Saturday, September 17, 2011

(Not Really) Moroccan Chicken & Lentils Recipe

Not Moroccan Chicken
Hunger ChallengeThis might be my favorite Hunger Challenge recipe. My apologies for it being brown on brown on brown, but trust me, it is delicious. On a bed of earthy and mildly spiced lemony lentils rests sweet roasted onions--some soft and some chewy--and tender roast chicken with crisp skin. It's is a combination of two different Bon Appetit recipes, but modified pretty significantly because I didn't have all the ingredients necessary. The technique for pan roasting the chicken thighs is a good one though I had to adjust it to keep the chicken from overcooking.

Beans and legumes like lentils are a very economical way to stretch a budget and more expensive ingredients such as fresh vegetables and meat or cheese. My chicken thighs were over 6 ounces each, so one per person was plenty, but if you need more for bigger appetites by all means double the number of chicken thighs. I baked this dish in the toaster oven, you may need to cook it a little longer if you use a conventional oven. I'm not sure how Moroccan the original recipe is. My version is undoubtedly even less Moroccan which accounts for he admittedly goofy name.

A few other tips for saving money when it comes to cooking and shopping:

* Canned beans are more than dried beans. Cook things like chicken broth, beans and rice ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator all week and use them as you need them.

* Look for vegetables that are in season and on sale. Compare the price to frozen vegetables especially for things like spinach and peas.

* Soups and stews like chili are easy ways to save, but you may get tired of eating soft food. Make some crunchy raw salads with carrots or beets to add variety.

* Scour the "ethnic" food aisles for bargains. Sometimes spices and even staples like rice can be cheaper there.

* Cook double portions and you'll have something to eat on days when you don't have the time to cook.

* Buy in bulk. Instead of buying a jar of spices and bags of dried fruit and nuts, buy just a few teaspoons or tablespoons.

* Price out "value packs." The chicken I bought was only 99 cents a pound, but most packages were at least four pounds.

* Utilize ingredients that add flavor, texture and visual appeal to your meals, but don't cost a lot such as fresh cilantro, green onions and toasted bread crumbs.

Not Really Moroccan Chicken & Lentils

$2.09 for 2 servings (double the chicken for bigger appetites)

1/4 lb brown lentils .32
3 cups water

2 chicken thighs, bone in 1.60
1/2 onion, sliced .20

2 Tablespoons olive oil .40
Juice of 1/2 lemon .17
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon .05
1 garlic clove, minced .05
Chopped cilantro to garnish .10 (optional)

Preheat toaster oven to 450 degrees. Combine water and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a saucepan over high heat. Add lentils; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well; rinse with cool water and drain again. In a mixing bowl combine the olive oil, lemon juice, chile powder, cinnamon and garlic. Add the lentils and toss. Season with salt to taste. Make a bed of lentils on each plate that you will serve the chicken on.

Season chicken with salt, pepper. Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat until hot. Place thighs in dry skillet, skin side down, and cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; continue cooking until fat renders and skin is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook for another 5 minutes. Flip again so skin side is down and tuck sliced onions into the skillet, between the pieces of chicken. Transfer to the oven and cook 12 minutes. Check the skillet occasionally to make sure the onions are not burning and stir as necessary. Flip chicken so skin side is up; continue cooking until skin is crisp and meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Chicken is done when it reaches the internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remove from the oven. Place onions on the lentil salad and chicken on top of that. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Friday, September 16, 2011

More Observations on the Hunger Challenge

Food Bank pantry
Yesterday's post was the most pitiful thing I think I've ever written. I tried a new recipe, Queso Panela Kebabs, and it was a failure. The cheese melted into a sad pile of goo. Failure happens but it's all the more discouraging when you're on a budget. It's not like you can run out and buy more ingredients. Also, you can probably tell, my heart just wasn't in it. I was feeling uninspired and that always comes across when I'm cooking (and writing). So I made a dull meal lacking any real creativity. It makes me embarrassed to read that post. But my embarrassment is nothing compared to the feelings that someone really living on a limited budget would experience.

There has been some criticism of the Hunger Challenge specifically from people who have experienced real hardship, some of whom have been on public assistance. I can completely understand why they would not want to participate and would feel uneasy with the Hunger Challenge. If I experienced real hunger I would not want to relive it or even be reminded of it. The Hunger Challenge is about the experience of living on a very limited budget. It is NOT an attempt to fully experience what someone actually living on a food stamps budget experiences, because that would be impossible.

