There’s going to be chocolate.
Lots of it.
There’s going to be tragedy.
Plenty of it too.
And there are going to be cavities!
You bet! A lot of that too!
This is the exact kind of post my dentist would disapprove of.
And that is exactly why, my friends, dentists and I could never be friends!
The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at http://www.chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!
The challenge this month was to try our hand at bonbons, truffles, chocolate bark, pate de fruits, honeycomb and any other candy we would like to make.
Open your mouth
Ha! ha! Ha!”
It’s my dad’s birthday today!
Yup, while the whole of America celebrates their Independence Day, we, the Chauhan family, celebrate my dad’s birthday.
My dad’s name is Johnny. It’s actually Jasvinder. Johnny’s the name that his course mates gave him. I can totally imagine my dad as the boy in the rhyme. He was a chubby kid, lost weight during his NDA days, but then put it back on, later in his life and weighs quite a lot these days. (Don’t worry Papa, I am not telling anyone how much you weigh)
Its not that he doesn’t exercise. Oh! Poor thing! he exercises and tries so hard, but like me, he has this love affair with food that he just can’t break. Unlike me, though, he doesn’t snack, but, when he eats his meals, the portions are pretty big. The main damage though, happens when he is invited to someone’s house for dinner. He is every hostess’ dream- he will for sure be going for seconds and as a result ends up putting on weight!
He also needs something sweet after every meal. Its his way to know that the meal is over.
This time when I was in India, I taught him how to use the bread machine. So, these days he loves making his own bread, and then eating it too!
I have never seen my dad sick (touch wood!)- barring this one time when he had a slight fever and cold (and of course when he had his ejection). Seeing him unwell I had tears- I guess one always thinks of their dad’s as invincible and don’t realize they too are normal human beings.
And of course, like any daughter, I think my dad is the best (no offense to everyone else’s dad). I’m of course, biased but had I been an outside spectator and a judge of my dad as a dad he would have got top marks for the job he does!
You tell my dad that something is to be done, even if you just mention it casually to him, and though you might forget, he for sure would remember and do it for you. Something he gets from his father. My grandfather is a really efficient man and so is my Dad. Every wish of ours has always been their command.
He has always given me whatever I have asked for, and remarkably, not making me a spoilt kid in the process. He, along with my mother, has kept both my brother and me grounded and I will always be thankful to them for that!
He is my guide, my mentor, and my hero.
Happy birthday, papa.
Wish you many many more healthy ones!
This one’s for you!
Why, you ask?
Well, just because!
I haven’t used this word in ages and felt like using it today. I feel that “Hurrah” has been replaced by the shorter “Yay” or “hooray” (at least in my dictionary) and I hardly hear people saying “Hurrah!” like how Hurrah should be said! I feel bad for the word! So, I thought I would use it today.
Ok, I am not that random!
Really! I am not.
Well, ok, sometimes I am. But not this time.
This time I actually have a reason to shout out Hurrah- because I am celebrating!
Celebrating what, you ask?
Well, I’m glad you asked!
(If you didn’t, I’ll just continue talking to myself and assume you are listening.)
I am celebrating three things!
Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.
Like always, I completed this challenge last minute. And since it was last minute, it was hurried, done with zero patience- thanks to the heat, and sans key ingredients that would have made a whole lot of difference to the end result.
By now, I am pretty sure you would have guessed that my challenge outcome wasn’t too great! I goofed up with the syrup as I was too lazy to measure anything for it and just made it with approximations resulting in less syrup to soak all the baklava. Also, I skimped on the butter – which I think resulted in slightly harder and drier sheet layers. The filling did not have pistachios (because I did not have any and forgot to pick them up on my last trip to the store), which I feel, would have definitely added to the flavors in the filling. The phyllo dough though was pretty easy to roll out thin, barring a few sheets that did get tears- but Erica said that’s ok as long as the top layer doesn’t have any holes.
It wasn’t too bad either. But, I don’t think I’ll be trying my hand at Baklava in the near future. This is my second not-so-great attempt at Baklava. The first one was almost a year back but that time I had used store bought phyllo. The Baklava then didn’t turn out too great. This time too the results were just average. Oh! How I crave for the baklavas I had during my Dubai trip!
“I beg your pardon,
I never promised you a rose garden.
Along with the sunshine,
There’s gotta be a little rain sometimes.”
So I screwed up! Who doesn’t, I say! I think mistakes are important to not only learn but to accidentally tread onto something you might have overlooked. This is my story of how my mistake turned into something really good!
I had planned to make cupcakes for this week’s Office Thursdays. Since we were out of town on V’s birthday (which was on the 9th), I wasn’t able to bake a birthday cake for him. For the uninitiated V loves carrot cake (carrot cake and my mango kulfi are the only two desserts I have seen him asking me to make). So, I thought I’ll make carrot cake cupcakes – V would also get to eat them plus he can take some for his office!
Now, when I was in India, my mom had made these whole wheat carrot cupcakes. My mom always made an amazing carrot cake but she got this equally good recipe for whole wheat carrot cake from a sweet lady named Sanu. I loved the whole wheat versions- more so because they were whole wheat! So I decided to give this new recipe a try.
I do not know what went wrong- was it too much baking soda, or was it too much oil or did I fill the pans too much- but the cupcakes fell and then they crumbled when I tried taking them out. Some survived, but most didn’t.
