Dec 26, 2012

Baked Stuffed Mushrooms...a perfect bite sized appetizer !

Anyone searching for a quick, simple, easy and tasty appetizer recipe for the New Year bash you are planning?? :-) Well not just New Year's party, these cute and super duper yummy stuffed mushroom bites are going to be the absolute crowd pleaser for any party! Also don't let looks fool you, these taste way better than they look :-)

I had never eaten a stuffed mushroom before. A good friend of ours had served stuffed mushrooms filled with sausage when I was pregnant and thanks to all the stupid internet reading I had done on not eating sausages while pregnant due to nitrates or something, I din't eat them :-(  And Manish couldn't couldn't stop eating them...grrrrrr!!
So the next good chance I got at making them at home , I did not hesitate a minute.
I love mushrooms specially the white or brown button mushrooms, and I have no issues stuffing them with more love !! 
I used Lean ground Turkey for the filling and added some Indian spice to suite our tastebuds and a little bit of cream cheese and parmesan cheese for some creaminess and baked the whole thing until golden and sizzling away , mmmmmmmmm, yummm yummm!!
Another reason I love this recipe is because, the whole mushroom from the cap to the stem is used, full value for your money ;-) 
As I ended up with more stuffing than I had mushrooms, I popped some of the stuffing into sweet colorful peppers and they too make a really attractive and tasty appertizer !

Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe
Recipe Adapted from : The Pioneer Woman

You'll need
White/Brown Button mushrooms - Two 8oz boxes (around 24 mushrooms)
Ground Turkey - 20oz pack (I used Jennie-O Lean ground turkey)
Garam Masala -  ½ or 1 tsp (use as per taste preference)
Red Chilli powder - a pinch or 1/4 tsp (use as per taste preference)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Oil - 2 tblsp (I use Canola Oil)
Garlic - 4 (crushed)
Onion - 1 medium (chopped finely)
Egg Yolk - 1
Cream Cheese - 3oz (I used theree 1oz individual packs)
Parmesan Cheese - 4 tblsp (Freshly Grated preferred)
Chopped Corriander Leaves - ½ cup
Salt - to taste
Pepper - to taste

1. Wash the mushrooms really well and pat dry with a dry towel. Take off the mushroom stems and chop the stems finely into little cubes and keep them aside.
2. Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat and add the Ground Turkey , let it cook until it turns slightly brown and then add the Garam masala, Turmeric powder and Red chilli powder and some salt and cook for few more minutes, keep it aside to cool.
3. In the same skillet , add the chopped Onions and Garlic and saute for a minute, then add the chopped mushroom stems. Cook until the stems soften , adding water if needed to cook the stems. Season with Salt and Pepper and let it cool a bit.
4. Meanwhile take a bowl, mix together the egg yolk with the cream cheese. Then add in the parmesan cheese, ground turkey, chopped corriander leaves and mushroom stems mix. Mix together well and taste for seasoning.
5. Lay the mushroom caps with the hole facing up on a baking tray and sprinkle the insides with some salt.
6. Take a teaspoon scoop of the stuffing and stuff it into the each mushroom cap. You can overfill a bit :-)
These babies are ready to bake at 350 F for 20-25mins!
7. Bake in a 350F oven for 20-25 mins until they are golden brown !

Note - As I had some more stuffing leftover , I used some sweet bell peppers to stuff them in and they also baked the same time as the mushrooms and tasted absolutley perfect!
They are just out from the Oven...baked golden brown goodness :-)
1. Actual recipe called for cooking the mushroom stems in white wine, please go ahead and do that if you are not serving these to kids, I'm sure it would taste gorgeous! :-)
2. Also if you want more creaminess, add more cream cheese and Parmesan cheese, I skimped on both, as I wanted the turkey and spice flavor to be stronger than the creamy side.
3. Some of the baking juices from the mushrooms would have come out into the baking pan, but that is ok, just slowly take the mushrooms out into a clean bowl or plate before serving!
4. You may use any ground meat - chicken, beef , pork or mutton for this recipe.
See how beautifully they get stuffed
Try them, you will not believe that this was a simple mushroom that got transformed to a higher culinary level , they are one of my favorites now and for a large group , they make plenty and can be prepared in a short time. So Enjoy and let the countdown to the New Year begin!!! :-)


Dec 18, 2012

Traditional Christmas Fruit Cake....with Rum soaked fruits!

Hello my lovely readers. Merry Christmas and Seasons Greetings to all !! Are you all enjoying the holiday season? Today I'm going to share a really lovely recipe for a Traditional Christmas (rum soaked) Fruit Cake and two lovely events in my life centered around this cake :-)

