Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lasooni Dal Palak

Having bought a large tub of baby spinach from costco, I was looking for an Indian dish to make besides palak paneer. I found this receipe on Sailu's kitchen blog (http://www.sailusfood.com/):


1 small cup tur dal

2 cups chopped and tightly packed spinach

1 onion, chopped

1 tomato, chopped

2 green chillis, slit lengthwise

3 garlic cloves, finely sliced, saute in ghee till lightly browned and keep aside

1/2 tsp finely chopped ginger or paste

1/2 tsp red chilli powder

big pinch turmeric powder

salt to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon)

2 cups water, approximately

For tadka:

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

2 garlic cloves finely chopped (I grate this with a hand grater)

1 tbsp ghee

1) In a pressure cooker, add 2 cups of water and tuvar dal and pressure cook upto 3 whistles (I pressure cook on high flame until 1 whistle, then I turn flame to very low and cook for seven minutes.) If cooking over stove top, cook till the dal is almost cooked.
2) Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed vessel, add cumin seeds and as they splutter, add garlic and ginger and stir fry for few seconds. Careful if you add ginger paste as this will cause a lot of splatter due to it's water content. Add the chopped onions and saute for 3-4 minutes, until cooked.
3) Add red chilli powder and turmeric powder and combine. Add the chopped palak and saute for 4 minutes. Add chopped tomato and saute for another 3 minutes.
4) Add the pressure cooked dal along with salt and combine. Cook on slow to medium flame for 5-10 minutes without lid or till you get the consistency of your choice.

5 Serve with rotis or rice.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I have spoken to many people who say that homemade pizza is better than most pizza that you get in restaurants. I was doubtful but now I am a believer. So much so, that we have not even been to my favorite pizza place in months. My first experiment with pizza went poorly. I bought Trader Joe's prepared pizza dough, but I must not have followed the directions properly. The dough was sticky and did not rise. I had invested in an expensive stone and peel and was worried that they would sit on a shelf collecting dust! They did for a few months but then the March issue of Saveur magazine inspired me. It was devoted to pizza and their dough recipe worked perfectly. It was provided to the magazine from a famous pizzeria in Hollywood called Pizzeria Mozza. The original recipe is for four 10 inch pizzas. I initially made half the dough and made two pizzas with it. The crust was too thick for my taste so the next time I made pizza, I used one fourth the amount of dough and rolled it out very thin. This worked well for me. Here is the recipe:

The following makes enough dough for six very very thin crust 10 inch pizzas. I guess you could make 4 slightly thicker pizzas. This may still be too thin for some.


1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon active dry yeast (I used the fast rising active yeast from Trader Joe's)

1 teaspoon sugar

1/3 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup 115 degree F water (I did measure this)

2 cups all purpose flour (I use unbleached)

I used a stand mixer. In a stand mixer bowl combine oil, yeast, sugar and water. Swirl. Let sit until foamy, about 10-12 minutes.

Attach to stand mixer with paddle attachment. Slowly add flour in increments while mixing on setting two. When you add more flour, scrape down sides. In about 8 minutes, it will form a ball. Remove this ball, loosely cover in plastic wrap and place mixing bowl in oven with oven light on. I leave in oven for about 3 hours until dough is soft and has tripled in size.

Making pizza:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F for an hour prior to making pizza (I use an all clad pizza stone and am very happy with it) to heat stone.

I divide the above dough into six portions. I use a kitchen scale to make sure that the portions are equal. At this point I freeze the dough that I will not be using individually tightly wrapped in saran wrap. I dust parchment paper with flour (lightly), flatten dough into a disk, and then roll it out with a rolling pin. It does take some work to roll out thin, because the dough oven springs back. Once I have rolled it out, I brush it generously with olive oil. It is more important to brush the edges really well. This is key for a yummy crust. I then sprinkle the pizza with Kosher salt (just a little.) Now comes my secret ingredient... Sukhi's Jalapeno chutney. I buy it at Mountain View Farmer's market. I spoon about one tablespoon of this onto the pizza, and then spoon on two tablespoons for Trader Joe's marinara sauce. I then top with Trader Joe's shredded organic mozzarella cheese (this is better for pizza then their fresh mozzarella.) I then use the peel to transfer the parchment paper to the stone. Bake for about 4 minutes but watch closely. Remove, cool briefly and devour!

