January 27, 2016

Celebrating 6th birthday with StarWars vanilla cupackes

celebrating birthday with vanilla cupcakes

Lil A turned six. Before I get too sentimental, let me tell you all about the party.

Birthday was a big discussion for weeks. Lil A changed themes every week if not every day. We finally settled on Lego birthday theme. I started preparing, ordered a few things when he announced that it had to be Star Wars birthday.

We switched gears midway and finally settled on Lego activities and Star Wars food for the kids birthday party. A few of his friends came over and we hosted it at home.

The menu was:
    celebrating birthday with vanilla cupcakes
  • Cheese and pepperoni pizza
  • Carrots
  • Watermelon
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Grape lightsabers
  • Starwars chocolate in both white and dark chocolate
  • Marshmallow stormtroopers and
  • Starwars cupcakes 
Ameya made Lego masks for his friends and some friends chose to make it themselves. Then we played a game of Lego bingo. I wasn't sure but the kids really got into it. They would shout out "Bingo" as they crossed a line on their page.

Finally, it was time for food and the Star Wars theme won over some of the critics as well. The cupcakes are really my go to vanilla cupcakes with Star Wars pictures! But we'll keep that a secret.

Those who know me know that I have been experimenting with oil, buttermilk combination in cakes and the cupcake has it too. I find them more moist and kids prefer it too. The frosting is just whipped cream, another favorite. In fact, they come for multiple tastings when I am whipping it, acting as my testers. :-)

Here is the recipe:

(makes 12-14 cupcakes)
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 tspoon baking powder
1/2 tspoon baking soda
1/2 tspoon salt
2/3 cup oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cup heavy cream
3-4 tbspoon powdered sugar
food color (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degF. Butter the cupcake liners and put them in the pan.

Sift all the dry ingredients together and keep is aside.

Whip the 2 eggs for about 1 -2 minutes till it turns fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for another minute.

Then add the oil and vanilla and beat for another 30 seconds till well incorporated. Then add the dry ingredients in three and buttermilk in two installments, ending with the dry ingredients.

Make sure to clean the sides.

Pour the batter, which is a little liquidy into the liners filling a little more than half.

Bake for 12-16 minutes till the toothpicks come out clean.

Cool them completely before frosting.

Beat the heavy cream with sugar till soft peaks form. Use it to decorate the cupcakes.

I got the pictures of Star Wars characters from here which I cut out and put on toothpicks.

celebrating birthday with vanilla cupcakes

The cupcakes are ready to serve.

January 09, 2016

Khao soi

Khao Soy

-->Happy New Year!
I am back with a new recipe - Khao soi. It is coconut milk soaked noodle dish topped with meat/vegetables and a variety of toppings. It's can be a lot of fun to have this at dinner parties where everyone can make their own bowl.

I made it several times in 2015 and it was a lot of fun. Instead of preparing a prepared bowl, I put all the ingredients on the table and everyone could choose and make their own Khao soi bowl.

It can be done with chicken or any other meat. I also added a vegetable dish as I had vegetarians on the table as well.

After you add the coconut soup, noodles on top and choose chicken and vegetables, then come the toppings - fried onions, fried garlic, ginger soaked in lemon juice and sugar, cilantro, spring onions, crispy bhujia, fresh radish, boiled eggs or any other multitudes of combination you can think of.

It may take a little bit of time getting all the ingredients, but the bowl with all the toppings will be the talk of the night, not to mention so delicious that it will be gone in no time.

Here is how I do it:

December 24, 2015

Thumbprint cookies with caramel and fig

Thumbprint cookies

I am an amateur when it comes to baking cookies. I probably have made it before once or twice (Diwali cookies included), really an amateur.

So when I received invitations for cookie exchanges this year, I was worried. I needed a basic recipe and when I asked a friend, she mentioned thumbprint cookies. "They're easy to make and you can put anything in the middle."

That was exciting. Instead of traditional jam, I chose to put caramel and fig jam in the cookies. I bought ready made caramel, but made the jam at home.

I did leave some plain for the kids and they chose to fill their cookies with chocolate and jam.

So if you are looking for a last minute recipe for the holidays, look no further.

For cookies:
1 cup butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 tspoon baking powder
1/2 tspoon salt
1 egg
1 tspoon vanilla extract
3 tbspoon chocolate chips

For fig jam:
1 small box of figs (I got mine at Whole Foods and it had about 10-12)
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.

Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Beat the butter and sugar together till it turns fluffy about 4-5 minutes scrapping the sides occasionally.

Thumbprint cookiesThen add the egg and vanilla extract and mix again.

Once it's mixed add in the flour in a couple of batches.

At this point I divided the dough in two batches eyeballing it mostly. Then melt the chocolate in the microwave, heating for 30 seconds at a time till it all melts. Add a tspoon of water if needed.

Add the melted chocolate to one batch and mix again till it is incorporated well.

Line 2 sheets with parchment paper and add the cookies dough in small balls on the sheet. Make a deep thumbprint in the middle and let it bake for 15-20 minutes.

If needed, about halfway through, take the cookies out, redo the thumbprints with a small spoon and finish baking till they are golden around the edges.

Transfer them to a wire rack and cool before adding the filling.
Thumbprint cookies

For fig jam:
Cook the fig with all the ingredients on low heat till it becomes a thick jam consistency about 20-25 minutes.

Add the caramel and fig in the middle. I added caramel on vanilla cookies and fig on chocolate cookies.

They are ready to serve.

Enjoy and have a safe and happy holiday season.

December 10, 2015

Ottolenghi's saffron, cardamom and wine poached pears

Saffron, cardamom and wine poached pears

This is a recipe that makes any occasion special. And when you are cooking it, it makes the entire house smell wonderful too with the aroma of saffron and lemon wafting as you get the dinner table set for your holiday meal.

Trust me, you cannot go wrong with this one. The recipe is from one of my favorite authors Yottam Ottolenghi and it's easy to make. It can even be made the night before so the pears can soak up some of the delicious syrup.

It works best with firm pears that will hold it's shape after boiling. I didn't tweak the recipe much other than reducing the sugar slightly, cutting the pears in half and serving it with some gelato instead of creme fraîche. 

Bon appetit has the recipe.

4 firm pears peeled
7-10 cardamoms - crushed
pinch of saffron
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups white wine
1/2 cup water
1 tbspoon lemon juice


Combine the lemon juice, cardamom, saffron, wine and water together in a pan and stir over medium heat till the sugar dissolves. Then put the pears in and bring the heat to simmer. Let it cook on low for about 20-25 minutes and then take the pears out.

Saffron, cardamom and wine poached pears
Reduce the syrup further by cooking in another 10-15 minutes. Let it cool to room temperature.

For serving, spoon some of the syrup over the pear and serve.

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


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