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Archive for August, 2011

Do you ever have weekends that zip by you so fast, you wonder where they went?

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Do you drag yourself out of bed on Monday mornings wanting to kill something?

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Have you ever wondered why it is so easy to stay up late (watching tv shows one after the other till your eyes go dry), and so awfully, painfully hard to wake up in the morning?
(Don’t tell me you’re a “morning” person. Read the second line above. Beware.)

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Savouring weekends is an art form.
Enjoying them, lazing in their warmth, relaxing in their glow – is important.
That time of doing just what you want is crucial. Both for you and the lives of the people you meet on Monday mornings (read second line above).

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What do you do to relax on weekends?
I bake.

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This weekend I made cupcakes for a party.
I made 2 kinds.

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Remember the red velvet cupcakes I made?
I made them again.

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But since I made them in the afternoon and the party was in the evening, by the time we opened the box to eat them, the cream cheese icing had melted and was running down the sides of the cupcakes.

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Not a pretty sight (to say the least).
(I will be kind and not show you a picture.)

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But at least they tasted good. Right? :(

The other cupcakes saved me.

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They were coffee and walnut.
They were pretty and sophisticated.
Audrey Hepburn would totally eat them.

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Cupcakes like these make for great weekends.
They also make Monday mornings slightly more bearable :)

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Coffee-walnut cupcakes

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Adapted from: Mary Berry’s recipe in Cook up a feast

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Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Makes: 12

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Ingredients:

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1 tbsp coffee powder
1 tbsp boiling water
120 g butter (salted is fine, but melted and cooled)
140 g plain flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
120 g caster sugar
2 tbsp milk
2 eggs
75 g walnuts, chopped

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For the icing:

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2 tsp coffee powder
2 tsp boiling water
100 g butter (salted is fine, but softened)
150 g icing sugar (sifted)
12 walnut halves

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Method:

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For the cupcakes

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1. Preheat the oven to 180º C. Mix the coffee powder in the boiling water until dissolved. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add all the other ingredients and mix well until you have a thick, but smooth batter.
2. Spoon into cupcake liners placed in a 12-holed tray, and bake for 25 minutes until golden on top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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For the icing

1. Dissolve the coffee powder in the boiling water. Add the butter and icing sugar and mix well.
2. Spoon or pipe on to the cooled cupcakes and place one walnut half on top of each.

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OCD Apple Pie

Remember my bag of apples?

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I made muffins with some of them last week.

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With what I had left I decided to take on probably the most popular pie in the world.

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Now I had ready-made, shop-bought pie crusts in my freezer, but I wanted to do this right.

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I wanted to get my hands dirty.

I wanted to fret about not keeping the dough cold enough.

I wanted to worry about over-handling and under-baking.

I wanted to cut the apples just before they went in the pie, so they wouldn’t discolour.

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Yes, I have apple pie OCD.

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But for this pie, any behavioural disorders are totally worth it.

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The star of this pie is the crust.  I could seriously eat it without the apple filling.
It is crisp and brown on the outside, and creamy and yielding on the inside.

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And so buttery! The kind of flavour you’d never in a million years find in shop-bought pie crust.

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And say hello again to that happy-making threesome of apple, cinnamon and sugar. They were born to be together.

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Arranging the apples in concentric circles is also a perfect task for an OCD’d person, like me.

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It is also rather hypnotic. See what I mean?

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Look into my eye.

Said the apple pie. :)

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This yummy pie is best eaten warm.

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It also disappears fast.

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See? I warned you :)

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Apple Pie

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Prep time: 10 mins + freezing
Cook time: 50 mins
Serves: 6
Eat this with: Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, but SO good by itself also!

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Ingredients:

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170 g plain flour
2 tbsp ground sugar
170 g butter (salted is fine, but it should be cold), plus 50 g more
2–3 tbsp ice water
1 egg, lightly beaten
4–5 medium sized apples (I prefer green apples, but any firm ones will do)
6 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp cinnamon powder

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Method:

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For the crust

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1. In a large bowl, mix the flour and sugar together. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour. With a fork or pastry cutter, slowly mix the butter into the flour, till it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. (If you create some big bits and some small bits of the buttery-flour, you know you’re doing it right)
2. Add the water a spoonful at a time, and mix very gently with your hands until you have a rough ball. Do not over mix, as the dough will become hot. Just form into a rough ball and put into a Ziploc bag. Place in the freezer for about 45 minutes.
3. Grease a 9-inch loose-bottomed pie dish with butter and place that in the freezer as well.
4. Take out the pie dough and knead it a bit to make it malleable. Take out the pie dish, and slowly spread the dough inside the dish with your fingers. Spread it in as even a layer as possible, all over the base and the sides. Work quickly, and put the dish in the freezer for another 30 minutes. In the meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200º C.
5. Place some greaseproof paper on the crust, and cover with rice or baking beans. Bake for 30 minutes. Take out of the oven, brush the surface with some beaten egg, and bake again for about 10 minutes. Take it out and let it cool.

