Monday, November 30, 2015

Chicken Fried Rice ~ When The Hubby Cooks!


I am back with another post today, a simple chicken fried rice that the hubby put together a few days ago when we were eating leftovers for lunch and had nothing in the fridge for dinner. That's when he came up with this idea to use up some leftover rice. Perfect! Chop chop chop he went and 30 minutes later we had a pot of delicious, melt in the mouth fried rice to be walloped down!

Since I don't want to carry forward too many recipes into the next year I decided to post as many as I could in the coming few days so don't be shocked! I am not cooking everything in one go, it's just that I like to post the recipes when I have the time. The upcoming holidays on the occasion of the UAE National Day looks very promising as I will enjoy baking some new recipes - the love of my life! I hope I don't pile on too many kilos though! Anyway, when I am busy baking some simple one pot meals like the curd rice or fried rice come to my rescue. So here is a simple, delicious one pot meal that you can whip up this festive season when you have guests on short notice and the Chinese take away won't deliver home on time!

Cake Pops ~ Chocolate Cake Fudge Balls


Advent has officially begun yesterday, Sunday, the 29th of November. Advent marks the beginning of the Christmas season and calls for all the faithful to prepare spiritually. This is also the day when most homes put up their Christmas trees and decorate their homes in the colours of the yuletide season. No prizes for guessing how we spent our day yesterday! Yes! Our Christmas tree is up - standing tall and pretty. Most of the home has been decluttered and dusted and reorganized. The rest of it will be sorted over the next few days when the UAE will celebrate its 44th National Day on the 2nd of December. It is celebration time here in Dubai and what better than to welcome the season with some yummy cake pops!

Cake pops were invented I am sure, out of sheer necessity to get rid of or upcycle leftover cake or cake crumbs. When I made my daughter's birthday cake last month I was left with a ton of cake crumb - from the trial cakes and the actual birthday cakes (I made two tier cakes for the trial and actual cake - so you can imagine the amount of crumbs I was left it). I didn't think of making cake pops right away but then when I was decluttering my fridge I didn't have the heart to discard the crumbs. The ganache that was used to frost the cake was also used up in this fabulously simple, child friendly delight!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Prune and Chocolate Dessert Cake ~ Gluten Free



In the recent times I have come across many people who have special dietary needs. A lot of people I know are gluten, dairy or lentil free. Sometimes, they are off all products that fall in these categories. It becomes especially hard during the festive season when one sees so many goodies around and not much to nibble on, it can be really hard. I have been in tune with these special needs as I belong to a family that is filled with people who cannot eat one thing or the other, either during to severe intolerance or allergy to one or more food category and hence menu planning is always done with the utmost care at my place. 

When I came across this recipe recently I took a picture of it and bookmarked it to be tried out soon. This recipe is perfect for those who are only gluten free as the cake contains almonds (nuts), eggs (dairy), cream (dairy) and chocolate (dairy)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Mangalorean Crab Sukka Masala ~ When The Hubby Cooks!


Folks! My first ever recipe for crabs is finally here! A lot of people have asked us for crab recipes over the years but I could never oblige them since I don't eat crabs and the husband eventually gave up bringing them home. It was no fun cleaning, cooking and eating them alone he would say. He waited till the day that I could eat them. If you thought that I am finally able to eat them you are wrong. I still haven't tried eating them but I did taste the masala and it was fabulous! I wish that my allergy for crabs fades away eventually and I am able to eat them just the way I eat prawns now. It would be fun to give my man some company while he passionately eats his crab - true Mangalorean style. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pesto Paneer Roll


Ever since I tried my hand at making pesto sauce at home, my kids have become a huge fan of anything with pesto sauce in it! Pesto is an Italian sauce primarily made of basil leaves, pine nuts and cheese. Pasta made with pesto sauce wins hands down everytime and my son keeps asking for it. However, since fresh basil comes at a price that is not very cheap I started either buying the sauce (which I admit works out much cheaper than making it from scratch) or making it myself using alternatives to the basil. Spinach (palak) and coriander are good substitutes although they don't give that very authentic taste so I like adding a few homegrown basil leaves for that unique fragrance and flavour that the leaves impart. Yeah, on my recent trip to the supermarket I picked up a plant for AED 10 and have planted it in my balcony garden. I am crossing my fingers and hoping that it flourishes and doesn't give up on me but till such time, the coriander and spinach comes to my rescue!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Traditional Irish Christmas Cake