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Egg Free)

This is adapted from a recipe I found on Recipezaar:

Makes about 30 small cookies


* 1 cup + 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup butter, softened
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
* 1 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G Egg replacer (you can get this at whole foods - it's really worth it. It is potato starch, tapioca and leavining agents. It can be used for many baking recipes with eggs.)
* 1/8 cup water
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
* 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use whole foods semisweet chocolate chips which come in a blue bag. I have found the chips you use really makes a difference. These are better than the Toll house chips.)


1. Preheat oven to 380 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.
3. Beat softened butter with the sugar and brown sugar until well combined. It will look light brown and fluffy. This is the most important step so make sure it is really creamed.
4. Whisk the Egg replacer and water in a small bowl until frothy (this is important too - it should really have bubbles on the surface.) Add Egg replacer mixture and vanilla to the sugar mixture and mix well.
5. Add the flour mixture gradually, beating after each addition. I use a hand mixer on the lowest setting
6. Stir in the chocolate chips.
7. Drop by rounded teaspoon onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper (allows for easy cleanup) and bake at 375 for about8-12 minutes. Watch closely and remove when light brown. Otherwise they will get very hard the next day.
8. Let cool for 3 minutes on cookie sheet, then remove from cookie sheet and let cool completely on wire racks.

Strawberry Marscapone Tart

Thanks to Wona Miniati | co-author of "Cooking with All Things Trader Joe's" for this recipe:

1 refrigerated pie crust (Defrost per instructions on package - I used trader joe’s crust)

Fruit topping:
2 pints strawberries (sliced)
1/3 cup sugar

½ cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup sugar
8 ounce container marscapone cheese, softened to room temperature
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon zest

1) Line a 10-inch tart pan with the pie dough. Prick the bottom of the shell all over with the tines of a fork. Freeze for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line the tart shell with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Fill at least two-thirds with pie weights - dried beans, rice, or ceramic or metal pie weights. Bake initially for 15 minutes, then remove from oven, let cool enough to handle, and remove the aluminum foil or parchment paper and pie weights. Return to oven and cook until lightly browned at the edges, about 20 more minutes. Let cool completely.. Don't forget to let mascarpone cheese soften at room temperature. Otherwise it will be impossible to fold into the whipped cream.

2) Combine sliced strawberries with 1/3 cup sugar so that the strawberries are coated. Let sit to macerate for 30 minutes.

3) Drain strawberries over a sieve. The strawberry juice can then be reduced over a flame in a small saucepan to use as a glaze (optional.)

4) Using an electric mixer, beat heavy cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over-mix. Stir in softened mascarpone cheese, salt, vanilla extract and lemon zest until combined. Spread mascarpone mixture evenly on bottom of cooled crust.

5)Arrange berries on top of mascarpone mixture.

Vegan Flourless Chocolate Cake

Thanks jo_jo_ba for this one: http://www.grouprecipes.com/27566/the-vegan-chocoholics-flourless-torte.html

  • 2/3 cup vegan stick margarine ( I used earth balance buttery sticks available at Whole Foods)
  • 1 lb 70% or higher quality chocolate, chopped (I used 3/4 pound dark, and 1/4 pound milk but I think you could even use more milk chocolate)
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 18.5 oz lite silken tofu (such as Mori-Nu)
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp cold water
  • ¾ cup cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Grease and line the bottom of a 9” spring-form pan with parchment, wrap in heavy-duty foil and set aside.
  3. In the top of a double boiler, combine the margarine, chocolate and coffee.
  4. Melt, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
  5. In a blender or food processor, combine tofu, cornstarch, water and vanilla until smooth. Pour into a mixing bowl.
  6. Beat in sugar until well blended, then add chocolate mixture and combine thoroughly, taking care not to beat air into the batter.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and rap sharply on the counter top 4-5 times to dissipate air bubbles.
  8. Bake for 60-70 minutes in a prepared water bath, and cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Note, cake will wiggle when moved. This is ok - it will need to set first.
  9. Remove the sides of the pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, before serving.

