Wednesday, April 27, 2011

(MAITRI post) Flax seeds and sweet potato pancakes

By now, everyone might have gotten acquainted with the Maitri event! Priya and Reshmi have put together a prodigious and angelic line of friendship sewing together all lovely online foodies!

 So, on Monday I got to rip off the package my partner Priya from 'Priyasnowserving'  sent. The first thing i find is this beautiful color-changing flame less candle which floats in water!!

The next moment, I was enjoying spectacular sunset and savoring my evening tea on the patio sitting right next to lighted flower candle wafting in the water inside the wide open vase (we call it Uruli) Isn't it good to not worry about when it will open, bloom,  fade or even weep over the wilted one.
Come neighbors.. envy me!

I was jumping up and down and almost at the edge of forgetting all about the secret ingredient inside.  Then, after some moments of great exhilaration, I walked out of my sunset dream and I opened the zip lock cover with a lovely note from priya. 

Priya, please convey our love and regards to your family, 3 beautiful kids and your new puppy too.. :D
Thanks a ton for the wonderful gift and cheers to an enduring friendship.
Hubby and myself almost ate up half of the seeds in it. Those were FLAX seeds.  I have seen them before, but that was the first time I tasted it.. its slightly bitter  and also has a nutty flavour when you eat it raw. Well, I recognized it.. hubby just sat and enjoyed them!

I sat down googling 'flax seeds recipe' and was amazed to read  about the nutritional values and the easiness of incorporating it with almost every meal! 

I dint want to alter the ingredient even a pinch, but first time I made pancakes with the seeds themselves, my little star started picking out the brown mini strangers one by one. So, I had to give the seeds a quick swirl in my mixer, just to break them into pieces. I did not grind them to a powder form. 2 swirls and you can see the flax pieces in those pan cakes.. See?

Flax seeds                         1/2 cup
Mashed Sweet potato       1/2 cup
  (I used chef's cupboard Mashed sweet potatoes..the dried form)
All purpose flour              3/4 cup
Baking powder                 1 tsp
Vitamin D milk                1.5 cups - 2cups
Powdered sugar                1 tbsp
Butter                               5 tbsp
Brown sugar                    2 tbsp.. for garnish

• Put the flax seeds in the mixer and give it 2-3 quick grind swirls.. Just to break them down to pieces.. You need not grind them.
• In a bowl, combine flax seeds, mashed sweet potato, all purpose flour, baking powder, powdered sugar
• Add milk and stir to form batter...( idli batter consistency)
• Heat a nonstick fry pan over medium heat.
• Add butter.. quite a generous amount . i used around 2-3 teaspoons, else pancakes might stick on to the pan making it very difficult to turn them.
•  Drop rounded scoop of batter into fry pan, flatten slightly with back of the spoon.
• Cook 1 to 1 ½ minutes or until nicely browned on bottom and around edges.
• Flip over, gently pressing down on pancake .. cook 1 to 1½ minutes or until cooked through.
• Serve warm with brown sugar and dry fruits.

Omy grabbed the full plate and wanted to eat all by himself.. Should I say more?

Starting today, flax will be seated alongside salt and pepper. A tsp of flax seeds doesn't change the taste of the dish as such, but adds a minute hint of taste very much similar to ground walnuts! Nutty flavor... Love it!

Now that I have my post, I am on a rigorous ingredient hunt to pack it to Heather Schmitt-González of Girl Chef ( and Pavani of Cook's Hideout ( .. Girls, watch out!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Banana Bread

I am an ardent fan of Bread! I can survive on bread and butter/jam/curry/sugar/ketchup for days it white/wheat/Rye/Sourdough. Omy is not a bread fanatic like me. He loves french bread and peanut butter sandwich but when it comes to a normal toast or tomato sandwich, the task becomes onerous.
Yesterday while browsing along the Dashboard window for latest updates, Preety's banana bread caught my eye. I quickly ran through the ingredients and found them all in my pantry. Normally, I try to adapt, add, subtract, innovate, till I make it my own but this time I mustered up the perfect portions and followed the exact recipe.

The original recipe is called 'World's BEST Banana Bread'.. and for a fact.. it IS!!
Even Omy couldn't resist!!! Neither did he have time to devise a drama nor the patience to  scoop a spoonful peanut butter.
It was moist, feathery and so light.

Here is the recipe from the source.
Only thing I changed was baking soda, I replaced it with 1tbsp baking powder.

The BEST Banana Bread

Butter a non-stick bread pan, then flour well.  (The flour is really important for the bread to “climb” against while baking.  I had not done that before, and it makes a huge difference!)
Combine and mix well the following dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside:

2 cups AP flour
¾ cup sugar
½ cup toasted coarsely chopped walnuts
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

In another medium bowl, coarsely smash 3 ripe bananas (use a large spoon or spatula and don’t puree – the banana needs to be chunky)

To the bananas, add and combine: (but try not to reduce the banana chunks)

2 large eggs, beaten
6 Tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup buttermilk or plain yogurt

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently FOLD until the flour is thoroughly moistened.  Pour into the prepared bread pan and spread the mixture evenly across the top.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree (F) oven for 45-50 minutes. (Mine was out in 25 minutes.. so keep checking).

