Ria's Collection: 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013


There was an era in my life,the dark ages, when I hated anything to do with baked apples. I totally hated it with all of my heart. If it had cinnamon sprinkled over, then just forget it! I had my first bite of an apple pie from a coffee shop in Bangalore and it was just cinnamon coated apples in some pathetic pastry. That was enough for me. I wouldn't even dream of eating an apple pie after that!
It all changed the day I decided to make my favourite Apple & Cardamom Cake. It is to die for!
Living in America for the past almost 4 years has changed me in the way I look at baked apples. Here, they make such amazing things with apples and cinnamon.The apple pies you get here,especially homemade ones are really to die for! It's just apples wrapped in pastry but there is really some magic in it.I eat a lot of fresh apples,especially the HoneyCrisp,when in season.I wanted to make an apple pie today but thought of baking an apple cake when I saw Dorie's recipe.
Jobin's mom is visiting us now and she loves all the cakes I bake. She particularly loved that Apple & Cardamom Cake I made a few years ago. It was a simple yet truly delectable one bowl apple cake.If you know me, I don't like to bake the same things again and again...except for that rich dark Chocolate cake that I bake almost every week. It's a staple in our house. So, if you ever drop in...that might be your snack :-)
Ian adores cakes.He was fast alseep when I baked it but wide awake while I was photographing it. So, he decided to photobomb for the most part until Jobin's mom came to the rescue. He says 'Mam' for food. So, that was one word he kept saying when I was busy and I couldn't stop myself from slicing it up for him.The photographs can be imperfect :-)

APPLE RUM CAKE Ingredients:
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 stick butter, melted & cooled
3 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 medium apples

Method: Preheat the oven to 350F and butter an 8inch springform tin.Line it with parchment.
Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt & set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy . Add the sugar and whisk till well blended.Add half the amount of flour and whisk it in. Add half the melted butter and whisk it in.Blend in the remaining flour followed by the melted butter .Add the peeled and diced apples and fold it in with a rubber spatula.Pour into the prepared tin and level it. Place the cake tin over a parchment lined baking tin and bake for 1 hour or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let it cool almost completely and then run a knife around it to make sure no apple pieces are sticking to the pan . Invert onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely.
The aroma while this cake bakes is so good!This cake has a nice golden brown colour on top which may make you think that it's like a well set cake on the inside. Actually, it's a very moist,almost custardy kind of a cake filled with apples. It's mildly sweet with a nice touch from the rum which will make you grab another slice.Ian enjoyed eating it from the tiny bites he could manage from us,so did the rest of us!

Wishing you all a prosperous 2014!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Ialways loved the addition of fresh ginger to any savoury dishes and never quite liked the combination of the spicy ginger and sugar while growing up. I think it was mostly in the head because whenever I ate a Fruit Cake, I never had a problem biting into a piece of crystallised ginger.Infact, I enjoyed it. Recently, I've been baking sweet stuff with fresh ginger and I am loving it, totally! It lends such a distinct taste to the baked goods.

This cake is really, really moist and incredibly delicious.Its quite easy to pull together too. No mixer needed! How's that for a change? These days, I find myself hunting for cake/cookie recipes which doesn't require a mixer. Less mess, less clean up means more time spent with Ian.Did you notice the bite marks on the star held by our Gingerbread  man? It's our Little fellow's contribution :-)


Speaking of Ian. I know, I always speak about him. In every single post. I cannot help it...he has just taken over my life.In a good way,of course! I think of him all the time.
When I read the reviews for this cake, I particularly noted one comment which mentioned that it was an adult cake. I was a bit hesitant to try it out after that because I wanted Ian to have a share of it too. He adores cakes and cookies. He even knows where I keep it !

After all the conflicting thoughts in my head, I went ahead and made the cake because I was eyeing this recipe for almost 4 years now. Yes, 4 years. I don't know why it took me so long.David published this recipe in 1999 and I got to make it now, in 2013!
When I tasted the cake batter,I knew Ian wouldn't mind eating it because I've made similar spiced cakes before and he literally gorged on them.

