French Strawberry Cake

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One of the best things about the onset of spring and the weather warming up, is the abundance of fresh fruit and veg in my part of the world. This year we’ve already seen an abundance of beautiful strawberries in the market. And the blueberries are close behind. I’ve only just come to realize that I haven’t baked much with fresh fruit in a very long time. So during the last grocery run, I picked up a few punnets of strawberries. Though I think the best way to enjoy them is eating them straightaway, I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to try baking with them.

After a bit of searching, I found just the sort of recipe I was looking for – a French Strawberry Cake. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy the strawberries after baking and I’ve often found cake recipes either bland or just sweet with very little going for it in terms of flavor. Not this cake though. It was really easy to make, full of flavor and really delicious. I’d fo as far as saying it had a personality of its own. This recipe sure is a keeper. I made a few minor modifications to the recipe and was really happy with how it turned out. This would be perfect for morning or afternoon tea. It makes quite an impression in a simple, elegant way just in case you’re expecting people over. I love having such recipes on hand. 

French Strawberry Cake
Yields: A 9 inch cake
Adapted from: Foodtastic Mom
350-400 gms fresh strawberries
115g butter, at room temperature / softened 
1 cup sugar + 1 tbsp extra
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup plain, unflavored Greek Yogurt
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Line and grease a 9 inch round cake tin and set aside.
Hull and slice the strawberries.
Whisk the butter and 1 cup sugar till pale and fluffy.
Now add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the vanilla and beat till incorporated.
In another bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder to mix well and set aside. 
Now alternating between the two, add the flour and Greek yogurt to the mixing bowl, beating till just incorporated before adding the next. (I divide the flour into 3 parts and the Greek yogurt in 2 parts. Start with one part of the flour, next one part of the yogurt and continue till it is all added to the batter.)
Fold in the sliced strawberries, setting aside a few of the outer side slices.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. 
Now place some of the reserved side slices of strawberry on the top of the cake and lightly press into the cake batter. (This step is optional and you could just add all the strawberries in at one time and fold into the batter. But I think this makes the cake look prettier.)
Sprinkle 1 tbsp of sugar over the top of the cake evenly.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes till a skewer pierced through the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan itself.
When completely cool, slice and serve.
If you need any more strawberry-licious inspiration, here are some of my previous posts featuring strawberries –
Strawberry Lassi

Banana Fritters – another great way to use up over-ripe bananas

If you’re like me, you always have bananas on the kitchen counter. I personally love bananas and we always have bananas in the house. This means that every once in a while, I find myself left with a couple of bananas that are a little too ripe to eat as is. Do you? If you do, don’t fret and definitely don’t throw those bananas away. There are the perfect ingredient for these banana fritters.

I remember my mum and Nana (maternal grandmother) making us some of these fritters just in time for an after school snack. To tell you the truth, I had kind of forgotten about these fritters till my husband whipped up a batch more recently. And I absolutely loved them. They come together in minutes with literally 3 ingredients and no sugar. Now we make these fritters quite often. Sometimes, I leave a couple of bananas to get over ripe just so I can make these fritters.

In the past, we’ve made these fritters using either whole wheat flour (atta) or all purpose flour (maida). They turn out really well using either of the two. So feel free to use what you have on hand. I don’t like my sweets too sweet, so I just use the bananas to sweeten these fritters. Since they are over-ripe, they tend to be sweeter. However, if you don’t find them sweet enough, you can drizzle them with some honey or some maple syrup. You could also add some sugar/honey/maple syrup to the batter. The recipe below is the one I use without any sweetener. I think these fritters would work very well in place of pancakes for breakfast too.

Banana Fritters


2 over ripe bananas
1 egg
2-3 heaped tablespoons whole wheat flour / all purpose flour
1-2 tsp oil, for pan frying (I use olive oil. You could use any oil that you use for cooking.)

Mash the bananas till no big lumps remain.

Whisk in an egg. Whisk till the egg has incorporated with the mashed bananas well.

Lastly add 2 tablespoons of either whole wheat flour or all purpose flour.

Whisk till the flour has just about mixed in. Do not over mix. You will end up with a batter that looks like this.

Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan over medium heat.

Pour a heaped tablespoon of batter onto the pan. Depending on the size of the pan, you can fry more than one fritter at a time.

After a minute or so, or when the bottom is golden brown (use a spatula and slightly lift one edge of the fritter to check for doneness), flip them over and cook on the other side.

At this stage if you find the batter is too delicate and hard to turn, add a spoon more of flour to the batter and whisk through. This should make it easier to flip over.

When it is golden brown on the other side too, remove from the pan.

Repeat till the rest of the batter is over, adding a little more oil to the pan between batches, as required.

Serve hot with a hot cup of tea.

