Cafe de Olla, Iced

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I usually blog two weeks a month as part of the Blogging Marathon event. But last month was a little more hectic than I thought it would be, so I couldn’t publish the posts though I was ready with the recipes and clicks. So the recipe is seeing the world a month later than it’s supposed to be, but let’s be happy that it’s here now. 

The recipe here – a simple Mexican coffee recipe, is flavored with orange peel and cinnamon. The sweetness comes from panela, an unrefined whole cane sugar. I didn’t have it, so I used brown sugar which is a good substitute. 

I served it as iced coffee as it was a hot day. I liked that version a lot. Read on for the recipe. 

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Book : Travel, Surf, Cook by Salt and Silver

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 cloves
  • peel from half an orange
  • 1/4 cup ground coffee
  • ice cubes
  • milk as needed

Method:

  1. In a big pot, add four cups of water along with sugar,cinnamon stick, cloves and orange peel. Bring it to a simmer.
  2. Add the ground coffee and bring to a boil. Take off the heat. 
  3. Filter the coffee into four glasses and enjoy your drink. For the iced version, fill a glass with ice cubes. Add the filtered coffee and milk as you need. Enjoy it chilled!

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Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

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Most of the cookie recipes make so many cookies that it can almost feed an army of kids. This recipe from Hershey’s Make it Chocolate book is no exception. I got over 3 dozen cookies out of this batch. The smart thing I did was to bake this on a need basis. The dough needs to be refrigerated and I let it sit there for a few days, taking out small amounts of dough to bake as needed.

You might be wondering why that is such a big deal, given that a lot of you might already be doing that. But the fact is, I have this compulsive need to finish off the dough the day I make it. I don’t want to deal with preheating the oven multiple times or washing the same cookie pans again and again, so its always been a case of baking excess cookies and eating excess cookies.

But this time, I was having guests through out the week and I would take only the amount of dough I needed every single time. So no excess cookie eating this time around :-)

Read on for the recipe and the pictorial.

Recipe source: Hershey’s Make it Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup odorless oil like canola or sunflower oil
  • 3/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Powdered sugar for rolling the cookies

Method:

In a big bowl, mix sugar and oil. Beat well using a stand or hand mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat it in. Add the vanilla extract as well.

Once the eggs are well combined, add sifted cocoa powder. Fold it in slowly.

Once cocoa is well combined, add the flour, salt and baking powder. Beat in at low speed, I ended up folding it in carefully using a silicon spatula after one point. Chill this mixture overnight or for at least 6 hours.

Heat oven to 350 F/180C. Scoop a small 1″ ball of dough. Roll in powdered sugar and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave a little space between the cookies to allow space for spreading. Bake for about 12-15 minutes until the cookies are done. Let it cool in the tray for at least 10 minutes to prevent it from crumbling when taking out of the tray. The recipe makes 40 plus cookies.

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Cuban Black Beans

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Like always, my little break from the blog turned into a big vacation! I would love to tell you that I am back refreshed and energetic from my ‘break’, but that would be a big fat lie. The thing is, with the long weekend and an upcoming actual vacation, its been a little hectic here. The to-do list is long as always, but this time I am not working myself up too much over it. The mantra is to finish as much as I can and leave the rest as it is.

Coming to the recipe here, I was supposed to post it last month for the Latin American theme for Blogging Marathon 76. But though I was done with the cooking and clicking, I never got the time to sit and edit the pictures and upload it to the blog. The recipe is from the book The Cuban Table by Ana Pelaez and Ellen Silverman. We had some friends coming over and we served this in Chipotle burrito bowl style. The bowl had brown rice, black beans, grated Mexican cheese, tomato salsa, corn salsa, sour cream and some lettuce.  It was one of the best meals to date. The best compliment I received was the empty bowl of beans and rice and satisfied smiles :-).

Read on for the recipe, its one of my favorites already!1cuban_beans

Serves 8-10 people

For the beans

  • 1 pound black beans (~1/2 kilo)
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the sofrito:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • salt as needed

 

Wash the beans thoroughly and soak it overnight. The next morning, rinse the beans and add to a big pot along with about 7-8 cups of water. Add one large chopped onions, one diced bell pepper, 4 crushed garlic cloves and a tablespoon of olive oil and cook for an hour. Since I used the electric pressure cooker, I cooked it for only 25 minutes. For the sofrito (onion garlic base for the beans), warm 3 tablespoons olive oil in a pan. Add one diced green pepper, 3 chopped garlic cloves and one large chopped onion.

 

Cook until the onions are pink. Add 1 teaspoon each of dried oregano and ground cumin, salt as needed and 2 teaspoons of black pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes.

