Monday, January 21, 2013

Tiramisu The Classy Italian Dessert


Last time when I visited Crawford Market I picked up some Italian Savoairdi biscuits/ ladyfingers. I thought I had picked up eggless ones as I had specifically asked for it but they were not. So this dessert was made for those who indulge.

It is the simplest dessert to put together yet very classy. I licked the bowl of mascarpone, shouldn't the maker get something?

I adapted this recipe, to the limits in my kitchen.

Ingredients

500 gms Homemade Mascarpone cheese
12 ladyfingers biscuits
2 tablespoons cooked vanilla custard (replacement for 2 egg yolks)
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee dissolved in 50 ml water
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar instead of liqueur
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
dark chocolate shavings

In the food processor bowl add Homemade Mascarpone cheese, the cooked vanilla custard, sugar, 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar whip till creamy yet stiff.

In a plate mix together instant coffee and water. Soak the ladyfingers in the coffee liquid and place in a bowl. Line six biscuits at the bottom. Scoop out 1/3 of the mascarpone cheese and slather on the bottom layer. Now wet the second set of six biscuits and slather the rest of the mascarpone mix on to it. Chill it overnight for best results.

Before serving dust the top with the unsweetened cocoa and garnish with dark chocolate shavings.

This recipe serves 8 small portions or 4 super large ones.



Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Chocolate Volcano! Cake


It has been such an eventful last week for reasons more than one...

One was Friday, my nephew's birthday. He threw a googly at me, specifying that he wanted a chocolate bundt cake. I was wondering how to decorate to make it a celebration cake and good blogger and facebook friends came to my rescue.

Bundt cakes limit you in the frosting ideas, you can only pour some thing over it. It does look pretty but that's traditional. I was spoilt for choices, toffee sauce/ fresh cream/ dulce de leche or chocolate ganache? The birthday boy loves chocolate like all kids his age so I thought it would be a great idea to make a Chocolate Volcano cake. With marbled effect of Chocolate ganache lava overflowing and in the center. A sprinkling of confetti for the fire spewing volcano. Now with that idea in the head I started out to execute it.

I made the chocolate cake using my Choco-Vanilla marble cake recipe which will follow. This post is about the decoration. The cake without the jazz on its own is a beautiful rich tea cake and deserves its own moment of limelight. So come again for the recipe of the cake but for now this is how the decoration was done.

Ingredients

100gms of milk chocolate
100 gms of dark chocolate
100 ml Amul fresh cream
a tablespoon of confetti

First turn out the bundt cake into a serving dish, upside down. 

Bring the fresh cream to a boil

Keep three small bowls ready for the 3 types of ganache.

Milk chocolate ganache: Melt milk chocolate by zapping it in the microwave for 30 secs. Pour 50ml of the hot Amul fresh cream over the chocolate.

Pour the milk chocolate ganache over the bundt cake. This will be the dark layer.

Marbled chocolate ganache: In another bowl take the dark chocolate and pour 40 ml of the hot fresh cream over 50gms dark chocolate. Mix to get a marble effect in two colors of light and dark ganache. 

Pour the marbled ganache over the milk chocolate ganache we poured over the cake to form the second layer of lava.

It looks pretty without the confetti too...a version for the adults.

Dark chocolate ganache: Now mix the remaining 10 ml of fresh cream into the remaining 50 gms of dark chocolate. Pour this dark chocolate ganache into the center of the bundt cake to fill the cavity.

On cutting a slice it revealed the embedded rocks of walnuts and the slice coated in chocolate ganache lava and one could pick up the dark lava in the center and spread it on the slice. A lesson in geography too! LOL.

I don't have a picture of the slice as I forgot to load batteries in my camera. I was in a hurry to go as this decoration was done after I reached home from work and then rushed to the BD boy's home. He was waiting for me to reach there and told his Mom to hold on the aukshan (aarti) till I went, ain't that sweet!

In the end sprinkle the confetti over the bundt cake ring and a denser sprinkle in the center to give the effect of a fire spewing Chocolate Volcano!

This is Nirbhay and he turned 12 on Friday and was so excited about it  that he wanted to go to school by BEST bus instead of being dropped by his Mom like everyday, just so that he could buy himself a full ticket!
Tip:
I used a microwave steamer as a cake carrier. So the bundt cake was turned out in the base of the steamer. It proved to be better than the cake box. The Birthday boy lives about 45 mins drive from my place and the cake traveled the distance well. I would suggest sprinkle the confetti just before cutting the cake to avoid it melting in the ganache.