In the future I hope the Hunger Challenge will make room at the table for those in our midst who have experienced hunger. I'd like to see a space for those who are willing to share their stories, like KitchenMage. Painful as it may be, those stories are more powerful than anything we who are taking the Hunger Challenge could ever share. Like the Hunger Challengers they raise awareness about hunger and also inspire readers to make donations. And really, no matter what we do, that's what it's all about.

Ways you can help

♥ Read blogs by people taking the Hunger Challenge. There's a blogroll here.

♥ Follow the Hunger Challengers on Twitter. There's a listing here, or search for the hashtag #HungerChallenge.

♥ Learn more about the San Francisco Food Bank - and make a donation. For every $1 donated the food bank can supply hungry people with $6 worth of food!

♥ Follow the San Francisco Food Bank on Twitter or visit their Facebook page to see how they're fighting hunger every day.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blueberry Orange Sour Cream Bread


Sweet breads are a great way to enjoy the goodness of a cake-like dessert which can be relished by itself, or even be paired with tea or coffee. Fruit breads are not only easy to make, they can be really versatile to incorporate seasonal ingredients. This week we enjoyed baking this Blueberry Bread, made even more delicious by addition of citrusy Orange flavor, and made soft by using Sour Cream. The bread not only smells great, it can fill your kitchen with a refreshing aroma that lingers long after you've finished your delicious loaf of Blueberry Orange Bread.

1 cup whole grain flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sour cream
1 stick butter - at room temp
1 1/2 cup cane sugar
4 large eggs
Zest of 2 large oranges
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tsp vanilla
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup blueberries

Spray 2 bread pans generously and keep aside. Preheat oven to 350 deg F.

Cream butter and sugar in large bowl. Beat in eggs one at a time, then orange zest, orange juice and vanilla.

Thoroughly combine flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl and add to creamed butter mixture. Slowly add the sour cream and mix everything well to form an even blend.

Fold in the blueberries, taking care not to mix too hard so s to break them.

Bake in the middle rack for 45-50 minutes at 350 F, until the loaves swell up and pass the toothpick test. When done, let them rest on the wire rack till they cool to room temp. Only then attempt to cut the loaf into slices.

Store in a cool, dry container and you can relish this bread for up to a week. It tastes great 2-3 hours after baking, as the orange and blueberry juices slowly sink in to make a moist flavorful bread!

This has now become one of our cherished breakfast recipes. Enjoy it yourself either with your morning tea, or serve them as a sweet treat at your next Tea party!

Chicken & Vegetable Kebabs

Chicken Vegetable Kebabs
Hunger ChallengeI believe there's a trick to making kebabs. While skewers threaded with alternating chunks of vegetables and seafood, meat or whatever-you-put-on-a-skewer look great, they are difficult to cook so that everything is done at the same time. On the other hand, if you make each skewer with just one ingredient, it's guaranteed to cook evenly. Another thing, I have metal skewers and bamboo ones as well. Recipes always tell you to soak the bamboo skewers so they don't burn. But I can't be bothered. I'm going to throw the skewers away after I use them anyway so what do I care if they burn? I've never had any kebabs burst into flames and I'm not cooking over an open flame (unless I'm broiling) so it's really no big deal.

Food on a stick always seems to be more plentiful than just plain grilled food-on-a-plate. I don't know why. I had lots of chicken thighs, because I bought a "value pack" for 99 cents a pound. But I had to buy 4 pounds. Luckily I have a household of two. I can't imagine one person eating anywhere near that much chicken.

I made a simple marinade for the chicken and the vegetables, using the paltry ingredients I had on hand. I used only vegetables that were on sale. Fresh herbs would have been a nice addition but I didn't have the budget for them and my dry Italian seasoning mix probably would have burned. I served these skewer with couscous but really any starch would do. After I bought the bulk couscous I saw bulgar which was much cheaper and probably has more nutritional value. In an attempt to use everything possible, I added the lemon zest from my half lemon to the couscous. This is not a recipe I would make again. It was healthy, cheap and fast, but it was also boring.

Chicken & Vegetable Kebabs

$2.92 for 2 servings

1/2 onion .10
1/2 zucchini .34
1 Anaheim chile pepper .29
4 oz. button mushrooms, stems removed .99
2 chicken thigh, skinned and boned .80

1 Tablespoon olive oil .18
Juice of 1/2 lemon .17
I clove garlic, pressed .05
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Mix the marinade, toss the vegetables in it then thread on skewers. Then place the chicken in the marinade, allow to marinate for 10 minutes then thread on skewers. Grill or broil until done.

