Homemade Eggless Mushroom and Cheese Jumbo Ravioli with a herbed Butternut-Walnut Sauce

Hello Cousins!!

Finally we begin to stir!!  Daibi would be back in action in a few days..they just returned from an awesome Delhi By Foot Photography and Bird-Watching trip from Bharatpur!! Its such a delight to see the pictures that they have brought back…makes me long for a teleporting vehicle to transport me there!! I too wanna witness this annual migration of thousands of spectacular looking birds who travel primarily from Sakha Republic (Yakutia) and western Siberia in Russia…aaah! some day I will!! But Daibi, don’t you wanna visit the Okhla Bird Sanctuary as well?? I mean that’s one of the things you must do being in Delhi during the winters!!

No no…I will not get carried away with my melodramtic yearning for Delhi winters…STOP Dakhina Mitra!! And I am back 😀  Didi, kudos to you and my dearest Rizimon for making those amazing uttapams….I learned to make them when I was 21 and he is only 9!! I agree with our Blogger friend Rashmi about the fact that most Indian boys/men don’t know how to cook! But being in a household where grandmommy, mommy, mommy’s sister, daddy and mommy’s brother are avid cooks/food lovers, I think we haven’t left Rizimon with any other choice, but to cook ;). That doesn’t mean he is not a foodie himself….I still remember a 4-5 year old Rizimon ordering a All-American Banana Split icecream at Nirulas, Delhi for himself. There was only a quarter plate left-over for you and me who were eagerly waiting for him to leave most of it!!

Homemade Mushroom and Cheese Ravioli in a herbed Butternut-Walnut sauce

Homemade Mushroom and Cheese Ravioli in a herbed Butternut-Walnut sauce

Today I will write about an Italian pasta dish which I think Rizimon can try with a little help from you.  A few weeks back you had sent me a pic where he was frying potatoes by himself, so I think he can manage doing this too..I am also pasting a link on quick pasta meals for him coz I know how easy it is to make a pasta dish!

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Eggless Coffee & Chocolate Handbag Cake and Coin Purse Cake

Hello Cousins!!

What happened to our cooking and writing streak?? I miss our food talks and experiments people….I know I too have been a bit out of touch..actually I was a little busy doing some other things. But I would write about those in later posts.  Today I am just too excited to share with you both a creation that I made for a friend’s birthday who loves bags and shoes!! I really wanted the cake to mean something special for her and am glad that it turned out exactly how I wanted it to be.  There was one more challenge in this attempt – I had to make the whole thing Vegetarian. Now this is not a big deal for you Didi, but for me it was 🙂 The inspiration of the cake came from some other blogs and videos which have demonstrated awesome designer bag cakes and Fondant shoes like http://rosesen.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/gumpaste-shoe-tips-and-template/ or http://www.cakesbyroxanne.com/2011/01/how-to-make-gum-paste-stiletto-2011.html.  I mean look at the stuff, who would say its EDIBLE??!!! But I am not familiar with fondant…to tell you the truth, I didn’t make an effort to try it till now as it requires stuff like Glucose syrup/corn syrup/gelatin, which are not so easily available in India (ok we do get gelatin, but I wanted the whole cake to be vegetarian). Even if they are, they cost a lot, as you very well know Didi!

Finally I saw this video and decided to follow the easy yet attractive method it showed.  Of course I gave it the Dakhina touch from every angle, but yes the idea was from here. What I produced finally was this:

Eggless Coffee & Chocolate Handbag Cake and Coin Purse Cake

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Choco-Vanilla Tall Boy (Checkered Cake Loaf) with Caramel Floss and Toffee

Dear Cousins!