My main inspiration to bake a fruit cake was a Christmas Cake Competition held by the Minnesota Malayalee Association (MMA) for their yearly Christmas celebrations. Its a fun gathering mostly of Minnesotan Malayalees and their friends to celebrate and be merry during this Christmas season. Every year they conduct Christmas Tree and Christmas Cake competitions. A lovely Christmas lunch is served followed by a blast of awesome and spectacular cultural events performed by adults and children alike. Events include plays, solo/group dances, solo/group singing and lots of fun activity. Its an event we try not to miss every year. So this time I planned to take part in the cake competition!
Actually I baked two Christmas Fruit Cakes, first one for our Wedding Anniversary , which we cut on a private plane by the way (story coming ahead) and the second cake for the competition for which I bagged 2nd a lovely read coming up, keep all your chores aside and enjoy the post and the lovely pics :-)
Christmas cakes are usually made well before Christmas, almost a month in advance, and the cake is stored upside down and put into an airtight container. Then a small amount of Rum/Brandy/Sherry is poured over the cake periodically. This is called "feeding" the cake. The cakes usually have red and green candied fruit (tutti-fruitti), raisins and other dried fruit, orange peel , cashews or other nuts, in addition to spices and just enough flour to keep all the fruits together.
During Christmas season, bakeries in Kerala would be selling out these traditional Fruit/Plum cakes in bulk and every house will have atleast 4-5 or more fruit cake boxes, either waiting to be gifted or received as gifts.

Its best if the dry fruits are soaked in Rum/Brandy several weeks/months prior to making the fruit cake, as this allows the fruits to become moist, juicy and absorb all that Rum goodness :-) But I hadn't planned in advance, so I soaked mine for just 2 weeks. We went and bought a bottle of Rum and chopped up the dry fruits and soaked them in the Rum with some Caramel syrup. Here's a before and after shot of how these fruits look 2 weeks later. (By the way, for those who want a non-alcoholic version could use Orange or Grape juice and refrigerate them, from what I've read)
The cake tastes best if baked a few days (if not a month) in advance of cutting it, and that it should be periodically brushed with or sprinkled with Rum/Brandy, to keep the cake moist and to add extra flavor. So I thought of making my cake atleast a week in advance...but due to several factors I couldn't start with baking my cake until 3 days before the event.

And so, after I finalized on my recipe after going over several blogs and friend's recipes, I baked my first ever Christmas Fruit Cake or Christmas Plum Cake or Rum Cake, call it what you like...
I only know one thing, my home smelled 'A'mazing while baking the cake and the taste was so sinfully yummy, it had an exotic flavor from the spices and the rum soaked moist and juicy fruits just melted in your mouth! And we celebrated our Wedding Anniversary with a slice of this fruit cake, cutting it on a plane ;-)

OK, I'm going to digress from my Fruit Cake story here to share my lovely Wedding Anniversary surprise. So we celebrated 4 years of married bliss on Dec 13th and Manish had told me there was a surprise and that we had to reach somewhere by 11:30am and that we could cut the cake there.
As we drove, I had no idea what to expect, specially when it was all snowed out everywhere and he had already mentioned it was not a restaurant or resort. And then he drives into this place which almost looked barren but had lots of private airplanes , some in their hangars, some stationary and some taxiing away. And my jaw dropped when I realised we are going to FLY in a private airplane...and my heart wouldn't stop thumping from the excitement...Lol!!! Best surprise ever , would you agree? :-)
 We had a lovely Pilot and Manish also got a chance to fly the plane for sometime and thus we spent the most amazing one hour flying over Minneapolis and St.Paul downtown, the MSP Airport and Lake Minnetonka. In between we cut the cake and had a slice each. Let me tell you guys, the whole airplane smelled of fruit cake :-) It was so flavorful ! I've shared a few snaps for you all :-) We then had a lovely lunch and went to watch a movie (thankfully our little guy slept throughout the film ;-) ) SO it was fun day to remember for a very long time!
I took the rest of the cake to my office the next day and everyone loved it and some even came for a second and third slice...hehehe!

I baked again for my MMA cake competition The cake would be judged based on Flavor, Cake Texture and overall Presentation and also no Icing for decoration but Rum in the cake was ok :-).
For the cake presentation I wanted a lovely Christmas theme and as I was using a  Red tablecloth with golden thread pattern , I decided to incorporate the same colors in all my decoration along with some Green. And this is what I came up with :-)
There were a total of 8 cake contestants and everyone had beautifully arranged their cakes. It was stiff competition :-) While the judging process was going on, we went and had lunch and I was able to get a quick sneak peak of the inside of my cake...It looked nice and brown and fruity :-) And finally after judging was over, we were all allowed to sample the cakes. Trust me none of the cakes lasted more than 10 minutes on the table :-) It was devoured instantly , and I was soooooo happy when few people came to me and said they tasted my cake and that they really liked it. So I kept my fingers crossed ;-)
After this came the Cultural events and finally the announcement for the winner of the Chritmas Cake. And they announced my name for 2nd prize and I was like, Yaaaayy!! I was soooooo happy and I absolutely loved being a part of it. It was a fun packed day. Thank you so much MMA for this opportunity and memory!

