Bhutan

Have you heard the one where Neil Armstrong lands on the moon elated about being the first men there; only to be greeted by a Malayalee who had already set up a tea stall there!

I kept thinking of that joke in Bhutan and often wondered if it may actually have been true.

While the two main cities of Thimpu and Paro are pretty accessible, many other places are real interior. And by interior I mean a 3 day hike with just extremely narrow scary roads.So you can imagine our surprise to hear that a whole lot of Malayalees live there.Seriously malayalees are everywhere!!!

We visited Bhutan as an extension of our N.E India holiday many eons ago and so to say this post is way past overdue is to put it very very mildly. But a few friends have been pestering me to put up a small something about my Bhutan holiday so I figured why not?

Bhutan is indeed an extraordinary paradise with one foot set firmly in its rich cultural past and the other poised over an attractive modern future.Its pristine and idyllic surrounding has led to its being often called the last shangrila. In fact there are several valleys in Bhutan that lie in a time warp even today, ready for the time they will be called upon to act as the vaults for the culture of humanity.

To visit Bhutan non-Indians need a visa that is arranged only bu tour operators. Indians are not required to have a visa but need a permit issued at the entry point.We defence folk however need not a letter and our I-cards and so we waltzed right in wearily made our way in. We had opted to drive up to Thimpu from the border town of Phuntsholing.Is is possible to fly directly to Paro from Calcutta but friends told us the view was terrific- and it was- when ever we did get a chance to loot out, amidst the continuous rounds of kids and I throwing up at every turn…..Sigh!!

But all the weariness came to an end once we reached Thimpu.It was spectacular. Unlike most other capital cities Thimpu has no high rises and all buildings are built according to traditional Bhutanese architecture. This gives the place a wonderfully harmonious and symmetrical look. The main street is Norzim Lam which leads to the town center with its numerous shops restaurants etc.

Places to Visit in Thimpu

National Memorial Chortem- Located off Jangchhub Lam , this one’s definitely deserves a quick dekho. It impresses with its golden spires gleaming in the sun and its large white dome framed by the lazuline sky.Open throughout the day, this is one of the most public religious places in the country.

Next we visited the Changangkha Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Thimpu, dating as far back as the 15th century. The temple is dedicated to Avalokiteswara and its affords an air of peace and tranquility, located as it is away from the city. With colourful flags festooned all over, carrying their prayers on the wings of wind, there is a meditative calm about this place and time seems to stand still.


We then visited the Trashichhoe Dzong. This magnificent building carries an aura of regal dignity. We were however unable to go inside as it is closed on weekends. During the week too one can visit only after 5pm.

The Zorig Chusm school of Traditional Arts near the National Library is also quite interesting. The gift shop here as well as the one just outside has some very pretty crafts on sale. If you are artistically inclined you will really enjoy watching the various forms of art forms on display at the school.

The nearby Institute of Traditional Medicine( Serzhong Lam)as was also a rewarding experience.

The various herbs and other ingredients are neatly displayed here.It also has an out patient clinic where diagnosis and treatment is handled by trained doctors of traditional medicine. We too met a wonderful doctor and asked about my thyroid problem..however didn’t have the nerve to actually consume the medicines he gave me.


Our last stops for the day were the National Textile Museum at Norzin Lam and then the National Folk Heritage Museum. Both were OK but my older sons patience was wearing thin so we didn’t spend much time at both these places.

The next day we went to the Takin Preserve. TheTakin is Bhutan’s national animal not only because of its unique -albiet strange appearance but also because of the myth surrounding its origin.

According to Bhutanese legend the “Divine Madman,” Lama Drukpa Kuenley visited Bhutan in the 15th century. When people wanted to see him perform a miracle. He called for a cow and a goat for lunch. When he was finished, he placed the goat’s head on the cow’s body and commanded the amalgam to rise up and graze.This large animal which can weigh upto 1000kg has defied the efforts of taxonomists and biologists to classify it.

Shopping

Since the Bhutanese have been particular about retaining their traditional lifestyle, most of the ‘shopping’ must do’s revolve around the same. Clothing jewelery and handicrafts.

All Bhutanese are required to wear their traditional attire to offices, monasteries and on all formal occasions and this has given a fillip to their wonderful art of weaving as well as to the time-consuming but intricately beautiful embroidery.The piece de resistance are the textiles with the intricate designs tightly woven with brilliant yarns of cotton, silk or wool. While I was tempted to buy the traditional kira and gho, I decided to just be practical and bought couple of lovely materials.

Handicrafts like brass and copper ritual items, bells etc can be found at most souvenir stores.Bamboo is also widely available and I must mention the lovely ‘banchung’ basket made in geometric patters. Tangkhas with their detailed depiction of traditional iconography can also be picked up from the handicraft emporiums.Masks are also widely available and I picked up quite a few!
You could check out- Lungta Handicraft, or the ones on Norzim Lam as well as the open air market.

Eat

Bhutanese food is not for the weak palate….Traditional Bhutanese food almost always features spicy red or green chillies so while I do love SPICY food the rest of my family doesnt ..so we we just went to a few places and didn’t explore as much as I would have liked to.
Cheese is another common ingredient and ema datsi a spicy chilli cheese combo is a regular favourite.

