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almonds

“Celebrate what you want to see more of”
Thomas J. Peters

Orange Almond Cake {gluten free} Orange Almond Cake {gluten free} … wafts of sweet almond with citrusy notes of orange float through the kitchen, virtually transporting you to the Mediterranean. One bite and you will find it hard to believe that the cake is flourless with no added fat. It is delightfully moist and orange flavoured.  Almond meal adds interesting texture, and pairs beautifully with the choice of fruit.

Orange Almond Cake {gluten free} It’s the peak of winters here, cold as cold can be. Day before was the coldest at 2.6C, the lowest temperature recorded in December in the past so many years. The statistics don’t leave you, neither does the deep chill. It gets into your very bones. This is North Indian winter for you. In the background the TV plays endlessly; CNN telling you about the latest aviation disaster. Dreadful news at the end of the year. I’m ready for a new year. Bye bye 2014!

Fresh & local produce, mood photographyIt’s easier to immerse yourself in what comforts you most. I click. Loads. Moody shots mainly. Sometimes you crave good news. Sometimes you wish you could turn the clock back to simple living. For times like this, I head for the kitchen, get embraced by the warmth, lose myself in the aromas that warm the cockles of your heart!Orange Almond Cake {gluten free} 5

Orange Almond Cake {gluten free} Speaking to Cookaroo a couple of days ago, she mentioned she was off to make an Orange Almond Cake. Snapped me out of my somnambulent frozen state. I had an Orange Almond Cake sitting here in my drafts, one I had done for Travel & Leisure Asia a few months ago. I’ve remade it recently since oranges and back in season.

Orange Almond Cake {gluten free} With the market flooded with ripe, orange juicy fruit, it’s a great time to bake this cake. I’ve baked this a couple of times, both with oranges and with kumquats too. Always good. Made a couple of trifles as well. Orange Almond Cake, whipped cream with Grand Marnier, and some almond praline made the layers. Divine!Orange Almond Cake Trifles {gluten free}The recipe is inspired from passover cakes that find root in cuisine of the Sephardic Jews who originate from the countries of the Middle East. The cake is ‘leavened wheat free’ which is the diet that defines the passover holiday. Interestingly, ancient Greeks also savoured the combination of fruit, nuts and honey. Sugar only appeared later during the Ottoman times. The recipe first appeared in Travel & Leisure, Asia May 2014.

Bidding adieu to 2014…
Have a warm and wonderful 2015. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

A Fit Foodie recipe

[print_this]Recipe: Orange Almond Cake {gluten free}
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Summary: The Orange Almond Cake also doubles up as a great gluten free dessert if topped with mascarpone, creme patisserie or lightly whipped cream. Serve seasonal fruit like a balsamic orange vanilla strawberry reduction spooned over the top, or on the side.

Serves 6-8
 Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Ingredients:

  • 2 whole oranges
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 25g castor sugar
  • 250g almond meal
  • 175g honey
  • 40g yogurt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean powder
  • Zest of 1 orange {or ½ tsp orange extract}

Method:

  1. Place the whole oranges in a pan, cover completely with water and simmer covered for 30-45 minutes until soft. Drain and cool. {You can do this a day before and bring to room temperature before using}. Halve the cooked oranges, remove the pits and puree skin and all. Reserve.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170C. Line the bottom and sides of a 7″ round baking tin with parchment.
  3. Place the egg whites and 25g castor sugar in a  large bowl and beat to stiff peaks. Reserve.
  4. Place the egg yolks in a large bowl and beat until light and mousse like, about 5 minutes.
  5. Beat in whole orange puree and honey, followed by the vanilla bean powder, yogurt and baking soda until just mixed.
  6. Fold in the almond meal.
  7. Fold in 2 tbsp of the beaten egg whites to loosen the batter, then fold in half the remaining egg whites. Fold gently so that the beaten air is not released. {This will help give rise and volume to the cake}. Fold in the remaining egg whites gently, and transfer batter to prepared tin.
  8. Place tin on baking tray and bake for approx 1 hour 15 minutes / until a tester comes out clean. {Place the tin on a tray since honey tends to cook and get dark faster than sugar.}
  9. Cool in tin for 30 minutes, then cool on rack.
  10. Sift over with icing sugar and top with fresh orange wedges. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.
  11. Another nice dessert idea is to use some for trifles layered with liqueur spiced low fat cream, crunchy almond praline and cubes of almond orange cake.

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“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.”
M.F.K. Fischer

Wholegrain Xmas Stollen Wholegrain Christmas Stollen with dried peach + walnuts +orange peel… a healthier version of the German Tea Bread. I’ve been fascinated by the Stollen for long. Actually ever since I discovered homemade quark. Once I figured there was something as good as Austrian curd cheese, AND that I could easily make some at home, I naturally went around looking for ways to use it. Wasn’t long before I discovered the Dresden Stollen. Indulgent Italian holiday bread. I baked another recipe into a Stollen Bread Pudding.