4 oz fresh ginger,grated or chopped very fine
1 cup mild molasses
1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup water
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 eggs,room temperature

Method: Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare a 9 1/2 inch springform tin*.
In a medium bowl, mix together molasses, sugar & oil. In another bowl, mix together the flour & spices. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add the baking soda. Take off the heat and pour the hot liquid to the molasses bowl and mix well. Add the flour little by little and blend until incorporated. Add the eggs and mix until everything is thoroughly combined. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour.Cool the cake for atleast 30 mins and then turn it out to cool completely.

*I used a bundt tin and the cake was done in 40 mins.

The only drawback,if you want to call it so, would be grating the ginger for the batter.The recipe clearly states that you can chop it fine but I wasn't very sure how fine that meant.So,I pulled out my trusted microplane grater and started grating only to realise how long it actually takes to finish up.Jobin came to my rescue and all of a sudden we both realised that I should have simply used my mixie and pulsed it! Mommy brains,I say!

Ian loved this cake and found it a bit spicy when he got a speck of black pepper. Other than that he enjoyed every little bite he could manage to devour. Jobin's mom thinks this cake would be very good for the winter cold and she couldn't stop herself from enjoying another slice! I shared it with some of our friends here and they seemed to have shared the same opinion that we had...delicious!It has everything to make this Holiday season special.

Here's something that you might like:

Chocolate Cupcake

MANGALORIAN CHICKEN GHEE ROAST : Fiery chicken curry from the Konkan Coast.

RITCHIE'S FAVOURITE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES:These are the cupcakes I've been baking for my little Brother ever since I could remember. They are moist and delicious on their own and if frosted...to die for!


Thursday, December 12, 2013


Have I ever told you how fond I am about Basil Pesto?I really,really love it! Infact,I've been craving so much for a Grilled Chicken & Pesto Cheese Sandwich lately and I made that along with this pasta dish and we both, Ian & myself enjoyed every morsel of it. I find sandwiches make a great finger food for toddlers that they can munch on it doand do whatever they want at the same time. I hardly have a liking for wholewheat /multigrain bread as is but once they are grilled or toasted with some butter, I am more than happy to eat them up! So that's the bread we have at home most of the time, so that Ian gets used to everything other than just white bread.

So much talk about sandwiches when this post is all about a humble pasta dish!
I enjoy making pasta at home because it is fuss free yet super delicious.Have you seen my award winning Mini Cheese Pasta Rolls & Parmesan and Macaroni Chicken Salad with Roasted Peppers? Pasta is very adjusting. It just absorbs the flavour of whatever sauce you toss them with. I rarely use bottled pasta sauces because its calorie laden and all I can think of while eating it would be about the aforementioned thing.The only one that I would use is a Marinara sauce because I don't know if I can make a good one at home.Maybe,someday I will!
This time, I used a bottled Pesto because my Basil plant is dead due to the extreme cold weather.This dish is super quick and can be packed and taken along with you for a picnic (I am already thinking of Summer!),sent as a lunchbox item of your kids or even for yourself at work! I used Farfalle / Bow tie pasta for this recipe because the sauce coats very well on pasta with ridges. You can also use Penne if that's what you prefer.
I am so glad that I am finally able to find sometime to cook, photograph and blog about it. I don't know how often I'll get to do it but I am keeping my fingers crossed because it is such a pleasure to cook,photograph and then talk about what made me cook it. Life of a food blogger! Or maybe I should rephrase it...Life of an accidental food blogger.I never knew what I was getting into 5 years ago. These days,every food blogger knows what they are getting into. They are well planned...unlike me!


