Mango Cream Cake

It was Manoj's birthday yesterday, time for yet another celebration. Though the day went by as usual, we had a few friends over for dinner. I cooked a simple meal and of course there was cake for dessert.
The last cakes I baked were for Anushka's birthday and there were a lot of sleepless nights and fussing and swearing involved, so when I asked Manoj what kind of cake he wanted, the only thing he asked was to keep it simple :).
Mangoes are everywhere now and the ones I bought this weekend were so juicy and sweet, they seemed perfect for a cake. I decided to stay away from spatulas and icing bags and to just keep things really simple. Once the layers were baked and cooled, it just took a few minutes and the cake was ready and I loved the way it looked.
I have been looking for a good vanilla cake recipe to use with such cream cakes, one that uses oil so that its moist even straight out of the fridge and one that's not too sweet. I did not find one so I tried out this cream cake from Sky High. It uses heavy cream instead of butter, it's light and it's delicious and so moist, just what I was looking for. This recipe makes three layers, but I used only two. If using all the three layers, you will have to make some more of the filling, just double or increase the quantities by 50%.

Mango Cream Cake

1 3/4 cups cake flour
3 3/4 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsps vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sugar (I used 1 1/8 cups)
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolk
3 tbs buttermilk

Grease and line three 8" pans with parchment paper.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/ 350 degrees F.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and keep aside.
Combine the cream and vanilla in a large bowl and whip until soft peaks begin to form.
Reduce the speed gradually to low and beat in the sugar, but do not whip until stiff.
Add the whole eggs and egg yolks and whip until the batter forms soft peaks.
Sift about a third of the dry ingredients over the batter and fold in by hand. Repeat 2 more times until all of the flour mixture has been added. Finally fold in the buttermilk.
Divide the batter among the three pans. 
Bake the cake layers for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert them onto wire racks. Carefully peel of the parchment paper and allow to cool completely.

Sugar Syrup
2 tbs sugar
1/2 cup water

Heat the sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved. Keep aside to cool.

Mango Cream
1 tbs water
1 1/2 tsps gelatin
1 cup mango puree
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 - 4 tbs sugar, as needed depending on the sweetness of the mangoes

Mangoes, Berries and Chocolate Shavings for topping 

Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and keep aside for 5 minutes for the gelatin to bloom.
Take the cream and vanilla extract in a chilled bowl and sprinkle sugar over it. Whip until it forms stiff peaks.
Heat the gelatin for a few seconds in the microwave or on a double boiler until clear and melted.
Stir the gelatin into the mango puree. Fold in the whipped cream into the mango.
Store in the fridge until the cream thickens and almost sets.

To Assemble the cake:
Level the layers if needed. Brush one cake layer with the sugar syrup until moist.
Spread half of the mango cream over the layer. Moisten the other cake layer with sugar syrup and place on top of the cream. Spread the remaining cream over the cake.
Top with fruits.
Refrigerate covered for a few hours and serve.

Quinoa Fried "Rice" and Chili Fish

A few of us friends met a couple of weeks back and at some point we started discussing and sharing ideas  of the meals we cook regularly. I mentioned Quinoa and none of my friends had ever tasted it and some of them were even reluctant to give it a try. We met again for lunch at my place this week and I made my favorite Quinoa recipe for them. 
I have been cooking with Quinoa for a while now and I've always used it as a substitute for rice whenever I could. Of all the ways I've cooked it, this stir fry is my favorite and a dish I make all the time. Anushka loves it too and its a great way to include a lot vegetables in one meal. 
The chili fish is so easy to make and something I planned at the last minute as an appetizer for our meal. I just went along with what I usually do with chicken and surprisingly it turned out great and it was gone as soon as it was served.

Quinoa "Fried Rice"

(Simple omit chicken and eggs to make it vegetarian)
1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken/ vegetable stock or water
2 tbs oil
2 eggs
3 scallions, chopped, whites and greens separated
1 tbs finely chopped ginger and garlic
1-2 green chilies finely chopped
2 heaping cups diced mixed vegetables (carrot, beans, peas, capsicum, broccoli, corn, zucchini)
1 cup cooked chicken, diced
1 tsp fresh ground pepper (add as per your taste)
dash of soy sauce and vinegar (optional)
salt to taste

Cook the quinoa atleast an hour before making this dish.
Boil the water. Rinse the quinoa and add to the boiling water. Mix, cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minute. Let sit for 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork, spread out in the pan and cool completely.
Heat 1tsp oil in a wok or other large pan and scramble the two eggs with a little salt and pepper. Remove from pan and keep aside.
Heat the remaining oil in the wok and fry the onion whites, garlic, ginger and green chilies for a few seconds.
Add the diced vegetables and stir fry on high heat for a minute. Add the chicken and fry for another minute.  Add the cooked quinoa, scrambled egg, salt, pepper powder, soy sauce and vinegar and mix well on high heat until heated through.
Garnish with spring onion greens and serve hot.

Chili Fish

250 gms fish fillet, cut into bite size pieces (I used tilapia)
1 tbs cornflour
2 tsps ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp pepper powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
salt to taste
2 tbs beaten egg

2 scallions, chopped fine, white and greens separated
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1/2 tsp pepper powder
1/8 cup chicken/ vegetable stock or water
1 tbs soy sauce
1/4 tsp sugar
dash of siracha/ chili sauce and vinegar
salt to taste

Mix the cornflour, ginger garlic paste, pepper, red chili powder, garam masala, salt and egg to make a thick paste. Add the fish. Mix well, cover and keep aside for about an hour.
Heat 1 tbs oil in a non stick pan and fry the fish on medium high heat until cooked and browned. Remove from pan onto paper towels.
Add a little more oil to the pan and add the white scallions, ginger and garlic and fry until fragrant. Turn the heat to high and add the stock, soy sauce, sugar, siracha, vinegar and bring to a  boil. Add salt if needed. Add the fish and toss gently to coat with the sauce all over without breaking the fish pieces. Cook for another minute, garnish with scallion greens and serve hot.