We visited Bhutan Kitchen a lovely place if you plan to sample Bhutanese cuisine. We also went to the Swiss bakery and Art Cafe (the lemon sponge is to-DIE-for!)

Paro
Since we did not plan to stay overnight at Paro, we left Thimpu early and we were back by late evening.

Paro is a stunningly beautiful valley- a patch work of lush green fields with a clear meandering river running through it and surrounded by mountains and azure skies.
Paro is where the magnificent airport complex is located. Paro is charmingly rustic and tranquil.Roughly in the center lies the Paro Dzong.It is s definite must see. Next we proceded to Dungste Lhakhang that lies across the river. It is possibly the only ancient temple that is built in the shape of a chorten.

Paro Airport


The Ta Dzong is another wonderful experience. It now houses the National Museum- a repository of not only precious works of art but also costumes, armour, and other hand crafted objects. The museum visit gave us a good snapshot of the rich cultural heritage of the country.It is a HUGE 6-floored circular building and will take you the better part of the day to negotiate.Once outside it is nice to just walk around and absorb the pristine beauty of the place. Our last stop was the historic Kichu monastry- one of the 108 monasteries that were miraculously build by the King Songten Gampo in just one night.

One BIG regret I have and will continue to have was that we didn’t climb up to Taksang. Often called Tigers Nest, this monastery is perched precariously at the edge of a 1,200 meter cliff. It is fairly steep climb and could take one a few hours to get to the top. Since we were traveling with kids we were advised not to take the chance but the view from the top is supposed to be most memorable and awesome and I hope to climb it some day!

Punaka and Dochu La

We left pretty early for this leg of our Bhutan trip as we wanted to catch the view on a clear sky. The view of the eastern Himalayas from Dochu La is possibly one of the best in the country. Although it is only 22 km to the to it took us almost an hour as the road has many twists and turns. My older son understandably didnt want to go as he was quite fed up driving on curving roads. We were initially in two minds but decided to go at the last minute. and Im so glad we did go as it was the most beautiful part of our holiday.

There are 109 chortens in Dochu La in three tiers of forty-five, thirty-six and twenty-seven circumscribing a single larger chorten. It was build as a visible symbol of prayers to the gods to protect their country.

Opposite this there is a beautiful monastery that you should visit.

From this lofty spot it is downhill for 38 km till you reach Punaka.

The main attraction here is the Punaka Dzong or Palace of Great Happiness. This extremely impressive fortress was built as far back as 1637.

The Punaka Dzong cuts a striking picture with its imposing walls rising up from the tumbling clear waters of the river and framed against the blue skies- the rows of delicately flowering jacaranda trees around it provide a beautiful colour accent.

Approached by a suspension bridge the entire dzong is 180m long and 72m wide.

It has several courtyards and one can view several spectacular carvings as well as painting here.

Just down the road from the dzong there is a park where we had a lovely quiet picnic.

Tips and other Information

Indian Currency can be used in Bhutan, however , denominations beyond Rs 100 are not accepted.

PNB(Punjab National Bank) has a joint venture in Bhutan called The Druk PNB, and money can be withdrawn only if you are PNB account holder. Besides this money through ATM’s are a no-no. You have branches of the ATM in Pueunshilling and Thimpu. So either carry money for the entire trip in denominations of Rs 100 or open an account with PNB. We learnt this the hard way as we wanted to fly back from Paro and obviously we didnt have the entire air fare for 4 of us in Rs 100′s!

Credit cards are seldom accepted by traders including the biggies like Druk Air. So plastic money doesn’t work in Bhutan. So plan in advance as far as money is concerned.

I have a few telephone numbers of guides/drivers. Hope they are useful…

Mr Karma is a driver/guide..he speaks english and is a fun and helpful guy.
His number is 0017771105. If you are planning to drive up from Phuntshuling then he’s the best guy to contact.

Mr. Kencho is another person whose car and driving skills we used within Thimpu and fro our day trips to Paro.
His telephone number is 17630595.

Daring Bakers March 2011- Meringue Filled chocolate cake

Now that I’ve got my blogging mojo back I figured I just had to be part of this month’s Daring Bakers challenge.

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

The cake, I must tell you was simply delicious and I cant wait to make it again. I halved the recipe so didn’t have enough of the dough to make the pretty circles the rest of my DBers are so beautifully making. But what the heck it was awesome! Trust me.

But before I share the recipe with you here’s something else I wanted to share.

I did mention I’ve forayed into teaching didn’t I?

So far the only little problem Ive faced is one of forgotten basics.I can’t for the life of me remember the (little) grammar I did know in the first place.

So in my quest to brush up on English Grammar I went looking for some grammar books at the local library.

Turns out they did not have that many books on English grammar. But lurking within the Humor section I found Grammar Sucks by Joanne Kimmes. It’s definitely one of a kind and i just wanted to share a small excerpt with y’all.