The whole loaf was over in minutes. Daddy, mommy and Omy had a good time sweeping and licking the litter with our fingers.

Soon after the bread disappeared, the little master got caught up with his wall art!!!
Look at the master at work.... quite comfortable on that chair.. Eh?
Does mommy sound cool? Yeah, as i know how to make wall art disappear too. :D

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rice cakes.. Easy way to feed babies rice

Hailing from South India, I cannot remember a day without eating rice. Rice is the staple diet and forms the basis of every meal. Starting with Idli/dosa/puttu/idiappam... for breakfast till rice and curry for dinner. 

I fed Omy the grinded version of rice and vegetables till he was an year old! But after that he claimed himself a big boy and adorned with the plastic baby spoon and fork. Once they reach the 'self-eating' stage, the amount of food reaching the tummy is cut by half and mamma's clean up job and time are doubled. I had to scratch my head to find the possible ways to make the food reach its home. As all moms know, the food track your baby's hand chooses from plate to tummy is very much similar to the road with gutter, land slides, mud-water holes and curbs! After the arduous and irksome job, you will see hardly 2 oafish rice grains sitting on the spoon by the time it reaches his mouth.
Omy munches on steak, pastas, beefaroni or any other befitting american dishes at school, but as soon he reaches home I need to feed him rice. The only thought in the back of my head is his tummy is not full without rice. So, atleast once a day, I try to fuel his tummy with rice and curries. 

Some days when i run out of time or when Omy is in no mood to eat rice,  I choose this deal!
I had been successfully shielding rice for some time now and pretty happy with the way it works too.

Rice plate - rice, vegetables, salt or rice and curries mixed up.
1 Egg

Mix up 1 egg and rice plate in a plastic bowl. It should be in a semi solid form now.
Pop it in the microwave for a minute, till the egg part hardens.
Now it all looks like a cake. take it out and cut them into pieces.

They will pick one by one and eat up.

Still not happy?? Sprinkle little water or dip them in egg white, bath them in bread crumbs and fry lightly in oil or ghee.

Try out different shapes and sizes. You can camouflage anything your baby hates to eat.

Remember in a previous post, I was looking for a debris-free form of food, and this is IT! :D

Now, we have more time to play.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Happy Vishu ..New year!!!

Omy was 11 months old when I styled this Greeting card last year! Happy vishu guys.. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011



It looks like I need a bit to warm up after this long period of hibernation!!!!
Well, I din't stop cooking or feeding my baby, I wasn't trying anything new and honestly was lazy to draft some words!!! I wasted 2 full weeks frantically experimenting on my HTML/paintbrush skills to decorate my templte. The designs filled up the good cells in my brain and my desktop and pulled me far away from the content itself.  Anyways,  hubby sparingly nodded to this pale look out of the lots. That tells me its high time I give him a lecture on creativity. (Sigh :P)

So, here I am back in business with one of my bookmarked recipes. I made this for my friends' son Saketh's first birthday! Phew, hard work finally did pay off though it was after 3 long strenuous trials!!!

First trial curdling the milk - failed!
second trial curdling the milk - failed!
Third trial with Ricotta cheese - half success!
Fourth attempt and i DID it!

So, Why do we want to start from scratch and curdle good 1 liter of milk?
The baked ricotta's are just so perfect for rasmalais!! No curdling and no stress!

What you need:
Ricotta cheese - Whole milk 15 oz box
Powdered sugar to taste
half n half - 3 cups
saffron for color and garnish
crushed cashew and pistas
Milk - 2 cups
Milkmaid (as needed) I used about 3/4 cup

Wrap the Ricotta in cheese cloth and let it hang for one full night. The water will drop off completely and next day you have nice and thick ricotta cheese.
Now mix sugar with the cheese and blend it well.
Keep tasting it to get the perfect sweetness. (don't make it too sweet, the milk sauce too is sugary).
Butter the muffin pans very lightly.
Now with a spoon, fill the muffin pan with this mixture.
Bake them for 20 minutes at 475F. make sure it doesn't get browned on the sides.
You can do the 'toothpick method' similar to the 'cake check'!
Turn off the oven , keep them in there and let it cool completely. (cooling completely is mandatory else they will still be delicate and fall apart)
After may be an hour, scoop them out with a spoon.

There you have the perfect balls!!

for the sauce:
Add milk, half and half to a pot and stir in medium heat till it reduces to half.
Add in the milkmaid and sugar as needed.
Stir in cardamom and saffron.
After a while this will turn into a nice light yellow thick and creamy sauce.

Drop the balls in the sauce.
I kept them dipped overnight in the fridge and by next day lunch time, balls had sucked in all the goodness from the sauce, it had become much more light, fluffy and soft.
There is nothing to worry, this will definitely won't let you down!

Serve them chilled with cashews and pista!!!
Omy dint have it as he found his return gift to be sweeter than his moms rasmalai!! :D.
Getting all kids to sit together for one second was tougher than cooking!!!

All the kids at the party! (The Birthday boy Saketh in red T)