Sara Dhanani

Archive for the ‘Breakfast/Brunch’ Category

Caramel Apple Pie

In Breakfast/Brunch, Dessert on November 30, 2014 at 10:03 am

A little bit of caramel makes anything taste better and in the case of this pie, it elevates it from a humble apple pie to a spectacular apple pie. The key is to restrain the sugar and let the caramel do it’s own sweet thing. Gobbled up by family and a little toddler who is just a touch sweeter than the caramel.



I decided to use a few varieties of apples which created a lovely blend of tart, sweet flavors mingled with nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. The warmth of the spices along with the buttery caramel.. hmmm.



Apples – approximately 7 of them, a few granny smith, 1-2 pink ladys, braeburn or any firm apple

a pink of ground nutmeg and cloves

One tsp of ground cinnamon

1/2 – 3/4 cup of white granulated sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

Prebaked pie crust – any kind you like, I use graham cracker crust and also use a boxed or homemade pie crust for the lattice on top

Caramel either home made or store brought


Put on some holiday music, and make yourself a cup of hot tea.

Preheat the oven to 400 degree’s.  Peel and core the apples and slice them. Place apples in a large bowl and add the sugar, spices,and lemon juice. Combine till all the apples are coated with sugar and spice. Pour over the pie crust. Drizzle a few teaspoons of caramel sauce (2 for less sweet, did I already say there is no such thing as too much caramel?). Make a lattice on top and bake for 30-40 minutes till its golden and bubbly.

Almond Pear Teacake

In Breakfast/Brunch, Cakes, Dessert on September 23, 2014 at 11:08 am

An entire tea party could be planned around this gorgeous cake which is gluten free with no added fats. I stumbled upon this recipe as we were out of butter in our home ( shame on me!) but my little laia wanted to bake.

And I am so glad I tried it out with a few modifications. It’s a truly glorious recipe and next time I will cut down the sugar even more as it was a rich sweet for me ( but oh so perfect with a hot, hot cup of chai!).




I halved the recipe and below are the measurements I used to make a 8x 2.5 inch cake.


2 ripe pears (such as bosc pears)
3/4 cup of granulated sugar + 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 and 1/8 cups finely ground blanched almond meal
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
½ cup sliced almonds


Pre-heat oven to 350. Prepare a 8 x 3 inch springform pan by lining with butter and parchment paper.

Peel and core both the pears, slicing one into thin slices as this will go on top of the cake, and chopping the other pear. On the stovestop, cook the chopped pear with lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of sugar until it is soft and mushy which may take 7-10 minutes. Coarsely mash it with a fork and put it aside to cool. Once cool, add the eggs and 1 tsp of vanilla extract and beat together.

Add the almond flour and sugar to a food processor and give it a few long pulses( 4 years olds love to help with this). Add the egg and pear mixture to the food processor and pulse again till well combined.

Heat sugar or honey in a saucepan till slightly bubbly and carefully fold in the thinly sliced pears.

Pour the batter in the prepared pan, decorate the top of the cake with the sliced pears and top with sliced almonds (or coarsely chopped). Bake for 30-40 minutes till a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Wait for all who taste to applaud!

Old fashioned Bread Pudding

In Breakfast/Brunch, Dessert, Favorite Recipes on October 9, 2012 at 7:20 pm

It’s finally the weekend! After a crazy week filled with deadlines, we relaxed with a lazy goldilocks and porridge saturday morning, grocery shopping and even lazier afternoon naps. I’ve been hoarding some white bread, awaiting it to turn just the right amount of stale so we could delight in some custardy soft bread pudding. And this is the perfect recipe.. soft, custardy, warm deliciousness. Feel free to soak the raisins in rum or boubourn to indulge further.


5-6 cups stale white bread, edges trimmed and cubed into 2 inch pieces

One cup whole milk

One cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup raisins

One teaspoon vanilla

Two eggs

dash of fresh nutmeg

pinch of all spice powder


Heat oven to 350 C

In a saucepan, heat the milk, cream and butter till the butter melts. By hand or using electric mixer, beat the sugar and eggs. Add the hot milk slowly, making sure not to curdle the eggs (i use the stand mixer and add milk so very slowly till the eggs temper). Next incorporate the vanilla, raisins and spices, finally adding the bread, letting it soak up the egg custard for 15-20 minutes. You can save a handful of bread pieces to add to the top if you like a crunchy top. Butter a 9×5 pan and place the bread pudding mix in it. Take a larger deeper pan than your bread pudding dish and fill it with hot water half way through. Submerge the bread pudding dish into your water bath and bake for 45 mins.