A couple of months ago I shortlisted the recipe of the Christmas cake I was going to bake this year. Not so much in favour of boozy cakes I decided to bake my cake a few days before Christmas day but everything changed the minute I set my eyes on this recipe which my cousin Prema shared with me over a chat on whatsapp. She and I love to discuss cakes and bakes and every year we discuss and shortlist recipes for Christmas. Sharing of ideas helps as the internet is so huge now and it's just impossible to scan all the recipes single handedly. The recipe looked easy and the amount of fruit that was required wasn't as much as that in my previously shortlisted recipe. The outcome would be the same infact better I am sure as this cake now needs a total of 4-5 feeds over a span of a month. Perfect timing, I thought to myself. I baked this two days ago and wanted to share the recipe immediately but got caught up with my chores. 

If you want to get into the Christmas mood a little early this year, go make this cake this weekend. You will still have 4 weeks before you cut the cake for Christmas - enough time to give the cake its boozy feeds. If you dislike the alcohol in it just skip it. Soak the fruits in everything except the alcohol and bake the cake a couple of days prior to cutting it so that it gives it a little rest and helps the flavours mature a bit.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Mixed Spice


Mixed spice is an aromatic blend of sweet spices that you must really make at home. Not only will it add a sparkle to your fruit cakes but will also put you instantly into the Christmas mood! The festive spirit is on in my house at least and when I made this lovely blend at home yesterday the entire kitchen was filled with its aroma. Mixed spice is to cakes and puddings what garam masala is to most Indian dishes. It simply lifts the whole dish and adds that special something to it - a special aroma, a special kind of richness, not to forget the festive aroma. 

The best part about making this spice at home is that you can not only tinker around with the quantities of the spices to make a small batch if you wish but you can also make it fresh and instantly to be used in the recipe of your choice. Save yourself the effort and expense of buying it from the store. Most commercially available spice blends are pretty expensive and come in quantities that last you longer than you require. If not stored properly (think humid weather) the blend can get mouldy and perhaps won't smell as fresh & aromatic. So I hope I have sold you my idea by now. Go make it!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Creamy Chicken Baguette Bites ~ When The Hubby Cooks!


This year we decided to have a simple family party for my daughter's birthday and while we were planning the menu we had so many things in mind that the list kept growing everyday. We decided to stick to small bites/appetizers that would be enjoyed by the kids and the adults alike. Keeping the Frozen theme in mind we made sandwiches (does 'we finish each other's sandwiches' ring a bell?!) and I went along with the recipe of my simple chicken & mayo sandwich which is one of the all time popular recipes on my blog. It has been the No#1 recipe for the longest time ever and so I knew that it wouldn't fail me this time. 

To my bad luck the bread that we brought was already crushed a bit (shapeless/not firm enough as it was really fresh and soft and stacked improperly at the supermarket) so cutting off the edges to make nice triangular shaped sandwiches didn't quite work out. So we made a few sandwiches and decided to make more during the course of the party depending on how the kids received it. Since there were many more fun items that attracted the kids a bit more than my poor sandwiches they went almost untouched. I had a ton of the chicken & mayo spread to deal with by the end of the party. Not the ones who like to waste food the husband and I decided to give it a makeover and use it up in someway or the other. The baguette sitting on the counter came to our rescue and it was quickly cut up and slathered with this creamy spread to make for some pretty hors d'oeuvres (pronounced as 'or-derves') which are sure to win everyone's hearts at our next party.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Coconut Ice ~ Easy, No Cook Recipe


It's raining sweets everywhere thanks to Diwali, but this year we didn't partake in any celebration as such and didn't witness a single firecracker display so I couldn't help but miss the festivities back home. However, it's nothing short of a festive mood here as we still have Christmas and New Year's to look forward to so cooking and baking goodies is happening in full swing at my place. The last couple of months are the ones I look forward to the most every year. This year is no different. It helps that we don't plan to travel during the Christmas vacations as I am free to do what I please and yeah, despite warning myself every year I spend most of my days in the kitchen whipping up something new to be added to my festive repertoire. This year is no different but then I have promised myself that I will wind up much earlier than usual and keep a week before Christmas free to spend time with family and take the kids out.

