Mango Banana Walnut Sweet Bread (Or dare I say Loaf cake?)

Mango Banana Walnut Sweet Bread (Or dare I say Loaf cake?)

 It was a very hectic day. To say the least! Juggling the wants and the needs and answering some thought provoking questions leaves one reaching for brain sharpening tools. While I pondered on the questions, the root of the questions and the answers – and needles to say the propensity to answer certain questions with alarming conventional replies, left me wondering if as a parent I am guilty of espousing certain staid rules in the house! Sigh!

While society molds and shapes you to a certain extent, who exactly molds the society? ( My cure -all, solution to many a problem, A cup of ginger chai did not seem to awaken the required neurons to deal with this ). Well a few upcoming events did put a cheer in an otherwise gray day. May be we can make one day of the week a mental flossing day or so ?

 In any case, a bit past the required cook time for dinner and me going through the blah phase of the day still, left me frantically scavenging in the refrigerator. There are times, I open the fridge and stare intensely at it, almost willfully wishing for things to appear. Kind of like at Hogwarts , except my house elves are in my imagination !

If only I can channel some of the much required genie powers. Sigh!  Well genie powers aside, what I did find was a pack of sprouts , a cucumber  and a strange assortments of veggies. And then I saw it. Tucked away in the corner of corner, in the back corner, (you get the idea) a bushelful of champagne mangoes. How in the  world did I let this slip by me? No clue, except I had atleast half a dozen mangoes with sweet firm, juicy flesh and a bit wrinkly skin (nope, this is not a metaphor for middle age. People ! Tsk ! Tsk!) 

Ah! Dinner, I know. Well, will make do with salad and sandwiches and left overs. But the mangoes had to be skinned and diced. And then inspiration struck. And I yielded to temptation ! So while we had dinner, fresh mango sweet loaf bread was baking in the oven !

Ingredients:

 Dry:

  • Self rising all-purpose flour : 1  and 3/4 cups
  • Baking soda : 3/4 Tsp.
  • Ground cardamom: 1 Tsp.
  • Saffron threads: A generous pinch
  • Chopped walnuts : 1/4 cup

Wet:

  • Mashed Banana : 2 large ripe bananas  ( approx. 1-1.25 cups) super speckled and very ripe is the best always.
  • Firm Mangoes 2-3  : 1.5 -2 cup, finely diced mango flesh
  • Brown Crystal sugar : 1/3 cup
  • Olive oil : 1/4 cup.
  • Egg : 1 ( or substitute with flax seed ratio equivalent to one egg.)
  • Plain yogurt : 1/3 cup

Topping :

  • Fine diced mangoes : 2 Tbsp.
  • Ground cardamom powder: 1/4 Tsp.
  • Brown Sugar : 1 Tbsp.
  • Chopped Walnuts : 2 Tbsp.

Method:

Prepping and Mixing:

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF
  • Grease a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan. I used olive oil spray to grease it.
  • Whisk the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl – the self rising APF + baking soda+ cardamom powder + saffron threads and set aside.
  • Mash/ Puree the bananas. Add in the egg and whisk it very well. Add in the sugar and whisk it very well . Add in the yogurt and oil and whisk it very well again . Once again, this entire process of mine happened in one jar of  magic bullet. You can go the traditional way and use the hand mixer or stand mixer too.
  • Fold the flour mix into this very gently.
  • Fold in the chopped walnuts reserved in the dry mix section.
  • Add in the diced mangoes and fold it gently into the batter. Do not smush it please !
  • Spoon the batter into the prepped loaf pan.

Topping:

  • Gently toss the diced mangoes and sugar and cardamom powder together so as to coat the pieces very well.
  • Top it on the wet batter.
  • Add the reserved 2 Tbsp. of chopped walnuts so as to stud the entire top layer

Baking:

  • Bake at 350ºF for about 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes clean. Mine was done in 53 minutes.
  • Cool for about 10 minutes or so in the pan.
  • Transfer to a wire rack. Let it cool down well before cutting into nice thick wedges……

Want to make this Vegan?

