Monday, August 6, 2018

How To Make Fresh Pumpkin Puree At Home. Oven, Microwave and Pressure Cooker Methods

                                                                                                                                                            Come fall season and it will literally start  raining pumpkin recipes  - pumpkin cakes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pies, puddings - you name it ! Who can resist warm spiced desserts on a cool evening? You can actually smell the aromas of cinnamon and cloves wafting through those inviting pictures,. Its hard trying to resist the urge to get into the kitchen and fire your own oven and start baking one of those. But again,why resist at all?   

                                                                                                                                                   Pumpkin puree is often used in baking and desserts. Don't worry about getting canned pumpkin, I tried using it once, can't say I loved it. Thankfully, it is so easy to make your own puree at home. The humble vegetable adds  moisture, nutrition and texture to dishes,baked or otherwise.Since it doesn't have an assertive taste or smell, it can be so easily disguised in both sweet and savory food, parathas,kheer, soup and more . A mother's dream come true if you ask me!                        

You can bake pumpkin in the oven, cook it in the microwave or even steam it in the pressure cooker. I personally prefer baking it as I  find that it cooks most evenly. Please do try all three methods and stick to whatever works best for u.   I use this variety pumpkin though sugar pumpkins are most commonly used.                                           

                                                                                                                                                                    For all three methods, we need to remove the stem. Apparently the stem gives off a terrible odor and then we can't risk the stem burning in the oven or the microwave.  Wash ,dry and slice the pumpkin into wedges, scoop out the seeds and the fibrous parts. One wedge this size gives me about 1/2 cup pumpkin puree.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            To bake it in the oven (OTG or convection mode in microwave) Preheat the oven to 190 C. Wrap the wedge(s) in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes or until fork tender. Cool completely,scoop out the flesh using a spoon. Process until very smooth. Do not add water while processing unless absolutely necessary. Add only a teaspoon if  needed. Press the puree  through a strainer to get rid of any fibres .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Microwave method: Place the wedge in a glass bowl and cover with a microwave safe plate. Microwave on HIGH for 4-5 minutes or until fork tender. The cooking time depends on the wattage of your microwave Be very careful as even one extra minute can make the pumpkin dry and rubbery, unusable. Sometimes I find that parts of the pumpkin are not cooked well enough, so need to be discarded.  In this case, better to microwave more pumpkin than you think is needed. So  I prefer not to cook in the microwave unless I am in a real hurry.   

                                                                                                                                                         Pressure cooker method Place the pumpkin wedge in a vessel. Do not add any water in the vessel. Cook for about 2 whistles or until the pumpkin is soft. Cool, scoop out the flesh and process. if the pumpkin has left any juices, do not add it to the puree. It will make the consistency thinner. I find that pressure cooked pumpkin is a bit more watery than the oven baked thing. Should work fine for kheer, stove-top puddings, parathas etc. But for baking I would prefer the thick oven baked puree.                                     

You can refrigerate the puree for a couple of days or freeze it small portions. So make your own pumpkin puree, get ready for fall baking!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Eggless Dates And Oats Bars Recipe (With Video)

We may disagree on what these should be called, but am sure we all nod in agreement when I say - nothing really beats homemade stuff, especially when it comes to granola, granola bars etc. They put the store bought stuff to shame , are super easy to make and  you can customize them to your taste.Try these today if you haven't baked your own yet. I am sure you will wonder why you did not make these earlier,I promise you will never buy these again! 

 We love Granola Bars, Double Chocolate Granola, these 3 Ingredient Orange Flapjacks and this Peanut Butter Granola. But who can resist trying out new recipes? I recently tried these Date Bars from Yotam Ottolenghi, choc-a-bloc with seeds and nuts with that Mediterranean touch you find in his recipes. I know you don't mess around with recipes like these, but I reduced the sugar and butter to suit our preference. They are still quite indulgent and gift-worthy, so keep these in mind during Christmas and Diwali.  You can change it to your taste, have fun with it!     

 Here is what I did.  Watch me make these simple bars.Please do not forget to subscribe to my channel for new videos - baking basics, tips and simple recipes for beginners.

