Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge 2: Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting

Right away after I saw this month challenge - Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter frosting by Shuna Fish Lydon ( - I knew I'd make it for holiday brunch. Then as days passed, as I kept reading others DBs posts, I started to quiver. Mostly about the sweetness of this cake. Many DBs commented on how super extra ultra sweet this cake turns out to be - it's yummily delicious, but sorta very sweet too. And neither of us eat sweet things much. However, attempts of cutting back sugar seem to work very well to many DBs. So..I am all hope and eager to whip up this cake.

Everybody loved it!! 7 people, 12 triangles and I have no leftover. I totally fall in love with the frosting, and I am one of those people who usually scrape off frosting from cakes. But how could I not - when it's made with browned butter?!! This is the very first time I have made frosting with browned butter, actually first time of knowing there is such thing. Heehee..I am so going to use this frosting recipe on other cakes from now on.

Vik ate all the crumbs from the cake, kinda rare event on its own. As I sliced off the top and sides to make the cake all even, he picked on them and next thing I know all those bits were gone. It's quite of work, making the caramel syrup and then browned butter, but so well worth it!!

This cake's recipe can be found in Bay Area Bites (

Thank you so much for Dolores of, the host this month's challenge and co-hosts Alex of Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo: and Jenny of Foray into Food

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mix and Match

Many of us have that one or two things that we'd just jump into it - no matter what. For example Vik, it can be snowing or scorching hot outside, but if you have soccer ball and enough guys to play a game. He'd be out within seconds. He is in that certain pool of people who would go golfing in 5 layers of clothing - to get the last game before the grass frost over. Or, my very best friend who loves to sing and she'd sign up to all sorta singing contest - just for the heck of it. The one that you really would hate to go to karaoke with, because it's all her songs!! Or it can be your song but she is the one who sings it.

Me, house renovating and cooking. Cooking. Not baking. Yet, two weeks ago when being asked if I am willing to 'help' out with holiday food drive, by baking some cookies. I said YES YES I WILL! No further questions asked - was not very smart, huh? I just have soft spot on that kinda thing. Never mind that I have my own baking plans for the holiday already. After quick tally up, in total, I will be baking about 150 dozens of cookies. Cookies baking is not big deal, so it's not like I am whining. Bread and cake is not my strongest suit. What I did not take into calculation is that .... lack of space!! Time, I can make time - though with 1.5 full time job and I do have life outside job, ya know - it gets crazy sometimes :) Still, I can do my work anywhere I want and cream-ing butter and sugar while reviewing specs - is entirely doable.

Space....we borrow friends' fridge. Yeah. And I don't do any fancy shaped cookies. My mom was horrified when I told her about sliced and dropped cookies. Eh, in her glorious days of running a bakery - sure she was a career woman and has another full time job as well, but there were always 5 girls working the ovens, shaping, molding, finishing, etc. My aunts and grandma on dough mixing. Mom came from her job and do super thorough checking. No crooked edges cookies. Checklist and what not.

Do you see any other pair of hands around here?! :) Truth is, she thinks I am crazy. In cute way. It's not that I don't want to ask some girl friends over for help. But the only way I can manage in winging these baking frenzy is that I do it in random times. I simply can't put away 4 solid hours.

Anyhoo, so I dig out this cheat sheet and thought to share it here. Up til now, I have about 50 dozens worth of cookies dough all packed up in freezer. I am a little bit nervous for the baking day (s) though. Gotta borrow some baking pans too. Maybe then I have to call up couple friends.

This spritz cookies is not even in 'the list.' My overachiever personality seems to take over last week and so I whipped up small batch of this. One of those breezy easy cookies yet just the right kind for dunking to tea and coffee.

- 250 gr unsatled butter, room temperature
- 175 gr sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 350 gr flour, sift with 1/4 tsp salt

- Cream butter until fluffly and pale. Add sugar and continue beating to smoother texture.
- Beat in egg yolks and vanilla extract on low speed just until blended.
- Add flour-salt mixture to butter mixture, and stir with wooden spoon just until blended.
- Spritz using either cookie press or cone with star tips.
- Bake in the 375 oven for about 8-10 minutes.

Couple tips: Make sure baking sheets are cool - or dough tends to slip off when lifting cookie press/ cone on warm sheets. If dough starts to feel warm, put in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Oh and I only made half of the recipe, and comes up with about 2 dozens.

Thanksgiving Stuffed Turkey

This stuffed turkey has been a sitting duck (sitting turkey) in my draft for oh...1 month?! So before holiday season is over and next thing I know it's 2009, I thought to combine these posts together. It was fairly small Thanksgiving dinner - so I opted for stuffed turkey breast. Quick, easy and never had any leftover - while if it's whole turkey, I may have to make turkey sandwich, salad, chili, etc with the leftover.

The 'out from the oven' photo is not so great - it was 7.30 pm and I had to take it to the table quick. So it was literally point and shoot under my poor kitchen lighting.

