Liebster Award

I’d like to thank  Brianna from 2sweetobsession for nominating me for the Liebster Award! I’m thrilled to be part of this ‘coz there’s so much to share ! Do check out Briannas’ blog for fun recipes & more!

Just so you know, the Liebster award is an award for up and coming blogs with less than 200 followers and is intended to give some exposure to small blogs with less than 200 followers.

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The rules are as follows:

Link back to the blogger who nominated you

Answer the 11 questions given to you by the blogger who nominated you

Nominate 3-11 other bloggers with less than 200 followers

Go to the blogs you nominated and notify them of your nomination

Give your nominees 11 questions to answer.

I nominate ( most of you have over 1000 followers, but this is so much fun!)

2sweetobsession

blissfulbritt

charismaticbaking

alotonyourplate

kitchencici

My answers!

1. If you could go on a dream trip anywhere in the world where would you go?

Anywhere in France for the dreamy desserts!

2.What is your favorite book?

Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

 3.What was your childhood dream job? Are you living it now and if not do you wish you were?

Well, I always dreamed of being a veterinarian b’coz I love being around animals-but am a design consultant & illustrator with an over-friendly Labrador Retriever for company, so I guess it’s all good!

 4.What is the best gift that you’ve ever received and why?

Been gifted / collected over the years-my stack of Tintin Comics- only b’coz they are the best illustrated adventure books one can ever own- bursting with wit & information, for any age group.

 5.Who is your role model and why?

Anyone who is disciplined & kind hearted.

 6.What is your favorite family recipe?

My mums caramel custard- it’s light, clean & delicious!

 7.If you could only use one social media platform for the rest of your life which one would you choose?

Facebook..tho, I’m guessing WordPress’ll soon take over!

8.What is your favorite holiday and why?

As I live in Mumbai, my favorite escape is Manali in Himachal Pradesh, India. It’s a little town nestled in the Himalayan Mountain range- a bit touristy but beautiful, crammed with gorgeous local food & lovely people.

 9.Do you have a favorite song or band?

So many! I’m still in love with Pearl Jam & can’t pick just one song!

 10.If you could travel in time when would you go to?

Woodstock, ‘69

 11.What is the one thing you can’t live without?

My books!

 

My 11 questions!

1-What’ you top most New Years Resolution this year?

2-What’s your single most favorite dessert?

3-Which movie can you watch over & over again?

4-Twitter or Facebook is your favorite?

5-The one thing you’d rescue if your house where burning down ( hope this never EVER happens, tho )?

6-Your favorite book or author?

7-If you were a comic character, who would you be?

8-Where would you rather be right now?

9-One word that describes you?

10-most precious possession?

11-Dream holiday destination?

The Cutest Chocolate Cupcake

Wanted to end the year on a sweet note-and with a swirl! So my latest fave, the Meltingly Moist Chocolate Cupcake with Marshmallow Frosting- or to make it easier- the Cutest Chocolate Cupcake makes it to the top!

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This recipe, nicked from the net & modified to suit, I think is the most easy & fun cupcake I have ever baked. The Marshmallow frosting adds a delicate & delicious finish, while making these little cupcakes cuter than they already are!

I love this little recipe so much coz all ingredients are usually lying around at home – no last minute treks to the shop required at all.

To make about 12 cupcakes , you’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, if using unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup hung yogurt

All you have to do :

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line a 12-cup regular muffin tin with paper liners.
  • Into a bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt; if adding, and set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, lastly beat in vanilla. I use a hand held electric whisk – so much easier!
  •  Switch to a spatula, adding flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the yogurt and beginning and ending with flour. Gently, mix the together, avoiding lumps.
  • Spoon batter into cups, sure to fill each 3/4 full.
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    • Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes.
    • Cool in pan 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then ice the cupcakes, if you like.
    • For the Marshmallow Frosting:
      • 4 large egg whites
      • 1 cups sugar
      • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
      • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
      • Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl. Set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, takes about 3 to 4 minutes.
      • Use an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment to beat the warm mixture, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form- this should take around 5 to 7 minutes. Finally add the vanilla and mix until combined. I added a touch of pink to half the frosting & mixed both into a piping bag.
      • It’s recommended to frost the cupcakes immediately. The frosted cupcakes can be stored in the fridge, in airtight boxes for up to 3 day.

