Thursday, 17 April 2014

Orange Chiffon Cake with Orange Curd filling and Cream Cheese frosting

Spring and citrus flavors go hand in hand . After a long and harsh winter now that spring is finally here , I wanted to make an orange flavored cake to celebrate. I had earlier posted a recipe for a Glazed Orange Cake  and while  I love the recipe, this time I wanted to make something a bit fancier.

The Orange Glow Chiffon Layer Cake recipe from Rose's Heavenly Cakes had been on my to-do list for a long time. I had gone ahead and bought a metal flower nail specifically for that cake . However, after reading all the instructions and the experience of other bloggers with this cake , I chickened out at the last moment.

Instead, I chose the Orange Chiffon layer cake recipe from the Williams Sonoma website which looked much simpler. I made a few simple changes to the recipe such as using  2 teaspoons of fresh orange zest instead of 1 teaspoon dried orange zest. I also used a teaspoon of vanilla extract. I soaked the cake with orange juice to enhance the citrus flavor and  to moisten it. You can find the recipe for the chiffon cake here. I did not use the Williams Sonoma recipe for the cream cheese filling and frosting.

Orange Chiffon Cake recipe with Orange Curd Filling and Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

From what I have seen in pictures, the texture of this cake looked different from that of Rose Levy Berenbaum's Orange Glow chiffon cake and in fact it looked a bit chewy when it cooled down after coming out of the oven but after soaking it with orange juice, it was fine.

For the orange curd filling I used Ina Garten's recipe on the Food Network website simply because it used whole eggs instead of just the yolk. I believe citrus curd made from just yolks would have a richer flavor but I did not want to be left with the egg whites. I halved the recipe since my calorie conscious family is not too keen on fillings and frostings. So, I just used one layer of filling between the two cake layers, instead of torting the layers to add more filling. You can find the recipe for the orange curd here.

The cream cheese frosting recipe is the same as the one which I use for my Carrot Cakes, except that I replaced the vanilla with about 2 tablespoons of orange juice to make it spreadable and to add another dose of citrus flavor. You can find the recipe for the cream cheese frosting here.

Orange Chiffon Cake with Orange Curd Filling and Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

My family and I enjoyed the full bodied citrus flavor of this cake. The taste intensified after refrigerating the cake for a few hours.

I'm linking this post to the following events:

Casa Costello

Monday, 14 April 2014

What a Great Bagel : Review

Have you ever had a steaming hot bagel made right in front of your eyes ? If you are not a bagel lover ( like I was until recently ), chances are you have not had one. I had eaten some decent bagels at breakfast buffets and coffee joints but I was truly delighted to discover this place near my daughters' school. It's  a modest little place but serves some of the best bagels in Mississauga.
Fresh bagels at What a Great BAgel

Many people confuse it to be part of the What a Bagel chain but the fact is that What a Bagel does not have any location in Mississauga. This one is owned by a European family and is located at 1310 Dundas Street E, Mississauga ON L4Y.
What a Great Bagel, Mississauga, Ontario
We prefer to go there early in the morning after dropping off the girls to school because that's the time when the bagels are being made fresh and you can choose from their range of plain, whole wheat, multi-grain, olive and pepper, pumpernickel, cinnamon raisin, cheese, onion, poppy and everything bagels to name a few. Sometimes, we drop in there after picking up the girls from school and have found out that most of the varieties are sold out by then.
Bagel Varieties at What a Great Bagel
At $3 for half a dozen , $5 for a dozen and $0.60 for a single fresh bagel, I find the bagels to be quite reasonably priced . If you are on a budget, you can check out the packed bagels near the entrance. They are priced at about $1 for half a dozen since they are a day or two old . I have tried them and find them still better than the dense, dry bagels sold at grocery stores for more than double the price.
Apart from bagels, they also sell other baked goods such as bourekas, strudels, muffins, danishes, tarts and cookies along with European chocolates. There are a few stools for those who would like to have their bagels or other baked goods along with coffee in the premises.
Pastries at What a Great Bagel
My personal favorite is their pumpernickel bagels. Also, to enjoy the bagels to the fullest don't forget to buy the Western Cream cheese that they sell in the refrigerator section. It's available in regular, light and green onion versions. I love the green onion flavor and  find that it goes well with most of the bagels except for cinnamon raisin bagels.
The lady who serves in the morning is quite friendly and courteous though I cannot say the same for the afternoon staff. So, their customer service is one area where they can improve upon but overall, I would definitely recommend this place if you are in the area.
Bagels and Cream Cheese
What a Bagel! on Urbanspoon

