Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

I Don’t Get


2010
08.02

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Religion – Today’s society is much too complex to be governed by principles and rules that were set thousands of years ago. With so much of hatred spewing from them it is about time we leave them behind and move on. We really don’t need guidelines to pray or to love.

People who don’t Recycle – I’m not saying you need to heave that guilty-green gasp at every breath (I have friends who do that and I know how annoying that can be). But it really doesn’t take much to do your little. Switch off lights when you leave a room, stop running the faucet while brushing or shaving, walk instead of driving to blow off steam and you’ve done your bit. Yes, small things add up, big time.

Guys Obsessed with their Looks – Yes guys, unfortunately no one cares a damn if you wore your your blue jeans, your grey ones or none at all. Just, shave, shower and check your breath. That and a fully functioning upper storey is sufficient to turn us on. Don’t let us catch you looking into the mirror, we might just throw up on you.

Mothers – Why Oh Why do we strut around with that righteous indignation???!! I hate it when my mother does it and I find myself playing the same cards on my preschooler. I take solace knowing all mothers screw up their kids! Can we blame our hormones here?

Racism – Aren’t we all guilty of it? Any form of prejudice we hold against the other stems from our own insecurities and our overwhelming urge to be superior. I’d like to find our amoeba forefather (amoebae don’t die do they?)  and ask him(her/it?) what color he is and what religion he follows and why we are all so messed up!

 Why Roy Can’t Leave the Toilet Seat Down- My 3 (soon to be 4) year old, just over a year of having learnt to use the toilet, religiously, meticulously puts down the toilet seat every single time he’s done with his business. But, my 33 year old husband, doesn’t think it is a big deal to rescue me and my wet behind from the toilet bowl that I invariably fall into because he forgets to put the seat down every single day! Now, is this about my bad memory or his?

Why Parents Today Over Provide for their Kids – Kids only need a safe loving home and a sound education(no,it doesn’t include all the classes you drive them to). Didn’t we all do fine with the little we had? When did raising kids become a competition?

Why did Evolution provide me with more Hair on the Face than on my Head?- Totally tongue tied about this one :(!

Ok, now from things I don’t get to the one thing I totally get – Food and Repartee. For the last six months  I’ve posted over a hundred recipes and today I write not a recipe but a note of thanks for all your warm and encouraging comments, emails, advice and enquiries. Some of you come here for the recipe, some to read my banter and some out of compulsion 😉 (Yes, it is tough being my friend and I expect way too much. Now, suck it it up and get on with it already!). For whatever may be the reason you come here, I’m glad you do and for that I’m really grateful. – Thank you.

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And since of course I can’t leave without at least one cooking tip, here’s a super simple dessert idea for a balmy summer evening – Cut up a combination of soft and crunchy, sweet and sour fruits, to bite size pieces and serve each bowl of fruit with a dollop of strawberry or vanilla ice-cream. And if you want to take it up a notch, sprinkle each serving with a tsp of dried fruit and nuts. Absolutely no effort, but your guest will leave mighty pleased with the dessert YOU made ;).

I Don’t Get


2010
08.02

IMG_7809 

Religion – Today’s society is much too complex to be governed by principles and rules that were set thousands of years ago. With so much of hatred spewing from them it is about time we leave them behind and move on. We really don’t need guidelines to pray or to love.

People who don’t Recycle – I’m not saying you need to heave that guilty-green gasp at every breath (I have friends who do that and I know how annoying that can be). But it really doesn’t take much to do your little. Switch off lights when you leave a room, stop running the faucet while brushing or shaving, walk instead of driving to blow off steam and you’ve done your bit. Yes, small things add up, big time.

Guys Obsessed with their Looks – Yes guys, unfortunately no one cares a damn if you wore your your blue jeans, your grey ones or none at all. Just, shave, shower and check your breath. That and a fully functioning upper storey is sufficient to turn us on. Don’t let us catch you looking into the mirror, we might just throw up on you.

