Monday, February 15, 2010

Vegan Mini Whole Wheat Chocolate Heart Cake with Strawberry Topping

Through some random clicking through links on my list of food blogs, I came across Red Chillies' Vegan Chocolate Cake, which is originally from Allrecipes and was submitted to Madhuram's eggless baking with vinegar event.

I wanted to make some easy and quick cake to take for some friends I was meeting after a long time and decided to give it a try. Unlike Red Chillies' experience, I found this cake to be quite moist. I made it in my bundt cake pan and perhaps did not grease it properly so ended up with lots of cake with no shape. I've made vinegar chocolate cake before and my opinion is that they are more like brownies than cake (that might also be because I used whole wheat flour, so they are denser..)

BUT since it was moist, it was very easy to shape with my hands without the addition of frosting or anything else. Inspired by Priya's Hearts for Valentine's Day event, I came up with these heart shaped mini cakes. These of course are being submitted to the event and is my first submission to a food blogging event =)

So I made 1cm thick circles and used a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out hearts. Layered two hearts together with some frosting (not too much as generally people find its addition to be too sweet here) and topped with strawberry topping I made a day ago. It's the perfect size for a dessert without being too much or too little. I would perhaps next time also cover with a chocolate ganache.

Great thing about this recipe is that you can make it all in one flour or even the pan (if using a cake pan)

Note: I predominantly use whole wheat instead of all-purpose flour (or maida in India). Everything tastes delicious though it may be denser. This was no exception. I would recommend the switch. It's healthier =)

Mini Whole Wheat Chocolate Heart Cake


  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • (vegan) frosting as needed


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Take a loaf pan and grease it thoroughly.
  • Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
  • Now add the oil, vanilla, vinegar and water. Mix together until smooth.
  • Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  • Remove from tray and crumble together. Make 1 cm thick rounds that are larger than cookie cutter. Cut out hearts, using excess from the side to make more.
  • Top one heart with frosting and place another heart on top of it.
  • Serve with strawberry or any fruit topping.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fresh Strawberry Topping

Its technically spring, but winter like weather and fruit season in India. Lots of sweet strawberries, kiwis (well they are almost gone), pears, chickoo, pineapples and more. I tend to buy strawberries every time I go to my fruitwalla. Sometimes though, I dont get around to eating them.

I had a 200g carton of strawberries that needed to be used up, so I decided to make some fresh strawberry topping that I could use sometime in the next week or so, as long as I kept it in the fridge/freezer. I've actually kept this in the freezer for longer in the past. As long as you can prevent freezer burn, it should keep.


  • 200grams fresh strawberries, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Chop all strawberries and set aside 1/3 of them.
  • Place remaining 2/3 strawberries along with sugar and vanilla on medium heat until bubbly. Reduce to low and cook for additional 10 minutes. Be sure to stir regularly to prevent sticking.
  • Transfer cooked strawberry mixture to blender and puree.
  • Add the uncooked strawberries to puree. Allow mixture to cool on counter.
  • Serve over ice cream, pancakes, cakes and more or keep in fridge for use within week, freezer for longer storage.
I ended up using this on the vegan mini chocolate cakes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Honey (Whole) Wheat Bread

Armed with the success of my first yeast product - the onion and cheddar pretzel, I wanted to find a easy whole wheat bread that I can make regularly for breakfast, etc. Allrecipes had a really positively reviewed recipe for a simple whole wheat bread that I decided to try out.

I made some small changes, make 1 loaf instead of 3 and all whole wheat flour, no bread flour and a little more honey. One glitch was that my yeast was not activated properly so it did not rise well, so I ended up with quite dense bread. Its a great with peanut or jam.