Bake till top is browned. Serve with whipped cream if desired…

A traditional Pakistani breakfast

In Breakfast/Brunch, Favorite Recipes, Vegetarian on May 27, 2012 at 5:35 pm


The warm summer sun is ablaze in Phoenix! Over the long weekend, rather than barbequeing we were craving halwa puri. From Boat Basin, thin puri’s packaged in oil soaked newspaper, haldi yellow alu and fiery cholay with a thin layer of oil, that would make my mama shudder every time. And the gorgeous orange halwa, super sweet with tangy achaar.. makes me salivate first and then remember the heart burn!

So with bitter sweet memories I looked up a recipe from a pakistani cooking show (which was painfully entertaining!), and we had halwa puri for brunch. Delicious!! Without the heavy, artery clogging feeling after. Surprisingly the recipes are very hands off, basically dumping all the spices with the beans or potatoes and cooking till the curry forms. I peeked in on them periodically and gave a stir, adding water is needed, so feel free to adapt to your liking. The key is not to fry the spices separately but rather allow everything to cook together. I fried tortillas instead of making puri’s from scratch. It works in a pinch, but fresh puri’s would have been incredible!

One Third cup sooji (Semolina flour)

Half a cup ghee

One cup sugar

Two cups water

One teaspoon orange food coloring ( I had yellow at home)

5 cardamom pods (opened up)


Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed pan. Fry the suji in the ghee for 4-5 minutes till it looks lacey. It has a beautiful nutty aroma. Add the cardamom. Remove from heat. In another pan heat water and sugar till the sugar dissolves (chashni). Add the food coloring. Now stir in the cooked sooji and continue cooked on a medium low heat till its thick (if you stir a spoon it should leave tracks). It will thicken more as it cools.



Two cups Garbanzo beans soaked overnight in water

1 medium sided onion grated

1 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon soonf

1 teaspoon cayanne pepper (powdered)

1 tablespoon red chilli flakes

1/4 teaspoon haldi

1/2 teaspoon corriander powder

salt to taste

1/3 cup oil


Boil in 5 cups of water, the soaked garbanzo beans till mostly soft. Drain most of the water saving approximately 2 cups of water. Add the grated onion to the garbanzo beans and water and boil further till soft. Add all the spices and the oil and continue cooking for 30 minutes till a thick curry is formed. Garnish with chopped corriander.

Alu Ki Tarkari:
Five – Six medium sized Russet Potatoes, peeled

One teaspoon Crushed red pepper

One Fourth teaspoon Haldi

One teaspoon kalonji

One teaspoon cumin powder

Two tablespoons oil

One – 1.5 cup water

One teaspoon achaar (optional)


Chop the peeled potato’s into 2 -3 inch cubes. Add water with all the spices and oil (except the achaar) and cook on medium high heat till a thick curry forms. You may want to mash a few tablespoons of the potato while they’re cooking to facilitate the curry. Mix in achaar in the end.( I preferred the taste without the achaar)


Belgian Waffles

In Breakfast/Brunch on September 19, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Aly loves Belgian waffles. Me, I’m not such a fan. It tastes too eggy for me. However, I got a lovely waffle maker for my birthday, so we made some waffles!

This is a pretty simple recipe which I’ve adapted from here. The waffles were crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. It dint convert me into a waffle lover, but I don’t think that’s possible. Even the nutella couldn’t sway me. I did have a second bite though!


6 Tbsps unsalted butter
1 cup plus 2 Tbsps unbleached All-Purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs – separated

Method: In a small sauce pan melt butter over medium-high heat untill it browns (it should have small brown flecks in it and a nutty fragrance, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.
In a bowl whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix the buttermilk,cbutter and egg yolks together. Combine this with the dry ingredients. Beat the eggs whites to soft peaks using an electric or hand mixer.  Gently fold the whites into the batter in two additions.
Pour 1/3 cup of batter for each waffle into the iron and cooked according to your waffle maker.