Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Brown Mud Cake

I followed the exact recipe below. the only variation being the addition of coarsely chopped dark chocolate to the white chocolate. some of my friends preferred this one to the plain white chocolate cake but i liked the white mud cake.

White Mud Cake

This is one of my favourite cakes because it tastes lovely and is simple to make. as we were shifting to another city i went on a cooking spree last week, mainly to finish off the frozen stuff. i decided to call over Eunice, a Goan, who takes cake orders, ones with the icing. i'd been wanting to call her over as she was willing to come and demonstrate basic cake icing. the white chocolate cake would be a perfect base cake for it. so for this we take

1 cup butter, cut up
2 cups granulated sugar (needn't powder it)
5 oz (125 gm) white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla essence
11/2 cups white chocolate ganache (absolutely OPTIONAL)

((For the Ganache

1/2 cup heavy cream
13 oz white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Heat the cream almost to a boil in a small saucepan over low heat. place the chocolate in a large bowl. pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. refrigerate until thickened and spreadable, about 30 mins, stirring occasionally. this makes about 11/2 cups.))

For the cake stir the butter, sugar, chocolate and milk in a large saucepan over low heat until smooth. do not boil. set aside to cool. sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. gradually stir the dry ingredients, eggs and vanilla into the saucepan. spoon the batter into the baking dish. bake for 50-60 mins or till done. cool the cake completely and if you've made the ganache spread it thoroughly.

NB: I've never made the ganache because i found the cake yummy without this prop. however, if you're going for it make sure you add only 11/2 cups granulated sugar to the cake. as it is the cake is quite sweet.
Courtesy: Reader's Digest Cakes

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cream of Chicken Soup

Aby, my daughter, is an agreeably fussy eater and like me she gets bored with stuff fast. though i don't overdo it, i try and get hold of something that's interesting and nutritious for her...which is quite difficult. i'm personally quite fond of my beef soup made in a crude way. she was fond of sweet corn chicken soup but she's taking a break now. she said she would like a soup with no pieces in it. ah, well, thankfully i had the recipe of the soup mentioned up there and it goes thus.

Chicken pieces-1/4 kg
Biriyani leaf (i'm sorry i got to find its proper name)-1
Water-41/2 cups
Butter-1 tbsp
All-purpose flour- 11/2 tbsp
Milk-11/4 cups
salt to taste
Pepper powder-1/4 tsp
Finely chopped celery-1 tbsp
Cream-2 tbsp

Boil the chicken pieces along with the biriyani leaf and 41/2 cups water. when it is well-cooked debone and gather the meat.
Strain the stock.
Add the chicken slices to the stock and grind. sieve the mixture.
Heat the butter in a pan and stir the maida in. then add the milk and stir till it thickens without forming lumps.
Add the ground chicken mixture to the milk and after a boil add salt, pepper and celery.
Pour a loop of cream on top.

I didn't bother to sieve the stock or the mixture. i'm not so fond of cream of chicken soup as it is but my daughter liked it. it's an OK soup, i would say.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Grand Finale

...but the glitch is i forgot to take a photo of my blessed Christmas spread! can it be worse than this? thomas managed only a snap of the guests which is an absolutely inadequate substitute for a photograph of my spread but give me the credit for not being out-of-context. so i'm putting up my guest snap. besides the items mentioned below i had this veg sandwich quickly done up with chopped fresh veggies seeped in mayonnaise.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pineapple Perfect

It's an ideal breakfast dessert and serves 6-8. this was my dessert on the Christmas menu and it did flatter many of the guests. in fact i had two desserts. the other being named by me thai custard and it was a salvaged version of a water chestnut recipe that i tried endearingly. i used rice flour instead of tapioca flour in the original water chestnut recipe (i don't know how goofy that sounds to those who know the difference!) and the final product was nothing short of a disaster. well, i'm pretty good at salvaging and my guests were impressed by the variety.

canned pineapple-1 tin (425 gm, eight pineapple rings)
amul fresh cream-200 ml
condense milk-100–150 ml (depending on how sweet you want it)
cinnamon powder

Cut the pineapple rings into medium slices. Do not use the juice. Whip the cream well in a bowl. Add the condense milk and sweeten it as per requirement. Whip again for a while. Put 2–3 pineapple slices in each dessert bowl and pour the whipped cream–condense milk mixture to it. Top it with cinnamon powder. Serve chilled.

i won a contest in the newspaper by this!! so trust me; this is good. the photograph is lousy though :(

Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring Rolls

It's time to soak the fruits for the next Christmas cake and i'm yet to finish my catalogue of Christmas 2009. spring rolls (veg and chicken) were the knock out item in the spicy section on my Christmas menu. they make their presence felt so easily. they tend to be spotted immediately on the spread. i've not tried various recipes (i guess there are different types of them) because i was quite happy with the the recipe i tried and tested. i made around eighty rolls in sets of three (don't ask me why in sets of three and not one). the recipe below gives a max of thirty rolls.