Mothers – Why Oh Why do we strut around with that righteous indignation???!! I hate it when my mother does it and I find myself playing the same cards on my preschooler. I take solace knowing all mothers screw up their kids! Can we blame our hormones here?

Racism – Aren’t we all guilty of it? Any form of prejudice we hold against the other stems from our own insecurities and our overwhelming urge to be superior. I’d like to find our amoeba forefather (amoebae don’t die do they?)  and ask him(her/it?) what color he is and what religion he follows and why we are all so messed up!

 Why Roy Can’t Leave the Toilet Seat Down- My 3 (soon to be 4) year old, just over a year of having learnt to use the toilet, religiously, meticulously puts down the toilet seat every single time he’s done with his business. But, my 33 year old husband, doesn’t think it is a big deal to rescue me and my wet behind from the toilet bowl that I invariably fall into because he forgets to put the seat down every single day! Now, is this about my bad memory or his?

Why Parents Today Over Provide for their Kids – Kids only need a safe loving home and a sound education(no,it doesn’t include all the classes you drive them to). Didn’t we all do fine with the little we had? When did raising kids become a competition?

Why did Evolution provide me with more Hair on the Face than on my Head?- Totally tongue tied about this one :(!

Ok, now from things I don’t get to the one thing I totally get – Food and Repartee. For the last six months  I’ve posted over a hundred recipes and today I write not a recipe but a note of thanks for all your warm and encouraging comments, emails, advice and enquiries. Some of you come here for the recipe, some to read my banter and some out of compulsion 😉 (Yes, it is tough being my friend and I expect way too much. Now, suck it it up and get on with it already!). For whatever may be the reason you come here, I’m glad you do and for that I’m really grateful. – Thank you.

IMG_7795

And since of course I can’t leave without at least one cooking tip, here’s a super simple dessert idea for a balmy summer evening – Cut up a combination of soft and crunchy, sweet and sour fruits, to bite size pieces and serve each bowl of fruit with a dollop of strawberry or vanilla ice-cream. And if you want to take it up a notch, sprinkle each serving with a tsp of dried fruit and nuts. Absolutely no effort, but your guest will leave mighty pleased with the dessert YOU made ;).

Aamras


2010
06.18

This delightfully tasty dessert is perfect to cool you off on a hot summer’s day. If you have really over ripe mangoes that are not going look too great to serve because they are oozing from all sides, it is a good idea to make a simple Aamras out of them. There are lots of variations in making this. Some add nuts, others add milk and saffron, and some use jaggery instead of sugar. How you like to make it depends on what you are in a mood for. Cause each addition adds a distinct flavor to the dessert.

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Ingredients
2 cups mango pulp
1/2 cup milk (optional)
2 – 3 tbsp or to taste jaggery
pinch of saffron (optional) 2 tsp chopped almonds or cashew nuts
1/2 tsp cardamom powder (reduce the quantity if you aren’t adding milk)

Directions

  • Blend all the ingredients.
  • Serve cold as dessert or with puris and rotis

  • Caramelized Plantains with Malai Kulfi


    2010
    03.17

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    Ever since I moved to California seven years back, I haven’t got much chance to dress up. There has been an occasional office party here, or a friends anniversary dinner there. But never an actual opportunity that allows me to take out a heavy set gold jewelry from the bank, or drape myself into one of those resplendent gold embroidered Kanjeevarams, that I lugged in my bags all the way over the Pacific, flying to California as a new bride.

