Cook's Hideout: April 2015

April 30, 2015

Perfect Chocolate Cake

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 26
Bake of the Day: Perfect Chocolate Cake
It's the final day of the month long mega marathon and I wanted to end it on a sweet note. I made this perfect chocolate cake for my husband's birthday, but the pictures I took looked awful, so I made it again couple of days back.
Perfect Chocolate Cake
When I started planning for the marathon, I listed about 40~45 recipes that I wanted to try. I wanted to bake dishes that I've never made before like meringues, panettone, flat breads and so on. But when actual reality set in, the list got shorter and the dishes got simpler. I am happy with the baked dishes I posted in the marathon and hopefully I'll get to the dishes I had on my list along with the long list of bookmarks from my fellow marathoners.

April 29, 2015

Bagel Chips with Cinnamon Sugar

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 25
Bake of the Day: Bagel Chips
After a easy, breezy palmier recipe, here's another baked dish that is very very quick and easy to make. These Bagel chips are made using store bought bagels and they are crispy, crunchy and delicious.
I first saw these crunchy bagels on Siri's blog and mentally noted it down to try. My husband buys bagels from Costco & BJ's occasionally and if you know anything about these warehouse stores, you know that they come in wholesale quantities. So we get about 9~12 bagels in one shot. I don't usually eat bagels and it's just my husband and my son who have to finish the whole bag. After about 2~3 days, they get tired of them and we have these sad looking bagels in the bread box.
Bagel Chips with Cinnamon Sugar

April 28, 2015

Homemade Palmiers

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 24
Bake of the Day: Palmiers
We are slowing inching towards to the end of this marathon. Can't believe that we have been baking non-stop for the whole month of April -- it almost makes me sad that we won't be having this much fun baking, posting and enjoying each other's posts.
Today's bake, Palmiers, are so easy to make if you have store bought puff pastry sheets. I have seen quite a few recipes online to make quick puff pastry at home -- like this one by Gayathri. But I can't dare to make it at home, it seems to be a lot of work AND lot of butter. I guess I'm OK with the store bought puff pastry sheets that have same quantity of butter and even more other unnecessary ingredients.
Homemade Palmiers
Palmier (palm tree in French) or elephant ear is a heart shaped French pastry made in heart shape or palm shape. They are like the 'little hearts' we get in India. Costco sells a big box of them and I'm always tempted to pick them up, but knowing that they are very simple to make, I always end up not buying.

April 27, 2015

Neapolitan Tarts (Chocolate crust with No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake filling)

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 23
Bake of the Day: Neapolitan Tarts (Chocolate crust with No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake) 
I can't believe we are almost at the end of April and our mega baking marathon is going to be done in 4 days. Time sure flies when we are having this much fun. If you want to know what I baked so far for the marathon, then check here.
For the final week I have some miscellaneous bakes, basically dishes that didn't really fall in any of my chosen themes for the previous weeks (breads, breakfast & cakes). First up is this Neapolitan tart -- with a chocolate crust and a no-bake strawberry cheesecake filling. 
Neapolitan Tarts (Chocolate crust with No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake filling)
Chocolate, Vanilla & Strawberry are the classic Neapolitan flavor combination (like in the ice cream). In this recipe, they are showcased in chocolate tarts filled with vanilla flavored strawberries. Recipe is from Vegetarian Times magazine.

April 26, 2015

Sablés (Shortbread Cookies)

I have not made even a single cookie recipe for the ongoing blogging marathon, except if you consider the giant cookie cake as a cookie. There were no cookies even on the initial list. Cookies didn't even cross my mind and now when I'm thinking of it, I don't really know the reason why.
Sablés (Shortbread Cookies)

I think I associate cookies with Christmas and may be that's why I don't think of them during the rest of the year. But I know one thing for sure that my kids would some homemade cookies once in a while and I should be baking them more often.