  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 teaspoons dry active yeast
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil or melted butter


  1. In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 2 tablespoons honey. Add 2 cups whole wheat flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.
  2. Mix in 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons honey, and salt. Stir in 1 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky - just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.
  3. Punch down. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.
  4. Bake at 180 degrees C for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with melted butter or olive oil when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely

Monday, February 8, 2010

Onion Cheddar Pretzel

Aparna from My Diverse Kitchen has this fantastic onion and cheddar pretzel recipe that I had to try. When I finally got some good yeast and decided to attempt my first fermented bread, this looked so appealing that I gave this a shot (plus I had medium cheddar cheese in my fridge courtesy of international visitors). Plus it was a chance to try out the kneading function on my food processor. Note: this makes bread making SOOO easy. I was considering getting a bread maker from abroad, but with the food processor, its easy enough that I can do without one.

I made some changes. As usual, I used more whole wheat than the recipe calls for. Instead of topping with sesame seeds, I used 1/4 cup less cheese in the dough and sprinkled it on top and I left out the black pepper, though I would use it next time. She strongly recommends using sharp cheddar cheese, I only had medium, but it still came out great.

I can definitely get used to the smell of fresh bread in my home. It lingered for hours and smelled oh so good. =)


  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp dry active yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp


  1. In a pan, sauté the onions in butter till soft but not brown. Keep aside to cool a bit.
  2. Set aside 1/4 cup grated cheese.
  3. Add the sugar and yeast to the warm water, stir and allow to prove. In a mixing bowl (or processor bowl), put the sautéed onion, 3/4 cup cheese, flours, Italian herbs and salt. Mix (or pulse) a couple of times and add the yeast mixture.
  4. Knead very well, adding more water if necessary, till a moderately stiff dough which is smooth and elastic is obtained.
  5. Shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl, coating the ball with oil by turning it round in the bowl. Cover and allow the dough to double in volume (about an hour or so).
  6. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, letting it rest for 10 minutes. Roll the dough out into a 24" long smooth rope. Place it on a greased baking sheet and shape into a large pretzel shape. Moisten the ends of the pretzel and tuck them underneath to seal.
  7. Cover and allow to rise till almost double (about half an hour). Sprinkle top with remaining cheddar cheese.
  8. Bake at 190C for about 40 minutes till golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped. If the bread is browning too much, cover it loosely with aluminium foil during the last 20 minutes in the oven. Cool completely on a rack.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Vegetarian Mexican Lasagna (Eggless)

My first attempt at lasagna was a huge success and considering how easy it was, its not surprise that I was looking forward to making it again. This time, I decided to mix it up a little and make mexican lasagna (with lasagna noodles not tortillas) and it was another big hit =)

But unfortunately I didnt get a chance to take any pictures before it was eaten up. I decreased the cheese this time and you couldn't tell the difference.

Hearty Healthy Vegetable Lasagna
makes 2 square 1.6L dishes, which is enough for atleast 8 people.


  • 12 lasagna noodles (I used no-bake noodles)
  • 1.5 green bell peppers, chopped (or 1 cup chopped)
  • 1 large carrot, chopped (or 1 cup chopped)
  • 3/4 cup onions
  • 3/4 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives (increase or decrease per preference)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 400 grams paneer, crumbled (or ricotta cheese)
  • 200 grams shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2.5 cups of salsa, pureed


  1. If using lasagna noodles that need to be cooked, cook the lasagna noodles in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Rinse with cold water, and drain.
  2. In a large saucepan, cook green peppers, onions, carrots and corn in oil. Stir in 1.5 cups of of pureed salsa and remove from heat. This is our vegetable salsa "sauce".
  3. Crumble paneer and mix with olives.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Cover bottom of baking dish with pureed salsa (without vegetables) . Place 2 lasagna noodles on bottom, layer with 1/4 each of vegetable salsa sauce and paneer mix. Top with pureed salsa. Repeat lasagna noodle, vegetable salsa sauce, paneer mix and pureed salsa layers. Cover with 2 lasagna noodles. Top with pureed salsa and 1/4 of cheddar cheese. Garnish with sliced olives. Repeat with second tray.
  5. Cover tray with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pineapple Free Vegan Carrot Cake (Eggless)

It's carrot season in India so we have these wonderfully sweet carrots readily available. For a long time I have been thinking to bake my a carrot cake and today, I had a lot of carrots that needed to be used up so thought why not. Unfortunately all the recipes I came across needed eggs and/or pineapple juice and I had neither. So I looked around some more, mixed and matched to come up with this Pineapple Free - Vegan - Eggless Carrot Cake made in typical fashion with whole wheat flour. It was so moist and delicious to eat. You could see the pieces of carrots. Did not need any frosting. Definitely a keeper.

