Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Updates

(Left: Snickerdoodles, Top-right: Victoria Sponge, Bottom-right: Chocolate walnut biscotti)

Recently I've been working on giving some of my favourite recipe posts a bit of a facelift.

Now I haven't done this for all of my old recipes, because that would take forever! But these three are some my favourite recipes and I've never been quite satisfied with the pictures that went with them.

Back when I started blogging, I used to take photos with my Nokia cell phone (I've since moved up to a DSLR camera). I think I uploaded them as they were because I used to be so excited to upload the recipe as soon as possible, and having the perfect photograph didn't matter as much, primarily because there was only so much I could do with my cell phone camera given my photography skills at the time.

I still get excited about new posts and enjoy blogging just as much, but now I'm a bit more mindful of the fact that my blog should 'look' good too. I still try not to let my perfectionism get in the way of uploading a recipe though.

There's a lot of room for improvement where my photography is concerned, but I'd hate to think somebody was deterred by the not-so-stunning photos that previously accompanied these posts, because these recipes are really quite good (if I do say so myself).

The updated recipes include:

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Lemon Curd


Once you've mastered lemon curd (which is not hard to do at all), there are so many things you can do with it. Use it as a filling for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and trifles; as a topping for cheesecake or ice cream; to spread on pancakes, crepes, scones, or just plain toast

The first time I made lemon curd, I used this recipe from Joy of Baking and I haven't had reason to look for another.

I will say though that it requires patience because the curd is cooked gently and slowly. It takes at least 10 to 12 minutes before the curd starts to thicken, so don't panic if, five minutes in, your curd hasn't changed in consistency. Don't leave it alone either; you need to constantly whisk it so that no lumps form.

Having said that, the time put in is absolutely worth it when you have a jar of sunshine-yellow silky smooth lemon curd at the end of it.


Note:
Lemon curd keeps well for about one week stored in a clean airtight jar in the refrigerator.

You can also freeze it. I spoon the lemon curd into a Ziploc bag, squeeze the excess air out, and label it with the date it was made. I haven't kept mine frozen for more than two months, but various sources on the Internet tell me it will keep well in the freezer for up to a year.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Strawberry Cheesecake Trifle


I was losing daylight as I started to photograph these trifles and I didn't get a lot of pictures, let alone any good ones.

But that wasn't going to keep me from posting this recipe, because it is REALLY good.

Now it's not the best thing for you health-wise, but what good dessert ever is?

Also, it is stupidly simple to make. You could substitute whatever fruit you like and/or swap the Digestive biscuits for something else, if you prefer.

I cant wait to try this with peaches!

Strawberry Cheesecake Trifle

Ingredients

2 cups crushed Digestive biscuits (about 14 biscuits)
⅓ cup melted butter

4 cups sliced strawberries
¼ water
¼ cup caster sugar

200–250g cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)
1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream
½ cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk

  1. Mix together the crushed Digestive biscuits and melted butter. Spread the biscuit mixture evenly in a serving dish (it is best to use a glass bowl/dish so you can see all the layers, but anything will do).
  2. In a small saucepan, add water and caster sugar and cook on low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and then turn off the heat. Add the sliced strawberries and mix well.
  3. Spoon the strawberries evenly over the biscuit layer.
  4. In a mixing bowl, add the whipped cream and beat with an electric mixer until it doubles in volume and soft peaks form.
  5. In another mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the icing sugar and milk and beat again to mix.
  6. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.
  7. Spread the cream cheese and whipped cream mixture over the strawberries.
  8. Decorate with crushed Digestive biscuits.
  9. This trifle is best eaten chilled, so refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Carrot Cake


I almost let winter pass by without baking a carrot cake!

Not that making carrot cake in summer is forbidden.

It's just that carrots are at their best in winter and, in my book, a thick slice of carrot cake, spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, is the perfect accompaniment to your tea or coffee on a cold rainy day.

This recipe is based on one from Paula Deen and requires minimal effort (after you've peeled and grated your carrots, that is). You can bake it in whatever shape you like, but you'll have to adjust the baking time depending on what cake tin you use. This recipe works great for muffins and cupcakes too.

Carrot Cake
adapted from Paula Deen

Ingredients

1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup caster sugar
½ soft brown sugar 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg 
a pinch of salt
2 eggs
¾ cup vegetable (or canola) oil
1½ cups grated carrots
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350⁰F (180⁰C).
  2. Grease an 8-inch round cake tin and line the base with parchment paper.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, sift in flour and baking soda. Add sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and stir to combine.
  4. Add the eggs and oil and mix well. You can do this by hand or using an electric hand beater.
  5. Add the carrots and nuts and stir until combined.
  6. Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin and place in the preheated oven.
  7. Bake for about 1 hour (60 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes.
  9. Remove the cake from the cake tin and turn out into a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Once cooled, frost the cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below), if desired.

Cream Cheese Frosting 
adapted from Baking Bites

2 oz (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese*, softened (I used Philadelphia)
2½ cups icing sugar, sifted
2 to 4 teaspoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla

  1. Add the butter and cream cheese to a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the icing sugar, half a cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Add 2 teaspoons of milk halfway through adding the icing sugar.
  4. Continue to beat the frosting until it is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. It should be of a spreadable consistency. If it is too stiff, add more milk, half a teaspoon at a time, until you get the consistency you want.



