easy onion drop biscuits: no eggs no butter, tender and flaky in 15 minutes!

onion biscuits

These savoury, tender and flaky biscuits are really easy to make and go well with stews and soups and are good enough to munch away on their own. I crumbled them over this cumin  roasted cauliflower soup. The best part is that it uses very common pantry staples and yes,  no eggs and no butter. Still delicious.
There should really be nothing more for me to say to convince you to try them immediately. Now.

cauliflower soup with onion biscuits

cumin roasted cauliflower soup- hearty & healthy

“Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works” (Heb 10:24) BXVI: The Lenten season offers us once again an opportunity to reflect upon the very heart of Christian life: charity    - From the Pope's daily twitter updates during Lent

cauliflower soup 2 a

Sometimes an idea will come and settle in my head. Then it's like everything around me conspires to make me put that idea into action. That idea for some time now was earth shattering. Life changing. Actually it was just...cumin roasted cauliflower soup.

See, I discovered the joy of roasted veggies only after moving here with a large, lovely oven at my disposal. As a kid I wouldn't eat cauliflower unless it was crispy fried like in Gobi Manchurian a delectable but greasy Indo- Chinese dish. Since then I have grown to appreciate my veggies, but even more so after I discovered roasting them. Baked sweet potato "fries", broiled sweet bell peppers, smoky roasted eggplant and best of all, cumin roasted cauliflower bliss.
So while I have been routinely roasting my cauliflower sprinkled with a little cumin, pepper and salt and enjoying delicious cauliflower chips for some time now, one day I just had the idea to make them into soup.

Since that day I kept hearing cauliflower everywhere- the women at the table next to ours at a restaurant kept raving about the cauliflower soup they were having and which I then wished I had ordered. Then some good friends blogged about it or mentioned making it and by then I was longing/craving cauliflower soup and just had to make it!

There are lots of cauliflower soups out there. A friend recently made one that was light, refreshing and delicious and I'm looking forward to her recipe and hope to try it soon too.
This one is hearty, thick and robustly flavorful and very filling. Soup never makes me feel full. But this one does. And its healthy and yummy to boot.

cauliflower soup4

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent for us Christians. It is a period of penance, abstinence and sacrifice, remembering the pain and suffering of Jesus Christ, Who we believe died painfully on the Cross to atone for all our sins. This period of around 40 days leads up to Easter which celebrates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and reminds us that we too must strive not for the fleeting pleasures of this life but of eternal life in Heaven.

During Lent we are called to pause and reflect on our own lives and turn away from sin. We are to do charitable acts and to observe fasts as a simple exercise of "showing our passions who is boss" and knowing that we can control our desires if we want. Even if our desires in themselves may not be sinful, indulging every one of them could be dangerous, making us more likely to give in to sin so we practice a little self restraint during this time.

Some people give up meat and alcohol or something else they really like during this time. There was a little girl who gave up the colour pink, her absolute favorite :) People find really creative ways to make their Lenten sacrifices like this girl I read about who is giving up fashion for a cause. In support of those giving up meat for Lent I plan to post several more healthy vegetarian dinner ideas in the coming month like this soup.

For me eating only veggies is quite a treat and not really a sacrifice so I will have to find something unpleasant but good for me to do. Any ideas? maybe giving up sweets or undertaking a major kitchen and paperwork re-organisation effort. Or I might have to take up some form of exercise especially after the two year old  bumped his head against my tummy today and then kept saying "bouncy-bouncy!"

You don't have to be Christian to participate in Lent. A little self restraint once in a while is good for everyone. But I must admit -this soup with some flaky onion biscuits for dinner? Not very sacrificial at all!

