Oreo Cookie Cake

oreo_cookie_cake

When you have a blog you have to have a schedule to make sure you can put note and blog about what you do. My schedule is set on my calendar but as you can tell that did not work really well for me. I had a lot of things come up and while I continued my cooking and baking none of it made it past the kitchen – or rather I should say past my friends delighted palettes.

One would think that it being the New Year I have started off with a new resolution. Well I will say this I am not about New Years resolutions but I am going to try to keep up with the blog. It helps me in a couple of ways :

  1. I get a list of what I have made and how I made it
  2. Whenever someone needs a recipe – its already published

So here is my first cake of the year. One of my very dear friends wanted an Oreo cake for his birthday. I was thrilled to have him ask me to make it. He throws the most fabulous parties, for a very tasty spread with wonderful drinks to go with it. I had never made an Oreo cookie cake before but it is apparently quite popular. I did a fair bit of research to figure out whether I wanted to bake with Oreo’s in the cake or just have Oreo frosting. I also tried to decide whether I wanted to frost the sides of the cake of just leave them ‘Au Natural’. Guess which one won the contest.

This is a really simple cake to make. You can choose to double the icing and frost the top if you like and the sides.

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the filling

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 2 cups finely crushed Oreo cookies
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the chocolate ganache

  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line the bases of two 9 inch baking pans with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk 1st 5 dry ingredients together and set aside
  3. Cream butter for a few minutes and then add the sugar and continue creaming until light and fluffy about 5 minutes
  4. Add the eggs one at a time making sure each is incorporated before adding the next one.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and then the buttermilk in a slow stream continuing to whisk.
  6. Finally add the dry ingredients in two batches. Do not overbeat the batter.
  7. Divide the batter equally between the cake pans
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake
  9. Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then carefully remove them. Let the cool completely on a rack if you are icing them the same day. If not double wrap them in cling wrap and freeze them.

For the filling

  1. Cream the butter for a few minutes and then add the crushed Oreo’s and beat until incorporated.
  2. Add the sugar one cup at a time beating until incorporated
  3. Add the heavy cream and vanilla.

For the chocolate ganache (Make this after you have assembled the cake)

  1. Heat the heavy cream in a microwave until hot but not boiling. It takes about a minute and a half. Pour the cream over the chocolate and corn syrup.
  2. Let it sit for about 10 to 15 seconds and then start stirring slowly.
  3. Keep stirring until all the chocolate has melted use immediately.

Assembling the cake

  1. If you have frozen the cake take it out.
  2. I normally level the cake by cutting off the top, but that is not by any means necessary
  3. Brush with simple syrup (1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup water, boiled for about 5 minutes).
  4. Layer on the filling and spread evenly across the 1st cake
  5. Repeat with the next layer (level and brush with syrup)
  6. Put the cut side down onto the filling
  7. Make your chocolate ganache
  8. Pour over the cake and decorate with Oreo cookies. I used smaller Oreo cookies that were separated on the side

 


Green Apple Pickle

Green Apple Pickle

Another recipe from my trip to London, I got to spend a lot of time with my Aunt and she showed me quite a few recipes. This is the green apple pickle. I had never had it before and so we set out to make it. I was not quite sure what it was going to be like but it was absolutely delicious. My Aunt never really uses recipes but goes by how it tastes and so she showed me how she makes it.These recipes are the best – when you actually get to learn from a great cook.

The apples and peppers that were there were a little different from the ones we get here in the states but I did make it and it turned out absolutely delicious. We have been slathering it on everything – well nearly.

It paired really well on baguettes with cream cheese and topped with the pickle.

Go ahead and try it.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons methi (Fenugreek) seeds
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 2 heaped teaspoons jeera (Cumin) seeds
  • 3 medium sized banana peppers
  • 1 cubanelle pepper
  • 1 red sweet Italian red chilli pepper
  • 20 curry patta leaves
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 8 flakes of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 3 medium sized granny smith apples
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 1 cup rasins or crasins
  • ¼ cup apple cider or malt vinegar
  • 1 ½ tsp Sea salt

Method

Chop the apples into cubes, discarding the centers and stems. Salt the apples and let them sit for about 2 hours.

