November 19, 2015

Sugar cookies for diwali and a class presentation

Buttery sugar cookies

I have been thinking about doing a presentation in Lil A's class about Diwali. I couldn't manage to do it last week, but asked and scheduled a time this week.  It was first time speaking to a bunch of kindergartners. So, I was nervous.

I took some pictures for kids to color and clay diyas to paint for their activities. I wore a sari and even took an extra one for the teacher. But the most fun part was interacting with the students. These 5 and 6-year olds  had interesting questions, were engaged and entertaining.

I wanted to take some treats to class and instead of Indian mithai, I decided to make some cookies.  This was my first time making cookies. I was super nervous. What if they turn out hard as rock?

My plan B - take bourbon cookies if this fails. Luckily, I didn't have to go to plan B.

 The cookies turned out moist, soft and buttery. They were not too sweet, so this would make great holiday cookies too for decorating. 

I made some diya (lamps) on the cookie with edible markers a tiny splash of whipped cream in the middle and a tiny bit of sprinkles. Don't they look festive?

3 cups of all purpose flour
2 sticks (8oz of butter)
1 1/2 cups of sugar
pinch of cardamom and cinnamon powder
1/2 tspoon salt
1 1/2 tspoon baking powder
1 egg
1 tspoon vanilla

Combine flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and cardamom. I like to sieve it once to get it all smooth.

Cream the butter and sugar together for 4-5 minutes till it turns creamy.

Add in the egg and vanilla and mix again. Then add the flour. At this point I like to use my hands to get the dough together. Don't overmix. Once it's all together, make it in a disc shape and chill.

Buttery sugar cookies
I chilled it for about a couple of hours and then rolled it out on some flour. Cut round discs and put it on parchment paper on a baking tray.

Preheat the oven to 350 degF and bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes. One trick to keeping it soft - don't let the entire cookie turn brown. Look for the edge, once they start to turn brown, time to take the cookies out.

Buttery sugar cookies
Let it cool completely before decorating. Enjoy!

November 10, 2015

November 09, 2015

Sweets for Diwali

halwa2Moong dal burfipithe-2

If you are like me and looking for last minute sweets recipe, here are a few recipes that we have enjoyed making over the last few years.

November 02, 2015

Lime and carrot cake with fireman and firetruck

Lime and carrot cake

Tiny M is turning three and he asked for a fire truck cake. Fireman and fire trucks are his most favorite thing at the moment.  He also dressed up as a fireman for Halloween.

As I was getting things ready for his cake, I remembered when I first baked a cake. I can begin the story - Long time ago :) It was in a studio apartment in Washington DC. I had moved there for my first job and barely had any utensils or things. But it was almost Christmas and I was in the mood for something festive.

So I picked one of the cake in a box from the super market along with some whipped cream for frosting and baked in an aluminum foil pan. It was thrilling to see the cake rise and then taste it hot off the oven.

We were so thrilled with the result, I think Aswin and I had cake for dinner.

For Tiny M's cake this year, I chose to do something experimental (inspired by the Great British Bake Off I have been watching on PBS).

I grated one carrot, and zested a lime and a half and made a lime and carrot cake. The result was a really fresh flavored cake, with neither carrot or lime overpowering it.

I bought store bought fondant to make the fire truck and fireman. It was simple, but the kids love it. You should have seen the big grin on Tiny M's face when everyone sang happy birthday :)

For cake:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tspoon salt
2 tspoon baking powder
1 tspoon baking soda
3/4 cup olive oil
1 carrot - grated
1 1/2 lime - zested and juice of one lime
2/3 cup buttermilk (I just thinned homemade yogurt)
4 eggs

For frosting
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
food color

Heat the oven to 350 degF.  Butter and flour cake pans and keep is separate.

Sift the flour with salt, baking powder and baking soda. Keep it aside.

Zest the limes, juice one lime and keep it aside. Similarly, grate the carrot and keep it aside.

Break the eggs and seperate the egg white and the yolk. Put all the egg white in a bowl and whisk till it gets all foamy and soft peaks form. Keep it aside.

Mix about 2 tbspoon sugar with the yolks.

Now mix the sugar and the oil and whisk it nicely. Then add the egg yolks and whisk for a minute.

Then add the flour, buttermilk, lime juice and carrots in three batches. Once it's all mixed together,  slowly fold in the egg whites and the lime zest. It's best to do it slowly.

Pour the mix in two cake pans and bake it for 25-35 mins till the toothpick comes out clean.

Let it rest and get the frosting ready.
Lime and carrot cake

I made two batches of whipped cream. One with color for between layers and one white for the outside.

Whisk chilled heavy cream, sugar and vanilla together till soft peaks form. Layer it in cake and outside as smoothly as possible.

Lime and carrot cake

Decorate and serve.

October 21, 2015

Green chickpeas and sausage curry

Green chana and sausage

It's Durga pujo time. My Facebook feed is full with pictures of Durga pandals and idols from Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata. How things have changes in just a few years!

When I first came to the U.S., I used to long to see dugga thakur from home. Now I am able to see different pratimas (idols) and be a virtual participant in the pujo, see the saaj goj, the food, and the pandals.

Aswin's had a couple of deaths in his family, so we are not celebrating this year. It is going to be a quiet pujo for us.

I want to share the recipe I made for Kerrytown Project last month - green chickpeas with sausage curry.

When I found the green chickpeas at Patel brothers, I knew I wanted to make it for sampling at Kerrytown. So I bought a few pounds. Then, the question was to cook it with ground meat or not. I decided against ground meat and went with sausages instead as it complemented the juicy, crunchy chickpeas.

It was quite a hit, I'm told. Verdict: Sold Out

October 01, 2015

Making fruit roll ups for new school year

Making fruit roll ups

Lil A is settling in kindergarten and Tiny M is not full time in daycare/pre-school. They are settling down well. They come home with stories of what they did, who their new buddies are and what was the fun part of the day. They also come home tired and sometimes cranky.

What worked in pre-school for Lil A doesn't work anymore. So I have been looking for snack and or lunch ideas for them.

It was during this time, I came across the idea of making a fruit roll up for snack. It's rather simple. The first time they tasted, they didn't like it. But I think it is growing on them.

I also popped some pop corn at home. Add a little bit of coconut oil with the kernels and you will be amazed at how crisp the popcorn is. I loved it and so did Tiny M. I think we finished the first batch between us :)

Here is the recipe for the fruit roll up.


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