Picnic ~ Beverly Exel

For more minis by Beverly Exel, visit:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hunger Challenge Chili Recipe

Hunger Challenge Chili
Hunger ChallengeThis is one of the cheapest meals I know how to make. There are a lot of tricks to make it taste good without using very many ingredients. Chili is all about layers or flavor and texture and spice. While texture is not the hardest thing to achieve on a budget, flavor and spice are a bit trickier. To make up for the lack of complexity in the spices, I overcompensated in the texture department and also tried to get the most flavor out of the ingredients I could afford.

I like some fresh vegetables in my chili so I used one Anaheim chile and half of a large onion. I also used mushroom stems. Surprise! I will use the caps for another recipe and I would have just discarded the stems. Mushrooms, even just the crumbled stems, lend savory "umami" flavor and also meaty texture. Speaking of meaty texture, this is not a purely vegetarian chili. It has two slices of bacon which might not seem like much, but it adds a bit of meatiness and fat for cooking the vegetables.

I used a combination of white beans and red beans which made it more visually appealing. The beans were cooked from dry beans so I spent less money than if I had bought canned beans. I also used one can of corn. I bought a 2 1/2 ounce packet of ground New Mexico chile powder I found in the Hispanic food section of the store. I used 3 Tablespoons but you could use less or more to taste. Likewise the amount of salt you use will vary depending upon your taste. I only used one clove of garlic which was probably a mistake. I would recommend at least two.

Because I cooked all the beans earlier, the chili comes together quickly. I normally don't buy diced tomatoes because they don't break down very well, but in this case that was fine. I primarily chose them because they had "mild green chiles" in them and I was looking for all the flavor I could find.

Frankly this chili isn't all the different from my normal everyday vegetarian version, though it has a lot less spice. Depending upon your serving size, you could certainly add cilantro, chopped green onions and a tiny bit of cheese on top of each serving and still stay on budget.

Hunger Challenge Chili

$3.68 for 4 servings

2 slices bacon, diced .58
1 Anaheim chile pepper, diced .29
1/2 onion, diced .11
1 clove garlic .05 (I would recommend adding more)
3 Tablespoons ground New Mexico chile powder .30
Mushroom stems from an 8 oz pkg of mushrooms (no cost since they would normally be discarded)
2 cups water
1 can diced Mexican style tomatoes .98
2 cups cooked red beans (1/4 lb dried) .31
2 cups cooked white beans (1/4 lb dried) .31
1 can corn .75

Generous toppings for 1 serving, about 35¢
cilantro .05
cheese .24
green onions .06

Heat a large dutch oven and saute the bacon for a few minutes or until beginning to brown. Add the onions and pepper and continue cooking until they are soft and onions are golden. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for another couple of minutes then add the chili powder, water and tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes before adding the beans and corn. Simmer another 10 minutes and season aggressively with salt.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Eggless Butterless Oats cake

This week, my partner for the Blog Hop Wednesdays stared by Radhika of Tickling palates is Kalyani of Sizzling Tastebuds..I chose to try her Eggless Butterless Oats cake but brought in minor changes to make it a Vanilla flavoured one.


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup coarsely powdered oats
1 1/2 cup sugar (powdered)
1/2 tsp baking soda
Salt 2 pinches
10 tbsp cooking oil
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla essence

Sieve the flour with salt and baking soda 2-3 times. Add the sugar and oats to it and keep aside. Beat cooking oil, water and essence for a few minutes and add the flour mix to it. Gently get everything together and pour in a greased pan. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and bake for 30-40 minutes checking if the cake is done by getting a clean toothpick back when inserted in the cake.

Cool well and garnish as desired. I cut the cake into two and make a orange flavoured butter cream with orange essence, butter and icing sugar. Spread the cream over one part and cover it with the other part. Spread some more butter cream over it and in the sides.  Add a bit of red orange colour to the remaining butter cream mixture and garnish the cake as desired.

Although this cake wouldnt be fluffy and the texture wouldnt be like the normal cake because of the addition of oats, it definetely is a good option to try for kids evening snacks.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Picnic ~ Mariarita Baldan

For more minis by Mariarita Baldan, visit:

Is Hunger a Taboo Subject?