Gingerbread Men & Co.

Slowly but definitely getting into the whole Christmas feel! This year, what with a renewed experimental baking frenzy, slight nip in the air and the billions of cute cookie cutter shapes at my local grocers, thought I’d give the famous gingerbread man and similar Christmassy shapes a spin!

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Gingerbread Man & Co.

 

After several drool worthy searches, I came across one that’s easy and quick; both my favorite cookery words.

Here’s my version of truly the most fun biscuit I’ve attempted! Sure, the icing looks like it was laid on by an ape, but I’m not the kind to ice & tell..

Cookies; about 20:

  • 115g butter, room temperature
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • ½ egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp thick honey
  • 240g plain flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg or cake spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt ( if using unsalted butter )
  • 50g icing sugar
  • Assorted Christmas shaped cookie cutters
  • Assorted Sprinkles

 

  • Preheat the oven to 180’c
  • Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
  • Place the butter and both sugars in a bowl and cream together using a wooden spoon or electric mixer (my choice as I’m really lazy) until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and honey and continue to mix until combined. Sift in the rest of the ingredients and stir together to form a dough.
  • Knead the dough for a few seconds until it comes together-use a dusting of flour, if needed.
  • Here, cling wrap the ball of dough & place in the fridge for an hour or so.  Although, I’d avoided this step – it’s recommended to follow; as chilling the dough helps retain the shape of the cookie while it bakes.
  •  When ready, roll the dough out on your work surface, dusting with flour as necessary, to a thickness of about ½ cm.
  • Next cut the dough in to Christmas shapes . Go all out with Gingerbread men, Christmas trees, stars, and snowmen or even round baubles!  

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Lined up for the Oven- space of about 1″ is good as the cookies will almost double in size.

 

 

  • Transfer the biscuits onto the baking trays and cook in the oven for about 12 -15 minutes, until they are slightly firm, a little darker at the edges and slightly drier on top. Remove from the oven.
  • Here’s a brilliant idea if you’re looking at gifting these ;  use a skewer to make holes in biscuits so they can be hung from the Christmas tree as decorations. You need to make the holes while they’re still warm from the oven.
  • Allow the shapes to firm up for a few minutes, then place them on a wire rack to cool. When they have cooled, they can be iced, though I love them plain as well!

 

Now, icing is brilliant fun, but needs tons of practice – and although I soon ran out of “experimental” cookies there’s no chance of me giving up so soon! Here’s hoping you have better luck at it..

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Cookies cooled & ready for Icing 

 

Royal Icing:

 

  • 2 large egg whites, or more to thin icing
  • 4 cups sifted icing sugar, or more to thicken icing
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 drops glycerin

 

Beat the whites until stiff but not dry. Add sugar, lemon juice and glycerin beat for 1 minute more. If icing is too thick, add more egg whites; if it is too thin, add more sugar. The icing may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Add colour of your choice!

Prepare piping bag & fit with 0.2 nozzle for fine lines. This is handy for outlines etc. Break open the sprinkles & this is when the fun really starts so I’ll leave you to it- have fun!

 

Tip: Get a bunch of kids to help out – the messier the merrier! Plus you get to blame them for the sloppy icing 😀

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Icing attempt #1

 

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icing attempt #2 ( I don’t give up easily )

Creamy Hot Chocolate and Choco-Nuts Pops

Would give ANYTHING for a cup of this mad mad Simple Hot Chocolate….

Details, naturally

One cold day, about twenty-eight years ago, my mother entered a coffee shop in Italy and ordered a hot chocolate. It was the first time she ordered one in Italy, since she had just moved there with little Casper, my brother. What she got surprised her; the cup was hot and steaming, but this was not hot chocolate, she thought. The consistency of whatever they had just served her was thick and almost not liquid anymore; it looked creamy and thick at the point she thought it was some sort of pudding.

Soon enough she realized that was just how the Italian hot chocolate is, and even sooner, just after taking the first sip, she had realized it was delicious.