Enjoy!!!
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Banana Fritters
A delicious tea-time snack and a great way to use up over ripe bananas.
Ingredients
  • 2 Over ripe bananas
  • 1 Egg
  • 2-3 heaped tbsp Whole wheat flour / all purpose flour
  • 1-2 tsp oil, for pan frying
Instructions
Mash the bananas till no big lumps remain.Whisk in an egg. Whisk till the egg has incorporated with the mashed bananas well.Lastly add 2 tablespoons of either whole wheat flour or all purpose flour.Whisk till the flour has just about mixed in. Do not over mix.Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan over medium heat. I use olive oil. You can use whatever oil you use for cooking.Pour a heaped tablespoon of batter onto the pan. Depending on the size of the pan, you can fry more than one fritter at a time.After a minute or so, or when the bottom is golden brown (use a spatula and slightly lift one edge of the fritter to check for doneness), flip them over and cook on the other side.

At this stage if you find the batter is too delicate and hard to turn, add a spoon more of flour to the batter and whisk through. This should make it easier to flip over.When it is golden brown on the other side too, remove from the pan.Repeat till the rest of the batter is over, adding a little more oil to the pan between batches, as required.

Details

Prep time: 5 mins Cook time: 10 mins Total time: 15 mins Yield:

Rice Pudding (Kheer) with a hint of Saffron – #MyWarOnWaste

Hello! It’s me. I’m so glad you are still here. I’ve been missing on the blog recently as we’ve just moved house. But I’m happy to report that after a couple of insane weeks of packing, cleaning and unpacking, we are mostly settled in and I’m back to my regular routine. While this was happening, winter seems to have well and truly set it. You won’t find me complaining, because I LOVE winter. Its the season for soups, stews, warm puddings and lots of baking – all my favorite kind of things.

Speaking of warm puddings, I have a list of them I want to make this winter and hope the next few weeks will give me an opportunity to share them with you here. I have always wanted to try making some rice pudding (known as kheer in India) at home. Each time I walk by the frozen dessert section at Coles, I’m tempted to pick up a pot of rice pudding. But I don’t, because surely it couldn’t be too hard to make some at home. The problem is, I just never got around to doing it. Until now.

Usually rice pudding is made using uncooked rice. I recently found myself with some leftover plain Basmati rice from lunch and I didn’t want it to go to waste. Waste not, want not, right? So I decided that I was going to try and use it to make some rice pudding instead. After a little searching, I found just the recipe I was looking for. A no-nonsense approach to a rice pudding that used leftover rice. You’ve probably ended up with some extra rice from an Indian takeout lunch / dinner on occasion. Don’t throw that stuff out. Transform it into this glorious, rich and creamy rice pudding in no time with a few pantry staples.

 BTW has anyone seen the latest mini series on ABC called War on Waste. Such an eye opener. It is shocking how much food is wasted regularly in households, among other wastage. This is a great way of reducing household food wastage. I love finding ways to reduce wastage. Do you have any recipes that use leftovers and cut down on food wastage? Tag them on Instagram using #MyWarOnWaste and lets help inspire people to reduce waste.

So go ahead and try it out. You can serve it as a beautiful tea time treat or as dessert. Any leftovers can be refrigerated. You can enjoy your rice pudding both warm or cold. Personally, I prefer mine warm, which works really well on colder days. I’m really glad I tried making this pudding at home. Who knew that something this tasty and satisfying could be this simple to make.

My rice pudding has a yellowish tint because I added a few strands of saffron to the pot while cooking it. You can leave it out and it will look like regular rice pudding.

Rice Pudding
Adapted from: Fatima Cooks


1 cup cooked rice (I used leftover Basmati rice)
2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar, or to taste
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
A few strands (4-6) saffron (optional)
A few raisins
A few almonds, roughly sliced / chopped

Place the rice, milk, sugar, cardamom powder and saffron strands in a pot.

Cook on medium heat, stirring continuously but gently. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the pan regularly. Cook till the milk has reduced and has become a thick, cream like consistency. It is okay if some of the rice grains break down. It helps thickening the pudding. But don’t mash the rice completely. You want a little texture in there.

How thick you want the pudding to be, is upto you. Just before it is done, add the raisins. Turn it off the heat when it has thickened to your liking. I find that heating the raisins through the pudding plumps them up a bit and makes them extra yummy, rather than just placing the raisins on top.

Serve in bowls and top with some sliced / chopped almonds.

Enjoy!!!

If you want more ideas like this to help reduce food wastage and save money, follow me on Pinterest here.

First Monday Favorites – My June 2017 Favorite

We’re halfway through 2017 folks. It seems to have gotten here at an alarming pace. Before you know it we’ll be well on our way to prepping for Christmas. But we still have a little time before that happens. This, I believe, is a fantastic opportunity for you to re-visit your goals for 2017 and see how you’re doing. If you haven’t started work on any of them, now is the time. You still have half a year to achieve it.