oil-3-4 tbsp (too much oil makes the mix gooey)
shredded carrot and cabbage-250 gm each
capsicum-3-4 nos
onions-4-5 medium sized (too many onions make the mix sticky too)
celery-as per your taste requirements
salt and an ample quantity of pepper powder to give that zing
boiled and shredded chicken-1/2 kg

cut all the veggies into thin strips. you don't have to be too careful abt the chopping. you can actually do it your way but too small is not advisable as the mix turns out to be a mushy ball.

fry the onions till glossy (don't brown) and add the veggies and stir-fry (don't go beyond stir-frying). add chicken and celery and stir-fry and then add salt and pepper and adjust the taste.

it's fine if the mix is a little too salty. the pancakes should be salted too coz as you bite through the rolls you should feel the salt is adequate for both the mix and pancakes. not everyone likes it with the sauce.


maida-3 cups
eggs-2 (by standard recipe it is 1 egg for 1 cup maida)
milk-11/2 cups
salt to taste
cornflour-2-3 tbsp
water-1 cup (more if reqd)

mix everything together adding the lightly beaten egg. make a thin batter like you make for dosa.

get some egg whites ready (i've always used the whole egg and it doesn't taste too eggy) and bread crumbs for the final stage. it's easier if you fry one pancake and roll it out and then go to the next one. you have to work in a frenzy but finally that's better.

now make a medium sized and not-too-thick pancake. fry it mildly only on one side on the tawa and leave the other side raw. place a little mix (maybe 2-21/2 tbsp) on the raw side on one edge of the pancake and roll the pancake over it. gather the sides of the pancake as you continue so that the pancake rolls over its sides. roll it out the whole way and the other edge sticks by the heat of the pancake. that's why it is important not to let the pancake cool. take any extraneous side of the pancake that juts out and tuck it in. it's fine if it's not perfectly tucked in coz it's not going to break when fried. (i guess the pic gives you a fairly clear idea.) i repeat it's important to make the pancakes thin otherwise the fat edges can't be manipulated easily. quickly spread the egg white (or the white plus yolk) and dab it in the crumbs. it's ready to be fried and used.

make sure the oil is fantabulously hot and contrary to most frying i don't let the rolls swim in the oil. i don't like re using the oil. so take an adequate amount and to avoid any risk of its cracking put two or three into the hot oil on medium flame and keep pouring the oil over it. i heard that if you're not able to finish off the remaining oil after frying for your other cooking keep the used oil in fridge and use it the next day. i guess the cool temp reduces the carcinogens production.

i've tried the mix the indian way too and i used beef. i put ginger (no garlic). beans is an accepted addition and coriander leaves and some pudina (mint) leaves and no celery. i minced the beef that i had boiled prior in coriander, chilli and pepper powders and salt. it was MAST. you can be creative in making the mix and suit your style.

i like the advantage this tea time snack gives you in its making...that is you can make the mix one day and then roll out pancakes later and three four days or even a week in advance you can freeze them for later use.

and don't think of the oil that goes into the frying. enjoy your tea time snack...for a change :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Paneer (Cottage Cheese) Makhanwala

Cottage cheese is an interesting raw material for many tasty dishes and desserts. in India we use a lot of paneer to make a variety of dishes that go excellently with mainly roti and also with rice. i love a well-made paneer curry and steaming hot rice. for desserts paneer and condense milk is a beautiful combination. instead of mascarpone cheese or cream cheese we use paneer for our cheese cakes. i have a wonderful lemon cheese cake recipe to share with you. but let me explain the title i have up there. it's easy to make and has kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) which is apparently good for back aches.

250 gms paneer-cut into cubes
4 tbsp oil
3 onions
1 inch ginger
3-4 flakes garlic
3 tbsp readymade tomato puree (but i pureed two big tomatoes; so i can vouch only for that)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
salt to taste
4 tbsp (50 gm) fresh malai or cream
11/2 tbsp salted butter
2 tbsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
1/4-1/2 tsp sugar

Deep fry the paneer pieces to a nice reddish brown. keep aside.
To prepare gravy, grind onions, ginger and garlic to a paste.
Fry onion paste in oil, on low flame, till golden.
Add turmeric powder, red chilli pd, garam masala and cook for 1/2 min.
Add tomato puree and cook for a min.
Add 2 cups water. boil. add sugar and simmer for 10 mins.
Add cream and mix well.
Add butter and kasoori methi. mix and add salt to taste.
Add fried paneer. give one boil and simmer for a while till the paneer becomes soft.
Remove from fire and serve hot with rotis.

NB: instead of cream you can add 1/4 cup milk. boil the gravy on high flame after adding milk for 5 mins till thick. i used one cup whey (the water that you get after curdling milk to make paneer; it is so nutritious it should be used in place of water when you make dal or any other veg dish but better not to store in the refrigerator for too long) and the rest water in place of two cups of water.