Here's a pic with me walking off the stage with my award, smiling from ear-to-ear! :-) (Thanks a lot to an MMA friend for having taken this snap)
Now coming to the much awaited recipe :-) Like I say in most of my cake recipe posts, do not get scared by seeing the lengthy description of the preparation process. I have written it in detail such that you will understand and I can also remember what I did (for future reference).  And don't forget to read the Tips and Suggestions at the end.
This recipe yields about Two Round/Square 9" cakes or a large Bundt Cake :-) (I bet if we used 6" cake pans, you may get 3 or more cakes, so its a lot of batter)

Christmas Fruit Cake Recipe
You'll need
For Soaking the Fruits
Dry fruits  - 3 cups (I used Golden raisins,Black Currants,Prunes,Dates,Glazed Cherries & Pineapple, Apricot, Cashews)
Rum - as required  (I used CaptianMorgan's Spiced Rum ,  Unflavored Dark rum preferred)
Caramel syrup - 4 tblsp (4 tblsp sugar + 2tblsp water)
For Caramel Syrup (to be used in Cake) - yields 1½  cups of Caramel syrup
Sugar - 1½  cups
Water - 1 tbslp
Hot Water - ¾ cup
For Spice mix
Cinnamon powder - ½  tsp
Clove powder - ½  tsp (crush about 8-10 cloves)
Cardamom powder - ½  tsp
Nutmeg powder - ½  tsp
Jeera powder - ½  tsp
Dried ginger powder - ½  tsp

For Fruit Cake (entire ingredient list)
Butter - 1 cup or 2 sticks (at room temperature)
Powdered sugar (confectioners sugar) - 2 ½  cups
Eggs Yolks - 4
All purpose flour - 2 ½ cups
Baking powder - 2 tsp
Baking soda - 1 tsp
Salt - a pinch
Spice mix  (as mentioned above)
Coarsely powdered nuts (skinless Almonds and Walnuts) - 1 cup
Orange Marmalade - 4 tblsp
Orange Zest - 1 tsp
Vanilla Extract - 1 tsp
Caramel Syrup (as mentioned above)
Rum soaked dry Fruits - as mentioned above
Egg Whites - 4
Powdered sugar - 2 tblsp

For Soaking the fruits
Atleast 2-3 weeks in advance , chop all the dry fruits and place them in an airtight container, soaking them in required amount of Rum and 4tblsp Caramel syrup. For Caramel syrup, heat 4tblsp sugar on medium heat until the sugar melts and browns up. Take off the heat and carefully add the water and stir well and use.

For Caramel Syrup (to be used in Cake)
Starting by heating the 1.5 cups of sugar with 1 tblsp water on medium heat in a deep bottomed saucepan. Shake/stir the sugar once in a while and wait patiently until it slowly melts without any lumps. Keep stirring now and allow it to continue heating until the caramel syrup looks almost dark brown or black in color. Take it off the stove and add the hot water and stir well.
Tip: The sugar syrup will splash out when adding the hot water, so its best to stand away a bit and I used oven mittens on the hand with which I was pouring the water in, to avoid any unwanted burns :-)

For the Fruit Cake
1. Preheat Oven to 350F and grease your Cake pan(s) and cover the bottom and sides with greased parchment paper. (I used a non-stick Bundt cake pan, so I only had to grease the pan)
2. Sift together all the dry ingredients - Flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and Spices. Add the powdered nuts, mix well and keep aside.
3. Beat the butter with powdered sugar until smooth and creamy.  Add the egg yolks one at a time until well incorporated. Add in the dry ingredients slowly and mix until combined.
4. Add the Vanilla essence, Orange Marmalade, Orange zest and Caramel syrup and smoothly combine everything together.
5. Strain the rum soaked fruits (save the rum) , and coat them with some all-purpose flour to avoid the fruits from sinking to bottom of cake and add the fruits into the cake batter , Use a large wooden spoon to fold/mix the fruits into the cake evenly.
6. Beat the Egg Whites (in a clean bowl) until soft peaks form , then add 2 tblsp powdered sugar and continue to beat until the peaks look stiff and glossy and gently fold it into the cake batter.
7. Pour the cake batter into your prepared cake pan(s) and bake for 1 hour. (Mine baked for 1 hr 7 mins) - Each oven is different, so do a cake test at 55 mins - insert a toothpick into the cake center  If it comes out clean, the cake is ready.

After Baking
1. After taking the cake out from the oven, pour 2-3tblsp of the saved rum over the cake. Allow the cake to cool for 15 mins and then flip the cake pan onto a wire-rack.
2. Once cooled release the cake from pan and brush the sweet rum (from the strained fruits) all over the cake.
3. Keep the cake covered with aluminium foil/plastic wrap and everyday brush the cake with more Rum , until you cut the cake.

Very useful Tips and Suggestions:
1. Though its best to soak the fruits several months in advance, soaking them for just 2-3 days is also quite sufficient. They will still absorb most of the rum and the fruits will be juicy and moist.
2. Another method is to boil the dry fruits with the rum and caramel syrup, so that the fruits get tender and still absorbs all the flavors.
3. The Rum mixed with the fruits and caramel syrup has a lot of flavor , so that's the best for brushing over the cake.
4. The blacker your caramel syrup , the darker your Cake will be (we don't want yellow fruit cake now, do we? :-) ) , but be careful not to burn the syrup or your hand :-P
5. The Spice mix adds a lot of flavor to the cake and balances the sweetness from all the caramel syrup and fruits, so don't skip it. You may reduce the quantity if you prefer.
6. The Eggs add volume to the cake and keeps the cake together. If you prefer to use less eggs, then you may have to reduce the quantity of flour too.
7. Placing the greased parchment paper at the bottom and sides of cake pan is very important , it allows the cake from not drying up during the long baking time.
8. If the cake takes longer to bake than 1 hour, cover the cake top with aluminium foil and turn the cake pan and continue to bake and check every 5 mins until done.
9. The Cake flavor and color matures more and more each day. So resist your temptation for atleast 1 or 2 days after the cake is baked :-)
So there you go people, my winning Cake recipe and lots of useful tips, which I used while baking mine.I hope you'll try baking one for this Christmas. And do let me know how it turned out :-)

I definitely had a lot of fun making Christmas Fruit Cake for the very first time and I'm sure I'll be baking one every year from now on! Happy Holidays everyone!!

