The Future Beckons

Here’s wishing EVERYONE a fun and love filled 2010……

Bake Your House And Eat It Too

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

I’ve always wondered how awesome it would be to find a gingerbread house like Hansel and Gretel did…a house made of every conceivable goody. A house you you just eat off….
well, this months challenge is just that and Boy! was I excited!

The possibilities were endless.

Sadly , my kitchen had to be demolished for some renovation work..and i was left space-less…..
I finally made my gingerbread house in the balcony..but it was so windy the roof kept falling off…and all the decorations kept getting squashed and splattered ….
anyway here’s my gingerbread house…its extremely untidy and messy..but under the circumstances..it was all i could do……

Before i give you the recipe…Let me wish u all very Happy Holidays!!!!!!

Y’s Recipe:
Scandinavian Gingerbread (Pepparkakstuga)
from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas
http://astore.amazon.com/thedarkit-20/detail/0816634963

The dough was very stiff and i had to add water to soften it a bit. But the good thing is that it freezes well.

1 cup butter, room temperature [226g]
1 cup brown sugar, well packed [220g]
2 tablespoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ cup boiling water
5 cups all-purpose flour [875g]

1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until blended. Add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Mix the baking soda with the boiling water and add to the dough along with the flour. Mix to make a stiff dough. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Chill 2 hours or overnight.

2. Cut patterns for the house, making patterns for the roof, front walls, gabled walls, chimney and door out of cardboard.

3. Roll the dough out on a large, ungreased baking sheet and place the patterns on the dough. Mark off the various pieces with a knife, but leave the pieces in place.

4. [I rolled out the dough on a floured bench, roughly 1/8 inch thick (which allows for fact that the dough puffs a little when baked), cut required shapes and transferred these to the baking sheet. Any scraps I saved and rerolled at the end.]

5. Preheat the oven to 375’F (190’C). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the cookie dough feels firm. After baking, again place the pattern on top of the gingerbread and trim the shapes, cutting the edges with a straight-edged knife. Leave to cool on the baking sheet.

Royal Icing:

1 large egg white
3 cups (330g) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon almond extract

Beat all ingredients until smooth, adding the powdered sugar gradually to get the desired consistency. Pipe on pieces and allow to dry before assembling. If you aren’t using it all at once you can keep it in a small bowl, loosely covered with a damp towel for a few hours until ready to use. You may have to beat it slightly to get it an even consistency if the top sets up a bit. Piped on the house, this will set up hard over time.

The Ugliest Cakes ..and a Book Review…

Margaret Shanti’s husband Ebenezer Paulraj is a pompous conniving selfish narcissistic man who attempts to destroy her self-confidence and reduces her to nothing more than his slave/cook. She decides to get back at him through COOKING!
Yes! you read right.
She feeds him delicious fat-filled food and makes him fat and sluggish and breaks him down. A teacher of chemistry, she sees life as a combination of acids, alkalines and gases.
Love” she says “ is a colourless, volatile liquid Love ignites and burns. Love leaves no residue — neither smoke nor ash. Love is a poison masquerading as the spirit of wine.
Although I first read Anita Nair’s Ladies Coupe many years ago( 2005 I think) it was only Margaret’s story that I continued to remember.
But I re-discovered the novel again when I read it again recently .I was amazed at the authors ability to weave an interesting story at the same time throw up some poignant questions on gender, family , societal hypocrisy and life in South-India of the 80’s.
Can a woman stay single and be happy at the same time?Is a woman’s life worthless unless she is a mother and a wife?
Unmarried Akhila,the 45 years old protagonist of the novel struggles with these questions.
During her train journey to Kanyakumari , aboard the Ladies Coupe of the train she meets 5 other women , each with problems agonies and issues of their own. Akhila’s life-story is thus contrasted with theirs.
Akhila has spent most of her life looking after her family, sacrificing her dreams for theirs. Even while she does finally fall in love-with someone many years younger to her, she has to sacrifice this too.
The other woman too share their life-stories , their anguishes and how they deal with what life and society throws at them. It seemed to me like these 5 women represented the 5 stages of womanhood and even belonged to widely different social classes.Jaanki, Sheela, Margaret, Prabhadevi, Mary –all of them have a story to narrate…some realistic, some too fantastical and far-fetched but nevertheless all interesting to read.
I loved how Anita, drew up the characters. The author managed to remain detached throughout the whole novel; never preaching but just narrating the facts as they are. Her portrayal of the Indian Woman of the 80’s- closeted by society yet pushing the walls to as Akhila put it “ find a place that was her own. To do as she pleased. To live as she chose with neither restraint nor fear of censure” was very realistic and inspiring.
The men however left a LOT to be desired. Every one of them was spineless and insensitive.
Where were the ‘good’ men ??
Still Ladies Coupe was an interesting,inspiring read.