Interjections

The list of interjections sounds more like words from a porn movie script than words from the English language, for just about any word or utterance can serve as an interjection.Here’s a list of some of the most common interjections, which coincidentally , is the exact same dialog from the classics film Debbie Does Dallas.

ah oh ugh
aha oh no well
help ooh wow
hey ouch yeah

Interjections have their uses , but you need to exercise caution. Peppering your conversation or writing with interjections will make you seem at the least hyperactive, or at the worst an overly bubbly teenager. Because of this , interjections should be used only when necessary(unless, of course you are writing for the sequel: Debbie Does Dallas Again)

You gotta love a grammar book with a sense of humor.

Well, here’s the recipe…

FILLED MERINGUE COFFEE CAKE
Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter
But I halved it.

Ingredients
For the yeast coffee cake dough:

4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt
1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs at room temperature

1/2 tsp cardamom(optional)

For the meringue:

3 large egg whites at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar

For the filling:


1 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) chopped walnuts
2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate

Egg wash: 1 beaten egg
Cocoa powder (optional) and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakes

Directions:

Prepare the dough:

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.

In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted. Ria’s version: add the 10 saffron threads to the warmed liquid and allow to steep off of the heat for 10 minutes. This will give the mixture a distinct aroma and flavor and a yellowish-orange hue.

With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.
I found that I needed to add more flour to get the desired consistency.

Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.

Prepare your filling:In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling if using. You can add the chopped nuts to this if you like, but I find it easier to sprinkle on both the nuts and the chocolate separately.

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:
In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.


Assemble the Coffee Cakes:

Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.

image from Ria-just using it for indicative purposes.

Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling of choice evenly over the meringue (ex: half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate).Do not lay it on too thick or it may ooze out when you are rolling it up.

Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side.II found it rather difficult to roll it completely so just picked up the other end and completed the roll:)

Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.(or just leave it loaf like-like I did)

Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.

Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.

Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.

Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.

Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.

The River House- Margaret Leroy

When I picked up Margaret Leroy’s The River House I assumed it was a murder mystery.

Wrong I was.

While the murder is central to the novel, the narrative and voice is why you will absolutely love this book. Its definitely why I did.
More so if you are a woman as the novel touches on many of the internal struggles that mothers face.

Ginnie Holmes is a 40-something psychologist stuck in a dull, passionless marriage and about to bid goodbye to her daughter who is moving out of home for college.She meets Will Hampden on work related matter and finds herself transformed by the intense passion that she feels for him. An otherwise smart and sensible woman, Ginnie finds herself risking her family and children as she loses herself in this tempestuous affair.

One Thursday( the lovers meet every Thursday noon in an abandoned boathouse near the Thames), she spies a man through the river house window, hurriedly walking along the river path. Later when that man’s wife’s battered body is fished out the river Thames, Ginnie finds herself torn between calling the police as she is a potential witness and preventing the grief and destruction of two families that will come with her disclosure.

This brilliant novel creates a gloomy but ethereal atmosphere. Leroy almost effortlessly manages to pull the reader into Ginnie’s head and life with all her domestic and parental worries …all the small intimacies of ordinary day to day life. The agonizing emotional tension and moral dilemma that Ginnie faces is so tragic and and expertly put….no easy task that..
The writing is just hauntingly beautiful and dreamy and although the story may not be original the authors superior quality of writing makes it an exquisite book.

I cant wait to pick up her other titles.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Did you wonder if I’d fallen off the face of this planet.

Hell NO!

I’m still getting used to life in Kochi……parents, in-laws….need I say more!

But whats really been keeping me occupied has been an errrr…’assignment’ that I’ve taken on. My latest avatar is as an e-tutor-basically I have to be up at the crack of dawn ungodly hours to teach kids why ‘She and I have to go to the park’ and not ‘She and me’….yup English…and Grammar at that!

It’s hard work. I left my brain behind in the maternity ward 7 years ago and getting it to kick-start is not easy.

And waking up that early is a HUGE effort too. Over the last few years the bed and I have cemented our love for each other. Even if my house were to explode I’d still have to consider if it’s really worth getting out of bed.

So then my dad asked me ‘Are you really enjoying yourself?’

WHAT????????? I have enough trouble living the moment..now I have to enjoy it too????????

Here’s a whole wheat cookie I tried the other day. We are suckers for cookies and these were GOOd..even if I say so myself:)

Whole Wheat Oats Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe Source- Deeba(passionate about baking)

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup granular sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups oats, powdered (cuz thats the only way my kids will eat ‘em)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped

Method:

In a bowl, stir together the dry ingredients – flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, chocolate chips, walnuts.

In another big bowl, cream the butter and sugar till fluffy. Next beat in the egg and vanilla extract.

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet. Drop a tablespoon of dough into a lines cookie sheet and gently flatten.

Bake at 180C for 18 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove from oven, leave to cool on trays for 1 minute, then remove to cooling racks and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight box.

This recipe goes to the ongoing Oats Recipe Event here.

Elliott Hall – The First Stone

The first of Elliott Hall’s dark futurology trilogy, I found The First Stone to be an impressive debut.

