Thursday, April 29, 2010

Starry Chocolate Brownies

She is known as the 'Star' at work.

The moment she enters office, faces brighten with a smile, people look up from their screens to hold her bright gaze and say a hello. Her clothes are always the happy shades and she smells like cool sea breeze.

Her playlist is loaded with songs that are peppy and loud.
Her desk, ah!!, is the most vibrant, with pictures and pieces of her life which is full of color.
But there is one drawer which is empty. She opens it several times a day, mostly when people are out on breaks, peeps inside and shuts it back.

And for few moments, her smile is off, and a deep shadow covers the white in her eyes. Sometimes, few friends have caught her doing it and they asked what is it? "Her heart" she jokingly says; which is empty and that is the truth. She still misses it; the feeling of being loved unconditionally!!!

"Ma'am, a bouquet for you", the office boy said, placing the brightest tulips on her desk. Who would have sent these, she wondered.

There was a note:

"I love you,
not only for your smiles and happy banter;
or for your attitude and confidence;
but for that innocent girl, inside the woman you are.
The one, that wants to be loved, not just admired;
wants to be caressed, not just complimented;
to be held and cared for."
Can I love you, for the rest of our life with no questions asked?

- From the grey desk across the floor!!!

She looks up, and smiles. Her sparkling eyes catch him looking at her, with hope and affection. She nods, 'Yes'. He smiles. She puts the note in the empty drawer. She knows what she is going to bake for their first date :)

"When Star met Love"

This entry is for the food fiction event "Of Chalks and Chopsticks" hosted by Aquadaze at "Served With Love" Spun a yarn yet? Hurry, you have another day left.

My star love Daksayani [my kid sister Who you would see a lot of in my blog] is a little chef in the making... her apron has D-A-K-S-A-Y-N-I embroidered on it.... She's not allowed to eat chocolate but sneaked in a fingerful and the G-L-E-E on the child's face was blissful...

Thanks Richa of Life is like that, for helping with the story :)

This post is being sent to “KIDS DELIGHT” by Pari of Foodelicious.


Starry Chocolate Brownies

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 sticks butter
2cups white sugar
4 large eggs
1cup AP flour
1 tsp salt
½tsp vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease a 9”x9” pan.
3. Melt the chocolate[reserve some for garnishing] and butter and mix well. (Can be done in a microwave, heating and mixing every 10 seconds until just melted. A double boiler also works well.)
4. Add 1 cup sugar to the chocolate mix, and stir.
5. Beat the eggs, vanilla, and 1cup sugar until frothy (about 3 minutes).
6. Slowly add the chocolate mix to the eggs, stirring to avoid cooking the eggs.
7. Gently fold in the flour and salt.
8. Pour the mix in the baking pan and level it out.
9. Bake for about 30 minutes or so, until the center is mostly dry when a toothpick is inserted.
10. Let cool before trying to remove from the pan.

You can read some more food fiction at:
Beguni -- ar Ashare Goppo by Bong Mom, In An Instant, Pickle & Fiction Both by When My Soup Came Alive, Cheese Capsicum Onion Pizza and Chicken in oyster sauce and Red - the endby Served With Love.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Steamed Chocolate Pudding & Steamed Apple n Caramel Pudding for Daring Bakers April 2010 - My First Challenge

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

How can a vegetarian household like mine use animal fat??? My very first challenge and I might have to skip it.... then ray of light shone when I read that the required elements of this challenge are:
1) to make a suet pudding using real suet or as close a replacement as you can manage or is acceptable to you; and
2) to cook it by steaming or if you want to be even more traditional by boiling tied up in a cloth.
The rest was upto us...

It was ok to use butter :) Yipppeeee... Started reading up on the technique of steaming and English puddings...... Found some useful info here. Mommy was also of great help by fishing out the the vessels to steam in.... Thanks mom :)

Presenting to you 'Steamed Chocolate Pudding'.... Must admit... It was quite a task getting this together... More than anything else... Overcoming the mental block of this new task.... Baking and no oven.... 'Put a lid on it'.... now has a new meaning for me :)

That's Daksyani and Rhea with Honey masi..... They loved the pudding... yippeee.... :)
Daks was a bit upset with me though for making chocolate as she's allergic to it...promised her to make something else soon.....

The poser that Daks is..... lots of pics with everyone :) She's a total delight...

Steamed Chocolate Pudding

adapted from Martha Stewart's site


Serves 4 to 6.

1/2 cup sugar
1 salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts, as garnish

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 5-cup pudding bowl, and set aside.
2. Combine 5 tablespoons sugar with salt, flour, and cocoa in a large bowl. Set aside.
3. Combine chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl, and melt over simmering water.