April 25, 2015

Lemon Almond Ricotta Bundt Cake

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 22
Bake of the Day: Cakes -- Lemon Almond Ricotta Bundt Cake
I am not a health freak but I do look at what a eat. My motto is everything in moderation is OK. There was a phase in my life, few years back, when I tried making 'healthy' foods that really tasted 'healthy' (you know what I mean, right??). I'm glad that phase has passed and now I try incorporate healthy ingredients into my dishes but try to make them taste as normal as possible.
Lemon Almond Ricotta Bundt Cake
Coming to today's dish, I had a container of ricotta in the fridge waiting to be used up and a quick search landed me on this Lemon almond Bundt cake recipe. I loved the pics and decided to bake it.

April 24, 2015

Fresh Strawberry Cake

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 21
Bake of the Day: Celebration Cakes --  Fresh Strawberry Cake
I first saw this strawberry cake on Siri's blog. This cake recipe was making rounds in Facebook couple of months ago. A Strawberry Winter Cake movement was also started because it was strawberry season in India. All the cakes shared looked so amazing that I had to jump on the bandwagon and make this cake right away. This cake celebrates Summer in a delicious way!!
Fresh Strawberry Cake
Even though it wasn't really strawberry season then (I still remember the super cold winter -- brrrrr), I found some decent strawberries and made this cake. It is a very pretty cake with whole strawberries beautifully arranged on top. I should have put the strawberries a little closer on top -- they seemed to have drifted apart after baking.

April 23, 2015

Eggless Vanilla Cake with Condensed Milk

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 20
Bake of the Day: Celebration Cakes -- Eggless Vanilla Cake with Condensed Milk
As I was organizing the recipes to post for this week, I was surprised to see that I was missing my daughter's birthday cake. Then I realized that I made an extremely small (6") cake and it was all gone by the end of the night. I only had one good picture of the cake. So I made it again recently.
Eggless Vanilla Cake with Condensed Milk
It is a very basic eggless vanilla cake with condensed milk. Using cake flour makes the cake soft and gives it a great texture. It is not a very moist cake, but is not totally dry either.
Eggless Vanilla Cake with Condensed Milk

April 22, 2015

Eggless Berry Cake (with Sour Cream) -- Peppa Pig Fondant Cake

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 19
Bake of the Day: Celebration Cakes -- Eggless Berry Cake (with Sour Cream)
After my son's birthday cakes (Cookie cake & Dulche de Leche cake), I made this eggless berry cake for my niece. I was volunteering to bake cakes left and right, so I can bake new cakes for the marathon. I think some of my friends & family were even creeped out on how obsessed I was to bring a cake to the party -- poor people ;-)
Eggless Berry Cake (with Sour Cream) -- Peppa Pig Fondant Cake
I asked my niece what flavored cake she wants -- she wasn't really worried about the flavor, she just wanted a princess cake that was pink. So I accepted the challenge and even found a recipe and instructions on making a nice Barbie princess cake. Initially it seemed easy enough to make but as I kept thinking about it seemed like a daunting task, so I changed my mind and decided on making this Peppa Pig cake instead because she is a big fan of Peppa. Good that I didn't promise her a princess cake in the first place. She was definitely excited to see Peppa on the cake.

April 21, 2015

Eggless Dulche de Leche Cake

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 18
Bake of the Day: Celebration Cakes -- Eggless Dulche de Leche Cake
After yesterday's giant chocolate chip cookie, I made this Dulche de leche cake for my son's birthday that weekend. My husband travels on business to Argentina frequently and gets this amazing local dulche de leche from there which I use in all kinds of different desserts, like this creme caramel and this yummy cake. You can make your own dulche de leche at home or you can buy the canned variety or you can use just regular condensed milk (it will taste different but it will still be good).
Eggless Dulche de Leche Cake
This is an eggless cake and is sweetened with just the dulche de leche. I always tell myself not to experiment a new recipe for a party. But I always do that -- I'm too bad that planning ahead of time. 