16 oz Farfalle
1 cup pesto
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 cup pasta water,from cooking pasta
3 boneless skinless chicken thighs
Salt & Pepper
3 tablespoon sundried tomatoes,in oil
a small handful of parsley,chopped

Method: Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt it generously. Add the pasta into it and cook according to the package directions. I always do an extra minute because I like a little more softer pasta.
Meanwhile, salt and pepper the chicken on both sides and grill it on an indoor pan until done, about 3 minutes per side.Cut them up and keep aside.
In a large sautepan, heat the pesto,red chili flakes and cream until hot but not boiling. Add the pasta and toss well. Add the 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water and mix well to form a nice thick sauce. Add chopped sundried tomatoes,chopped grilled chicken, parsley and serve hot!Adjust seasonings if needed.
This is one good pasta dish! It's very flavourful and refeshing.This is like a piece of summer in the dark cold winter.You can easily cut back on the chicken and serve it as a veggie side dish. Better yet, keep aside some vegetarian pasta and then top the remaining with chicken and serve it to both vegetarians and non vegetarians!! See, I'm always thinking as to how to find shortcuts in the kitchen! :) Ian enjoyed munching on these and he could help himself since it wasn't too saucy or sticky enough to make a mess.Jobin gave me a 5 star rating for it and that seals the deal!
Here's some more that might be to your liking:

Vanilla - Apple Frangipane Tart

VANILLA - APPLE FRANGIPANE TART : An out of the world delicious apple tart. It has a buttery crust filled with an almond paste and topped with thinly sliced apples. If you haven't tried this recipe yet, it's high time you did.Or else, you are really missing out on something very good!

30 layered Crepe Cake

30 LAYERED CREPE CAKE : This make ahead dessert has 30 layers of crepes filled with a delectable Nutella Ganache. A winner hands down! Wow your guests with this stunner and reap the compliments for your hardwork!

Fake butter cookies which are just melts in your mouth. These are very easy to make,easy on the wallet and makes perfect gifts this season!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013


I've always loved Channa. Even as a kid,I would eat boiled channa and be content.It did get me into a lot of gastric trouble but my love for Channa never died.Be it the black Channa or the white.I've already shared some recipes with you using Channa : Kabuli Channa Biriyani & Channa Masala .Most of the Malayali Hindu's would know about the Parassinikadavu Muthappan and some of you must have heard about him atleast through a lot of Malayalam movies.Parassinikadavu is like a 45 minute drive from my home in Kannur.When Muthappan comes to any house to give his blessings ,there is a prasadam of salted boiled black channa. Our neighbours would invite us over for the ceremony and that's one thing I look forward to eating on that day.

When I moved to Bangalore for my studies and lived in a hostel,they used to serve a savoury snack with Channa called Sundal along with our tea .Our hostel 'Akka's' were super mean when it came to that one snack.They would give us about 10-15 pieces which was not even like a mouthful for hungry college goers.If they were to serve rice, they would get the largest possible spoon from that dark kitchen and serve us using that .But,not for a Sundal,which was one of the best tasting dishes that ever came out of that dark kitchen. I miss it.

Rawalpindi Chole also known as Pindi Chole.This recipe is a half written one in my 2006 recipe diary that I carry with me wherever I go. It's a dark blue diary whose pages are all torn now. Thanks to my little boy who loves doing anything to help me in the kitchen. I can see a foodie,unlike his Amma,growing up at lightening speed. I sometimes wonder how that little person can have such a refined taste for food. He absolutely loves Quinoa in any form but Couscous, not so much. I mean,he really likes to try everything and gives an opinion too,in his language. Babies are fascinating,in every single way.I always knew I'd enjoy having one of my own but never thought I'd enjoy him so so much! Such a bundle of joy...and drama they are!


Since I couldn't write anything beyond that ingredient list for this recipe back in 2006,I thought I'd might as well search for the whole thing and I found one at Sanjay's website.I like his recipes and thought of trying this one out since it looked delicious. This is a very quick one and of course if you can make the homemade fried onions & Chole Masala,it's going to be awesome! Trust me on that, since I did make it the way he mentioned with some minor changes to it .

