Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Home-made Piping Gel recipe - Yessss! We Can!!

If you are like me you are gonna love this recipe. I mean if you live in India and love to decorate cakes . If you are perennially, unjustifiably envious of folks who live in the US / UK - only for the sole reason that they have easy access to cake decorating shops. How unfair!! They have cake decorating stores, baking aisles in every super market and have a plethora of baking and cake stuff easily available. People at stores do not stare at them when they ask for rice paper or piping gel or fondant or Dr. Oetker's Whip It or Ener-G. Forget these things, for me it was a victory to get a muffin tray, whipping cream, cooking chocolate, good pistachio essence, flaked almonds and a lot of other basic stuff. Excuse me if I am making India sound like an extremely under-developed country.. but that's reality.  How I wished we did better in Bangalore!! Sigh!! Double sigh!!
I have loved looking at glossy decorations made with the versatile piping gel and the freedom it offers to decorate a cake. Imagine my delight when I found a recipe for making piping gel at home here. I had Googled and found other recipes too, but this one was one to be tried as it did not have gelatin and sounded so easy and do-able. I tried this successfully and was able to paint my rolled fondant. This was my first ever tryst with piping gel and a home-made one at that!! I was of course over the moon...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Kiddie Helicopter Chocolate Cake

A helicopter cake for a 8-year old  with the picture of the helicopter drawn by the 8-year old...OK am kidding- I drew it and obviously am not going to get a prize at a drawing competition-)) This was one of the 2 cakes I made for my son's birthday yesterday. We had made a Race Track Cake for his 6th birthday and he wanted a helicopter cake, and a chocolate cake at that, this time. I made a obviously- not-so-successful  attempt at one. I tried making piping gel at home and also made a trial picture of Pooh last week to test the piping gel  and the fondant mixed with CMC. My trail piece was a success and survived in the fridge for almost a week, till my daughter broke it:-((.  I will be posting the recipe of the piping gel later this week.

We celebrated the birthday at a pizza joint and I was not sure if the fondant would stay undissolved and survive on whipped cream topping out of the fridge for a couple of hours. So I played safe and made a Chocolate Cake with chocolate ganache frosting.  Though I was not very happy with the end product, it was worth all the time and effort I took to bake and finish the cake. My son was very happy with the cake and his friends were thrilled to see a helicopter cake, and a home-made one at that. Now on to the recipe and some boring details...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Easy Dhokla Chaat

I bet if you can show me somebody who does not love tongue-tickling chaats. My mouth waters at the thought of chaat and can have it anytime of the day, any day. And  I particularly love the 'dahi' varieties with cool curd topped on the chaat during summers. And its bliss to drown it all with a cold  badam-milk... Yumm!! Its just the thought of all those excessive calories and fat which goes into these delicious snacks that stops me from running to the nearest chaat center and binging on it.

I tried making a relatively low fat and healthier version the 'Dhokla Chaat'. This one is really quick and easy if you have Mint Chutney stored in your fridge. Honestly, I have never made an attempt to make the sweet chutney at home, as I hardly use a few teaspoons of the stuff at a time.  I have used  ready-made Fun Foods Khatti-Meethi Imli chutney, which I find is real good VFM:-)

Surely there are no hard and fast rules for making a chaat.  Most things you fancy can go into the dish, in varying proportions, reasonably of course! Forgive me for not specifying the exact quantities of ingredients except the dhokla mix I used here as I just kept taking and putting the stuff from their bottles as and when my family kept coming in. So please go by your taste when you make this.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

One More Award!

Got this wonderful surprise from Deepti of Panchamrutham today morning! Thanks a ton Deepti for remembering me for this award! She has a host of of delicious recipes on her blog..Do not miss her Egg less Saffron Cake with Saffron Cream here, a recipe I found very innovative and drool- worthy. This cake is on my must-try list.

Now I need to pass on this award to at least 12 bloggers. I would like to pass this on to

Deepthi Pawar
Smitha Srivastava.

Please do accept! Congrats everyone!! Thanks again to Deepti!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Soppina Palya

 Do you sometimes like or dislike a particular vegetable, not for its taste, but for its Feeding Capacity Quotient? Well, I do! (No, there is no such phrase, u know what I mean to convey!) . Veggies like ridge gourd, grated radish and greens like methi and spinach. They shrink to 1/4 their original volume when cooked, which just won't be enough whatever quantity you get them in, particularly if you hog veggies like we do. We are the kind of folks who eat rice with veggies, chutney with idlis and not the other way round:-)).  I need to have lots and lots of rasam or vegetable or gravy with my rice or chapatis to have the satisfaction of having eaten a good meal.