Friday, 28 March 2014

Win a copy of The Petit Four Cookbook : US and Canada Giveaway

Petit fours are bite-sized French treats containing delicate layers of moist cake, buttercream and marzipan, coated in decadent chocolate. The Petit Four Cookbook teaches you how to make these adorable treats with step by step instructions and mouth-watering photos. It includes several recipes for cakes, syrups and fillings along with assembling and decorating instructions to make petit fours for different occasions such as weddings, children's parties, tea parties etc.

Petit Fours are time consuming and this book recommends spreading out the preparation over two days. It also gives suggestions for those items which can be made much ahead . Even though the multiple steps look a bit challenging to me,  I am looking forward to try them for one of my tea parties. Even when I am not making petit fours, I think the recipes for cakes, syrups and fillings in exciting flavors such as orange, raspberry, lemon, coconut and chocolate will definitely come handy during my baking adventures.

Quick facts about the book:
Title: The Petit Four Cookbook ( Hardcover)
Author: Brooks Coulson Nguyen
Publishers: Ulysses Press
Price : US$19.95 CAN$20.95
Where to buy: Amazon or bookstores such as Barnes & Nobles

If you reside in US or Canada and love to try elegant desserts , here's your chance to win a copy of The Petit Four Cookbook, courtesy of Ulysses Press. You can enter the giveaway through the PunchTab widget below :

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of the book free of charge. However, the views and opinions exressed are my own. I did not receive any other compensation for my views. The giveaway copy is also sponsored by Ulysses Press.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Maple Syrup Festival at Bronte Creek Park

Did you know that it takes about 40 litres of sap to produce one litre of maple syrup ? Or the fact that North America is the only place that has both the sugar maple tree and the proper weather required to produce maple syrup ? These were just some of the facts that I learnt during the Maple Syrup Festival at Bronte Creek Park - a much loved Canadian springtime tradition .

We braved the windchill, snow and slush ( yes,we call this spring in Canada ) as tour guides dressed up in Late Victorian Era ( 1890s ) costumes demonstrated how maple trees are tapped to make maple syrup and maple sugar.

Sap collection from maple trees for making maple syrup
Sap Collection

Maple Sugar Being Made in a Victorian style kitchen
Maple sugar being made in a Victorian style kitchen

Maple sugar being made from sap

We also learnt that all maple syrups are not the same.

Maple Syrup Grades
Maple Syrup Grades

The Gift Shop and the Candy Shanty had lots of maple goodies like taffy, maple fudge, maple cream  cookies, maple mustard, maple jelly and of course, maple syrup.

Maple Candies at Bronte Creek
Maple Candies

Maple Syrup for sale at Bronte Creek
Maple Syrup
Maple Lollies are a must-have for Sofia and Aisha at every Maple Syrup Festival.

Enjoying Maple Lolly
Aisha enjoying Maple Lolly
 Another enjoyable part of the park was the Victorian Farmhouse where we got a glimpse of life in the 1890s and learnt interesting tidbits .

Victorian Farmhouse at Bronte Creek
Victorian Farmhouse
All the walking and fresh air made us hungry and we decided to take the wagon ride to the Pancake House to have some warm pancakes with maple syrup.

Pancakes with maple syrup
Pancakes with maple syrup

After more than three hours the girls had still not had enough and asked us to take them to the children's barn at the other end of the park's day area where they spent another half an hour . Overall, it was a great experience for the entire family , worth going year after year.

