Feb 28, 2011

Chococcino Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.

This cake could also be named Possible Death by Salmonella. This recipe should make 22-24 cupcakes but I think I ate about 2 cupcakes worth of batter and ended up with only 20 cupcakes. My kitchen smelled so delicious even as I was mixing the batter, I couldn't help but eat spoonfuls of it. It can also be called The Best Chocolate Cupcake I Have Ever Baked! The kind that made people go OH MY GOD. It was my birthday on the 25th, Friday. I invited people over on Sunday and Saturday. It didn't make sense to bake two cakes, not after I've just managed to squeeze back into my jeans, no sir. So I made cupcakes instead, also known as portion control cakes. They turned out spongy with an intense chocolatey taste with a hint of bitter coffee. Woe me, I don't have cupcake forms, but the batter was thick and it held well in just the cupcake paper shells.  The frosting looked like designer turds, so I poked them with a fork to make them look less turd like.

  • 200g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp baking powder.
  • 100 grams good-quality cocoa powder
  • 125 grams  self-raising flour
  • 200 grams golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tbsp milk 
  • 4 tbsp instant coffee dissolved in  4 tbsp of boiling water. 
*Tip:  You can substitute half the butter with a neutral vegetable oil. I have made it with 50% butter and 50% canola oil in the past and it tastes just as good with not much difference in the texture.

  1. Heat oven to 180 C
  2. Sift flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a large bowl, then tip in all the other sponge ingredients (Eggs, milk, coffee mixture and sugar)
  3. Using an electric whisk, beat everything together until smooth. 
  4. Divide the batter into cupcake forms and bake for 15 minutes. Check by inserting a wooden toothpick, it should come out clean.
  5. Leave on rack to cool before frosting.

  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 2/3 cup powdered caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • Pinch of salt.
    Beat the ingredients together till well blended and creamy but stiff. If you own a frosting cone, lucky you. I put mine in an improvised plastic bag cone and squeezed. *I added extra tablespoons or half of  sugar, milk and cocoa powder at few points to get desired consistency.

* You can also use this recipe for a layered cake: Grease two, 20 cm cake tins, divide batter into tins. Tap tins to release any trapped air. Bake at 180C for 25 minutes or till a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool. Turn one layer upside down and spread frosting evenly. Top with the other layer and frost top.

* Tip - My frosting is a deep brown because I used caster sugar. You could replace it with regular white confectioners sugar for a lighter brown colour. That will give some contrast and make your cupcakes look prettier.

Feb 19, 2011

No Fuss Corn and Spinach Quiche.

This was yet another desperate dish born from the icy cold depths of my freezer. It was another what the hell to eat for dinner day. Thankfully, my freezer is always stocked with frozen spinach and corn. It was a desperate dish but my dinner companion loved it and insisted it go on the blog. So here I am filing the recipe away for future reference. Admittedly, I used a store bought crust mix; it was a life is too short to be kneading dough moment.  But I am sharing a crust recipe the lovely Missus Petersen shared with me. She likes and knows her food, so I am confident that any recipe she recommends is tried and tested. The rest was just something that took its own flow with whatever I had at hand in the kitchen. Without further ado, here is a comforting, desperate meal for hurried days.

Ingredient for crust:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1/3 - ½ cup cold water
1 tbsp vinegar

Ingredients for Corn and Spinach filling.
150 grams sweet corn
300 grams frozen spinach (defrosted)
1 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper.
1 tsp dried herbs (Herbes de Provence or Basil, Thyme, Fennel, whatever you’ve at hand)
1/2 tsp cumin
1 teaspoon dried dill weed.
Salt to taste
2 eggs, beaten.
1/2 cup grated parmesan

 Making the crust: Combine flour, baking powder and salt. With a pastry cutter, work in butter. Combine water and vinegar and stir into the flour mixture. Turn out onto floured board and knead for about 1 minute. Form into a ball, wrap in wax paper and chill. To use, roll out on floured board to fit pie form. (We won’t be pre-baking the crust, so roll it out no more than 1/2 a centimetre thick) Line the sides and bottom of a 9 inch pie form. Keep aside in the fridge.

