Sunday, October 20, 2013

my cupcake project


This post has been long overdue....I was inspired by my friend Gauri to make cupcakes...She posted so many pretty pics of cupcakes on facebook, I kept craving to have them...and of course the baker in me stopped me from buying them from superstores...so couple of weekends earlier I undertook the "cupcake project". I tried my hand at dark chocolate cupcake, eggless banana chocolate cupcake, and banana chocolate chip cupcake...I also perfected my chocolate ganache and tried yummy dark chocolate frosting.                    
Dark Chocolate cupcake:
Dark Chocolate with dark chocolate frosting
This one I picked it directly from Sally's Baking addiction, The link to the recipe is here (death by chocolate cupcake) . I used exactly same recipe, with the exception that I added chocolate chips to the batter. Also, the cupcakes were done in around 12 min not 18 min per the recipe. So you might want to keep a close watch on them after 10 min. (my one batch of cupcakes were ready in 10 min) so you want to be alert so as to not burn them.

Dark Chocolate frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese softened at room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
1/2 cup cocoa powder (i used dark cocoa powder)
2 cup confectioners' sugar

Method:
beat the cheese and butter until smooth and add sugar, beat further until mixed well, add cocoa powder and combine everything together...


Eggless banana chocolate cupcake:
Eggless banana chocolate cupcake with dark chocolate frosting 

  1. 1 cup white sugar
  2. 1 cup flour
  3. 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  4. 3/4 tsp baking soda
  5. 3/4 tsp baking powder
  6. 1/4 tsp salt
  7. 1 cup mashed banana (2 medium sized ripe bananas)
  8. 1/2 cup warm water
  9. 1/2 cup milk
  10. 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  11. 3/4 tsp vanilla
Method
  • Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, and wet ingredients in another bowl..
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix it well, so that you get an even mix, no streaks should be seen
  • Pour the batter in cupcake tray...the consistency is quite fluid, do not worry :)
  • Bake for 15 min at 350 deg F....keep an eye on it after ten min...Check with knife or toothpick to see if it is done.
Chocolate Ganache
chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache
This ganache recipe has different proportions of chocolate and cream...I experimented as I thought my 
earlier one was not as light

Ingredients:
  • ½ cup choc chips
  • ¼ cup + 1tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar.

Method:
  • heat the cream and butter on stove/ microwave till the mix just begins to  boil
  • then pour the mix on chocolate chips and mix it well, till chocolate chips have melted and forms a uniform mix, let it cool...
  • then whisk it with a whip to make it light and fluffy spread it over the cooled cake with a spatula...
  • This time I whipped it for 15 min (i use whip it with a regular beater not an electric one)
I like this recipe better than the previous recipe as the ganache is very light and fluffy and stands on its own..doesn't drip....

Banana chocolate chip cupcake:
This one is the same recipe as my chocolate chip banana loaf, I just poured the batter in cupcake pan...I baked it at 350 deg F for 10- 12 min (I baked mine for 15 min and they were little burnt at the bottom)...check with the knife if it comes out clean...nevertheless, they were yummy...we finished them all :)

Go ahead and try these recipes and let me know what you think of it.....

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Zebra cake

I made this cake when ravi was going to arrive from India. He said I never made special stuff for him, kind of true coz I had never made a cake when he was around. this happened because we dont have oven at our home in India and I tried making chocolate cake in microwave once and miserably failed so I never got too adventurous when I was in India and when he was here for couple of months there wasn't an occasion to make something special. Anyways. keeping this story aside, I wanted to make something really special to mark his arrival to USA and this cake seemed perfect.
Its not a birthday kind of cake, but it is so pretty so it doesn't seem like you have made a simple loaf. the method is really simple and easy BUT time consuming. You have to be patient to make this one as the trick in making this pretty cake like in the way it is poured in cake pan. Lastly, when you make it even if it doesn't look pretty to you when you pour it don't worry, final product will be BEAUTIFUL.

