Sunday, 30 December 2007

Birthday spread - part 2

Here's hoping third time's the charm! Now I see that if instead of composing in the Picasa window, I had typed it up here, good old Blogger would have been auto-saving my efforts. Ah well, you live and learn. So here are some close-ups and recipes from the birthday party.

Chocolate cupcakes
This recipe has fast become my favorite chocolate cake recipe, it's fool-proof, i.e. me-proof.

Makes about 2 and half dozen cupcakes. [The original recipe from Gourmet is for a 9 inch round layer cake. ]

2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (not dutch-process)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks butter
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 deg. line 2 12-muffin trays, or 2 9-inch round pans. I had enough batter left over for a 4 inch round cake after filling the two muffin pans.
Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into a bowl. Beat the sugars and butter in a larger bowl, or bowl of a stand mixer until light, can take several minutes with a handheld. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well each time. Add melted chocolate and vanilla until. Now alternately add the buttermilk (1/3rd at a time) and flour (1/4th a time) ending with flour. Mix until just combined and spoon into muffin cases. Bake for about 20 minutes, or 25-35 if using the round pans.

White Chocolate frosting

8 oz white chocolate, broken into large pieces
1/2 cup cream
4 oz butter
12 oz confectioner's sugar
Melt the chocolate with the butter over a pan of simmering water. remove from heat and whip in the cream and the sifted icing sugar, keeping whipping until smooth and thick. refrigerate for about thirty minutes before using. I was a little hasty in using it, with the clock ticking and all, so it was a bit soft and drippy, but i had some leftover that i used later that was perfect for piping. I divided the icing into four bowls and used Ateco gel colors -- green, blue and pink in three of them. I had ordered the colors from Amazon for Halloween, but they hadn't arrived on time, but at least I had them for the birthday.

Pipe or spoon onto the cupcakes and enjoy!

Raspberry Financiers

adapted from here

4 egg whites
Scant 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
11 tablespoons butter (i used 9 because the almond meal has more fat than flour)
Scant 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup almond flour (i used almond meal)
1/2 pint fresh raspberries (about 24)

Mix the egg whites and sugar in a medium bowl over saucepan filled with simmering water and stir until until the whites warm slightly and the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a small saucepan, cook the butter on medium heat until it browns and gives off a nutty aroma. Don't overcook and remove promptly from heat when you see golden sediments at the bottom (FYI, this cooked butter is the ghee used in Indian cooking).
In a large bowl whisk the egg white mixture at low speed. Gently add the flour, followed by the almond flour, and mix just enough to combine. Add in the warm butter in a thin stream, mixing at low speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and continue to mix 10 seconds so the batter is completely combined. Here is the strange part: cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight (I did overnight so there would be one less thing to do the day of the party).
When ready to bake, take out the batter and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter 2 miniature muffin pans (it's OK if you have only one, you can do them in batches). Fill the molds two-thirds full with batter, about one generous tablespoon, and place a fresh raspberry on top of each. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until golden. Remove and cool on a wire rack. Repeat if you have any batter remaining, or using one tray.
Each financier: 77 calories; 1 gram protein; 7 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 5 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 11 mg. cholesterol; 8 mg. sodium.

Chicken Rolls

I was inspired to make this from a recipe on Delia Smith's website... she's my mom's favorite TV cook. I decided to go with chicken, hoping it would be healthier, and because several of my guests do not eat beef. For the chicken mixture, i went with a traditional family recipe for meatballs.

2 pounds chicken, ground
2-3 green chiles (jalapeno or serrano)
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp salt
1 inch ginger chopped coarsely
1 clove garlic (optional)
1 large bunch cilantro, washed and chopped
1 medium onion, (yellow or red)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp or less of crushed red chile (not cayenne powder)
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp unseasoned bread crumbs
10 puff pastry sheets


Pulse the green chiles, salt and cumin for a few seconds, until chiles are chopped. Add ginger and garlic, if using (it gives an Indian-restaurant style seekh kebab taste) and pulse until combined and there are no large pieces. Add the onions, then cilantro and pulse until you get a coarse mixture. Remove into a bowl and add ground chicken ((if you can't get ground chicken, you can use chicken breasts and chop them and whiz them in a processor with other ingredients), black pepper, crushed red chiles and vegetable oil. Mix well and taste, and adjust salt and pepper according to taste. If the mixture seems a little wet, add the bread crumbs.
I was too chicken to use the mixture uncooked -- I had visions of soggy pastry as the meat gave off water. So I shaped the meat into rolls the length of the pastry sheets, about 4 inches, and laid them in single layer in a heavy saute pan and let it cook on a low heat for about 30 minutes or until the water evaporates.
Next, heat the oven to 375 degrees. To assemble, place one roll on each pastry sheet (i added a slice of onion and tomato) roll up, and cut in two and place on a greased baking tray. Bake until golden brown.

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Birthday spread

So, with Aamena away having fun in Bombay, I'm going to try to keep the blog fires burning and catch up on some posts that I've been meaning to write. Well this picture is from my younger daughter's first birthday last month. We had a small tea-time party. The birthday girl was a bit out of it... we found out a day later at the doctor's that she had an ear infection. Given the circumstances, she was quite an angel! I made some chocolate cupcakes, chicken kebab rolls, various sandwiches, raspberry financiers and spinach quiche, and hot wings. 