Cabbage from the San Francisco Food Bank
Hunger ChallengeThe first year I participated in the Hunger Challenge, one of my commenters basically said that anyone who was hungry in this country was lazy. I was also told by a blogger that she wouldn't participate in the Challenge because it was her personal goal to support organic farmers and the Hunger Challenge just encouraged support of an already broken food system. In subsequent years I have heard that hunger is a bigger issue in other parts of the world, and that childhood obesity is the real problem we should be focused on.

The goal of the Hunger Campaign is to raise awareness about hunger in the San Francisco Bay Area. Participants in the Challenge live on the same budget a food stamp recipient would receive, a paltry $4.72 a day. But somehow, I find many people I tell about the Challenge don't want to hear about that. They'd rather focus on something else. All those other issues - politics, sustainable food systems, organics, world hunger and even childhood obesity get way more attention in the media than local hunger. Yes. I said local hunger.

Here in San Francisco, according to the San Francisco Food Bank, 197,000 people struggle to feed themselves and their families. In Marin, just over 40,000 people - or 16% of the population - face the same problem. 
I find it shocking that in a community as rich as ours (San Francisco and Marin), 237,000 people live at or below 185% of the federal poverty line ($33,873 per year for a family of three). While children or families may be eligible for aid at that level, even with assistance it can be very challenging to provide enough food to consistently nourish themselves.

Won't you think about what you can do help alleviate hunger in your community?


♥ Take the Hunger Challenge yourself. Sign up here.

♥ Read blogs by people taking the Hunger Challenge. There's a blogroll here.

♥ Follow the Hunger Challengers on Twitter. There's a listing here, or search for the hashtag #HungerChallenge.

♥ Learn more about the San Francisco Food Bank - and make a donation. For every $1 donated the food bank can supply hungry people with $6 worth of food!

♥ Follow the San Francisco Food Bank on Twitter or visit their Facebook page to see how they're fighting hunger every day.

Shopping for the Hunger Challenge

Foods Co

Hunger ChallengeThere will be no coffee, no tea, no chocolate, no ice cream this week. No matter how much I stretched my budget shopping at less expensive stores this year, some things are just out of the question. In the past I have shopped at Safeway and at Whole Foods for the Hunger Challenge. This year, I did my primary shopping at what is considered a "price-impact warehouse store" Foods Co and picked up a few bulk items at Rainbow Grocery (a coop). What exactly is a price-impact warehouse store? Warehouse stores are often located in low rent areas, have spartan, warehouse style interiors and most importantly, low prices. They are not as service oriented or as high priced as traditional supermarkets.

Shopping at Foods Co was eye opening. The demographic of their shoppers is clearly not the typical supermarket shopper. I saw mostly Asian and Latino shoppers many who were not speaking English, primarily young families and some older couples. The store was bustling on a Saturday and people were clustered around the sale items and comparison shopping, looking at prices. More than once I heard someone talking about pay day. One woman complained about the price of chicken. She told me she has a small refrigerator and freezer now and cannot buy the larger "value packs."

While prices for some things were good, the quality of the produce was not consistently high. The pears, 4 pounds for a $1, were small and hard, and many had cosmetic imperfections. I couldn't find one good eggplant. They were all old, wrinkly, many with mushy brown spots. There were virtually no organic products. When I couldn't find something employees pointed me in the general direction but never stopped what they were doing to help me.

My initial shopping list of items cost me $40 at Foods Co would have cost $65 at Safeway (according to my virtual shopping cart on Bottom line: Foods Co = CHEAP.

At Rainbow Grocery I bought bulk items that I would not have otherwise been able to afford such as extra virgin olive oil, roasted soy nuts, raisins and couscous.


Here is my entire shopping list for two people, for one week:

Foods Co

Cilantro .33
Turnip greens .78
Lemon .33
3 yogurts 1.00
Bok choy .41
Chile peppers .88
Green onions .33
Mixed fruit (12 apples, oranges) 3.98
Bartlett pears (6 very small) .48
Ginger .27
Mushrooms 1.98
Rice 1.98
Chicken thighs (10) 4.04
Chili powder .99
Italian style canned tomatoes .98
Mexican style canned tomatoes .98
Canned corn .75
Bouillon .98
Milk (quart) 1.48
Red beans (1 lb bag) 1.25
White bean (1 lb bag) 1.25
Lentils (1 lb bag) 1.28
Eggs 2.50
Corn tortillas (30) 1.08
Salsa 1.50
Instant oatmeal (10 packs) 1.98
Pasta .25
Panela cheese (10 oz) 3.18
Quesadilla cheese (10 oz) 3.85
Garlic .49
Bacon (12 slices) 3.50
Italian seasoning .98
Zucchini (1 small) .68
Onions (3 large) .65