For more photos, please visit my Facebook page.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Quick Sardine Curry with canned sardines

Sardines ( also known as pilchards ) are said to be one of the world's healthiest foods since they are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, iron, phosphorus as well as a host of other key vitamins and minerals. They contain virtually no mercury, thus making them one of the safest fishes to eat.

Of late, I have been making attempts to incorporate more fish into my family's diet . According to Canada's Food Guide , it is recommended to eat at least two servings of fish each week and this recipe for Sardine Curry made with canned sardines is a quick and easy way to do that.

Quick and Easy Sardine Fish Curry recipe with canned sardines
Quick Sardine Curry

Usually, I try to avoid canned foods as much as possible but canned sardines in tomato sauce are a staple in my pantry because no nutritional value is lost during the canning process of sardines. In fact, canned sardines are higher in calcium since the bones are softened during the canning process making them edible . Also, I must admit that If I had to go through the tedious process of finding, cleaning , cooking and eating fresh sardines with bones I would never be eating them as often as I do.

A word of caution to those who are not very adventurous about seafood : Sardines have a really strong 'fishy' taste and smell. So, it might take some time for you to develop a taste for them. For this curry I prefer canned sardines in tomato sauce with chili but if you cannot find them you may use sardines with plain tomato sauce. You can just increase the red chili powder in the recipe instead.

Quick Sardine Curry with Canned Sardines

2 cans ( 155 grams each ) Sardines in tomato sauce with chili
1-2 tablespoons oil
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/2 teaspoon garlic paste
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder ( or according to taste )
Pinch of turmeric
1/4 teaspoon salt or according to taste
3 green chilies , slit
Cilantro, chopped for garnish

Method:1) Heat oil in a skillet and add the fenugreek seeds. When they begin to splutter , add the garlic paste followed by the chopped onion. Sauté the onion until it is golden brown in color.

2) Add the chopped tomatoes and all the dry spices. Be careful while adding salt as canned sardines already contain salt. Cook on low- medium heat until the tomatoes are soft and oil oozes out

3) Open the sardine cans and gently add the sardines along with the tomato sauce to the skillet . Do not move the sardines too much to avoid breaking the pieces.

4) Add the slit green green chilies and simmer for about 5-7 minutes to heat the sardines fully and allow the flavors to mingle.

5) Garnish with chopped cilantro . Serve hot with boiled rice.

Quick and Easy Sardine Fish Curry recipe with canned sardines
Sardine Curry

March is National Nutrition Month®  and this year's theme is " Enjoy the taste of Eating Right". This Quick and Simple Sardine Curry recipe is surely a delicious way to boost your nutritional intake.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Starting from Scratch : Book Review

Starting from Scratch is not a cookbook but it is a joyful exploration of the science, culture and practices surrounding food.  Best selling Toronto based food journalist Sarah Elton ( author of Consumed and Locavore )  has written this book with kids in mind but it is also an interesting conversation starter for food lovers of all ages.

Quick facts about the book:
Title: Starting from Scratch : What you should know about food and cooking ( Hardcover)
Author: Sarah Elton
Release Date: March 15 , 2014
Publishers: OwlKids Books
Price : US$18.95 CAN$19.95
Where to buy: Amazon or bookstores such as Barnes & Nobles

With fun and colorful illustrations by Jeff Kulak, Starting from Scratch demystifies food and cooking by boiling it down to the basics. Children will be able to make sense of recipes, measure and substitute ingredients, stock a pantry and budget for a trip to the grocery store. They will also learn about where their food comes from and the variety of flavors that are there to explore.

Excerpt from Starting from Scratch

Even though it's not a recipe book , Starting from Scratch offers some basic recipes like Quick and Simple Pasta Sauce, Yummy Lentil Soup, Never- Buy - Cereal again Granola and Outside-the-box Oatmeal Cookies to show kids how common supermarket staples can easily be made from scratch at home , encouraging them to eat healthier and save money at the same time.