I'm sharing this cake with my fellow bloggers for the lovely events they are hosting:
1. Cake for Christmas event hosted by Ramya of Ramya's Recipe

2. CC - Holiday Baking hosted by Sravani of Srav's Culinary Concepts


Dec 3, 2012

Cake for an Engagement - with Roses !

An Engagement Cake , a cake for an 'actual engagement', one of the most important day in two peoples lives! That's the only thought that kept going through my mind, when my friend asked me to bake a two tiered cake for her cousins engagement two weeks ago. And my cake was going to be a part of this special day, I was nervous and happy at the same time!! :-) So I knew one thing for sure, the cake had to be perfect and hopefully a stunner!! :-)

We chose my Red-velvet cake with Cream cheese frosting, for the bottom tier. And a  simple Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Jam and Vanilla buttercream filling for top tier, cake recipe from here.
She wanted a tall cake (just like the cake I made for my son's 1st b'day party). So I baked two 10" RedVelvet cakes stacked together for bottom tier and two 6" Vanilla cakes for top tier with appropriate fillings..
She loved the Rose pattern which I had done for my Citrus cake with Roses and chose that, any other decorations were left to me. So there , with all that being set, I went about figuring out how to decorate my cake, without over-doing it, but yet keeping it elegant and pretty.
I suggested that we keep a Ring Box with both the rings in it as the Cake topper (as shown in the pics). My idea was that they could exchange the rings , taking it out from the ring box (kept on top of the cake) and then cut the cake, and my friend loved that idea! So I left the top of the cake without any other topper.

My friend and her sister found this cute Pink Rose pouch to hold the Rings, the day before the event, so I decided to go with Pink Roses to match that pouch. I love Pink Roses btw :-)

So finally I decorated the cake with Pink buttercream Roses and a Fish-scale like pattern using Cream Cheese frosting for the top of each cake.

For the pics I took at home, I've shown you with the Black Velvet ring box I had  And this is what my Rose Engagement cake finally looked like  :-).

Disclaimer: The Rings shown in the pics here are mine and Manish's (my hus). Its just for visualization purposes, to show you what I had in mind. These are NOT the original Rings of the couple getting engaged.

Here's a collage I created of the cake cutting for the actual engagement ceremony which my friend happily shared with me and she was totally ok with me posting a few pics for this post.
They have kept the ring pouch on the side of the cake and placed some beautiful 'L-O-V-E' candles over the cake. Looks like they had fun :-) I'm so happy for the lovely couple.
The final result is what always matters to me, no matter how much time it took me to bake-decorate and perfect this cake. I am really satisfied with how it looked when it was finally put together.
My friend said they all really enjoyed the cake and loved the Roses on the cake :-) Infact they had even decorated the party hall with beautiful Roses...aaah, nothing defines Love like Roses!

So my lovely readers, what do you let me know ok !! Who feels like going and getting their loved one a bunch of Roses right now?? :-)


Nov 25, 2012

Pumpkin Trifle.....with Gingerbread Cake, Pudding and Whipped cream !

Hello everyone. Hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend surrounded by family and friends , ate lots of yummy food and did a hell lot of shopping :-) It snowed here in Minneapolis exactly on Thanksgiving day, it was so lovely. Can you imagine, I was actually photographing these mini trifles out in my patio and it started snowing just then and became 2X times colder :-) That's the reason why those trifle cups looks like a frosted cup ;-P  but I managed to get few snaps for you all!

We were invited to a lovely Thanksgiving dinner on 22nd for which I made these simple and delicious individual trifle dessert. I wanted to make something with Pumpkin ever since Fall started, but never got a chance. So when I was asked to make dessert for the Thanksgiving dinner, I felt it was an opportunity I shouldn't miss. Again, wanting to make it a quick and easy dessert, I made it semi-homemade , by using canned pumpkin puree, a boxed Ginger cake mix and Jello Cheesecake flavored instant Pudding. I love making mini desserts, everyone can enjoy their own individual pretty looking dessert and also enjoy the entire dessert without feeling too guilty, afterall its a mini dessert :-)

The trifle was put together in less than 30 minutes (excluding the cake baking and cooling time). I had all the ingredients on hand, even the Gingerbread cake mix, which I had bought from Trader's Joe few months back :-)
The Trifle had a nice warm flavor imparted by the Gingerbread cake and the lovely pumpkin spice ending with a cool sweetness from the whipped cream. Everyone loved the dessert!