Years went by and that same hot chocolate became a staple in our pantry during the cold winters. Basically it was what got us through the winter. One cup and…

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Roasted Pumpkin & Feta Salad with Pine Nuts

So we in Bombay have no such thing as winter or autumn- or any such cozy concept. What we do have, however, is a lot of enthusiasm & hope 🙂 Come November, there’s that lingering hopefulness that the temperature will drop just a wee bit; enough to cozy up on our couches, all snug in woolen things & nurse a warm bowl of something comforting…just.. like ..in ..the.. movies…….

Moving on!

My enthusiasm waits for no season- so although the weather is far from wintry, my new fave is the gorgeous Roasted Pumpkin & Feta Salad, I’m dying to share!

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Deliciously sweet & salty with crunchy pine nuts-a warm bowl of this salad makes a healthy TV dinner for the laziest evening at home.

You Need:

Red pumpkin-1/2 kilo roughly

Feta cheese-1 cup

Pine nuts-a handful

Coriander- a small bunch

Red onion-1/2

Olive oil for tossing

Salt & freshly ground pepper

Lime wedges

What you do is:

  • Skin, deseed & dice up red pumpkin into 1” cubes.
  • Season the pumpkin & toss in a little olive oil.
  • Lightly brush a griddle pan with olive oil & roast the pumpkins on a medium heat- till tender & slightly charred. You could also roast in oven.
  • Place in warm bowl & add crumbled chunks of feta cheese & toss.
  • Chop up coriander & finely slice the red onion.
  • Toss ‘em in with the warm pumpkin & Feta.
  • Roast a handful of shelled pine nuts till toasty brown. Toss in.
  • Serve warm with a wedge of lime!

Delicious & ready in a jiff-I told you, it’s mad easy!

The Perfect Little Paddu

Paddu or crispy dosa balls- to put it literally, if not authentically- is probably the easiest snack I’ve ever made. A South Indian breakfast or snack, the perfect Paddu uses simple ingredients- all you need is dosa batter + a Paddu Pan and a little magic!

So last evening, armed with my newly acquired Paddu pan & ready dosa batter I’d whipped up a bunch of these totally delicious little treats in a matter of 15 minutes. All thanks to this awesome family recipe shared by a fiendishly foodie friend of mine from Bangalore!

 Would be a crime if not shared, so here goes !

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Bite-sized Paddus – delicate, delicious and mouth-wateringly perfect!

First, you have to trek down to the nearest local market and hunt down this cast iron pan with little hollows- the infamous Paddu Pan, boys and ladies! Stores that cater to South Indian cookery, also selling Idli steamers, should stock these.

Now, all you need is:

2 cups of dosa batter

1 small finely chopped onion

1 green chili finely chopped

1 inch or less, finely minced ginger.

A handful of delicately chopped coriander leaves- I generally go bananas with coriander so a couple handfuls is what I’d chuck in!

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 teaspoon asafoetida

salt to taste (if previously not added to the batter)

A handful of dried Poha ( flattened rice flakes) You could avoid this; as Poha makes the batter thicker.

A little oil or ghee for greasing the pan

Easiest method ever!

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Keep aside! That’s it- batter’s ready to go 🙂

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The Paddu Pan 

Heat the paddu pan on medium flame. Lightly brush oil/ghee in each hollow of the pan, just so that the batter does not stick to the pan.

Spoon in the batter into each hollow of the pan and cover the pan let the paddus cooks on medium heat, for about 10 minutes. Covering the pan would help building up steam, so it’s a good idea to pop on a lid. Be patient here and resist trying to flip over the little guys before time!

Once the tops of each little paddu looks steamed and partially cooked flip em over with help of a small spoon. Watch your knuckles; coz the pan gets real nasty when hot! Allow this side to cook uncovered for another couple of minutes. Both sides should turn a nice golden brown with a crunchy surface! The centre should be puffed, softer than the crust but well cooked.

Remove from the heat and pop ‘em into your favorite serving platter! A delicious coconut and coriander chutney makes a great accompaniment to these piping hot little wonders!

The toughest part comes now- trying to keep your hands off a piping hot platter of this gorgeous bite-sized snack that’s delicate, delicious and mouth-wateringly perfect! I’m diving back in.