April 20, 2015

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 17
Bake of the Day: Celebration Cakes -- Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
I can't believe it is the third week of our month long mega baking marathon, after making breads, breakfast dishes, the next two weeks (or week and a half) are going to be focused on desserts -- cakes, cookies and so on.
I have been planning for this marathon for almost 6 months now. So I've been saving all the special baked recipes for this week. First up, is the cookie cake I made for my son's birthday. It is a giant chocolate chip cookie that is decorated like a birthday cake.
Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
My son's birthday was on a weekday last year and I had planned to make a birthday cake for the party over the weekend. So on his actual birthday, I decided to keep it simple and made this cookie cake instead of an actual cake. That decoration was supposed to be a dinosaur because my son is a big dinosaur fan :-)

April 19, 2015

Broccoli Meatballs (Vegetarian & Gluten free Recipe)

These meatballs have nothing to do meat, they are completely vegetarian (skip the eggs and cheese -- you have totally vegan meatballs). They are made with broccoli and ground raw almonds with no bread crumbs for binding -- so these are gluten free too.
Recipe is from Vegetarian Times magazine and the use of broccoli in meatballs was interesting to me, so I tried the recipe to see how these would taste. Ground almonds and eggs (or egg replacer) bind the meatballs together.
Broccoli Meatballs
Almonds give a nutty taste to the meatballs while the broccoli makes them taste earthy and delicious. I was initially worried if the meatballs will hold together and if they would cook all the way through in the oven. I didn't have to worry much, the mixture came together beautifully even with the egg replacer substitution and baked perfectly in the oven.

April 18, 2015

Baked Chocolate Oatmeal with Bananas

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 16
Bake of the Day: Breakfast -- Baked Oatmeal
Baked oatmeal for breakfast is a great way to start any day -- it's easy to put together, quite healthy and can be made for 1 or for a crowd in almost the same time.
Baked Chocolate Oatmeal with Bananas
I tasted baked oatmeal with raspberries at a cute little restaurant in Harrisburg last year and it has been on my mind ever since. I actually wanted to try the same recipe with raspberries but I couldn't find any good berries in the store. So ended up making this chocolate version because the kids would prefer this version over the berries.

April 17, 2015

Apricot Creamcheese Scones

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 15
Bake of the Day: Breakfast -- Apricot Cream cheese Scones
I love making scones because they come together very easily and are relatively quick to bake. Also they need all cold ingredients -- so there's no need to wait for the ingredients to come to room temperature (or worry about the melted butter that you hurriedly wanted to bring to room temperature in the microwave).
Apricot Creamcheese Scones
Scones from some of the bakeries are very heavy, dense and flavorless. But I am very tried so far happy with the scone recipes I've tried so far. They are not very dense and quite flavorful.
I've posted scones made with cream before and today's are made with cream cheese. Full fat or low fat cream cheese can be used and like other scone recipes, these are easy to put together and quick to bake.

April 16, 2015

Baked Eggs Fra Diavolo (Baked Eggs in Spicy Tomato Sauce)

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 14
Bake of the Day: Breakfast -- Baked Eggs Fradiavolo
As I was looking for recipes of baked dishes, I wanted at least a few to be without flour, sugar and the other usual bread ingredients. I got this recipe for baked eggs in a newsletter from Chef Central. I immediately added it to my mega marathon list.
Baked Eggs Fra Diavolo
We are a egg loving family -- both my kids absolutely love eggs in any shape or form. I stopped baking with eggs though because I find eggless bakes are so much easier and most of my extended family prefers eggless bakes. So after all the flour based bakes without eggs, here's a really simple recipe for baked eggs.

April 15, 2015

Tropical Smoothie with Hemp Seeds

Weather is slowly taking a beautiful turn in our neck of woods. I was looking through my last year photos and noticed that the trees were already in full bloom by this time, now we only have tiny buds on trees. But at least it is getting warm and I have no complaints.
I have a summery smoothie today with pineapple, mango and banana. I added some coconut milk to the smoothie and it reminded me of pina colada a little bit.
Tropical Smoothie with Hemp Seeds
But the secret ingredient in the smoothie is "Hemp Seeds'. I read about these seeds in Vegetarian times magazine a while back and when I saw them in Trader Joes, I couldn't stop myself from buying them. I started adding them to my morning cereal, they don't have any distinct taste -- so blend well in just about anything.