  • Substitute the egg with flax seeds. One egg equivalent would be 1 Tbsp. of flax seeds ground well in a spice grinder initially. To this add the 3 Tbsp. of warm water and blend together to get a nice creamy mix. Use in place of 1 egg.
  • Swap the yogurt for applesauce. Though you might taste more of the apple  in the resulting loaf.

Result:

A very fragrant and moist loaf of mango bread ( I probably should say it’s more a sweet bread or morning cake bread consistency) The top layer of the mango was caramelized and the walnuts very toasted and crunchy.

Make no bones about it, this is a special occasion loaf!

 

Saffron Kalakkand – Quick and Easy Cheese and Milk Fudge with Saffron and nuts

Fresh, dewy eyed and eyes full of spark a young lady landed on the shores of opportunity in the land of the grand USA some 16 plus years ago. While the young lady has progressed in age , thoughts and wisdom, marked by the appearance of few strands of gray ( honestly, truly, I noticed 5 in total),the spark ala dimmed a bit, but still bright I hope nonetheless.

One of the first people I met, was a happy foodie couple in Boston. At that point, A1 was yet to put in an appearance, and I was happy to meet people ( ignorant of any of the pyramid scheme trap and happily oblivious as well ). While the “come over for tea” turned into recruiting for the scam/scheme and I could not wait to get out faster, I did notice these gorgeous milk burfi’s. I also did sneak in more than one. Hey if I had to sit in and listen to all that yakking on gold and gorgeous things within arm’s reach, might as well do it with some indulgence.

In any case, today on father’s day DH was in a bit of a mood. Happy smiley face, clean counters, dishes done, emptying dishwasher and more. Well no complaints, cause I love this mood. A nice card, a self bought “surprise” on the homey , techy, front and great family time. And I decided to do something that so grandly resembled hours of labor while actually needing a few min of microwave time. The best part was I did not need to hunt for the ingredients. My awesome neighbor/ friend/ b – partner decided to donate to me 3 huge tubs of Ricotta cheese before her trip to India. 2 Thumbs up! I suppose more Ricotta cheese recipes need to be made now!

This has been the perfect day and weekend is done ! But hey summer holidays on and no school tomorrow.. Which means more staying up for the kids.. Love this !

#FDMenu

Saffron Kalakkand – Quick and Easy Cheese and Milk Fudge with Saffron and nuts

Ingredients:

  • Low Fat or Part Skim Ricotta Cheese – 16 oz
  • Non fat Condensed Milk – 14 oz
  • Saffron strands : a pinch
  • Cardamom Pods – 1/2 tsp
  • Pistachios – 6
  • Almonds – 10
  • Ghee or melted butter: 1 tsp to serve as grease

 Method:

 Prep work :

  • In a spice grinder, add in the saffron strands and cardamom seeds and fine grain powder these without adding water.

 Prep work 2:

  • Finely chop the pistachios and almonds in a food processor or spice grinder.

Process:

  • In a microwave safe glass bowl or container, mix the Ricotta Cheese and the Condensed Milk well. I used a wire whisk to break out the lumps and completely homogenized the mix. Took about 5 min or so
  • Cook in the microwave for about 12 minutes uncovered. Keep an eye out for the bubbling mix. Stop and scrape the edges and re-do this process. I did this step in about 5 stage intervals of 3 : 3: 2:2:2 min cooking . I suppose you can go all out and cook in lower intervals, but I just needed to keep a clean microwave oven. No spill mess 🙂
  • Next microwave covered for about 6 min or so. Stop every 2 min , scrape the sides stir and continue.
  • Just before the final 2 min stage add in the cardamom and saffron mix. Cook for a final 2 min. The heat in the cooked milk fudge will release the flavor or the saffron and cardamom and you will see the beautiful color of the saffron permeating the fudge mix.
  • The final stage should resemble soft crumbly mix . Slightly wet and moist mix would be the ideal stage to stop the cooking process.
  • In a square serving container , grease the bottom with ghee or melted unsalted butter. Go easy the grease part. The idea is for easy release of the pieces not to drench it !
  • Pour in the hot fudge mix in the prepped container with grease and add in the crushed nuts mix on the top and pat down to resemble an even surface.
  • Cover and allow to set in the refrigerator for an hour or so.
  • Cut into beautiful squares and serve!
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Thandai Chai Masala Eggless Cake – Of Friendship, Gossip and More!

