Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Avocado, Banana and Apricot Cake/ Muffins with a Chocolate Avocado frosting.





If avocado does not tick one of your "to eat" food boxes plssss read on ( I hope to convert you or make a difference)....on the other hand if you are an avocado fan I'm sure you will love this post and the cake that follows. 


Creamy rich avocado is considered the world's healthiest fruit. It is a fresh, natural, and a wholesome part of a healthy diet. It is irresistibly rich in flavor and provides vital nutrients and phytochemicals, known to reduce the risk of some types of cancer and other chronic diseases. It contains vitamin K, dietary fiber, potassium, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin C, copper. It contains“oleic acid”, a healthy monounsaturated fat that helps to lower cholesterol. A good source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure. Also, avocado or  avocado extract has anti cancer and anti inflammatory properties. Helps to prevent birth defects if eaten when pregnant and also improves vision.


When choosing an avocado, go for an unblemished skin, and flesh that gives slightly if squeezed gently (though it shouldn't actually be soft). If you buy hard ones you can ripen them quickly by putting them in a brown paper bag with a banana (keep out of the fridge). Once ripe, keep them in the fridge.


Avocados are best used raw, not cooked. Halve, stone and serve with olive oil and and balsamic vinegar or vinaigrette.  Mash with tomatoes, garlic and chillies to make the classic Mexican dip, guacamole; or slice thinly with tomato and mozzarella drizzled with olive oil to make an Italian tricolore salad. Baby A enjoys it simply mashed up with a sprinkling of sugar and a splash of cream. To create the wow effect bake it in a cake and be ready to accept all the compliments that pour in.

This cake is amazingly moist, light, crumbly, delicious and green :).  It also has bananas and apricots in it to boost its nutrition profile. So a "swell treat". Do try it, kids will love it too. The chocolate avocado frosting is a bonus. It is free from butter unbelievable silky and luscious. Can be used as a healthy frosting to ice other cakes too.


To make a Avocado, Banana and Apricot Cake

Ingredients:
1 cup pureed bananas ( 3 large)
1/2 cup pureed avocados ( 1/2 large avocado)
1/2 cup pureed apricots ( 1/2 tin)
1/2 cup butter ( substitute with sunflower oil for a healthy version)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons lemon essence


Chocolate Avocado Butterfree Frosting (Vegan)
1 large avocado
1/2 cup cocoa
100 g icing sugar


Directions 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12 hole muffin pan or a 23 cms round cake tin. 
2. Place all the fruit in a blender and blitz to get a smooth puree. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl cream butter and sugar till light. Then add an egg at a time and beat till creamy. Add the pureed fruit and lemon essence and mix well with a wooden spoon.
Place the dry ingredients into a large sieve and sift over the butter -sugar mixture a 1/3 rd at a time. Fold the flour mixture in, just enough to incorporate. Avoid over mixing.
4. Scoop batter into muffin tin, or into prepared cake tin and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes for muffins or 35-40 mins for a cake. Check with a skewer inserted at the centre of cake, should come out clean. The top will appear nicely golden brown and will spring back to touch. Let it sit for 5 mins in its tin, then loosen sides and leave to cool on a cooling rack
5. For the frosting: Place all frosting ingredients into a blender and blend to smooth mix. For a runnier frosting add a touch of whipping cream.





Enjoy,

Carol Sequeira Pereira.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Australian Fresh Pineapple and Banana Cake with a Cheese and Buttercream Frosting and Happy Birthday Hubby.

Baby A's busy playing in the sand and feeling free,
his little fingers running through pebbles and wet seaweeds
sand in his shoes and between his toes,
some in his wind swept hair and in his soggy clothes,
He feels no cold, doesn't miss the sun, its only time for fun......

Well it was hubby's birthday last week and to celebrate we all went to Lulworth Cove.  Lulworth Cove is a natural horseshoe-shaped harbour, formed approximately 10,000 years ago by the awesome powers of a river and the sea, a pebbled beach along the famous World Heritage Jurassic Coast line. 


It was a lovely day out, the sun was up, there was a pleasant chill in the air, birds soaring through the blue skies, there were little children devouring scoops of icecream piled high on sugar cones, dogs chasing waves breaking on the shore, groups of teenagers sifting through the pebbles in search of prized fossils. 



