms tamarind

50 gms jaggery

1/4 tsp black pepper powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cumin powder

Instructions

Prepare the pancake batter by mixing the oatmeal, amaranth flour and coconut flour with all the dry ingredients. Add the coconut oil and the flaxseed mixture and mix well. Add the coconut milk to the flour mixture, adding water if necessary to make a thick batter. Set aside.

Wash the tamarind well and combine it with the dates in a small pan. Add just enough water to cover them. Add all the other ingredients and cook over medium heat until the tamarind and dates are cooked thoroughly. Cool and blend into a paste. Strain and set aside.

Heat the coconut oil in a pan and add the pineapple pieces. Toss them in the oil, turning them if necessary until they are a golden brown in colour. 

Heat a non-stick pan and add some coconut oil. Pour the batter and spread lightly to make a thick pancake. Cook until the edges start browning and flip them over and cook the other side. Make all the pancakes and serve hot with the grilled pineapple and the date-tamarind sauce.