  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Chocolate Banana Bread


Recently, I've been having trouble eating bananas raw.

I used to love them. But now I can't seem to eat them without gagging. So they need to be baked or blended or caked or cookied or waffled...

You get the idea...

I've made banana bread loads of times but I thought I'd try baking a chocolate banana bread this time.

Adding chocolate can only make things better, right?

I used a recipe from Smitten Kitchen and it was delicious; very chocolaty and very banana-y, both flavours strong but perfectly balanced, neither overshadowing the other.

And it could not have been easier. Dump everything in a bowl, stir, and stick it in the oven.



Chocolate Banana Bread
adapted from Deb Perelman

Ingredients

1¼ cup mashed bananas
4 oz butter, melted
¾ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
a pinch of salt
1 cup flour
½ cup cocoa powder

  1. Preheat the oven to 350⁰F (180⁰C).
  2. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf tin with cooking oil or butter, and line it with wax paper (parchment paper).
  3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In another large mixing bowl, add the mashed bananas, melted butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla. Mix well.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until well combined.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin.
  7. Place in the oven and bake for about 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  8. Allow the loaf to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

More loaf cake recipes:

Banana Chocolate Chip Walnut Loaf

Orange Loaf

Date, Pistachio, and Lemon Loaf

Chocolate Chip Walnut Loaf

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cherry Crumb Bars and Snapshots from Skardu


How have I let almost a year pass by without posting anything new?! 

I mean, I sort of know how...

I never thought I'd let this much time go by though.

I had started to stress and obsess a bit over each post. I love working on this blog but I decided not to let it take over my weekends and my life. There's no point if it's adding to my stress levels instead of reducing them. 

So I decided to dial it down a bit. It was okay if I didn't get a post up every week. But one week passed, then two weeks, then a month, and somehow 10 months without a new post.

But I miss it. And I'm getting back to it.

What better way to begin again than with more gorgeous photos from Skardu? 

I was lucky enough to make another trip with my friends this summer (you can read about my trip two years ago here and here). We had been trying to plan this trip for a while and I'm glad we went when we did. It was a much needed break and definitely goes down as one of the best holidays ever.

Masherbrum Mountains



Fresh cherry juice at Khaplu Palace and Residence

Our hotel room at The Shigar Fort Residence
Clockwise from top-right: tea and Zerchoon, fruit for breakfast, fresh garden salad with local cheese, 
and Pharingbath for dessert.

We hiked all the way up to the ruins of the old Khaplu fort (pictured below) as well. Now hiking is quite possibly one of my least favourite things to do (I greatly dislike any sort of exercise really) and I gave up at least five times, but it was so worth it in the end because the view from the top was amazing.

Ruins of the old Khaplu fort

Khaplu Palace and Residence

I brought back a jar of cherry jam and I know this recipe is very similar to the last recipe I posted but, as I was looking through old recipes, I thought the jam would be perfect sandwiched between layers of buttery crumble. 



Cherry Crumb Bars

Ingredients

1 cup flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ cup caster sugar
a pinch of salt
4 oz cold butter, cut into cubes
1 small egg
¾ cup rolled oats

¾ cup cherry jam (you could use something else too, like strawberry or raspberry)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375⁰F (190⁰C). 
  2. In a large bowl, sift in the flour and baking powder. Add sugar and salt and stir to combine.
  3. Add the butter and egg. Using a pastry cutter or a knife, cut the butter and egg into the dry ingredients until the mixture starts to look crumbly and no large pieces of butter remain.
  4. Stir in the rolled oats.
  5. Grease a sheet of foil and press into a 8x8-inch square baking dish or pan. Press half the crumble mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  6. Spread the jam evenly over the crumb base.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture evenly over the jam filling.
  8. Place in the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan before cutting into 16 squares.
  10. Store in an airtight container.
Makes 16.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Apple Crumb Bars


After seeing versions of Smitten Kitchen's Blueberry Crumb Bars on Brown Eyed Baker and Une Gamine Dans La Cuisine in the same week, I was tempted to make them myself. However we don't get blueberries in Pakistan, and as a fan of the classic apple crumble, I decided on good old apples instead.

These little squares of apple-crumbly goodness are just as good as breakfast, a snack, and even as dessert topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


Apple Crumb Bars
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

4 to 5 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (you should have 4 cups of sliced apple)
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour

1½ cups flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ cup sugar
pinch of salt
4 oz cold butter, cut into cubes
1 small egg

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
  2. In a mixing bowl, add the sliced apples and lemon juice and toss together. Set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, sift in the flour and baking powder. Add sugar and salt and stir to combine.
  4. Add the butter and egg. Using a pastry cutter or a knife, cut the butter and egg into the dry ingredients until the mixture starts to look crumbly and no large pieces of butter remain.
  5. Grease a sheet of foil and press into a 8x8-inch square baking dish or pan. Press half the crumble mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  6. Add the cinnamon, sugar, and cornstarch to the apples and mix well.
  7. Spread the apple mixture evenly over the crumb base.
  8. Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture evenly over the apples.
  9. Place in the oven and bake for 45 to 55 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.
  11. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Makes 16 bars.