Officially - obsessed !!!

This time I shall spare the weather from bearing the brunt of my blame for my bout of baking. If something can make me almost skip my workout and rush home – it has got to be something serious. So now its official – I am obsessed with being in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes !!! :)

I couldn't wait to get home today evening and inspite of having a splitting headache,couldn't resist making what I had been planning since last 2 days,
to be precise when Mr.A goofed up “yet again” (not even getting into that right now !!! ) in getting stuff from the grocery store …huh !!! There are very few times when I ask A to pick something up from the grocery store on his way back home - so this time when I asked him to pick some bananas,he ended up getting half a dozen mushy , over-ripe ones.

Just looking at them , I knew they found their way to my house for a reason. They had a higher calling – a final goal to be part of something very delectable and satisfying – a banana bread :)

Its amazing that the preparation time for this bread is so less and needs so little work to be done and doesn't even result in too many dishes in the sink .Another great part of this recipe was that I made it without using eggs.

Ingredients :
3 ripe bananas
1 ½ all purpose flour
½ cup butter
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup sugar
1 ½ tbsp milk
½ cup chocolate chips
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Method :
Preheat the oven to 325F and prepare loaf pan ( 8in * 4 in )
Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla essence
Add the flour,milk,baking powder,baking soda and salt and mix properly
Mash bananas and add in the batter
Stir in the chocolate chips
Pour the batter in the pan and bake for 60 min.
Test with toothpick till it comes out clean.

I also made pani-puri today evening and with no excuse stuffed myself with banana bread ,then pani puri and then again banana bread . Cant wait to have it for breakfast tomorrow morning :)


Admitting to a simple pleasure

The Boston weather sure has been playing games with me. It looks like a cumulative conspiracy of the entire world including nature to stop me from going to my beloved mall.Living in Boston for the last 5 years ,has taught me that it is best to keep three fundamentals in my car at all times: an umbrella, an ice scraper, and a beach towel. I swear that I've used all three in one week, too. Last weekend was pouring incessantly, whereas this weekend called for such a heat wave , that the insides of the car were blazing and you couldn't’t step in unless someone turns on the A/c for atleast 10 hours before you want to step in.

Ok !!! I may be exaggerating, but it was so hot – that I just dint feel like doing anything but sit inside – watch a move, read a book… and COOK :)

Right from the day one of my colleagues' mentioned , that in the movie Amélie – breaking the caramelized layer of sugar on top of a crème brule is considered one of life’s simplest pleasures – I have been dying to make it and try it myself.

And since the time I opened my kitchen doors to eggs , there is a whole new variety of things that are waiting to be made.

If I may say, then Crème Brulee is one of the most easiest deserts I’ve ever made and the outcome is … you have to try it to know :)

Here goes the recipe ( courtesy Ohad's Recipe Blog )

.2 cups heavy cream
.1 Vanilla bean, split
.¼ cup sugar
.4 egg yolks

.Preheat oven to 300ºF
.Pour the cream into a small pot. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the cream. Add the two bean halves into the cream
.Heat the cream over medium heat, bring to a boil. Let cool a little.
.Whisk the egg yolks and the sugar until the yolks turn light yellow.
.Combine (Carefully) the cream and the egg yolks and mix. Do not whip.
.Boil water in a pot
.Place the ramekins in the baking dish and pour the boiling water in the baking dish – as much to cover atleast till 3/4th of the height of the ramekins
.Now, pour the mixture in the ramekins
.Bake for 45 minutes
.Let it cool for sometime and then put in the refrigerator for atleast 2 hours.
.Before serving : sprinkle sugar on top and caramelize with a burner.

(Disclaimer!!! I have to give some credits here to A for I am still hypocritical and not open to using eggs myself,my affair with the oven still continues where it touches me only when hot enough to leave love-bites on my hands and the burner was such a cool tool - that A was adamant on caramelizing the sugar himself )

Now I am definitely not of those people who believe in simple living and simple pleasures don't really mean much to me as much as my obsession with labels do. But I have to admit that the final product of this experience of making the crème brulee – which is -warm on top and cool on the inside – hard on top and soft and wobbly on the inside – almost gave me a high !!! Cracking the top layer of the sugar gives you such a pleasure – simple and unbelievable.