1 cup dried chickpeas
1 tea bag

Pindi Chole Masala
1/4 teaspoon ajwain
1/4 teaspoon shahi jeera
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 inch piece cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
3 cloves
3 cardamom
1 tablespoon anardana
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/3 cup oil
1 large onion,sliced thinly
1 large tomato,chopped *
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
1 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/8 teaspoon asafotida
1/4 teaspoon black salt
1 teaspoon Kasuri Methi
1/2 bunch cilantro,chopped
Tamarind pulp,to taste

Method:Soak the dried chickpeas in water for 8 hours or overnight and pressure cook it with 2 1/2 cups of water, one tea bag and some salt for 3 whistles. Discard the tea bag.Drain the chickpeas and reserve the cooking liquid.
In a medium saute pan, dry roast the spices mentioned under the pindi chole masala and grind it to a fine powder when cooled.Set aside.
In a large saute pan, heat the oil and fry the onions till golden brown. Add tomatoes,ginger garlic paste and mix well for a minute or two until the tomatoes get mushy.Add chili powder,half of the pindi chole masala, asafotida,black salt & salt. Mix well. Add the chickpeas and mix well so that they are well coated with the masala.Add about a cup of the cooking liquid and let it simmer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the tamarind, kasuri methi & cilantro. Mix well and simmer for another 2-3 minutes. By now,the chickpeas would have absorbed all almost all of the liquid and is coated with the deep dark masala, which is exactly how you want it to be.Garnish with cilantro.

* I was out of tomatoes so I used half a small tin of tomato paste and it worked perfectly for me. 

This curry along with some good piping hot homemade roti's are the a match made in heaven! I am sure it goes well ,very well with Poori's and Batura's. Deep frying is very minimal in our house,especially breads during winter because of the poor ventilation in the kitchen. I miss my Indian kitchen whenever we cook,anything...not just deep frying. We both loved this dish and this one is going to be made over and over again. Ian didn't get to taste it because he was well fed and busy by the time we sat down to eat.

Now,are you wondering what to make for your upcoming Christmas celebrations? Let me suggest something for you,then!

IMG_8995.jpg THE PERFECT AMERICAN BISCUITS: Classic American breakfast item which can make you go weak in your knees. These buttery,tender biscuits are a cinch to make and the best part is that the dough can be made ahead of time!

Chicken Kababs FRIED CHICKEN KABABS : These are my most favourite kababs ever! Easy and totally delicious!Make sure you make more than what you think you will need because they are going to vanish in no time.

IMG_9102.jpg TARTA MAGICA : Let this magical season be made extra magical with this delicious,creamy cake. One batter gets poured into the pan and comes out in 3 layers once baked! Can it get any more magical than this?

Friday, November 15, 2013


Garlic, Onion & Poppy Seed Crackers
Iam a Daring Baker for the past 4 and a half years. And I have to admit that I have not been an active member for the past two. Even though I drool over every single challenge I quite didn't want to be challenged off of the time spent with Ian, which was what that kept me away from participating for the past months. I regret it every month,especially when the round up is posted. What creativity! What camaraderie! I am proud to be a part of it and I've baked so many things because of the group...Strudels,Cheesecakes,Bakewell Tart,Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cakes,Milano Cookies, Croquembouche,My Fair Lady Pudding...so so many stuff!
Garlic, Onion & Poppy Seed Crackers
This wonderful group was started by two ladies, Lis & Ivonne. Lis passed away a few days ago due to a heart attack. It shocked the Daring Baker's world. Having interacted with her in the past, when Jamie and myself hosted a challenge, I got to know Lis better. She was a lady with a big heart, ever ready to help.She will be missed.
Garlic, Onion & Poppy Seed Crackers
So we all got together and decided to do a tribute for Lis. A post on our food blogs or a post on Facebook/ Twitter/Instagram or maybe all of it! Some of them are planning to do a Pretzel post, which was the first post of the Daring Bakers,many many years ago. I decided to pull out one challenge from the many that I've missed participating in.There were so so many to chose but I am so pressed for time, this time, because we are travelling tonight.So in between all the packing & cooking for my Little Man,I did this. Trust me, it was a challenge pulling this off. My oven was working day and night. Cookies, cakes,crakers,breads...everything was popping in and out of it one after another.But I was determined to do it for Lis.
Garlic, Onion & Poppy Seed Crackers
This cracker is fantabulous. Are you an Onion lover? Do you find yourself picking up Sour Cream & Onion flavoured potato chips? Do you find yourself digging into that Caramelised Onion Dip? Do you? I do. I have to admit I love anything with onion in it and if there's some garlic too...I would be in paradise! I love the flavour and colour of red onions over all others but this time around I didn't have any so used the regular fat yellow onions that I had in my pantry.This recipe is from 'Menus from an Orchard Table'by Heidi Noble featured on Sarah's blog.

