Baking | Apple, Oats and Walnut Skillet Crumble … warm, fun and gluten free comfort food

“It is remarkable how closely the history of the apple tree is connected with that of man.”
Henry David Thoreau

Apple, Oats and Walnut Skillet CrumbleApple, Oats and Walnut Skillet Crumble … true comfort food and ever so simple. It’s one I make often, a crumble I mean. This year began in a special way. I had a surprise visitor and she brought me something I have longed for forever! A cast iron skillet, straight from the kiln, well almost, unseasoned and raw!

Apple, Oats and Walnut Skillet Crumble Thankfully Sangeeta has a world of knowledge about this stuff. This looked raw, rustic and a little scary to tell you the truth. Man Friday was happy as ever to see it and went on to tell me how much cast iron was cooked in when he was young, and that the benefits are tremendous. How times have changed, and healthy practices have been buried under the sands of time!

Apple, Oats and Walnut Skillet Crumble  Well he scrubbed it well with a piece of brick, removed the dusty coating etc. I dried it well, seasoned it with some cold pressed mustard oil. Then baked it in a hot oven for 30 minutes. It came out looking moorish. Can you fall in love with a skillet? I did! The great thing about cast iron utensils are that they can go from the stove top into the oven, and back again! The other huge benefit of course is that they gently seep iron into your food adding additional iron into your diet.

Apple, Oats and Walnut Skillet Crumble I was quite over the moon this morning and since I had just apples on hand, I set out to make an Apple, Oats and Walnut Skillet Crumble. { …for those who noticed, I meant to use thyme, but sans glasses, I think I used oregano from the fridge instead! Oops! }. Simple, basic, easy apple pie, something that comforts and warms, especially in these cold winter days. Baking it in the skillet took this up a few notches for me. I loved using the skillet, built an emotional connect with it, and want to use it all the time. 

Apple, Oats and Walnut Skillet Crumble  Past the crumble, I grilled a cheese and tomato sandwich for the daughter in it . Crisp, beautiful, comforting! Fried eggs and roasted tomatoes too. I can’t get enough of it. You’ll see a lot more of it popping up all over the place. Thank you Sangeeta, and thank you too for the coloured glasses! It’s been an inspiring beginning to the new year!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking | Wholegrain Chocolate Nutella Whoopie Pies … healthy sweet pies with promise

“Never doubt that a small, committed group of people with pies can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Subcommandante Tofutti

Wholegrain Chocolate Nutella Whoopie PiesWholegrain Chocolate Nutella Whoopie Pies …  come December and the Daring Bakers challenge to end 2013 was to bake whoopies. Given all the frenzied baking over Christmas, these were fun. Whoopies always are. Relaxed, super creative and ‘in sync with the holiday season‘, they were a wonderful pick to end the year!

Wholegrain Chocolate Nutella Whoopie Pies

The December Daring Bakers’ Challenge had us all cheering – the lovely and talented Bourbonnatrix of Bourbonnatrix Bakes was our hostess and challenged us to make fun, delicious and creative whoopie pies! Delicious little cake-like cookies sandwiching luscious filling in any flavors we chose… What else is there to say but “Whoopie!”

Wholegrain Chocolate Nutella Whoopie Pies I still remember my first whoopies, Oatmeal Nutella Whoopie Pies adapted minimally from a great recipe from Ree @ Pioneer Woman. Those were a big hit with the kids and adults alike. At the time Mr PAB did say they were oversweet. I reduced the sugar this time around. They were perfect!

Whoopie pies are a cross between a cookie and a cake (not a pie!), with two round, mound-shaped halves sandwiching a sweet creamy filling. According to Wikipedia, Whoopie pies are considered a New England phenomenon and a Pennsylvania Amish tradition. It is also Maine’s official state treat. The traditional Whoopie pie consists of a chocolate cake and a vanilla marshmallow filling, but pumpkin and gingerbread cake is also common enough. 

Wholegrain Chocolate Nutella Whoopie Pies Onto this challenge, I knew I was going to go wholegrain, so half my work was cut out. I based my recipe on the Oatmeal Nutella Whoopie Pies measurements, changing a few bits and bobs here and there. It worked quite well actually. The Wholegrain Chocolate Nutella Whoopie Pies began disappearing at an alarming rate!

Wholegrain Chocolate Nutella Whoopie Pies Of course they aren’t as light, cakey and airy as all purpose flour whoopies. These are heavier to bite, more earthy, more rustic and definitely more healthy. I was glad I did the challenge pretty early in the month with red and green firmly in place. Later, each day raced into the next, the month literally galloping towards the end.

Wholegrain Chocolate Nutella Whoopie Pies One look and bite into the whoopies and both kids {and Mr PAB} exclaimed, “You’ve made these before!” Bravo to good food memories! I had made my first whoopie pies back in May 2012 fresh from an invigorating trip into Old Delhi, one of my favourite places to be in. Time flies ….