Caramelized Onion Biscuits with Indian flavors

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 13
Bake of the Day: Caramelized Onion Biscuits
After all the sweet bakes, here's a savory bake for a change. These caramelized onion biscuits recipe is from King Arthur flour catalog. I'm totally obsessed with King Arthur recipes, they have never failed me till now.
Caramelized Onion Biscuits with Indian flavors
This biscuit recipe uses unfed sourdough starter and is a good use for the reject starter. The original KAF recipe is flavored with chives and I followed the recipe to the 'T' the first time I made it. Then I thought these biscuits would taste just like Indian pakoda if flavored with Indian flavors.

April 14, 2015

Spicy Korean Tofu with Pear Slaw for #Food of the World

For this month's #Food of the World event, we are going to South Korea. The town we live in has a large Korean population in fact one of our next door neighbors are Korean. We have a very big Korean grocery store in town (actually that is the only store we have in town) and they have pretty much everything you need to make a Korean dish at home.
Spicy Korean Tofu with Pear Slaw
For today, I actually wanted to make another dish and bought the ingredients too. It was a cold noodle dish and the noodles I bought completely clumped up after boiling. Not sure what went wrong and then I had to change plans and make this tofu.

Colomba Pasquale for #BreadBakers (Easter Dove Bread--Eggless Recipe)

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 12
Bake of the Day: Colomba Pasquale (Easter Dove Bread)
I'm taking a short break from breakfast bakes today and instead have a delicious Easter bread. I recently joined the Bread Bakers group. #BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. More information about the group and how to join in the baking fun is at the end of the post.
Colomba Pasquale (Easter Dove Bread)
This month's theme is Easter, Passover and Springtime breads from around the world. I made these cute little spring breads last week and wanted to try a more traditional Easter bread for the Bread Bakers group. Found this Colomba Pasquale or Easter Dove bread recipe on King Arthur website. The dove shaped bread looked lovely, so I decided to give it a try.

April 13, 2015

California Granola

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 11
Bake of the Day: Breakfast Bakes -- California Granola
We are starting the 3rd week of this month's mega baking marathon. After all the breads and baked with yeast and sourdough, this week will be all about baked goodies served for breakfast.
First off, I have a crunchy granola recipe that I personally loved munching on. Store bought granola is such a rip off, they are way too expensive and are loaded with sugar and other unnecessary ingredients. It is very easy to make at home and the quantity of sugar and oil can be adjusted as per taste.
California Granola
This recipe is from Bobby Flay's 'Brunch with Bobby' cooking show. I love watching that show because he makes brunch recipes from all over the world and it is exciting to see the number of variations in pancakes, crepes, omelettes he comes up with on the show. This granola recipe is from his California brunch episode. It is quite simple to make with most of the ingredients from the pantry.

April 12, 2015

Spinach Fatayer

Continuing with the baking theme, I have a delicious savory stuffed pastry from the Middle East. This one is again from 'Veggiestan: A Vegetable Lover's Tour of the Middle East' cookbook by Sally Butcher. I had initially planned on posting this dish for the baking marathon, but had to move to the weekend because of other dishes.
Spinach Fatayer
These savory pastries are Turkish version of our samosas though there are quite a few differences. First off the pastry is yeast based unlike samosas (which is similar to pie crust) and these are baked and not fried like the samosas. Filling has spinach and onions along with walnuts and is flavored with tangy sumac, lemon juice and pomegranate puree.

April 11, 2015

Sourdough Cinnamon Raisin Bread

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 10
Bake of the Day: Breads -- Sourdough Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Today I have a cinnamon raisin bread made with sourdough starter. I was planning to bake a sourdough bread and fed the starter the day before I wanted to make it. Then in the morning, I checked my blog to see that I already posted that recipe. So had to change the plan and a new search in King Arthur flour site landed me on this cinnamon raisin bread with sourdough starter.
Sourdough Cinnamon Raisin Bread
It's been a long time I baked a cinnamon raisin bread and so started working on it right away. The difference between the one I usually bake and this is: here the cinnamon sugar and raisins are layered in after the first rise whereas in the other recipe, they are simply kneaded in.

