Sunday, August 30, 2009

Daring Bakers Dobos Torte

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caff├ęs of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

The Dobos Torte is a five-layer sponge cake filled with chocolate buttercream and topped with wedges of crunchy caramel. The orginal recipe called for a buttercream made with eggs and many of the other Daring Bakers had complained that it melted easily. Since I knew I'd be taking this cake to work, which is a 1 1/2 hr drive, I opted for a more resilient chocolate buttercream (recipe below). I added a bit of coffee to the buttercream and brushed on a simple syrup of kahlua and water to the cake layers. I finished off by covering the cake in toasted hazelnuts.

The most challenging part of the recipe was preparing the separate cake layers. I followed the recipe exactly but somehow ended up with 5 layers. They were still 5 layers of sponge cake and chocolate buttercream goodness. If I were to make this again I think I would skip the caramel topping. They were a bit too chewy and sweet for my taste.

Here are some comments from co-workers:

CW1: Fancy!
CW2: Wow! You made this from scratch? And the frosting is not from a can?!
CW3: Very yummy and not too sweet.

There you have it folks. Dobos definitely knew what he was doing when he came up with this cake. Check out the recipe here. Below is my favorite recipe for melt-free chocolate mocha buttercream (tried and tested after many many not-so-good recipes).

Chocolate Mocha Buttercream Frosting
  • 2 3/4 cup - 2 Tb confectioners sugar
  • 8 Tb cocoa powder
  • 6 Tb butter, NOT melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tb milk
  • 2 Tb strong coffee
1. In a large bowl, sift together the confectioners sugar and cocoa, and set aside.
In another large bowl, cream butter until smooth. Gradually add in one quarter of the sugar mixture, 2 Tb at a time. Add in all of the vanilla, then another quarter of the sugar mixture, two tablespoons at a time. The mixture should be firm. At this point, gradually add the milk and coffee, alternating with 2 tablespoons at a time of the rest of the sugar mixture.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Indian Chickpea Curry (Chole)

Here is Part III of my Indian Menu: Indian Chickpea Curry aka Chole.
Chole is a very simple, tasty, and healthy Indian dish made from chickpeas and tomatoes and flavored with all sorts of traditional Indian spices. It is very good served with some Indian bread (rotis or naan) or simply rice. The flavors in this dish are so delicious that you won't miss all the cream and butter found in many other Indian dishes. Plus it takes about 30 minutes to make! No joke. This stuff is the bomb.

Indian Chickpea Curry(Chole)
  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 3 small green chilies
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 3 cups (2 15 oz cans) of cooked chickpeas/Garbanzo beans
  • 1 2/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • freshly ground pepper
1. Blend the tomatoes, ginger, garlic, and chiles to make a puree.
2. Heat the oil and lightly fry the cumin seeds and bay leaves for
about 1 minute over medium heat. Add the flour and stir fry until lightly browned.
3. Add the tomato puree, coriander, tumeric, and chili powder, and let cook over for about 5 minutes.
4. Add the chickpeas and water, and let cook, covered, for about 10 minutes.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Indian Eggplant and Okra Curry

Note to self: I do not have the photography skills to make eggplant curry look good. And actually, that is really sad, because this stuff was sooo good. Out of all the Indian dishes I cooked up last weekend, this was probably my favorite. I bought the eggplant and the okra for 5 bucks (yes $5 TOTAL at the farmers market) and the tomatos were from my own garden. Now how's that for eating local?
I've made an eggplant and tomato curry a few times in the past since I really like that combo, but this time I decided to add in fresh okra. I'm so glad I did too. It really adds a nice flavor and more so an awesome texture to this curry. And guess what? My okra wasn't slimy! For reals!! I really thought it would be, and I was almost expecting it, preparing myself, being ready for it. But I read some tips online and somehow I was able to achieve the deliciousness of okra without the slime. Woot! Don't believe me? Try this recipe. And make it look pretty, and take a picture, and send it to me!