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For the filling

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1. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon powder in a small bowl. Sprinkle half of this mixture on the base of the cooled pie crust.
2. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples. As you slice, begin to layer them inside the crust, in concentric circles, beginning from outside and working your way into the centre.
3. Sprinkle the remaining sugar-cinnamon mixture on top of the apples. Spoon small bits of butter on top for extra flavour.
4. Bake this in a preheated oven at 200º C for 25 minutes or until crisp and brown on top.
5. Remove from the oven, cut yourself a slice , and say hello to happiness :)

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What would you do if you had a bag of apples?

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If you’re anything at all like me, you would google “apple recipes” all day until you found something that’s easy, yummy, and involves apples.

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That’s what I did.

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And this is what I found.

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I was so pleased to read the recipe and find I had everything I needed at home!

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The recipe called for oil, so I used Canola oil (for the first time) and was very pleased with the results!

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Canola oil is used by bakers everywhere, especially for its health benefits.

It has the lowest content of saturated or bad fat (among all oils!), and it’s also loaded with vitamin E antioxidants.

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I was a little sad that poor butter was left out of this recipe so unceremoniously.

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But can I please say that the oil makes these muffins gloriously moist and soft.

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Since this was my first time with muffins (I’m a cupcake person), I was rather intrigued by the thick, heavy muffin batter.

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But despite the heaviness of the batter, these muffins are incredibly light and fluffy.

(I made some with and without the sprinkling of brown sugar on top.)

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They are soft and dense at the same time, and have that warm, heady aroma only a combination of apples, cinnamon and sugar can create.

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And that’s a winning combination if I’ve ever heard one.

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Also, do you guys like my new blog header? My fabulous friend Neha designed it.

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Have a happy weekend! :)

And don’t forget to vote below to share what your favourite fruit is!

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Today is my first ever Blog swap and I’m very excited!! Many thanks to 20somethingbloggers for the chance!

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Over here at Culinarystorm, you can read a fun post from my blog swap partner Becky.

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Head over to her blog Because Chocolate Can’t Get You Pregnant, to read about my summer escape this year! :)

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Hi, my name is Becky and I am from the blog Because Chocolate Can’t Get You Pregnant.  My blog is a little bit of everything.  I like to cook, sewing, craft, decorate and talk about my amazing family.  Storm and I are participating in a blog swap through 20 Something Bloggers.

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Recently my husband and I went to Las Vegas, NV for the first time.  We had the most amazing time!  We arrived in Vegas on a Tuesday evening through Saturday afternoon.  I think it was the perfect amount of time.  We were able to enjoy ourselves during the week before the crowds all arrived on Friday. We stayed at the Excalibur over looking 4 pools.
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Each day we would walk to look around the hotels & casinos.  They are truly amazing! It is amazing to see all the details at each place. My favorite hotels would be the Venetian and Caesars Palace because they had blue skies painted on the ceilings.
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One evening at the Excalibur we went to the Tournament of the Kings dinner show.  It was an interactive medieval show with dancing girls, kings, sword fighting, fireworks, horses and jousting. They served a cornish hen, potatoes, a head of broccoli and a roll; however, they didn’t provide you with silverware.  You had to eat the entire meal with your fingers!  They had the audience interact throughout the entire show.  We had to cheer our king on when he was jousting or sword fighting. Unfortunately our king didn’t win.
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At New York, New York they serve New York style pizza, have the Statue of Liberty made out of jelly beans.  MGM has an exhibit with real lions. The Bellagio Hotel has a water show every 15 minutes outside the front of the hotel.  Caesars Palace has statues that move.  Cosmopolitan has draped crystals hanging throughout the hotel in white & pink. There is soooo much shopping in Vegas.  High end stores to little tourist shops.  The shopping is out of this World!  Some of the hotels have a wave pool or a moving river where you can sit on a tube down the river.
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It was one of the best vacation my husband and I have taken together.  We had so much fun together laughing, seeing all the hotels, a little gambling, and being together. There is something for everyone to do in Las Vegas and I can’t wait to make another trip!!!!
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Summer is a wonderful time.

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(Especially when you’re indoors).

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Yes there is sunshine, and flowers, and light.

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But I live in Delhi.

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So there is also sweat, and grime, and heat of the “I-want-to-die” variety.

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On summer afternoons therefore, I am indoors.

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The AC is blasting cool air (the “I-could-be-floating-on-clouds” variety), I have a chilled drink in my hand, and I’m quite blissfully happy.

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Except for one thing.

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I’m hungry.

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This happens to me quite often. Hunger doesn’t surprise me anymore.