One such vegetable is 'Dantina Soppu' when I need to make palya. I don't have any grouses against this leaf when I make dal with it as it behaves well, quantity wise . But, when I have to make  palya, I need to take care of the FCQ. The below recipe is one delicious way of making Soppina Palya, using flour to increase the quantity. I love to make this in large quantities so that I can first eat it with rice, then with rasam and rice, then with curd rice. This tasty preparation is a delight for people like me who love rasam and rice and if its with Soppina Palya, it makes a simple meal a scrumptious one...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mint and Cilantro Chutney

 The popular, evergreen Indian chutney, literally!! Can we imagine our dhoklas, samosas, sandwiches and a score other snacks without this spicy chutney! Undoubtedly, there are plenty of versions of the Green Chutney. I tried this recipe from Tarla Dalal and have stuck with it ever since. I like this version for the simple reason that it results in the same taste consistently. The recipe specifies the quantity of mint and coriander in cup measures. The quantity of coriander is half that of the mint. I personally find the cup measure so much more reliable as compared to the bunch  measures.

I like to make this chutney and freeze it in small portions. Comes in so handy to make that sandwich for a snack or breakfast when I have nothing but bread in the fridge. Here comes the recipe.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Eggless Chocolate Cake - A Successful First!!

 I must say, I am not particularly interested or overly enthusiastic about eggless cakes. Reason being a common one,  I have had many a disaster attempting these. And I take sometime to recover from these disasters before bouncing back and trying out a new suspicious eggless recipe again. I hope and pray I succeed at least this time, every time. But why bother trying out these recipes at all? Sometimes, I may want to bake or eat this cake on a 'no-eggs day'  as on a festival day. Or bake for someone a cake on their 'no-eggs day'. This time, my motivation for hunting yet another egg less cake recipe was totally different.

My daughter will turn 3 shortly and her school allows only egg-less cakes. Now, can I imagine not baking a cake for her on her special day? And nope, I am not going to order one from the bakery, no way!! :-)) I came across this recipe in Mallika's blog. She has great recipes, lots of divine cookies and bakes, and fantabulous pics on her blog. Do visit VegBowl if you haven't yet.

The cake looked very delicious. The recipe simple and easy. No butter, no vinegar - good! No egg re placer... fantastic! I normally don't stock on these. Nothing I would have to plan way ahead or buy stuff specifically for this recipe. Well, that surely sounded good. So I baked this cake which became my first successful egg-less cake ever. Thanks Mallika for this delicious recipe!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Appi Payasa (Fried Papad Milk Pudding)

Happy Ugadi!! Hosa Varshada Haardika Shubhashayagalu!! We ushered in the New Year with Bevu-Bella(Neem and Jaggery) symbolizing both sweetness and bitterness in our lives.Our Ugadi began with a small pooja at home, replete with the offering of bevu-bella and fruits to God.

Appi Payasa was the sweet we had today along with the rest of the festive lunch. This rich and delicious sweet is my favorite when it comes to payasa. Papads of chiroti rawa, fried in oil till golden & crisp, crushed and simmered in milk, flavored with saffron and cardamom. It takes time and effort to make this, but its no doubt worth it. You can fry the happala(papad) and store this for a few days in an airtight container in the fridge. Then all you would have to do would be to simmer it in milk and there you are!! You have to eat this to believe how divine a payasa can be.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Nutty Vanilla Popcorn

Do you know anybody who can resist popcorn?? Neither do I!! And few people can resist the irresistible, delicious smell of vanilla and butter cooking together. Be it in a cake or pancake or pudding or with popcorn.  Hmmm...Just opening my bottle of vanilla is enough to make me switch on my oven and start baking a cake. Of course I don't do that (much as I would love to)as my family is er.. a lil alarmed seeing the way I am obsessing with food in the recent past.

And with my son's final exams going on, I keep reminding myself to get a grip on my urges to cook, cook and cook even more. Boy! Am I looking forward to summer vacations just for the reason that I can cook and bake to my heart's content without having to worry about homework and assessments. Just for a week more, it will have to be quick and easy recipes to keep me and my kids happy. Like this easy and delicious Nutty Vanilla Popcorn.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My First Cake Decorated With Fondant

An excuse to bake a cake- that's what I keep looking for (like a lot of folks out here, I now realize:-). My cousin's sister-in-law's daughter was to celebrate her 6th birthday. My cousin wondered if I would bake a cake for her. Wonder?? 'You bet , you bet, I sure will bake , hey thanks for giving me this chance to try out another cake experiment ' I gleefully told her. I kept on pestering her with my calls for the next few days- what was the little girl's fav color, fav theme, fav flavor etc etc. Oh, yeah, when a cake is on my mind, its on my mind 24/7.