Wholegrain Xmas Stollen I loved making it. Would love to make more batches but for the fact it 1s a 100% all purpose flour tea bread. The wholegrain bug I have been bitten by doesn’t allow me to go back that easily. The odd birthday cakes with APF are OK; they’re once in a while indulgent stuff. One look at Meeta’s Stollen the other day, and the craving set in. It was time for STOLLEN! More precisely, Wholegrain Christmas Stollen with dried peach + walnuts +orange peel… a healthier version of the German Tea Bread.Wholegrain Xmas Stollen’twas an experiment. Came out quite well. It’s inspired by Meeta’s favorite version, a Date Fig Quark Stollen. Mine is partially whole wheat, partially almond meal and partially APF. It’s not as light as my earlier APF Dresden Stollen, but we are certainly not complaining. This turned out yum if I may so so myself. Once you make your own quark { prep 2 days in advance}, or if you just buy it, it’s an easy bread to throw together.

Wholegrain Xmas Stollen dried peaches + walnuts +orange peelPacked with dried peaches that I picked up in Srinagar this summer, crystallised orange peel {that I made some time ago} and chopped walnuts, it’s a special Christmas bread. Couldn’t add raisins and such as the boy can’t stand them. I have an Xmas fruit cake to make too, and I think it’s gonna be a nut cake as things go. The nuts are still soaking….. que sera sera. Hope I get there in time!Wholegrain Xmas Stollen Either go Meeta’s  baking powder way, or my yeast route, both ways would work well. It’s been raining here in North India the past few days, so the dough didn’t get a chance to rise well. You might get a better ‘rise’ if the weather permits. Let me know if you make this. It’s delicious. Do wrap it and keep it for 2-3 days before slicing. It’s more moist once it matures for a couple of days. Mince sliced beautifully and was moist too.

[print_this]Recipe: Wholegrain Christmas Stollen
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Summary: Wholegrain Christmas Stollen with dried peach + walnuts +orange peel… a healthier version of the German Tea Bread.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes plus rising time
Ingredients

  • For the stollen
  • 100g all-purpose flour
  • 100g almond meal
  • 50-100g whole wheat flour
  • 1tsp yeast
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 150g dried peaches, chopped
  • 35g crystallised orange peel, chopped
  • 75g walnuts, chopped
  • 35g tutti fruity
  • 1tbsp Grand Marnier {or rum, or honey}
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 150g quark, well drained {homemade recipe here}
  • For the top
  • 25g butter, melted
  • 25g powdered sugar

Method:

  1. Place the flours, almond meal, yeast and sugar in bowl of food processor and whiz to mix
  2.  Add the chopped fruit, nuts in a bowl wit Grand Marnier and heat in microwave for 30 seconds. Leave to soften slightly while you do the rest.
  3. Place the all purpose flour, 50g of whole wheat flour and almond meal, yeast and sugar in bowl of food processor and whiz to mix.
  4. Add the chopped fruit and nuts, scraped vanilla bean, melted butter, egg and quark and knead to a soft dough. Add more wholewheat flour if the dough is still sticky. Mine was slightly so as I didn’t allow the quark to drain long enough. {You can do this by hand too.}
  5. Shape into a ball and place in a oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap and leave in a warm place for about an hour to rise.
  6. Preheat oven to 200C. Line a baking tin with parchment.
  7. Divide the dough into 1 {or make just one broad loaf}. Shape into a long loaf each. 
  8. Place loaves on the prepared tray and bake for approximately 30 minutes, until light golden brown.
  9. Reduce temperature to 160C, and continue to bake for a further 15 minutes. Tent the top with aluminum foil if it tends to get too dark. {I placed mine on double trays}
  10. As soon as the Stollen is done brush melted butter onto the hot stollen and dust it with the powdered sugar.
  11. Cool then wrap in baking paper or clingwrap and store for a day or to to mature. You can have it warm too if you like, though it might be slightly crumbly.

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“BE OPEN TO new thoughts, to new people, to new principles, to new ideas, to new experiences. “NEW” MAKES US GROW”
Rossana Condoleo

LumiaApptasting and World FeastWith the Chenin Blanc chilled just right and a good wine from Fratelli at that, recommended by Ruchira, it was a nice beginning to the LumiaApptasting event held recently. With the promise of sumptuous food, refreshing drinks and a garnishing of apps , it was an evening of fun brought to us by Microsoft in collaboration with Women on Wanderlust {WOW}.

LumiaApptasting and World Feast The evening was introduced by the sweet and vivacious Poonam Kaul, Director, Communications, Nokia India, and then handed over to the hilarious duo who are quite trademark of LumiaApptasting – Michelin Star Chef Vikas Khanna and Tech Guru Rajiv Makhni, the boys or rather men from Amritsar. Both in perfect sync with each other, with a ‘dress code pink’ ladies only event in place, they soon had all the women literally eating out of their hands!