With that, here is the recipe. I made this cake exactly per this "zebra cake recipe" with 2 exceptions:
I added 2/3 tsp vanilla and 3 tbsp cocoa powder. Rest all is exactly the same.

Method:
Step1: Whisk egg and sugar
Step 2: Add milk and oil and whisk till well blended
Step 3: Add the dry ingredients, slowly in parts

Step 4: Take half batter in 2nd bowl and add cocoa powder to it

Step 5: Alternately pour a scoop of each batter in greased cake pan

Step 6: Pour batter alternately till you finish the batter.
(As you can see, mine is little messy and not as nice the link nevertheless the final outcome is great, so do not get disappointed)

Preheat oven to 350 deg F and bake for 30-40 min or till the knife comes out clean.

The cake was so soft and rich in vanilla and chocolate taste, just the right amount of sweet and looks so pretty that you will find will be torn between eating it and looking at it, eating it will win eventually coz you wont be able to resist ;)
 I haven't done justice to the sectional piece, could and should have clicked a better pic, maybe next time, yep there definitely is a next time, this is so awesome, my sis was like this is as good as starbucks marble loaf cake. 

 Enjoy with Coffee :)

Tips:
Use same size spoon to pour the different batters, use a scoop of size you would usually use to pour pancakes/ dosa (i mean not too shallow) that way the process will be less tiring. I used a tablespoon to pour the batter as I didnt have a 2 big spoons of same size and it took me a long long time to pour the entire batter. The end result was worth it :) :) 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

beginning of a new era :)

Finally, the day is almost there...tomorrow morning my husband will be with me....2.5 years of wait, meeting with deadlines, teary farewells at the airport, the painful immigration process, checking visa bulletin every month, praying for priority date to arrive etc etc. all a thing of the past....now we shall be together and build our life together

feeling so many emotions right now, happy, super happy, happy till i explode, little nervous, loads of excitement......all at the same time...

thanking god at this moment, that he saw me thru this tough phase. thanking my entire family for their love and support and encouragement; without who I wouldn't be here; my sister, she literally saw me thru...love u bena...both moms and dads, they gave me the strength to walk the path...and ravi, he was there with me every step of the way....of course i cannot forget kaka n kaki, without whose support this day was not possible....

today i feel, like in Joey's words, "it is end of an era" but i would like to rephrase it as "beginning of new era...." WELCOME TO USA RAVI :)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

kung pao mushroom soup

I have been having this urge to eat chinese food for sometime now, and on thursday evening I was like I want to have something chinese. Wanted to try my hand at making my favourite "Manchow Soup" something I have never made before, and i always have without fail when I go to any restaurant in India. Maybe the reason I have not made it is, I am afraid I will not be able to re-create the restaurant style flavor. Anyways this time I didnt have all the ingredients for manchow too, (manchow has many veggies) but I knew the taste I desired and after a  quick look in my kitchen I decided I had enough ingredients to get to that taste. I have named this soup "Kung Pao Mushroom Soup", purely Rhythm's recipe :) I call it Kung Pao as I used Kung Pao sauce I had at home. If you have a different stir fry sauce that you like or use, you may use that, as long as you like the sauce flavor you ll like the soup, as that is the flavor of the soup.

Ingredients: (serves 2)
  1. 6 button mushrooms (chopped)
  2. 1 medium sized onion (finely chopped)
  3. 1 medium sized tomato (finely chopped)
  4. 1/2 green chilly (slit in two pieces)
  5. 3-4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  6. 1/2 tbsp ginger paste
  7. 3 tbsp Kung pao sauce
  8. 1 tbsp sweet and sour sauce
  9. 1 tsp soya sauce
  10. 1/2 tbsp vinegar
  11. 3 cups water (or vegetable broth)
  12. pinch of aji na moto (chinese salt)
  13. salt to taste
  14. pepper to taste
  15. 1/2 tsp sugar
  16. 2 tbsp vegetable oil
Method

