Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Eggless Black Forest Cake

Layers of thinly sliced chocolate cake, vanilla flavored cream and homemade cherry filling. Need any more to make a sinful cake? Me thinks not! 


It is July 2017 and it has been exactly THREE years since I first published a recipe on Herbivore Cucina. It has been such a great journey so far, full of love, luck and learning. I remember wanting to start my own blog, reading up all I could about food blogging and finally taking a shot at writing my own. 

From the first time I pressed the 'publish' button on my Cupcake Handvo post to today, I have enjoyed every bit of blogging. Photography, cooking, recipe testing and interacting with fellow bloggers; it has all been perfect to explain the last three years in this space. 


What started off as a passion and very little idea of how it will go, turned into something my husband and me are very proud of. We now have our very own small business and it is wonderful to see how it grows each day. From better and more relevant recipes to photography that is much better over the years, we changed quite a few things and are happy about it all. 

This blog has a lot of critics and supporters. When I mess up on the pictures, my best friend always sends out an alert with corrections needed. She is a chef and food stylist and has been such a support throughout. Plus, my mom! She looks through every recipe and every social share. She reminds me of upcoming festivals, so that I have the recipes in queue. 

Not to forget our friends who try out the recipe from the blog and give us a lot of constructive feedback and new ideas. The bigger the blog becomes, the more I thank my grandma. She taught me almost all the cooking I know and I am sure she would be super proud of my space today. 


This year I am celebrating the third Blogiversary and decided to make a cake that has been a childhood favorite for most people I know! Whenever I was asked which cake or pastry I want for any occasion, my  default answer used to be BLACK FOREST! Thin layers of chocolate cake, whipped cream and cherry filling describes this super delicious cake. 

I was never a fan of fondant cakes or of the ganache ones. Now I do like the chocolate ganache cakes, but whipped cream cakes are still my favorite! The melt in the mouth cream with sponge that is super soft; such a treat the combination is! 


Variations

When the Blogiversary was around the corner, I was contemplating which cake I should make. After a lot of thought I decided to make this one. Given that many of our friends prefer an eggless version, I made it eggless. The sponge came out PERFECT and all I wanted to do was eat the cake as is! 


I made the cherry filling using all the sweet red cherries I had. Adding home-made filling makes the cake EVEN more delicious. If you cannot make it at home for any reason, use the canned cherry filling. I have used it a couple of times when cherries are not in season. It does come out pretty well. 

For the whipping cream part, I used just cream. No butter cream and no stabilizer. The result is cloudy soft cream that was perfect with the chocolate cake. 


The last part of the cake, the toppings is something that can be made as you like. Use fresh cherries on top or Maraschino, make your own cherry soaking fluid or use it from the bottle of cherries.  For the chocolate shavings, I used a peeler to make them off a semi-sweet chocolate block. Use a cookie cutter or mandoline to make them. You can even buy them off the shelf.  

Make any changes you like, but you need to make this cake for your next birthday or celebration. Just one bite of the cake brings back a sea of memories! 


Ingredients

For the Cake
Eggless Chocolate Cake using this recipe 2 six inches rounds

For the Cherry Filling
Sweet Red Cherries 2 cups
Sugar 1 tbsp
Tapioca Flour/ Cornstarch 1 tsp
Water 2 tsp 

For the Cream Layer
Whipping Cream 2 cups
Sugar 1/4 cup
Vanilla Extract 1 tsp

For the Topping
Maraschino Cherries a few
Liquid from the Maraschino Cherries can 2 tbsp
Dark/ Milk chocolate 1 slab


Method

Make two six inches round cakes using this recipe. I made the batter using the recipe and divided in two 6 inch pans. I replaced almond extract with vanilla extract and did not add strawberries. 

Cool the cakes to room temperature. Slice them midway and set aside.

To make the cherry filling, add pitted cherries to a pan. Heat on medium flame till the cherries are soft. Add rice flour or cornstarch to water. Mix well to dissolve. 