TOTAL $47.74

Rainbow Grocery

Extra virgin olive oil 2.31
Cinnamon .31
Couscous 2.17
Raisins 1.21
Soy nuts 2.19
Frozen spinach 1.59

TOTAL $9.73 (with bag credit)


Note: The total budget for 2 people is 66.08, but my husband is only partly participating in the challenge. I will price out my meals.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Planning for the Hunger Challenge

Planning for the Hunger Challenge
Shopping on a tight budget isn't impossible, but it does take work. Yesterday I started planning for the Hunger Challenge, a campaign to help raise awareness about hunger in our community. For one week during Hunger Action Month participants live on a very limited food budget, comparable to what food stamp recipients live on. In 2008 just seven of us participated in the Hunger Challenge and the budget was $3 a day, this year there will be over 50 250 people participating and the budget is $4.72 per day.

Tomorrow I will be shopping with CBS reporter and Hunger Challenge participant Juliette Goodrich at Foods Co. Yesterday I read the Food Co weekly flyer and planned my menu based on sale items and what I know I can afford.

Here is what I plan on cooking and eating, for new dishes I will post the recipes throughout the week:

Panela and Vegetable Kabobs - a new recipe I will be creating for the challenge. Panela is a cheese similar to haloumi but much less expensive.

Chicken and Bacon Quesadillas - another new recipe that I am creating for the challenge.

Chicken and Rice Soup - past participant Vanessa Barrington made this recipe a few years ago l based on a recipe by Andrea Nguyen

Moroccan Chicken & Lentils - I will be modifying a Bon Appetit recipe I found on Epicurious

Pasta Fagioli - truly cucina povera, something I made the first year of the Hunger Challenge, but this time I think I will add some spinach

Chili - I will make this using a variety of beans, corn, onions and peppers

Red beans and rice

For breakfast, I will eat oatmeal or eggs

For lunch I will eat leftovers or quesadillas. In past years, I have eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but I just don't want to do that again.

Of course my plans may change depending upon what I find at the store and how much I can buy...

Hunger Challenge 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

Nutritious cereal bar


2 cups crisp breakfast cereals with nuts
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup demerara sugar
2 tbsp butter

Heat butter, sugar and honey on low flame till sugar melts. Add in the cereals and mix well.

Spread on butter paper or greased plate and roll slightly with the greased rolling pin to even it out. Let it cool for 10 minutes and cut into bars.

Cool well and serve.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

All about Fava Beans

fava beans
When I lived in Italy there were all kinds of lovely things to eat that I never saw back home. Fortunately three of my favorites – fava beans, Tuscan kale and baby artichokes are now as common here as they were over there. Fava beans also known as broad beans take a bit of work to prepare, but are totally worth it. They are super tasty and healthy too, a good source of protein, fiber, iron and folate. Young fava beans are tender, have an unmistakeable buttery texture, an appealing herbal/bitter edge and cook up in no time. Older fava beans can be very starchy and are kind of earthy, but make a great addition to braises, soups and stews.

You can cook fava beans in the pod if they are very young and fresh. You can broil them, grill them, saute them in a pan with oil and salt or braise them in broth. But the more typical way of cooking them is to remove the beans from the pods, boil them for 3-5 minutes then pop the bean out of its thick skin (opening the skin then pinching the bean works best for me). I put the beans in a bowl of cold water to cool them down, it also makes them easier to handle. It takes about a pound of fava pods to yield a cup of beans. Just remember, smaller beans will be sweeter, larger beans will be starchier. Fava beans are so delicious you really only need a smattering to add color, texture and flavor to your recipes.

If you have lots of fava beans, consider making a mash or puree. You can serve it as a side dish, as a sauce for pasta or on crostini. I included a recipe for Fava bean and ricotta crostini with fresh mint in the book I wrote for Williams-Sonoma. While associated with Spring, you may find them well into late Summer. According to Ocean Mist, the ones grown in Castroville, California are in season from May through November, but you may be hard pressed to find them beyond September. Because they are somewhat delicate in flavor, pair them with mild or seasonal ingredients like fennel, lemon, seafood, morels, lamb, or fresh cheeses like mozzarella, feta and ricotta.