I think the tricks to cooking okra slime-free are (1) use fresh okra, when possible (I've made this recipe with frozen okra in the past and noticed it was definitely slimier) (2) be as gentle as possible when cooking it. Stirring it around like crazy will only bring out more slime, and (3) add an acidic ingredient (eg. tomatoes) to the recipe if possible -- something in the acid helps cut down the slime (don't you just love my very scientific explanations for things).

Indian Eggplant and Okra Curry
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 large eggplant, chopped into 1 inch cubes
  • 5 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1 1/2 lb okra, trimmed and chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 handfuls of cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a large pot, fry the cumin seeds in the olive oil over low heat.
2. Increase the heat, add the eggplant, and let cook for about 10-15 minutes just until it begins to soften.
3. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 10-15 minutes.
4. Add the tumeric, cumin, red pepper, and coriander, and stir the mixture.
5. Add the okra and stir gently so as not to break the pieces. Let cook for 8 minutes.
6. Stir in the cilantro and salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Indian-Style Zucchini Patties with Tamarind Chutney

I'm back! Finally! Things have been pretty hectic this summer since I'm commuting home every weekend from my internship. The little time I've had on the weekends does not want to be spent cooking. So although I neglected my kitchen (and my blog) for a few weeks, last weekend, a sudden cooking urge came over me. So I threw on the old apron (yes, I wear one-I spill A LOT) and got to work. First, I noticed that the majority of the recipes on this site are desserts. Anyone else notice that? Although desserts do make a hefty portion of my diet (chocolate IS a food group, no?), I felt the need to prove to the world or at least all my readers ( all 11 of you) that yes, I do eat other things -- actual non-desserts. Since I've been missing my mom's cooking, I planned a big fat Indian menu and gave myself the whole weekend to make them. Of course I was fooling myself because 2 days is definitely not enough time to prepare all the dishes I had in mind (or at least not enough time for someone as inefficient as I sometimes am in the kitchen). I literally finished cooking at 10pm on Sunday night, right before I took a nap on the kitchen counter.
So here is Part I of my Indian menu: Indian Style Zucchini Patties with Tamarind Chutney. In Bengali, these are called 'chops' (pronounced chawps) and they are usually deep fried in oil. Sorry to mess with tradition, but something was calling me to try baking these. So I made up a batch of the patties, baked half of them (the ones in the photo are baked), and fried the rest. Both were very tasty. Of course the fried ones were a bit more indulgent, but the baked ones were just as satisfying.

Indian-Style Zucchini Patties (makes about 10 patties)

  • 3 medium zucchini, grated and drain (drain by wrapping grated zucchini in paper towels and squeezing out the excess water)
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper (add less if you can't handle the heat)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 + 1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs, divided
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tb cornstarch
  • oil for frying or baking (I used canola for frying, olive for baking)
1. Mix the grated zucchini, red pepper, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, salt, pepper, and 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs in one bowl.
2. Mix the 1/4 cup water and cornstarch in a separate bowl.
3. Form the zucchini mixture into small patties (about 1 heaping tablespoon each). Dip each pattie into the cornstarch mixture, then into the remaining 1 cup of breadcrumbs.
4. If baking: Generously (really generously -- I didn't put enough oil, and got some major pan stuckage) grease a large baking sheet. Gently brush both sides of each pattie with olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, or until the tops are browned. Then, flip each pattie over, and bake again for an additional 10 minutes.
5. If frying: Fry in oil about 2 minutes on each side or until browned.

Tamarind Chutney (makes about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 Tb tamarind paste (available in International Markets)
  • 3 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tb tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 tsp red pepper
Fry the cumin seeds in a bit of oil. Add water and tamarind paste, and cook for about 45 min, until mixture is reduced to about 1 cup. Add the tomato paste, sugar, cumin, and red pepper. Mix well until all is dissolved.

I am submitting this recipe for Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Prof. Kitty at The Cabinet of Prof. Kitty. Checkout the lovely photos of her garden!