Add sugar and flour mixture to the cherries and mix well. Cook till the mixture is thick and the cherries are soft. Do not break them completely. Once done, turn down the heat and set aside. 

To make the whipping cream, whip all the ingredients required for whipped cream in a stand mixer. Continue till it has hard peaks. Set aside.

To assemble the cake, place one slice of chocolate cake on a cake board. Add some cherry filling and whipping cream. Also sprinkle some Maraschino Cherries fluid. 


Place the next 2 layer and repeat the above process. Finish off all the cherry filling. Place the last cake layer and top with whipped cream. Add the cream to the sides as well. 

Using a peeler or mandoline, make chocolate shavings from the chocolate block. Cover the sides of the cake using the chocolate shavings. Also add some on top, leaving a couple of inches to pipe rosettes.   

Transfer about 1/4 cup cream to a piping bag and pipe flowers or stars on the edges of the cake. Place Maraschino Cherries on them. 

Chill till ready to serve. Cut and enjoy! 



Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cauliflower Sauce Mac n Cheese

Blogging Marathon #78 Week 2 Day 3
Theme: Secret Ingredients
Dish: Cauliflower Sauce Mac n Cheese

Can't give up on Mac n Cheese, but do not want the guilty ingredients? Make your own with this incredibly easy Cauliflower sauce! 


Any pasta lovers here?? I am definitely one. And when it comes to Mac n Cheese, I am the first one to reach out for it! I eat a lot of it and then I feel guilty of consuming all the packaged food ingredients. But it is definitely difficult to resist the urge to gobble a bowl full of Mac n Cheese. 

To make sure I can eat my pasta without feeling guilty, I decided to try making it with Cauliflower sauce. Yes, it is the same sauce I posted a couple of days back. I really loved how the Mac n Cheese came out and we definitely did not miss the authentic one! 

At first I was skeptic of tasting cauliflower in my pasta. However, after adding garlic, cheese and bread crumbs, I could definitely not tell it had half a head of cauliflower hidden in it! And I made a big plate and a few ramekins, making sure I have enough for TWO meals! 


For the longest time my definition of Mac n Cheese was to get a package and prepare it according to the instructions. Then I happened to travel to Tucson, AZ some time ago. The University town has a small place that serves just one dish; Mac n Cheese. Wondering how it runs? They have a long menu with tons of variations to Mac n Cheese. Flavors like Caprese, Cheddar, Pizza, Jalapeño, Bacon, Hawaiian, Baked Potato make an appearance on their menu! 

I had a few flavors there and felt like they changed Mac n Cheese for me forever! Once back, I finally started experimenting with this staple and it has been super fun. Cauliflower sauce is my latest obsession! 


Variations

Coming to the recipe, this one is pretty versatile. The only required ingredients are pasta, cauliflower sauce and some cheese. Everything else from peppers and seasoning to breadcrumbs is optional. 

I baked mine to melt the cheese and get a wonderful topping of crumbs and cheese. However, the step can be eliminated and the whole thing can be made on the stove top. It all depends how you like it. 

For this recipe use any short pasta like mini farfalle or elbows. The smaller pasta helps in a way that the sauce clings well to them. As this recipe does not have too much butter or oil and vegetables, it is important that the sauce and pasta cling well. 


What to do with left-over Cauliflower sauce? 

This recipe needs one cup of sauce, but I made about 2 cups. The sauce was yummy by itself and I ate quite a bit even before making anything out of it. 

The sauce is super creamy given the ingredients. I like it a little thick, so that it can be served with chips. I also like to serve it with chopped vegetables and on top of french fries. 

Wait no further and head straight to the recipe. You need to make this TODAY!!


Ingredients

Dried Elbow or Shell Pasta 1 cup
Cauliflower Sauce 1 cup
Mozzarella and Cheddar Cheese 1/4 cup, shredded
Oregano and Chilli Flakes 1 tsp
Garlic 1-2 cloves, minced
Olive Oil 1 tsp
Bread Crumbs 1/4 cup
Salt and Pepper to taste


Method

Heat 4 cups water in a pan. Add the dried pasta and cook till al-dente. Drain and set aside.