Other ideas for fava beans:

* Make a salad with fava beans, feta and vinaigrette

* Toss them in creamy risotto with shrimp

* Add them to bean salads

* Saute with garlic and onions in olive oil

* Serve on top of fried mozzarella, dress with lemon and extra virgin olive oil

* Use as a garnish to chicken and vegetable soup

* Serve with gnocchi or ravioli and butter

* Add to cold rice, bulgur, quinoa or barley salads

* Puree along with chickpeas to make hummus

Some enticing fava bean recipes

Garlicky broiled fava beans from Local Lemons

Spring fava bean fennel salad from Simply Recipes

Stewed artichokes with fresh fava beans from Hunter Angler Gatherer Cook

Turkish fava beans with garlic yogurt sauce from Opera Girl Cooks

Braised fava beans with prosciutto from What did you eat?

My thanks to Ocean Mist for sending me some fava beans earlier in the season

Cherry & Peach Upside Down Cake


Though fall and baking go hand in hand, sometimes, its more comforting to bake whenever you want to, using whatever ingredients you have at hand. Just like this Upside down Peach and Cherry cake which was a great way to use the bag of stone fruits lying on my kitchen counter. Foodblogga's story behind his cake is much more interesting though, as its an adapted version of her grandma's 70-year old recipe! It's a fresh and colorful cake that will fill your house with a scintillating aroma, as the beautiful cake bakes in the oven. The peach and cherry compote that covers the cake will linger on your tastebuds long after the piece of cake is gone!

Fresh Cherry and Peach Upside-Down Cake
Makes 8 servings

1/2 cup butter (8 tablespoons)
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup fresh cherries, pitted and halved
3-4 small, ripe peaches, pitted and halved
1 cup flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Place butter in a 9-inch-round baking pan, and place inside of a warm oven until melted, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the butter. Add the peach halves, cut side down, then add the cherry halves, filling in all of the nooks and crannies.

In a medium bowl, combine sifted flour, baking powder and salt, and stir.

Using a hand mixer, in a metal or glass bowl, beat egg whites at high speed until fluffy. Set aside.

In a separate bowl beat egg yolks with sugar at medium speed until creamy. Add orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla extract, and beat well. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, and beat until well combined. Fold in the egg whites with a rubber spatula. Pour cake mixture evenly over the fruit, and smooth with the spatula.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert carefully onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Budding blogger : Lakshmi

Meet Lakshmi of Laxmi's Samayal in the Budding blogger series

She says -

I am Lakshmi senthilkumar. I am a happy house & I love cooking. I am the queen of my kitchen. I love my kitchen and cooking. I feel so happy when my hubby and my family enjoy my food and eat nicely. I have a great passion of cooking, I started this blog to share my recipes with my friends. Food should be shared with everyone. Nowadays in nuclear family its not possible. Now I am going to share my recipes with everyone through my laxmi’s samayal blog.I am from tamil nadu. In tamil samayal means cooking.I have posted lot of tamilian recipes. i am very happy of it. We can feel all are close to each other and sharing there foods as family. All visitor of my blog are in my family. My motherinlaw always says cooking doesn’t finish after cooking. It gets completed only after serving it with smilin! g face. Its true whatever it is serve it with smiling face will give extra aroma to your food. I invite every with a great smile to my blog..

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Picnic ~ MiniAcquoline

For more minis by Natalia of MiniAcquoline, visit:


1000 posts and 4 years of Simple Indian Food

Simple Indian food blog completes 4 wonderful years and also celebrates the 1000 th post today..

Thanks readers, subscribers, bloggers..everyone who commented and encouraged us and all those silent readers too who kept us going by visiting us often..

Here is a simple four tier vanilla cake with pista flavoured butter cream icing for the occassion

Friday, September 2, 2011

Pizza Pairing

pizza pairing

You know what to drink with pizza, beer or wine, right? But what beer and what wine? Does it make a difference? To figure out the answer to this weighty philosophical question a group of food and wine writers descended upon Patxi's Pizza to eat and drink. A lot. I'm pretty sure this may the first and only time anyone asked for a spit bucket at a pizza parlor.