Ever wonder how some people just cross paths for a reason.. Or for no reason! When we first moved to NC, we left behind a horde of family and friends in California. Sunny California and the Bay area was teeming with our friends, family, friends of family and family of our friends.. (You get  the drift)

I thought I loved people ( well most of them anyways 🙂 ) and then I meet DH and his family . They simply dwarfed mine. These guys seriously loved people and people seriously loved them. We just became one big crazy family.. Crazy alright !!

The move therefore while we welcomed it, definitely created a pang in our hearts. So just about 2 months of our moving into this new neighborhood in a new state all the way on the opposite coast, a lady in a min-van filled with chirpy kids stopped my MIL on the street , welcomed her home for chai – a cup of tea and some company. My MIL, though could not take up on it but I happened to meet this lady , our neighbor soon thereafter and so began a wonderful friendship.

 Here’s a toast to one of the finest to have crossed ( and stayed in) my path!

“Dear SP, you are one heck of woman ! I love your chai addiction, your margarita madness and your steadfast company!  Filled with many moments of laughter, lunches, crazy talks and some more crazy moments – or shall I say sparkling moments of insobriety.. Dialing in thin air and holding conversations to yourself, monologues and more… You go girl!

While I did want to bake a chai cake ( I promise, I will do it soon), I experimented this on a lark and got to combine your favorite flavors of chai masala and Thandai ..

Happy Happy Birthday Dear SP and please have your “Queen” moment soon.. For I cannot wait to witness it !”

( This recipe is an amalgamation and innovation of a recipe from ED site  and my eggless recipe cake)

Chai Masala Thandai Spice Cake Ingredients:

  • Self rising APF : 2 cups
  • Non-Fat Sweetened Condensed Milk : 14 oz can
  • Butter : 1/2 cup  (Melted)
  • Baking Soda : 1/2 tsp
  • 1% Milk : 1 cup
  • Thandai masala : 1 tsp
  • Chai Masala : 1 tsp
  • Saffron : crushed, a few strands
  • Walnuts: 1/2 cup chopped 

Method:

  • Preheat the overn to 350 deg F.  Spay oil  and dust flour on the pan of your choice. I used a 9 inch round pan for this.
  • Sift the APF and Baking Soda together
  • Dry whisk it with Thandai Masala, Chai Masala and Saffron  Strands
  • Melt the 1/2 cup of butter and add it in along with the milk and condensed milk.
  • Stir it in gently so the flour is completely incorporated.
  • Now add in half the chopped walnuts in this and stir it in.
  • Add in the batter into the pan.
  • Add in the rest of the chopped walnuts – sprinkle on the surface
  • Bake it in the oven for 35 min or so at 350 deg F.

 Notes:

Please keep an eye on the oven as the quality of the flour and materials used could cause slight variations in the baking time.

Mine took about 38 min to bake. In hindsight, I think I should have reduced the temp from 350 to 325 midway during the baking  process. I have read that this would ensure more even baking .

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Kesar Thandai Kulfi – Creamsicles (Whipped Frozen Glory)

Mild migraines and IPL not withstanding, today was a day filled with general anarchy in the routine. It’s almost like a day where you want to do something, but the little devil voice in your  head nags and prods you to look somewhere else. So while the little Tom and Jerry war was happening, yours truly decided to take advantage of the blink and miss spring and summer weather and  honed in on a recipe from a really fun food group .. Thanks AJ and SR from Epicurean Delights . This recipe was adapted and modified from there. Here’s to happy indulging …

Quick recipe Rundown:

  1. In a large sauce pan empty the 2 containers of evaporated milk and add in the 2 tsp of thandai mix well.
  2. Stir well on low – medium heat so the flavors of the thandai mix are steeped in well. You do not have to bring it rolling boil, but definitely allow the flavors to steep in.
  3. Keep it aside for say about 20 min or so to let the concoction to cool down.
  4. Filter the cooled down milk into a large mixing bowl. The idea is to remove the large granular thandai mix masala from the milk mixture.
  5. To this add in the can of condensed milk and two tubs of cool whip or any whipped cream of your choice.
  6. Whip it up very well on medium highhand held machine.
  7. Fold in the crushed saffron stands and crushed cardamom pods and pour into popsicle moulds or any freezer safe moulds of your choice.
  8. Should freeze in under 4 hrs.
  9. Enjoy!