My favorite part of the book was the cultural aspect of food. For instance, the book talks about how differently tables are set up for meals in the western world, Japan, Ethiopia and India. It also talks about how cultural, religious and political beliefs shape what we eat.

I would definitely recommend this book to kids 10 years and older as well as anyone who wants to know how and why food works.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced review copy of this book free of charge. However, I was under no obligation to feature it on my blog or write a positive review. I did not receive any other compensation for expressing my views .

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Tres Leches Cake

There's something about me and Mexican food. Perhaps, it's the fact that Mexicans love spicy food just the way we Indians do. Actually, if we think about it, Mexican and Indian cuisines share a lot of similarities. For instance , tortillas which are an important part of Mexican meals are very similar to rotis (Indian flatbreads). Mexican rice dishes are similar to Indian pulaos. Salsa is the Mexican equivalent of Indian chutney while tostadas are similar to our papads. Both cuisines rely heavily on herbs and spices such as cilantro, chilies and cumin, to name a few. No wonder my taste buds developed a penchant for it.

Strangely, I never discovered the joys of Mexican food during my two year stay in Texas. It wasn't until a couple of years ago when I was visiting Texas that I discovered the joys of guacamole. Since then, I have been using it for everything from wraps to sandwiches to dips but then that's another topic.  My love for guacamole also sparked my interest in other Mexican dishes. Coming to Mexican desserts, this Tres Leches Cake was the second Mexican dessert that I tried after flan and my family loved it as much, if not more than the ever popular flan .

Tres Leches Cake Recipe

When I first heard about this cake, the smattering of Spanish that I had learnt from my Mexican housekeeper in Texas and from watching countless episodes of Dora The Explorer with my girls was enough for me to understand that it's made from three types of milk. Tres = Three and Leche = Milk. Actually, if you count the milk in the cake batter it makes it four types of milk but let's not get into that. The bottom line is that it's an ultra moist ( not soggy, though ) and delicious sponge cake . I like to garnish it with strawberries because the tartness of strawberries nicely offsets the milky sweetness, apart from adding a pretty red touch. It's the kind of cake that you can't resist eating each time you open the refrigerator. Need I say more ?

Tres leches Cake Recipe

Tres Leches Cake
Adapted from : The Pioneer Woman

  • All-purpose Flour - 1 cup 
  • Baking Powder - 1-1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
  • Eggs - 5
  • Sugar - 1 cup, Divided
  • Vanilla extract - 1 teaspoon
  • Milk - 1/3 cup
  • Evaporated Milk - 1 can (400 ml)
  • Sweetened, Condensed Milk - 1 can (300 ml)
  • Heavy Cream - 1/4 cup
For the frosting:
  • Heavy Whipping Cream - 500 ml
  • Icing Sugar - 3 tablespoons
  • Vanilla Extract - 1/2 teaspoon

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan liberally. I used an ovenproof glass dish (Pyrex) so that I could serve in it as well.

2) Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs.

3) Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla.

4) Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.

5) Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.

6) Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.

7) Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a wire rack and allow to cool.

8) Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream in a small pitcher. When cake is cool, put it back into the pan and pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all but about 1 cup of the milk mixture evenly over the cake.

9) Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for at least 30 minutes.

10) To ice the cake, chill your beaters and bowl .Whip the heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of icing sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form.

11) Spread or pipe the whipped cream over the surface of the cake. Decorate cake with strawberries or other berries of your choice. Cut into squares and serve.

Tres Leches Cake Recipe with strawberries

  • You can use the leftover milk mixture for your coffee( like I did ) or  milk based desserts.
  • This is great cake to make for a party . You can make it a day ahead and refrigerate. It tastes even better the next day. Just make sure to cover it tightly with cling wrap as dairy absorbs odors from the refrigerator very quickly.
  • In case your cake sticks to the pan, do not fret. Keep the pan on a wire rack and  let the cake cool in the pan itself. 
  • Instead of strawberries , you can try the cake with other fruits like mangoes, peaches or cherries.

I'm linking this post to Bake Fest #29  guest hosted by  Priya's Versatile Recipes and started by Cook's Joy

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