(Pineapple free) Vegan Carrot Cake
makes 1 - 9in bundt cake + 6 cupcakes


  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (can used all purpose)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 1/4 cup oil (used saffrola)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrots


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Butter and flour bundt pan thoroughly.
  • Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  • Add the sugars to applesauce, vanilla and oil. Blend well.
  • Mix in the flour mixture. [It may seem a bit dry here, but don't worry] Stir in carrots and mix well.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until surface of cake bounces back upon touch. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

A super easy recipe that is delicious and quite healthy. You can mix and match the fruit according to the season or use frozen fruits for a tasty treat that can be dessert or an appetizer. Works best with a mix of atleast 3 fruits


    Note: Feel free to mix and match with whatever fruits you wish.
    • 2 kiwis, peeled and diced
    • handful of seedless grapes, cut in half
    • 8 ounces strawberries (or any fresh or frozen berries, thaw before using)
    • 100 g pineapple, diced
    • 3 tablespoons fruit preserves, any flavor (cherry, orange or apricot jam or marmalade work well- try a different flavour from the fruits used)
    • 8 ounces raspberries or peaches or blueberries (fresh or frozen, thaw before using) - optional
    • 2 apples - peeled, cored and diced (optional)
    • mangoes or any soft fruits (optional)
    • 10 (10 inch) flour tortillasbutter flavored cooking spray or butter, melted
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
    1. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix fruit and preserve. If using apples, add them last to minimize browning. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes.
    2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
    3. Coat both sidse of each flour tortilla with butter flavored cooking spray or brush with melted butter. Cut into wedges. Put the cinnamon mix into a large ziploc bag and add the tortilla wedges. Seal and shake to coat the buttered chips well. Remove and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
    4. Bake in the preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes. Repeat with any remaining tortilla wedges. Allow to cool approximately 15 minutes. Serve with chilled fruit mixture.

    Sunday, January 17, 2010

    Vegetable Lasagna (without riccotta and eggless)

    A good vegetarian lasagna is hard to come by, even in restaurants, unless they are the family owned Italian restaurants - but they often don't have vegetarian lasagnas. In Ahmedabad, its even more difficult.

    My fridge was stocked with vegetables and the inspiration struck to attempt my first homemade lasagna and the results were quite tasty. I read a bunch of recipes and came up with this. You can make it healthy by reducing the cheese in half (which I would do next time). And don't worry, the paneer turned out to be a really good substitute for ricotta (which is not available in India).

    Note: I did get some ingredients from our local import store, namely the lasagna noodles, pasta sauce and canned artichoke hearts. You can use whatever pasta sauce you like, it plays a large role in taste, so select well. If fresh artichokes are available, I would recommend it. The artichokes really thickened the vegetable filling.

    Hearty Healthy Vegetable Lasagna
    makes 2 square 1.6L dishes, which is enough for atleast 8 people.


    • 12 lasagna noodles (I used no-bake noodles)
    • 1.5 green bell peppers, chopped (or 1 cup chopped)
    • 1 large carrot, chopped (or 1 cup chopped)
    • 4 drained artichoke hearts, chopped
    • 3/4 cup onions, chopped
    • 1 3/4 cup spinach, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon garlic paste (or 3-4 garlic cloves, minced)
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)
    • 1 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
    • 500 grams paneer (or ricotta cheese)
    • 350 grams shredded mozzarella cheese* (i used "cheeza")
    • 2 10 oz jars of pasta sauce**
    * If you want to make it healthier, you can use less than 200 grams of cheese. Just use enough to cover the very top and do not use in the layers. Paneer is quite sufficient within the lasagna to give cheesy taste.
    ** Feel free to make your own pasta sauce. If you have wine, I would recommend the sauce from this chicken parmigiana recipe (no, you don't need chicken for the sauce) from Pioneer Woman.