In a pan heat olive oil and add garlic. Sauté till the raw flavors vanish. Then add this Cauliflower sauce and mix in oregano, chilli flakes, salt and pepper. 

Add the boiled pasta, mix well and turn down the heat. In ramekins or oven safe tray add the pasta. Sprinkle cheese and bread crumbs. 

Place in a preheated oven at 350 F/ 180 C for 10-12 minutes. Once the cheese starts to melt and the bread crumb is light brown, remove. Serve with a side of Garlic Bread or this delicious Whole wheat Pizza Braid Bread.



Want more Cauliflower recipes? Check these Grilled Cauliflower SteakGobi Musallam: Roasted Whole Cauliflower and Spiced Roasted Cauliflower


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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Za'atar Spiced Greek Mushrooms Wraps

What is better than Za'atar Spiced Mushrooms for weekend grilling?Super quick recipe for a filling and yummy meal!


Summers are made for grilling! I love grilling all kinds of vegetables marinated in different sauces and ingredients. Not to forget the grilled peaches and pineapple that scream S-U-M-M-E-R! 

I have tried quite a few combinations; most work, some fail. A couple of combinations taste really bland once cooked. Then I have to season it before serving. My favorites are these: Super Quick Balsamic Grilled Vegetables, Grilled Cauliflower SteakOven Grilled Tandoori Vegetables


This weekend I wanted to grill something different. I recently bought a large package of Za'atar Spice and decided to use that. And what better than garlic and olive oil to go with it? So I put all this together and made these yummy grilled Mushrooms. 

I served it with some grilled tortilla, olives and salad. These wraps were made perfect with some Blazing Hummus. And yes, and extra dash of Za'atar spice on it completed the taste and flavor. However, tortilla can be substituted with pita breads. They complete the Greek feel to the meal. 

This recipe is inspired from my trip to Dubai some time ago. We had a traditional meal as part of a Dessert Safari and had something similar there. Since then, I have been wanting to make these. Finally, I got myself to make these over the weekend. We had a great meal with everything! 


Variations

If you are one of those who do not like or consume mushrooms, do not worry. The recipe can be used for any vegetable that you like best! Whether it is zucchini, peppers or even paneer; the spice is great with all of these. It will make a perfect grilled dish! 

I used store bought Za'atar Spice. However, you can  make your own using any of the recipes that are easily available online. I would suggest you make a BIG batch and use it for all your Greek recipes. They become 'even better' with that! 


Finally, as I mentioned above, use Pita breads, homemade flatbreads or tortillas to make the wraps. And I used traditional hummus but any of these flavored hummus work really well too: Roasted Butternut Squash HummusGreen Chickpea HummusLime Cilantro Hummus or Roasted Beetroot Hummus. You can even add in Tzatziki or Muhammara.

Not a fan of wraps? Just enjoy the Mushroom Skewers and enjoy them! I would love to make these again with my Oven Grilled Tandoori Vegetables.


Ingredients

Brown Mushrooms 12-14
Garlic 1-2 cloves, minced
Za'atar Spice 1 tbsp
Olive Oil 2 tbsp
Salt 1/2 tsp

Tortilla/ Pita 
Hummus (Store bought or home-made)
Kalamata Olives, Cherry Tomatoes, Onion and Persian Cucumbers 


Method

Wash and dry the mushrooms. In a bowl mix together Olive oil, garlic, za'atar spice and salt. Add in mushrooms, and toss well. 

Start the grill and set to medium heat. Alternatively, preheat the oven to 350 F/ 180 C.

Divide the mushrooms among three skewers. Grill on the grill or in the oven till it cooks (Mine takes 15 minutes in the oven or 8-10 minutes on the grill).