Pumpkin Trifle Recipe
Recipe Source: Adapted from Taste of Home

You'll need
For Cake Crumbs
Gingerbread Cake mix - 1 box (I used 14oz box)
Egg - 1
Water - 3/4 cup
Oil - 1 cup
For Pumpkin Pudding
Instant Pudding -  3 boxes (I used Jello brand , Cheesecake flavor)
Cold Milk - 2 cups for each pudding box (so total of 6 cups)
Canned Pumpkin Puree -1 can (15oz)
Pumpkin spice mix - 1 tsp Cinnamon powder + 1/4 tsp each Dry Ginger powder + Nutmeg + Allspice
For Whipped Cream topping
Heavy Whipping cream - 2 cups
Powdered Sugar - 1/4 cup
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp

For Cake
Bake the Gingerbread Cake mix as per box instructions- mix together the egg, water, oil and Gingerbread cake mix and bake for 30-35mins at 350F. Allow it to cool and crumble the cake.
For Pumpkin Pudding
a. Prepare the pudding as per package instructions - Add 2 cups of cold milk to 1 pack Jello instant pudding and allow it to set for 5 mins. Repeat the same for the other pudding boxes.
b. Once pudding is set, mix the canned pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice mix into the pudding and combine it until smooth.
For Whipped Cream
Prepare the whipped cream by beating together cold heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract on high until the cream is smooth forming soft peaks.

Assembling the mini Pumpkin Trifle
I have used mini 5oz cups.
Layer with 1 tblsp crumbled Gingerbread Cake. Next add 2 tblsp Pumpkin pudding, then add 2 tblsp Gingerbread Cake crumbs and top with 2 tblsp whipped cream. Garnish with Chocolate sprinkles or some gingerbread cake crumbs.
Suggestions and Tips:
1. You can use Vanilla / Butterscotch flavored instant pudding if you'd like. I wasn't very fond of the cheesecake flavor, but Manish loved it. So I guess its just personal preference.
2. Add more or less pumpkin spice as per taste preference. I added a pinch more than the above recipe for a stronger flavor.
3. If you don't have gingerbread cake mix, feel free to use Chocolate cake, I bet it would taste exceptional. And anything with a sweet whipped cream topping always tastes heavenly!
4. You can use frozen whipped cream if you have that or if it makes your life easier :-)

I did ask my lovely facebook friends for some simple and easy Thanksgiving dessert ideas and I'm so thankful to them for giving me plenty of ideas. I'll be putting them to use each time I have a potluck invite :-) Thank you so much you all.

Next on MED, I'll be sharing details on a gorgeous two tiered cake I made for an Engagement don't want to miss it. Check out my facebook page for a snap of the cake or better yet, hit 'Like' and never miss another update :-).So stay tuned!!


Nov 13, 2012

Kaju Burfi or Kaju Katli...something sweet and simple for Diwali !

Happy Diwali to all my dear readers and friends. Today we celebrate the Festival of Lights, the triumph of good over evil . We burst firecrackers which actually signifies driving away evil spirits , wear new clothes, eat and share lots of delicious sweets and food with friends and family.

What I really love about Diwali the most is bursting firecrackers...nothing beats it!! And I was so happy that we were actually able to play with some crackers and watch the fireworks tonight here in Minneapolis and we totally enjoyed each minute of it.
Preparing or buying sweets and snacks to share with your friends and family is another reason I love Diwali so much :-) For my very first Diwali after my wedding, I was very much in an experimenting mood, so I made Karanji, Chakli and Besan Laddoo, all for the very first time and they came out great!  I will definitely post about them soon. We had cleaned up the whole house and decorated everywhere with beautiful diyas(candles). And bursted lots of crackers...Oh! we had soooo much fun.
This year also I prepared few sweets, but most of them got over before I could photograph them :-P But I made these Kaju Katli specially for my office friends, so I was able to keep them safe and take few quick snaps :-) Its really easy to prepare them and I don't know why I never made them before. I found a simple recipe here and it came out really well. 

I made about 10-15 small sized Kaju katli with this recipe. You can make this Kaju Katli in less than 30minutes (if done correctly), I'll guarantee you that!!

Kaju Katli Recipe
You'll need
Cashewnuts - 1 cup (at room temperature)
Sugar - 1/2 cup (heaped)
Water - 1/4 cup
Milk - 1-2 tblsp (use as required)
Ghee - to grease the hands and plate

1. Grind the cashewnuts into fine powder. It may stick while grinding, thats ok, just scoop it around with a spatula and keep grinding until its a fine dust like powder. Take out a heaping 1 cup from this.
2. Boil the sugar with water until you reach a consistency where, if you add a drop of sugar syrup into a bowl with water, the sugar syrup should not dissolve and appears like a fine thread or drop.
3. At this point add in the cashew powder and on medium-low flame keep stirring until a smooth dough like consistency is obtained. About 3-5mins.
4. Grease a plate with little ghee and transfer this dough like mixture onto the plate
5. Allow to cool down for 10mins and then grease your palms with ghee and start kneading the dough. Add little milk, only if the dough appears hard and dry. Do not add too much milk.
6. Slowly keep kneading the dough until it becomes smooth and easily pliable.
7. Roll the dough into a 1/4 inch thick circle or square, and cut them diagonally to get the diamond shape. (First make a soft line with your knife on the rolled dough before cutting and then cut over that line)

Silver Decoration
I wanted the silver foil appearance on top of the kaju katli, which is how we usually get it back home in India. Since I din't have any silver foil, I used edible Silver Dust that's commonly used for Cake decoration :-)
I cut out a diamond shape in a small parchment paper and placed it on top of each Kaju Katli and applied the Silver dust with a brush...Simple!! :-)
1. Its very important that the cashews should be at room temperature , or else it may get all sticky while grinding
2. The correct sugar syrup consistency is very important again in getting this burfi/katli right.
3. Milk is only required if the dough appears dry or hard. Adding milk will reduce the shelf life if kept out, so keep them refrigerated.