Baby A was silently taking in all these wonderful sights and smells. He then busied himself by shovelling through lots of pebbles, and tugging at sea weed. After a long walk along this beautiful stretch of coast we returned home happy, content and armed with a little collection of their favourite pebbles for memory.


 Well for hubby's birthday, I decided to bake him a cake that he has not tried before. I chose a Linda Collister recipe (which I largely adapted), one that has been on my to do list for a long time and which originates in Australia. It is packed with the goodness of pineapple and banana. It is moist, and full of fun and flavour. Friends at home and work who tried it loved it, and asked for the recipe......so here it is .....



Recipe for an Australian Fresh Pineapple and Banana cake:

Ingredients:
Fresh Pineapple: 200gms ( weight after peeling and coring)
Ripe Bananas: 180g ( peeled and mashed with back of fork)
Light muscavado sugar: 225 gms
Large eggs: 2 well beaten
Melted Butter:125ml
Sunflower oil: 100 ml
Self raising flour: 250gms
Baking powder: 1/2 tsp
Pinch of salt
Ground Cinnamon: 1/2 tsp
Freshly Grated nutmeg: 2 pinches

Frosting:
Philadelphia cream cheese: 87 gms or half a tub
Unsalted butter: 25 gms
Icing sugar: 75 gms
lemon juice: 1/2 tbsp
Cake tin: 23 cms diameter.

Method:
Preheat oven to 180C/ 350F/Gas Mark 3. Adjust temperature for fan assisted ovens.
1. Mash bananas with back of spoon. Place in a large mixing bowl.
2. Peel the outer skin of the pineapple. Remove its eyes. Remove the center core. Weigh out 200 gms of edible fruit and chop the flesh into very small pieces or use a food processor to finely chop it. Add to mashed bananas.
3. Add eggs, sugar, oil and butter (room temperature) to the bowl. Beat well to get a frosthy mix.
4. Weigh out the flour. Add salt, spices and baking powder to it. Place the dry ingredients in a siever and sieve over the wet ingredients a third at a time. Mix well to get a uniform mix. Avoid overmixing.
5. Pour into a greased baking tin and bake in the center of an oven till firm to touch or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Will take around 40-45mins. If you feel top of cake is browning too quickly cover the top of the tin with a piece of foil.
Once done take the cake out of the oven, allow to sit a for 2-3 minutes, then run a butter knife around sides of cake to release from tin, turn out onto a cooling rack. Remove baking paper from base if used and allow cake to cool completely

For frosting:
Use a electric mixer or hand whisk to beat the butter and cheese together till creamy. Add the icing sugar a tbsp at a time, beat on low speed. Finally add the lemon juice. Coat the top of the cake with frosting. Decorate with dried banana chips or glaced pineapple pieces. Serve at room temperature.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge or cool cupboard and use within 4 days.



Caysera's tips:
1. If you cannot get hold of fresh pineapples, use canned pineapples.
2. The riper the bananas the better the flavour.
3. You may use plain caster sugar if you cannot get hold of muscavado sugar.


Enjoy!!

Love,

Carol Sequeira Pereira

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Mangalore Style Pepper Chicken Curry

We mangies love our pepper. It is one of those spices that is used world over, that can be sprinkled over almost everything. Pepper (Miri in Konkani) is one of the major intercrops grown in Mangalore. Hence you will also find here many pepper based dishes.




Dishes like Pepper Roast, Pepper fry, Chicken/Mutton Pepper Curry are common adornments at most family meals. You will also find combination of pepper with other spices like cumin (Jeere-Miri) in the preparation of meat like chicken and beef, another popular combination is pepper with garlic (Losun-Miri) goes well with fish (lepo/ sole fish), prawns and vegetables (field marrow/ mogem, lady fingers/ bhendi , and gherkins/ tendli.





Black pepper originated in Kerala. From here it spread to the rest of South and Southeast Asia where it became an important spice plant.
Once used as currency and presented to the gods as a sacred offering, peppercorns are the fruit of Piper nigrum, an evergreen climbing vine. Black, white, and green peppercorns all come from the same plant, but they are harvested at different times and handled in different ways.


