Melopita – Greek honey pie

BM# 97: Week 4, Day 1
Theme : Flavors of Greece

Now a days, I prefer books over internet for recipe searches for the simple reason that the book won’t turn itself off when I am half way through making a dish. I leave the book open and keep coming back to it whenever needed as opposed to asking my son or husband to unlock my phone if my hands are wet or dirty. For this theme, I had taken two books from the library. It’s easier to cook from a book when it comes to new cuisines. And the irony is that I had to depend on the internet for the recipe here.

The Reason? I didn’t do my grocery shopping this week and as a result the last onion and tomato went into making a very Indian lunch. So with the vegetable tray empty, I started looking at recipes that would cater to my pantry contents. Inevitably I was looking at recipes online and ended up choosing Melopita or Honey pie.

This recipe is from the Greek island of Sifnos. The recipe uses a local cheese Mizithra, but ricotta is a close substitute. The recipe can be made with or without a pie base. I had a ready made pie base that I wanted to use up, but you can bake the filling directly in a greased cake pan as well. I may not have onions and tomatoes at home, but I have honey, I have eggs and even ricotta cheese! It takes like a light cheese cake. I served it with some honey on top.

Read on for the recipe.

Recipe source: The spruce eats

Makes: One 10″ pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb(450gms) Ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 readymade pie crust or homemade crust, optional
  • Honey for glaze

Method:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, add the ricotta cheese, honey, sugar, eggs and flour.
  3. Grease a 10″ pie dish with butter and line with the pie crust. Press the dough into sides and bottom of the pan so that there is no gap in between the pan and crust.
  4. Add the filling to the crust and bake until the filling sets and doesn’t jiggle in the middle. It might take somewhere around 40-50 minutes.
  5. Once the pie is cooked, take off the oven and let it cool. Serve with honey or cinnamon sugar drizzled on top.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#97

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Slutty Brownie cake

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BM # 82: Week 2, Day 3
Theme : USA
Recipe: Brownie cake

Brownies and cakes are part of USA food and sometimes they come together as a single treat. Brownie cakes are actually brownies that are then decorated as cakes, that’s not the case here. While browsing I came across something called ‘Slutty brownies‘ which is a decadent treat. It has three layers – a cookie layer, oreo layer and then a final brownie layer. When made with ready made cookie dough, crushed oreos and a box mix for brownies, its an easy to make treat and every bit decadent as you can imagine.

The recipe here is a cake version of the same. It is a layer cake with three 9″ layers – each corresponding to the slutty brownie layer. So a base cake batter is prepared and divided into three portions – one each for the cookie layer, brownie layer and oreo layer. This is a delicious treat by itself, it is definitely a cake recipe and no means resembles brownies or cookies in any way. I followed the recipe from What’s Gabby Cooking without any change.

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The best part of this recipe for me was it gave a single recipe for a three 9″ layer cake. Else I was using a double batch of a two layer cake which would always leave me with an addition fourth (and unnecessary) cake. I have tried the same base recipe and made a Neapolitan cake instead of brownie layers.

I have to start making videos to explain the cake assembling better, but until I figure that out, you guys can scroll down and read the recipe.

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Recipe source: Whats Gabby Cooking

Ingredients:

Base cake:

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour*
  • 1/2 cup corn flour*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk

*Use 4 cups cake flour instead of a mix of flour and corn flour

Oreo Cookie layer:

  • 10 oreos crumbled

Cookie dough layer:

  • 1 tablespoon molasses (didn’t have any)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Brownie layer:

  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder

Filling, frosting and toppings:

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and line three 9″ pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, corn flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer, beat the butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and continue beating at medium speed. Once the four eggs are combined well, add the vanilla essence and beat it in.
  4. We have to add the flour in three batches, alternating it with the buttermilk. That means, we have to first add 1/3rd of the flour mix into the butter mix. Beat at a lower speed to avoid spilling of the flour all over. Once the flour is mixed in without streaks, add one cup of buttermilk and continue beating. Now add half of the leftover flour mix. Once that’s mixed well, add in the rest of buttermilk. Once that’s combined well, add the remaining flour. At any point, you can stop the mixer and use a rubber spatula to help combine the batter better.
  5. Divide the batter into three bowls. Add 1/3 cup cocoa powder into one batch, crushed oreo cookies into another and 1 tablespoons of molasses and chocolate chips to the last batch.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 35-45 minutes until a skewer comes free of cake crumbs when inserted into the middle of the cake.
  7. Take off the oven, let it cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Then take off the pan, cling wrap it two times and return to the same pan until its time to decorate.
  8. For decorating, prepare the butter cream. Fill and frost the cake only after its completely cool. Prepare a glaze and top with assorted chocolates.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#82

Pasta Salad

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My son stands against anything with pasta and rice. He does eat both, but with such a long face that it almost makes me guilty. Almost… But I don’t give up on these two foods and keep bringing them to the table irrespective of the nasty looks, sighs and nays.

The kid does like salads, so I have started adding a bit of pasta to his salad. He seems to be okay with that. So now, once in a while, I pack a cold pasta salad for his lunch. I prepare it the night before and refrigerate so that the flavors can mingle.

A good thing about salad is that you don’t need to have an exact recipe. Whatever is available in the fridge paired with a bit of  dressing makes an excellent one. My go-to salad dressing is a mix of mayonnaise and honey mustard, but I am slowly including more of the classic olive oil and lemon juice now a days.