Om Sticks of the Yummy Kind

Landed me a truckload of these gorgeous , not-too-sweet, perfectly crunchy and melt worthy ‘Om’ biscuits from V.B. Bakery, Bangalore!! Subtly flecked with Carom seeds or Ajwain, these bad boys are so light that no matter how many you scarf down, you find yourself reaching out to grab the next handful!
So the next time you have generous and food centric friends trekking over from Bangalore beg them to carry you a bagful, it’s the only sane thing to do.
To make doubly sure, give them the address as well 😉

V.B. Bakery
V.V. Puram
Sajjan Rao Circle, VV Puram, Bangalore

Plus for the overzealous there’s always the fascinating option of baking em at home! I know I am going to have to give it a try…

Om Sticks

Makes: Eight 12″ Sticks or Sixteen 6″ Sticks

Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 tsp Ajwain or carom seeds
5 tsps Sugar; or to taste
1 tsp DryYeast
4 tbsps lukewarm water
3 1/2 tbsps Oil (Vegetable or sunflower)
1/2 tsp Salt

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and lukewarm water. Let stand for 10 minutes until bubbly and foamy.

Stir in flour, salt, Ajwain and oil into the yeast mixture. Stir together with a wooden spoon or beat with an electric mixer or just use your hands and knead until the dough is shiny, elastic,and soft, 3 to 5 minutes.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Toss the dough well to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let the dough ferment at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C. Line a baking sheet with a parchment paper and keep aside.

After 2 hours, Punch the dough and Knead by hand on a lightly floured surface until very smooth and soft. Divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Using floured hands, stretch and roll each piece of dough into a thin 12-inch-long breadstick. Place the breadsticks about ½ inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. And set aside for about an hour till the dough slightly rises.

Bake at 180 deg C until golden and crisp, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to a rack and let the breadsticks cool completely.

Recipe adapted from;

http://thecookscollection.blogspot.in/2009/08/om-biscuit-south-indian-style.html?m=1

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Red Wine, Dark Chocolate & Pear Tart

Occasionally, I get into these fitness binges & stuff my fridge with fruits of all types. And, as these outbursts last no more than a few hours, I’m often left with a huge amount of quickly-softening & over-ripening fruits! Never a good thing.

A frantic search on the net led me to this GORGEOUS recipe that turned a load of neglected pears into this decadent & delicious little dessert!

Had to share my version 😀

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Makes: two 9-inch tart cakes

You Need

For the pears:

  • About 4 pears
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup red wine.
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the cake:

  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar- finer in texture the better.
  • 100 ml red wine
  • 150 g butter, I used salted.
  • 100 g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 1 Tbsp whiskey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

 You Have to

Make the pears:

Peel pears and slice in half, removing core and stems. Place in a saucepan with the water, red wine and cinnamon. Make sure the pears are submerged, so a medium sized pan is the best fit! Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20-25 mins until tender.

Remove pears from pan & keep aside liquid. Slice each half lengthwise so you have quarters, set aside for cake.

Simmer liquid for about 15-20 mins until reduced by half to a thick syrup, cool and set aside. This is the stunning sauce for the cake & the BEST part; so gorgeous & rich!

Make the cake:

Preheat oven to 180C, lightly butter base and sides of two 9-inch removable base tart tins.

Lightly whisk eggs in a medium bowl, set aside.

Now for the tricky (but rewarding) part! Spread sugar in the bottom of a large heavy-based saucepan. Cook over medium heat; do not stir until the sugar turns to liquid around the edges. With a large metal spoon gently drag the edges into the centre, continuing until all sugar is melted.

Remove the pan from heat, once the sugar is lightly caramalized, and immediately pour in the wine, stir vigorously but very carefully until the bubbling subsides and mixture is smooth. Again, be really patient during this step, as the contents of the pan are REALLY hot!

Once smooth, add in the butter & stir until mixture turns glossy. Add the chocolate and continue to stir until melted. Stir in whiskey.

Pour a little of the chocolate caramel into the beaten eggs, whisking vigorously. Pour egg mixture back into the pan with the remaining chocolate caramel and whisk until smooth.