Making the filling: 
  • Pre heat oven to 190 C
  • Bring a pan to heat on medium and add oil. Add cumin seeds. Add chopped onion, add garlic and sauté.
  • Add spinach and corn when onion is translucent. Stir in all dried herbs, dill weed, pepper, salt. Sauté for no more than 3 minutes and allow it to cool.
  • In the meanwhile, break eggs into a bowl and beat along with a pinch of salt.
  •  Bring out pie form lined with crust. Sprinkle a thin coat of grated parmesan cheese just to cover the surface. Add in the spinach and corn mixture, pressing gently.
  • Pour beaten egg over the pie crust filled with spinach and corn covering evenly
  • Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the pie, covering evenly.
  • Bake for 30 minutes. We ate ours with a simple tomato and basil salad.

Asian Flavoured Salmon Patties with Ginger, Scallions and Sesame-Mayo

What?! Don't look at me like you've never over steamed broccoli till it turned yellow.
Dire measures had to be taken. My jeans refused to fit after a baking (and eating) spree. I am currently (kinda) on the Perricone diet, an omega 3 and antioxidants rich diet that promises lovely skin and  few lesser kilos. The diet prescribes only salmon/tuna, select melons, greens and fresh berries with absolutely no carbs, save a meagre portion of oats per day.

As much as I love salmon, I could wage wars and destroy empires for a bowl of rice right about now. 28 days of salmon and tuna falls under the too much of a good thing category. My friend Laura, the reason for my going on this diet (I want her complexion!) sent me this recipe from Kalyn's Kitchen with a sympathetic "In case you get homicidally bored with hard core Perricone' note. She should know, she's been there. The diet that is, not being homicidal.

This recipe helped mix things up a little and pulled me away from the narrow minded, kill me already, boring diet plan I was falling into. It was delicious, moist with lovely  aroma and freshness from ginger AND it fit in completely with the Perricone prescription. I used salmon but I think it will do justice to any kind of fish. The mayonnaise sauce while good on its own, was left almost untouched because the patties went so much better with Sriracha. Next time  make this, I plan on adding a little sesame oil to the fish batter. 
500 grams wild salmon, skin removed and finely chopped
2 Tablespoon finely minced green onion
2 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. or more Sriracha sauce (substitute with any good chilli garlic sauce if unavailable)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2-3 tsp. olive oil (for frying the salmon patties)
Lime wedges for serving.

Sesame-Mayo Sauce:
1/3 cup Mayo
2 spring onions, very thinly sliced
2 T fresh lime juice
1 tsp. Asian sesame seed oil

Method :
  • Remove skin from salmon and chop finely. Finely mince spring onions. Grate ginger. Mix all 3 in a bowl.
  • Beat the egg with a fork and mix 1/2 tsp or more sriracha sauce to taste.
  • Add spring onion, salmon and ginger to the egg and sriracha mixture. 
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and give it a good mix. Use your hands!
  • Put a piece of cling wrap over a baking sheet; then form the salmon into four patties and place on cling wrap.  Put patties into the freezer for 20-30 minutes, until they are firm but not frozen through. (Or go commando like me and put mix in freezer and make patties by hands before pan frying.)
  • When salmon patties are firm, heat 2 tsp. oil in large heavy frying pan over medium-high head.  Add salmon patties and cook 4-6 minutes per side, until the patties are browned and cooked through.   (Add more oil to cook the second side if needed.  Cook until done, but don't overcook.) 
  • For Mayonnaise sauce- While salmon is freezing, whisk together the Mayo, sliced spring onions, lime juice and sesame oil to make the Sesame-Lime Mayonnaise.
  • Serve with a wedge of lime. We ate ours with a side of steamed carrots and broccoli.