[cue an hour later]
OK, so today I nearly became a serial killer! I twice wrote up a separate post with recipes for the cupcakes, financiers and chicken rolls, and the first time, when i was half way through, DD2 came and touched something, and made the whole draft disappear. Then the second time, when i was about one sentence from hitting publish, DD1 came and touched the mouse, effectively hitting the "back" button. It was all i could do to control myself! Anyhow, the lesson from this is, blog only when the kiddos are sleeping or otherwise fully occupied, ie out of the house! Now that I have to go to work, that post will have to be written tomorrow, or possibly tonight. :-(
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Saturday, 22 December 2007

Daring Bakers December Challenge: Yule Log

This was my first challenge and it was hosted by Lis and Ivonne, the founders,  and the recipe chosen by 'em was for a Yule Log, which was basically genoise and swiss meringue buttercream. Anybody who remembers my first attempt at meringue buttercream would understand why I was abit nervous. My genoise was just fine. I spread chocolate ganache over it before rolling it up, and decided to tackle the buttercream the next day. It turned out that I was both, luckier and otherwise in comparison to my last time.

The buttercream was fine till I decided it looked runny and refrigerated it for a while (
special thanks to Helene of Tartelette for all the tips for buttercream gone awry). What came out was a deflated curdled mass. Whisking it didn't help. So I tried melting 25% of it and adding it back to the lot and whisking again, it did get slightly better, but only slightly. I was tired and frustrated and was quite sure I didn't want to have another go, starting from the beginning, so I just put the curdled mass in a mixer grinder along with icing sugar and pulsed it. Viola, it got better, I added some more icing sugar and pulsed some more, and the buttercream came together! I thanked my stars! Though it wasn't light and fluffly but it was atleast spreadable!

Since I didn't get the time to take pictures while making, am posting a few of the finished thing which was liked by all! So here it is, with a few marzipan mushrooms and some cocoa.

Do check out the other Daring Bakers for some more logs!


Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Banoffi Pie

This has become a fast favourite with my entire family. Whenever we have overripe bananas (soemtimes we let them get overripe :P) it means either Banana Bread or Banoffi Pie. More often Banoffi Pie, because it a quick no-bake thing and is absolutely delicious, never mind the calories! I think I must have made it countless times ever since we chanced upon the recipe, tried it and loved it. Posting two quick pictures, a feast for your eyes!


Monday, 10 December 2007

Banana nut loaf

Aah, banana nut loaves/bread, you might think 'tried one, tried them all' -- but no, there are as many variations as there are recipes. For a while I used up overripe bananas by adding them to Nick Malgieri's Buttery Nut Cake recipe. About 2 bananas for half the recipe, with crushed walnuts. Rich and moist. A colleague brought in Tyler Florence's version with some chocolate chips. Dense and bread like. That was added to my tiny repertoire - with walnuts instead of pecans (somehow I can't stand them) and finally I think I've hit the jackpot with good ol' Martha's banana nut loaf. You judge, I've made it twice in a month (recipe yield 2 loaves!). Using vegetable oil keeps it lighter, IMO, and fresher. The coconut adds an interesting complexity to the taste, but is so subtle that unless told you might not know it's there. Very unusual.
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
11/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened coconut
11/2 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3-4)
1 cup (4 oz) walnuts or pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray/butter 2 9 inch loaf pans.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, or bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar and oil on low-medium speed until mixed. Beat in the dry mixture, then add the remaining ingredients until just combined. Divide batter evenly between the two tins, smooth top. Bake until tester comes out clean, about 60 minutes. do rotate and swap positions half way through.
WHen done, cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing. Stores well at room temperature in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic. Can be frozen for 3 months.
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Pineapple and cake and cream!

No, I haven't gone nuts over chiffon cakes.. Just that this cute li'l chap

had been lying around the kitchen and I had this funny desire to devour him with some cake and cream, and then I had two reasons, the first one being my kid sis, Aaliya, winning the inter school debate 'Materialism is degrading social values,' and her picture along with her partner's and the judges' appeared in a popular newspapers' student edition and she was rather sad that she looked fat but happy that her watch looked cool. Yes, she spoke for the motion! Well the second reason was that at that time I had only one more exam to go, and that was a really good reason. Oh, there was a third one as well, just came to my mind, and this one was the driving force, that my mother said it wouldn't be good for the poor pineapple if it was made to stand there another day, and as I just said, I had a craving, so I had to act.

As you can see the cream is all runny. I used my 25% cream again, but it appears I was only first time lucky, because I have used it thrice now, and for the past two times, no matter what, it just won't get stiff when I beat it. It does gain alot of volume but that's it. But it turns out I wasn't that unlucky, because I discovered that this runny thing goes very well cakes anyway, you can make the cake soak up some, so that it gets nice and moist, and isn't dry, and you can also then cover it with it, that is its not that runny, which is what I did. The was the same as my first time lucky one, just that this time no ganache, the layers had cream and pineapple between them, I used up the whole for this three layered one.

And another thing, I really don't why, but the cake had a definite sour taste to it. It wasn't pronounced enough to make the cake taste bad, but definitely there. I don't know if it was the cream, or the pineapple juice (which I got from boiling the remains with some water) I made the cake soak, you see I wanted a through and through pineapple cake! But the strange thing about the sour taste was that it got weaker with time. So that the last slice I and Aaliya shared on the third day of making the cake didn't have that sour taste at all!