So....the festivities will continue and the goodies will flow, on the blog of course, starting now! Right here, right now is the mantra. I will post as many recipes as I can till mid December after which I will vanish (hopefully) and resurface after I've gotten over the post party hangover! Let's see how much of this pre New Year resolution I am able to keep up with.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Mallorcan Ensaimadas ~ #Breadbakers


I am back with another beautiful bread this month - the very Spanish Ensaimadas which is a sweet, spiral shaped pastry made with flour, eggs, milk and lard (replaced by butter in the modern version). 
This month avani Nandula of Cook's Hideout chose 'Family Feast Breads' as the theme for Bread Bakers, a group of bread enthusiasts with whom I bake every month. Pavani suggested that we bake loaves, rolls or any sort of bread that we'd like to bring to a family celebratory dinner or feast. Now since the festive season is on and Christmas is just around the corner I wanted to pick a bread that was celebratory enough but not too rich, complex or fancy as these breads are rarely eaten by my family. I had to choose something that would be enjoyed by them and could be made easily and I chanced upon this recipe in The Bread Bible by Christine Ingram & Jennie Shapter. I had bookmarked it a while ago simply because these rolls looked so beautiful. I am so glad that they turned out just as beautiful and delicious! These are definitely something I would make for a celebratory meal or eat for breakfast when I am in the mood to indulge. So yeah, it fits the theme so perfectly today! Thank you Pavani for this lovely theme! If you'd like to see what the other bakers are baking today, scroll down to the bottom of this post to access the links to their posts!

Ensaimada (pronounced as 'en-sai-ma-dha') is a popular breakfast/snack or a dessert bread that is pretty popular in countries that were prior Spanish colonies so you will find variants of the traditional pastry in Philippines and Puerto Rico as well. They are also called as Ensaïmada de Mallorca which means the sweet bread of Mallorca, an island off the coast of Spain. And by the way, Mallorca is also spelled as Majorca but is pronounced as 'mah-york-ah' as the as the double L in Spanish is pronounced like the English 'Y'. So now that I've given you your grammar/pronunciation lessons let's proceed :)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Chocolate Bounty Hearts & Bars


A few years ago, when I was still in Mumbai I went gallivanting to Crawford market in search of some baking tools. I came back not just with what I went in search for but plenty of other paraphernalia that included a chocolate mould. I was clueless about how I would make chocolates at home and so I put the project on a back burner until we shifted, bag, baggage and baby, to Dubai. Late last year the hubby happened to watch some videos on how to make homemade chocolate and he was all kicked up about it and said that I should attempt making them at home. I agreed that homemade chocolates would make for great festive gifts, however, it would require many ingredients and a good recipe which I didn't possess at that time so I put this off for a few more months.

This year I decided that even if I didn't make homemade chocolate (from scratch), I could always buy readymade cooking chocolate and remould it into something that everyone would enjoy. Plus, I could buy my favourite chocolate and remould it with whatever I wanted. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Frozen Themed Fondant Covered Cake ~ Celebratory Cakes


Last month as I was planning my daughter's birthday I suddenly, on a whim decided that I should bake her birthday cake this time. Despite the fact that I love baking and have baked a million cakes, I've never had the guts to bake a celebratory one, especially birthday cakes for my kids. I always thought that it was better to place the order for one and just be done with it - I mean, who wants to deal with the extra work and take the risk of decorating a cake that could badly flop leaving one with no backup at the last minute? The very thought of it would send shivers down my spine! 

But then we didn't plan to have a big party this time, just a small family get together that would have familiar faces and people who would never laugh at me (even if they wanted to). The very thought of having loving, encouraging and appreciative people around me gave me the confidence to seal the deal and lock this plan of baking a cake from scratch. Now, it was going to be a simple single tier cake with some simple, delicious, wholesome buttercream frosting. A few candles here and some store bought figurines there and I would be done with the cake, but you see, Pinterest can cast a spell on you and make you want to try out cakes beyond your culinary capacity. I shortlisted a few buttercream frosted cakes which the man vetoed and said it was my chance to try my hand at decorating with fondant. "Fondant?? Are you nuts?" I exclaimed, giving him a stare. He replied "yes, what's the harm in trying? You've got to start somewhere". These words sent me into a panic mode. Although last year my cousin Melissa had showed me how fondant was made I had absolutely no clue how to go about rolling it and practically how much time the whole fiasco would take me. 