Wiki: Image Source
 To make black pepper, the clusters are plucked when they are not quite ripe. They are then left in piles to ferment. After a few days, the berries are spread out on a mat and left to dry in the sun for two or three more days until they are shriveled and nearly black. 
To make white pepper, the berry is picked fully ripe. Its outer shrunken skin is rubbed off, exposing the dried, grayish-white pepper inside. White pepper has a milder, more delicate flavor than black pepper, and is useful for adding a peppery flavor to light-colored sauces and soup without adding the black color. White pepper is popular in European cuisines and is more expensive. 


Goodness of Pepper:
Pepper has a wide variety of medicinal applications. Ancient herbalists used pepper  especially to treat runny nose, and also to treat hemorrhoids
Recent scientific investigations indicate that the piperine in white and black pepper may act as antidepressant-antioxidant, protecting cholesterol from changes that lead to calcification and formation of atherosclerotic plaques. Antiproliferative, preventing spread of cancer cells. A pain relief agent even stronger than capsaicin. 


With so many health benefits, there is no reason why you shouldn't treat yourself to this delectable curry.




This is my mom's recipe for a Pepper Curry.
Ingredients:
Baby chicken: 3 or chicken with bones weighing around 2 kgs.
Pepper Marinade: to grind
to roast first:
Pepper corns: 3 -4 tsps ( for moderate- increased spice levels)
Cloves: 6
Poppy seeds: 2 tsps
Sunflower seeds: 2 tsps
to add without roasting:
Tumeric powder: 1/4 tsp
Ginger garlic paste: 3 tsps
Yoghurt: 1.5 cups
Lemon juice: 1no.
Salt to taste
To fry:
Cardamoms: 3 pods
Green chillies: 5 slit
Chopped coriander leaves: handful minced
Onions- 3 large pureed
Mangalore Stew powder: 1 tsp ( or garam masala)
Oil : 4-5 tbsps


Method:
1. Roast pepper corns till fragnant, add whole cloves, poppy seeds and sunflower seeds roast for a few seconds. Put into a blender, add turmeric powder and little water to make a smooth paste. Empty marinade into a large bowl. Add yoghurt, turmeric, lemon juice and salt to taste (a little extra). Marinade chicken for minimum 2-3 hours or overnight.
2. In a large vessel take oil, add cardamom, fry till fragnant, add curry leaves and slit green chillies, fry till green chillies turn white, add the chopped coriander leaves and fry till they wilt. 
3. Add the pureed onions, sprinkle over it a little salt to hasten cooking, fry well on a medium flame till oil seperates. This step will take at least 10-15 minutes. Once the onions appear to be clumping together and leaving the sides and bottom of vessel well, is an indication that onions have cooked. Not following this step properly can leave you with a bitter taste in the curry.
4.  Next add the marinaded chicken pieces one by one into the vessel. Let the marinade drip back into the marinading bowl for the moment. Make sure you place each piece flat on the floor of the vessel, that way each piece will fry evenly. Fry the chicken on a hight heat for a couple of minutes till lightly browned. Add oil if needed to stop burning of the spices. Turn over and seal the other side. Finally add 2 cups of water to the marinade bowl. Collect all marinade within the bowl and add to the cooking vessel over the chicken. Using a wooden spoon make sure you loosen all the fried spices at the bottom of the vessel. Sprinkle over a teaspoon of chicken stew powder.
5. Cover and cook on low medium heat till done. Once done adjust the consistency of the gravy, check the salt, squeeze over half a lemon juice, bring to a gentle boil. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle over freshly chopped coriander leaves.




or serve with appams, neer dosa/panpole or simple white rice.
Enjoy,


Carol Sequeira Pereira

Monday, 18 June 2012

Pineapple Rasam

For Hubby's Birthday I made a pineapple and banana cake with a cheese and buttercream frosting (absolutely delicious- recipe coming soon). As I had some pineapple leftover that wasnt very sweet, thought of incorparating it into a savoury recipe. Since the last couple of days we've seen weather thats been chill, with gale force winds, and bursts of rain (thats summer for you in England brrrrrrrr!!)......a hot and spicy drink was in order and the first thing that came to mind was a rasam ( spicy soup). 


Its been ages since I made a rasam and as I scrolled through my dog earred handwritten recipe book (scribbled in the weeks before I got married) I found moms lentil- free, easy tomato rasam recipe, which is my absolute favourite and decided to adapt it a little bit for this one. 