It’s difficult to believe the year’s almost drawing to an end. December has almost vanished. It’s been a busy year. Being a Daring Baker is always a positive part of every year, though losing our co-founder Lis unexpectedly left us crestfallen. Knowing her, she would like the whisks in the kitchen to mix non-stop. Through these challenges, her spirit lives on.

Daring Bakers 2013 challengesThe challenges I have enjoyed through 2013 include Dark Chocolate Beetroot Cake with Peanut Butter FillingSwedish Prinsesstårta Cupcakes, Mango Pastel de Tres Leches or Three Milk CakeMomofukus {Infamous} Crack PieSavoury Phyllo Pot Pies and Rye Cheddar Crackers & Pizza Dough Crisps.

Do stop by here and check out some real cutie pies the talented Daring Bakers are whooping with! Thank you Bourbonnatrix for the fun challenge. Thank you too Ivonne of  Cream Puffs in Venice for hosting this fab kitchen!!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking | Irresistible Banoffee Pie from the Sood Family Cookbook … recipe & review

“At home I serve the kind of food I know the story behind.”
Michael Pollan

Banoffee PieBanoffee Pie … it was the first ever banoffee I truly loved. Indulgent. Addictive. Impressive. More impressive as the recipe comes from 16 year old Oraya, the youngest baker in the Sood family. She’s firmly booked her spot in the ‘The Sood Family Cookbook‘ and her dessert sang out loud.Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain

Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain 3It was a winner at the lunch I will talk about in a bit. I had a slice. Then, guilt ridden after a virtual food marathon, I reached out for a second helping. I am not a banana person, but this was different. I got home and HAD to put one together for the family. Unfortunately, things got delayed. A lot.

Mumbai Dec 2013Went to Mumbai for a cookshow shoot {it’s under wraps at the moment} for 2 days, stayed on for 4. It was a memorable experience. Met up with food blogger friends. Ate every bit of Mumbai street food we could find. Was part of a fantastic team. We eventually shot all night long, a’night duty‘ after a long 19 years as Mr PAB messaged. My years in the airlines came alive again…

Banoffee PieBack home and I hit the ground running. The Sood Family Cookbook on my list of things to do {read cook from}. As I flew in, the husband flew out on work emergency. He somewhat managed to fly back just in time to take junior to Hongkong for a short vacation. This was dessert to celebrate!!

Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain Rich, indulgent, addictive and made with simple pantry ingredients, Banoffee Pie comes together easily. I baked the biscuit crust as a matter of habit {read I bake everything; well almost!}, but it’s great sans baking. This  is one of the many recipes that makes Aparna’s ‘from the heart cookbook a star.

Banoffee Pie Condensed milk is the main {read finger licking good} ingredient here. You can make the toffee as in the recipe below. There is an alternative if you have a pressure cooker {which is pretty much standard in Indian kitchens}, and aren’t terrified of the thing exploding as I used to be at one time. It works well. 

Banoffee PiePlace the tin {I do 2-3 together to save time and energy} in a pressure cooker, cover with water and place on heat until the steam comes out. Put the weight on once the steam builds up. After whistle number 1, reduce heat to minimum and allow to cook for 30 minutes. {or 40 like me if you want it really thick}. Turn off heat, allow tin to cool. Use as required.

Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain About the book now. A family cookbook is a celebration in itself, a concept as comforting as it is interesting. The value a community adds to a cookbook is huge; a family adds even more! The Sood Family Cookbook offers an absorbing mix {of recipes and food memories}, a potpourri as varied as the mind can envisage. I LOVE the design and layout.

Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain Aparna writes it well, a connect runs through the book. Stories come alive as you read through it. It’s interesting how her life criss crosses with that of the audience in different situations. We’ve all been through the nostalgia, the missing ‘taste of home’, the calling family at odd hours for a recipe, the childhood taste that lingers forever …

The Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna JainWith a post grad degree in hospitality, Aparna has literally had a finger in every pie. From Silicon Valley, to Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping, to the now somewhat clouded Tehelka, she has an intriguing background. Vibrant, warm and passionate,  she played the perfect host!

Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain It was a delicious experience to be part of the launch that beautiful Sunday morning. The warmth and connect embraced you as you entered. With the whole family rallying behind the cookbook, it was difficult not to notice how food excites them.

Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain Everyone had a food story to share, each one brimming with nostalgia about the journey of the book, proud to be part of the book. Recipes were discussed, ingredients shared, pahaadi khaana accorded its deserved status …

Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain Lunch offered dishes straight out of the book cooked by the Sood family. The food was finger licking good food. Each recipe as different and special as the book promises is testimony to how good a cookbook it is. Some of my favourites … crispy bhindi, ghee roast, pahadi mutton {a winner}, pahaadi madra, pahaadi mani, pahaadi hara namak, shrimp biryani. And of course Oraya’s Banoffee Pie!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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