  • Saute chilly, ginger paste, garlic and onion in oil. sprinkle some salt
  • Once onion looks tender, add chopped mushrooms. sprinkle chinese salt
  • add the Kung pao sauce, and sweet and sour sauce. 
  • after 2-3 min add tomatoes.
  • Once everything starts simmering together, blending together in a couple min add water/ broth.
  • add soya sauce, vinegar, sugar and pepper
  • as the soup boils it will gain flavor so be patient, let it boil for 10- 15 min, 
  • if you feel some flavor is missing feel free to add more sauces or vinegar to suit your taste buds.
Tip:
Add pepper towards end or just before taking soup off the stove as if you add pepper as soup is still boiling it becomes very spicy (you guessed right, I did it and the soup did make me sweat a little)
if you like it thick (restaurant style) you may dissolve some corn starch in water and add the paste to the soup.

This is a super yummy soup very simple to make and with ingredients that you ll in your kitchen almost any day. Totally qualifies as indo-chinese soup :) I had it with spinach pesto sandwich, another easy to make dinner combination :) :)



Enjoy!















Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day :)

As I sit to pen few words for my dad...I wonder where to begin..
A man of few words, my dad is the silent types. we (me and my sister) have always known how much he loves us.he always calls us his "dhingli" which means dolls...his presence always a silent strength..
but since I have been in USA and married, I have felt his presence in my life even more...
after the wedding, my dad told my husband privately "take care of my daughter"
when my husband told me this, i was like seriously??? I cant believe my dad said it, if my mom would have said it, i would not be surprised (those knowing my parents will understand why I am saying this)...
I mean, of course my husband is a good guy and he will take care of me, it is understood...
but the fact that, my dad said that meant the world to me....
there have been times, when I have not been sure of anything...
when doubts creep in, but I know one thing.
There is one man who wont let anything go wrong in my life...
who i can go to at any point, under any circumstances, for whom nothing matters more than my smile.
these years apart have taught a lot...made me realize a lot of things which I always took for granted...
(of course, this includes my ma too...)
i know that these two people will stand like a rock before something even touches me...
love you dad and mom...
will always be your little girl for you...Happy Father's day

While I am writing about my dad, i would like to mention my 2nd dad...my father-in-law...he is a simple man with a heart of gold...he brings a smile on my face just by his mere presence. he will listen to me than his son, he will make me a part of any important decision making process. wake up in middle of night to skype with me. he offers to help me in kitchen when I cook, insists on helping as I politely refuse. other family members tell me that his face lights up just by the mention of my name..when I am around him i feel as if i am his daughter....he and mom are a huge support too..

I am thankful to God to have blessed me with two sets of amazing parents...miss you all

Saturday, June 8, 2013

lessons learned from Yeh Jawaani Hai Diwani

Saw Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani last weekend.....this is not a movie review though...this is about some important life lessons conveyed in the movie in a very simple, easy going way....didnt make it preachy or too senti (well little senti but not an overdose) and very importantly without saying only THAT ONE WAY is right and other is wrong...

it is story of 4 friends...bunny, aditi, avi, and naina....story revolves mainly around Bunny (ranbir kapoor) who is a free spirited youngster wanting to explore the world...he doesnt want to be tied to a place or person...naina is exact opposite, she wants to be rooted in the place she has grown up in...wants to live in the city close to her parents and friends...the beauty of the story is in the second part when the friends meet for aditi's wedding after 8 years....Bunny has achieved his dream, has a job with travelling show...seen numerous cities in world...naina has lived her dream, owns a clinic....

i liked the bunny VS naina sequence, the your life VS my life part and at last they admit that none of them are wrong...we are just different (lesson 1) admitting that people are different and that not one way is the right way...

the joy of living in different cities cannot be compared to being able to catch up with old friends or being able to meet your parents as and when you wish....they are apples and oranges...you gotta choose between one...and thats the second lesson..no matter how much you try, you are going to miss something....if you do not make a conscious choice based on your priorities, circumstances/ life will make these choices for you and you wont be able to change it as the time has passed....

leading to the 3rd lesson...loved the dialogue "waqt beteta hai, par kharchte hum hai" meaning "time passes but we get spent"....if we do not have the priorities straight...time passes by and takes a toll on us if we do not utilize the time in an effective and conscious way keeping in mind the goal we want to achieve and set priorities accordingly.