Bisibele Bath

Thanks Nirmala for this recipe!


For Masala:
coriander seeds- 5 tsp
channa dal - 4 tsp
methi seeds- 1/2 tsp
red chillies-6-7 depending on size, spice level you need
black pepper- about 6
cloves- 4-6
cinnamon- 2cm small stick
cardamom- 2-3 pods
dry coconut- 2 tbsp (you can use frozen coconut too - see special instructions if you choose to do this.)

1 tsp oil to fry masala
For seasoning-
2 tbsp ghee
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
curry leaves
coriander leaves
cashews - few broken pieces to your liking
hing powder
For rice-
1 cup rice (sona masoori), 1/2 cup toor dal
tamcon paste- 1 rounded tsp
turmeric powder - 1/3 tsp
salt to taste
water to boil veggies and tamarind

1. Pressure cook rice and toor dal together with thrice the amount water and keep aside (so 4.5 cups water for this amount.)
2. In boiling water in a large pan, add tiny diced green beans, carrots, chayote squash, sauteed onions (ideally pearl), tamcon paste, turmeric powder, salt and let them boil until tender. For boiling do not use too much water since rice will be added without draining vegetables first. I used about an inch excess water. Optional veggies are cauliflower, bell pepper.
3. For masala powder, fry all ingredients with 1 tsp oil until channa dal turns a dark pink. Remove from heat, transfer to a separate plate and allow spices to cool. Grind to a fine powder. If using frozen coconut, then thaw coconut and lightly fry separately after you had fried the spice mixture. It should dry out and turn just a shade darker. Allow it to cool separately from the spice mixture. Grind the spices alone first to a fine powder. Then add the coconut and grind everything together.
4. Add the ground masala powder or paste (you can dissolve spices in a small amount of water) into the tamarind water with cooked vegetables and let it boil for a few more minutes, until you get a nice smell.
5. Then lower the flame to low medium, add the cooked rice, dal mixture [ mash a bit before adding to the vegetables ], and keep mixing till well set. Consistency should be a little loose as it tends to get hard/ thicken because of the dal in it. May add some boiling water to loosen up if needed.
6. Season the ingredients listed and garnish.
Goes well with potato curry, papad or chips.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vegan vanilla coconut cake with key lime cream cheese frosting

This cake is an adaptation of the vanilla cupcake recipe from "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and a key lime cream cheese frosting from Bon Appetit magazine. The addition of coconut milk to the cake recipe gives it a wonderful dense texture. Surprisingly, the cake does not have a coconut taste.

Ingredients for cake:

* 1 cup coconut milk
* 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
* 1 1/4 cups flour
* 2 tablespoons cornstarch
* 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/3 cup canola oil
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla

Directions for baking cake:

1. Preheat oven to 350F

2. Whisk the coconut milk and the vinegar together and let sit a few minutes until curdled.

3. Beat together the coconut milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix until no large lumps remain.

4. Pour batter into a 9 inch springform pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 25-35 minutes until done (toothpick comes out clean and top is golden brown.) Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.

Frosting – Note this creates a lot of frosting which is useful if you plan to cover the entire cake in frosting including the sides. If you just want to cover the top or do not want a thick frosting layer then just use ½ or ¾ of the recipe.

* 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature (IMPORTANT that it is soft)
* 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1 tablespoon finely grated key lime peel
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat all ingredients in medium bowl until smooth. Spread over cooled cake.