    So, a few months back when I decided to go ‘full monty’ with my hair, I thought I didn’t have much to lose. Who was going to see me, right? I sit in my pajamas the whole day while I work from home. And, as for my friends, they are sooo used to seeing me in jeans, frayed at the knees and ankles. For them, there is so much ON me to be ridiculed, that something absent would hardly be missed. It started with an intention of just trimming the ragged edges of my hair. The ‘trims’, wound up into big ‘chunks’ and I looked like an Egyptian slave bound to the servitude of a Pharo. I don’t know if it was age  catching up, or if it was the years of chemical torture I’ve put my hair through. It just refused to behave itself anymore. It moved with my head and did not seem to want to get a life of its own!!  So, frustrated, I decided to get rid of it all, hoping the new growth will come with an open new mind. Apparently NOT!! The new hair is as stubborn as the old one, if not more, and now I look like a Mallu-Dingo-Nurse-Aunty fresh off the boat from Dubai.

    The cheekiest consolation about my hair I’ve gotten so far – “Thank God, you have a good heart. People will learn to see that and ignore the hair.”

    And yes, as luck would have it, my dearest BIL, who so cherished his bachelorhood when my long silky tresses put Rapunzel to shame, has a fiancée now and a wedding date for next month. I know I couldn’t expect people to bring their lives to a grinding halt, just for my hair. But, my vanity compelled me to plead for a few extra months of grace, just until my hair could grow out and I could find alternatives to control it. After all, this was the kind of celebration I’d been waiting for over a decade. But, my dear BIL (who obviously shouldn’t be so dear anymore) politely refused. They evidently have plans that do not involve my hair! :’(!!  So, now I have to welcome the new bride into the family in my gold, fine silk and raggedy static spiked hair! So much for all the waiting!

    And like I do for all my woes, I looked towards sugar for help. That is one place I know I will never be turned down from. It won’t fix my hair, but, it really plays cool tricks with my mind. It takes me to a happy place where I can imagine everyone in delicate silks and clean shaven heads :D.

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    This delicious dessert is made simply by caramelizing sliced plantains using sugar and ghee (clarified butter). Though it takes about just a minute to make, the flavors are so intense and unparalleled. And as if this by itself wasn’t sinful enough, I thought bedecking it with a dollop of my high calorie Malai Kulfi would be dandy. And voila, what I have here, I guarantee, can take any one out from their deepest of depressions.

    Ingredients

    2 nicely ripened plantains
    2 – 3 tsp granulated sugar
    2 – 3 tsp ghee / clarified butter
    Malai Kulfi or any ice cream of your preference

    Directions

  • Slice the plantains vertically into 3 thin slices. If it is too big, cut it into half and then slice it vertical.
  • Heat ghee in a shallow pan at a low flame.
  • Sprinkle sugar on the slices and place it flat into the pan so that the side with the sugar touches the floor of the pan. Let it roast till it turns golden brown.
  • Sprinkle sugar on the side faced up and turn it over. Let it caramelize on that side too.
  • Serve hot by itself or with a dollop of Malai Kulfi or any ice cream of your choice. 
  • Whole Wheat Rum and Raisin Cake


    2010
    03.15

    IMG_5556

    With all the baking I’ve been doing in the last couple of weeks, I declare – this cake is by far the best, to make with whole wheat. My best friend K, is going to love it for sure. Not only for the whole wheat, but also for the yummm dee dum pa RUM pum pum pum ;)!!

    Ingredients

    IMG_55822 cups whole wheat flour (I use the Pillsbury brand found in the Indian stores)
    1 1/4 cup butter
    3/4 cup dark rum
    3 eggs
    1/4 cup milk

    It is essential for the butter, milk and eggs to be at room temperature

    1 cup sugar
    2 heaped tsp baking powder
    5 -6 drops of good vanilla extract
    1/2 tsp of instant coffee powder
    1/2 tsp cocoa
    1/3 cup raisins
    1/3 cup cashew nuts chopped
    1/3 cup candied mixed fruit
    1/3 cup dried fig chopped (if you don’t have these, you can use pitted dates instead)
    1/2 tsp salt
    big pinch of nutmeg
    1/3 tsp cardamom cinnamon clove spice mix
    1 tsp orange zest
    2 – 3 tbsp sugar to caramelize