So try out these simple, beautiful and yummy Kaju burfi and let me know how they turned out :-) And once again wishing you all a very Happy Diwali !!


Nov 6, 2012

Piña Colada Cake - a heavenly Tropical experience!

Piña Colada is a sweet Rum based Cocktail drink which is a mixture of Rum, Pineapple Juice and Cream of Coconut , usally served blended with Ice. Piña Colada (pronounced as Peenya Colada) is Spanish for piña-pineapple + colada-strained (from Wikipedia)

I have had this drink twice and its an absolute delight on your tastebuds. Its sweet, fruity, coconutty and has a slight hint of Rum and the cocktail is usually served with a slice/wedge of ripe Pineapple and/or Marachino cherrries, so you get to enjoy that as well.

So when my friend asked me to bake her a birthday cake (for another friend) , her specifics was that she wanted a layer cake with a different cake flavor , which wasn't chocolate or vanilla. And luckily enough I had a nice ripe pineapple at home, so I suggested a tropical themed cake and immedieately thought of a Piña Colada flavored cake !
For the cake filling, she wanted something creamy, so I decided to go with a creamy Coconut Vanilla Pudding and Pineapple Compote cooked with Rum. And the cake was frosted with creamy whipped cream and garnished with sweet coconut flakes and slices of pineapple and Marachino cherries. 'Tropical Heaven' my friends , that's what this cake is!!
Now whats Cream of coconut - its not coconut milk for sure. Cream of coconut is a smooth, thick liquid made from fresh coconuts. It is thick and very sweet. It gives a stronger coconut flavor and aroma and is commonly used for mixing drinks. I bought mine from the Drinks and mixes section in Target store. Its usually found where they keep all kinds of beverage drinks and instant cocktail/mocktail mixes etc. And its definitely worth using it to get the actual flavor of the drink in this cake.

As my friend's friend does not drink alcoholic drinks, I used Imitation Rum extract for the Rum flavor, but you go ahead and use the real thing if you prefer that.
The house smelled heavenly while baking and honestly I couldn't stop eating the crumbs...I just couldn't :-)
The cake is a simple White butter cake largely adapted from here, the fillings and frosting were my own .
Piña Colada Cake Recipe
You'll need
For Cake:
Eggs (White and Yolk separated) - 2 large
Cake Flour - 1 3/4 cups (175 grams)
Baking Powder - 2 tsp
Salt - a pinch
Unsalted Butter at Room temperature - 1/2 cup (113 grams)
Granulated white sugar - 1 cup (200 grams)
Vanilla Extract - 1/2 tsp
Coconut Extract - 1/2 tsp
Rum - 1 tblsp (I used Imitation Rum extract)
Cream of Coconut - 1/2 cup (120 ml)
Finely crushed or grinded pineapple with pulp - 1/4 cup (60ml)
For Coconut Vanilla Pudding:
Vanilla instant pudding mix - 1 pack ( you can make you own pudding too)
Coconut extract - 1tsp
For Pineapple Compote:
Ripe Pineapple cut into tiny cubes - 2 cups ( you can use crushed pineapple from a can too)
Pineapple juice - 2 tblsp
Rum - 1 tblsp (I used Imitation Rum extract)
Sugar - 2 tsp (adjust to the sweetness level you want)
For Frosting :
Heavy Whipping cream - 2 cups
Powdered (confectioners) sugar - 1/4 cup
Pure Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
For Garnishing:
Coconut flakes - 1 cup or more (I used sweetened coconut flakes)
Pineapple wedges - almost 3 round slices of fresh Pineapple quartered
Marachino Cherries - as desired (optional)

For Cake
1. Preheat Oven to 350F. Butter and flour two 8 inch round cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper and grease and flour parchment paper**.
2. Separate the eggs into separate bowls and keep them covered for about 30minutes to allow them to come to room temperature.
3. Whisk together all dry ingredients - cake flour, baking powder and salt
4. Using an electric hand mixer, beat the butter until soft and then add 3/4 cup of sugar and beat on high until creamy. Add the egg yolks (one at a time while beating constantly), vanilla extract, coconut extract and Rum (or rum extract) and beat until well incorporated.
5. Slowly add the dry ingredients, Cream of Coconut and Pineapple pulp ,alternaltely ,starting and ending with flour and beat on slow until the batter is smooth.
6. In a separate clean bowl , start beating the egg whites slowly at first until soft peaks form and add the 1/4 cup sugar and beat on high until stiff peaks form.
7. With a rubber spatula gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining whites until combined. Do not over mix the batter or it will deflate.
8. Gently pour the batter into each greased baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.
(If using a single 8inch cake pan, bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean)
9. Once baked, allow to cool in pan for 15mins and then invert onto a wire rack and let it sit until it cools down completely before lifting the pan to release the cake.
10. Place the cool cakes in the freezer or fridge until assembling time.
**Placing the parchment paper cut-out in the baking pan is a MUST as the cake is very soft and moist, so it easier to get the cake out without sticking to the bottom even if the cake pan is greased.
For Coconut Vanilla pudding
Prepare the pudding as per packet instructions with 1 tsp Coconut extract, stir well and let it set .
For Pineapple Compote
In a saucepan, add the pineapple juice, sugar, Rum (or rum extract) and the pineapple chunks and cook on medium heat until the juice slowly starts to evaporate and pineapple gets soft.
[Optional- if you want a thicker compote, add little cornstarch while cooking]