Pizza for two with quick & easy homemade Challah dough

Growing up in a small town in India, pizza was a special treat enjoyed when we visited the city. This was before Dominoes and Pizza hut opened stores in every neighborhood there with guaranteed 30 mins delivery. Mom would sometimes make pizza as an after school treat, but sadly from store bought crusts that were really bad. We would just pick up and eat the toppings which were always delicious covered with amul cheese  and leave that soggy weak crust alone. Sometimes she would use bread instead which was only slightly better. If only she knew how easy it was to make the crust from scratch! 

Thankfully I have found out how easy and fun it is to turn my kitchen into my own pizzeria. There was a lot of outrage about Pizza being considered a vegetable  on school lunches but I kinda get what they mean! Pizza is the perfect vehicle for whatever you want to get your family to eat. Whether it is loads of yummy roasted veggies or whatever you can find in your fridge. Sausages, left over chicken roast...the possibilities are endless. You will feel an immense sense of power when you see that nobody says no to grilled eggplant if its on a pizza! 

This recipe is from the book that got me baking bread- Artisan Bread in Five.  I make a big batch of Zoe and Jeff's lovey Challah dough several times a month and put it in the fridge to make rolls, sweet breads like this cinnamon caramel bubble bread, and this apple braided bread.. It is my favourite dough because its so easy to make and tastes great in both savoury and sweet breads.  Zoe and Jeff  have come out with a whole book on Pizzas and flat bread with many different types of dough and fantabulous toppings.

I like rolling the dough out thin like New York style pizza, on a large half sheet baking tray for parties since the dough can be made upto 5 days ahead and actually tastes better after a day. When I am making it for just the two of us I use my cast iron skillet. Making it in a cast iron skillet makes the crust lovely and crispy but you can really make this in anything that's oven proof with very simple ingredients. 
I think making a heart shape pizza would be corny but cute for valentine's day and I may just do it but for now here is the recipe so that you can make pizza at home too!

nutella swirl steamed cupcakes in 15 minutes

This is what I made for World Nutella Day yesterday. I've been excited about it for weeks. Sooo many ideas for nutella oozing desserts to make kept buzzing around my brain. I have been happily digging into my jar of nutella all week in anticipation. Finally I was jolted out of my daydreams to realize that I had better make something or it would be too late to post even by today. It was quite late in the evening and the sun had already set so the pics were going to be quite terrible to begin with. I reached into the cabinet for that little jar to see that we were nearly out. Of nutella. There was probably a few tablespoons left in the jar. Great, just great. I had to make a nutella dessert for world nutella day  with a couple of tablespoons of nutella.

That's when I chanced upon a recipe for these steamed cakes. I loved that the recipe calls for very little amounts of ingredients so that it yields only 4 cup cakes- perfect for my current obsession for portion control and small batch baking. And all I had to do was swirl a spoonful of nutella into the batter to make a perfectly delicious nutella dessert. They take about 15 mins to make, use basic ingredients and all you need is a saucepan or skillet with a lid and a stove. No oven required. But best of all is the texture! oh the texture!- its  moist but not dense, fluffy and airy without being dry! I did find the basic cake to be a little less sweeter than I like but that spoonful of nutella will take care of that :)

This is a nutella-tised version of Mushi-pan a Japanese steamed cake. Steaming is a common alternative for baking in Asian cuisine. In Kerala we have a variety of steamed rice flour appams as part of our traditional cuisine. A lot of western style sponge cakes are also made in steamer baskets or pressure cookers in Asia because not many people have ovens. Growing up some of my birthday cakes were cooker cakes since most ovens in India run on electricity and we are plagued by frequent power cuts and voltage problems. Even during my last visit to India in December I had rotten luck with the power cuts seemingly scheduled for the exact moment that I put a pan full of batter into the oven!
Brands like Pillsbury even make cake mixes especially meant for pressure cookers in India and those were some of the first cakes I made, often for roommates birthdays when we had a stove but not even our dinky little toaster oven yet.
These little cakes brought back a lot of memories of those birthdays and they are quick and easy enough that I will be making them in other variations soon. Stay tuned.