Garlic, Onion & Poppy Seed Crackers Makes about 6 dozen

1 cup pureed onion
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Blend the pureed onion,egg and oil to form a homogenous mixture. In a medium bowl, mix together rest of the ingredients and make a well in the centre. Pour the wet mixture into it and slowly stir to form a dough. Wrap and chill the dough for one hour. Roll it out paper thin in between two parchment sheets.Cut them into desired shapes and bake until evenly golden.It can take anywhere between 5-20 minutes at 350F depending on the thickness.It they are thicker,it will puff up like pitas. Cool completely before storing it.

Ian Vaava totally loved this! He was munching on one and he had another one ready in his other little hand.He loved dipping it into theCaramelised Onion dip I made to go along with the crackers. I also served it to our friends and Jobin and everyone had the same opinion...the crackers and dip is awesome!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

ARROZ CON POLLO for 5 years of food blogging!

Arroz Con Pollo
Ilove planning parties and of course planning it's menu!Once the menu is set, which is the most painstaking thing for me, I look forward to the cooking day.How I love that day! I try to cook something new, something different every time. I make sure I read most of the reviews before trying out a new recipe because of obvious reasons.That is exactly why I ask you dear readers to leave a review of the things you've tried out from here. It will help others for sure!
Arroz Con Pollo
This time, I chose to do a South American themed dinner when our friends came over.As always, I searched high and low for recipes that I've never tried...which does not mean I have tried almost all the recipes in the world! I have so much to try out,so much to learn...the world of cooking is so mighty and widespread.The world of food blogging makes it easier for me.
Arroz Con Pollo
Arroz Con Pollo. It is a Cuban chicken and rice dish flavoured with spices like oregano,bay leaves,cinnamon. It has lots of tomatoes in it which made me think whether it would be tangy. It wasn't. It just took the whole dish to another level. I totally loved this dish. The recipe calls for stirring the rice and chicken while it's cooking which is a no-no in my usual rice and chicken dishes because the chances of rice breaking up is very high. I guess this dish is meant to be stirred and nothing big happened. It gives you a mushy texture so do not expect every rice grain to be separate from each other, like our Biriyani's.
Arroz Con Pollo
Arroz Con Pollo
This food blog of mine turned 5 years,exactly a month ago. On October 10. It totally skipped my mind and I realised it only a few days later and I dont' think I need to mention how terrible I felt then. Of all the things, it's the 5th Blog Birthday and I forgot that! Mommy brains maybe? :-) So this celebratory recipe is from Gourmet,which I found via Deb.