We ate thin crust pizza, thick crust pizza, deep dish pizza, pesto pizza, meat pizza, vegan pizza you-name-it-we-ate-it pizza. The conclusions were pretty clear in terms of what worked and what didn't. Here are the matches I liked the best:

Thin "cheese to the edge" pizza + Rosenblum Cellars Zinfandel

After trying both Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, I'm convinced Zin is the right red wine for pizza. The heavier tannins stand up to the richness of the cheese and it is not overwhelmed by the acid of the tomatoes.

Sausage pizza + Stella Artois

This is an interesting match. The yeasty notes in the beer are mirrored in the pizza and each bite makes you want another sip of beer.

Spicy pizza + Hoegaarden

The bright lemony edge and bubbles in the Hoegaarden are really refreshing with a fiery pizza.

Everything pizza + Bud Light

While some might find Budweiser a bit flabby and boring, it's actually a good match when the pizza has got a lot of competing flavors.

When writing a story on pizza for a magazine a few years ago I learned Prosecco is considered a classic Italian choice to go with your pie.

What's your favorite beverage with pizza?

Thanks to Patxi's for hosting this tasting

Chocolates with cereal

Inspired from Aarthi's recipe at Yummy Tummy


1 cup breakfast cereals
2 tsp butter
125 grams chocolate bar
Chopped nuts or white chocolate or multi colour sugar balls for garnishing

Heat the butter and chocolate pieces using double boiler method and when it melts, slowly add in the cereals little by little. Mix well till the chocolate coats the cereals well.

Put a big spoon full into cupcake liners, garnish and refrigerate it for minimum 2 hours.

Quick to make and heavenly in taste...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Barbecue Sauce Reviews

barbecue sauce

Right now I have three open bottles of barbecue sauce in my fridge. I received each one as a sample to try. Welcome to the life of a food writer and frequent specialty food reviewer. So here's my feeling about barbecue sauce, the best barbecued meat doesn't need any sauce at all. It's smoky, spicy, tender and succulent (I'll post soon about Franklin Barbecue in Austin and you'll see what I mean). But for those of us who do not live in Texas or have a smoker, barbecue sauce is a great way to add flavor to all kinds of meat. You can cook with it or add it at the table to chicken, ribs, beef, whatever you like really.

I have three bottles so I figured why not compare them in a blind taste test? I cooked some boneless beef short ribs (flanken) very plainly. I like cross cut short ribs because they are flavorful and tasty even without any sauce and don't require a marinade. Flanken is a relatively inexpensive cut of beef, if you can find it. It isn't as tender as steak, but cut thin it is equally delicious cooked rare or well done. Really.

Each of the sauces were good, and each had a different flavor profile but for me and my other taster, my husband, there was one clear favorite.

The first bottle was 1849 bbq sauce (14oz $5). I don't know much about this brand, even how I ended up with it. But I can tell you I like it. If you're wondering why it's called 1849, according to the website, it's because in 1849, the average man ate 6 pounds of meat a day. Unlike the others, it has a strong smoky flavor, though by comparison it does seem a bit sweet. It has both molasses and brown sugar in it. If you like smoke, this is a good choice.

The second bottle was Pendleton mesquite bbq sauce (18oz $6.50). This sauce is more vinegary, so perhaps it would be better for cooking than for using at the table? It's also much thinner and seemed spicier than the others, but I think that may just be the vinegar. Or it could have been the whiskey, one of the more unusual ingredients. While it is called mesquite, and it has "natural mesquite flavor" listed as one of the ingredients, I didn't get much wood or smoke flavor.

The third bottle was SFQ (the original San Francisco-style barbecue sauce) (8oz $5). What is San Francisco-style bbq? Well the idea is that it includes some signature flavors of San Francisco, namely coffee, chocolate and in a bit of a stretch, red wine in the form of red wine vinegar. This sauce is very complex but well balanced with just a hint of heat. It was the clear favorite when compared with the others and I highly recommend you try it. I have no doubt some serious work went into getting the formula just right because no one flavor dominates, the spice and seasonings all meld together beautifully. I couldn't stop dunking my short ribs into this sauce. I'm convinced it would make just about anything taste good.

So why buy bbq sauce instead of making it? Convenience, plain and simple. It's a great to have on hand for when you have limited time or energy for making sauce from scratch. I sometimes use it to dress up sandwiches too, though having 3 bottles is probably more than anyone needs...Do you have a favorite bbq sauce? Let me know which one you prefer in the comments.