4. In a small saucepan, bring milk just to a simmer. Immediately add to chocolate mixture. Beat egg yolks. Stir a little chocolate mixture into yolks; add yolks to mixture. Add vanilla; stir until well combined. Stir into flour mixture.
5. Beat whites with remaining 3 tablespoons sugar until stiff, and fold into batter. Pour into pudding bowl, and place on a rack in a deep roasting pan. Pour boiling water into pan halfway up the sides of the bowl.

6. Bake until pudding is set, 40 to 45 minutes. Add boiling water to pan as necessary to maintain water level.
7. Let cool slightly in the bowl, and invert onto a plate. Garnish with hazelnuts. [Didn't feel like using nuts, wanted some colour.. added sprinkles instead. garnish with whatever is your calling]

While searching for recipes I remembered that it's Puneet's Birthday around the same time.... So did another steamed pudding for him, 'Steamed Apple n Caramel Pudding'.....
Happy Birthday, Puneet....

In the evening we went out to watch the IPL finals between the Chennai and Mumbai teams at News Cafe in Vasant Kunj with Snigdha. We were joined by friends Sid, Ankita and my sister and her friend, parul aswell.... am sure she came cause she wanted to taste the stuff she assisted me in cooking... LOL.... :)

We had so much fun.... All of us thumping and rooting at every 6, 4 and Wicket....

Caramel Apple Steamed Pudding
adapted from Martha Stewart's site

Serves 8 to 10.

4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
9 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs [Used 3 as i didn't have molasses]
1/4 cup molasses [ Didn't have access so I used some extra sugar here]
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup bread crumbs [Didn't have... Substituted with a cup of biscuit crumbs]


1. Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a small, heavy saucepan; set over medium heat. Cover, and cook until sugar has melted. Remove cover, and continue cooking, swirling pan occasionally, until sugar turns a deep amber. Carefully pour caramel into pudding mold; tip so caramel coats mold evenly. Set mold aside.
2. Place half of the apple chunks in a small saucepan, and add 2 tablespoons water, 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Place saucepan over low heat, and cook, covered, until apples fall apart, 10 to 12 minutes. Uncover, and cook 5 minutes more, stirring often. Set the applesauce aside.
3. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saute pan; add remaining apple chunks and remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Cook over medium-high heat until apples turn brown on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Place apples in the bottom of the mold, distributing evenly so they reach up the sides.
4. Choose a pot large enough to hold the pudding mold with a 2-inch space all around. Place a wire rack or a folded kitchen towel in the bottom of pot; fill with enough water to reach halfway up sides of mold. Cover pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer.
5. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together 8 tablespoons butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs and molasses; mix well. Add the reserve applesauce, and mix well.
6. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; stir in breadcrumbs. Add to the applesauce mixture. Stir batter until just combined.
7. Fill pudding mold with batter; clamp on lid. Place mold in a pot of simmering water. Cover pot, and cook until a toothpick inserted into middle of pudding comes out clean, about 1 hour 40 minutes. Check water often, keeping it at a steady, low simmer. Transfer mold to a wire rack to cool, 15 minutes.
There are just two rules when it comes to cooking steamed puddings. Never top up the simmering water with cold water as it'll cause a huge drop in temperature; and don't be tempted to remove the lid during the first 30 minutes of cooking or your pudding will sink.

8. When ready to serve, invert the pudding onto a serving plate. If any of the apple chunks stick to the mold, remove them, and rearrange them on the top; slice.

Butterscotch is one of Puneet's fav icecreams.... topped the pudding with some butterscotch sauce....

Steamed Chocolate Pudding:
SMS from Snigdha says 'I need to kiss ur hands!!!!!! The pudding is lipsmackingly delicious. My mom was like it's professional n dad loved it. I am ur no.1 fan!'
Girlie.. love you too... Thank you.... Will make some more and send it for you.

Steamed Apple n Caramel Pudding:
Was a tad bit dryier than what I like... Guess my susbstitution had something to do with it.... The spices did such amazing magic with the apples... Delighful taste... and Puneet loved it.... :)

Thank you Esther[The Lilac Kitchen] for this wonderful challenge :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lemon Cake for Delightful Dipali's Birthday

Happy Birthday Dipali.....
She's such a delight to be with and spend time.... her honesty shines through her eyes..... Lit Lemon cake for the eyes that light up with every smile :)

We met while doing a play with Living Room Theatre called Urban Tadka. We hit it off instantly. The 4 of us have had a blast since then at numerous occasions Caramel for the Carmella ~ Dipali's Anniversary @ The Log Hut, Xmas with theatre friends ~ Dipali, Vikram and Amit, Amit Guzzles ALL His Beer inorder To Get 'Chocolate Black Out Cake' and so many more which I still haven't written about... :)

That's Sumeer and Mehak, her hubby and daughter. Her sisters and soul mates Sapna and Nitika.... Mehak is such a sweet girl with her mom's infectious smile....