April 10, 2015

Indian Flavored Risotto (Vegan Recipe)

Finally spring seems to have found its way into our neck of woods. I can see the tiny buds on trees and hopefully they'll bloom within a week now. Somehow spring makes me very happy -- everything is waking from a long slumber and with the harsh winter that we had even people seem to be coming out of hibernation -- I mean the heavy jackets, boots and so on.
Today, I'm excited to share with you a dish that is colorful and springy (??) and is inspired from a dish off a specialty menu at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas.
I've never been to Vegas and it is one of the destinations on my bucket list. My ex-manager had a condo in Vegas and she used to take a yearly vacation there. I always thought Vegas was all about the casinos until she told me there are many things to do with kids too like hiking, sight seeing etc.
Indian Flavored Risotto (Vegan Recipe)
Vegas is a foodie heaven with plethora of restaurants to dine at and a lot of them fine dining with exquisite menu options. So today I'm trying to put my own spin on one of the dish based on Wynn's specialty menus created by famous vegan chef Tai Ronnen.

Turkish Pizza Bread (Pide)

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 9
Bake of the Day: Turkish Pizza - Pide
After all the breads and loaves posts, today I have a recipe for a slightly different pizza. It's pizza from Turkey called Pide. It is a soft and chewy bread that is made with yogurt and traditionally shaped with a slight hollow that can accommodate any number of fillings.
Turkish Pizza Bread (Pide)
Pide is essentially a boat shaped bread that is used as a pizza base and can be filled with grilled veggies, cheese, eggs. Even sweet fillings like fruit and custard can be used as fillings and served as cake.

April 09, 2015

No Knead Cheese Burger Buns

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 8
Bake of the Day: Breads -- No Knead Cheese Burger Buns
Today I have the recipe for some delicious burger buns that requires minimal hands-on time thanks to the no-knead method of preparing them. They are soft but sturdy enough to hold a veggie burger and all of its accouterments.
No Knead Cheese Burger Buns
The ingredients are beaten in a mixing bowl for just 2 minutes and after that it is very very easy to make these soft, cheese-scented buns that are perfect for any kind of burger.

April 08, 2015

Long Sandwich Rolls

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 7
Bake of the Day: Bread -- Long Sandwich Rolls
The taste of freshly baked bread is just amazing. It is time consuming and needs some patience, but it is all well worth it. I baked these long sandwich rolls for last month's marathon and used them to make Hoagie sandwiches.
Long Sandwich Rolls
Initially I was planning on just buying store bought bread but then wanted to utilize the opportunity to bake something new and post it for the mega baking marathon. After looking through recipes for long sandwich rolls on the internet, I realized most of the recipes are similar to homemade bun recipes but shaped differently.

April 07, 2015

Nutella Swirl Bread

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 6
Bake of the Day: Breads -- Hazelnut Spread Swirl Bread
This bread is very simple to make, but I messed it up 2 times before I got it almost right, the third time. This is probably the only bread that I made 3 times without giving up. I knew exactly what mistakes I made and wanted to make it right at the end.
Nutella Swirl Bread
OK, so here's the story behind this bread: This Nutella swirl bread recipe is from Costco connection cookbook and the photo looked absolutely amazing and I wanted to make it for my chocolate loving son. The recipe is quite simple, dough with flour-yeast-sugar, 1 rise, then roll and spread Nutella, re-roll, cut and bake.

April 06, 2015

Swedish Limpa (Rye Bread)

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 5
Bake of the Day: Swedish Limpa (Rye Bread)
I love trying out new ingredients and when I go to a grocery store, I feel like a kid in a toy store. I go with 2~3 things in mind to buy and end up with buying way more than that. So on one of my trips to Whole Foods, I picked up Whole grain Rye flour because I thought I saw seeing a recipe with it. But as luck might have it, I was actually imagining that recipe and couldn't find anything.
Swedish Limpa (Rye Bread)
Hence the flour sat in the pantry for quite sometime, until I saw this Swedish Limpa or Rye Bread recipe in King Arthur catalog. The use of caraway & fennel seeds gives this bread the unmistakable rye flavor. I reduced the quantity of both the spices because I wasn't sure if we'll like the strong flavor. There's also some orange oil added to the dough making it very fragrant. The house smelled amazing when this bread was baking.