And to go give company the crème brulee, I made telepathic dahi vadas ( I say telepathic because more often than not – my mom and I crave for the same things and before I could ask her for a recipe, I see one in my mailbox )


When you’re happy and you know …

Weekend… isn’t this is the only motivation for dragging ourselves through the daily monotonous chores of life – home-work-home and the same routine again.
Now, I personally don’t feel the same (well, there are some exceptions always) – but that’s the general consensus that I have gathered. When you wake up on a weekend, you have an entire 2 days of just chilling out planned out.

Today,when I woke up, I just knew that today is a day to be made special. And talking about special, the first thing that comes to my mind is go to my “second” home – the mall :) But , since the weather Gods weren’t so supportive of my shopping plans, I decided to do the next best thing that gives me immense satisfaction – cooking !!!

Now, if you are wondering what was the occasion for having a special day – I’d come up with a hundred lame ones but the most genuine one being – do we need occasions to celebrate ? :)

So I decided to bake a cake and have a lovely spread of dinner to go with it.
As much as I am intrigued and in love with the whole concept of baking, I am equally intimidated too. More often than not, my Betty Crocker( cake-mix) ones also don’t come out as well. But this time, I gathered the spunk to bake one - right from scratch. I scoured through all my recipe books and goggled furiously to get something meant for a novice like me.

Finally, I zeroed down on a recipe for …hold your breath… Black Forest Cake!!!

I was so apprehensive in making this one, that I literally said a prayer before starting my mission: cake-from-scratch. But somewhere deep down I knew that my intent to have a celebrated day will not let anything jinx my mission.

And so I just did it …

Black Forest Cake: (adapted from multiple recipes available at )

2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 (20 ounce) cans pitted sour cherries
I banana
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups whipped cream

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease with Pam on all sides.
2.In a large bowl, combine flour, 2 cups sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil, and 1 tablespoon vanilla; beat until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pans.
3.Bake for 35 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool layers in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Loosen edges, and remove to racks to cool completely.
4.Drain cherries, reserving 1/2 cup juice. Combine reserved juice, cherries, 1 cup sugar and cornstarch in a 2 quart saucepan. Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cool before using.
5.With a long knife, split each cake layer horizontally in half. Reserve 1 1/2 cups frosting for decorating cake; set aside. Gently brush loose crumbs off top and side of each cake layer with pasty brush or hands. To assemble, place one cake layer on cake plate. Spread with 1 cup frosting; top with 3/4 cup cherry topping. Top with second cake layer; repeat layers of frosting and cherry topping. Top with third layer. Frost side of cake. Tear the fourth layer and pat on frosting on sides.
Set a few cherries and bananas on the top layer.
6.Use the whipped cream to give different strokes of frosting.

A few things I shall change the next time I make this cake –
I am definitely replacing canned cherries with fresh ones and completely skipping the cherry juice,
I might add a little bit more milk, because the cake wasn’t as gooey as I would have loved it, buts that’s totally personal choice.

The funniest part of baking this cake was the hypocritical me. I am a vegetarian on paper – and only eat eggs in forms where it cannot be seen (e.g.: pancakes, cakes, cookies …) But when you bake a cake from scratch and you really wanna use egg – what do you do? Simply be hypocritical ;)
I asked A to pour the eggs in my cake-mixture and asked him to blend it, and I re-entered the kitchen only till all signs of eggs being ever used were gone.

I loved the cake, loved that it wasn’t too liquid or burnt. Loved the fact that I did not cringe on adding those extra layers of frosting and loved the fact that devoured almost half of it without feeling guilty.
After all – I was in a mood for celebration. Celebrations go hand in hand with calories!!! dont they ;)

To stick to my celebratory mood – I also made Cheesy stuffed tomatoes and Tri-layered stuffed capsicum.

Tomorrow definitely calls for an additional 30 min of workout, but for now I am just chilling out, celebrating with another slice of the scrumptious cake in bed :)