"Just Google it" he said. The rest is history.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Nankhatai | Nan-Cut | Narayan Katar | Indian Shortbread Cookies (Eggless Cookies)


A couple of years ago my childhood friend Veda shared her recipe for the nankhatai, a lovely Indian sweet biscuit that is usually prepared during the festive season. In India we use the term 'biscuit' for cookies and these little melt-in-your-mouth wonders are pretty much like shortbread cookies but slightly differ in taste and texture owing to the use of ghee (clarified butter) instead of butter. During my growing up years the nankhatai was available at most bakeries in Mangalore and was prepared in homes especially during Deepavali and Christmas. Although the nankhatai is not a traditional item on the Kuswar (a Mangalorean collection of Christmas sweets & savouries) platter it is served in many homes along with other non traditional sweets such as coconut burfi and marzipan etc. While across India they are called as the 'nankhatai', in Mangalore they are also known as the Narayan Katar (in bakeries and such) and Nan Cuts (mostly by Catholics who make it during Christmas) 

Ok, so now coming back to the nankhatai, when I made these a few days ago I was wondering why I sat on the recipe for two whole years before trying it out. Since Veda and I are chaddi-buddies who cannot start the day without chatting with each other on Whatsapp, sharing recipes on a daily basis is a natural occurrence, pretty much like the rising and setting of the sun.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Simple Chicken Risotto


This risotto is the result of a few ingredients lying unclaimed in my fridge and pantry and the need for a simple weekend meal. I had bought the risotto rice over a year ago and had to use it up before the expiry date. I was really pleased with how simple yet delicious it turned out to be! Risotto is a typical Italian preparation made from rice and stock to which vegetables, meat or fish may be added. Since I had some homemade chicken stock and some boneless chicken in the fridge I decided to go ahead and make something really quick and simple. 

This is one recipe you can count on when you don't really have a lot of time. All you need to do is throw in the ingredients together and check on your one pot meal every now and then. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Chicken Fried Rice ~ When The Hubby Cooks!


I am back with another post today, a simple chicken fried rice that the hubby put together a few days ago when we were eating leftovers for lunch and had nothing in the fridge for dinner. That's when he came up with this idea to use up some leftover rice. Perfect! Chop chop chop he went and 30 minutes later we had a pot of delicious, melt in the mouth fried rice to be walloped down!

Since I don't want to carry forward too many recipes into the next year I decided to post as many as I could in the coming few days so don't be shocked! I am not cooking everything in one go, it's just that I like to post the recipes when I have the time. The upcoming holidays on the occasion of the UAE National Day looks very promising as I will enjoy baking some new recipes - the love of my life! I hope I don't pile on too many kilos though! Anyway, when I am busy baking some simple one pot meals like the curd rice or fried rice come to my rescue. So here is a simple, delicious one pot meal that you can whip up this festive season when you have guests on short notice and the Chinese take away won't deliver home on time!

Cake Pops ~ Chocolate Cake Fudge Balls


Advent has officially begun yesterday, Sunday, the 29th of November. Advent marks the beginning of the Christmas season and calls for all the faithful to prepare spiritually. This is also the day when most homes put up their Christmas trees and decorate their homes in the colours of the yuletide season. No prizes for guessing how we spent our day yesterday! Yes! Our Christmas tree is up - standing tall and pretty. Most of the home has been decluttered and dusted and reorganized. The rest of it will be sorted over the next few days when the UAE will celebrate its 44th National Day on the 2nd of December. It is celebration time here in Dubai and what better than to welcome the season with some yummy cake pops!