Set in an America that is poised to be swept away by Christian fundamentalists , after terrorist attacks have destroyed Houston along with an ongoing war with Iran, the protagonist Felix Strange does not have much going for him. The war veteran turned private eye, he is now damaged goods, having contracted a nameless disease that threatens to kill him.

When the high profile Christian big-wig and founder of the fanatical group ‘The Crusade of Love’ Brother Isaiah is killed, Strange is given the task of investigating the murder. What follows is a non-stop action filled maze involving politicians, corporates and religious leaders.
T
he book is chillingly convincing and very readable especially if you are a fan of crime and noir genres. Hall’s world- building is just ingenious and his writing style is witty yet powerful , like when someone says something really funny with a straight face. Pick it up for his writing style if not anything else.

A No-Title Post

Just wanted to say I’ve arrived at Kochi, alive and unscathed(almost).Thanks all of you who wrote in to wish me luck on the move.

One of the first things I did was to go to my fav library Eloor , at Convent Junction. Just standing there gave me a burst of happiness that I so badly needed. The next thing I did was to at the Talwalkar Gym neary(I do hope I lose more than just money *fingers crossed*).

I’ve also attended 2 weddings and have been invited to 3 others in the span of 7 days that I have been here- what do I say- Thats Kerala for you!!!!

Before I forget… Happy New Year all of you..May all your wishes come true!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Stollen

First the blog checking lines out of the way…

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book………and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

Its been aN UNBELIEVABLY tiring week. I am utterly exhausted and think I have two brain cells left, and they are barely puttering around in there.
Its also been a week of non-stop packing and goodbyes and for the next few weeks my life will be in boxes….

For now I’m going to leave you with this most amazing bread. The STOLLEN is a traditional German Christmas Bread and one I am so glad I made inspite of my crazy life.Although I am nearly always yeast-challenged, this one was absol-wonderful. Just delicious!

Here I must thank Aparna for the parcel of candied fruit that she parceled to me….thank you thank you thank you.!!!

Ingredients
¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) milk
10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first – then sift- plus extra for dusting)
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel (link below to make your own)
1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins
3 tablespoons (45ml) rum
12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)
1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath

Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.

Directions:

Soak the raisins
In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside. See Note under raisins.
To make the dough

Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium – low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.

Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.

In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.

Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!

Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn’t enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath

1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.

Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.
Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh – especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!

When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.

StorageThe more rum and the more coatings of butter and sugar you use the longer it will store.
The following is for the recipe as written and uses the 45 mls of rum and two coatings of butter and icing sugar
1. Stollen freezes beautifully about 4 months
2. The baked stollen stores well for 2 weeks covered in foil and plastic wrap on the counter at room temperature and
3. One month in the refrigerator well covered with foil and plastic wrap.

And Before I forget….

MERRY CHRISTMAS….
and Have GREAT NEW YEAR!
See u in 2011……..

I’m Ranting…Again.


image source:click here

I’m beginning to feel the heat of my impending move to Kochi, and it fills me with a myriad of emotions. Happiness , yes. Im going to be living near my parents now .so that’s a good thing. But Goa has been my home for over 7 years and I doubt if we will ever get a chance to come live here again. I love Goa so much it is home to me.

But Kochi too is home. I was born in Kochi and spend a substantial part of my life there.

But I find myself suddenly apprehensive about moving back.Most of my concerns stem from the fact that Kochi has treated me(and many other women , Im sure) very shabbily.
Im taking about eve-teasing( though I feel the word ‘teasing’ really downplays the severity of the action, making it sound almost comical and trivial).

Do you think I’m over reacting? I don’t think so. I have been leered at jostled, poked, pinched and grabbed by men young and old. It has happened at the theatre, on buses, on my walk back from college and even in the temple.

With these incidents come a tsunami of emotion-Grief, extreme anger and hopelessness. And now that Im moving back to Kochi, it annoys me that I will have to always be careful as to what I’m wearing(she shirt shouldn’t be even the wee bit transparent or short for that matter, the dupatta needs to be in place!).I will also think a million times before traveling alone. Feminists have called these incidents ‘little rapes’ and they are, aren’t they?

Even as I write this my blood boils and given a chance I would love to pummel the bejesus out of these shameless perverts but this rarely translates into action (for me)and I often find myself frozen at that moment. Yet I feel sad that we talk of a progressive society but ignore the basic need to respect each other and very strongly feel that only a public humiliation will get these perverts to think twice before they touch or tease a girl without her permission.

Brown Bread Ice Cream

My taste in television boders on juvenile.No, thats not fair. But in any case its not intelligent viewing. I mean, common, I barely ever watch Nat Geo or Discovery and I stay away from stuff most of my friends watch(read Bigg Boss etc)
However time and oppurtunity permitting I can watch FRIENDS re-runs all day long-if I had the time. GLEE is another series I Love Love Love…though its been taken off the air here in India. My son and I often sing along, though its hardely appropriate TV viewing for a 3 year old!

Of late I’ve been watching Lie to me( something about Tim Roth’s South London accent does it for me…) and my current fav Modern Family. Have you watched it..It’s HILARIOUS!