Next lesson, "har cheez ka ek sahi waqt hota hai"...meaning "there is a right time for every decision/ action"...once my cousin told me, decisions are made to be changed....at a given point you might decide something and act accordingly...but with time, circumstances change, priorities change...so do not hesitate to re-analyze your decisions and alter them as per your current situation...

i also liked the sequence, when bunny is not welcomed warmly by avi...when returning back he sees naina sitting with her feet immersed in water...the moment he tries to dip his feet, he instantly removes saying water is too cold...naina tells him, be patient and water will feel alright...and he slowly immerses his feet again and after little while he is OK...this is so true for every new situation we face in our lives...but if we just remain patient, we will get adjusted to it and the change will not seem so bad...

make new friends but do not forget the old...the friendships forged in growing up years cannot be replaced ever....the bonds are just not the same...sure make new friends...have fun...but keep in touch with the old friends...they are ones who know you, who you can be yourself with, they are your friends for no other reason besides the fact that they love you and care about you...

last and most important...the scene when Bunny has to leave for Chicago and sees his dad crying silently.....he tells him that he wont go if the dad says no....dad says OK dont go..and he says Fine i wont...then the dad tells him to go and that just the fact that bunny is willing to stay back for him is enough for him.....this is the story of every individual who has parents back in India...remember what they have done for you...that they have given us the opportunity to grow, learn and make our life not thinking about themselves even for a moment...their love for us is the most selfless love...always remember this throughout life..

wow...turned out to be lot longer than i expected...sorry if it seems like a lecture...go ahead watch the movie...movie is fun though...liked all the songs...here is my favourite, loved ranbir's dance...
badtameez dil



Thursday, May 30, 2013

Chocolate banana cake with Ganache

Its been a long time since i made something new.....but with job, apartment hunting, family get togethers etc etc it was difficult to find time to try something....then ever since I moved into my own apartment I had been itching to make, and my aunt's birthday was a perfect opportunity to try something...I have been (still am) a bit nervous when I have to bake something....I am never sure everything is going to be alright till the very end...i told myself, if i dont try how will i ever learn and so I started to make CHOCOLATE BANANA CAKE with GANACHE (fancy name for frosting) which I thought was simple recipe....I was just little nervous as I didnt have my little measures and so was sprinkling baking soda and baking powder as per my guess and I was halving the quantity ...I had halved the quantity of dry ingredients BUT not for banana and eggs (as by mistake i mashed 2 bananas and whipped 2 eggs) so I was nervous that the cake might not bake properly.....however everything was GREAT!!! cake turned out to be awesome :) :) it was moist with rich banana flavour.....if you do not like banana then you might use 1 banana...here is the link of the ORIGINAL RECIPE from JOY OF BAKING...and below is recipe with few changes I made....

Ingredients:
  1. 1 cup white sugar
  2. 1 cup flour
  3. 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  4. 3/4 tsp baking soda
  5. 3/4 tsp baking powder
  6. 1/4 tsp salt
  7. 2 large eggs
  8. 1 cup mashed banana (2 medium sized ripe bananas)
  9. 1/2 cup warm water
  10. 1/2 cup milk
  11. 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  12. 3/4 tsp vanilla
For Ganache
  1. 11 ounces chocolate chips (i used almost entire 12 ounce chocolate chip packet)
  2. 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  3. 1 tbsp butter
Method:
  • I followed the recipe on joy of baking..
  • Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, and wet ingredients in another bowl..
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix it well, so that you get an even mix, no streaks should be seen
  • Pour the batter in greased baking tray...the consistency is quite fluid, do not worry :)
  • Bake it at 350 F for 35- 40min (till the knife come come out clean), check once at 30 min and then keep an eye on it...if you see the edges shrinking in then it also indicates cake is done...
  • the cake looks quite dark depending on which chocolate you are using, so do not think you burnt it...i did think that when I first took the cake out of oven...
  • I used a springform pan (the only pan I had, so didnt invert the pan, but I guess its safe to do it once the cake has cooled off. 