I substituted one of the two tomatoes in her recipe for 2 slices of pineapple, chopped the pineapple into bits and added it to the usual list of rasam ingredients, skipped the tamarind for Kokum/ mangosteen leaves (see notes below for more on kokum leaves) and 15 minutes later I had a tummy warming, palate cleansing, invigorating tangy soup whose aromas were wafting through the whole house....awakening those hunger pangs. It was delicious. 


Best eaten with plain rice and poppadums ( lentil/ rice based crispies) or served as an appetiser.




Warning: Avoid making this rasam if you are on a low Carbohydrate diet, its astonishing how it can awaken those demons within the tummy that blanks the mind and makes your hand reach out for those prohibited second and third helpings of rice...lol. 


To make Pineapple Rasam
Ingredients:

Fresh Pineapple-2 slices
Tomato-1 firm medium size
Kokum leaves: 3-4

Water- 750ml
Coriander leaves

For Seasoning:
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves: a few
Garlic flakes: 2 chopped
Rasam powder: 1- 1.5 tbsp (or more according taste, I used MTR's)
Hing: 2 pinches
Salt to taste
Jaggery to taste
Oil: 2-3 tsps



Method:
1. Soak kokum in the 3 tbsps hot water for 30 mins
2. Cut pineapple and tomato into small cubes, place along with soaked kokum and its soaking liquid in a 
large vessel with 750ml hot water. Bring to a boil.


3. Once its boiling add chopped coriander leaves. Close the vessel and let it cook on a medium flame.
4. Once the tomatoes have softened, turn heat down to lowest setting and do tadka.


5. For the tadka/seasoning:
Heat oil, add mustard seeds, when it sputters add curry leaves and chopped garlic flakes fry till garlic slightly browns, add hing, take off fire and add rasam powder. Pour seasoning over the rasam.
6. Add salt and jaggery to taste. Allow the rasam to simmer gently for 2-3 more minutes. Turn off heat.




Caysera's Notes:
1. If you do not have pineapple, add another medium size firm tomato.
2. Kokam is the sun dried outer covering of the kokam/ mangosteen fruit. It very commonly used as a souring agent in Mangalorean/ Konkani and Marathi cooking. The fruit is also known as amsol, bhinda, katambi, looikya, sour apple or panarpuli. Substitute with tamarind or vinegar if you cannot get hold of the dried kokam pieces.If you do not have kokum leaves/ mangosteen substitute with a lemon size ball of tamarind. Soak the tamarind in warm water and add its squeezed out juices.


Cheers,

Carol Sequeira Pereira.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

TresLeches Cake and Happy Fathers day.




Any man can be a father but it takes someone special to be a dad.


Its Fathers Day today and I present this supermoist, milky nectar laden cake to the two most special men in my life. 


One who is responsible for what I am today " My Dearest Dad" thankyou dad for all your sacrifice, endearing love and never ending support. I love you. 


and to " My Sweet Hubby" who is my love, my life and wonderful Father to Baby A. I love you.


May God Bless you both abundantly and fill your lives with good health, happiness and peace. 


Also not to forget all other fathers out there, who are true dad's to their children and who make a difference to their lives. Happy Father's Day to you all.

Coming to the recipe for today. This unique, light and delicious cake makes an unforgettable eating experience. Each mouthful of this cake bursts with milky nectar. Known as the`Tres leches cake, or Pastel de tres leches, meaning the "three milk cake". It is a sponge cake or a butter cake which is soaked in three kinds of milk which is Evaporated, Condensed and Whole Milk. Simply delightful. Milk lovers will relish every bite of this cake. 

The origins of this cake is disputed. It is very popular in Latin America and Spain. The Nestle company claims to have helped the tres leches recipe evolve, during World War II. Some Europeans believe its theirs ??? Who knows...who cares as long as we can all enjoy it.

I prefer to add fresh fruit to the topping as it makes this cake cool and refreshing. I used a couple of Kiwis, seedless green grapes and oranges.


The recipe below is taken from Allrecipes.com. It is highly rated recipe and has received hundreds of very good reviews. Do try it out.

Ingredients:
For the Cake1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the 3 Milk Filling:
2 cups whole milk
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk

For Topping:
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


For Decorating:
Any sliced fresh fruit of your choice.

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 9x13 inch baking pan. Sift flour and baking powder together and set aside.

2. Cream butter or margarine and the 1 cup sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs and the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; beat well.


3. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture 2 tablespoons at a time; mix until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan.Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes. 

4. Once done take out of the oven and pierce the cake several times with a fork. Combine the whole milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk together. Pour over the top of the cooled cake.

5. Whip whipping cream, the remaining 1 cup of the sugar, and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla together until thick. Spread over the top of cake. Decorate with freshly cut fruits. Keep the cake refrigerated. Eat within 2 days.


Enjoy! Will upload a picture of the cut cake soon.


With Love,


Carol Sequeira Pereira

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Mangalore Chicken Curry with Roce/ Coconut Milk (Kori Ghass/ Kori-Roti) and a Mom's triumphant moment.

I am one helluva proud and hormonal mom who has just  managed to complete a 17 month long wonderful nursing journey with Baby A. A journey at the beginning that seemed impossible and scary, but came so naturally, was all consuming, with precious moments of bonding, periods of frustration and periods where I was on the verge of giving up completely. Today I am content with the fact that I gave it my all, persevered in the most trying periods, and have given Baby A the best possible start in life. 

The positives have been many but the highlight has been a sleeping and peaceful baby on every one of the 12 flights weve taken across 6 countries since he was born. The lowlights have been few and mainly during periods of teething and him being poorly.

I must admit though, the weaning part has haunted me the most. Because Baby A was fed on demand since birth, I was afraid he wouldnt be a happy bunny without his comforter, soother and favourite drink. Spent sleepless nights wondering how to wean him whether to use neem oil, bittergourd juice, bitter aloe, did a lot of research and then finally decided to try the most easiest option.....A BOX OF PLASTERS.....you read that right..if only I knew that  plasters would work like a charm I wouldn't driven myself mad with worry. Anyways I wholly recommend plasters to any mom with thoughts of weaning their baby. Baby A didnt shed a tear and has taken it quite well ...unlike myself, with my hormones all over the place at the moment.

For the last few days I've had the urge to eat a hot and spicy coconut chicken curry, without the hassle of having to fuss over it. I have already posted a tasty and elaborate recipe for traditional Kori Ghassi / Kori Rotti, which is okay for those who have the time. But for those impatient ones like myself at the moment, wanting quick and tasty results.....this one wont let you down. This is a very simple recipe, using the basic cupboard essential spice powders and ingredients.  It is express, hot, flavourful and will probably take you only 7 minutes from start until you drop the chicken in for cooking. As I used baby chickens here the chicken cooked within 10-15 minutes max on a medium flame. Once you taste it I guarantee you will make it again and again. 

A must for this express recipe is a can of coconut milk, ready browned onions available in most Asian stores or even Tesco in the UK. I also had the butcher deskin and chop the chicken up to curry size pieces, so I only spent time putting things together.


Ingredients:
Baby chickens: 2 or 1 large chicken(1.5kg), deskin and cut into curry size pieces

Garlic: 5 large flakes, chopped.
Ready browned onion: 1 cup
Kashmiri red chilly powder: 
3 heaped tsps for a really hot curry, reduce amounts as per your liking (for all other chilli powders please use your discretion)
Coriander powder: 3 heaped tsps 

Methi/ Fenugreek powder: 1/4 tsp 
Cumin powder: 
2 heaped tsps 
Turmeric powder: 
1/4 tsp 

Tamarind extract: 1/2 tsp
Coconut milk: 
1 can 

Water: 1 cup or to desired consistency
Salt to taste
Ready browned onions: 1/2 cup
Coconut/ Sunflower oil: 1 tbsp

Method :

1. In a deep vessel pour a tbsp of oil add sliced garlic and fry till lightly brown. Add the ready browned onions and warm gently through. Take the vessel off the fire and add all the spice powders, fry gently for a few seconds till aromatic. Put the mixture into a small grinder add a 1/4 can of coconut milk, tamarind paste, and blitz for 30-60 seconds till a thick paste is formed. 


2. Return the ground mixture to the same vessel, empty the coconut milk can, add 1/2 a cup of ready browned onions, a cup of water. Bring the mixture to boil, taste for salt, add the chicken. Close the lid and cook on medium heat till done. Adjust desired consistency of gravy by adding water, taste for seasoning, bring to a boil again if adding water, serve with Mangalore style roti's or boiled rice or anything you fancy.




Enjoy!