Jan 30, 2011

Easy White Bread with Pumpkin Seeds.

Would you believe it? I baked my own bread! This will take some time getting over. Here's the proof.

It was just right. Crisp crust, dense but fluffy inside. I may never buy white bread again. Not when I have a fresh, cheap, easy and healthier option that tastes way better than store bought ones. Bread was always a bit intimidating but this was almost too easy. My mother in law passed me down her old Kenwood mixer. I am gonna make that kneading hook work like it has never before in its rather long life. 30 years is a bit long for an electronic gadget to live right? But it works like a dream.

Ingredients. Makes almost a kilo- 950 gram bread.

  • 500g white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 7g sachet fast-action yeast
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 300ml water 
  • Handful pumpkin seeds (Optional) 

  1. Mix flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, add oil and water . Mix well. Add 1-2 Tbsp more water if the dough seems a bit stiff. (Whole-wheat flour needs more water) Tip on a lightly floured work surface and knead.
  2. Once the dough is smooth, place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Leave to rise for 1 hour until doubled in size or place in the fridge overnight. Tip- to check if dough has been knead well, poke a finger in the dough. The impression should stay for a while. Dough should not rise back immediately.
  3. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Knock back the dough gently till some of the air from the yeast escapes and mould into a ball. Place it on the baking parchment and let it rise again for another hour till doubled in size. (Don't worry too much if it doesn't double exactly to proportion)
  4.  Heat oven to 200 Celcius. Dust the loaf with flour and cut a cross about 6cm long into the top of the loaf with a sharp knife. Bake for 25-30 mins until golden brown. The loaf should sound hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack. 
    Time saver tip: Let the dough's first rising be done overnight in the fridge for a deeper flavour.

    Jan 19, 2011

    Don’t judge it by its looks- Spaghetti in Aubergine Sauce.

    There is no way to make it look good. Grey, gooey and bleh, its looks really don't do justice to the velvety deliciousness it packs. Yes, I just compared food to the royal choice of textile for curtains. I used a recipe from Francis Lam. I topped it with pine nuts, a nutty flavour and crunch rounds off the dish nicely.

    Spaghetti in aubergine sauce. You will need-

    500 grams aubergine/eggplant/ brinjal/ baingan cut into ½ inch slices
    1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
    3 cloves garlic, lightly smashed (I used 5 )
    2 springs thyme or oregano, chopped ( I used dried)
    1 cup water (or liquid stock if you want to pack in flavour)
    2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, minced (optional)
    6 leaves basil
    Salt and pepper
    500 grams long pasta – spaghetti, linguini.

    (Tip- Lightly salt the slices of eggplant, stack them back together and let it all hang out for about 20 minutes. This will season it and water will drip out, allegedly removing the bitterness, if it’s there.)
    1. Put the olive oil in a wide, heavy saucepan, add the garlic cloves and set over low heat. The idea is to flavour the oil, so don't worry if the garlic don't start sizzling immediately.
    2. Add eggplants when you hear the garlic start to sizzle. Stir well to coat oil as evenly as you can. 
    3. Turn up the heat to medium high. Add thyme or oregano, basil and stir. When the eggplant is turning translucent and softening, add water/stock, let it come to a boil and turn it back down to medium-low. Let it bubble for a bit and cover it, leaving a crack for steam to escape. Stir once in a while so that the bottom doesn’t stick.
    4. Meanwhile, bring water to boil, salt it, and cook your pasta, al dente of course.
    5. Check on your eggplant. The liquid should be mostly absorbed or reduced. Mash it with a fork or spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    6. Drain pasta and toss with eggplant puree. Stir minced sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil. Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as a starter.

    Jan 18, 2011

    Baby Steps.

    My friend Elisa from Ecuador will soon have her first baby. I am so excited that I have taken it upon myself to plan her baby shower. I knit these shoes for her baby. The pattern is very easy and it took me, maybe, 4 hours in total to knit the pair. In the meanwhile, I have been accused by friends of turning into that woman. You know, that boring aunt who knits you a scarf, you act sufficiently excited and happy about it, which in turn encourages her and she  knits you a scarf every birthday. I am taking a knitting break of sorts....after I am done knitting one more scarf :)

    This very easy pattern for 0-6 month old babies can be found here.

    Jan 17, 2011

    Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.

    There has been a slew of articles in Danish media about how packets of oatmeal found in Danish supermarkets may have fungus in them. My reaction to this gross news, but naturally,  was a - must. have. now - craving for oatmeal cookies. The recipe is from smittenkitchen.com. That site!! You must go there if only to drool at pictures. I love her recipes. She makes them out of a kitchen smaller than mine and with everyday appliances, it makes her recipes feel so much more do-able. The cookies turned out perfect. Crispy edges, chewy insides.