Feb 11, 2011

Palak Chicken, Chicken in Spinach Curry.

Chicken or lamb in a spinach curry is one of the favourite Indian take away orders in Copenhagen. A guy from Finland brought a killer palak lamb to a pot-luck dinner hosted by common friends. It shamed me into making my own palak chicken instead of eating take away. Unlike restaurant meals and like most home cooked Indian meals, this  takes it easy with oil and spices allowing the taste of veggies to come through. Sorry the picture is a messy, 'Dammit I forgot to take a picture' hurried phone picture followed by a 'Oh no! The picture is all cinnamon, no curry'. But we had already started eating and it was too late to take another picture. It happens to you too, right?

  • Approx 1 kg, 8 skinned chicken drumsticks and thighs ( I prefer bone in, but you can use boneless)
  • 4 cloves garlic. Minced.
  • 2 inch ginger. Minced.
  • 2 large onions. Chopped.
  • 3 large tomatoes. Chopped into squares.
  • 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 500g fresh or frozen spinach. (Blanched and finely chopped or given a quick run in the blender)
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 inch stick cinnamon/ Daalchini
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • Half tsp turmeric powder/ Haldi
  • 1 tsp cumin powder/ Jeera
  • 1 tsp coriander powder/ Dhania
  • Half tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • Half tsp white sugar
  • Salt to taste
*I was lazy and didn't chop my spinach very fine. You get a MUCH better texture if you chop it or run it through the blender, so don't be lazy!
  1. Bring oil to heat in a pan; throw in a cumin seed to check if oil is ready. Cumin seed sizzles if ready. Add bay leaf, cinnamon and sugar.
  2. Add chopped onions as soon as sugar starts to caramelise. Stir rapidly for 5 mins making sure the onion doesn't burn.  Add the ginger, garlic and fry for 5 more minutes. A dark brown shade and little oil bubbles separating from the paste is what you are aiming at. Add all dry spices, except garam masala. Stir, stir, fry fry. Add little water, stir and scrape off if the masala gets stuck to the bottom of your pan.
  3. Add chopped tomatoes and tomato purée. Throw in chicken pieces when the tomatoes begin to disintegrate. Give it a good stir, mix well and add half a cup of water. Cover and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. Take off cover to check every now and then and stir.
  4. Add spinach when chicken is cooked (flesh should easily separate from bone) Add garam masala, salt and simmer for few minutes. 
  5. Feeds 4 people. Eat with Basmati rice of an Indian flat bread of your choice.

Feb 8, 2011

Carrot Cake with Walnut Cream Cheese Frosting.

My friend Dora, who brings me pretty Huichol jewellery from her home country, Mexico, hosted a party at her place. The party also multi-tasked as a baby shower for our friend Elisa. Seeing as there would be enough alcohol for the non pregnant men and women, I figured Elisa's yet to be born baby should have some veggies, even if in cake, so I baked a carrot cake. The base recipe and instructions are from Smitten Kitchen. I have baked this cake a few times, but always found it far too moist and oily, especially since it gets so much moisture from the carrots. Your fingers get stained with oil if you touch the cake, kind of oily. The recipe I am sharing below is the one I used for this cake; I used less oil and sugar and substituted half of the oil with buttermilk. It turned out perfect, still moist and tasty with more sponge to the texture. This cake tastes better if you eat it after one day.  The cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger flavours really come into play making it worth the wait.  
Some people say that carrot cakes are eaten mainly for the frosting. I disagree and was loathe to put frosting on this one, since it tasted so good by itself. But the cake was going for a party and needed some make up on, so I topped it with a cream cheese and walnut frosting.