Cake pops were invented I am sure, out of sheer necessity to get rid of or upcycle leftover cake or cake crumbs. When I made my daughter's birthday cake last month I was left with a ton of cake crumb - from the trial cakes and the actual birthday cakes (I made two tier cakes for the trial and actual cake - so you can imagine the amount of crumbs I was left it). I didn't think of making cake pops right away but then when I was decluttering my fridge I didn't have the heart to discard the crumbs. The ganache that was used to frost the cake was also used up in this fabulously simple, child friendly delight!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Prune and Chocolate Dessert Cake ~ Gluten Free



In the recent times I have come across many people who have special dietary needs. A lot of people I know are gluten, dairy or lentil free. Sometimes, they are off all products that fall in these categories. It becomes especially hard during the festive season when one sees so many goodies around and not much to nibble on, it can be really hard. I have been in tune with these special needs as I belong to a family that is filled with people who cannot eat one thing or the other, either during to severe intolerance or allergy to one or more food category and hence menu planning is always done with the utmost care at my place. 

When I came across this recipe recently I took a picture of it and bookmarked it to be tried out soon. This recipe is perfect for those who are only gluten free as the cake contains almonds (nuts), eggs (dairy), cream (dairy) and chocolate (dairy)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Mangalorean Crab Sukka Masala ~ When The Hubby Cooks!


Folks! My first ever recipe for crabs is finally here! A lot of people have asked us for crab recipes over the years but I could never oblige them since I don't eat crabs and the husband eventually gave up bringing them home. It was no fun cleaning, cooking and eating them alone he would say. He waited till the day that I could eat them. If you thought that I am finally able to eat them you are wrong. I still haven't tried eating them but I did taste the masala and it was fabulous! I wish that my allergy for crabs fades away eventually and I am able to eat them just the way I eat prawns now. It would be fun to give my man some company while he passionately eats his crab - true Mangalorean style. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pesto Paneer Roll


Ever since I tried my hand at making pesto sauce at home, my kids have become a huge fan of anything with pesto sauce in it! Pesto is an Italian sauce primarily made of basil leaves, pine nuts and cheese. Pasta made with pesto sauce wins hands down everytime and my son keeps asking for it. However, since fresh basil comes at a price that is not very cheap I started either buying the sauce (which I admit works out much cheaper than making it from scratch) or making it myself using alternatives to the basil. Spinach (palak) and coriander are good substitutes although they don't give that very authentic taste so I like adding a few homegrown basil leaves for that unique fragrance and flavour that the leaves impart. Yeah, on my recent trip to the supermarket I picked up a plant for AED 10 and have planted it in my balcony garden. I am crossing my fingers and hoping that it flourishes and doesn't give up on me but till such time, the coriander and spinach comes to my rescue!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Traditional Irish Christmas Cake


A couple of months ago I shortlisted the recipe of the Christmas cake I was going to bake this year. Not so much in favour of boozy cakes I decided to bake my cake a few days before Christmas day but everything changed the minute I set my eyes on this recipe which my cousin Prema shared with me over a chat on whatsapp. She and I love to discuss cakes and bakes and every year we discuss and shortlist recipes for Christmas. Sharing of ideas helps as the internet is so huge now and it's just impossible to scan all the recipes single handedly. The recipe looked easy and the amount of fruit that was required wasn't as much as that in my previously shortlisted recipe. The outcome would be the same infact better I am sure as this cake now needs a total of 4-5 feeds over a span of a month. Perfect timing, I thought to myself. I baked this two days ago and wanted to share the recipe immediately but got caught up with my chores. 

If you want to get into the Christmas mood a little early this year, go make this cake this weekend. You will still have 4 weeks before you cut the cake for Christmas - enough time to give the cake its boozy feeds. If you dislike the alcohol in it just skip it. Soak the fruits in everything except the alcohol and bake the cake a couple of days prior to cutting it so that it gives it a little rest and helps the flavours mature a bit.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Mixed Spice


Mixed spice is an aromatic blend of sweet spices that you must really make at home. Not only will it add a sparkle to your fruit cakes but will also put you instantly into the Christmas mood! The festive spirit is on in my house at least and when I made this lovely blend at home yesterday the entire kitchen was filled with its aroma. Mixed spice is to cakes and puddings what garam masala is to most Indian dishes. It simply lifts the whole dish and adds that special something to it - a special aroma, a special kind of richness, not to forget the festive aroma. 

The best part about making this spice at home is that you can not only tinker around with the quantities of the spices to make a small batch if you wish but you can also make it fresh and instantly to be used in the recipe of your choice. Save yourself the effort and expense of buying it from the store. Most commercially available spice blends are pretty expensive and come in quantities that last you longer than you require. If not stored properly (think humid weather) the blend can get mouldy and perhaps won't smell as fresh & aromatic. So I hope I have sold you my idea by now. Go make it!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Creamy Chicken Baguette Bites ~ When The Hubby Cooks!


