Showing posts with label Lemon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lemon. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sweets For My Sweet!

'Tis February, and love is in the air. Aptly, the theme for Meeta's Monthly Mingle is Sweet Love. Not a problem at all. Because my sweet, unlike me, does love his sweets quite ardently. A little light bulb went off in my head when I read the theme: I knew just the dessert I wanted to make. It is the sweet treat that V loves at any time of day or night, and something he prefers even to a chocolate dessert: Lemon-Poppy Seed Cake. For all the years that I have known him, V has been rather loyal about his brunch and snack comestibles: either a walnut-raisin cream cheese schmeared bagel or a lemon-poppy seed muffin.

For an equal number of years, I have been planning to make lemon-poppy seed cake and just never got around to it. In truth, it is one of the simplest cakes to make: light and citrusy, with only the addition of the crunchy black poppy seeds and a slight tang from the lemon. Now, armed with a new set of baking dishes, I was all ready to make it. A quick google search revealed this recipe on Epicurious, taken from the book The Cake Bible, and I did follow this recipe exactly.

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf

Recipe Source: This recipe on Epicurious.
The method was a little different from the cream-the-butter-and-sugar step that I have started dozens of cakes with. Here, the dry ingredients, cake flour, sugar, baking powder, poppy seeds, and lemon zest were mixed together. Then, softened butter and a milk-egg-vanilla extract mixture were added and mixed in to the dry ingredients. This was a breeze with my **new hand-held mixer**, an unexpected and very thoughtful gift from Alanna!
See anything funny in the picture?
The prepared batter was poured into a greased and floured loaf pan and baked at 350 degrees F. In 50 minutes, the cake was done (a little bit over-done actually). I then spread some lemon juice-sugar glaze on it and kept it overnight before slicing it.
The verdict: The cake itself was light and very tender, just delicious. The glaze, however, made the cake unevenly soggy instead of the moist result I was looking for. Plus, the glaze was too tart. Anyway, V loved the cake, and so did the colleagues that I compelled him to share it with. Meanwhile, I shall keep looking for a recipe that I like better. I remember seeing one in a Cook's Illustrated cookbook...I'm going to hunt for that one again.

Thanks, Meeta, for hosting this event...for finally inspiring me to make a sweet treat that has been years in the making!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

JFI: Ginger-Lemon Rasam

This month's theme for Jihva for Ingredients, hosted by Rosie of What's the recipe today Jim? is the...herb? vegetable? spice? ginger. A knobby, gnarly, ugly root that is beloved by so many cuisines. Just the word ginger gives me a warm, cozy, delicious feeling. [It also makes me want to run and hide from my parents' crazy, over-sized, hyperactive Doberman Pinscher named "Ginger" but that is a story for another day]

Truly, ginger brings a lot to the table. My favorite way to consume it in vast quantities these days is via Trader Joe's triple ginger cookies, addictive little morsels jammed with fresh, ground and crystallized sugar. These are the only cookies in the world that I enjoy eating on a regular basis (apart from Parle G, that is).

Today, I am making the simplest preparation with ginger: what should be properly called a rasam-inspired ginger-lemon dal, for it uses more dal than rasams do. A simple lentil preparation with typical Southern Indian spices, it contains plenty of lemon juice and minced fresh ginger. With some freshly steamed rice, it makes a homely meal. By itself, sipped as a soup, it has magical properties: it can clear up sinuses, banish the winter blues, perk up jaded palates and warm you from the inside out.

Oh, and I also want to share my favorite ginger-related kitchen tip: peeling ginger with a small spoon. It really works!

Ginger-Lemon Rasam

(serves 4-5)
1. Soak 3/4 cup of toor dal for 10-15 minutes, then rinse it well and cook it on the stove-top or pressure cooker and set aside.
2. Heat 1 tsp oil. Make the tempering using: 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, pinch of asafoetida, 5-6 curry leaves, 1 dry red chili broken in half.
3. Add 1 tbsp very finely minced fresh ginger, 1/2 tsp turmeric and stir, then immediately add 1/4 cup diced tomato (fresh or canned) and salt to taste.
4. Stir in 1 tsp sambar powder and the cooked dal.
5. Add 2-3 cups of water to make a fairly dilute dal. Bring to a boil and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
6. Remove from heat, then add the juice of one fresh lemon and garnish with minced cilantro. Serve piping hot as a soup or a dal!

Thanks, Rosie, for hosting! I look forward to some great gingery goodness in the round-up!