Before I leave you here are some pics a friend send me….(don’t I club the unlikeliest things?)
Aren’t they simply the ugliest cakes you have ever seen…I wonder who ate them!!!

Christmas Cheer with some Christmas Cookies

It’s a state of frenzied activity at home as the year comes to an end….also its Christmas time..and Goa is decked with lights and the festive spirit. .
Anyway today’s post is going to be a short one as I have my in-laws visiting, paintings to finish, cards to send , friends to visit and then the schools have closed for the holidays(well ,I’m not jumping with joy for that one).
Anyway here’s wishing all of you a beautiful happiness and love-filled Christmas…and here’s to spreading some Digital Christmas Cheer.

These lovely cookies that will go to FFPW were absolutely fun to bake and a great joy to share AND eat , of course!!! I got the recipe from the pioneer woman’s blog. You can find it here.

Prep Time: 2 Hours Cook Time: 6 Minutes Difficulty: Easy Servings: 36
Ingredients

* Cookies:
* ⅔ cups Shortening
* ¾ cups Sugar
* ½ teaspoons Grated Orange Or Lemon Zest
* ½ teaspoons Vanilla
* 1 whole Egg
* 4 teaspoons Milk
* 2 cups Flour
* 1-½ teaspoon Baking Powder
* ¼ teaspoons Salt
* _____
* EGG YOLK GLAZE:
* 1 whole Egg Yolk
* 1 teaspoon Water
* 2 drops (to 3) Food Coloring
* _____
* WHITE DECORATIVE ICING:
* 1 bag 2 Lb Powdered Sugar
* ¼ cups Milk
* 2 Tablespoons Egg White (optional)

Preparation Instructions

Cream shortening, sugar, orange peel, and vanilla thoroughly. Add in egg and beat until light and fluffy. Add in the milk and mix.

Sift dry ingredients together, then blend into cream mixture. Divide dough in half (thirds if you double your recipe), slightly flatten between two sheets of waxed paper, then refrigerate for one hour (or freeze for 20 minutes).

While dough is chilling, combine egg yolk, water and food coloring to make the egg yolk glaze.

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface and cut into shapes with a cookie cutters. Transfer shapes to lightly greased cookie sheet and paint cookies (with a soft brush) with egg yolk glaze.

After brushing with egg yolk glaze, bake at 375 degrees for approximately 6 minutes. Do not allow the cookies to brown.

While cookies are baking, mix powdered sugar, milk and egg whites (which are optional) to make the decorative icing. Remove cookies from oven to a wire rack to cool. Then, using a pastry bag or Ziploc bag, pipe with white icing to decorate.

Note: when making the white decorative icing, make sure that it is thick and somewhat retains its shape.
…well as you can see my icing was too thin….

This Cookie also goes spreading the festive spirit to the event at Asan Khana titled Its time to Jingle Again.

An Award Deserves Chocolate

Yay!! My first award!!!….Thank  you shaz for thinking me worthy of this.
The rule book says I need to pass this one to 8 other worthy blogs..it was a Herculean task to just name 8 but anyway, here goes… in random order..

Joanne of eatswellwithothers
PJ of GingerandGarlic
Happy Cook of kitchen treasures
Ann of splitpeasonality
Shwetha of cookie cutter
Sumi of sumis kitchen
Rebecca of Chowandchatter
Divya of divyascookbook

These are awesome blogs and i am so glad that I discovered them. i am sure that if u visit their blogs, u will encounter wonderful posts.

Also today I leave you with this oh-so-delicious Banana Chocolate Pudding Cake.. I tried it out from the 101 desserts book that I recently purchased and it was DELICIOUS!!