    For about 24 cookies or more (depending on the size of your cookies) you will need. Note - 1 cup = approx 2.5 Decilitres
    1/2 cup (1 stick or 113 grams) butter, softened
    2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
    1 egg
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon salt ( Use half a teaspoon, if you like more salt in your cookies)
    1 1/2 cups rolled oats
    3/4 cup raisins

    In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, and raisins. Chill the dough for a bit in the fridge. I didn't time the chilling. It chilled for as long as it takes to hang dry a load of laundry. 

    Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Scoop and line up cookies two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes (baking time will vary, depending on your oven and how cold the cookies were going in). Take them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool. See if you have the patience to let them cool.

    *Colour will vary. Mine are a very dark brown because I used dark brown sugar instead of light brown.

    Jan 14, 2011

    Bikini Body Zucchini Pasta

    Yes my darlings, zucchini AS pasta. A no-fuss, vegan, gluten free, carb free dish, it is easy on your conscience, body and time. Did I mention that your taste buds will love it? I usually eat it by itself, but this time it was paired with a baked fish fillet.

    You will need
    • 2 green squash / zucchini
    • 1 carrot (I add carrot for colour and texture. You could use a combination of yellow and green zucchini instead)
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 3 garlic pods. Finely Chopped.
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper.
    • 1 tbsp Basil (dry or fresh).
    • 1tsp dried oregano.
    • Handful of pine nuts for garnish.

    1. Cut zucchini and carrot into thin lengthwise ribbon like strips using a potato peeler. Throw away core of zucchini.
    2. In a large non stick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic. Add carrot strips before garlic browns.
    3. Add zucchini. Cook the zucchini strips in two batches. Add first batch, cook and stir for two minutes till soft and translucent. Add basil and oregano. Give it a good stir so the herbs get distributed evenly.
    4. Add the remaining zucchini strips (This is so you have a bit of a sauce base and a bit of a bite) Add salt and pepper to taste.
    5. Serve topped with roasted pine nuts. It gives a nice crunch to the pasta. Serves 2.
    It is delish when topped with grated parmesan cheese, but I have a bikini body to work on for my upcoming beach vacation. Psst.....not  added to the recipe, but, like in most things, I also added 2 green chillies. It may not be to everyone's taste though.

    Jan 10, 2011

    Tandoori Chicken

    First things first. This recipe does NOT taste like tandoori chicken from a clay oven of a dhaba in northern India, but it comes as close as one made in a electric oven can.I firmly believe that some things are best eaten off street vendors and restaurants, but till such time I find a good Indian restaurant in Copenhagen, this will satisfy my craving. Come summer, I plan to try it on a charcoal grill. We ate ours with a simple raita (diced cucumber + yogurt + onion + roasted cumin relish) and store bought naan. I really must remedy my naan situation. Anyone have a recipe to share? I am also looking for another tandoori chicken recipe that comes closer to the real thing.

    Also important is the red orange food colour or saffron if you are a sucker for doing things from scratch. If it doesn't look like tandoori, the mind refuses to taste it like tandoori. I used cake colour, which explains the non authentic colour.

    * You can a skip the dry ground spices and use any good quality tandoori masala mix from an Indian grocer  instead. The longer it marinates, the better. I let mine marinate for 24 hours.


    • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
    • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon cayenne
    • 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
    • 1 Tbsp garam masala
    • 1 Tbsp paprika
    • 1 cup plain yogurt
    • 2 Tbsp lime juice
    • 4 minced garlic cloves
    • 2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 4 whole chicken legs (drumsticks and thighs), or its equivalent, skinless, bone-in
    • Red-orange food colour.


    1. Heat the oil in a small pan add all dry ground spices over medium heat, until fragrant (approximately 2-3 minutes). Let cool completely.
    2. Whisk in the cooled spice-oil mixture into the yogurt, then mix in the lemon juice, garlic, salt and ginger.
    3. Cut deep slashes (to the bone) in 3-4 places on the leg/thigh pieces. Coat the chicken in the marinade,  rub in, cover and chill for at least 2 hours and preferably overnight..
    4. Pre heat oven on grill to 180 C. Wipe the grill grates with a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil. Shake excess marinade out of chicken. You want the chicken coated, but not gloopy. Put the chicken pieces in the oven and grill. ( I baked mine for the first 20 mins at 180C and grilled the remaining minutes)
    5. Flip sides so the chicken browns evenly (it is better if the edges char a little bit) Cook for at least 20 minutes or 40 depending on the size of the chicken and the temperature of the grill. The chicken is done when its juices run clear.Serves 4-6.

    Jan 9, 2011

    Almond and Clementine Cake.