 

Eggless Sponge Cake studded with Almonds and Walnuts!

I simply cannot stress enough on the integral part to any outcome of any culinary experimental equation:

Good, fresh ingredients in = great food out  from the hearth of the house.. aka the kitchen.

In this case though a bare bones pantry and an impending trip to the west coast actually brought about this culinary experiment. My darling MIL, a frail looking but with nerves of steel lady is a precious gem. She would be this burst of sunshine in an otherwise humdrum day. I am constantly amazed at this septuagenarian’s endless energy and unflailing enthusiasm about things.. everyday things, cooking cleaning, you- name -it- anything.

My otherwise tempestuous affair with cooking is completely complemented by her abounding stable, and infectious enthusiasm . I would seriously marvel at how she could be really ebullient about the cooking process …everyday. And she is one awesome cook!!! Seriously folks, it is lip smacking good food… every time. Traditional Indian food, vegetarian and no frills but prepared with abundant  love would be her signature style. And everyone is welcomed with a smile. No one leaves hungry at her door 🙂

Cut to this day, since eggs are not a part of her repertoire, a bit of organic chemistry came to my rescue to yield this birthday cake for her . So dear MIL aka MOM, this one is for you 🙂

Eggless Sponge cake studded with walnuts and almonds- Seriously simple, seriously good!

Prep work:

  • Preheat the oven / 350 deg F
  • Grease and flour the pans of your choice. . I used one 10  inch round and one bread loaf pan.
  • Chop 1/2 cup of walnuts roughly along with 1/4 cup of slivered almonds.

The Ingredients : Dry

  1. Self rising flour : 4 cups
  2. Baking soda : 1.25 tsp
  3. Baking powder : 1 tsp ( I approximated this as the flour I used already has some baking powder in it )
  4. Salt a pinch
  5. A generous tsp of ground cardamom powder

Dry whisk all these ingredients together and keep aside to be used later.

The Ingredients: Wet

  1. Fat Free condensed milk : 14 oz cans, 2 tins . Use any brand. I used the Eagle one.
  2. 1/2 cup of butter melted ( told you – fat come in here !)
  3. 1/2 cup of olive oil ( sort of balancing the guilt here by not adding in more butter )
  4. 1 cup of milk – I used the fat free evaporated kind. Why? The evaporated kind will still provide the density in the medium anyway.
  5. 1/2cup of water. ( OK folks, this was seriously some rough calculation. I wanted to add in 1.5 cups of liquid based on my previous banana nut cake recipe and decided to split it amongst water and milk.
  6. 1 tsp of vanilla extract – optional. I just had it so added it in !

Mix all the wet ingredients along with a generous pinch of saffron.( Ahem ! Notice my mild obsession with saffron:-) )

Process work:

  • Gently add in the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. I just added it in slowly with gentle mixing of the batter with my trusted electric whisk at low speed.
  • The gooey mass emanating the mild and wonderful flavor is going to turn even more better. How?
  • Add in the1/2 the chopped pieces of walnuts and almonds and fold in gently.
  • Distribute the gooey mass of goodness in the prepared baking pans of your choice.
  • Add in the remaining nuts ( walnuts and almonds) as a garnish.

Baking : 350 deg F  for 45- 52 min or until done. Mine took approximately 47 min to be done.

Ok the exam results are out! It smelled heavenly …the aroma of the toasted nuts mixed with saffron and cardamom to emit an – oh – you-so – cannot – resist- me – siren’s call.

 

Verdict. Slight more dense than the eggs added version, but still very light on the palate. One huge bonus was that it was very mild on the sweet scale. It would make a wonderful custard cake served with fruits and whipped cream or vanilla custard. Or a wonderful tea cake..

Serves : Well it could well serve an army but was polished off  by a dozed people in under a day – flat!