    1. If using lasagna noodles that need to be cooked, cook the lasagna noodles in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Rinse with cold water, and drain.
    2. In a large saucepan, cook green peppers, carrots, onion, and garlic in oil. Add artichokes when almost cooked. Stir in 1 jar of pasta sauce. Add pepper and chili powder and stir well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. This is our vegetable sauce.
    3. Crumble paneer and mix in spinach.
    4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Cover bottom of baking dish with pasta sauce from jar. Place 2 lasagna noodles on bottom, layer with 1/4 each of vegetable sauce and paneer mix. Top with 1/8 mozzarella cheese and some pasta sauce from jar. Repeat lasagna noodle, vegetable sauce, paneer mix, mozzarella and pasta sauce layers. Cover with 2 lasagna noodles. Top with pasta sauce from jar and 1/4 of mozzarella cheese. Repeat with second tray.
    5. Cover tray with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

    Saturday, January 16, 2010

    Healthy Eggless Sugarfree Oatmeal Almond Peanut Butter Cookies

    I had a bunch of oatmeal that needed to be used and peanut butter around. I had once made these oatmeal cookies with honey and olive oil, but could not find the recipe. I found this recipe, did a bunch of modifications and came up with this healthy oatmeal cookie that is sugarfree, eggfree and butterless. I also added almonds to it, but you can add raisins, peanuts, walnut, chocolate chips... whatever tickles your fancy.

    Note: According to my dietician friend, honey is not good for very young children, so this would not be for them.

    Warning: its quite the hearty cookie.


    • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
    • 1 cup whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
    • 3/4 teaspoon + a pinch baking soda
    • 1/3 cup creamy natural peanut butter
    • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon honey
    • 2 teaspoons olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds (peanuts/raisins/chocolate chips)
    • 1/2 cup


    1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
    2. Scatter oats on a large sheet pan and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until light golden brown; remove from sheet pan. Grease sheet.
    3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together flour and baking soda.
    4. In a large mixing bowl, combine peanut butter, olive oil and honey, until creamy. Add vanilla and mix until well combined.
    5. Beat in flour mixture until combined. Beat in toasted oats, peanuts until combined.
    6. Shape the dough into balls, using about 1/4 cup of batter per ball; place on sheet pan and flatten slightly.
    7. Bake at 190 degrees C, for 10-12 minutes, or until light golden brown. Cool 2 minutes on pan before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

    Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    "Hot" Carrot Gazpacho aka Hearty Carrot Soup

    Well, its not quite gazpacho soup, but it def tastes like it in terms of texture. I had it warm, but I have no doubts that cold it would basically be carrot gazpacho... but but but gazpacho technically is a raw, chilled tomato based soup. In fact, my encounter with gazpacho has been during a raw dinner.

    This is carrot based and is not raw, but they taste similar so "hot" carrot gazpacho soup =). I used the recipe found here. We don't get celery here, so I upped the carrot by 1/2.

    I don't have a steamer, so I put the potato and carrots in a strainer on top of a boiling pot of water. Took about 10 minutes to get soft enough for food processor.

    I used a tad bit of olive oil to soften the onions along with 1 teaspoon of garlic paste.

    At the end, crushed 9 black peppers and garnished with coriander.

    The soup is quite thick, hence me calling it gazpacho. Quite filling and healthy. It has a full vegetable feel to it. The garlic and pepper really are there for slight accent. It is not savory soup full of spice flavour of course, as there aren't many spices. Next time, I would add some basil and/or coriander when blending. You can also add some chili flakes to a little kick.

    Tuesday, January 12, 2010

    Food Rules by Michael Pollan

    Came across a great book by Michael Pollan called Food Rules.