Step 1
Step 2


Step 3

Step 4


Step 5



For the Ganache:
  • heat the cream and butter on stove/ microwave till the mix just begins to  boil
  • then pour the mix on chocolate chips and mix it well, till chocolate chips have melted and forms a uniform mix, let it cool...
  • then whisk it with a whip to make it light and fluffy spread it over the cooled cake with a spatula...
Steps in pics :






feel like making some as I write this post...its super yummy....try it..
Happy Baking :) :)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Imran Khan to Move into Nasir Hussain residence

What is the first thought that comes to your head, if you were just to read this one sentence.
Well i do not know your thoughts, but a hilarious sequence of thoughts crossed my sister's head, so funny that even after couple of years i remember it and finally get around to writing about it.

She thought: Imran Khan the cricketer from Pakistan, is moving into Nasir Hussain's (the cricketer) home so that he could work things out with his ex wife Jemima Khan....and she wondered why is he moving into Nasir Hussain's home, maybe they are good friends, and he is encouraging Imran to work it out with Jemima :D :D

and this is what it really is, that Imran khan the actor is moving into Nasir Hussain's (his uncle's home)..LOL

Imran Khan to Move into Nasir Hussain's residence

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Spinach Pesto Sandwich and Mushroom Salad

The first time I had this was at one of my aunt's home, and have been hooked on it ever since..but just a few days back i decided to try my hand at it...it is super easy to make, and can be eaten in many different ways..you may make a sandwich, or toss some pasta or tortellini in it.
It is a very good way to make your kids eat spinach if they are fussy eaters....it is healthy ( the recipe for pesto contains spinach, walnuts and olive oil) and with the mushroom salad which goes very well with the pesto it becomes a super healthy dinner. This is the first time i ever ate raw mushrooms and i loved it, so those of you who have never had mushroom salad should try this one..
this is a very good dinner option for working women, me and my sis got a soup, sandwich and salad dinner ready in 15 min at 10 45 pm after an extremely long day...
i guess now i should stop beating round the bush and get going with actual recipe

Spinach Pesto sauce
Ingredients:
  1. 8 ounce spinach (1 bunch)
  2. 3-4 basil leaves
  3. 1 cup walnut
  4. 1/4- 1/2 cup olive oil
  5. 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  6. 3 cloves of garlic 
  7. salt to taste
Method:
in a food processor/ chopper, put in basil leaves garlic walnuts and some spinach and crush it. take half quantity of spinach initially and add in the rest in small quantities. the oil to keep adding it in small quantities as  needed...mix in cheese last

if you are using a blender,you need to add some water too for the blender to work...you may get a chutney like consistency, but the taste is unaffected.

I didnt have parmesan, so used feta cheese....you can use any cheese that you like

Mushroom salad
Ingredients:
  1. one packet 8 ounce fresh mushroom (button or bella)
  2. 3 tbsp olive oil
  3. 2 tbsp lemon juice
  4. finely chopped parsley (optional)
  5. salt to taste
  6. pepper to taste
Method:
chop mushrooms lengthwise, so you have slices of mushroom.
in a cup mix rest of ingredients
toss the mushrooms and dressing together.

for pesto sandwich
apply pesto sauce over slices of toasted sourdough breads, place tomatoes and fresh mozzarella slices between the breads.

soup, sandwich and salad, this is so filling, tasty and healthy, its gonna be a regular on your dinner menu once you try it. you can freeze the extra pesto sauce and use it sometime later. or you may want to take this sandwich in your lunch too!!

mushroom curry

for all mushroom lovers, this recipe is sure to be instant hit.....the first time i made it, i followed my friend's recipe which is on her blog "roz ka khana- shahi mushroom curry", however now that i make it quite regularly, i have altered it as per availability of ingredients and to make it healthy i use less oil.