Roast the methi (Fenugreek), mustard and jeera (Cumin) seeds for about a minute (they should smell fragrant). Set them aside to cool and then grind them to a powder

De-seed the peppers and cut into chunks.

Grind the garlic and ginger into a paste with about a tablespoon of brown/malt vinegar.

Heat a cup of oil on medium heat in a medium sized pan. When it is hot add the curry patta leaves and fry for about a minute – do not let them brown. Lower the flame to a medium low and add the garlic ginger paste and saute for about a minute. Add the ground spice and saute for another minute. Add the turmeric and Kashmiri chilli powder. Stir for about a minute.

Now add the peppers and saute for a minute. Pat the apple chunks with a paper towel and then add them to the pot. Stir to distribute all the spices. Cover and cook. Stir every 5 to 10 minutes. Add extra oil if needed.

After about 15 minutes, add the sugar and crasins. Stir to incorporate and cover. Cook for another 15 minutes on a low flame, stirring intermittently. The apples should be very soft by now. Add the salt. Taste and add more salt/vinegar/Kashmiri chilli powder. Add the vinegar only if you want it more tart.


Cauliflower – The vegetable that just keeps going

Cauliflower Pizza

Cauliflower Pizza

 

The cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable. I have been reading on all the different things that you can do with it. I know some folks simply cannot get over the taste of cauliflower. However, you really cannot taste or smell it when you make cauliflower pizza. I would recommend that you try it. One of the main things to do is to get all the water out of the cauliflower. The more you are able to wring out the crispier the crust becomes.

Go ahead try this and let me know if you like it!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized head of cauliflower (3 cups after processing)
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • sprinkle of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 egg beaten
  • salt

Sauce

  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (Drained)
  • 1 spring of rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder

Toppings

  • 15 cherry tomatoes – halved
  • basil leaves – shredded
  • sea salt

Method

Line your pizza pan with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 450 F.

Cut off the leaves and wash the head of cauliflower. Pat dry with a paper towel and then chop into chunks. Use your food processor and process the chunks in batches to get cauliflower rice. You should end up with about 3 cups of cauliflower rice. Place this in a microwave safe bowl and cover. Microwave for about 4 minutes. Put the cooked cauliflower onto a paper towel and let if cool.

Once the cauliflower is cool, wring the water out of it. You want to squeeze as much water out as possible. This helps you attain a crispy crust.

Put the cauliflower into a mixing bowl. Add the Italian seasoning, almond meal, red pepper flakes,  olive oil. Using a fork stir it all to incorporate. Then add the egg and stir till well mixed. Put the mixture on the pizza pan and using your hand press it out to form a 10 inch disk. Make sure that the edges of the disk are just a tad bit raised. The disk should not be too think.

Put the pizza in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Start on your sauce.

After the 12 minutes have passed, make sure that you see the edges of the pizza have browned. Keep it in for a minute or two more if it does not look like it has browned. Remove from the oven.

 Top with the sauce, cherry tomatoes and bake for another 4 minutes. Remove from the oven. Top with basil and sea salt. Let it cool for 2 minutes. Then cut it with a pizza wheel and serve.
Sauce
Cook the drained diced tomatoes with the rosemary and cumin. Let the sauce thicken stirring. This will take about 10-12 minutes. Cool.

Pizza time

Pizza

So I have had a long break, but I have been baking and cooking away. I must say that living in Atlanta one does get to try out a plethora of various cuisines. However, I must say when I visited Melbourne, Australia I was so impressed with the variety of food. There were restaurants that had street food from South East Asian countries. I did partake of a few and enjoyed every tantalizing morsel of yumminess. If you ever get a chance to visit Melbourne make sure you leave enough of time to eat. In addition, make sure you eat at Brunetti’s – they even have a counter in Myer’s and we totally enjoyed their desserts. Make sure you get the bite sized pieces that way you get to sample a lot more!

Now back to the regularly scheduled writing –  I have been baking pizza the Peter Reinhart way which I think is great. You get a really lovely thin crust and you get to freeze dough for a later date. In addition, I have used the dough to make Indian bread ‘Naan‘ which comes out really well. Well I was watching TV – Cooks Country on PBS and they had what a pan pizza recipe. I was most intrigued by it. I was very happy to have my trusty kitchen-aid do the kneading for me. This pizza dough is not the thin crust variety but the pizza is absolutely brilliant.