 

Add the prepared sofrito to the black beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring the beans to a low boil and let it cook, stirring frequently, until the broth is thickened and the beans is cooked well. For me, it took another 25 minutes to get to the thickness I liked. Add vinegar to taste. Take off the heat and serve with rice.

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Oatmeal Chocolate bars

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I have never had the patience to make bars before since there is more work involved than making a cake or a brownie. For a bar, there are multiple layers and that means more work. To be honest, I have never eaten any of those time consuming bars, so I never knew what I was missing.

At a bake sale at my son’s school, I happened upon the best bake of my life. It was raspberry bar brownies made by the kid’s grandmother. I ended up buying all the brownies from her (about 5 or 6 – that’s all that was there). I don’t regret those calories a bit. It was a work of art – I took a picture of it in the hope that I can look for a similar recipe somewhere. It had a shortbread base, chocolate layer, crumb top and raspberry jam swirled on top. Oh it was delicious!!

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The point of the story was to show why I decided to make these oatmeal chocolate bar. After knowing what the ‘bar world’ had to offer, it’s difficult to stay away from there. So I tried this recipe from my Hershey’s book. These are quite good. You are good as long as you don’t compare it with the raspberry swirls. Nothing comes close to that one, actually :-)

Read on for the recipe. This goes to Cooking from Cookbook Challenge Group

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Recipe source: Hershey’s Make it Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • Chocolate filling, recipe below
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups quick cooking oats
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup walnuts

Chocolate filling:

  • 1/2 cup butter (~100 gms)
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 14 oz can condensed milk

Method:

Melt 1/2 cup butter in a thick pan over low heat. Add Stir in 1/2 cup sugar and 2/3 cup cocoa powder. Mix well.

Add a 14 oz can of condensed milk and cook stirring continuously. Remove from heat when the mixture is smooth and thick. Set aside.

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and line a 9 X 13″ pan with parchment paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat 1 cup butter (~220 gms) with 2 cups light brown sugar. When the mix is light and fluffy, add the two eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla and beat it in.

In another bowl, combine 3 cups oats, 2.5 cups flour, 1 cup walnuts, 1 teaspoon baking powder and a pinch of salt. Add this dry ingredients to the butter and egg mix and fold it in using a spatula and finally using hands to form a soft dough.

Divide the dough into two portions. Press one part into the prepared pan. Pour the chocolate filling on top of it. Sprinkle the remaining dough on top of the chocolate. Add the reserved 1/2 cup of walnuts too to the top. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the top is golden in color. Cool completely and cut into about 36 squares and enjoy!

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Mango Crumb cake

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BM # 77: Week 1, Day 3
Theme : Vegan Sweets
Recipe:  Mango crumb cake

I am mostly a recipe follower. I hardly venture into recipe creation or even something as simple as substitution. But this week, for a change, I decided to play with a basic cake recipe. Priya Srinivasan’s whole wheat buttermilk cake. , which I made Vegan by substituting the buttermilk with pureed orange yesterday, went through another change today. The buttermilk was replaced with mango puree for a different flavor. I also swapped the whole wheat for plain flour and added a thin layer of strawberry jam in between the cake layers. I decided to go with a crumb topping and substituted butter with oil to make it vegan.

If I have to do it again, I would skip the strawberry layer and the crumb topping. I felt the cake by itself tasted good and these two weren’t adding much to the cake. The jam leaked to the sides and got burnt a little which added a nice biscuit like texture to the cake. The burnt part didn’t ruin the cake in anyway, but it taught me that the jam layer should never reach the edges of the pan.

So read on for the simple recipe and step wise pictures.

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Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk pureed mango
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Optional items:

  • 1/4 cup strawberry jam
  • 4 tablespoons flour for the crumb topping
  • 3 tablespoons sugar for the topping
  • oil as needed for the topping, about 1.5 to 2 tablespoons

Method:

The recipe makes an eight inch cake. I have made one six inch cake plus two cupcakes with the remaining batter.

Whisk 1.5 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, a pinch of salt, 1 cup sugar in a mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of pureed mango ( I used one big mango for this) and half cup of oil.

Using a spatula, fold the ingredients to get a smooth batter.

Fill half the batter onto a greased and lined 8″ cake pan. I added 1/4 cup strawberry jam, which I wouldn’t do it the next time. Add the rest of the batter on top of the jam. Try not to get the jam to the edges as it burns because of the high temperature inside the oven.