Whisk in all remaining ingredients – buttermilk through baking soda – until smooth. Pour half the batter into each prepared pan. Gently place 8 quarters on top of the batter.

Bake for 25 minutes until just firm in the centre. Cool completely in tins before removing sides. Serve a warm slice with a scoop of the best vanilla ice cream plus a drizzle of the reserved wine sauce!

Recipe adapted from this gorgeous original:

http://84thand3rd.com/2013/07/01/spiced-pear-red-wine-chocolate-cake/#comment-18030

Why I was forced to walk out of The Conjuring

And I thought I was alone in my paranoia of annoying cinema goers….

The Popcorn Muncher

Today, for the first time ever, I left a film before the end. The film in question was James Wan’s latest horror The Conjuring, which has been aggressively trailered for months. In the same ball park as films such as this year’s disappointing Dark Skies, this seemed like a better than average attempt at getting the haunted house genre right.

Unfortunately, I have no idea whether or not it managed. My decision to walk out of the screening room after 20 minutes had nothing to do with The Conjuring, but everything to do with the ludicrous behaviour of my fellow audience members.

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Gluttony in Town

There is no Greater Love Than the Love of Eating

~ Britannia & Co – Since 1923

Trips to Town (or what suburban Bombayites like me call the land & sea beyond Bandra, anyway) are never complete if you don’t indulge in some good food & aimless jaywalking. Last week, I’m happy to say, I did both in good measures. 

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So post my customary stroll to the roadside bookstalls, I decided to try my luck at getting a table at Britannia & Co-this being a second attempt at elbowing my way into one of Bombay’s busiest & most talked about Iranian eateries.

Being a weekday, and an hour or so post the regular lunch rush hour, I was soon escorted to a cozy, checkered table – jaw agape at all the retro loveliness around me. The interiors alone, antiquated & eccentric, confirmed that I’d not be leaving anytime soon-coz I could stay for half the day just taking in the mazza. However, at Britannia & Co, this is not to be- as for others to enjoy a lovely meal, it is the right thing to leave as soon as you’re done demolishing your meal. (I may have borrowed this from one of the many house rules prominently displayed at the Co.)

Pallonjis’ Raspberry Soda

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Anyway, before I knew what was happening I found myself ordering a fizzy raspberry soda- in a real glass batli– a Dhansak with brown rice & yes, The Berry Pulav.

Before I go any further & lose my audience, I have to come clean….see, I’m sort of vegetarian…except that I indulge in seafood & eggs, so in reality, I’m a confused & voracious foodie, who has a selective streak. 

Great, that out of the way, you’ll understand why I ordered the Egg Berry Pulav instead of the much revered & politically correct Mutton BP. Let me quickly get to point that the Pulav is EVERYTHING it is said to be. Everything. Aromatic, but not cloyingly so, steaming long grained rice, rich caramelized onions, nutty & wholesome with just the right amount of cashew nuts for crunch, surprising little potato dumplings & the deliciously tart berries – my good sweet Lord… The Chefs at Britannia & Co do not stint on these berries (or the Zereshk, imported from Iran, I’ve been told). Piled high on the Pulav, with an indulgent flourish, these tangy babies are what completes this unique masterpiece & will have me queuing up for another platter again & again. 

Egg Berry Pulav

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The Dhansak & yummy brown rice, tho holding their own strongly, got my divided attention, so my drooling details on this dish could be kept for a later date. 

I managed to top off the delicious meal with the also notorious & fascinatingly wobbly caramel custard-sweet & clean with the right amount of awesomeness. 

Delicate Caramel Custard

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When I did dig myself out of the comfortable Victorian confines of the Co., profusely thanking & almost bowing in reverence to the kindly owner (with the cutest old cat, snuggled on his desk ) I found my self in the setting sunlight, happy & dazed- in suspended animation- a state of bliss- I know there’s a song in this somewhere…

Britannia & Co-

Wakefield House, 11 Sprott Road, 16 Ballard Estate, Ballard Estate, Fort,

Mumbai 400001

022 – 2261 5264 and 022 – 3022 5265

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The cutest cat, snuggled at the front desk.

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Kindly owners, make guests feel at home.

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