Good natured cousin of course told me to bake whatever was easy and convenient. So I had all the freedom to bake anything. Freedom and fondant in my kitchen:-)) Fantastic!! You can hardly go wrong with a choc cake, be it adults or kids. Chocolate cake with ganache frosting with white fondant. Seemed good enough and a great opportunity to open that shining new packet of  white Wilton rolled fondant.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tricolor Creamy Dips

I know, I know... Republic Day just went past and I can't wait till Independence Day to try this out. This recipe from my Good Housekeeping calendar was demanding my attention since the time I had received the calendar. I got the chance to try this out as I had just the right amount of Mint Chutney and Red Bell Peppers in the fridge. And of course my new bottle of Garlic mayonnaise from Namdharis. In my chaotic kitchen, there are few days when things like this fall into place:-))

 The original recipe has cheese spread, garlic and also oil mixed in.  I have used garlic mayonnaise in place of the cheese spread and opted not to add the oil. Hung curd and mayonnaise form the base for this dip. Roasted Red Bell peppers and Mint chutney give varying flavors and colors. Try these easy dips with plain potato wafers or French Fries or crackers or just vegetable crudite`s. You will surely love this attractive trio of dips.

And you bet I am going to re-post this on August 15th :-))

Monday, March 8, 2010

Pineapple, Corn and Roasted Bell Peppers Salad

 “To remember a successful salad is generally to remember a successful dinner; at all events, the perfect dinner necessarily includes the perfect salad.”.

Well, for me, the ubiquitous salad is no doubt an important part of a successful dinner, but also makes a great anytime snack. Specially, for those mid morning or late evening hunger pangs. Chilled make-ahead salads, particularly, make eating them more of a pleasure during summer. Toss the salad at leisure and have it when you are hungry and pressed for time. Aaah!! Isn't it great to just open your fridge and pull out the salad bowl and eat it in the midst of work?? If made with fresh veggies and a low fat dressing, you can eat this to your heart's content.One such quick, simple and colorful salad with the goodness of the veggies...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Creamy Pea and Mint Soup

Old habits are so hard to break...one of mine being fanatically collecting recipes from magazines - Woman's Era, Savvy and Femina being the most popular ones during my school and college days. Like most of us, I also have a huge Recipe folder in my system . Gosh!! Will I ever be able to try out all of these, I sometimes wonder. Not that this thought will stop a foodie from collecting more recipe books, browsing for more recipes, frantically jotting down a recipe from a television show... And can anything beat the pleasure of  glancing through a recipe book once your kids are in bed or left for school?? Think not:-))
Here comes one of the recipes from an old issue of Savvy. Its a light, creamy and refreshing soup with just a hint of mint. Perfect for dinner on a warm summer evening.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cake by Madhuri Kumar

1, 2, 3 ..... Drr..ooo..lllll!!!

 Yes, I got the much awaited guest post from Madhuri today! Her extremely chocolicious looking Flourless Chocolate Cake. Thank you so much Madhuri!!! This is going to be one of the most delicious posts on my blog apart from being the BEST ever picture on the blog!! Boy!! Did she make an impact and such a yummm..my one at that! Am so glad I asked her to guest-post for me and these awesome professional looking pictures are on my blog. Do check out her blog for more such awesome clicks!  Psstt ..am thinking, if she asks me to guest post for her, will call her home on the pretext of tasting the recipe and get some fab pictures of my dish taken!! Isn't that a great idea!

And it goes without saying, am seriously floored by the Flourless Chocolate Cake:-)) Now, over to Madhuri...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Southekayi Avalakki (Cucumber Flavored Rice Flakes)

True! Even I had never heard of such a recipe too earlier, before I saw this on Madhuri's blog. But it sounded so, so good and easy. I made this quick dish for breakfast (with a little modifications)on a hectic weekday morning and we all loved eating it. Thank you for sharing this recipe Madhuri! The taste of the cucumber in the poha is so very refreshing, specially in summer. This is now one of the regulars on our breakfast 'menu'. Try this out and you are sure to see yourself making this often.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Chocolate Sauce With Ice Cream

If you gave me just 10 minutes to come up with an impressive dessert, I would do this one. Of course with store bought vanilla ice cream. Yup, am talking about my version of Chocolate Sauce with Ice cream. Rich, gooey chocolate sauce poured over a scoop or two of ice cream, topped with roasted nuts for good measure. Yummm... you can't go wrong with this. So very easy and simple and absolutely delicious. Just the kind of thing you would need when you have guests coming over for a meal at short notice and you have nothing at home to go by the name of a dessert. Save your effort for the meal and don't worry about the dessert. If you are like me, you will have chocolate chips and toasted nuts at home all the time, well, at least most of the time. ( I get restless when I do not have vanilla, choc chips, cocoa powder, whipping cream and plain flour in my fridge as I have to bake stat when I feel like it. Another common trait of a foodie I wonder..) And if you are like me, you can't imagine a serving a meal without rounding it off with a dessert. The shrinking clothes can always be taken care of later:-))