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Instant oats (you can use rolled oats if you prefer) 120 grams
Oats, processed coarsely - 80 grams
Pinch of salt
Ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp
Almonds,toasted and roughly chopped - 50 grams
Sunflower seeds,toasted - 35 grams
Pumpkin Seeds , toasted 35 grams 
Raw cashews, roughly copped 50 grams
Raw sesame seeds  10 grams 
Soft pitted dates , chopped 80 grams ( recipe uses 120g)
Date syrup - 1/4 cup / 60 ml ( recipe uses 75 grams golden syrup)
Caster Sugar  -100 grams / 1/2 cup ( recipe uses 180 grams brown sugar)
Soft unsalted butter  100 grams ( the recipes uses 200 grams)
Zest of one fresh orange
Freshly squeezed orange juice - 2 teaspoons.     

  • Pre heat oven to 170C. Line an 8'' square tin with baking parchment,leaving an overhang. 
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, the processed oats, salt cinnamon. Add in the nuts and seeds, mix well to combine. 
  • Toss in the dates, separate them if they clump up.
  •  In a large saucepan, heat together the butter,date syrup and sugar. We just need t to melt and combine well, no need to boil or heat too much. Grate the zest of the orange and stir in the orange juice,mix well. 
  • Dump in the oats and nuts mixture. Mix with a spatula,making sure all the ingredients are well moistened. The mixture will be crumbly. 
  • Press it firmly into the tin. If you do not press firmly the bars will be crumbly. 
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top turns a light golden brown. Check at 15 minutes, be very careful to not over-bake or the bars will burn. 
  • They will be soft when you remove them from the oven, will firm up as they cool. Let the bars cool in the tin over a cooling rack. 
  • Cut them into squares when they are still soft. Once the bars cool completely, separate the bars and store airtight.  

Looking for something even simpler? Try these 3 ingredient  Orange & Chocolate Flapjacks!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Easy Anzac Biscuits. Eggless Oats & Coconut Cookies(With video)

Cookies with coconut make me nostalgic. No no, my mother or grandmother never baked in their lives! I loved those cookies we would buy at a nearby store. Thick, sweet and satisfying. And then later Anzac cookies made an appearance. Those rugged looking oats and coconut cookies popular in New Zealand and Australia. 

These apparently were sent to soldiers by their families during World War One as they were quite sturdy and kept well for days. Thankfully we don't have to suffer ' super sturdy' Anzacs anymore. We can have some really good crunchy and light ones which happen to keep well and travel well too, thanks to Alice Medrich, one of my top favorite authors!

The ingredients are not hard to source, the dough comes together in no time. She gives the option of using either golden syrup or honey making it sound absolutely fine to use the latter,not a second choice. I love golden syrup,but not easy to find it always,so honey it was!

 As in a lot of her recipes for cookies, you will need to be patient and refrigerate the dough for 2 hours or overnight. And then you will be rewarded with some really flavorful cookies. If you bake regularly, you probably have most ingredients at home, so do absolutely try these cookies,you will be glad you did!

Ingredients. Quick Cooking Oats or Rolled Oats( I use quick cooking, Quaker) - 98 grams Unsalted butter,very soft - 113 grams Sugar - 150 grams Water - 1 tablespoon / 15 ml Honey or golden syrup - 2 tablespoons / 30 ml Maida /All purpose flour - 126 grams Cream of tartar 1 teaspoon Baking Soda 1/2 teaspoon Unsweetened dried shredded coconut - 85 gram / 1 cup


1. Pulse the oats in the smallest jar of your processor for a few seconds.You want them coarsely ground but not powdered.

2. Sift together the flour,baking soda and cream of tartar. Whisk in the coconut and oats.Keep aside.

3. Take the butter, honey or golden syrup,sugar and water in a saucepan. Warm on low heat until the butter melts. Take it off the heat.

4. Stir in the flour mixture,mix until well incorporated. This will make a soft dough. Put it on cling film and form two 8''x 2'' logs.

5. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

6. When ready to bake, line your cookie sheet with baking parchment.Preheat oven to 160C.

7.Slice the dough into 1/4'' thick slices.Place the cookies at least 1 inch apart. Bake for 14-17 minutes or until a light golden brown all over.

8. Lift the parchment with the cookies on to the cooling rack. Then transfer the cookies to the rack,cool completely and store air tight. These keep well for at least 2 weeks says Alice.

Make these soon,am sure you will love baking and sending them to family and friends!\\

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