Courtesy: Nita Mehta's More Paneer

Chocolate Sauce

I knew many parents wouldn't like their kids to taste rum sauce. so i made chocolate sauce as a topping for the muffins. this recipe is great for choco lovers. i also make chocolate cake in the cake tin that bakes it with a hole in the centre (what do you call it??). and i pour the chocolate sauce on it haphazard and let it dribble carelessly. it looks awesome and the kids here love it. i've made a couple of them and they call it the doughnut cake. i don't have a picture of it though :( this is how you make it.

milk-1/2 cup
powdered sugar-1/2 cup
cornflour-1 tbsp
cocoa powder-1 tbsp
butter-1 tbsp
dash of instant coffee powder (i use nescafe).

Boil all of it together and shut off when it thickens after boiling. over the cake you got to pour it hot. you can serve it cold with muffins, either way.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rum Sauce

I've tried a couple of sauces but this one stands out. you taste paradise. it's so good. all my friends who tasted this have drooled over it. and it was a perfect dribble on the plain muffin. so easy to make too. here we go.

1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp cold water
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 rum

Cook the sugar and water in a saucepan. stir continuously till sugar dissolves. without stirring, continue to cook over low heat until deep golden brown. set aside to cool for 5 mins. bring the cream to a boil in a separate saucepan. return the caramel to heat and beat in the cream. remove from the heat and add the rum. this makes one generous cup and you can keep for one or two days. if you don't have heavy cream, use light cream and refrigerate the mix; it becomes moderately viscous but heavy cream is obviously preferable though i've always made with lite cream.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Plain Muffins

Well, this one is a goody. i've always found muffins dry and uninteresting just by themselves. i'm sure a lot of you out there love it warm from the oven but i have to have a topping. as the title goes this one muffin is plain and sweet; something that could be had deliciously with a mug of hot chai. i made a topping of rum sauce and chocolate sauce for kids which is also posted. i can't remember exactly how many muffins i got from this one mix. i should have jotted it down then and there. this was last on my menu and Thomas made a second mix that came out equally well (he told me to write this down here ;). here's the plain muffin recipe.

butter-125 gm
powdered sugar-150 gm (2/3 cup; less if you want your muffin moderately sweet)
all-purpose flour-225 gm (11/2 cup)
milk-1/4 cup
vanilla essence-1 tsp
baking powder-3 tsp

Beat butter and powdered sugar till nice and fluffy. add eggs to it and continue to beat. strain the flour and baking powder together and add to the butter-egg mix. then add milk and vanilla essence and stir to combine thoroughly. scoop one tbsp each into the muffin tray and bake at 160 C for 20 min.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Old-Fashioned Christmas Cake Recipe

The dry fruits have to be chopped fine to make the cake-cutting easier. i know that's time-consuming. i soaked the dry fruits in the reqd quantity of rum and sherry and kept it refrigerated for close to a month. Indian climate doesn't allow it to be kept outside. in cold climates, however, you can keep it out soaked for a week to save space in your refrigerator. this makes two 8-inch cakes weighing around three kilos and yielding approx seventy medium slices (after discarding the raped ones that lose their shape while cutting).

15 oz (a little less than two cups) raisins
1 cup pitted prunes
1 cup soft dates
11/4 cups currants
8 oz candied cherries
4 oz mixed candied citrus (orange) peel
4 oz cashewnuts, almonds, figs (OPTIONAL)
2 cups dry sherry
2 cups dark rum
33/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar or white sugar (powdered)
3/4 cup water
31/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup ghee (if you don't use ghee then 11/2 cups softened butter)
2 tsp vanilla essence
3/4 tsp almond essence
7 large eggs, at room temperature

Stir 13/4 cups brown sugar (or white sugar; brown sugar is mainly used for the colour it gives) and water in a skillet over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup boils. reduce the heat and gently boil the syrup until reduced to about 1 cup, about 10 mins. set aside to cool. sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, , nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and salt into a large bowl. beat the butter (and ghee if you're using it), remaining 2 cups of brown sugar and vanilla and almond essence in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. add the eggs one at a time, until just blended after each addition. with mixer at lower speed, gradually beat in the dry ingredients, alternating with the syrup. stir in the fruit mixture. butter your cake dishes and bake till done (the crust has to brown nicely).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Sherry Merry Mix

I chose this recipe coz i saw sherry in it (i like the name sherry) and the title said "old-fashioned". i like anything old-fashioned (except when they're ideas coming from people in my native place...arrgghh); there's a pristine beauty attached to it. now i list here the dry (!) characters of the Christmas Cake.
(1) raisins
(2) prunes
(3) dates
(4) currants
(5) candied cherries
(6) mixed candied citrus peel and tutty-fruity (i don't know if "tutty-fruity" is universally understood: i mean those multi-coloured ones)
(7) almonds
(8) cashew nuts
(9) figs (OPTIONAL)

The Last Bit from the Oven

This cake is recipe is really good. the only snag it creates is that even after putting in the refrigerator to tighten it up, it's painful to cut into neat slices. well, most fruit cakes are but this is gluey. so either you have to cut it soon after you take it out of the refrigerator or just forget this recipe altogether. my aunt and mum complained you feel sleepy after eating it; a voluminous sherry and rum quota of course.