    64 memorable rules on healthy eating compiled from suggestions by common people like you and me, grandmothers, dieticians and more.

    Some that I liked and try to follow:

    - The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead. (which I why I try to use whole wheat even in desserts that call for all-purpose or maida)

    - Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself. [Interesting way to curb on the junk food - of course french fries and cake take time to make]

    - The law of diminishing marginal utility or the banquet is in the first bite. [We get the most satisfaction from the first bites, so savour them. Less is more. The experience of switching from Lindt truffles to Lindt swiss thins supports this]

    - No second helpings. [Goes hand in hand with the above. I know that I have many many times wanted seconds because something tasted so good, but the second helping was an excess, I didn't need it and consequently felt that overfull feeling afterwards and said to myself - shouldn't have had that second helping... working on this one, its tough]

    - It's not food if its called the same thing in different languages. [You have to think about this one - Doritos, Cheetos, Twinkies, etc]

    - If you are not hungry enough to eat an apple, you are not hungry. [Def guilty of this. Craving vs hunger]

    These were some of the ones I enjoyed. What are your food rules?

    Sunday, January 3, 2010

    Homemade Jack Astor's Pan Garlic Bread

    One of the things to eat when visiting Canada is Jack Astor's pan garlic bread. It is garlicy buttery bread greatness. But alas there is no Jack Astor's in Ahmedabad. When we on tour in Toronto, someone had made us delicious veg lasagna for dinner and I knew I had to get the garlic bread for everyone to try. You can imagine my disappointment when we opened the takeaway bag and found that they had given the bread and garlic sauce separately. You had to pour it over the bread yourself (but that meant that it didn't seep to the bottom). We poured it on top, but mainly ended up dipping the bread into the sauce. That is where I realized that there is a way to have that goodness at home.

    This is the way I did it here. But after seeing this recipe for Rosemary Bread on Pioneer Woman, you could def like what I've suggested below to get something even closer to Jack Astor's pan bread.

    All you need is melted butter and garlic paste. I added garlic paste to melted butter, warmed it up on the oven a bit to allow the garlic flavour to seep into the butter. Serve with with soft bread.

    Friday, January 1, 2010

    Carrot Souffle

    I bake when I am in the mood to bake (which generally happens around 10 or 11pm) or if its someone's birthday or special occasion. I try to pick stuff that doesn't take hours otherwise I would be more consumed with the baking than practice or other work and of course, practice takes priority.

    I had an itch to bake or cook over the last two days, but was warned against it, given the hours that were spent on the birthday cake(s) the previous week. I was going back and forth about whether or not to bake and one big con was that I didn't have much saltfree butter, no milk and not much flour - yep that really limited what I could do and I didn't have the time to go get stuff. BUT I did have a bunch of carrots. While searching for a carrot soup recipe, I found a carrot souffle recipe. Modifying looking at other recipes, here is what I did. It turned out to be a great dessert, not too sweet and great with ice cream. It was a great dessert for new year's eve dinner.

    Great thing about this is that you can do the main stuff in the morning or night before. An hour or two before dinner, add the flour, eggs and baking powder and bake it for an hour. I boiled and pureed in the afternoon and kept it in the fridge for about 3 hours. You can keep it in the fridge overnight.

    I took pictures.. or so I thought. I didn't have the memory card in my dslr.. oops

    Carrot Souffle


    • 500grams carrots, peeled and chopped
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
    • 3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (maida)
    • 1 egg + 1 egg white (or 1.5 eggs), beaten
    • 2 - 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened - i only had around 2.5 tbsp


    1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
    2. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the carrots until very tender. Drain and add to mixer.
    3. Puree carrots with butter, vanilla extract and sugar. [Careful mixer will be hot if its a metal one like mine]. Transfer to bowl, allow to cool slightly and refrigerate.
    4. Mix in the flour, eggs, and baking powder. Transfer to a 1 quart baking dish.
    5. Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until top is golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
    [Note: this is not a picture of my souffle - mine was consumed before it could be photographed. But the texture and look was the same =)]
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