Possible variations? orange cake? banana orange cake? spiced cake? chai cake?  Well, my chemistry instinct is going on an overdrive 🙂 But you get the idea!

Versatile, simple and so divine. Go on try it out, you will not be disappointed !

Banana Walnut Cake – So awesome, Light , Fluffy and Nutty!

Planning your day around possible thunderstorms is a bit like planning a scientific experiment with a ton of variables thrown in. An experiment, that is fun but the outcome  is so unpredictable . To cut a long story short, it was the ” boy who cried wolf “.. while the huge thunderstorms didn’t show up, what did was  a reminder from mother nature that she  was the  one in charge . And we were blessed with blistering temperatures hitting near ninety ..Lovely !!

And of course when temperatures hit that high,  the stock of sorry looking bananas get even more sorrier. read natural organic progression .. more dark brown spots appear ( more like the pounds that magically appear on self ). 🙂 Well, I cannot just dump nearly half a dozen bananas out. They were just overripe and more sweet than the youthful ones. But no amount of cajoling could get my 3A’s to venture near them. And then inspiration stuck, or rather the thought in the back burner   just jumped several hoops ahead to make itself shout ” Make banana bread / cake “. Sure, sounds easy, but here is the cinch, I have never baked this one. Yes, I have baked so many more kinds, but banana bread/cake, the easy peesy one, I have never attempted to do so. Well partially because , I had a good friend who would treat me to her delectable version quite often and partly because it’s banana bread. And well honestly a fruit smoothie would be so much easier. Just throw in the bananas, add a couple more fruits, a dash of honey and there you have it. But no, the itch to bake set in and I do need to scratch it. Call me stubborn, but my friend , let’s just call her D ( you know who you are , sweety), had this heavenly version and  I just wanted to try it. After about  half an hour of searching,I did manage to locate the one. Here is the version, that she primarily used. (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/a-number-1-banana-cake/)

This is the one I based this experiment upon,  but of course my pantry ingredients decided the kind that went into the batter mix. Seriously, I was in  no mood to go shopping to the grocery store in the sweltering heat, just because I did not have buttermilk. The ones’ marked in Asterix, are variations of the original recipe.

Alright , folks, this is my version of the ingredients that went in:

  • 2.5 cups of self rising flour* ( notice it is self rising, why? cause I did not have the regular one ,and seriously a little bit of baking powder should technically make the cake more airy. In any case, my gripe about the run to the grocery store , well I stood my ground )
  • 1/2 cup of  unsalted butter .( You can substitute this with almond butter for a more nuttier taste I suppose )
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup of milk* ( the original recipe called for butter milk. Well, I decided to use milk here 🙂 . Why.. well no buttermilk and seriously, thought milk would be an awesome choice. I used 1% milk of course.)
  • 1 and 3/4 cup of sugar* – I used brown granulated sugar entirely
  • About 5 medium ripe bananas  * mine were pretty spotty brown ( the original recipe calls for 4. But I suppose an additional banana would do no harm )
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • A generous pinch of saffron *( I know I am obsessed with saffron )
  • A generous pinch of caradamom powder *
  • 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup of skinned sliced almonds*
  • A pinch of cinnamon powder *

( Whew, don’t let the exhausting list fool you. I just emptied those nuts that were sitting in the pantry. And decided to add in a few flavors  to enhance the mix. More like, once I get started, I just cannot get to stop myself from adding a dash of this and dash of that ).

Alright, now that the stage is set, lets get the gooey good stuff going.

Prep work:

  • Preheat the oven / 350 deg
  • Grease and flour the pans of your choice. the original recipe called for two 8 inch pans. I used one 8  inch round and one 9 inch square pan.

Let’s get the party started …

  1. Sift the flour,baking soda and salt together and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter,sugar and eggs.
  3. Add in the pureed bananas,,cardamom powder ,cinnamon powder and saffron strands.
  4. Add in the flour and whip up the gooey mixture.
  5. Fold in the walnuts and almonds

Let’s cook them:

Stick those pans in the preheated oven and bake them at 350 deg for 30 min.

