September 27, 2012

Orange pound cake with chocolate chips

Orange pound cake with chocolate chips
My Dad was a Boy Scout, and is very proud of his Boy Scout experiences. He never misses an opportunity to use the 'reef knot' or the 'clove hitch' in his day-to-day life. Once he made 'potato curry' in one of his camping trips, and apparently won the best cook title - we have heard this story a zillion times. Only recently did I find out that my Baa had measured all the spices and salt for him, and all he did was boil the potatoes and dump the spices!! So much for being the 'best cook' in the camp. 
His box of scout woggles, scarves and badges is definitely one of his prized possessions :) He spent one full afternoon explaining to his 6 and 8yr old daughters why the Scouts and Guides logo was the Fluer de Lis. I dont remember the story but was surely thrilled to learn a French word! :) It was a big deal for an 8yr old! :) 

Last week, I made an Orange Pound cake with chocolate chips for his birthday in my Fluer De Lis bundt pan. :) I was looking for the perfect recipe for my newest bundt pan, and my most reliable recipe source a.k.a Ajanta came to my rescue. It is a Barefoot Contessa recipe that turned out just perfect! I think the zest and the freshly squeezed orange juice add to the depth of flavour. Here it goes -

Serves: 10-12 persons
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 45 minutes -1 hour

For the cake
1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 organic extra-large eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup grated orange zest (I zested about 4 large oranges)
2 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (From the oranges already zested- I find it easier to zest an orange before the juice is squeezed out)
3/4 cup buttermilk at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups good semisweet chocolate chunks ( I used chocolate chips, instead)
Orange syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan very well.
  2. In a large bowl, whip the butter and sugar with an electric mixer for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Then fold in the orange zest.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients - 3 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a measuring cup, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. 
  4. In a small bowl, toss the chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons flour and fold them to the batter. Tossing the chocolate chips in flour prevents them from sinking to the bottom.
  5. Pour into the pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, make the orange syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pan, set it on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely. Tip: It is important to remove the cake from the pan at the specified time. Letting it cool in the pan may result in a tasty disaster :(
  7. For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cake. I didn't make the ganache, but it would surely make the cake more decadent! :)

Bon Apetit!
Hetal from Houston

September 14, 2012

Jhat-pat Lapsi

Jhat-pat Lapsi
Lapsi is probably my favorite traditionally Gujarati dish. It is almost like a 'halva' made of broken wheat. Typically made on auspicious days, such as New Year or during festivals, Lapsi is an integral part of the 'Nived' spread. My mom always makes Lapsi for our New Year lunch. We eat Lapsi with a simple potato curry. I know, I know, it sounds weird - but it is a delicious combination. My sister and I eat Lapsi by the bowl! Mom often had to whip up a big bowl for us when we returned from school. This is her 'jhat-pat' Lapsi recipe. Her it goes.

Serves: 2-3 persons
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8-10 minutes

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup suji/ semolina
3-4 tbsp melted ghee
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup gur/ jaggery
1/4 cup sugar


  • In a medium bowl, mix the whole wheat flour, semolina and 3 tbsp ghee well, till it resembles a 'crumble'. Set it aside.
Whole wheat- Semolina 'crumble'
  • In a thick bottomed pan or a non-stick pan, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil. Add sugar and jaggery. Continue to simmer on low heat till the jaggery is completely dissolved.
Simmering jaggery-sugar syrup
  • Sprinkle the wheat flour-semolina crumble gently into the simmering jaggery-sugar syrup. Cover and let it simmer for about 8-10 minutes on low heat. Do not stir. It is done when a wooden spoon or spatula comes out clean. The consistency should be like a halva or upma.
Crumble sprinkled into jaggery syrup
  • Add 1 tbsp melted ghee and serve hot - as a main course Gujarati meal with curried potatoes or as a simple dessert.
Delicious Lapsi
Bon Apetit!
Hetal from Houston

September 11, 2012

Hearty tomato & root vegetable soup

Lake Agnes Tea House
We just came back from a wonderful vacation amidst blue lakes and snow capped Rockies. Almost everyone we spoke with was either an avid hiker, biker or a cross-country backpacker. After our hike up to Lake Agnes, we ate at the famous Lake Agnes Tea House. It is little log cabin in the hanging valley on the shore of the turquoise Lake Agnes. They serve over a hundred types of tea, soup, sandwiches, freshly baked bread etc. Their tomato vegetable soup with barley was fabulous. Served with home-made multigrain bread, I loved it so much that I was willing to hike up the next day just to eat that soup! :D

Today, I tried to recreate that soup with my own twist. I did not have barley at hand, so I left it out. Here it goes.

Serves: 2-3 persons
Preparation time: 20-25 minutes

2-3 small carrots
2 small beetroots
2 tomatoes
1 tsp butter
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 cloves
1-2 cinnamon pieces (about 1")
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp brown sugar (optional)

  1. In a medium sauce-pan, bring 1 1/2- 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the peeled and diced carrots and beetroots and cover. Continue to cook on low heat till the beetroots are fork tender. Alternatively, you could roast the vegetables at 400F for 20-30 minutes for a smokier taste. Add the two tomatoes into the sauce pan and cook for another five minutes or so, till the skin peels off. Remove from heat. You may choose to peel the tomato skin off, once the tomatoes cool a bit.
  2. Once slightly cooled, blend the root vegetables and tomatoes in a blender. Add salt and pepper. 
  3. In the same saucepan, heat 1 tsp butter. Add cumin seeds, clove and cinnamon. Once the cumin seeds sizzle, pour the root vegetable and tomato mixture back in. Add 1-2 cups of water, and bring it to a boil. Add brown sugar if desired.
  4. Hearty tomato-root vegetable soup
  5. Serve hot with bread of your choice. I ate it with fresh French Baguette :) 
Bon Apetit!
Hetal from Houston