2 cups/ 250 grams all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger ( I often use fresh chopped ginger!)
2 cups/ 250 grams sugar
1 1/4th cup/ 250 ml (1 1/4 cups) canola oil
4 large eggs
3 cups/ 750 grams or 3 cups grated peeled carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup raisins ( optional)

Preheat oven to 175°C.
  1. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in medium bowl to blend. 
  2. Whisk sugar and oil in a separate large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add buttermilk and blend. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots (and walnuts, if using them). 
  3. Divide batter and pour into two 9-inch-diameter cake pans. Line bottom of pans with waxed paper. Bake the layers for about 40 minutes each, or until a tester inserted into centre comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes. Take cakes out of the pan and let them cool.
See how fast it disappeared!

Walnut Cream Cheese Frosting
100 grams cream cheese, softened
50 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
100 grams confectioners’ sugar
Handful walnut, roasted and chopped.
Few walnut halves for decoration.

In a stand mixer, beat all the ingredients except walnuts until fluffy. Add walnuts and mix with a spatula. Chill the frosting for 10 to 20 minutes, until it has set up enough to spread smoothly. To assemble a carrot layer cake, frost the top of one cake, place the other cake on top. Frost the sides and top, swirling decoratively. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes to set up frosting. The chopped walnuts give a lovely, nutty crunch to the sponge.

* My cake ( as seen in the picture) is not a layer cake because I chose to  use them as 2 separate cakes instead of layering them.

Feb 6, 2011

Red Velvet Cake with Orange Zest Cream Cheese Frosting.

Years behind trend, I finally baked my first Red Velvet cake for my Mum in Law's birthday. I finally get what the hype is all about. It was so moist and had a lovely slight tang from the vinegar and cream cheese frosting. The colour also makes it look 'festive'. And OMG the frosting! I couldn't resist licking the frosting off the bowl. I used a light cream cheese and it was the first cream cheese frosting my cheese hating husband ate voluntarily. He even took seconds!

There are so many variations of this recipe- with or without buttermilk, with or without vinegar, with or without chocolate. I adapted many recipes and used all 3. I wish I had skipped the cocoa or used a better quality because the slight hint of chocolate that is meant to be there, didn't  come through and it messed up the vibrant red colour it could have been. If you are using cocoa powder, use a premium quality, or skip it.  I assembled the layers and frosting at my MIL's place and forgot to bring my camera, which explains the phone pictures. Also, I suck at prettifying, so ignore the sloppy frosting work. I frosted the top and the sides were frosted by my MIL's blacksmith friend. Now you know why the cake looks like it suffers from multiple personality disorder.

We forgot to buy candles and used a horrific flower candle contraption we found at my MIL's place. Formed like a lotus, it had petal candle holders, the centre shot out a mini fountain of flame and played music! Classy! ;)

To make one 9 inch layer cake, you will need
  • 2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons red food colouring
  • Vegetable-oil to coat pans.

  1. Preheat oven to 150 Celcius. Spray two baking pans with cooking spray and line with wax paper. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat sugar and vegetable oil till well blended. Add in eggs one at a time. Add vinegar and vanilla. With an electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately till flour is blended. Add food colouring. Beat to combine.
  3. Divide batter among pans; each pan will be about half full. Tap pans on counter to remove bubbles. Bake for  40 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Let them cool.
  4. To assemble- invert cake layers upside down. Using a spatula, spread a thin layer of frosting. Let it cool, so this frosting acts as a layer to apply more frosting. To frost the top and sides of the cake, work from the center toward and over the edge, making sure to coat evenly.
    For Orange Zest Cream Cheese frosting
    • 226 grams cream cheese at room temperature
    • 226 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
    • 450grams confectioner's sugar, sifted
    • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • Zest of one Orange.
    Place sugar in a bowl and add orange zest, vanilla extract and blend. ( It is important that you do this step first, otherwise the zest tends to clump instead of distributing evenly *talking from experience*) Add in cream cheese and butter. With a hand-held electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add pecans on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using. Tip: if you frosting is feels too runny, add some lemon juice so the cheese curdles again.