This year we decided to have a simple family party for my daughter's birthday and while we were planning the menu we had so many things in mind that the list kept growing everyday. We decided to stick to small bites/appetizers that would be enjoyed by the kids and the adults alike. Keeping the Frozen theme in mind we made sandwiches (does 'we finish each other's sandwiches' ring a bell?!) and I went along with the recipe of my simple chicken & mayo sandwich which is one of the all time popular recipes on my blog. It has been the No#1 recipe for the longest time ever and so I knew that it wouldn't fail me this time. 

To my bad luck the bread that we brought was already crushed a bit (shapeless/not firm enough as it was really fresh and soft and stacked improperly at the supermarket) so cutting off the edges to make nice triangular shaped sandwiches didn't quite work out. So we made a few sandwiches and decided to make more during the course of the party depending on how the kids received it. Since there were many more fun items that attracted the kids a bit more than my poor sandwiches they went almost untouched. I had a ton of the chicken & mayo spread to deal with by the end of the party. Not the ones who like to waste food the husband and I decided to give it a makeover and use it up in someway or the other. The baguette sitting on the counter came to our rescue and it was quickly cut up and slathered with this creamy spread to make for some pretty hors d'oeuvres (pronounced as 'or-derves') which are sure to win everyone's hearts at our next party.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Coconut Ice ~ Easy, No Cook Recipe


It's raining sweets everywhere thanks to Diwali, but this year we didn't partake in any celebration as such and didn't witness a single firecracker display so I couldn't help but miss the festivities back home. However, it's nothing short of a festive mood here as we still have Christmas and New Year's to look forward to so cooking and baking goodies is happening in full swing at my place. The last couple of months are the ones I look forward to the most every year. This year is no different. It helps that we don't plan to travel during the Christmas vacations as I am free to do what I please and yeah, despite warning myself every year I spend most of my days in the kitchen whipping up something new to be added to my festive repertoire. This year is no different but then I have promised myself that I will wind up much earlier than usual and keep a week before Christmas free to spend time with family and take the kids out.

So....the festivities will continue and the goodies will flow, on the blog of course, starting now! Right here, right now is the mantra. I will post as many recipes as I can till mid December after which I will vanish (hopefully) and resurface after I've gotten over the post party hangover! Let's see how much of this pre New Year resolution I am able to keep up with.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Mallorcan Ensaimadas ~ #Breadbakers


I am back with another beautiful bread this month - the very Spanish Ensaimadas which is a sweet, spiral shaped pastry made with flour, eggs, milk and lard (replaced by butter in the modern version). 
This month avani Nandula of Cook's Hideout chose 'Family Feast Breads' as the theme for Bread Bakers, a group of bread enthusiasts with whom I bake every month. Pavani suggested that we bake loaves, rolls or any sort of bread that we'd like to bring to a family celebratory dinner or feast. Now since the festive season is on and Christmas is just around the corner I wanted to pick a bread that was celebratory enough but not too rich, complex or fancy as these breads are rarely eaten by my family. I had to choose something that would be enjoyed by them and could be made easily and I chanced upon this recipe in The Bread Bible by Christine Ingram & Jennie Shapter. I had bookmarked it a while ago simply because these rolls looked so beautiful. I am so glad that they turned out just as beautiful and delicious! These are definitely something I would make for a celebratory meal or eat for breakfast when I am in the mood to indulge. So yeah, it fits the theme so perfectly today! Thank you Pavani for this lovely theme! If you'd like to see what the other bakers are baking today, scroll down to the bottom of this post to access the links to their posts!