But really the thing is that I barely get time to watch the telly as long as I would really like to. What with all the cleaning, dusting, teaching the kids all day

OK who am I kidding right? the truth is..I spend all day day-dreaming and reading and yes baking and somehow fear (rightfully so)that once I do switch on the telly my kids will come to watch like moths to a flame , and then getting them to stop watching will obviously be almost impossible.


What I have here is a Brown bread Ice cream…the thing is I added more brown bread than the recipe called for and thats why its more puddingy looking than ice cream . But boy! It was MINDBLOWING delicious…
The recipe below is from here.

Brown Bread Ice Cream
Source Epicurious

1 cup brown bread crumbs (dont use more and make the mistake I did)
8 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp brown sugar
2/3 cup whole milk
1 3-inch piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 large egg yolks
1 1/3 cups chilled whipping cream

Preheat oven to 375°F / 190°C. Line baking sheet with foil; butter foil. Mix breadcrumbs, 3 tbsp sugar and all the brown sugar in a medium bowl. Scatter over prepared baking sheet. Bake until sugar begins to melt and crumbs are slightly darker, stirring crumbs occasionally with metal spatula to prevent sticking, about 10 minutes. Transfer breadcrumbs to a bowl and cool. Break crumbs into small pieces.

Place milk in medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring to simmer. Remove from heat and let steep 30 minutes.

Whisk egg yolks and 5 tbsp sugar in a large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in milk mixture. Return mixture to same saucepan. Stir over low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 5 minutes (do not boil). Strain into small bowl. Chill custard until cold, stirring occasionally, 1 hour.

Beat whipping cream in large bowl until firm peaks form. Fold custard into cream. Gently fold into breadcrumbs. Transfer to covered containers and freeze. Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Keep frozen.

Apple Cake for the Monthly Mingle

We dont eat very healthy at home…What? YOU KNEW????? Is it that obvious????
Well, I dont wanna hear the answer to that one, so Im just gonna get to the point…
The point being that although fruits are NOT a regular part of our diet, we do consume it in its most unhealthy avatar- desserts! Yes I LOVE fruit desserts- You’ve probably seen the Apple Cheesecake, the Mango Upside down , the Pineapple Cake and various others I have already raved about.

This APPLE CAKE is another deliciously fruity cake I had bookmarked eons ago…
source:smitten kitchen

6 apples cored and chopped into chunks
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar
2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a pan and keep aside. Toss the apples with the cinnamon and the 5 tbsp sugar and set aside.
Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Mix to blend all the ingredients.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.

This one goes to Monthly Mingle whose theme this month is Fruit in Baking this month. Monthly Mingle is the brainchild of the wonderful Meeta from What’s For Lunch, Honey and hosted this month by my fav blogger Deeba of Passionate About Baking!

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti


I usually love books that have recipes in them…though I must confess that the ‘love’ stems from only the very few I’ve actually read.
Giulia Melucci’s I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti. was however a disappointment as far as good story go, though it fares as a fantastic source of recipes….

Daughter of Italian immigrants , Giulia is a journalist who has had her heart broken umpteen times but never had an empty stomach (”I can count on my breasts the number of times I have missed a meal”) She strongly believes that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach but in her case it never proves true.
The book is basically about her numerous failed romances and how her boyfriends lead her not to the altar but to the kitchen.
If you are looking for a strong storyline dont bother reading the book…. Melucci , towards the end comes across as so desperate ..I mean I couldnt even relate to her. She was ready to date ANYONE young and old alike…drunks, druggies, cartoonists, writers.she loves and loses them all…Can one really get so desperate….she really lost me there….Also she clearly has food-emotion issues.She seduces men one meal at a time.

But here’s what I did like..it seemed brutally honest..a very brave book for her. There are also some nostalgic parts about her family and past which I thought were well written. But the best part about the book are the recipes(although most are ‘adapted’ from various sources.Yet all simple no-frill recipes originally written.

Parts of the book are originally funny …especially the titles of the recipes such as No Nookie Gnocchi”, “Pear Cake For Friends With Benefits,“Ineffectual Eggplant Parmigiana” (“Serves the two of you plus the three people you wish were there to keep the conversation going”)and the F***You Cakes -they totally cracked me up:)

Read it for the recipes , if not for much else!

Varo

Its no secret that I LOVE to bake; but did u know that I can barely make a decent cuppa tea. I usually throw my hands up at the mere mention of regular cooking- NOT because I dont enjoy it but because It almost never turns out the way its supposed to be:(

Which is why I was mighty thrilled to make the desi praline- VARO.

Many of us South Indians have had a version called Chikki. My love for these nutty sweets were stroked after my father in law started bringing home some everyday for my sis-in-law and me , almost everyday after his morning walks. Crunchy, sweet and nutty…this is without doubt a lovely sweet!

Thank you Alka for a great recipe..you can find the original recipe here.and thank you Srivalli for the Indian Cooking Challange that lets me learn new things.