How are the two of you? I have been a bit busy lately, and you know what was I doing? Cooking!! hehhehee…it was Niloy’s b’day on 25th and it was the first time I was with him on his b’day.  Therefore I wanted it to be very very special which including breaking my limits!! I must confess, that even though I love cooking and am patient with everything related to food (normally I have attention-deficit-disorder with every other thing), when it comes to Icing a cake I never had the courage.  I always thought it to be an arduous task and thought it would require like maybe 10 hours!! But Didi, with your encouragement and support I finally managed to do a cake (of which I am very very proud now) with icing. I called it a Tall Boy because its looks like one! Do you know what is a tall boy? I didn’t…but when I came to Melbourne and was looking for furniture for our flat, I came across this term.  It is basically a tall chest of drawers…but I liked the name..so I named my cake after it.

      

       

 

 

 

 

 

  

For a 25x8x10 cm Cake:

1 Chocolate Cake with walnuts (26x18cm)

1 Vanilla Cake with walnuts (26x18cm)

100 gms chopped Walnuts

100 gms Strawberry Jam+2 tbsp Icing Sugar+2 tbsp Butter

For Chocolate Ganache

200 gms Dark Cooking Chocolate slab broken to small pieces

250 ml Thickened Cream (or Pure Cream)

3-4 tbsp Icing Sugar

For Caramel Floss and Toffee

100 gms Sugar

1 Tbsp water

Method

Take the two cakes and level them by cutting with a sharp knife so that they fit with each other.  Take the jam, sugar and butter in a bowl and beat with a fork till blended well into a smooth paste. Apply on the top of one cake a sandwich with the other.  Then cut lengthwise into two halves.  On the top of one section apply the jam mix and stack the other half on this one in a way that it is in the order of vanilla chocolate vanilla chocolate.  Then cut into two halves again along the length and place side by side …you have now two parts of four slices with alternate chocolate and vanilla slices (please refer to the picture slideshow below). Again apply jam mix on one part and stack it over the other half.  Remember that it should be chocolate slice on a vanilla slice and vice versa. Cut the rounded edges to have straight sides all around. When you make the whole thing stand on a cake board, it should look like a checkered brick. (I wrapped a chopping board with aluminium foil and placed the cake on it.  In an absence of a cake board, one has to make such arrangements!!)

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For icing, place the pieces of chocolate in a microwave proof bowl, add the cream and heat for 2 mins.  Alternatively, you can heat the cream in a double-boiler and pour over the chocolate. Then slowly and gently (to avoid air bubble) start mixing the two till the chocolate has melted.    Add the icing sugar and let is cool down. I used a large knife to do the icing and layered the whole 3 times to get a smooth surface.  Finally with a stiff tea-coaster I evened the whole thing (another example of the phrase, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’)!! I took the chopped walnut and did a skirting of the cake with it….as in stuck the walnuts on the bottom sides of the cake. I sprinkled the rest on the top of the cake.

Then I made the caramel floss and toffee using the recipe in the Fig and Caramel Icecream.  Then pour the caramel on foil in various shapes for toffee. For the floss, keep pulling the spoon up and down on the foil occasionally using the finger to pull. Be careful as it would be pretty hot! (refer to the slideshow above).

With spoon and fingers keep pulling threads to make the floss

Place the Toffee and Floss on the top of the cake and keep in refrigerator for 4-5 hours. It was awesome you know in looks and taste…it took me 4 hours to finish the whole thing, but the moment I sliced it, there was this look of awe and love in Niloy’s eyes….every bit of my effort was worth it then! Try this..I had read about this recipe some 4-5 years back but never had the heart to make it…but now that I have done it, I feel, “Oh! I can do anything!” 😀

Love and hugs, Rinki

‘Black Pearl Ship’ Cake and Eggless ‘Thomas Engine’ Cake

 6th August ’12

Hi Didi!

I was going through some old pictures in the last days and saw the pic of that wonderful eggless Thomas Engine cake you made once.  I never got to taste it and neither that Pirates of the Caribbean inspired “The Black Pearl Ship” cake….but I dream of making such cakes someday! Could you tell me your tricks for those delicious looking icings and the cakes? I could look up some book for these, but you know how you and I are bad with measurements and calculations (Maths was a dreadful subject always!). Only you can hence tell me your tried and tested ‘not so perfect’ measurements and methods for baking those wondrous looking cakes 🙂 Will you please? 😀

Waiting for your reply!