Also, grill the tortillas or pita breads. To assemble, spread hummus on the bread and place a skewer of grilled mushrooms. Sprinkle some more Za'atar Spice and add tomatoes, onion, olives and cucumbers. Roll and serve. 



Sunday, July 16, 2017

Quinoa Idli: A healthy twist to a Classic

Blogging Marathon #78 Week 2 Day 2
Theme: Secret Ingredients
Dish: Quinoa Idli


An Indian quintessential Idli gets a healthy makeover. Quinoa makes these idlis yummy, nutty and packed with flavor. 


Quinoa, the healthy ingredient that has been around for some time is one of my favorites! It is healthy, has a yummy nutty flavor and is super versatile to work with. It happens to be one of my favorite ingredients now! 

In the past I have made Quinoa Kofta in Makhani GravyOne Pot Pineapple Fried Quinoa Quinoa Fried RiceQuinoa Sabudana Khichdi. Today is yet another delicious recipe using quinoa. I have been meaning to try this one for a while! 

Idli, the quintessential South Indian dish that is perfect for breakfast and dinner is one of my favorites. However, often times I feel guilty of all the carbs we end up consuming in a meal. I have tried to replace rice for quinoa in many recipes. I was not sure if it would work in fermented recipes, but referring to many recipes online, I was sure it would. 



The first time I tried to replace almost all the rice with quinoa and ended up with hard idlis. So then I added some amount of rice to make sure it ferments well. The result was perfect idlis with a slight nutty taste. We enjoyed it with Cilantro Coconut ChutneySambar or Homemade Ghee. Such a treat!

The batter I made was used up in making idlis. However, the same can be used to make dosas too. Just add some more water and it will be perfect. Not to forget Paniyarams, that will be awesome with this batter too. I hope to make some paniyarams using the same batter and some vegetables next time. It will definitely be a great snack! 



Coming to the recipe, the main ingredient here is quinoa. Using a little bit of urad dal and rice helps make it a well fermented batter. It takes a little while to soak the ingredients, but it can be be quick if you use a little warm water to soak. It will be done in 3-4 hours. 

While grinding, make sure you do it in parts. Add just a little water, so that the batter does not become very thin. It does thin out a little on fermenting. Adding fenugreek and poha is optional, but helps in making a great batter. 



The batter can be made in a big quantity and can be refrigerated for 2-3 days. Just make sure it is back to room temperature before you start making idlis or dosas. 

If you make this recipe, I would love to see your version. Don't forget to tag me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.   



Ingredients

Quinoa 3/4 cup
Idli Rice or any short rice 1/4 cup
Whole Urad Dal 1/3 cup
Fenugreek Seeds 1 tsp
Poha/ Beaten Rice 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Water as required



Method

In a pan add the quinoa, idli rice, urad dal and fenugreek seeds. Wash a few times and soak in a warm place for 6-7 hours. 

Once soaked, drain the soaked water in a bowl. Working in batches, grind the mixture to a smooth paste with the poha. Ensure you do not add too much water. Use about 1/3 cup water in 1/2 cup mixture. 

Transfer everything to a large pan, big enough to hold the batter post fermentation. Add 1 1/2 tsp salt and mix well. 

Ferment in a warm place for 10-12 hours. Once fermented, mix well and check the salt. Add more if required. 

Heat water in an idli stand and grease the idli plates. Add a spoon of batter in the cavities and place in the stand.

Steam for 10-12 minutes, till the idlis are cooked. Remove and serve hot with Tomato Onion ChutneySukha Coconut ChutneyCilantro Coconut ChutneySambar or Homemade Ghee




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Thursday, July 13, 2017

The BEST Cauliflower Dipping Sauce

Blogging Marathon #78 Week 2 Day 1
Theme: Secret Ingredients
Dish:The BEST Cauliflower Dipping Sauce

The simplest and yummiest dipping sauce you need for EVERYTHING. This Cauliflower sauce takes just 10 minutes to make! 