Varo – Sindhi Sweet Treat (Diwali Special)
Ingredients:

Assorted Nuts (I used Almonds, Pistachios and Cashew nuts) – 1 Cup
Poppy Seeds / Khus Khus – 2 tbsp
Cardamoms – 4 -5
Sugar – 1 Cup
Ghee Clarified Butter – 1 tbsp

Method:

Slice all mixed nuts into medium sized pieces. Powder the Cardamom seeds.

Grease a flat plate or the back of a plate.

In a heavy bottomed pan, add ghee and sugar. On low heat melt the sugar without stirring too much until it turns light and then a deep brown shade. Working fast add in the nuts, poppy seeds and the cardamoms. Mix until the nuts are well coated(just a couple of seconds) and transfer the mixture to the prepared plate. Flatten using a rolling pin.
Let cool and harden.

Cut into pieces using a knife..it might be a bit hard to break but u can use the rolling pin to hammer in the knife..

Doughnuts!

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurio
I was so busy all month with other tasks I had decided I wouldn’t be a part of this months challenge. But yesterday I did have some time to myself , thanks mainly to my parents who are visiting. Obviously the fact that my kids and I absolutely love doughnuts did help convince me to make em!!! And am so glad I did!

I halved the Alton Brown Yeast recipe so finally got just about 8 doughnuts and it was a mad scramble to polish them off. As Aparna had suggested on the forum, I reduced the egg and the yeast and contrary to my fears and pervious experiences the dough was extremely manageable. Boy! They were delicious. I made a chocolate –praline topping and it was fantastic…thanks Lori for a great challenge!

Yeast Doughnuts:
Preparation time:Hands on prep time – 25 minutesRising time – 1.5 hours totalCooking time – 12 minutes
Yield: 20 to 25 doughnuts & 20 to 25 doughnut holes, depending on size

Ingredients
Milk 3/4 cup
Butter 35 grams
Active Dry Yeast 1 teaspoon
Warm Water 40ml (95°F to 105°F / 35°C to 41°C)
Eggs,small 1
White Granulated Sugar 1/8th cup,25 grams
Nutmeg, grated 1/2 tsp.
Purpose Flour 2 1/3 cup + extra for dusting surface
Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)

Directions:
Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. (Make sure the shortening is melted so that it incorporates well into the batter.)
Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm.

Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.
Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.

Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes (for me this only took about two minutes). If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.

Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch (9 mm)thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).
Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F/185°C.
Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown (my doughnuts only took about 30 seconds on each side at this temperature).
Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired

Topping

Over a low heat, melt 1½oz caster sugar in a saucepan with 1½oz almonds.
Once melted and browning nicely, keep moving it around with a metal spoon until but they get a bit darker for a good flavour
Once cold, crush into a course powder.
Mix it in with melted chocolate ….hmmmmm It will make you MOAN!

A Slice of Lemon Heaven

A few weeks back my best friend and I were having one of our never ending chats on the phone( she and I go waay back to early school .Im the talker and she’s the listener). She happened to mention that schooldays were the happiest time of her life so far and asked me when was I most happiest. My answer surprised her. And me.

Now.

Yes, that’s what I said . Im the happiest I’ve ever been right now. Truly enjoying myself and my life. And it’s surprising really. I’m the fattest I’ve ever been, mostly unemployed and on the wrong side of 30!

Who would’ve thought!

But the thing is my life is simpler and Im guessing thats why Im happier.

Another friend of mine..who claims to know me ‘better than I know myself’ says its just a phase. Split-personality is the term he uses to describe me. My wild side is dormant now, ready to break free and let hell loose but until then peace and happiness remains….

Hmmmm..We’ll see about that!

Actually the point of all that blah was to tell you that I have a list of things I wanna do…. ‘goals’ , if I may . And one of the items on that list was to take my art a wee bit more seriously. Working to that end, surely you’ve heard of my Mumbai exhibition, …which I so shamelessly publicized…

Mumbai was fun…Stayed with an awesome family friend ,met a whole lot of my relatives (most of whom I haven’t seen in …well..ever!) also met a few friends ..and re-lived many wonderful memories..

Met 2 wonderful and inspiring fellow-bloggers..Harini and Simran for a cuppa coffee.

And yes..sold many many paintings…..

In celebration here is a wonderful Lemon Cake…its delicious ..esp if , like me, your heart sings at the sight of all things lemony….

Lemon Yogurt CakeFor the cake:

Adapted from Oragette

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. grated lemon zest

1/2 cup canola oil

For the glaze:

Juice from 2 lemons

1/2 jar powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, yogurt, and eggs, stirring until well blended. Add the flour, baking powder, and zest, mixing to just combine. Add the oil and stir to incorporate. Stil until it combines to a smooth batter.Pour into a greased and lined 9-inch round cake pan

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake feels springy to the touch and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not overbake.Cool completely and then spoon the lemon glaze( just combine the lemon juice and the powdered sugar).

Lemon on Foodista

Yipeeeeee!!!

Im sure many of you know…nevertheless am still going to shout it out again. I ecstatic to announce my very first exhibition. Although I’ve been making Tanjore paintings for over 5 years now the thought of having an exhibition never crossed my mind. I’m grateful to have found some wonderful artist friends with whom I can now showcase my talent.