Pizza first rise

Pizza Stretched before second rise Pizza stretched before second rise

 

Feel free to modify the toppings – I happen to love the peppery taste of tarragon and I had some lying around so on it went. I wanted to increase the spice level and that is why I used a spicy pepper jack cheese. You can go with any variety of cheese that you like and you can top it with anything you like.

Ingredients

Adapted from Cooks Country

For the dough

  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp water (warm water)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the topping

  • 28 oz can of drained diced tomatoes
  • 8 oz mozzarella (shredded)
  • 8 oz jalapeno pepper jack (or your favorite cheese shredded)
  • 20 basil leaves (cut into strips)
  • tarragon (optional – as much – as little – or not at all)
  • sea salt optional

Method

Stir the yeast in the 3/4 cup of water and let it rest for 5 minutes until nice and frothy. Mix the bread flour and salt.

Add the yeast water mixture and the oil to the dough and knead on low until the dough comes together. Then turn up the speed to medium low and knead for about 5 minutes until you have a really nice soft sticky dough. If your dough is not sticky start adding the additional water as you continue to knead for another 5 minutes. Take a teaspoon of olive oil and coat your dough.

Oil a 11×13 sheet pan well, this will help your pizza slide out very easily once done. Plop the dough out onto the pan and pat it into the shape of a rectangle. You do not need it to fill the pan. Just a 10×6 inch rectangle should suffice. Cover with cling wrap and put it in a warm place until doubled in size. This should take about an hour to an hour and a half.

After the dough has risen, remove the cling wrap. The dough should be very sticky. Work it to the edges of the pan gently stretching it. Cover it with cling wrap again and let it rest for about 45 minutes.

About 10 minutes before the dough is ready turn your oven to 500F.

When your dough is ready top with the two shredded cheese till about a half inch from the side. Then top with the tomato. Put it in the oven for about 10-12 minutes. You will see your crust is formed and your cheese is bubbling. Remove it from the oven using your oven mitts. Let it cool for about 2-3 minutes on a wire rack. While it is cooling top with basil and tarragon if using. Sprinkle a little sea salt (if using).  Then slide the pizza out onto your cutting board slice and enjoy.

 

 

 

 


Spicy Jackfruit Curry

Jackfruit Curry

Jackfruit Curry

Jackfruit is a fruit I loved eating when I was growing up (and still do). There are a lot of people who do not like eating it because they cannot get past the smell. My brother, for instance, could not stand the aroma. To me though, the aroma is wonderful. Jackfruit is also a ‘cousin’ of Durian. Now that is a smell I cannot get over. It is so stinky to some people, that in South East Asia they ban the fruit from hotels. I did get around to trying a candy made out of Durian and did not like it. Okay, back to the one that I like which is the variety that you get in India, it is a bit of a challenge to tackle. It starts off with a spiny skin, you cut the jackfruit into half, then quarters. Then you oil your hands well and hopefully you have spread newspaper all over the counter. Then you start pulling each of the fruit pods out. The reason for the oil is that the pods are held to the fruit with this glue like substance and the oil prevents it from sticking to your fingers. Each of the fruit pods have a large seed that a lot of people roast and then use.
Now that we have spoken at length about the fruit, this recipe came about because a friend of mine had told me he made a Jackfruit curry and then told me how he made it. I looked over the internet and all the recipes used the unripe fruit. Apparently the unripe version is fairly common across India. So I decided I was going to try making it – now the version I made was spicier as I added hot sauce to it (which I have left out of the recipe) but if you want an even bigger kick go ahead and add 2 tablespoons of Maggie hot and sweet. I also used a canned variety and drained all the syrup out of the can.
Pile this spicy jack-fruit filling into warmed pitas, and serve with yogurt.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, diced (2 cups)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 1 Serrano pepper, minced
  • 2 teaspoons red chili powder
  • 3 teaspoons cumin-coriander powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 6 cloves crushed
  • 3 pods of cardamom, shells removed and seeds crushed
  • 4 tablespoons of tomato ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 20-oz. can ripe jack-fruit in syrup, rinsed, drained, and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Method

Heat the oil in a pot on medium heat. When the oil is hot add the onions. Cook the onions (stirring occasionally) until they have softened and are translucent. Then add the garlic, ginger, green chile and cook for a minute. Add the chili powder, cumin-coriander powder, turmeric powder and crushed cloves and cardamom and stir for a minute.