Dipali's latest passion is clicking pictures with her fancy new camera and what a good job she does of all the new activities she picks up.... This I feel is her best click ever..... Father-Daughter-Duo in the hills..... Sublime moment...

Catch her posing... Awwwwww.... She's a brilliant poser... wonder why she isn't modeling yet.... aha... spoke to soon..... she's just modeled for an Usha Lexus corporate film.... way to go girl...

Cutting the cake was such a cute moment and Amit egging us on with 'Click Now', 'Now, 'Again' in absolute sarcasm for our love of clicking pictures.....

So here we fulfill Amit's prophecy of clicking away every second... I almost have burst shots pictures of you guys eating cake and giggling... :)

Am sure the staff at Sartoria would have thought us to be complete crazy people clicking away at everything..... now how does one capture all these lovely moments spent together unless it's on camera and made eternal......

Yes Amit, more pictures... I know why you hate them..... cause you love this green t-shirt... lol... ha.. ha... ha... :)
Can't stop raving about Mehak, she's such a sensible young girl with an amazing sense of humour..... Dipali... you've done well .... am surely gonna be sending my kids to stay with you when I have them..... :)

The bull horns headed for the pepperoni pizzaa..... Yummy...... Mehak and I instantly knew this is exactly what we wanted to order......

The food at Sartoria was very nice, we had ordered an anti plasti platter, pepperoni pizza, veggie pizza {yes... there was veggie stuff on out table cause both Vikram and Amit are vegetarians... darn.... :) what all we put up with, ONLY for F.R.I.E.N.D.S} a mushroom something and Chicken Pasta..... It was great stuff... would recommend the place.

The desserts.... yummy..... 'Tiramisu'... nice soft n lovely flavors and 'Chocolate Lava Cake'.... vanished in a matter of minutes.... :)
The lemon cake was saved to savour at home....
The recipe of the cake is Here

SMS from Dipali: Thanks nachos for the lovely gift and the cake was bloody delicious.

So tell me readers... Are you a Poser, Clicker or both?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Inspired to bake by Oditi... Thank you, my dear, Lemon cake especially for you :)

Inspirations.... lead us on to creating something wonderful...... I have 3 serious Thank you's due... 1 for the girl who made me want to bake and the other for the lady who made it possible for me to bake, another lady who let's me mess up her kitchen n gets most of my supplies.....

The first one is Oditi, She made an amazing carrot cake for Babaji[my spiritual guru] all at 12 years of age n I was zapped.... here we are... almost middle aged as per our younger generation's standards and this kidoo is making such fantastic cakes.....
I went home n wanted to try a triple colored marble cake for Babaji.... Turned out to be such absolute trash that it got what it deserved the bin..... [That was 2 years ago... and now there's no looking back for me....]
Then a chance interaction with Deeba... she is the lady who made it possible for me to bake..... A big thank you... [Our story is here]
The next Thank you is for... yes, you got it, My Mom..... She let's me mess up her kitchen n gets most of my supplies.....

The lemon cake which I've made for many friends by now [Shuchi, Dipali, Archit, Sharad, Oditi, Daksayani, Vibha, Sujith n Shikha] was an inspiration from the image below on a calender at my colleague Gauri's desk in office... Saw this calender n fell in love with these vibrant colours..... Just had to make some lemony stuff.... Off I went to Deeba's n found a lemon cake.....

Thanks Oditi :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Chisai San ~ Lemon Cake for Shuchi

Happy Birthday Shuchi..... 'Chisai San' is what Surbhi n I would call Shuchi in college...... 'Chisai' in Japanese is 'Small' and 'San' is a polite suffix..... we studied Japanese n Shuchi excelled at German She makes up for it by wearing awesome heels... she carries herself with aplomb and poise... wish i could wear those without stumbling along....

Had made Chocolate Espresso Brownies for her Pre-birthday Celebrations. Birthday had to be something different..... had already done a chocolate recipe so did my first experiment of Lemon cake[Saw it at Deeba's as usual.... :)].... better called the 'Volcano Cake' as the bundt cake with the candle in the center look like an erupting Volcano....