Monday, January 14, 2013

Celebrating Makar Sankrat And A Warm Welcome To The Positive With GuL PoLi

 Makar Sankratichya Goad Goad Subhechya!

Dakshinayan is over and now the sun enters Uttarayan. Sankrant TaLli!

See the beautiful sun slant in the pictures. Looking at the GuL PoLi on the camera display got me so excited that I wanted to post immediately and also wish you here.

Couple of days ago was reading this post by Saee, she reminisces about all the beautiful memories of Sankrant from her childhood. Unlike her Gran and Mom, my Aai never made any kind of poLis. In my family, poLis were always sub contracted to the Sonarin (Gold smith's wife) in Thal and brought to Mumbai wrapped in newspaper by one of our relatives, on some special occasions.

I broke that tradition when I could dare to make PoLis. It must have been somewhere around year 2000 or so. I was a somewhat experienced cook running the household then. My Dad was pinning for poLis and I decided to try my hand at them. First attempted Puranpolis and then GuL PoLis.



Obviously my reference was the good old and the only cookbook I own, Annapurna by Mangala Barve. I do make poLis once in a while but I have not been know as an expert. My cousin sisters make beautiful poLis. Aha that reminds me, I must bring them here soon to showcase their recipes, now that I am in Mumbai!

Coming back to the recipe. I have made the GuL poLis with Mangala Barve's recipe before and they are easier to roll out but with the addition of besan to the GuL in the stuffing kills the whole essence of a GuL PoLi is my opinion. In the process I follow I omit the besan all together and keep GuL as the star ingredient, else why call it GuL PoLi?

My PoLi oozes GuL with every bite. See it here, isn't it tempting?



Ingredients

For the stuffing

1/4 kg GuL / Jaggery
1/4 cup khus khus
1/4 cup TiL / sesame seeds
handful of dry coconut slices
a large pinch of nutmeg

In a kadhai toast the khus khus, sesame seeds and dry coconut slices till rosy pink.

Grind to fine in the chutney grinder.  The toasted seeds and coconut release oil to make it into a paste. The grinder might heat up the paste, don't worry. 

In a microwave dish zap the jaggery for 30 secs. No more than that we don't need to melt the jaggery all we need is to make it crumble. While still warm press it with the back of a spoon.

Now add the powdered khus khus, til and coconut mix into the jaggery. Add the nutmeg powder. Knead well to get a smooth ball. Keep aside.

For the cover

1 cup whole wheat flour/ atta
1/2 cup all purpose flour/ maida
1 serving spoon chickpea flour/ besan
salt to taste
2 tablespoons oil
water as needed (200ml)

In the food processor, put all the flour together, add the oil. Run the machine while you add water as required about 200 ml to form a smooth ball of dough.

Divide the stuffing into 12 parts and the dough into 12 parts.

Make a dona / cup with the dough and stuff the mix into it. Seal it into a ball. Press to make it into a disc. Roll out each disc into chapatis as thin a possible without tearing. If the chapati tears the jaggery will ooze out while roasting and char the griddle and the poLi, so be careful. 

Slow roast on a well heated griddle or non stick pan. Turn once roasted well on to the other side. The PoLi needs careful handling so turn only once to completely roast on both sides. Fold twice to get quarter folds like you do to chapati.

Stay warned the GuL PoLis should always be served cold lest you want to scald your tongue with hot ones. Those who love ghee can go for a generous drizzle.

Enjoy!

PS: today's lunch just chana chat and GuL PoLi.

Friday, January 11, 2013

That Night A Year Ago

I went to bed as usual. 

I had just gone back to Blr after a long holiday spent with family in Mumbai. There was something that was worrying me. That day, 11th Jan 2012 as we walked up the stairs to the rooftop cafeteria I was breathless and very casually I mentioned to my friend Archana that my heart was trying to give me some signals.

After a normal day at work I returned home. For the last couple of years I had this nausea when I commuted in a closed vehicle, I had nausea after a meal. In June 2011 I had this Red Alert! but it was about general health. I was and am overweight. Nothing pointed to the heart except a casual comment by the daibetologist and I am not even daibetic. My school friend Radha who owns a drug discovery company had suggested that I needed someone with a holistic view than the specialists I was seeing. I was in Mumbai with my family and friends and I was the happiest. After that alert I was very cautious with my diet and I was even preparing for a trek to Spiti Valley, walking 3 kms everyday and loosing a bit of the weight.

That was not enough!