    WTF! Boiled clementines mashed with rind and all in cake batter?... is what you will think when you read the recipe. I know, I've been there. I had a bag of clementines I had to use and good ol' internet threw up a recipe for an Almond and Celementine Cake. It sounded so weird...I HAD to try it! :) It uses no oil or butter, so it is a bit of a dry cake that goes very well with tea. Not a OMG! I died and went to heaven kind of cake. Will I make I again? Maybe. I like the slight bitter taste it gets from the rind. And hello! Flour and butter free! No guilt! Most sites credit this recipe to Nigella Lawson, but I cant find it on her site.

    Mine cracked a bit on the top, with which came knowledge from more skilled bakers that cakes crack if the heat is too high. If your cakes often crack, even when you follow recipes to the T, it is just your oven overheating. Solution is to put the temperature at, for example 170C if the recipe calls for 190C or like my very bright friend Natasha suggested, turn the cake upside down and no one will know!

    You will need.
    454 grams Clementines. (Approx 5 medium sized ones.)
    6 large eggs
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    250 grams granulated white sugar
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    225 grams ground almonds ( I had whole almonds which I ran through a blender)

    1. Place the Clementines in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and then simmer the Clementines for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Drain and let them cool completely.
    2. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C (375 F) and place rack in centre of oven. Butter and line a 8 inch (20 cm) springform pan with baking paper. Set aside.
    3. Once the Clementines are completely cooled, slice in half, and remove any seeds. Place the Clementine halves (skins and all) in your food processor and pulse until they are very finely chopped. Set aside.
    4. By hand or with a mixer, beat eggs until frothy. Beat in the vanilla extract, and then the sugar, baking powder, salt, and almonds. Stir in the chopped Clementines and pour into the prepared pan.
    5. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean (cover the cake with aluminium foil about the last 20 minutes of baking to prevent over browning). Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once it has completely cooled, remove the sides of the spring form pan.
    6. This cake is best after a day or even two. It has a tendency to be a little bitter tasting just after baking but by letting it rest a day or two the flavours will blend and mellow.

    Jan 7, 2011

    Popeye Approved Spinach with Potatoes

    An Indian kitchen staple of a healthy and easy meal for when all you have is a bag of potatoes and spinach. It is fairly dry, so it’s best eaten with Indian breads like roti or naan. But I don’t know how to make them, so I ate mine with rice, stuffed chilli pickle and a whole green chilli. Girl likes hot :)

    • 350 grams chopped spinach ( sucker for convenience, I used frozen)  
    • 2 big potatoes peeled and diced.
    • 2 tsp Oil
    • 1 inch Cinnamon Stick
    • 2 Cloves
    • 2 Bay Leaves
    • 2 Green Cardamoms
    • 1 Large Onion , finely chopped
    • 3 Medium Tomatoes , finely chopped
    • 2 tsp Ginger , grated
    • 4 Cloves Of Garlic , finely chopped
    • Green Chillies , finely chopped - to taste
    • 1 tbsp Cumin Powder
    • 1 tbsp Coriander Powder
    • 1 tbsp Garam Masala....ummm...okay maybe 2.
    • Salt , to taste
    • * If you don't have all the dry powdered spices, it is ok to use only garam masala (found at most Indian grocers).
    1.  Heat oil in a non stick pan and add your whole spices- cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, cloves. Add onions, mix well and cook till tender on medium heat. 
    2. Add wet spices- garlic, ginger, green chilli. Mix well. Give it 1 minute and add tomatoes. Cook on low heat till it reduces and oil separates from mix. 
    3. Add dry spices- cumin powder, garam masala, coriander powder, salt. Mix. Mix.Mix.
    4. Add potatoes. Cover and let it cook for a while.
    5. Add spinach once potatoes are a tender. Cook for few minutes and it's ready to serve. Feeds 2 very hungry people or 4 not so hungry ones.

      Jan 6, 2011

      Nasi Goreng ( Indonesian Fried Rice)

      For someone who hasn't visited those countries yet, I am an Indonesian and Malaysian food fanatic. We are an Indian girl and Danish boy couple who cook Indonesian or Malaysian food at least two times a month. Today was leftover rice day. No one does left over rice better than Asians. I made Nasi Goreng, Indonesian fried rice. I don’t know if my Indonesian cooking tastes authentic, but I will remedy that by making my Indonesian friend Eva taste them. If she approves, I will add an 'ethnic approved' sign to the recipe later ;)

      I used a recipe from Rasa Malaysia. I substituted some minor ingredients. In Indonesia, it is served topped with  a fried egg and sliced cucumbers or prawn crackers on the side. I served mine with fried egg, a green baby leaf salad  with a sesame oil and soy dressing. I didn't feel that the fried egg added anything to the meal. I will skip it next time. I wish I had had shrimps to add to the rice. They would go so well.