Butter – ½ cup/100gms
Eggs – 3
Sugar – 1 ¼ cups
Flour – 1 ½ cups
Baking powder – 1 tsp
Baking Soda – ¼ tsp
Salt – ¼ tsp
Yogurt – 4 tbsp / thick
Cream – 2 tbsp / 25 % fat
Juice of 1 lemon
Rind of 2 lemons
Lemon Extract - 1 tsp
Orange Essence – 1 tsp
Vanilla Essence – 1 tsp

Water – ¼ cup
Sugar – ½ cup
Lemon Juice of 2 lemons
Orange Extract – ½ tsp (optional)

Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Grease well and line bottom of 8” ring tin.(Tends to stick otherwise)
Sift the dry ingredients together. Keep aside.
Mix the yogurt + cream in a small bowl. Keep aside.
Beat the butter + sugar well until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs 1 by 1, scraping the sides down after each addition. [I beat the eggs separaely and fold them in at the end. gave the cake the extra spring n bounce]
Beat in the lemon rind + lemon extract + orange essence + vanilla essence + lemon juice.
On low speed, beat in the dry ingredients alternatively with yogurt and cream mix…in 3 goes. [I didn't beat it too much, just mixed it all gently]
If you like, you can mix a deeper yellow colour in 1/3 of the batter to get a marble effect. [This looks just amazing... :)]
Put the batter into the lined tin, alternating with the deeper coloured batter, if using, and level out.
Bake for approximately 60 mins, or till the tester comes out clean.
Cool in tin on rack for 10 mins, and then turn it out on rack.

While the cake is baking, heat the water + sugar + extract and make syrup.
Take off heat, and add the lemon juice. Taste, and increase the lemon if desired.
Should taste nice and tangy…like a concentrate.
Poke the cake gently with a skewer.
Pour the warm syrup over the hot cake.
Handle cake gently while warm, as it’s quite delicate.

This cake is a bit sticky in the sense that it's a bit labourious trying to get it out of the tin. Lining the tin with parchment paper is wiser than struggling to make the cake come out clean from the tin. The challange i discovered was in lining a bundt pan.... insane effort n time spent...

That's Gauri, Shuchi's baker cousin. He chocolate cake was just so yummy that I gobbled up a large portion all by myself in 1 go...... Didn't get to taste the Blueberry cheesecake, however if the chocolate cake was anything to go by, it must have been heavenly aswell. Gauri, We want more..... We want more..... We want more..... is the chant we raved on facebook... :)

The staff at 'Pebble Street' would have thought us to be to be completely crazy bunch of girls [Shuchi, Radhika, Gauri n I].... We were joined by Kartick (Gauri's hubby), who also liked the cake and thought us to be completely giggly bunch of girls going bananas and shooting lemons.... :)
We missed Kanika n Surbhi... wish they could also be around.....
Hope you have a great year ahead shuchi....

Shuchi's sms: hey! cake was a super hit... got wackoed in a matter of few minutes :))

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Chocolate Espresso Brownies for Shuchi's Pre-birthday Celebrations

Shuchi.... My Jerry mouse... met her while doing my MBA.... This woman is one dynamite with loads of will power n determination... add a tonne of hardwork with a big smile..... That's Shuchi for you....

She's working out so I don't feel guilty making these brownies for her and I'm sure she doesn't feel guilty eating them either :)

Kanika and her daughter Saanvi were over from Amritsar.... Had lunch at mainland China and freaked out meeting Saanvi... She's adorable and we share the love of french fries with sauce...

Chocolate Espresso Brownies

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 sticks butter [100gms]
2cups white sugar
4 large eggs
1cups AP flour [i used regular flour and add 1 tsp baking powder]
2 tbsp coffee powder
1 tsp salt
½tsp vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease a 9”x9” pan.
3. Melt the chocolate and butter and mix well. (I usually do it in the microwave, heating and mixing every 10 seconds until just melted. A double boiler also works well.)
4. Add 1cup sugar & coffee to the chocolate mix, and stir.
5. Beat the eggs, vanilla, and 1cup sugar until frothy (about 3 minutes).
6. Slowly add the chocolate mix to the eggs, stirring to avoid cooking the eggs.
7. Gently fold in the flour and salt.
8. Pour the mix in the baking pan and level it out.
9. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the center is mostly dry when a toothpick is inserted.
10. Let cool before trying to remove from the pan.

Saanvi freaked out on the ice-cream sundae and totally insisted on having what the kid on the neighbouring table wanted.... yeah we did that too...

Shuchi (via sms) says : Thank you soooooo much nachu!!! Luv u looooaaaaddddssss :)) Brownies are a big HIT..... u r da bestest :))))
Her parents (via sms) say: Nachi ur efforts are commendable... keep it up! Subhash uncle and Veena aunty.
Are you drooling over the computer by now?