Sunday, January 1, 2012

Fun and easy appetizers/small bites

Caramelized onion and goat cheese:

Heat some olive oil + butter. Add two large thinly sliced onions, salt, a pinch of sugar and caramelize - about 25 mins. Add a pinch of dried thyme.

Take the goat cheese out of the fridge to soften for half an hour.

Thaw store bought puff pastry as per instructions on the pack. Dock with fork. Cut into small bit sized pieces. Bake as per instructions (usually at 450 for 15 mins). break the top with the back of a spoon to make space for filling. top with a small amount of goat cheese, followed by the onion topping. Serve.

Polenta rounds:
I used TJ's ready cooked polenta. Slice it thin and fry on both sides in some olive oil. Top with a combinations of chopped capers, green olives, sun dried tomatoes, feta, red chilli flakes, parsley and oregano. Serve.

Pesto Flat bread:
Take a big lavash bread. Spread two big spoonfull of pesto. Add some caramelized mushrooms sparsely, spread mozzarella (key is to not overdo any of the three things). Bake in a 400 degree oven for 7-8 mins. Cut into small squares and serve hot.

Pita chips, Hummus, white bean dip:
Cut the pita bread into small triangles (8-12). Mix olive oil, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, roasted cumin powder, corriander powder, dried oregano. Coat the oil on the breada nd bake in a 425 over for about 25 mins. Make sure to spread the chips without overlapping on the tray, and turn all of them once during baking. Remove when turning slightly brown on the edges and cool. Store in an airtight container.

For Hummus: blend together cooked garbanzo beans, salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil, lime juice and some tahini paste or almond butter. Add water if necessary to make a nice paste. Serve in a bowl, sprinkle some paprika and drizzle olive oil to prevent drying.

For White bean dip : Same as above, use cenelloni beans, and omit the tahini/almond butter.

Both the dips can be made without garlic if desired.

Eggless Black Forest

This one is inspired by modifying a couple of recipes...it was a wonderful trip down the memory lane, thinking about Monginis Black Forest Cakes on New Year's Eve...

The cake:
1 1/2 cup A.P. flour. + 1/2 cup coco powder (Hersheys pure) + 1 cup sugar + 1/4 tsp salt. Sift all these ingredients into a bowl. Add 3 tbs melted butter + 3 tbs vegetable oil + 1 tbsp sour cream + 2 tbsp yoghurt + 1 tsp vanilla + 3 tbsp hot water, and whisk well. Now add 1 tbs white vinegar, mix. Mix 1 1/2 tsp baking soda + 3 tbs warm water. Add to the batter, mix and divide into two prepared (buttered and floured) 9" pans. Bake at 350 for about 20 mins (till testers come out clean). Cool on a rack.

Notes:
The ingredient list is a little cumbersome, but they all kind of play an important role, especially since this is an eggless cake. The butter gives a good taste, but oil makes the cake more moist. sour cream (which is kinda optional) and yoghurt also helps make it moist, yoghurt also provides some protein needed for the structure of the cake. The vinegar and baking soda are needed to give the cake a lift.
Also note that this cake is not too sweet, which works perfectly for black forest, since we add the syrup, but you could add more sugar for a regular cake.


The base:
1 cup of flour + 2 Tbsp Coco powder + 1 tsp baking powder + vanilla + 1/2 cup sugar + 6 tbsp butter, softened - mix everything till combined. Add a splash of milk to bring the dough together. Roll (or just pat into the pan with hands), dock with fork and bake in 400 degree oven for 15-20 mins. This will be like a giant cookie that acts as the base for black forest.

Frosting:
8 oz. whippping cream. Add about 1/2 cup sugar, a splash of vanilla, and whip till peaks form (not too soft).

Syrup:
1 cup of warm water + 3/4 cup sugar

Cherries:
Slice about 10-15 mascherano cherries in half. Leave a few for the decorations.

Chocolate shaving:
Using a vegetable peeler, shave about a cup worth of chocolate. I used milk, cause that's what I had on hand, but using semisweet would give a better color.

Assembly:
Start with the base. Splash a little bit of syrup (especially around the edges, which tend to be dry). Spread a thin layer of cream frosting. Add the first cake layer. Splash more syrup evenly around the cake. Add the cream frosting, spread the sliced cherries evenly. Add the next cake layer, splash with the rest of the syrup, frost the entire cake with the cream. Now, cover the sides with the chocolate shaving. Also spread the chocolate shaving on top of the cake, leaving an empty circle in the middle. Using a spoon, or a piping bag, make around 6 cream blobs around the edge. Add a cherry on each one. Write a message in red on the empty circle in the middle. I wrote "2012" :-)