Chocolate Chip and Banana Pudding Cake
Serves 4

200 g/1 ¾ cups self-raising flour ( I substituted with AP flour ..see conversion here.)
6 tablespoons butter
2 bananas – ripe
75 g/ 1/3 cup caster sugar
60 ml/ 1/4 cup milk
1 egg – beaten
4 tbsp semisweet chocolate chips
Glossy Chocolate Sauce and whipped cream, to serve.

Prepare a steamer or partially fill (about halfway) a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Grease a 4 cup pudding mold or four 1-cup molds. Sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Mash the bananas. Stir it into the creamed mixture with the caster sugar.
Whisk the milk with the egg in a bowl, then beat into the pudding mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spoon mixture into mold(s) and cover closely with a double thickness of foil. Steam for 2 hours, replacing water if needed.

Run a knife around the top of the pudding to loosen it, then invert onto serving dish. Serve hot with warm chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

Glossy Chocolate Sauce
This is a delicious accompaniment or topping to any dessert. And better still- it freezes well. Pour into a freezer proof container and store upto 3 months. Thaw before use.

Serves 6

½ cup caster sugar
175g chocolate pieces
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brandy/ orange juice
Place the sugar and 4 tbsp of water in a saucepan and heat gently. Sir occasionally until sugar has dissolved.
Stir in the chocolate bit by bit until nice and melted. Similarly add the butter. Do not let boil. stir in the brandy or orange juice. Serve warm.

This dessert also goes to the following events

Cakes and Cookies @ Saras Blog…shes celebrating her 1st Blog Anniversary!

Food for 7 stages of Life – In love with DDPI @ saurashtrakitchen, an event also organized by this lovely blog.

Sanghi’s FIL_Fruits event.

and to Show me your Lunchbox event by Divya of Dil se

ICC-Chegodilu

I came this (picture me holding my thumb and index finger REAL close) to NOT doing this months ICC challenge….
It seemed too difficult

I don’t have a kitchen no more…
The navy has decided we don’t need to live in ugly kitchens anymore so they are REBUILDING the kitchen..i mean just breaking down the whole thing. Its such a pain in the ..er…neck. But i guess its also overdue( the work i mean, not the pain) ..Its been like 60 years since these navy houses have been largely untouched by any form of maintainable.

So the entire kitchen, has been shifted to one of the bed rooms. I feel like i am living in a refuge camp. On second thoughts i think they are probably better off.

Hence, making these Andhra-specialty snacks seemed like Mission Impossible.

And when i did manage to make the dough it seemed like a gonner- too brittle.

Thankfully after a few SOS mails to srivalli i did manage to salvage the situation.

My final verdict is that they were worth all the effort….a great tea time savory….thanks Srivalli for a great selection.


Chegodilu / Chekodilu – Recipe 1

Ingredients Needed:

Rice Flour – 1 cup
Water – 1 cup
Split Yellow Moong dal / Pesara pappu / Mung Dal / Pasiparuppu – 1 1/2 – 2 tblsp
Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
Sesame Seeds – 1 tsp
Chili powder – 1 tsp
Ghee or oil – 1 tblsp
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

Method to prepare:

Making the dough:

Soak moong dal in water for half hour to 1 hour.

In a deep bottom pan, boil water, then add salt, ghee and moong dal. Bring it to boil, simmer and slowly add the rice flour. Using a rolling pin or the ladle, mix the flour with water by stirring it well. When the flour is mixed and done, turn off the heat immediately. Cover with lid and keep aside for 10 to 15 mins.

Once the dough is cool, add chilli powder, sesame seeds, cumin seeds and mix well. Knead till you get a smooth dough. Adjust the salt and spice depending on your preference.

Frying the Chokodi:

Heat a pan with oil, enough to fry 3 -4 at time, if you conscious of not using too much oil. Simmer once it gets hot. The temperature should not be smoking hot.

Grease your fingers with oil and pinch out a small lemon size ball and roll between your palms to form a thick rope. Bring the two ends to together and press to form a rope. Ensure the ends are firmed pressed as not to give out during frying.

Continue with the rest of the dough until you are done with the entire batch. You can either cover it with a plate or a cloth to prevent the dough from getting dried.

Check if the oil is in the correct temperature, by dropping a tiny bit into the oil. Then gently slide the rings or the chakodis in batches of 4 -5. The flame has to be on high until the chakodis come up to the surface, then lower the flame to medium and cook till you get a golden colour on the chakodis.