For the crumb topping, mix 1/4 cup flour and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Add oil, one teaspoon at a time and mix until you get the topping to your preference. I would have used about 1.5 tablespoons of oil. Put the topping on top of the cake batter and bake in a preheated oven at 350 F/ 180C for about 55 minutes or until a skewer comes out free of crumbs when inserted in the middle of the cake. Let the cake cool inside the pan, run a butter knife through the sides of the cake and carefully take it out of the pan. Slice and serve!

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Whole wheat egg less Orange Cake

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BM # 77: Week 1, Day 2
Theme : Vegan Sweets
Recipe:  Whole wheat egg less Orange cake

Ever since I read the recipe for the Spanish Orange cake at Vaishali’s space, I have been planning to bake one. Her recipe calls for cooking a whole orange and then pureeing it before adding it to the cake. I saw another recipe from Mary Berry in the same lines, her Orange Spiced cake also called for cooked and pureed oranges. The cooking and pureeing part was what I wanted to try. But unfortunately both the recipes call for dairy products.

So I decided to try a recipe I had already tried with good results, Priya Srinivasan’s whole wheat cake. The recipe calls for buttermilk which I substituted with cooked orange puree. The substitution makes the recipe vegan.

The cake was full of orange flavor. Its been ages since I served a cake on its own without frosting, so I was feeling a little lost with just a basic cake. I usually soak the cake layers with a simple sugar syrup before serving or frosting the cake. Since the cake is vegan and I don’t have any vegan butter now, I decided to go for a simple mix of icing sugar and water.

Read on for step wise pictures and the recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour (or all purpose flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup sugar (1 cup if the orange is not sweet)
  • 1 cup buttermilk pureed orange
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil*
  • 1-2 tablespoons water, if needed

* Increase this to 1/2 cup to avoid adding the water the next time.

Method:

The recipe makes an 8″ cake.

Cook one big orange until its completely soft. I used the Instant Pot here and cooked in manual mode for 20 minutes. I used only one orange for the cake though I cooked two oranges.

Let it cool. Cut through the orange, take out the pips and chop it roughly, skin and all.

In a food processor, pulse it couple of times (including the skin) so that its roughly pureed. It measured out to exactly one cup when I measured it.

Sift 1.5 cups of wheat flour a couple of times. Whisk it with 3/4 cup sugar (1 cup if the orange is not sweet), 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in a bowl. Once its all combined well, add the orange puree and 1/3 cup oil.

The batter was a little thick, so I ended up adding 1-2 tablespoon of water to loosen it a bit. I would increase the oil to 1/2 cup the next time I am doing it. Pour the batter into a greased and lined 8″ pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 C/ 350 F for about 40 minutes or until a skewer comes free of crumbs when inserted in the middle of the cake. Let the cake cool completely in the pan. I have mixed 1/4 cup icing sugar with a little water (less than a teaspoon) until it reaches a thick consistency and piped it over the cake.

Here I have baked a 6″ cake and two cupcakes with the leftover batter.

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Cocoa Cranberry Pancakes

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Pancakes are excellent treats in the mornings. These are great for lunchbox as well. The flavor can be adjusted to your liking. The book in which I found the recipe gave me many to choose from and my son asked me to make cocoa & cranberry  pancakes from the lot. 

So the recipe below is the base recipe. You can play around and add your own flavors. Thanks to the Cooking from Cookbook event, I am referring a lot more to my cookbooks than the internet. 

Read below for the recipe!
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Recipe source: The Perfect Egg Book

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk 
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter or oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • Melted butter for the pan

For cocoa cranberry pancakes, add 1/3 cup cocoa powder to the dry ingredients. Gently stir in 1 cup dried cranberries into the batter before preparing the pancakes. 

Method:

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients together. 
  2. Stir in the eggs, melted butter, buttermilk, vanilla extract. Mix gently until you don’t see any more dry lumps. Add the cranberries and fold it in. 
  3. Heat melted butter in a skillet and add 1/4 cup of batter to it. Cook the pancakes and flip it over to cook the top side too. Finish off the rest of the batter, adding butter to the pan as needed. Recipe serves two. 

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Mango Popsicle

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BM # 77: Week 1, Day 1
Theme : Vegan Sweets
Recipe:  Mango popsicle

My well filled draft folder contains a tons of bakes, but unfortunately not even a single vegan bake that I could use for this week’s Blogging Marathon theme. So, just like last month, I had to do some last minute cooking.

The recipe here actually has no cooking involved, but its an extremely delicious one and satisfies your sweet buds. Mangoes and summer has a beautiful relation, one that my family really enjoys. Unfortunately, except for a few days here and there, the weather here is still on the chilly side. But with the knowledge that good weather is just around the corner definitely makes everything  better.