On 11th Jan that night it started with uneasiness. Past midnight I woke up and vomited. Then I tried to go back to bed. Around 1.30 am I had unbearable back pain. On the left side behind my heart the back was hurting. I asked Dad to rub some balm, but got no relief. I took a stick and started giving myself a massage by rolling it across my back. This cycle of vomiting and pain went on till 6.30 am the next day, 12th Jan 2012; both Dad and me were exhausted by then. Then I was able to sleep till 8.00 am. When I woke up like usual Dad asked me if I was going to work. I had suffered so much in the night that I got angry with Dad for just asking that question. 

I told him firmly, I was going to take the day off and go get a check up done. Dad took me to a general practitioner at 10 am. He suggested that I might be having stomach infection. Again I firmly told him that I was not just vomiting I had tightness in my chest I had difficulty walking. I told him I want a ECG done. So he prescribed it. I almost grabbed it from him and walked down the road to the diagnostic center. The Cardiologist would be available only in the afternoon after 4pm I was told but they did do the ECG anyway. However the interpretation of the report was to be done by the Cardiologist and that meant I would know the results only after 4pm. We came home and Dad made a simple khichdi which we both ate and slept the rest of the afternoon. 

At 5 pm I received a call asking me to collect the reports. I was not able walk so I asked Dad to walk down and bring it. I read the note and it said Myocardial Infraction. I knew all was not well. I called up my best friend Sangeeta who is a pathologist and asked her what it meant. She immediately asked whose report I was reading. I told her it was mine. She advised  me to rush to the hospital. I called up my then Supervisor Rajendhiran at work and told him what the report said. After a while he called back to tell me I should keep coughing till I reached the hospital to keep the circulation going and get admitted to Narayana Hrudayalaya.

I called the driver and we started for the hospital which was almost 35kms from my South Blr home. On the way I kept coughing and calling up friends for references at the hospital. To my surprise as I entered the lobby and told that I had a heart attack and needed emergency help, I was told to walk into the emergency room and lie down on any empty bed and the procedure would start. Yes they are that quick. I checked into emergency at 7pm on 12th Jan almost 18 hrs after the incident!

Things went smooth after that. Dr. Binoy John and team did an Angioplasty on me under the guidance of Dr. Kannan J. I was out of the operation theater at 10.30 pm.

It has been a tough year for me this 2012. Yet I never say this was something bad that happened to me. This human life is like this. One goes thru everything. Yes but I have started valuing my time in this life more. If you are thinking after the heart attack the worst was over, then you are wrong. I faced challenges at all levels, trying to keep the job, trying to get back to normal work hours. Even today life is not the same as before the incident. I am on lifelong medication.

Life's challenges will continue but I got the chance to come back to Mumbai, my home, to get a role that suited my needs at the time, to be able to work from Mumbai, to be able to live a fuller life. 

I did many things to improve this life after the incident.

1. Started composting at home using the Daily Dump.
2. Started growing these little treasures in my Green Balcony.
3. Met long time blogger friends
4. Started decorating my cakes though I have been a baker for many moons.
5. Sold Diwali Faral hampers and helped some women to find their identity.
6. One thing I haven't talked about on the blog is about my learning music because what started as therapy is turning out to be something that I look forward to week on week. I have started learning Bharatiya Shastriya Sangeet and Marathi Sugam Sangeet. I am found humming all the time.

This post is for all those who think that a normal life after a heart attack is impossible. It is for all my friends who believed I will come out stronger from this. For those who harmed me and think there is no GOD.

Here I am alive.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Grilled Herbed Baby Potatoes


Potato is such a versatile tuber and this is just one way of cooking it to our liking. India is the second largest producer of potatoes at 36 million metric tonnes. No wonder we have too much potatoes in our recipes, whether it is the batata vada, samosa, pattice or everyday bhaajis which get support and mass from the addition of potatoes to it and as if we have not had enough of potato everyday there is even a potato biryani and potato halwa that people make. This is no recipe but just a trick and do it as you like it.

Some time ago I was at Inorbit and picked up a bag of tiny potatoes. I brought them home and boiled them, while they were still warm I popped one in the mouth. It was not starchy but delicately smooth. I decided that evening we had to be snacking on Grilled Herbed Baby Potatoes.

So in a bowl tossed the de-skinned baby potatoes with generous amounts of olive oil, some pasta spice from a bottle, generous amounts of chili powder. Put it under the grill for 30-45 mins till nicely crisp.

I am putting it up here mainly because I adore these clicks and in a hoard of recipes that I use I forget simple tricks that are satisfying on dreary days.

I have been enjoying the various celebrations in the family and spending lots of time with the kids yet it's not too late to wish you all I guess.

Happy new year to each one of you!

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