Rinki

Eggless Thomas Engine Cake

The Black Pearl and Eggless Chest of Gold Coins

12th August ’12

Dear Rinki,

Sorry for such a late reply in the day, but you do know how I was kept busy with guests as it was your nephew’s ninth birthday, which I will tell you in all back-breaking details later! I hope your dinner party went well the other night. Did you make the salad with that yummy dressing, you know the one you made when you came here? You have to give me the recipe.

When we were kids, my mum used to bake egg-less cakes for her vegetarian friends and it had things ranging from yoghurt to vinegar in it. Actually I tried that recipe and the cake turned out a disastrous sticky sour mess …Yuck! Probably because I didn’t have a recipe. I distinctly remember Ma’s cakes were quite good. Anyway, luckily I heard of this recipe from a friend, who didn’t have any idea about the measurements. So I tried to do it my way and guess what…It turned out perfectly well-behaved like all cakes should! And it wasn’t sticky so it could be cut and carved into shapes, which I stuck together with Butter cream icing. I even iced the cakes with this as it is quite a versatile icing which doesn’t melt easily under “hot” conditions like a mills and boon heroine ; )

So here goes….

For the Egg-less cake

Ingredients (for a two cup cake)

Flour                 2 level cups (If making chocolate cake then 1 cup flour and 1 cup cocoa powder)

Butter              1 cup softened at room temp. (If using vegetable oil, reduce it to 3/4 cup)

Baking powder             2 level teaspoons

Condensed Milk           1 cup (less if you want the cake less sweet)

Aerated soft drink (anything from coke to club soda)

Essence of choice

Method

First thing even before you start mixing the ingredients, pre-heat the oven at 250 degree C. Prepare your cake tin by oiling it well and dusting with flour really well, taking care of the corners. A well oiled and dusted tin will ensure your cake comes out perfectly. Sieve the flour with the baking powder (this is important to aerate the flour),dump in the butter, the essence, the condensed milk and mix it together, it will come together like a dough. Taste it, if it is not sweet enough for you, add more. Next slowly pour in the soft drink while mixing. Your aim is to make a batter like consistency, not a watery mess. Pour immediately into your cake tin and bake for ten minutes at 250 degree C, then lower the heat to 200 degree C and bake for a further fifteen minutes. Insert a skewer in the centre to see if its done. Take out , cool and GOBBLE !

Note: It is better if your egg-less cake is not very large or thick. after all it doesn’t have eggs which are the binding agents and a thick cake can turn crumbly.

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For the Chocolate Butter Cream Icing

Ingredients

1. Margarine/ Butter   2 cups

2. Icing sugar                  3-4 cups ( sifted)

3. Milk                                1/2 cup ( more or less)

4. Cocoa Powder            1 cup     (sifted)

5. Powder milk                 1/2 cup ( sifted)

6. vanilla essence

Sift all dry ingredients so there are no lumps or impurities. Let the butter soften completely at room temperature, slowly add the cocoa powder, and the milk powder and mix. Add the essence and slowly add the icing sugar and whisk, if it becomes too thick add some milk and mix again.  Do not add all the sugar at once.  Slowly your mix should turn into a glistening thick creamy chocolatey mix with a satiny texture. You can use this to sandwich your cake or ice it. You can also thin it a little and pipe it through a nozzle for all the details like writing names. If it is a little runny add more Icing sugar. If it is too thick add a little milk. If it is crumbly add more butter. You know me, there is no fixed measurement in my cook book! Whatever works.

You can preserve this in the refrigerator for almost a month!. Just take it out to room temperature and start slathering it on your cake. Do not heat it. If using butter you may stand your mixing bowl over a bowl of ice. Margarine doesn’t require this. Whatever you do don’t despair. This time for Riz’s birthday cake when I was making this ( I used margarine) the whole thing just curdled up and separated into an oily mess. For a few minutes I was in a daze of hopelessness. Then I brought out every cooks secret weapon…A Hand Blender!  I whisked the mess and magically it came together in front of my eyes!

