Tag Archives: Desserts

An abundance of figs = figutopia!

The season between summer and fall appears to be the time when fresh figs make their appearance in abundance in markets and stores.  Growing up in India, the only figs we had ever tasted were the dried kind and since these were much too expensive for our humble, middle class budget, we eagerly looked forward to receiving them in gift boxes around the Diwali holiday season.

To be completely honest, I only discovered fresh figs a few years ago and my adventures in the kitchen with these delectable powerhouses of fiber, vitamins and minerals is even more recent.

Since imitation is the best form of flattery, I am not ashamed to admit that I recently followed a few published recipes to attain a state that I am going to call as “figutopia” also known as “fignirvana”.

The first dish was an incredibly easy but amazing to look at fig galette that I have served and eaten plain or with ice cream and/or whipped cream.  Even in its simplest state, the crumbly, shortbread crust barely hugging an abundance of glorious fresh figs is a match made in heaven between nature and manmade.  As we bit into morsels of the crust which melted in our mouths, we would be surprised with the figs that had turned slightly jammy under the heat and warmed their way through our taste buds.

This is what the galette looked like pre and post baking.  You can find the recipe from the team @cookinglight here.

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The second baking expedition involved a fig and almond cake from the super inspiring team @nytfood.  This one intrigued me because of the low levels of flour in the recipe and the addition of freshly ground almonds to make the batter.  Again, while this was easy to make, it looked stunning, giving the illusion of tons of hard work in the kitchen!

Take a look at the cake below pre and post baking.  Do you agree that it looks absolutely beautiful?  You can find the recipe here! Our thumbs up came from the man of the house who finished every last morsel on his plate 🙂

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I plan to try a few more dishes before these fresh figs disappear for the season.  This thought makes me sad and long for living in a place like California where these fruits are abundant.  I’d love to hear more about your favorite ways to eat and prepare figs.  Please share.

 

 

Chocolate Molten Lava Cake – Could Dessert Get Any Better?

By Lakshmi:

I occasionally ponder – If I had no access to chocolate, what would life be like?  Barren, incomplete, lackluster, there is a whole litany of words that I can go through to describe what could become a pretty grave state in my life.

But for today, there is an abundance of chocolate in my life for which I could not be more grateful.  And Chocolate Molten Lava Cake takes a special place as decadent, oozing with chocolate and delight in every bite dessert.  Unfortunately, the dessert is also notorious for packing in the calories.  Not anymore.

The  brilliant cooks at Cooking Light magazine have come up with a way to lighten this recipe without compromising on taste.  A few swaps in ingredients including the incorporation of whole wheat pastry flour produces an amazing product just like the original with an excuse for indulging – don’t I need my fiber count for the day?

It takes a bit of time to prepare, but it is a fool-proof recipe and the results are featured in this post!

If you’d like to indulge, here’s the link to the recipe from Cooking Light.

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/chocolate-molten-lava-cakes-50400000137522/

 

Baklava – A Little Piece Of Happiness In Every Layer

By Lakshmi:

Baklava – The very word conjures up beautiful images in my mind.

– Delicate layers of flaky phyllo dough encasing a filling of sweetened nuts drizzled with a sugar/honey syrup flavored with cardamom or orange blossom

– The joy on people’s faces as they savor their first bite followed by the myriad of expressions that follow on discovering the filling and the melding of flavors.

– The little crumbs sticking over your lips and potentially clothing, making you a bit angry that you could not eat more neatly and yet you have no regrets over devouring something so sinful.

– The excuse to have yet another cup of your favorite beverage (coffee) to balance your palate

Ok…how’s that for waxing eloquence on one of my favorite desserts?

Since its debut in the 8th century BC in ancient Assyrian civilization, more people have fought over rights to creating Baklava than patent contests in the modern world.  Regardless of  its origin, we know that it is a dessert enjoyed with a cup of coffee in Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Armenia, Egypt and more.

Since my very first bite at Lebanese Taverna in the Washington DC area, discovering the varieties of Baklava around the world has been joyful.  The phyllo has been a staple, while the fillings have varied from walnut and pistachios to caramelized milk and more modern versions with chocolate.  I have had cab drivers from the Middle East argue the merits of their native Baklava, discrediting others as imitations and proving that the dish is worthy of national debate!

Favorite memories include savoring the dessert at Bacchus and Lebanese Taverna in the DC area, at Karakoy Gulluoglu in Istanbul, at a small unknown stall near Plaka in Athens, at a roadside eatery in Egypt….and the list goes on and on!

I am proud to claim that not only have I eaten my weight in Baklava during our global travels, but I have also experimented making it with success in my own kitchen.  And to many a naysayer who calls making Baklava a laborious process that’s not worth the calories, I retort and say, it’s pretty simple and totally worth it.

If you’d like to ever overcome your fears to try making Baklava, the simple illustration beautifully created by the website www.theydrawandcook.com should be all you need to get started.  Happy foraging for Baklava!

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