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    Directions

  • Soak the raisins, candied fruit and figs in rum, over night.
  • Caramelize 2 -3 spoons of sugar. When done, whisk in the milk, cocoa, coffee powder, nutmeg and spice mix  until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temp.
  • In a bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at time, add in the vanilla, and the caramel milk mixture
  • Add in the orange zest.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder and salt using a sieve.
  • Stir in the dry ingredients into the wet, a little at a time. Don’t over mix it
  • Mix the rum soaked fruits with the nuts and fold into the batter. Keep a little of the dry fruit and nut mixture aside to sprinkle on top (purely for aesthetics).
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Spread batter evenly in a greased pan, dusted with flour and bake for 45 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool to a warm temp.
  • Serve immediately or wrap in aluminium foil when still warm (prevents drying) to store for later.
  • Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake


    2010
    03.05

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    Why is there just a tiny piece of cake in the picture? Because, that’s all there is left from what I baked last night!
    I confess, I ate most of it, my little boy some of it ,and my husband didn’t touch it. R, has a small problem, for a lack of a better word, when it comes to food. He’ll eat anything as long as he is oblivious to what’s in it. The moment you tell him what it is made of, and especially if they are healthier alternatives for the actual ingredients of the recipe, he will find a million reasons for why it doesn’t taste as good. In this case, the fibrous whole wheat apparently scoured his sensitive throat while he tried to gulp it down, or at least that is what I assumed, was happening when he said, he found it hard to swallow *eyes rolling*.

    My experiments with whole wheat flour for cakes, began for my best friend K, who lives in Boston with her 2 adorable boys and husband (he’s adorable too). She has been an avid reader of my blog, and though she is a thorough vegetarian, and the recipe balance of this site leans with obvious partiality towards the carnivores, she maintains her loyalty as a big fan. She does it all for love of course. The fact that I would kill her with guilt if she didn’t mark this site as her home page, or that I could surprise-call her at any hour of the day with trivia questions about the web site,  has nothing to do with her allegiance ;).

    K, ‘likes’ to make healthy choices when it comes to food and asked me one day if she could substitute wheat flour in my cake recipes. I had never baked with wheat until then and thought it as a nice excuse to do some research and experimentation myself.
    Here’s what I found from all the baking I did  since then. My sole humble opinion only- Whole wheat flour is not suitable for all kinds of cake. I made a plain vanilla cake with wheat and though it didn’t reach the sea, I wouldn’t post that recipe ;). While baking with whole wheat, it is safer to stick with richly flavorful cakes like chocolate, plum, coffee or the spiced up fruit and nut kind. The whole wheat gives a conspicuous nutty taste to the cake and you need the right kind of pairing, to compliment that. To prevent my site from being black listed, if this is your first time baking with whole wheat, I’d suggest that you reduce the below proportions to half or quarter. If you don’t like it, there is not much damage. If you do, you can easily whip up a next batch.

    Ingredients

    13/4 whole wheat flour (I use the Pillsbury brand found in the Indian stores)
    1 1/4 cup butter
    1 cup sour cream (you can use one cup of milk or one cup of butter milk instead)
    3 eggs

    It is essential for the butter, sour cream and eggs to be at room temperature

    13/4 cups sugar
    3/4 cup cocoa powder
    3  tsp baking powder
    5 -6 drops of good vanilla extract
    1 tsp of instant coffee powder

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    Directions

  • In a bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at time. Add in the vanilla and sour cream.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, coffee powder , cocoa powder and salt using a sieve.
  • Stir in the dry ingredients into the wet, a little at a time. Don’t over mix it.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Spread batter evenly in a greased pan, dusted with flour and bake for 45 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool.
  • Serve immediately or wrap in aluminum foil while still slightly warm (keeps it moist) to store for later.
  • Malai Kulfi / Creamy Indian Pistachio Popsicles