For a salad, I like the combination of vegetables with beans and fruits. The bit of sweetness that the fruit imparts gives a lovely flavor and the beans fill you up. Cheese is more for my son’s taste buds. For this particular dish, I had some ready made taco seasoning to be used up. So that went into the dressing with olive oil and lemon juice. This video from Tasty is what I followed for the dressing. I had to skip the jalapenos and garlic since it was for my son’s lunch box. Taco seasoning is a mix of spices and can be made at home as well. Here is a recipe if you want to make it at home.

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Serves 2

Recipe adapted from: Tasty – Pasta Salad 4 ways

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked pasta
  • 1/2 cup cooked red kidney beans
  • 2 slices of cheese torn into small pieces or 1/3 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced mangoes
  • 3 tablespoons sliced olives
  • 1 big tomato, diced
  • handful of coriander leaves, chopped
  • salt as needed

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ready made taco seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic, minced, optional
  • 1 tablespoon jalapenos, optional

Method:

  1. Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Cook roughly about one cup pasta in boiling water with salt to get two cups of cooked pasta. Drain and let it cool completely.
  3. Combine the salad ingredients to the pasta. Slowly add the dressing, mixing it in. You don’t have to use all the dressing, you can stop when you feel that the taste is fine.
  4. Do a taste test before adding salt, since pasta was cooked in salted water and taco seasoning also has salt.

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Cricket Cake – Birthday

birthday_deco

My son’s birthday is two days after Christmas. All these years we have celebrated it with our family as we travel home for our holidays. He was fine with this arrangement for 6 years. 

But this year, he wanted a birthday party (“all my friends have one, Mommy!”) and the two of us have been planning from June for that. My worry wasn’t the food, the cake or the games.

It was about managing 10 plus kids in a closed area!!

But then, the kids were nice and thank fully, everything went out smooth. birthday_cake1

After a lot of coaxing, my son agreed to have the party a week ahead. 

I made the birthday banner 2 weeks before, made the cake bunting 10 days before, decided the menu a week before, started cooking 3 days before, decorated the house a day before and left only minimal work for the day of the party.

It was a tea time party and the menu was

birthday_cakebunting

For the cake bunting, I followed the instructions the net. I am not able to find the exact site from where I did this, but it’s more or less the same as here. I added a stitch like pattern to the flags for an extra nice effect.

The cake banner/bunting saved me from having to pipe on the cake and ruin the whole thing!

birthdaycake

My son wanted the cake to be ‘cricket related’. He didn’t want the cricket bat cake I had made earlier. He then wanted me to make all the tools players use. His list was long and I had no idea how half of them look like. More than that, the ready made fondant that my brother got for me was almost over. I had only a tiny bit left.

So I made a cricket bat, ball, pads and a cap. Then I had just enough for a pair of shoes and there it is….the basic things that a player would need.

birthdaycake-001

For the birthday banner in the first picture, my husband took colour print out of the letters (“Happy Birthday Shreyas” in big bold letters placed in a colourful circle). Cut out the circles with letters.

I used scrap-book paper of different colours for cutting out the flag pattern for the base layer. I cut out flag patterns from white thick papers for a second flag on top of the base one. This one was slightly bigger than the circular print out with the letters.

Using a double-sided stick tape, stick the circular print out into the white flags and then using the same stick tape, stick the white flags to the base flag. Do it for all the letters and you have a beautiful banner ready!

Coming to the cake recipe, this has become my go-to cake for all occasions.I made two batches of the dough and baked the cake as well as 2 batches of cupcakes.

Recipe Source: America’s Test Kitchen – Family Baking Book

Ingredients:

Ingredients:

  • Flour                                  :        2 1/2 cups**
  • Corn Flour                      :        1/4 cup**
  • Baking Powder              :        2 tsp
  • Salt                                     :        1/2 tsp
  • Butter                                :        200 gm (2 sticks), softened
  • Sugar                                 :        1 3/4 cups
  • Eggs                                   :         4
  • Vanilla Essence             :        1 tsp
  • Milk                                    :        1 1/2 cups, at room temp

**Cake flour : 2 3/4, approx substitution for that.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease two 9″ pans.
  2. In a big bowl, cream the softened butter and sugar. Once light and fluffy, add the eggs (one by one) and beat with the hand mixer. Add the vanilla essence and beat it in.
  3. In a separate bowl, add the flour, corn flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk thoroughly.
  4. Add one-third of the flour mix to the creamed butter and beat in with the mixer. Add half of the milk and beat again.
  5. Add half of the remaining flour mix and beat in again. Tip in all the milk and mix. Add the remaining flour and beat in until it’s all incorporated.
  6. Mix with a spatula and pour the batter into the moulds.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out free of crumbs when inserted in the middle.
  8. Take off the pan and let it cool in a wiring rack. Once completely cool, frost the cake.
  9. I used butter cream for the green part and dulce de leche(DDL) icing for the cricket pitch. I made the rectangular pitch first and then used butter cream for the remaining parts and sides.
  10. After coating the sides, I felt something was missing and then just went ahead and piped patterns all around the cake with the sandy DDL icing.
  11. The toppers were made using ready-made Wilton fondant. I had enough to make a pair of shoes, pads, a cap, a bat and a ball. The stumps are tooth picks and not edible.
  12. The buttercream recipe is here and the DDL frosting recipe is here.

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