April 05, 2015

Sweet Spring Bread

Happy Easter Sunday Everyone!!
Since I am doing the month long baking marathon, I thought why not extend the baking theme to the weekends too and post some of the bakes that I made from my cookbooks. This way I can link them to Valli's 'Cooking from Cookbook Challenge' and clear some of my baking recipes too.
Sweet Spring Bread
I was planning to bake this Sweet Spring Cake on the first day of Spring, i.e., March 20, but we had a snow storm that day and it didn't really feel like Spring, so I pushed it until this past week when finally we got a little glimpse of Spring. It went back to being chilly and cold again, but at least there's hope that it will get better soon.

April 04, 2015

Basic Sourdough Sandwich Loaf

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 4
Bake of the Day: Breads -- Basic Sourdough Sandwich Loaf
I have had sourdough starter for more than 4 years now, but as a family we are not much into crusty breads. So I don't call myself a sourdough baker, I have a sourdough starter that I use along with quite a bit of yeast to make soft, everyday not-so crusty breads. Real sourdough bakers utilize the starter itself to leaven the breads instead of relying on yeast.
Basic Sourdough Sandwich Loaf
As I was looking for sourdough sandwich bread, I found this beginner bread recipe on the Kitchn blog and one look at the pictures I knew this was exactly what I need to bake with my starter. I followed the recipe to the 'T' and the bread turned out just perfect. Here's my just fed, bubbly sourdough starter. Here's the post with the recipe for the Sourdough Starter.

April 03, 2015

Multigrain Loaf Bread

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 3
Bake of the Day: Breads -- Multigrain Loaf Bread
After 2 easy bread recipes (sandwich bread and focaccia), here's a yeast bread with multi-grains and follows the typical 2 rise bread making process. This bread has quite a number of whole grain flours in it and is packed with 11 grams of whole grains per serving.
Multigrain Loaf Bread
I have a very well stocked pantry, so I had all the ingredients on hand. If you don't have any of the flours, then feel free to increase the quantity of another flour to make this bread.

April 02, 2015

Easy No-Fuss Focaccia

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 2
Bake of the Day: Breads -- No Fuss Focaccia
After yesterday's Easy Sandwich bread, today is an equally easy and no-fuss focaccia recipe. I already posted a focaccia recipe, but that one has an overnight biga and involves quite a bit of folding and mixing. This quick focaccia takes less than 2 hours from start to finish and has almost similar soft texture and aroma of garlic and herbs.
Easy No-Fuss Foccacia
So now, I don't have to wait for hours to make chewy, delicious focaccia. Start the process in the evening and you will have fresh bread right out of the oven for dinner.

April 01, 2015

Easy Sandwich Bread

BM# 51 -- Baking Marathon: Day 1
Bake of the Day: Breads -- Easy Sandwich Bread
Our Blogging marathon team is starting a month long Baking marathon today. Good thing is we knew about the marathon almost 6 months ago, so I started baking or at least planning what to make all this time. Eating all this flour and sugar all by myself or just with my family would have been quite a challenge, so I have been utilizing all the opportunities to bake and feed (and share the calories) friends and family.
There are no official themes for this marathon, but I imposed some on myself to streamline my thoughts. For the first week (or first week and a half), my theme is going to be 'Yeast & Sourdough Breads'. 
Easy Sandwich Bread
I have stopped buying store bought bread for quite a while now and try to make a loaf every week. My son loves bread and can happily live on sandwiches for breakfast, lunch & dinner. I pack him sandwiches to school too. Our requirement for bread is simple, it has to be soft and not too crusty. It could be sweet or slightly savory, it should work in pb&j and/ or grilled cheese.


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