- 1 turkey boneless turkey breast, lightly pound to flatten it up.
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 3 sprigs of rosemary
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Stuffing is the combination of these (adjust ratio to own liking)
- red onion
- garlic
- wild mushrooms
- celery
- carrots
- sun dried tomatoes
- olives
- almonds
- rosemary, finely chopped

- Marinate the turkey the night before in ziploc bag. Toss in olive oil, bay leaf, garlic and 2 sprigs of rosemary. Give it a good 'massage.'
- Cook the stuffing in olive oil.
- Assemble by placing the turkey breast, skin side down. Spread stuffing and leave about 1/2 - 1" border all around. Gently roll up - try to somewhat tighten up while rolling.
- The better way of doing it is using kitchen strings - which I completely truly absolutely sure I got in my kitchen drawer. But it's nowhere to be found. Since it's not exactly gigantic, toothpick works just fine. Secure the seam with toothpick.
- Place rolled up turkey breast on roasting pan. I use few skinny farmers market carrots as rack for it so that all the drippings would drip better. Also, it gives space underneath the rolls to brown up nicely, instead of creating icky mess. Tuck in sprig of rosemary under the skin. Brush top with some garlic infused melted butter. (Whacked garlic and let it sit in melted butter)
- Bake in preheated 375 oven for about 40 minutes - depending on thickness of breast. Using meat thermometer is of course recommended. But I just prick it with satay skewer and once the juice runs clear - it's done.
- I make simple gravy with the drippings and chopped up shallots.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Diwali Part 1: Moong Dhal, Palak Paneer, Chana Masala/ Chole

I have about 25 or so photos in my edit box, waiting for me to write up and post!! (Banging head) This is getting old, yeah? Listening to my excuses :) One day maybe I will post about all these goals I have in my to-do list and these past few weeks, I sorta have the opportunities to cross some of them out. But of course, having food blog has always been one of those goals too. So, pardon me and let's talk about better things.

Diwali Dinner Part 1, from our small 4 people Diwali Dinner on the 28th. Vik was not expecting an Indian dinner - thinking it'd be just some celebratory dinner with friends. Since we are having 'the' more authentic Diwali Dinner on Saturday with family friends, he thought I'd just wait to fix up Indian menu for that Saturday. But see..I believe in celebration, especially the fact that it was indeed a New Year. A small nice surprise is always a good thing, right? So I came home earlier and quickly whipped up some Indian dishes. Lit up few dozens of diyas around the house, some on balcony. He would have been fine if I didn't do it, ya know? But he was grinning when he got home and saw all these little candles everywhere. Now, let's hope sometimes before Christmas, I'd come home to a fully decorated Christmas tree in our living room, yeah?

I ended up making some bhajias, rotlis, Moong Dhal, Chole and Palak Paneer. Since I simply did not have the time to fix up dessert/sweets - which is extremely essential in Diwali festival. The other couple brought in tiramisu and eclairs. Mmhh...

Anyway, so maybe the most Gujarati dish in this dinner is the Moong Dhal. I have never been a huge fan of this dhal - in my head, mung beans are eaten as sweet dishes. While he thinks it should be savory. Well, it's New Year, so savory it is then. Chole/ Chana masala is a dish of chickpeas cooked in spicy slightly dry gravy. Which I prefer to eat with chips or thinly sliced baguette - and I did exactly that with some leftover the next day for lunch. Weird, huh?

Palak Paneer has sometype of sentimental value in it. ;) It was our first cooking together dish. Many moon ago on one Sunday he decided that we'd have some friends over for simple Indian meal. At the time, I did not have very well stock Indian pantry, ya know? Tons of spices, as Indonesian cuisine shares quite similarity to Indian's, but that's basically it. Just spices.

So it got to be something simple and did not involve too much running around to get the ingredients. We both love Palak Paneer and it is fairly easy dish, so we just went to grab some spinach and paneer. However, it did involve an episode of some of this green stuff jumping out from blender when my then-boyfriend did not put the lid secure enough onto the blender! Can't let him in kitchen, see?

Moong Dhal recipe is similar to this Dhal recipe. Simply swap the lentils/ beans. Pressure cooker is better way to go in cooking this dish - much faster process, but I just use regular soup pot. That said, it requires parboiling these moong beans for a while until it softens up before dumping in the spices.

Chole/ Chana Masala
- 1 canned chick peas, drained and set aside in a bowl
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1" ginger, grated
- 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 small ripe tomato, chopped
- 4-5 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tbsp cumin powder
- 1 1/2 tbsp garam masala
- 2 green chilies
- pinch of turmeric
- few sprigs of cilantro, chopped
- 2 tbsp tamarind juice (mix warm water to 1 tsp tamarind paste)

- Heat oil and fry onions, garlic, ginger and chillies until onions is soft. Add this mixture to drained chickpeas and set aside for now.
- In same pot, heat a little bit oil and toast coriander seeds for few seconds. Then add in all other spices. Fry.
- Toss in tomatoes and cook until soft, add tomato paste. Stir.
- Add in the chickpeas onion mixture to the pot. Stir and mix well. Add in tamarind juice. Cover for couple minutes.
- Add just enough water to moisten it up and form slightly dry thick gravy coating the chickpeas. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Toss in cilantro right before serving.
Palak Paneer
- 1/2 block of store bought paneer, cubed and pan-fried for few minute and set aside. (home-made paneer of course tastes much better and I could have had put some efforts to make it on my own, but really...)
- 1 bunch of spinach, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 small onions, chopped
- 1 small tomatoes, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1" ginger, grated
- 1 tsp of each turmeric and groud coriander
- 2 tsp cumin
- pinch of garam masala
- 2 jalapenos (optional), chopped
- 4 tbsp of cream/ half and half (sour cream works well too)

- Heat little oil and toss in onion, garlic, ginger and jalapenos. Fry for couple minutes until onion is translucent.
- Add in spices. Fry. Toss in tomatoes. Stir well.
- Toss in spinach and cook until it is slightly wilted. Add in about 1 tbsp of cream, just so that it has some liquidy consitency, for easy blending.
- Using hand blender, blend the mixture. We don't like it too smooth, so just blend until the consistency you prefer.
- Add in some more cream. Stir. Toss in cubed and fried paneer. Let simmer for few minutes.
- Just right before turning off the heat, add in chopped up cilantro and stir well.

Diwali Part 2 is coming up soon!!