Monday, June 14, 2010

Of Blogger Meets,Template Change,Recipe Index and a Looooong Break!!

I am sure you must have noticed the new look of my blog,so I'll start with that.I started blogging without a clue of what it is and html code sounded so Greek to me then[still it is:)].I had chosen a random template that Blogger provided and was quite happy with it too.Then,my Vanni suggested my blog should be a bit more colourful and then started my search for a template which was easy to use and looked quite good too.

As usual,I depended on Google God and got a decent looking 3 column template which I thought looked cool[then].I literally struggled copying all the code,widgets,pictures etc and transferring it to the new template and swore I'll stick with the same template,no matter what!

I was actually getting bored of seeing the same page again and again and when I posted a message on Facebook regarding template changes,I got lot of feedback saying the old one looked quite dull and I should choose something which was vibrant and clutter-free.

I chose the easier option this time.I went with the new feature that blogger has come up with and it is a much much easier process.Check your Blogger Dashboard for a tab named Design and follow the instructions and you could change the template without the headache of code-copying and widget transferring etc.

Blogger-meet in Chennai- Again thanks to Facebook,I happened to read a status message posted by Nithya calling for bloggers to meet up at a restaurant in Chennai.I had never met a blogger in person and badly wanted to,so I sent a message saying I was joining too.It was a wonderful afternoon,made more chirpy by Priya's lovely kid who made up for her[Priya's] quiet nature.I met Shanthi aunty too who was so lively and enthusiastic.Srivalli came in and went like a breeze and I was so happy to see her after all our plans to meet up failed:) and Nithya,an adorable girl who came with her SLR and kept taking wonderful pics,of all of us and the food.You could check any of our Fb profiles for the pictures taken during the meet!!

Recipe Index - I finally FINALLY compiled all my recipes in one place.Something that I had been meaning to do for so so long.It was a tough job alright but I am a very happy girl now!!

A big FAT break - As many of you already know,I am taking a long break for a month or so.I am going to Kerala to attend and be a part of my brothers' engagement and wedding functions.Both of my brothers are getting engaged and married in a span of one month and you could imagine all the hustle and bustle going on at home!I am thrilled for them and my parents who are looking forward to two adorable daoughters-in-law!

I hope all of you have a great time.See you in July!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Chocolate Fudge Cake - To satisfy a craving!!

3.30pm-Usual blog-hopping going on,feeling a bit hungry after seeing all yummilicious pics,I raid the fridge-nothing.Kitchen-nothing.I remember we had decided not to stock up on anything which was fattening lest we binge on it.But nothing?..argh.Back to the comp.

4.30pm-Stomach grumbling,I decide finally to make something to satisfy my craving.And what exactly was I craving for?Dark Chocolate cake,flavored with coffee probably?Yes,that’s it.All excited I look for a recipe and decide on this.Had bookmarked it since such a long time and the day had come..I literally run to the kitchen to keep everything ready.

I open the fridge and…what,no butter??No probs,I’ll substitute with oil,perhaps.&%$%&,no eggs too??..I had serious doubts if someone was plotting against me.It was raining outside and yes,you guessed it,I set out with an umbrella and got out to buy butter and eggs,ignoring the rain and the blowing wind.

5.30pm-Back home with all the stuff required and all set.But…[the food blogger in me pops up]if I made the cake then,it would be quite late and having a slice before taking a pic was blasphemy!!So what do I do?Satisfy my craving by eating a piece of Toblerone and bake the cake next morning.

But the wait was absolutely worth it.I loved the cake and wished if I had some icecream to go with it.Soft,melt in the mouth chocolatey goodness,I like you!!

Chocolate Fudge Cake
Recipe Source – Aqua of Served with Love


Unsalted butter - 90 gms
Sugar - 200 gms
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
Eggs - 2
Cocoa - 40 gms
All purpose flour - 200gms
Baking soda - ½ tsp
Salt - ¼ tsp (omit if using salted butter)
Hot water - 90 ml
Buttermilk - 180 ml


Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.
Blend the cocoa into the hot water, stir well so that no lumps remain.
Cream together the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add the essence and beat a minute.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for a minute after you add each egg.
Now add the buttermilk and the cocoa mixture alternately to the batter, starting and ending with the buttermilk. The mixture will be very watery at this point.
Finally, fold in the flour to get a smooth batter.
Pre-heat the oven for 10 mins and bake in a tube pan at 200 deg C for 40 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
[I baked at 180C for 40 minutes and the cake was done]

Aqua says it is best baked in a tube pan.I baked it in a bundt pan too and the Cake had quite a few cracks.