The last few days have been super hectic here. I have been running errands, meeting old friends, cooking for the blog, shooting and shopping! Amidst all this, I have not got the time to sit and type out the recipes for this week's Marathon. Finally I decided to give everything a break and concentrate on writing. 

So today I am binge watching my favorite TV show, sipping Vanilla Coffee and typing out this incredible sauce! And yes, I am dreaming about making it again for dinner tonight. Along with the Indian style pizza I plan to make.



Wondering what's with Cauliflower and sauce? 

Here is a little story about this vegetable. Cauliflower was lowest in my list of favorites while growing up. After getting married I started eating this, given that my husband likes all vegetables. And before it became a food trend, I was already in love with everything cauliflower. 

Believe it or not, I have FIVE recipes in my drafts, all cauliflower based and waiting to see the light of day on the blog. In the past, I have posted a couple of delicious recipes; Grilled Cauliflower SteakGobi Musallam: Roasted Whole Cauliflower and Spiced Roasted Cauliflower

This weekend I made this Cauliflower Sauce, planning to make Mac and Cheese using it. However, the flavor of garlic and jalepeño was perfect to make it a creamy sauce for dipping. I shot this with tortilla chips and as soon as I finished, I devoured all the chips with some sauce, in the name of recipe testing! 


Variations

The sauce has just a few ingredients and comes together in UNDER TEN MINUTES! And yes, it can be made in bulk and stored. I made it using white cauliflower and the sauce was just like alfredo. However, I cannot wait to make a purple sauce using the colored cauliflowers! 

Plus, I added milk and cheese to this one. If you are looking for a Vegan version, add soy, almond or coconut milk and skip the cheese. The sauce does not change a lot with these changes. 

Lastly, adjust the amount of jalapeño according to the spice level you like. I made a medium spicy version and it turned out perfect! Make the required changes to the sauce. 

Uses of the sauce

The sauce is super creamy given the ingredients. I like it a little thick, so that it coats the chips. I also like to serve it with chopped vegetables and on top of french fries. 

Plus, when you need a 'lighter' version of alfredo sauce for your pastas, try this one! It is amazing and makes the pasta creamy and delicious! So look no further, and head straight to the recipe. 



Ingredients


Cauliflower florets 1 cup

Garlic 2-3 cloves
Onion 1/2 medium
Jalapeño 1/2 
Milk 1/2 cup
Olive Oil 1 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Pepper Powder 1/2 tsp
Sharp Cheddar Cheese 2 tbsp


Method


In a pan add 3-4 cups water. Bring to a boil and add the cauliflower florets. Cook till a fork pierces well. 

Turn down the heat and remove the florets. Purée with milk to a smooth paste. 

Mince the garlic, jalapeño and onions. Heat the olive oil and add garlic. Sautè till the raw flavor vanishes and add jalapeño and onions. Saute till the onions cook. 

Then add the cauliflower milk mixture, salt and pepper. Mix well and add the cheese. 

Mix everything well till the cheese melts and the sauce comes together. Add more milk or water if the sauce is too thick. 

Turn down the flame and remove in a jar. Serve with chips, vegetable sticks or use it as a sauce for pasta or mac and cheese! 



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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Whole Wheat Pizza Braid for #BreadBakers

How about a braided pizza bread? This one has everything from the regular pizza, made into a loaf. Plus, it is made from whole wheat flour! 



PIZZA! One word is enough to make everyone think of a large round dough base, loads of toppings and unlimited amount of cheese. The aroma while baking it at home is amazing, it tastes good no matter where you order it from and is perfect to describe Friday evening! 

Back in India, my knowledge of pizza was limited to the ones that Pizza Hut and Domino's fed us back then. Now that I am in US, I see the unlimited types of pizzas available and cannot wait to try all of them soon. We are pizza fanatics, and can do crazy things for pizza. Once my husband was on a work trip to Chicago and on his way back he got a large Giovanni's Pizza home. It travelled from coast to coast and reached me in perfect condition! 