Anyway here are the details of the exhibition.

Chequered Cake and some meaty Gaga

I don’t hate Lady Gaga , on the contrary I think she is one of the most theatrical performers of our age and while I have blogged about her outlandish dress sense in the past , her latest ‘meat bikini’ is taking it a bit too far , don’t you think.Ewwwwwwwww….

To get over the meaty taste that pic has left you with here is a very interesting cake that I made for my son’s 3rd birthday (it was last month).I first saw this gorgeous cake on Sunita’s blog knew I just HAD to try it. However I ended up using her recipe. Its a pretty straightforward recipe and while its a wee bit time consuming , the end result was just lip-smaking good!!!!!!Check out her website for detailed pics…

Chequered / Checkboard Cake( without a special pan)
Ingredients:

For yellow sponge :
3/4 cup All purpose flour
2 Eggs,at room temperature
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup powdered Sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp baking powder

chocolate sponge:1/2 cup Refined flour/Maida

1/4 cup Cocoa powder
2 Eggs,at room temperature
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup + 2tsp powdered Sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp baking powder

Filling
2 cups thick cream
1/2 cup powdered Sugar

Sugar Syrup:
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

Method:

Yellow Sponge:
Line a 9″ round tin with a baking paper and grease it with oil and as well the sides of tin.
Sift flour and baking powder together.
Separate egg whites from the yolks.
Beat egg whites in clean dry bowl till fluffy.
Add Sugar gradually,beating till thick,fluffy and retains shape.
Beat in the yolks and essence till thick and fluffy again.
Add oil gradually,beating till thick again.
Fold in flour gently with a wooden or metal spoon,by sprinking evenly in 2-3 batches.
Pour mixture into tin and level the top.Tap the tin gently to get rid of any large air bubbles.
Bake in preheated oven at 180 deg for 20 mins.
Insert knife or skewer in the center of cake,if it comes out clean ,remove tin from oven.After 5 mins,remove cake from tin onto a wire rack and let it cool.Cool the pan completely before proceeding to make the chocolate sponge.

Chocolate Sponge:Follow the same procedure as the yellow sponge cake just that add cocoa powder and sieve all the ingredients in the second step.

Sugar Syrup
Boil water along with sugar until it forms a nice syrupy liquid.Keep aside.,

Cream Filling
Beat the cream on medium speed till thick.
Only after it turns thick,then add powdered sugar and continue beating on high speed till you get the soft peaks.Chill it for some time.

Assembling the cake:

Level the cake gently using a knife(to cut) to form a uniform surface.
Based on the size of your cake take 2-3 cutters which form similar symmetric hollow circles gives 1″ width for each circle.You can use anything from the lid of steel containers to large cookie cutters to obtain similar results.

Gently press the cake with the cutters to get different symmetric circles and place them aside .
Place a chocolate sponge on the serving platter.Apply plain cream to the inner circles of the cake and apply cream again.Do the same with the remaining 1-2 circles to form first layer of the cake.Follow the same procedure to make the second layer and keep it aside.
Pour the sugar syrup mixture all over the cake to make it enough moist.
Apply a thin layer of cream and place the second layer of the cake.
Pour the sugar syrup mixture all over the cake to make it enough moist.
Apply the plain cream all over the cake and make sure that it is uniformly applied all over and on the sides.
Unleash your creativity and decorate(unlike me).
Chill it in the refrigerator and slice it gently and serve chilled.

Truly Delicious CHOCOLATE GENOISE CAKE with MOCHA MASCARPONE


There are food blogs and there are FOOD BLOGS.
I have never come away from Deeba’s blog feeling anything less than mind boggling awe and extreme hunger..and that wee bit of envy of course.

This visually stunning space is packed with a whole lot of delicious bakes and this genoise cake was one I had my eyes on for a long time.

I was also super thrilled to finally make Mascarpone cheese at home. Trust me, its not all that complicated and you are just two ingredients away from Mascarpone heaven.Once you’ve eaten homemade you will never ever want the store made variety.

This is one truly spectacular dessert that will have swooning with delight!

CHOCOLATE GENOISE CAKE with MOCHA MASCARPONE

Ingredients:

1 chocolate genoise sponge (recipe below)
1 portion of Mocha Mascarpone Cream (recipe below)
Coffee syrup
Dark chocolate shavings, flakes & coffee beans etc to garnish
To assemble:

Make a strong coffee syrup with 1/4 cup of hot water, 2-3 tsps sugar & 2 tsps coffee powder. Cool.
Cut the genoise into 2 horizontal layers.
Place one layer on the cake platter. Brush well with the coffee syrup. Sandwich with a little less than half the mocha mascarpone.
Top with the second layer, & brush that well with the coffee syrup
Frost the top & sides of the cake with the remaining mascarpone. Grate dark chocolate over the top, edge with coffee beans, & sift cocoa over the edges.
Chill for 3-4 hours.

CHOCOLATE GENOISE
As adapted from this recipe @ Baking Obsession

Ingredients:
3 tbsp clarified butter/ghee
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
4 large eggs (I used 5 as the eggs were smallish)
2/3 cup fine granulated vanilla sugar

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line, grease & flour an 8-inch round cake pan.
Sift the flour and cocoa together three times; reserve.
Bring some water to a boil in a large pan/griddle & reduce to simmer. Place eggs & sugar in a large bowl, whisk constantly over the simmering water, heat the eggs to lukewarm (about 105F). Remove the bowl from the pan; leave the skillet on the stove but turn off the heat. With an electric mixer, beat the egg mixture at high speed until it has cooled, tripled in volume, and resembles softly whipped cream, about 5 minutes in a heavy-duty mixer or longer with a less powerful mixer.
Meanwhile, set the bowl of clarified butter/ghee and vanilla in the skillet of hot water, with the burner off, to keep it warm.
Sift about one-third of the flour and cocoa over the whipped eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the mixture-quickly but gently-until combined. Fold in half the remaining flour and cocoa, then fold in the rest. Remove the warm butter mixture from the skillet. Scoop about 1 cup of the batter into the bowl with the butter and fold together until completely combined. Use the large rubber spatula to fold the butter mixture completely into the remaining batter. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and tilt to level.
Bake until the cake beginning to shrink slightly around the edges and the top springs back when pressed with your finger, about 40-45 minutes. Cool the cake completely in the pan on a rack.
To unmold, run a small knife or spatula around the inner edges of the pan. Invert it onto a rack and remove the parchment liner. Turn the cake right side up. The génoise can be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 2 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.

MOCHA MASCARPONE FROSTING

Ingredients:

12oz Mascarpone Cream (recipe below)
200ml low fat cream (25% fat- Amul)
1 tsp coffee powder
2-3 tbsps ground sugar (according to taste)

Method:

Beat mascarpone cheese with a wooden spoon till smooth. Fold in the rest of the ingredients & mix with the spoon till smooth.

HOMEMADE MASCARPONE CREAM
as adapted from Baking Obsession

Makes about 12 oz
Ingredients:

600ml low fat cream (25 %) pasteurized cream
1 tbsp fresh lime juice

Method:

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.I dont have a candy thermometer so I heated it for about 15 minutes.

Add the lime 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.

Little Miss Cruise- Spoilt Little Rich Girl


I know its none of my business…
Im also aware that little girls are entitled to their share of fun…

BUT I still need to comment on Suri Cruise.


The little attitude ridden diva with her extremely enviable stash of $850 Ferragamo bags , $650 dresses and a jet setting lifestyle sure seems to have it all. Not to forget her amazingly rich and famous parents.

Yeah I’m jealous. But I’m also appalled at the over indulgence she seems to revel in. I mean isn’t she the most spoilt 4 year old you know.

Of course she is. But she is also the cutest spoilt little girl.

A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam

A heart rending tale about a young widow, Rahana Haque, who loses her husband and is forced to deal with life headlong and protect her children when war erupts.

The book begins with the words” Dear Husband, I lost our children today.” And no her children are not dead but rather her children have been snatched from her and given to her brother and sister-in-law , as she is deemed unfit to raise them because she took them out to watch Cleopatra at the movies. Eventually she does get her children back but this event traumatizes her and she spends most of her life fearing for their lives.

Written by Bangladeshi native,Tahmima Anam, this moving debut novel, is set in Dhaka, East Pakistan in the 1970’s, a city simmering at the center of the Bangladeshi war of Independence. I must admit that although Bangladesh is close to home and the 1970 civil war was closely associated to India, I did have to do more reading into the history of the war.

Rehana, the protagonist is willing to go to any lengths to protect her children, Maya and Sohail but finds herself unable to shied her children from being sucked into the war. Before long the entire Haque household as well as neighbors are in one way or another affected by the war.

At the heart of the novel is a mother’s love for her children but also how one’s personal struggles are indivisibly related to the struggles of their nation. I enjoyed reading this book not only because it was a moving story of love,heartbreak, hope and war, but also because I was impressed with Tahmima’s ability to scale the war and all its accompanying horrors down to a level I could relate to.

Bad Cake Gone Good

I was recently trying out a new chocolate cake recipe that I had been meaning to try for a while now. Alas! To say the cake fell apart would be a gross understatement; it’s a pity I couldn’t take a picture of the disastrous cake….but rather than throwing the whole thing away eating my mistake here’s what I did…..

Take about 5 cups chocolate cake crumbs (though I’m sure they will taste swell with any other cake as well)
1/2 cup cream
100gms dark/bittersweet chocolate (chopped into large chunks)
1 tbsp instant coffee(opt)
3 tbsp brandy
¼ cup chopped almonds(opt)

You can add or reduce ingredients as you wish…..

Put all ingredients in a mixer and mix until they come together to form a ball. If you think the mixture is too dry, add more cream or even milk or brandy to moisten it and form smooth even sized balls.

Now chill them and the cover with melted dark chocolate(hmmm heavenly) or just dust cocoa powder and you are done. Absolutely delectable truffles that look gourmet, like you’ve slogged for hours when in reality its just add few ingredients to leftovers.

So go on mess up that cake and turn it into these….you can thank me later!

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