      UPDATE- This recipe has been approved for authentic taste by my Indonesian friend ;)

      Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice) Recipe
      1 shallot ( I used 1 red onion)
      1 garlic ( I used 3. Garlic fiend!)
      1 red chilli (seeded)
      1/2 teaspoon toasted belacan-terasi ( I used a Thai dried shrimp and chilli paste.)
      1/2 teaspoon palm sugar (I used regular white sugar)
      1/2 tablespoon kecap manis/ Soy sauce.
      250 grams / 8 oz. Cooked, leftover jasmine rice. Best if left overnight.
      1 fried egg (well done)
      2 tablespoons oil

      Break the overnight/leftover rice using the back of a spoon so they don’t clump together. In a wok, toast the belacan on low heat until it becomes dry and aromatic. Toasted belacan should be somewhat powdery and appear like tiny granules. Fry an egg (well-done) and set aside.

      Using a mortar and pestle or a mini food processor, blend the shallot, garlic, red chilli, and toasted belacan. Transfer the blended flavouring paste into a small saucer.

      Heat up a wok and add oil. Add the flavouring paste and stir-fry until aromatic or when the oil separates. Add the rice into the wok and stir well with the flavouring paste. Add kecap manis and palm sugar into the rice and continue to stir-fry and make sure that they are well blended with the rice. Dish out, top the nasi goreng with the fried egg and serve immediately.

      Easy Knit Floral Appliqué Scarf.

      This really is a 'if I can do it, you certainly can' project. My FIRST EVER knitting project- a floral appliqué scarf for my mother in law. I did a test run by knitting one for myself, so the one in the picture is really my second attempt.

      A knitting virgin, I write down each row and strike them off as I progress, just so I know I am doing the right thing! In spite of that, it is so easy to knit; it took me only 2 evenings to finish!

      It takes 3 knitting pins to make this scarf.  An achievement worthy of being put on my CV and business cards! June- knitting with 3 pins since 2011!  Here is the link to the pattern from Bernat.

      The scarf uses only 100 grams or 2 balls of wool. I am so thrilled to be able to knit a flower, I plan to use it on everything!

      Jan 5, 2011

      The Prettification of Sushi

      Have you like me, wondered what restaurants do with the non symmetrical butt ends of sushi rolls? When we make sushi at home, we don't like to throw away any bit of our hard rolled rolls. I learnt this 'wrap them in egg yolk strips and prettify them' trick from my husband. Not that sushi needs any prettification, but a very simple trick which adds a lot to the presentation value.

      For egg yolk strips.
      Take 2 eggs, separate yolks from white. Whisk yolks gently ( don't work up a froth!)
      Make a thin, round pancake of the yolk on a non stick pan. Look out that it doesn't burn and retains its lovely yellow colour. Take out of pan, cut into 1 centimetre strips and use as wrapping garnish for just about anything!

      Once we are done making sushi, we use them to wrap left over slices of tuna and salmon. 

      Jan 3, 2011

      Spicy Pork and Potato Curry

      It is but fitting that I start this blog with an Indian recipe. The region in India I come from, Arunachal, borders China, Nepal, Myanmar and Tibet. Our cuisine is more asian than Indian. I am still learning the art of balancing spices when cooking Indian.

      Like most good Indian housewives, I make my curries, especially those with red meats, in a pressure cooker. But this recipe taken from Anjum Anand, is for a sauce pan and I have added some personal tweaks to it. It is best eaten with basmati rice, but we were out of basmati and ate ours with wild rice.

      *You can use chicken or beef instead of pork-OR-make a vegetarian version using only potatoes.
      • 2 tbs. vegetable oil
      • ½ tsp. panch phoran (a Indian five spice mix of cumin, fennel, mustard, nigella and fenugreek seeds)
      • 1 tsp panch phoran to roast and grind.
      • 1 medium onion, chopped
      • 1-2 green chilli, pierced with the tip of a knife
      • 3 fat cloves garlic, peeled
      • 2 inch ginger, peeled
      • Salt to taste
      • 1 large tomato, pureed
      • 1 tsp. garam masala
      • 1½ tsp. coriander powder
      • 500g pork shoulder, with some fat on it, cut into 1” cubes
      • 2 large potatoes peeled and diced into big squares.
      Heat the oil in a medium non-stick saucepan. Add the panch phoran seeds and once the mustard seeds are popping add the onions and chillies; cook until golden.

      Make a fine puree of the ginger and garlic with a splash of water and add to the cooked onions. Cook until all the excess moisture in the pan has dried off and the paste has fried for 20 seconds. You should be able to see tiny oil bubbles popping up. 

      Add the pureed tomato, salt, spices, pork and potatoes- give the whole thing a good stir, add a splash of water, bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer for 35-40 minutes or until the pork is cooked through. Add an extra splash of water if necessary and serve. Serves 4