So apart from the round pizzas, we also enjoy making breads inspired from pizzas. Pizza Buns is one of the most popular recipe from the blog. Homemade Stromboli and Braided Pizza Bread was on my mind since a long time. 

When our hostess for the month Gayathri announced the theme as braided breads, I HAD to make this one. Do check out her blog for some amazing recipes, I am particularly fond of her eggless bakes! 

I thought about the bread, I planned it, I decided to make it but it never materialized! Finally, I made this yesterday and is one of the quickest turnaround recipes on the blog. In under 5 hours I made it, shot it, ate it and posted it on the blog! I was almost giving up on this one, but managed to make a good one finally! 



This bread is rather simple; a whole wheat bread dough, pizza sauce or marinara, vegetables of your choice and the art of braiding. That basically sums up the recipe in one sentence. 

The bread turned out perfect! It was delicious, easy to make and came out really well. Plus, made from whole wheat flour, it is perfect to make it 'healthier' given that there is cheese in it anyway! Plus, it is really portable; make this for your picnic, movie nights or weeknight dinner. 



Variations

I made mine using white whole wheat flour. It can also be made with regular wheat flour, multigrain flour or all purpose flour. They will all work perfectly well in the recipe. 

For this bake I used olive oil. However, unsalted butter or even salted butter works pretty well. If using salted butter, just watch out for the extra salt you might end up adding.



The marinara sauce can be made at home or store bought. I generally make a big batch and freeze it in muffin pans. Then I transfer it to ziplocs and have a supply of sauce for a while. 

Lastly, the filling can be customized based on how you like it. Add in vegetables of your choice, play around with the kinds of cheese or add meat in it if you like. Just make sure it is chopped fine enough to allow you fold it well. 



Ingredients

For the Bread

White Whole Wheat Flour 3 cups
Essential Wheat Gluten 3 tbsp
Olive Oil 3 tbsp
Sugar 1 tsp
Dry Active yeast 1 sachet (2 1/4 tsp)
Salt 2 tsp



For the filling

Marinara Sauce 1/2 cup (home-made or store bought)
Onion 1/4 cup, finely diced
Peppers 1/4 cup, finely diced
Jalapeño 1 tsp, diced
Shredded Cheese 1/4 cup (I used Mozzarella and Mild Cheddar)
Oregano 1 tsp
Salt and Pepper to taste



Method

For the Bread 

In a bowl heat 1 cup water. When just warm, add the honey, 1 tsp salt and the yeast. Let the yeast bloom for 10 minutes. 

In a large bowl, add the whole wheat flour, essential wheat gluten, remaining salt and olive oil. Mix everything together and add the yeast mixture. Knead for 8-10 minutes till the dough comes together and is soft.

Coat the dough with some oil and place it in a bowl. Cover it and rest in a warm area for an hour till it doubles in size. Line a bread pan with parchment paper or with non stick spray. Set aside. 



For the Filling

In a pan heat the marinara sauce. Thicken it enough so that it does not wet the dough. Turn down the heat and add in the remaining ingredients. Set aside to cool. 



To make the Braid

After the dough doubles, punch it down and knead for a minute or two. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle of 1/4 inch thickness. 

Spread the filling evenly on the rectangle, leaving an inch on all sides. Top with shredded cheese. Start rolling the dough along the long side in a tight loaf. 


Using a sharp knife cut the roll lengthwise. Stick the top edges together. Braid the dough slowly ensuring that the filling doesn't spill out. 

Carefully transfer the loaf to the prepared tin and rest covered for an hour.

Preheat oven to 400 F/ 250 C. Place the bread and bake for 20-22 minutes, till it is no longer wobbly and the top is brown and crisp. 

Remove and cool completely on a cooling rack. Slice the bread and enjoy with a side of butter or warm marinara sauce!




Want more pizza? Try these Pizza Buns! They are amazing with all the stuffing in there! I promise :)






#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

BreadBakers


Check out the Braided Breads that our fellow #BreadBakers have baked this month: