May 11, 2014

Oat and Fruit Bars

My little one is obsessed with sticky and chewy sweets. It all started with the Vitamin C supplement that I started to give him. Sometime ago, I handed him a dried apricot and told him it was just like a "sticky sweet". He loved it and asked for more. I then introduced him to raisins, which he enjoyed as well. Then, I got quite excited and bought a whole array of stuff from the dried fruit section. And he soon lost interest.
I wanted to put the stuff to good use. I thought I'd make the jewel blondies again. But since cookies keep better, I decided to look up recipes for dried fruit cookies. I came across this Pillsbury site and decided to try this recipe. I modified the recipe a little and made fruit bars instead of cookies. The next time around I will reduce the sugar in the recipe to maybe 3/4 cup in all.
The end result: bars full of the chewy goodness of oats and dried fruit. This is a keeper recipe and I am sure adding nuts or chocolate/butterscotch chips will work well too.
¾ cup Sugar
¼ cup Brown Sugar
½ cup Butter, softened
½ tsp Vanilla
1 Egg
¾ cup Flour
½ tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Cinnamon Powder
¼ tsp Salt
1 ½ cups Rolled Oats
1 cup Dried Fruit (I used Apricots, Raisins, Cranberries, Blueberries and Cherries)

Heat the oven to 375 F/190 C. 
Line two cake tins with parchment/baking paper. (I used 9" square tins)
Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until  fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla beat some more. Add the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and mix well.
Add the oats and the dried fruit. Mix together until well blended.
Divide the mixture equally into the two cake tins. Bake for 8-9 minutes.
Remove from the cake tins and allow to cool a little on a rack. Cut into squares while still warm using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter.
Store in an airtight container when completely cool.
These will go into A's snack box next week and maybe I can now safely say goodbye to the store bought cookies/bars.

May 9, 2014

Instant Mango Pickle

When you're a food blogger, people expect certain things from and of you. They expect you to know recipes for many/most dishes. They expect you to tell them what they can substitute and sometimes also what they need to do to fix something that has gone horribly wrong. I have to admit I don't always have answers. I usually follow a recipe that I have. Often enough, I tweak it. If it works, it comes on to the blog. If it doesn't, it is simply forgotten.

Two summers ago, a friend wrote to me saying she was craving a certain type of mango pickle. Would I happen to know how to make it? Or could I ask my mother who would be bound to know about this? Amma and Appa were visiting me then and I decided I should ask Amma for the recipe.

Considering how I almost never eat pickles, Amma was a tad bit shocked that I was asking her for a recipe. However, she gave me the recipe and this pickle is now an annual feature in my kitchen.

1 cup Raw Mango, diced into 1/2" cubes
3 tsp Chilli Powder (I use Kashmiri Chilli Powder)
2-3 tsp Salt (according to taste)
2 tsp Oil (I use Gingelly/Sesame/Til Oil)
1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
1/2 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder

Add salt, turmeric and chilli powder to the mango pieces and mix well. 

Heat the oil in a tempering ladle. Add the mustard seeds and asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, let the oil cool. Then add the tempering to the pickle.

On a dry griddle/tawa,  heat the fenugreek seeds and toast for a few minutes. Grind to a powder when cool with some turmeric powder. Add this to the pickle.

Enjoy in a variety of ways: With Tayir Saadam or Narlya Kheeri.

This is a fresh pickle which does not keep for very long. I store it in the fridge and use it up within a week or so. I hope you enjoy some of my simple pleasure this summer.

May 7, 2014

Apple Cheese Tarts and an itch to celebrate

And I'm back. After what feels like aeons. These past few months have been crazy. I wanted to throw A a homestyle party for his third birthday. For the longest time, I wondered how Amma managed to do everything at home for our birthday parties. Only our birthday cakes came from Adyar Bakey House. Everything else was home made. I also wanted to make his birthday cake from scratch. So, I signed up for a couple of Wilton Method cake decoration classes. 

Many of the things I made for his party warrant individual posts on this blog. We had a jungle themed rainbow cake, lemon ricotta cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes, coriander buns, cheese, jam and chutney sandwiches, potato cheese buns, semia upma, samosas and potato smiles. We had games such as pin the tail on the donkey and musical chairs. In short, I tried to recreate one of my childhood birthday parties for A. We all had a great time.

But all this kept me very busy. And kept me away from the blog. Since I posted the last post on this blog, I've cooked and baked a great deal. I've tried some new recipes, I've tweaked some old ones. I've sometimes fallen into a cooking rut - cooking similar food everyday simply because it doesn't require much thinking. 

However, I had to make the time today. I'm already a good five days late. The Singing Chef turned 7 on May 2nd this year. We hit a milestone barely 5 posts ago when I reached the magic number of 600 posts. And now it is time for another. I will stick to my usual way of celebrating with something sweet. I present to you - Apple Cheese Tarts.

For the pastry:

1 cup Flour
1/3 cup Butter (cold and diced)
2-3 tbsp Ice Cold Water
1/2 tsp Salt

Place the flour, butter and salt in a mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Gradually add the water and knead into a soft dough. Do not knead too much. Roll out the dough 1/4" thick and stamp out circles slightly bigger than the diameter of a muffin mould.

For the filling:

2 Apples, peeled and diced (I used Granny Smith)
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Cinnamon Powder
1/4 cup Cream Cheese

Place the apples and sugar along with the cinnamon powder in a pan. Add 1/4 cup of water and cook over a low flame until the apples are cooked. Stir in the cream cheese. Allow to cool.

To proceed:

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.

Lightly grease the muffin pan. Place one circle of pastry in each of the moulds. Fill the cups with the filling. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

This recipe yielded 12 tarts.

Allow the tarts to cool a little before savouring them. This is the stuff desserts should be made of: a little sweet, a little salty, and a tad bit tart. 

Thank you all for coming along on this wonderful journey. Seven years is a major milestone in any relationship. This one is no different. My cup overflows with joy and gratitude for the friends I've made, the support I've received and the love I've felt. Happy birthday, Singing Chef. I say this a lot and still mean it every time I do: I never expected you to become what you have. But I am so glad you have.