    2010
    02.17

    kulfi2000

    The other day, my preschooler picked up the word ‘humongous’ from Sesame Street’s word of the day and threw it into every possible sentence he could make. He managed to use the word fittingly at most times. Picking up the fat Oxford dictionary he quipped “Mama, this book is humongous”. Looking up at his dad he admiringly declared “Papa is humongous”., “I have a humongous thomaph ache” he whined, calling for attention. I was pretty pleased at his newly adopted vocabulary until, he caught me while cleaning up his toys, sprawled on my fours with my rear end jutting right into his face. “Wow! Mama has a humongous bum” he exclaimed, sending me fleeing to the bathroom’s full sized mirrors, glutted with self doubt and loath, wondering and checking if it was a pertinent use of his new lexis or was it his inexperience. Like the time he called the ant or his pinkie humongous?  Or, was my binge eating finally catching up on me?

    kulfi200Nah!! The eternal optimist in me quickly brushed it off as an innocent inappropriate remark. After all he was only a naive 3 year old who had just called his dad humongous (no offence Hon, 5 ft 8’’ does not a tall man make). OK agreed, I thrive on denial and like to lash out on others when I’m victimized. But, I was certain it was just a bad choice of words and to show off how convinced I was, I decided on indulging in one of the richest possible Indian desserts.

    Disclaimer:This dessert is solely for proving my conviction and is not recommended for people who are worried about their waist line and definitely not  for those who take their 3 year olds outcries seriously.

    This is one of the easiest recipe for an Indian dessert, that is just impossible to go wrong with.  If you are really calorie conscious, but find it hard to resist this treat, you can use 3 slices of bread with sides trimmed off, blended to a smooth powder, instead of the 1/2 pint heavy whipping cream. It provides the creamy texture to the kulfis without adding fat. And frankly, there is no difference in taste.

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    Ingredients
    2 , 12 oz cans of evaporated milk
    1/2 pt (8 oz)  heavy whipping cream or 3 slices of white bread with sides trimmed out.
    1/3 cup sugar
    1 tbsp chopped pistachios
    1/4 -1/2 tsp crushed cardamom seeds
    pinch of saffron

    Directions

  • Blend all the ingredients together to a nice fluff.
  • Pour into kulfi molds and freeze for 7 –8 hours. If you don’t have kulfi molds, pour into ice trays and insert tooth picks for sticks.
  • Garnish with chopped pistachios and strings of saffron while serving.
  • Caramel Custard


    2010
    01.14

    Custards and puddings are very easy to make and can be put together in a matter of minutes. They just need a little extra care while baking. Gentle heat in a water bath allows for slow cooking and is the best way to mold out a perfect custard that is not lumpy and  curdled.

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    You can make them either divided in cups of individual serving sizes or all together in a big dish that can be sliced up before serving. Either way works fine. I prefer making it all together in a big dish as I find it easier to refrigerate it as a whole. This also allows my guests to decide how big or a small they’d like the slice to be.

    Ingredients

    1 cup sugar(1/2 cup for the caramel, 1/2 for the custard)
    2 cups milk
    3 eggs at room temperature
    1 1/2 tsp good vanilla extract
    big pinch of nutmeg (optional)
    1/5 tsp salt

    Directions

  • Heat sugar on high heat in a heavy-bottomed pan with a few drops of water. As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously with a whisk.

    Never leave the stove while making caramel as it takes just a second to burn up on you!

  • When the sugar turns dark amber in color , put off the flame and add in 1/2 tsp vanilla and mix it in. Pour the caramel into the custard dish and set aside to cool.
  • Beat the eggs.
  • Add sugar, salt,nutmeg  and 1 tsp vanilla extract and continue to beat.
  • Add warm milk slowly and mix well.
  • Pour into the dish over the cooled caramel.
  • Preheat oven to 350ºF/175ºC
  • Pour 3/4 inch hot water into a dish big enough to fit the custard dish.
  • Place the dish with the custard mix into the dish with the water and set to bake for 45 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
  • To unmold, carefully loosen sides with a clean knife. Place dessert  plate on top of the custard dish, hold tight and turn dish and plate upside down. Tap the dish gently to loosen the custard. Pour any remaining caramel syrup on to the custard.