LumiaApptasting and World Feast Promising a hell of a journey, it took off pretty soon. Blind tasting, blind guessing, songs, dance, drama … the LumiaApptasting had it all. Woven through the evening were the perfect apps to tackle all your pre-holiday tasks, track your belongings and getting acquainted with fellow travelers. Plenty of ice breakers thrown in! Interestingly, the event wove it’s way across the entire group, and at different times you could here applause, sighs, gasps as the spoken word touched various nerves at different times. LumiaApptasting and World Feast LumiaApptasting is a unique concept that take mobile apps out of the tech space and brings them right to consumers in a relevant sort of a way. It’s a fun, innovative way that brings  technology and lifestyle together in more ways that one would ever imagine, possibly in any and every sphere of life. We were a motley group of women … wanderers and bloggers. Bloggers I believe from different fields – food, lifestyle, maybe technology too. LumiaApptasting and World Feast From an app to help discover the unknown treasures of your holiday destination, to immortalising your favourite holiday moments with awesome imagine apps, the line up of apps were creative. They included Face Swap, Wise Quotes, Wacky facts, & the Self Defense App. The latter two my favourites! Did I mention that the trailer of Fifty Shades of Grey was played? Yes that happened too!LumiaApptasting and World Feast The evening ended with the launch of Vikas Khanna‘s new book World Feast. In a departure from Indian cuisine prominent in his last few books, his latest book offers a treasury of multicultured flavours, taking our taste-buds for a journey across the world.  A beautifully photographed book that captures the very essence of New York, and knocks your breath away at times. Being generous to a fault, the chef made sure each lady left with a copy of his book in the goodie bag that evening! That was a real WOW moment for all of us, a book with a 120 recipes so imaginatively created.

World Feast by Vikas Khanna,Lingonberry Thumbprint Cookies Through simple, wholesome and staple recipes to complex combinations of textures and flavors, the book offers it all. Chef Vikas Khanna has brought in inspiration from some of the worlds iconic cooks, cafes and home kitchens, and allows you to add your own imagination and experience as you turn pages.

World Feast by Vikas Khanna,Lingonberry Thumbprint Cookies And that is what I did. The boy has been on my case for stained glass cookies. They were a norm during his growing up years every Christmas, the fascination of candy melting to transparent magic while baking. Turning the pages, I stopped at the thumbprint cookies. Those were ‘growing up’ cookies too, so before I knew it I was in the kitchen.

World Feast by Vikas Khanna,Lingonberry Thumbprint Cookies

I took the liberty of playing with the recipe Ojasvi’s Raspberry Thumbprint Cookie to give it my own wholegrain twist. It worked. Beautifully. The boy was thrilled, and said they were the best ever. Mr PAB took one look and said they were like the ones he used to beg his mother to buy each time he visited his ‘nani‘ or maternal grandmother when he was a kid. Now I was thrilled too! True old fashioned cookies!!

World Feast by Vikas Khanna,Lingonberry Thumbprint Cookies Things I changed. All purpose flour for a combination of wholewheat and almond meal, some baking soda to help them stay light, brown sugar and instead of white, and a wild lingonberry preserve from Ikea to fill. The Slyt Blaber is the son’s favourite preserve. He got hooked on to it several years ago when we first visited Sydney. Thankfully Hong Kong has a great Ikea, so the Swedish preserve supply continues!

World Feast by Vikas Khanna,Lingonberry Thumbprint Cookies The cookies turned out really nice. They flattened out slightly more than those in the book. Perhaps I should have chilled the dough, perhaps added a spoon or two more of flour. Next  batch. Nevertheless they were crisp beautiful and delicious! I made this a Fit Foodie recipe.

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Recipe:  Lingonberry Thumbprint Cookies
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Summary: Rich, old fashioned buttery cookies that would delight the cookie monster at home. Make sure you use good quality butter and vanilla extract. These Lingonberry Thumbprint Cookies are adapted from World Feast by Vikas Khanna, pg 341. Makes 20-24 cookies.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Ingredients:

  • Filling
  • 1/2tsp honey
  • 1/4 cup lingonberry preserves {or your favourite jam}
  • Cookies
  • 1 1/8 cup wholewheat flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
  2. Place preserves and honey in a small bowl and mix well. Reserve.
  3. Sift together flour and almond meal
  4. Place butter and sugar in a large bowl and blend with a electric hand blender until light and cream.
  5. Beat in the egg, vanilla extract, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  6. Fold in the dry mix well. Knead to a smooth dough.
  7. Divide into half, then divide into ten to twelve 2.5cm/1″ balls each.
  8. Place an inch apart each on the baking tray, using a floured thumb to create indentations in the centre of each ball. ill each indentation with 1 tsp of jam-honey mixture.
  9. Bake until golden brown for approx 25 minutes.
  10. Remove to tray, cool completely. Dust with icing sugar. Store in an airtight container.

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