For Frosting
1. Chill the bowl and whisk attachments in the fridge atleast 30minutes before preparing the whipped cream
2. Add the whipping cream into the bowl and start beating slowly.
3. Add the Powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat on high until soft peaks begin to form and the whipped cream comes to your desired consistency.
Assembling the cake
1. Level your cake and slice or torte the cake into deisred no. of layers (If you have baked two separate 8inch cakes, then just use those, and torte as desired)
2. Place a small dollop pf whipped cream on your cake board or cake stand and place the topmost cake layer on the cake board/stand.
3. Add desired amount of Coconut vanilla pudding and top that with the Pineapple compote. Place the next cake layer on top and repeat for the diferent layers (if any), ending with the bottom layer on top for a neat finish.
4. Frost the outside of the whole cake with whipped cream frosting.
5. Garnish with Coconut flakes around the sides and add some Pineapple slices and marachino cherries on top.

My friend said she and her friends really enjoyed the cake so much that they totally forgot to take a snap of the cake cutting and the cake was over in minutes! :-) Infact she said they couldn't even believe that it was a homemade cake...awww!! So did you like it?


Nov 5, 2012

Our Halloween 2012...BOO!

Hello everyone , how are you all? How was Halloween? As usual I'm always late at posting any festival or 'important day' related posts. Blame my laziness and the rather crazy hectic office work schedule we've been having lately and my weekends just get over in a blink.
But I still see carved pumpkins and Halloween decorations outside and inside of several homes , so I guess I'm  not too late to share my halloween evening with you all! It was extra special for us as it was the first time we all went trick-or-treating :-)

To be honest, all of October I kept thinking and planning to cook or bake something which screams Autumn or something Halloweeny , but trust me, I really have no idea when October started and when it ended. The days literally flew by and although dishes made with Pumpkins and Apples need not just be restricted to Autumn / Halloween day specials, I missed my chance when all the other blogs out there were displaying their Autumn delicacies...Well I won't be disheartened, and I shall come up with lots of recipes which you can hopefully try next year for your Fall get-together or Halloween party :-)

On Halloween day Oct 31st, at my office we had a lovely potluck and costume contest. The potluck was also a competition for the most eerie/scary looking yet yummy food . I never ended up buying a costume but I did make an  eerie Halloween punch, I made a slightly concentrated Rose Lemonade with some Lychee juice and filled up some Lychee fruit with blueberries for an eyeball effect and called the drink 'Eyeballs in Blood' !!!
I din't win (if anyone is wondering) but people liked the idea of my punch (Here's a snap taken on Iphone) , it tasted really good by the way.
[ I really love creating anything Eyeball related for Halloween, last year I made these Scary Eyeball Pumpkin Cupcakes :-) ]
And in the evening though we came late from office , we were immediately greeted by several trick-or-treaters come over in large groups to collect their share of treats (the little ones came with their parents) and I saw the my little guy was getting super excited.
We were almost on the verge of dropping our plans of taking him for trick or treating (bcoz he just wouldn't get into his costume) when I got this weird idea to make him wear his own clothes and draw him a moustache with my black kajal and call him 'Little Man with a mustache' , but then I realized he had a  military print sweatshirt combo, so he was quickly transformed  into 'Army guy with a Moustache'.
And off goes my 'Moocho-wala-Sipayi'  for his first trick-or-treat hunt ;-)
(For those who follow me on facebook already know this as I had posted a pic of his attire , but here are more pics) 
Though we just went around our apartment building , my little guy had lots of fun , and I was literally running behind to catch up with him to get a good shot of him trick-or-treating with his dad.
And to my surprise even now, when others in the building see him , they remember him as the little army guy! Well I'm so happy that his 'instant' costume was so liked and remembered by all!

And all the trick-or-treating made my big boy Manish all hungry and he said he smelt aromatic Chicken curry smells from the other homes (roll-my-eyes) , and I had to instantly make chicken curry for dinner :-) I guess I'll post the recipe some other time. So all in all, we had a great night and a Happy Halloween and I thank God for all these beautiful memories! :-)


Nov 2, 2012

WINNER - Wilton's Checkerboard Cake pan set Giveaway

Hi folks,

I'm so happy to announce the winner of my very first giveaway to celebrate my first Blog Anniversary.
I had baked a Citrus Checkerboard Cake for celebrating and had announced my first giveaway - a Checkerboard Cake pan Set. (Please click the hyperlinks to read the respective posts)

And now , Drumrolls please :-) The winner issssssssss..............


Congratulations and I'm so happy for you :-) . And a big Thank You to all the rest who participated and left lovely comments and Likes on my facebook page!