Now, I could have sat there- mourned the disaster. I could have wondered, sitting with my cake crumbs and could have analyzed what I did wrong. But I didn’t. Instead, I made these- White and Dark Chocolate Dipped Carrot Cake truffles! And, boy, were they a treat! While making them, this is what I realized and here I am sharing life’s lessons learned from a failed recipe! 🙂 Read the rest of this entry »
Its getting hot- quite hot here in our small town. Back in India, its getting even hotter. Thus, its only apt that I post this for today’s GMT- a sweet treat to beat the escalating summer heat– Kulfi. And since ’tis the season for mangoes, I thought of taking it up a notch and made Mango Kulfi :)!
In India, kulfi – a frozen milk-based dessert- is a street-vendor food. Sellers keep the frozen treat cold in a special ice and salt filled big pot called a matka. Although the usual way to serve it is with a simple garnish of nuts, some vendors also serve sweetened vermicelli rice noodles with Kulfi. Some serve it in small earthernware pots called matkas– and this kind is called Matka Kulfi. For me the name Kulfi always reminds me of this vendor who used to sell kulfi outside Moet’s in Defence Colony, Delhi. I loved his Kulfis. I am not a falooda fan, so would just have the stick of Kulfi. Kulfi is also quite a popular menu item at Indian weddings, especially summer weddings.
Unlike western ice cream, Kulfi is not whipped, resulting in a solid, dense frozen dessert that takes a long time to melt– hence the perfect treat during a hot summer day- you have no worries of it melting it on your shirt or ruining that new summer dress you bought!
It is believed that the first Kulfi was made by freezing Rabri (reduced milk and sugar) in ice. During the Mughal empire reign in India, the ice was brought in from Hindu Kush to Delhi. For a long time the privileges of having Kulfi were limited to royalty and upper levels of aristocracy in India until modern day refrigeration technology reached South Asia.
Traditionally, Kulfi is prepared by evaporating the heck out of milk by slow cooking it and stirring it continuously so that the milk does not stick to the bottom of the vessel and burn. This is done until the volume of the milk is reduced by more than half and you get an extremely thick milk. This takes hours. After the milk is reduced, sugar is added while still hot. Nuts like pistachio or almond and flavorings like saffron, rose water, kewra are added. The mix is then frozen in tight sealed molds that are then submerged in ice mixed with salt to speed up the freezing process. The ice/salt mix, along with its submerged kulfi molds, is placed in earthen pots or matkas that provide insulation from the external heat and slow down the melting of ice. Kulfi prepared in this manner is hence called ‘Matka Kulfi’. Kulfi, thus prepared by slow freezing, also renders a unique smooth mouth feel that is devoid of water crystallization.
I also read that aging the mixture overnight (about 12 hours) in the refrigerator prior to start freezing, gives a better Kulfi.
Now, now, I would not dream to suggest you all to be in the kitchen for hours at a stretch especially in this heat. Of course you could do all that I mentioned above, but one of Vikram’s relatives whom I fondly call, Kavita Massi, gave me a “cheat’s version” for making Kulfi. And it’s pretty easy with fabulous results!
The best part of the recipe is that it can be assembled in minutes. You don’t have to slave for hours to make this dessert. And the beauty of any Kulfi recipe is that it’s flexible to any addition. If you do not have mango on hand you can omit it (of course, you will need to add a few tbsp of sugar but do not go overboard with the sugar as it affects the creaminess of the kulfi). You can also omit the pistachio, instead you can choose to add rose water, cardamom or go a little on the wild side and add avocado, strawberry or orange! No matter what flavors you choose, you will have a wonderful treat to bite into!
I had made these treats when we had a few of our friends over and had quite a few left over as the recipe yields quite a lot. V was quite happy because he loved the kulfi. As I have already mentioned before, on occasions more than once, V is not much of a sweet fan. More often than not I have to ask him whether he wants something sweet, and after a lot of contemplating, he says a very disheartened “ok”. But, not with this dessert. (I think I have stumbled on something great here.) V actually asks for this Kulfi (and let me also mention here, he hardly used to eat Kulfi back in India. So he must really like it!) Even if I am full and assume that he is too and as such don’t serve any sweet, he actually suggests that we should have a Kulfi each! That should be evidence enough to convince you to try this recipe. This is the biggest testimonial that the dessert is good if V asks for it. (He had it twice yesterday- and both times I did not even have to remind him that there is Kulfi in the refrigerator).
Puff Pastry dough completely amazes me- you know, how while rolling it’s just a single sheet, and while baking, voila! all the distinct layers puff up into a really flaky, buttery crust. Savory or sweet- the same dough can be used for both, and the results, in both cases, bake out perfect. Each round of rolling and folding results in a thin layer of butter sticking to the dough- thus, creating hundreds of thin layers of dough separated by a film of butter.
With no leavener in the dough, the rise happens when the butter melts in the oven and boils, creating steam which lifts the successive layers higher and higher. At the same time, the heat is cooking the flour, hardening it around those minute air pockets, creating the puff.
A few days back, I had promised the recipe for Apple Turnovers I made for Office Thursdays. If the puff pastry and the filling is ready, these are a snap to make and perfect to serve with tea in the morning. I had sent these for V’s office colleagues and they were all devoured (V did not get any but I had saved one for him at home). I loved them and would definitely make them again.
Today morning, with the leftover puff pastry dough I made a savory vegetarian version. Will post that tomorrow!