The results:

Holy mackerel ! Honest to goodness yummy light and fluffy and airy goodness in squares and circles. Beautiful brown goodness, perfectly baked and crunchy walnuts. The aroma filled the entire kitchen and brought the oldest scooting down to the kitchen.. all the way form the attic. 🙂

Texture : Very very soft ( possibly the baking powder in the self rising flour combined with the baking soda, did wonders) and porus.

Aroma : Fragrant cardamom and hint of cinnamon with saffron emanating creating the wonderful fusion with bananas.

Serve it up..the kids devoured it it warm with the cool combination of whipped cream. Yummy!

Verdict: Just awesome !.. And like I always believe, great cooking results is mostly achieved by right combination of ingredients and the freshness of  your stock. And of course, the right chemistry !!!

Creamy Mango Ice Cream – Mango Tango with Cream and Saffron!

I have a confession to make !  You know how some people love shiny new toys? the new car? the smell of new books? I have a few of these quirks ( .. which shall presently go unnamed ) and plenty more that can be quite baffling like mild obsession over sparkling wine glasses and beautiful crockery, Wolf range shiny new stove… But there is this particular lust factor, If I may call it , towards the King of the fruits that I find it particularly hard to overcome. Yessir, so when I spotted a box of ripe mangos, waiting.. just waiting to be picked up…It was the proverbial siren song for me as I drifted towards the box to pick it up. I knew , just knew,what they were going to transform into.. Mango Ice cream..I love it, the kids love it, my  family loves it, neighbors love it, neighborhood and extended family love it , you get he picture I am sure .and I am in love with it .. Sigh!!

To make this particularly delectable and to die for creamy ice cream , Please note…

YOU DO NOT NEED AN ICE CREAM MAKER..YES ..NO ICE CREAM MAKER .. JUST 15 MIN OF YOUR PRECIOUS TIME 🙂

The goodies to be transformed :

  1. 6 -8 large,ripe mangos- deseeded, skinned and pulped. should yield about 2-2.25 cups
  2. Condensed milk – fat free ( – 14 oz – one tin) Hey !  I need the sugar, not the fat. I used the Eagle variety. I am not a brand aficionado. So pick what works for you )
  3. Whipped cream or cool whip – 2 tubs  ( 8 oz each = 16 oz ) or for the extra creamy version add one more (use 3 tubs to make it 24 oz). I used the cool whip lite in this case.
  4. Saffron – a pinch soaked in warm milk for about 5 min. ( optional)
  5. Elaichi or Cardamom powder – 1 tsp( Optional )
  6. 1 large mango – skinned and cut into cubes ( this is optional)

The Mechanics

  • In a large working bowl dump the contents of the mango puree and whipping cream using a hand blender or whipper, blend the mixture till you get a nice creamy concoction of goodness.
  • Now this should take at the maximum 7 -10 minutes.The point is for you to aerate the mixture very well. I have used the portable hand whippers as well on occasions and they have  worked extremely well with no variations in the results.
  • Add in the saffron and cardamom powder if so desired and whip it up again for a min or so to ensure even distribution.
  • Now if you are using the cubed mango pieces, gently fold them into the mixture.
  • Pour into mould, tubs variations of any desired shapes. (Do ensure the bowl is licked clean meanwhile though !)
  • Let it set in the freezer for minimum of 4 hours or until it is firm.
  • Indulge, enjoy and pat yourself on the back for the bout of creamy goodness is worth it.

Cliff’s notes

  • No Mangos, but still crave for it? Mango pulp is so worth it. A single tin of Mango pulp – any variety , 14 oz 850 gm would suffice.
  • If it is sweetened Mango pulp, reduce the amount of  condensed milk – instead of 14 oz tin – use only half of it.
  • Cool whip – I have used the 16oz variation in this case and it was still extremely creamy. The 24 oz variant also worked very well when I had used the sweetened Mango pulp available commercially)

End result:

  • Bowl licked clean – check
  • Ice cream tasted heavenly – check
  • Indulged self, family and neighbors – check
  • 2nd batch in the making – check

Yield 

Served a family of 10. Now the serving size depends on the time of the day – dessert or after the hot sun indulgence!

Guaranteed repeat request though !!

Signing off!