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I just eat :)

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So, with a quick look in my kitchen and fridge I discover I have the makings of a pasta.

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Not just any pasta.

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A cheese and salami spaghetti.

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At this point I am beyond pleased.

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I’m smiling a large smile, and I look a bit mad.

(Thank god I live alone.)

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This is an easy dish to make and yet it is delightfully rich.

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It’s perfect for when you want to curl up in bed and pretend searing summer isn’t knocking at your door.

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Take one mouthful, and it could be any season you want ;)

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It-isn’t-summer pasta

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Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 15 mins

Serves: 1 hungry person (you could easily double this recipe)

Eat this with: garlic bread

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Ingredients:

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100 g spaghetti, or pasta of your choice

salt and pepper to taste

30 g salted butter, plus 1 tbsp more

2 tbsp flour

100 ml milk, at room temperature

40 g cheese of your choice, grated

200 g salami, or any other cooked meat, chopped

1 tsp garlic flakes

1 tsp dried thyme

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Method:

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  1. Boil water in a pan. Add some salt. When the water is boiling, add the spaghetti and cook till al dente. Drain (retaining a small amount of the cooking water) and keep aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a non-stick pan. Add the flour and stir continuously till you have a paste. Now add the milk, a spoon at a time, stirring throughout.
  3. Once all the milk is added, add the cheese and stir until it melts. This will thicken pretty fast. Add salt and pepper, and take the sauce off the flame.
  4. In another clean pan, melt 1 tbsp butter and add the salami. While it gently fries, add the garlic flakes and thyme. Stir well for a minute or two, and remove from the flame.
  5. Put the sauce back on a gentle flame, add the salami and mix well.
  6. Add the spaghetti, season, and give it a good mix through. If the sauce looks claggy, use some of the warm cooking water to loosen it up. Serve warm and dig in.
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Plan: Making Banoffee Pie
People involved: 2 crazy friends and me
Roadblock: There was no cream

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I kid you not. We looked in at least 8 shops. None had any cream.
Trauma. Shock. Horror. Despair. Over-reaction.

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But we were determined. We wanted to make Banoffee Pie.
And that is what we did.

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We worked with what we had.

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We crushed digestive biscuits.

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We made dulce de leche (caramel).

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We drank Hazelnut Baileys. (This is an optional step, but it greatly enhances the recipe making process.)

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We chopped bananas.

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We layered.

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Not one layer.
But, two thick gorgeous layers of both banana and caramel.

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We still had no cream though.

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So…
Wait for it…

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We used good ol’ vanilla ice cream!

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And then we ate. And it was good.

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The grainy saltiness of the biscuits offset the general creamy sweetness very well.

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The caramel was thick and exquisite, though in retrospect I can say (with a heavy heart) that one layer would have sufficed and would have also been less heart-attack inducing.
However, if you have an extreme sweet tooth and absolutely no history of diabetes- go right ahead :)

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In the end, we did it :)
Banoffee pie success.

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So now you know how to make Banoffee if you’re ever without cream, though I pray that you never suffer such great tragedy.

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Have a happy cream-filled day you’ll :)

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Question: What do you when you’re craving something buttery and sweet?

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Also, it’s raining like the world is ending outside, and you’re as tired as rat after a long day.

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Oh, and you don’t have any fancy things in the fridge. So no- I can’t eat a bar of 80% cacao organic dark chocolate with a macadamia nut and marzipan filling.
(Does this chocolate exist only in my dreams?)

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Answer: You make shortbread!!

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I was seriously in shock when I looked at this recipe.

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3 ingredients.
Flour. Butter. Sugar.

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How simple. How perfect.

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Why did I expect anything different from the goddess of comfort baking?

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This shortbread takes less than five minutes to prepare. Add to that the 10 minutes or so in the oven, and you’re set.

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They can be made to look elegant of course, but I was in a hurry.

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Fresh from the oven, you don’t even have to bite into them. They melt in your mouth. And you’re left with the most dreamy, wonderful, comforting aftertaste, of butter and a delicate sweetness.

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Shortbread bits

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Adapted from: (Nigella’s Easy Shortbread)

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Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 10-15 mins
Makes: about 20 medium sized bits

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Ingredients:

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150g plain flour, unsifted
110g butter (salted is fine), melted and cooled
50g icing sugar, plus a little bit for dusting

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Method:

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1. Preheat the oven to 160º C.
2. Mix the butter and sugar together, till there are no lumps. Add the flour a little at time. Mix with your hands and knead gently. Form into a smooth ball.
3. Roll out to about 1/2cm thickness and cut out shapes with cutters, or just slice the dough (if you’re like me) into strips of different sizes.
4. Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 10-15 mins. Remove from the oven and dust lightly with icing sugar. Let it cool slightly before you eat :)

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