Wondering from where I got the Bundt Pan?Well,I got it from Westside[yes!],and it is supposedly Silicone.I say supposedly because,the staff at Westside have no clue and they kept saying it was Rubber!I got a Mini-cake mould too and in that one it is written MW,Oven and Dishwasher safe and the highest temp to cook was 230C.So I am assuming it indeed must be silicone.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Batata Piyav Bhuthi -Potatoes & Onions in a ground Coconut Masala

I have mentioned before how Potatoes rule our life sometimes.Whenever the fridge is empty or I need some feel of ‘home’ or I need to whip up something soon for rice or roti I turn to the humble Potato and the results are successful each and everytime.Our friends tell us we eat too much Potato,really??Is there something called too much Potato..I don’t know[have you seen so many Potatoes in one paragraph ever before..hehe]

It was one of those mornings where I was sitting in front of the laptop[as usual],lunch not prepared yet and it was already 11 or so.I was chatting with Aparna.As is the usual tone of our chats,the second[or third utmost] question to each other would what did you cook today.[Does this happen with anyone else other than food bloggers?].She said Batat Piyav bhuthi and I got interested as it sounded very much like something we would love and I could make in a jiffy.

The recipe is pretty much the same as this only the vegetables you add into it differs.Ajay’s aunt once made this only with Onions and I realized I could eat it plain too as it was so darn tasty!!

Batata Piyav Bhuthi – Potatoes & Onions in Ground Coconut Masala


Potatoes – 2,chopped
Onions – 2,chopped
Grated coconut – ½ cup
Red chillies – 3-4[roasted in a tsp oil]
Tamarind -1 small piece
Coriander seeds – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil – 1 or 2 tbsp


Keep aside some chopped onion for tadka and pressure cook the potatoes and rest of the chopped onions together till soft.
Grind the coconut,red chillies,tamarind and coriander seeds to a slightly coarse paste[much similar to a thoran].
In a kadai add oil and sauté the onions till golden brown.
Mix in the cooked potatoes-onions and sauté well.
Add the ground masala and salt to taste and just enough water for the whole thing to mix.
Switch off the flame when the potatoes are covered with masala[about 5 minutes]
Serve hot with rice and dal.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tiramisu Cake ~ Our First Sweet Punch!!

It was a while back that Ria asked me about starting a baking group with her and Maria.It sounded fun to me and we started discussing about it enthusiastically day in and day out.Being a self-learned baker myself,I identified with people’s fear of baking.As we said in the introductory post,you just need a reliable recipe,fresh ingredients and you are good to go.The introductory Punch was to be decided by the mastermind herself and she chose this wonderful recipe Tiramisu Cake.

Like many,I was intimidated by the recipe the first time I saw it and read through the lengthy recipe.But,it is just a detailed explanation and hence even more foolproof.If planned correctly,you could do one component each at a time and the final assembly would be a breeze!!

Making Homemade Mascarpone Cheese was one big leap for me.Except that I chose the wrong time to do it.Peak of summer with temperatures touching 42C,I shouldn’t have blamed the cheese after all[more on that later].

My Sweet Punch Experience

I made the Mascarpone cheese first and as I said,it was a big leap for me.Never did I think that I would be making something as exquisite,luscious and creamy as this at home.I might reduce the quantity next time,though.I had to make 2 more cakes and use it up as filling to finish the whole one’s complaining!!

The cake is a simple Butter Cake and I can see myself making this cake again[with different fillings/frosting next time].The crumbs tasted so good that I was tempted to have it plain.

The easiest part,which is the final assembly of the cake is where I struggled.I chose one of the hottest days in May to make this cake and that by itself was a big mistake.The cheese wouldn’t set and what was supposed to be a filling turned out to be so flowy that I kept the cake inside the fridge,sat down with the fridge door open and did the whole filling frosting job much to Ajay’s amusement!!To make matters more worse,I couldn't find my camera anywhere while I was doing this[yes,it was the same day I made this].So I had to do with my phone camera and you can see the results for yourselves!![Ok,I take that back,I don't take extra-ordinary pics with my camera,but then you know..!!]But as they say,it was all worth it when I had a slice of the cake.Heavenly and delicious,that’s how I would describe it!!

Tiramisu Cake
Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

For the cake layers:

2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

For the espresso extract:

2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons boiling water

For the espresso syrup:

1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy[I skipped this,added a tsp of Vanilla essence instead]

For the filling and frosting:

1 8-ounce container mascarpone (store-bought or homemade)

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy[I skipped this]
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, or about 1/2 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips[I used chopped chocolate]
Chocolate-covered espresso beans, for decoration (optional)
Cocoa powder, for dusting

Getting ready:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9×2 inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess, and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To make the cake:

Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy.
Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them, and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right-side up.

To make the extract:

Stir the espresso powder and boiling water together in a small cup until blended. Set aside
To make the syrup:
Stir the water and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Pour the syrup into a small heatproof bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of the espresso extract and the liqueur or brandy; set aside.