    In the above recipe, you could replace 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup milk with a can of condensed milk to add a little more richness

  • Hazel Caramel Chocolate Twist


    2009
    12.31

    This mouth watering cake is very similar to my chocolate cake except that I folded caramel sauce into the batter and stuck in toasted hazelnuts into the frosting. This slight twist made a world of difference to the taste and texture of the cake.

     

    Hazel Caramel Chocolate Twist

     

    Ingredients for the Cake

    13/4 cups of all purpose flour
    1 1/4 cup butter
    1 cup milk
    3 eggs

    It is essential for the butter, milk and eggs to be at room temperature

    13/4 cups sugar
    3/4 cup cocoa powder
    3 heaped tsp baking powder
    5 -6 drops of good vanilla extract
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 tsp of instant coffee powder

    Ingredients for the frosting

    3/4  cup  butter
    2/3 cup Cocoa powder
    2 cups powdered sugar
    1/2 cup milk
    5- 6 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 tsp instant coffee powder
    1 cup finely chopped toasted hazelnuts

    Ingredients for Caramel Sauce

    1/4 cup of sugar
    2 – 3 drops of vanilla extract
    3 Tbsp butter
    1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

    Directions for the Caramel Sauce

    • Heat sugar on high heat in a heavy-bottomed pan with a few drops of water. As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously with a whisk.

    Never leave the stove while making caramel as it takes just a second to burn up on you!

    • When the sugar turns dark amber in color , put off the flame and add in butter and vanilla extract and continue to whisk.
    • When all the butter is melted, incorporate the cream slowly and continue whisking until the mixture is smooth.
    • Set the sauce aside to cool.

    Directions for the cake

  • In a bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at time. Add in the vanilla.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, coffee powder , cocoa powder and salt using a sieve.
  • Stir in the dry ingredients into the wet, a little at a time. Don’t over mix it.
  • Fold in the caramel  sauce into the batter.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Spread batter evenly in a greased pan, dusted with flour and bake for 45 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool.
  • Directions for the frosting
    • In a bowl, cream melted butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Stir in cocoa, coffee and vanilla extract. Add in milk a little at a time until you get the right consistency .
    • Spread immediately on cooled cake.
    • Pad with toasted hazelnuts all over.

    Rustic Naked Chocolate


    2009
    12.31
    My best friend V doesn’t do cake in any other form but chocolate. Though she lives thousands of miles away she insisted I bake a chocolate cake for sure. And like I always do for her ;), I complied  and whipped up my Naked chocolate delight in her honor.
    This one is for the God Mother of my son-
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    Rustic Naked Chocolate

     

     

    Ingredients for the Cake

    13/4 cups of all purpose flour
    1 1/4 cup butter
    1 cup milk
    3 eggs

    It is essential for the butter, milk and eggs to be at room temperature

    13/4 cups sugar
    3/4 cup cocoa powder
    3  tsp baking powder
    5 -6 drops of good vanilla extract
    1 tsp of instant coffee powder

    Ingredients for the frosting

    3/4  cup  butter
    2/3 cup Cocoa powder
    2 cups powdered sugar
    1/2 cup milk
    5- 6 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 tsp instant coffee powder

    Directions for the cake

    • In a bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at time. Add in the vanilla.
    • Sift together flour, baking powder, coffee powder , cocoa powder and salt using a sieve.
    • Stir in the dry ingredients into the wet, a little at a time. Don’t over mix it.
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
    • Spread batter evenly in a greased pan, dusted with flour and bake for 45 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.
    • Allow to cool.
    Directions for the frosting
    • In a bowl, cream melted butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Stir in cocoa, coffee and vanilla extract. Add in milk a little at a time until you get the right consistency .

    Spread immediately on cooled cake.