For a variation  Strawberry Butter Cream Icing

Ingredients

Margarine/Butter                    2 cups ( softened at room temperature)

Icing sugar                                  3-4 cups

Strawberry Syrup                     2-4 tbsp (or pulp made of 5-6 Fresh Strawberries)

Strawberry flavour

Method: Follow the same procedure as the Buttercream Icing.

So go ahead and enjoy, make your own changes and do post pictures…soon.

Love you

Didi

Missing everyone….and making Quattro Formaggi Pizzas!

Dear Didi and Daibi,

Yesterday was Rakhi…was missing you all a lot..didn’t feel like doing any work either..its been soo many years that we three haven’t been together on Rakhi.  Didi, when you were in Delhi, you tied Rakhi to both of us….I guess I never told you this but I felt very proud for having this honor; and when I would go to school later, I flaunted it saying, ‘meri didi ney bandha hai Rakhi coz mai bhi didi ki raksha karungi (my sister tied me the rakhi coz I would also protect her like my brother would)’.  Those were such lovely days, Ma used to make Loochis (fried flat bread) and some lovely aloo sabji (potato curry) or choley (Chickpeas curry)..and ofcourse that heavenly paayesh (rice and thickened milk dessert) served with freshly made narkol nadu (coconut laddoo) or jethima’s famous malpuas (soft and flat flour sweets dipped in sugar syrup)!!!  And Daibi, do you remember, almost every time just before Rakhi we would end up having a deadly fight..and we both would bitterly say, ‘No Rakhi this time’…then on the Rakhi morning we would have peace talks mediated by Ma and Baba and then all would be fine (next time we meet, we should have one of those fights just for the kicks!!)……aaah those were the days….

Anyways, remembering that time, yesterday I made a four cheese pizza called “Quatro Formaggi” in Italian. I used your method of making a pizza-dough and topped it with mozzarella, parmesan, provolone and gorgonzola cheese.  I have read about many variations to this recipe where they have used ricotta and other types of Italian cheese.  But gorgonzola is very important for this pizza…which I doubt you would get in India..its a kind of blue cheese with a very heavy pungent smell and not everyone likes it.  So when you guys come here, I will make it for you 🙂

Quattro Formaggi Pizza

I also made calzones with the left-over dough and made a caramelised onion and lamb sausage stuffing for them.  Niloy got that for lunch today, so he is is happily benefiting from my ‘not-so-good’ days when I end up making something new and interesting!

Oh and I totally forgot to tell you guys…a few days back I made this upside down strawberry cake and choco-chip+candied orange peel muffins.  I lined up the baking tray with strawberry halves and poured the cake batter on it. Didi, I still follow your recipe of madly whipping up 1/2 cup oil+1/2 cup sugar+2 eggs together and adding 1 tsp baking powder+1 cup flour later.

Upside down Strawberry Cake and Chocochip & Candied Orange Peel Muffin

The cake turned out to be feather-soft and the juices from the strawberries made it melt in the mouth.  I have tried making a similar cake with apple quarters, peach halves, pineapple slices and grapes! Trust me they all turn out to be delicious!!! 😀 See talking about food already lifts my mood…now I will get back to work..

You both take care, sending loads of love and hoping that someday we three get together for Rakhi.

Write back soon,

Rinki

Sinful Dark Chocolate Cake

Dear Didi,

I wanted to ask you how to make your famous chocolate cake. Can you post it soon as I wish to make it for mum’s birthday next month. But I would like to try it at least once before hand. I am really rushed at the moment, will write to you later. Please do post it as soon as possible

Love

Ramit

July 21st

Dear Ramit,

I got your message asking me for my dark chocolate cake recipe. It is wonderfully sweet of you to wish to make it for your mum’s birthday. I am posting it here and if you follow it there should be no problem at all. It is a tried and tested recipe.