Add the chopped jack-fruit, ketchup and lemon juice. Stir and cover and cook on a medium low for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. When done remove the cover add the salt and cook for another minute and serve.


Spiced Roasted Eggplant

Spiced Roasted Eggplant

Spiced Roasted Eggplant

My love for roasted vegetables has grown over time. I have been trying different vegetables and so many of them roast so well. Here is one of my favorites. This one is spicy, if you do not want to have it spicy – you can reduce the amount of sambal olek. The brown sugar caramelizes really well and is a really nice balance to the spice.

In addition, you can roast other vegetables along with this – green beans, thinly sliced onions etc.

Ingredients

  • 4 Japanese eggplants
  • 3 tablespoons Sambal Olek (use less for a less spicy version)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Method

Turn your oven to 350F. Line your baking tray with foil.

Wash and dry the eggplants. Cut the tops off and then split the eggplants in half. Using a sharp knife, make diagonal cuts in the inside of the eggplant. Do not cut all the way through.

Make a paste of the sambal olek, olive oil, brown sugar, olive oil and salt. Spread this paste on the eggplant.

Drizzle olive oil on the panko crumbs to moisten and then distribute evenly on the tops of the eggplants.

Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm.

 


The Stacks

 

The Stacks

The Stacks

I was trying to decide on a dessert to make for Altaf’s birthday and since he loves chocolate as much as I do, there was no doubt that it was going to definitely be chocolate related. I waffled throughout the week about what I was going to make and went through a few of my cook books looking for ideas. Well it came around to Saturday and I still had not come up with any idea. I happened to be reading King Arthur’s blog on cookies and spotted this cookie recipe that looked amazing.

So I went about making them. I will say they are very easy and a lot of fun to assemble. The one thing that is important is to roll them out evenly. I used a crinkle cookie cutter as I wanted to get a pretty edge. However, once the cookies were baked you could not really tell that they had a scalloped edge to them.  Another important factor is that you want them to all be the same thickness. These cookies do not spread so you can bake quite a few of the per sheet.

Once you have assembled them cookies refrigerate them. The longer you let them sit in the refrigerator the softer they become as the cream softens them. Which allows you to very neatly eat them with a spoon. They only stayed in my refrigerator for about 6 hours and were not really soft to be eaten with a spoon. Everyone ate them a cookie at a time licking the cream off of them just like you would a sandwich cookie.

I used Bailey’s to add a bit of oomph to the cookies but you can add Kahlua or any other liquor that would pair well.

 

Ingredients

Cookies (Makes 50) 

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 large egg (at room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder

 

Chocolate Baileys Cream
 
1.5 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup Bailey’s Irish cream

 

Method

Cookies

Line two baking sheets (11×17) with silicone sheets or parchment paper.

Using your electric mixer (with the paddle attachment) beat the sugar, butter, salt, baking powder and espresso powder until well mixed.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined.  Add the flour and cocoa powder and continue until combined.  Place the dough ball in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment/wax paper. I used the rubber guides on my rolling pin to get an 8th of an inch thickness. Well its pretty thin really. I used a circle crinkle cutter of about 1 1/2 inch. Place the cut cookies (they are not going to spread so they do not need to be placed far apart) on your baking sheet and then re-roll the remainder of the dough and repeat. The advantage of using the parchment paper is that you do not need to flour any surface.

Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes checking them prior to the 10 minutes and removing them if done. Cool cookies completely on a wire rack.

Cream

Whisk the cream until it starts to thicken. Then add the sugar and cocoa powder and continue until you get soft peaks. Then beat for a little bit more. Add the bailey’s if using and fold into the whipped cream.

em>Assembling
Put a cookie, spoon a  tablespoon of filling then stack the next cookies and continue until you get a  5 layer stack. Gently press down each cookie as you add it to the stack. Top with some more cream. Let it sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Dust with cocoa powder or chocolate shavings before serving.