Along with the mangoes, I used homemade strawberry jam for the popsicle. I do’t know whether that was a good move. The strawberry jam consists only the fruit and sugar, so that’s vegan too. But the jam took a lot more time to freeze than the mangoes and started melting a lot before too. We were able to enjoy the popsicle without a melt down, but the next time I am using jam, I would blend it along with the fruit than use it as a stand alone layer.

So enjoy this wonderful vegan summer treat. Check out the simple, but delicious recipe below.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 big mango
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • strawberry jam, optional
  • water

Method:

  1. Blend mango with sugar to get a smooth puree. Add water if needed to get a smooth consistency.
  2. Fill a use and throw plastic/paper cup or a popsicle mold with the puree, adding strawberry jam in between to provide an additional flavor and color.
  3. Freeze overnight. Done!

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Ultimate Chocolate Brownies

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I have a tried and tested recipe for brownies. Its the one I always rely on and it was from my Hershey’s baking book. I have never had a failure from that book and so naturally, its been one of my favorite cookbooks. Unfortunately that book is in Chennai and I am here in US. So when I chanced upon another Hershey’s book at the library sale, I picked it up immediately and decided to trust the same way I trusted my first book. I have been trying some recipes from this book too, all with good results.

My main reason for liking Hershey’s books is that the recipe is almost always simple. I didn’t even have to take out my hand mixer for this recipe. All it needed was a whisk and a mixing bowl. I had to use one more bowl for melting the butter, but even with that, the effort was less and clean up was a breeze. So when my son said he wanted to do something special for his teacher for Teacher Appreciation week, this is the recipe I zeroed on.

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The entire bake was done by the kid except for handling melted butter and hot water. He also helped heavily with sampling ;-). These brownies tasted excellent and I am just waiting for a reason to bake these again!

Read on for the recipe and step wise pictures.

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Recipe source: Hershey’s Make it Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup butter, melted and divided
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Method:

Heat oven to 350F/180C. Grease and line a 9X13″ pan with parchment paper. In a bowl, sift cocoa and  baking soda together. Mix it well. Add 1/3 cup of melted butter and 1/2 cup boiling water. Stir until the mixture thickens.

Add 2 cups of sugar and mix it in. Now, add two eggs and the remaining 1/3 cup of melted butter. Stir until everything is well combined and smooth.

Add the flour, vanilla extract and salt. Whisk everything well. Add the chocolate chips and mix it in carefully.

Pour carefully into the prepared pan. Bake for about 35 minutes or so, until a skewer comes free of liquid when inserted in the middle of the brownies. Cool in the pan itself and cut into squares and eat!

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Briam – Greek OveRoasted Veggies

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BM # 76: Week 3, Day 3
Theme : Flavors of Greece
Recipe:  Briam, Greek Oven roasted vegetables

I love oven roasted veggies, but the only thing I don’t like about it is the cooking time. It takes an hour at least for the veggies to be done, but then the oven does all the work and not me. So I guess its okay. Even then I don’t roast veggies as much as I would like to do. Same with bread. I would love to make more bread, if some one else can take care of the kneading :D.

Coming to the recipe here, its Greek style oven roasted vegetables, Briam. The recipe is is also from the book Cooking with Loula where the author, Alexandra Stratou, mentions that its a must to serve feta cheese with Briam. I haven’t changed anything at all from the recipe mentioned in the book except for lowering the amount of oil a little less.

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This recipe is more of a vegetable medley and I am guessing you can add other veggies too as long as the taste doesn’t clash too much with what’s already in there.

Spice is coming only from pepper and chili flakes, so that needs to be adjusted according to your taste.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 green peppers
  • 1 large eggplant (I had Japanese eggplants)
  • one medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley leaves
  • Salt, pepper and red chili flakes to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F.
  2. Wash and clean the veggies. Peel the potatoes and onions.
  3. Dice potatoes, peppers,tomatoes and eggplant. Slice the onions, peel the garlic and chop the parsley leaves.
  4. Add everything to a baking tray (9 X 13 inch pan here) and season with salt, peper and red chili flakes. Add olive oil. Mix well. Spread them out so that there isn’t too much of layering.
  5. Add half cup water to the vegetables and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The water should have evaporated and the liquid should be only oil.
  6. Serve with a block of feta cheese.

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Briam is a main dish that needs to be served with feta cheese and maybe bread, but I served it as a side to my toast with my Greek style scrambled eggs, Strapatsada. It was a very simple, but a delicious meal for me.

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