When the chakodis are golden all over, using a slotted ladle, remove to a kitchen towel and cool. Store in an air tight container for longer shelf life.

Notes: Remember to turn the heat to medium to high and high to medium for getting the chakodis to golden colour and also to be cooked evenly. Only this way you get crispy chakodis. These should not be cooked on low flame as they will absorb more oil and can turn soggy also at times.

Variation: Instead of Cumin and Sesame seeds, 1 tsp of Ajwain or Omam can be used along with chili powder.

Tomato Lentil Soup for the soul…and pocket

Aren’t soups so budget friendly(not that I’m calculating:)) ?

Although we are not real soup fans(nutritional advantages ,notwithstanding) i try to include a soup night every once in a while . This one is so easy to prepare , healthy and diet-friendly AND cheap….No I wasn’t ‘inspired’ by the Dubai Crisis.

Talking of which do you think it will affect India too much?

I have always felt that Dubai was a country living an unreal dream.

What with its man made islands, fantastical over-the-top extravagances like a black-diamond ski resort,glittering spectacle and conspicuous consumption.

But now it looks like the bubble is about to burst….the Dubai government has debts of £52 billion, and it’s rising fast as investment continues at its breakneck pace. Lets see what happens…..

Anyway on a lighter note(before i get to the soup)here’s something my sis-in-law mailed me…

The Soup now.
Source- Inspired from here
Ingredients

* 500g Fresh Tomatoes. chopped
* 1 tbs Cumin
* 1 Onion. chopped
* 100g Split red lentils
* 2 Cloves garlic. crushed
* 500ml Vegetable stock
* 1/4 cup coconut milk

Method

Heat the olive oil in a large pan, add the crushed garlic and the chopped onion.
Saute it for a few minutes and the add the tomatoes. Let it simmer for about 8 minutes.
Throw in the lentils and the cumin and the veg stock. Bring to boil and then let it simmer for about 45 minutes.
Let it cool completely. Keeping maybe 1 cup of the soup aside blitz the remaining in the food processor and then return to stove along with the soup you had kept aside. Simmer until it reaches desired consistency. Add the coconut milk.
Add seasoning to taste.

Voila hot sizzling and nutritious soup ready!!

This one goes to mingle at the Soup party at Monthly Mingle founded by the mind-blowing wonderful blog whatsforlunchhoney and being hosted by the equally inspiring Tongue ticklers.

12 Kuvaa-December Already

12 kuvaa/photos-october

12 photo september
My Finnish Blogger friends, Krisu and Mari, have invited me to join the project of a Finnish bloggers’ group, “12 kuvaa, 12 pics” which involves photographing the same spot from the same perspective over the course of one year, one photo each month. So this is my picture for the photo challenge. Its taken from the top of Spring Beach in Dabolim, Goa. It’s a breathtaking view and a fantastic beach. It’s the first beach I visited in Goa, and its one place we love to go to..rain or shine. The pic was taken at 9 am, 13 Sept 2009.

Brief Instructions

1) Select the target.
2) Take a photo, write down the place, the focal length and time.
3. Make the blog post between September 1st and 15th to your blog.
4. Link post to MckLinkyyn (here at Kameravene.fi Logbook).
5. Wait a month:-D
6. Take a photo from the same spot under the same settings as before. EDIT 2.9: … as same size as possible and from same perspective.
7. Make the blog post between September 1st and 15th to your blog. Include all photos taken over the past months (two photos in October, November three, etc. ).
8. Link post to MckLinky.
9. Repeat every month points 5-8 above.

I Dream of Chocolate……

“The human heart is the same everywhere” I read Ohran Pamuk, the Turkish Nobel laureate declare in an interview last week.

I guess what he meant was that all of us feel the same emotions; sad feels sad the world over right?

But our tastes ah! Now that’s something! It differs from nation to nation, culture to culture and person to person. What I find sweet is often too sweet for some and not sweet at all for another.

I’ve tried so many raved about recipes only to find them disappointingly average. I’ve also hesitatingly tried some simple seemingly uninspiring dishes only to be wowed by its taste.

Anyway I have for you a treat that all you chocolate lovers(who isn’t one?). I found the recipe from the legendary Pioneer Woman’s blog.

It’s a treat you WILL love.A LOT.And its crazy-simple too.