One of my goals this year has been to post on this site with some amount of regularity. I have made some effort with this, but I have a long way to go. So hopefully, these next six months will have me do better. With that in mind, I’m going to share with you a new blog party that I’ve been part of for the last couple of months. I’ve participated before, but haven’t posted about it. But today, that changes. It’s called First Monday Favorites, hosted by the lovey Sid of Sid’s Sea Palm Cooking. The first Monday of every month, a group of us bloggers come together to share our favorite recipe from the previous month. It is a lot of fun and I hope you’ll join us.

My favorite recipe from June has got to be the Mawa Cake I posted about here.

You can check out what the others have shared here.

If you have a blog and would like to participate, just get in touch with Sid and she’ll send you the details.

Mungode – Split moong (mung) bean fritters

I love snacking. Probably more than I love my meals. There, I said it! I think this is because I grew up in Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay. Mumbai is famous for its street food, which are mostly snacking options. Some light snacks and others can be more substantial and work well as meals in themselves. Its their easy availability and their reasonable prices that makes them so popular.

Since I am not in Mumbai anymore, you can only imagine how much I miss these delectable treats. So out of necessity and a healthy amount of curiosity, in the past couple of years, I’ve found myself looking out for Indian snack recipes to try out at home. Once you start looking it up, you will be amazed at how much variety there is out there. India is a big country with rich, cultural diversity and that is reflected in its food as well. This has worked very well for me, because it gives me an opportunity to try out heaps of different recipes, like this one. Mungode is a one such treat that I recently stumbled upon. Yes, it is another deep fried treat, like a lot of other Indian snacks, but its not like you’d indulge in this everyday. It is a simple recipe to follow with minimal prep work involved, just the kind of recipes I like. These little deep fried Moong dal (split and hulled mung bean) fritters are crunchy on the outside, full of flavor and are best served hot with some ketchup or your favorite Mint chutney.
Mungode
Recipe from: Swati’s Kitchen
Serves 3-4 as a snack

1 cup moong dal (Split and hulled mung beans)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger, freshly grated
1-2 green/red birdseye chillies, finely chopped (optional)
1-2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves and stems, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
Oil, for deep frying
Wash the moong dal and drain the water. Do this about 3-4 times.
Soak the dal in fresh, tepid water for about an hour.

Grind it to a coarse paste and empty into a mixing bowl.
Add the onion, ginger, green chillies, coriander and salt to the bowl with the dal and mix well.
Heat oil for deep frying. 
Drop in little portions of the batter. I used portions a little less than a teaspoonful. (You don’t want large fritters or it might not cook through.) Also, keep the fritters uniform sized so that they cook evenly.
Don’t overcrowd the pan and fry the fritters in batches.
Let the fritters fry till golden brown on medium heat. Drain using a slotted spoon.
Drain on some kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil for a couple of minutes.  Repeat with any remaining batter. 
Serve hot with tomato ketchup or mint chutney and a nice hot cup of tea.
Enjoy!!!

Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

I have finally started trying out new cupcake and brownie recipes, basically the sweet baked stuff, to add to my repertoire. It started with the strawberry cupcakes and now I’ve moved on to brownies. The first brownie to catch my attention was this cream cheese swirl brownie, that I saw at one of the linky parties that I participate in. This was a great brownie. It had a little tang from the cream cheese but it wasn’t too overwhelming. What worked really well with it was the yummy caramel like taste that the edges of the brownies lent to it. The combination of flavors was great. My brother and husband both thought that these were caramel brownies and if I didn’t know better I would’ve thought so myself.

In a nutshell, try it out. Good stuff, I tell ya.

This is what the inside edges look like –

Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies
Adapted from: The Flour Sack
Makes 16

For the Brownie base:
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup butter, cut into cubes
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs

For the Cream Cheese Swirl:
8 oz Cream Cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg yolk

Preheat your oven to 160ºC.

Butter an 8″ square pan

For the brownie base, whisk the flower and baking powder in a small bowl and keep aside.

Melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler. When the chocolate has melted completely, remove from the heat and whisk in sugar and vanilla.

Cool slightly. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking between each addition.

Continue whisking till the mixture is well incorporated and smooth.

Gently fold in the dry ingredients and mix till just barely incorporated.

For the cream cheese layer, beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and egg yolk till well combined.

Pour half the brownies base batter into the pan. Dollop half the cream cheese mixture by the spoonfuls. Repeat by layering the brownie base over it and then dollop the rest of the cream cheese mixture. Use a butter knife and gently swirl the batter to give a marbled effect.

Bake till the edges of the brownies have puffed slightly and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with several fudgy crumbs attached to it. This should take about 55 minutes.

Cool completely. Cut into squares and enjoy!

(Note: I halved the recipe and used a 6″ square pan and I got 9 pieces.)

This recipe is linked to –
Sweet Tooth Friday
Sweets for a Saturday
These Chicks Cooked