Ensaimada (pronounced as 'en-sai-ma-dha') is a popular breakfast/snack or a dessert bread that is pretty popular in countries that were prior Spanish colonies so you will find variants of the traditional pastry in Philippines and Puerto Rico as well. They are also called as Ensaïmada de Mallorca which means the sweet bread of Mallorca, an island off the coast of Spain. And by the way, Mallorca is also spelled as Majorca but is pronounced as 'mah-york-ah' as the as the double L in Spanish is pronounced like the English 'Y'. So now that I've given you your grammar/pronunciation lessons let's proceed :)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Chocolate Bounty Hearts & Bars


A few years ago, when I was still in Mumbai I went gallivanting to Crawford market in search of some baking tools. I came back not just with what I went in search for but plenty of other paraphernalia that included a chocolate mould. I was clueless about how I would make chocolates at home and so I put the project on a back burner until we shifted, bag, baggage and baby, to Dubai. Late last year the hubby happened to watch some videos on how to make homemade chocolate and he was all kicked up about it and said that I should attempt making them at home. I agreed that homemade chocolates would make for great festive gifts, however, it would require many ingredients and a good recipe which I didn't possess at that time so I put this off for a few more months.

This year I decided that even if I didn't make homemade chocolate (from scratch), I could always buy readymade cooking chocolate and remould it into something that everyone would enjoy. Plus, I could buy my favourite chocolate and remould it with whatever I wanted. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Frozen Themed Fondant Covered Cake ~ Celebratory Cakes


Last month as I was planning my daughter's birthday I suddenly, on a whim decided that I should bake her birthday cake this time. Despite the fact that I love baking and have baked a million cakes, I've never had the guts to bake a celebratory one, especially birthday cakes for my kids. I always thought that it was better to place the order for one and just be done with it - I mean, who wants to deal with the extra work and take the risk of decorating a cake that could badly flop leaving one with no backup at the last minute? The very thought of it would send shivers down my spine! 

But then we didn't plan to have a big party this time, just a small family get together that would have familiar faces and people who would never laugh at me (even if they wanted to). The very thought of having loving, encouraging and appreciative people around me gave me the confidence to seal the deal and lock this plan of baking a cake from scratch. Now, it was going to be a simple single tier cake with some simple, delicious, wholesome buttercream frosting. A few candles here and some store bought figurines there and I would be done with the cake, but you see, Pinterest can cast a spell on you and make you want to try out cakes beyond your culinary capacity. I shortlisted a few buttercream frosted cakes which the man vetoed and said it was my chance to try my hand at decorating with fondant. "Fondant?? Are you nuts?" I exclaimed, giving him a stare. He replied "yes, what's the harm in trying? You've got to start somewhere". These words sent me into a panic mode. Although last year my cousin Melissa had showed me how fondant was made I had absolutely no clue how to go about rolling it and practically how much time the whole fiasco would take me. 

"Just Google it" he said. The rest is history.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Nankhatai | Nan-Cut | Narayan Katar | Indian Shortbread Cookies (Eggless Cookies)


A couple of years ago my childhood friend Veda shared her recipe for the nankhatai, a lovely Indian sweet biscuit that is usually prepared during the festive season. In India we use the term 'biscuit' for cookies and these little melt-in-your-mouth wonders are pretty much like shortbread cookies but slightly differ in taste and texture owing to the use of ghee (clarified butter) instead of butter. During my growing up years the nankhatai was available at most bakeries in Mangalore and was prepared in homes especially during Deepavali and Christmas. Although the nankhatai is not a traditional item on the Kuswar (a Mangalorean collection of Christmas sweets & savouries) platter it is served in many homes along with other non traditional sweets such as coconut burfi and marzipan etc. While across India they are called as the 'nankhatai', in Mangalore they are also known as the Narayan Katar (in bakeries and such) and Nan Cuts (mostly by Catholics who make it during Christmas) 

Ok, so now coming back to the nankhatai, when I made these a few days ago I was wondering why I sat on the recipe for two whole years before trying it out. Since Veda and I are chaddi-buddies who cannot start the day without chatting with each other on Whatsapp, sharing recipes on a daily basis is a natural occurrence, pretty much like the rising and setting of the sun.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Simple Chicken Risotto


This risotto is the result of a few ingredients lying unclaimed in my fridge and pantry and the need for a simple weekend meal. I had bought the risotto rice over a year ago and had to use it up before the expiry date. I was really pleased with how simple yet delicious it turned out to be! Risotto is a typical Italian preparation made from rice and stock to which vegetables, meat or fish may be added. Since I had some homemade chicken stock and some boneless chicken in the fridge I decided to go ahead and make something really quick and simple. 

This is one recipe you can count on when you don't really have a lot of time. All you need to do is throw in the ingredients together and check on your one pot meal every now and then.