This recipe is a basic two cup cake recipe for a 8 inch diameter 2 inch height cake.If you want a larger cake, increase everything proportionately, or decrease if need a smaller batch. As this is a chocolate cake the amount of flour has been halved and replaced by cocoa powder, in a plain cake the flour itself would be 2 cups.

Ingredients

Flour ( maida) + Cocoa powder                          2 cups ( 1 cup flour + 1 cup Cocoa)

Sugar                                                                              1 cup

Baking powder                                                            2 level teaspoon

Butter/Margarine                                                      1  cup ( 3/4 cup if using Oil)

Eggs                                                                                  4 large

Essence of Vanilla                                                      2-3 tsp

Method

Like any other cake, pre-heat the oven at 250 degree C and prepare your cake tin by oiling it well and dusting with flour. Sieve the flour,cocoa powder, and the baking powder to to aerate and get rid of lumps and impurities. Whisk sugar, egg and butter/margarine/oil together till frothy. Add the essence. Add the flour slowly. Another important thing to remember is that don’t over mix or keep the batter too long after its ready, as the baking powder will start loosing its potency. Pour in the tin and bake at 250 degree centigrade for ten minutes and then reduce the heat to 200 degree C and bake for further fifteen minutes. If you insert a skewer in the center it should come out clean. Let the cake stand for a few minutes. Now if you had oiled and dusted your tin well the cake tin can be upturned and tapped on the bottom and the cake will come out clean. If this gives you nightmares, use oiled paper to line your tin bottom.

Take care.

Love

Didi.

21st July

Super Quick Oats and Multigrain Cupcake Breakfast for Kids

Dear Rinki,

A rain drenched good morning to you. Rizi has just left for school…and I’m taking a breather, writing to you. Today like a good mother I hoodwinked my son into eating a super healthy breakfast and he never realized it. He hates eating porridge or oats, and you tell me who wants to make tiffin and then come up with brilliant breakfast ideas everyday….so on most school days it is a bowl of cereal drenched in threats for his breakfast. I know I know,certainly not the sign of a good mommy, so shoot me! But today when I heard him inquire in a tiny voice whether he had to eat porridge again, my heart melted. And as I had already taken out the oats,raisins and milk I suddenly had a brilliant inspiration. I took out some nuts and some multi grain flour and used it to make cup cakes…Turned out brilliantly and Riz polished them off with glee….He he he !…he never knew what he was eating. It is quite tasty for us adults as well.

So here is the recipe piping hot from the oven. .. An ODE TO OATS…have fun making it.

Super quick Oats and Multi grain Cupcakes

Super quick Oats and Multi grain Cupcakes

Preparation time : 5 minutes

Cooking time         : 10 minutes

Ingredients

Oats                                                        1/2 cup

Multi grain flour                                1/2 cup

Baking powder                                     1 level tsp

Dried figs                                                2-3 nos

Raisins                                                     handful

Nuts (whatever you have)               a few chopped up into small pieces

Butter                                                      2 tsp

Vanilla essence                                     1/2 tsp

Egg                                                           1 (  you can make it without egg)

Honey/ Apricot jam/Sugar               2 tsp

Milk to make a batter                          1/2 cup ( or thereabout)

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Method

First thing even before you get your ingredients together just switch on your oven to 250 degree C on bake and let it pre-heat while you groggily (presuming its a school morning) get around to getting the ingredients together.

Second Step slap some oil on to your muffin tray and sprinkle with flour, I couldn’t find any cake flour today so I sprinkled multi grain and it worked just fine.

Finally just slap everything into a bowl, stir it around sleepily, spoon into the muffin tray and stick in the oven.

(  Do not make the batter too watery or put too much mix in the muffin trays, two teaspoon in each is fine I think. The aim is to get it done in as little time as possible, trust me I kept an eye on the Clock the whole time ! )

Ten minutes on high heat and it is done.

Serve it hot and say in your head VIVA LA OATS.. while your clueless child is gobbling it up!

Gotta go now, love ya

Didi