Prep Time: 15 Minutes Cook Time: 20 Minutes Difficulty: Easy Servings: 12
Ingredients

* 1 cup Brown Sugar
* 1 cup Margarine
* 1 whole Egg
* 2 cups Flour
* ½ teaspoons Salt
* 1 teaspoon Vanilla
* 6 ounces, weight ( To 8 Ounces) Chocolate Chips

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together brown sugar and margarine. Add egg and mix together. Add flour, salt, and vanilla, and mix together well.
Spread dough onto cookie sheet to a thickness of 1/4 to 1/2-inch.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until slightly brown. At this point, pull out of the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top. Return to oven for 1 minute. Remove and spread melted chips over the top. Cut into squares.

This awesome recipe goes to FFPW Breakfast/Brunch theme round-up.

All Powder, No Gun

Gunpowder-(n) mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur in a 75:15:10 ratio which is used in gunnery, time fuses, and fireworks

Oh! don’t worry I’m not into making bombs now….
what i have today is of the South Indian kind and is almost as potent as its namesake. But fret not,it is easily enjoyed even by the spice -intolerant and you can play around with the quantity of the spice as well as other ingredients.

This accompaniment is a favorite at home. Although it’s a bit spicy, my son loves to have it with crisp dosas and it makes for such a quick breakfast too!

Also called idli podi, paruppu podi, dhal powder or ‘gun powder’, this crunchy spice mixture should be stored in an airtight jar. When required, a spoonful or two may be mixed with melted ghee/oil and used like a chutney.

Ingredients

1 cup Channa Dal
1 cup Urad Dal
1/2 tsp jeera
1/2 tsp pepper powder
1/4 cup rice
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp hing/asafoetida
Red chillies, whole, as per taste
and salt, of course…

Roast all these ingredients one by one..and powder. Mix well and store in an air tight container.

,

Tried and Tested-Rosagulla

Yeah I’m talking about the rasagulla also spelled rasagola, rasgola, rasgolla, rasgula, rasgulla, roshogola, roshogolla, rosogola or rosogolla.

Although of Orissa origin( no i didn’t make that up…google it if you want..i swear , its true!), the rasagulla is now synonymous with Bengali sweets…so much so that for many of us it is the face of Bengali sweets.

The rasagulla is one Indian sweet(apart from its sister variant- the Rasamalai) that I can eat ANYTIME!! All I remember about my last trip to Calcutta(a zillion years ago) are the million rasagullas that I ate. It is impossible to get satiated with these sinisterly delicious cheese ball goodies.

So, when I knew that this month we were exploring Harini’s wonderful blog, I was enticed into taking a shot at it.

This November’s event is being hosted by the Singing Chef and was originally the brainchild of this blog.

The end result was good although I wasn’t able to get the texture that I saw in her blog….but i will give it another shot and perfect this gastronomic delight.

Ingredients:

Toned milk or cow’s milk – 1 Litre
1/4 cup white vinegar diluted with equal quantity of water
Sugar – 1 and 1/4 cups
Water – 3 Cups
Saffron strands (Optional) – 1 tsp.

Method:
1. If using cow’s milk – Heat the milk, cool completely and remove the cream. If not proceed directly to the next step.

2. Heat milk to boiling point. Put off fire. Pour the dilute vinegar little by little into the milk stirring very slightly till it curdles, and the whey separates.

Now strain the paneer so formed through a clean muslin cloth. Wash the paneer under running tap water breaking the lumps with soft fingers till it turns cold.

4. Hold and press the bundle to get rid of excess water and invert the paneer onto a clean bowl.

5. Mash the paneer with your finger tips first and knead it till it gathers into a soft smooth ball. Pinch out marble sized paneer lumps and roll with slight pressure into balls without any wrinkles or seam. This will form angoori golas. You may form bigger balls for bigger rasgullas. They will double after cooking. Mine formed 4 big balls and 31 small ones.

6. Cover with a wet cloth to keep the balls from drying.

7. Pour 3 cups water in a pressure cooker. Dissolve the sugar and allow the syrup to come to a boil. (You may dissolve warmed and powdered saffron strands to the water alongwith the sugar to get slightly pale rasgullas)

8. Drop the rasgullas gently into the syrup while it simmers on slow fire.

9. Cover the cooker with lid and place the whistle on top. Keep on high fire for one whistle and turn off. Let it cool completely.

10. Open and transfer the swollen rasgullas into a bowl.

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