To make the filling and frosting:

Put the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla, and liqueur in a large bowl and whisk just until blended and smooth.
Working with the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it holds firm peaks. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir about one quarter of the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream with a light touch.

To assemble the cake:

If the tops of the cake layers have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. Place one layer right-side up on a cardboard round or a cake plate protected with strips of wax or parchment paper. Using a pastry brush or a small spoon, soak the layer with about one third of the espresso syrup. Smooth some of the mascarpone cream over the layer – user about 1 1/4 cups – and gently press the chopped chocolate into the filling. Put the second cake layer on the counter and soak the top of it with half the remaining espresso syrup, then turn the layer over and position it, soaked side down, over the filling. Soak the top of the cake with the remaining syrup.

For the frosting, whisk 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of the remaining espresso extract into the remaining mascarpone filling. Taste the frosting as you go to decide how much extract you want to add. If the frosting looks as if it might be a little too soft to spread over the cake, press a piece of plastic wrap against its surface and refrigerate it for 15 minutes or so. Refrigerate the cake too.
With a long metal icing spatula, smooth the frosting around the sides of the cake and over the top. If you want to decorate the cake with chocolate-covered espresso beans, press them into the filling, making concentric circles of beans or just putting some beans in the center of the cake.

Refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours (or for up to 1 day) before serving – the elements need time to meld.
Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with cocoa.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Homemade Mascarpone Cheese

Making my own,it even sounds interesting to me.The only homemade cheese I had ever come across before this was our very own Paneer/Cottage cheese.Somehow,I am not so keen on homemade Paneer mainly because,I cook it only once in a while since I am the only paneer lover here.It sounds much better to order in Paneer Butter Masala when I feel like having it!!

So it is with great anxiety I set about making Mascarpone cheese at home.As you might know,many bloggers have tried making this with great success and Vera’s recipe is a foolproof one.I have seen Deeba and Ria and then the whole bunch of Daring Bakers try it during the Tiramisu challenge.I was excited and couldn’t wait to make my own version of homemade Mascarpone cheese!!Here's how I made it..

Homemade Mascarpone Cheese
Recipe source –
Vera’a Baking Obsession

Ingredients [Makes about 12 Oz]

500 ml whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized)
[I used 3 Amul cream Tetra Packs each weighing 200 ml,so totally 600 ml]
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice


Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet.
Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering.

Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet.

Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F.
It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating.
Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles.

Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise.

It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir.
Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve.

Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time).
Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.

Why did I make Mascarpone Cheese at home??What am I going to do with it??You'll know in a few days..[I love being]

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Nankhatai - The famous Indian Cookie

Nankhatai evokes lots of nostalgic memories in me mainly because,that is probably the closest I came to baking while I was a child.I don’t remember if I enjoyed eating it as much as I enjoyed seeing it baking.I used to shout in happiness when I saw them puff up and break oh-so-gently on top making it the best and perfect nankhatais ever.Sadly,amma doesn’t remember the recipe now.It took me a while to master the art of baking these ‘Indian Cookies’ as I wanted to perfect the looks.

Another funny incident comes to my mind.Many people call this ‘Narankhatar’ in Konkani.Me and ma-in-law once made Butter cookies while she was here and she reminisced about her mother-in-law and how they enjoyed cooking together.Bapama[grandmother-in-law] always called this ‘katar’ as opposed to narankhatar because her bro-in-law’s[who is elder to her] name was Narayan and it was impolite to call his name,even if it was the name of an edible item..sounds strange,eh?

I got this recipe from here,sadly she doen’t blog anymore.I loved her blog and the recipes and hopped on there during my non-blogging days.

Recipe source – Vaishali of Happy Burp

Ingredients - makes 14-16 cookies

Maida/Flour – 1 cup
Powdered sugar – ½ cup

Cardamom powder – ½ tsp

Baking powder or baking soda– ½ tsp[heaped]
Salt – a small pinch

Ghee - 6-7 tbsp [preferably homemade]


Sieve the flour and baking powder/soda together into a mixing bowl.
Add the rest of the ingredients apart from the ghee.

Add ghee, a little at a time, while mixing and kneading the dough until you have it the consistency of chapathi dough.
It should be pliable enough to be shaped into a ball.
Cover the dough well or put it into a container with a tight lid.

Keep it in a cool place for a few hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.Grease/Line a baking sheet.

Divide the dough into 16 portions. Shape those portions into round balls and flatten them a little between your palms.

Arrange them on the baking sheet well away from each other.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes or until the biscuits develop a few 'scars' on top and are slightly browned at the bottom.

Take them out of the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet itself.Once cool, store them in an air-tight container.

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