Arroz Con Pollo
For the chicken:
3 large cloves of garlic
2 tablespoon white vinegar
2 tablespoon dried oregano,crumbled
12 chicken thighs,skin & excess fat removed

For the rice:
3 ounce Chorizo,skin removed and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 large bell pepper,chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
2 bay leaves
1 pound tomatoes,seeded and chopped
1 12 ounce bottle dark beer
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 cups long grain rice
1/4 cup roasted red pepper strips

For the chicken: Mince and mash garlic using 2 teaspoons of salt. Add that along with the remaining ingredients and marinate chicken for 1 hour.
For the rice: Add chorizo to a large 6-7 quart pot and saute on medium high heat for 2-3 minutes until it renders some fat. Add the onions, pepper & garlic to it and saute for 5 minutes. Add cumin, oregano,paprika and cook stirring for 1 minute. Add the marinated chicken and cook stirring occassionally for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes,beer,chicken stock & rice. Cover it with a round of parchment and place the lid over it. Cook for 20 minutes,stirring once or twice in between until the rice is done.Remove the bay leaves & paper. Garnish with red pepper strips and serve!

I asked Jobin to play some Latin music so that it would set the mood of the party just right. While the music played on in the background, we all munched on some Roasted Potatoes topped with Romesco Sauce (dee-licious!), Potato & Chorizo Empanadas (so so good!), Arroz Con Pollo (yum! yum!) & finished off the meal with a super decadent, delicious Chocoflan. Ian enjoyed the Empanadas the most as it was a finger food that he could enjoy while running around entertaining our guests :-)

Sunday, October 13, 2013


There was a time in my life when I thought I would never find a liking for artisan breads. I always loved the soft,supple bread loaves we used to get from our local bakeries in Kannur. If you go there are around noon or by 3 pm-ish, you will get hot breads which you will be juggling between your two palms because it is really that hot...straight from the 'borma'. I've never,tasted any bread which tastes as good as that bread in the US.I don't think I ever will. The breads we get in the supermarkets here have some sort of an artificial taste...all the brands,some more,some less.
Now, the story is different. I absolutely love artisan breads. They are firm and crackly on the outside but soft and full of holes inside.The holes help in mopping up any sauce that you want to.I love to dip a chunky slice in some good olive oil with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and finally topped with some Parmesan. When I bake these breads at home,I can hardly wait for it to cool down. So does little Ian. He loves these kind of breads.He eats it as is but I like my first slice with butter or some good berry jam.
I knew about Zoe and Jeff  when I was in India. That's when their book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day was released.I was even more excited to learn that they both lived in the area I was about to move into...Minneapolis.This is the Master recipe from that book. So,after getting here,I enrolled for a baking class with them and learnt to bake bread from the best! You can read about that here.
3 cups of lukewarm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1 - 1 1/2 tablespoon salt
6 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Method: In a large 6 quart  plastic bowl / container with lid, mix together the flour, yeast and salt. Add in the water all at once and stir to form a dough.It will be a sticky dough. Cover the bowl with a lid,but not tightly shut, and let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours.DO NOT punch down the dough,it will would have risen but flat on top. After that, refrigerate the dough overnight. You will notice that the dough has collapsed which is normal.It will not rise again. Sprinkle some flour over the surface of the dough,pull and cut off a 1 pound chunk of it. Shape it and let it rest on a parchment for 40  minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450 F along with the baking stone and a metal tray in the lowest shelf. Slide the shaped dough onto the baking stone and pour one cup of hot water into the metal tray .Bake for 30-35 mins or until deep brown in colour. Remove the parchment after 20 minutes of baking so that the bottom gets a chance to crisp up. Once baked, remove it from the oven and let it cool completely before slicing in.Enjoy!

The leftover dough can be refrigerated and will remain fresh for 2 weeks. It will develop sourdough characteristics during the course of 2 weeks.
If you have any leftover bread, put the cut side down on a plate and leave it. You don't have to cover it.

Like I mentioned before, we really enjoy artisan breads. I am so glad that Little Ian also shares the love for this carb heaven! He was running around when I was photographing the bread and every once in a while he would stop by and point at the bread asking for me to cut and share a slice with him. So the slice with the jam, that you just saw above, was shared by the two of us later!

This wonderful loaf is Yeastspotted!
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