As i have mentioned, i alter it as per availability, so can you, some of ingredients are optional so do not fret if you have one or two missing, try to think of available substitute in your home or one that is easily available in grocery store near you

Ingredients:
  1. one packet (8 ounce) fresh mushrooms of your choice (i use white button or bella mushrooms)
  2. 2 medium onions finely chopped
  3. 3 medium tomatoes pureed
  4. 3 cloves garlic finely chopped/paste
  5. 1 green chilly finely chopped/paste
  6. 1/2 tbsp ginger paste
  7. 1/2 cup cashew paste
  8. 1 tsp red chilly powder
  9. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  10. 2 tsp cumin-coriander powder
  11. 1/2 tsp garam masala
  12. 1 bay leaf
  13. 2 cloves
  14. 2-3 cardmom (elaichi)
  15. 1/2 cup cream/ half and half
  16. salt to taste
  17. 2 tbsp cooking oil
Method:

  • soak 3/4 cup cashews for 10-15 min and make a paste, if in hurry, its ok not to soak, take cashews in a chopper add some water and grind it to a paste. remember you need 1/2 cup paste so you need to take more cashews than 1/2 cup
  • in a pan, pour 2 tbsp oil, add to it the bay leaf, elaichi, cloves, as the oil heats up add garlic, chilly and ginger paste, once you see they are turning golden add onion and sprinkle some salt. once onions get tender add the  dry spices (red chilly powder, turmeric and cumin- coriander powder) decrease the flame of gas some and let it all roast nicely together, in a minute or so you will get a nice aroma of all the spices, add the cashew paste now and if the mixture looks too dry add some water so you get a nice thick bubbly sauce, add some more salt as necessary and add tomato puree when you see the oil separating from the mixture (it means everything has cooked adequately), do not worry if you don't understand this and add tomatoes little prematurely, as long as you dont burn the sauce the curry will taste good
  • on other side, in a non stick pan, saute mushroom in little oil, sprinkle little salt on it as you saute it when they turn golden brown add them to the sauce.
  • let the curry cook on low flame for 5-7 min, cover it with a lid, you make keep the lid slightly open so that excess steam escapes, its important to cook curry on low flame as the spices mix with each other and get absorbed by mushrooms, if you feel its getting too dry you can keep adding little bit of water.
  • lastly add cream and garam masala cook for couple of minutes before turning off the flame.
your yummy mushroom curry is ready to eat with chapati/ roti or tortilla :)
my mouth is watering already even though i ate some just yesterday!

some tips:
its fine if you do not use bay leaves, cardmom or cloves, they give extra flavour so its good to use them when you have guests coming over, also sometimes i just use regular curry leaves if i do not have bay leaf at home, i love their flavour too, and sometimes I use them along with bay leaves.

its perfectly fine to cancel cream/ half and half if you wish to put it fewer calories or are a vegan, if you are calorie conscious you may use fat free milk too..

the first time i used cream in this recipe was when tomatoes were too sour and they made the curry sour, so if you are a vegan you may want to use ripe tomatoes so your curry doesnt get sour, also avoid using tomato paste (it makes curry sour too)

 if your curry does get sour add 1/2- 1 tbsp sugar to negate the sour taste.

you can add or eliminate green chilly as per your spice tolerance

if you like potatoes you can add them too, you can add them raw to curry before you add mushrooms or you may saute them and add them before you add mushrooms, when you add mushrooms to the curry the potatoes must be cooked else your mushrooms will get over cooked.

so as I have said before too, go with your mood, there is no one perfect way to cook...go with what suits your taste buds :)
happy experimenting!!!