Message to the winner:
I have sent you a message on facebook .
Please send me a valid email address and a home address to manjuseatingdelighst[at]gmail[dot]com on or before Nov 5th, 2012.
(If you fail to do so, I'll be forced to select another lucky winner)

Hope you all had a wonderful Halloween and are all geared up to celebrate Diwali (for Indians), Thanksgiving and Christmas ...oh so many festivals to look up for :-)

Image source : Google images


Oct 25, 2012

Spiced Omelette with Red Radishes....for a lazy Sunday brunch!

Food definitely brings back a lot of long forgotten and childhood memories. Even a simple omelette :-)
I still remember the taste of the omelette that my dad prepared one school night . He was in the mood to get creative I guess, so he cracked up few eggs, added the usual onions, green chillies , salt and pepper and cut up few slices of Tomatoes and after pouring the entire egg mixture into a large frying pan, he placed the tomatoes on top. I noticed that he cooked the egg very slow on a low heat and slowly turned the rather huge omelette with one quick flip and cooked the other side for few minutes. That was the best omelette that I can ever remember, Juicy and slightly tangy from the tomatoes and so perfectly seasoned.
Another reason why I remember it well is because the omelette almost looked like a pizza with toppings to me :-) My mom often made individual omelettes for our breakfast (which was super yummy btw) , but a huge omelette that looked like a pizza was new to us and me and my sis loved it!

Another 'omelette' memory I want to share was when I started working at this MNC in Bangalore,India. I often used to rush out of my hostel in the mornings without eating the breakfast that was provided to catch my bus (Typical!!) And by the time I reach office I would be starving. Now our office had some beautiful canteens with all kinds of yummy food, starting from our classic simple breakfast items like Idly, dosa, vada , puri...yumm!! to international style food which was omelettes, toast and butter, French toast , fruit salads blah blah...oh I'm hungry now!
And the most priced and sought after breakfast item was the Omelette  ;-) Anyway, I would happily wait in queue , watching the theater cooking, where one guy would break two eggs, add some finely chopped red onions, green chillies, diced tomatoes, cilantro , white pepper and salt, whip it up nicely and hand it over to the guy who would fry it in front of you. And to watch him was like watching a magic show or something like that. He would pour the entire egg batter (lets call it that) into the pan, cover and cook it for few minutes and then just make a swishing movement with his hand and the entire omellete would just flip out of the pan , turn around and land in the pan...I mean WOW , could you envision that! I could never do that with a big omelette , it would just fall into pieces on the floor if I tried that, I would feel lucky if atleast a small piece landed in my pan :-)
He would then place the whole omlette on our plate and I would happily take it, take 2 slices of toast, some ketchup and butter , sometimes even some jam , fork and knife and happily gorge down the whole thing! Bliss!!
Now last Sunday morning we woke up at 10:30am or something and I wasn't in the mood to make some elaborate breakfast, and the easiest and quickest option was an Omelette. So with my tummy grumbling away, I enter the kitchen and get this crazy idea to make an omelette with red radish in it. I had a whole bag of fresh red radishes and was planning on making something with it for lunch. So I go ahead and repeat the same things my dad did and instead of Tomatoes , I added Red Radishes. Aren't they simply pretty!! :-)
Well actually I added the radish in the egg batter itself, herbed it up with freshly chopped Corriander leaves and spiced it up with a little Cumin powder, Turmeric powder and black pepper powder. Double Bliss! :-)
Oh and it was raining outside that day, so this was a perfect lazy Sunday brunch with a cup of piping hot masala chai...should I say Bliss again?? :-)

The Omelette was juicy and so so flavorful. I could just eat it like that, without the toast or anything. Even my lil' guy ate up a few mouthfulls , a big deal in his case :-)
The radishes cook very well if sliced thinly and they add a mild crunch and a mild peppery flavor. The cilantro elevates the flavor to another level and the mild hint of spices all blends together really well in this egg preparation. This recipe is a keeper, I tell you!

Spiced Omlette with Red Radishes Recipe
You'll need
Eggs - 2 large
Red Onion (chopped finely) - 1/4 of a whole Onion or as per preference
Green chillies (thinly sliced) - 1 or 2
Red Radishes (Thinly sliced) - 3-4 or more
Corriander leaves - a good handful (chopped finely)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Pepper powder (optional) - a pinch
Oil or butter - 1/2 tblsp (I just used spray-on Canola oil)

1. Crack the egss and beat them with a fork or a whisk for few minutes, until they look smooth and has slightly increased in volume.
2. Add all the other ingredients and slowly mix them well.
3. Heat your skillet or non-stick pan and heat the oil/butter.
4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and pour the egg mixture and cover and cook for 2 minutes or until the omelette has slightly set and is not runny. (evenly space out the radishes and onions if you like)
5. The omelette would have puffed up when you open the lid and then gently lift it and turn it to the other side and again cook for 1 minute.
6. Serve hot with toast ! :-)

Did you know ??
1. Even with just 1 egg you can make a thick omlette if you whisk the egg well , incorporating some air into it and then cover and cook it. (For this dish you may increase the number of eggs if you prefer. I got a rather thick omlette which was more than enough for us. )
2. Cooking eggs on a low flame allows it to cook slowly and evenly, almost mimicking an oven kind of heat transfer. It also reduces the egg from burning and getting brown on the bottom.
A perfect healthy breakfast/brunch dish , don't you think? Have a great day guys!

Don't forget to participate in my Giveaway (click here), it ends on Nov 1st!