Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Kinnow Marmalade

I abhor kinnow! Its difficult to eat and doesn't taste like an orange. When I asked Ajay to get oranges, guess what he thought was an orange! Apparently its a type of Mandarin orange. The best thing I found out to do with kinnow is to make marmalade. Jamming transforms this fruit. This marmalade is made with natural pectin and sets beautifully. Also it has a slight bitter component due to the rinds, that makes it delicious.

Kinnow - 4
Lemon - 1
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Water -1 cup

Wash and peel the kinnows. Keep peels of two kinnows, cut them into thin strips. Slice the kinnow right in the half like slicing into two hemispheres! This makes it easy to remove the seeds which are generally in the center. Also remove and keep as much of the white pips as possible. Put the sliced fruit into a heavy bottomed pan. Add the juice of a lemon and strips of kinnnow peel.
In a muslin cloth or handkerchief put all the seeds and pips, including the seeds of the lemon and also the squeezed out lemon itself.  Tie this into a nice bundle and throw it into the pan. All the natural pectin is released from this bundle.
Add the sugar into the pan along with the water. Boil on slow flame for about 1.5 to 2 hours. At 1.5 hour stage check for the consistency. To do this, keep a small plate in the freezer. Add a drop of the marmalade onto this chilled plate and check if it sets into a jelly. If it does, then the jam is made otherwise cook for a further 15 mins and repeat setting test.
We got 1.5 small jars of marmalade.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Pecan Pie

Please excuse my torpidity lately! I have been meaning to put up many posts. Have been fairly busy baking. Here is something I tried by pure coincidence on Thanksgiving day!

It all begins with the story of how I got hold of pecans. Well these nuts are non existent in India. Ajay's aunt was visiting us from London and she is known to come bearing many gifts! Thank you auntie! We are enjoying your presents. Pecans down, only if I could figure how to finish off the truck load of spanish saffron now!


For Filling
Brown sugar - 1 cup
Normal sugar - 1/4 cup
Whole wheat flour - 1 tbspn
Eggs - 2
Vanilla extract - 2 tspn
Milk - 3 tbspn
Melted butter - 1/4 cup
Salt - 1/4 tspn
Chopped Pecans - 1 cup
Rum - 1 tbspn

For Pie Crust
Whole wheat flour - 1.5 cups
Sugar - 1/2 tbspn
Salt - 1/8 tspn
Oil - 7 tbspn
Liquid (Milk or Water or Juice) - 1/4 cup


For pie crust - Mix in a bowl all the ingredients till moist clumps form. Add the liquid slowly into the dry ingredients. There is no need to refrigerate this pastry. With your hands press down the dough on the pie mold evenly on the bottom and up the sides. Score with a fork. Pie crust is ready for filling.

Filling - In a mixing bowl add both the sugars, flour, salt and two eggs.  Beat very well till all the sugar is dissolved. If the sugar is not dissolved it would sink to the bottom of the pie during baking. So ensure it is nicely mixed. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Pour this filling into the pie shell and sprinkle with pecans on top. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 40 - 45 mins. Cool completely before cutting the pie.

For a variation, one can add a bit of chocolate to the filling.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


The alarm went off and I indolently stare at the arms of the old pest. It always feels like you only just slept. I am sure you can empathize. Once your organs kick back into action, you realize there is indeed a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I have spent lot many Saturday's getting up early trying to get some freshly baked bagels from "Daily Bread" bakery. This was the "Before-Oven" era and bread and bagels were the food of gods. I am glad in the 2013 AO (After-Oven), we can do this at home!

Here is my attempt at homemade mini bagels. They did turn out quite scrumptious! I like them with sour cream instead of cream cheese. And yes we also make the sour cream at home.

Whole wheat flour - 2 cups
Dry instant yeast - 1/2 tablespoon
Salt - 1 teaspoon
Sugar - 1/2 tablespoon
Warm water - 1 cup

Combine all the above ingredients and knead vigorously  for 15 mins till you get a stiff but pliable dough.This dough should not stick to your hands. It should be slightly springy and stay indented if you gently prod it with your finger. Let this dough proof for about 1.5 hours or till doubled in size.
Punch the dough down. Split the dough into small balls and shape as bagels by punching small holes in the center of the ball using your finger. You can also roll out the bagels by shaping the dough into a pipe and then rolling them into rings. I tried the first shaping method. Let these bagels proof again for 1 hour or till doubled.
Preheat the oven at 220C at this point while preparing the water bath.
For the water bath, boil water with 2 heaped tablespoons of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. When it is at a rolling boil, drop your bagels into the water and after 2 mins flip them over. Cook for 1 more minute on this side.
Remove the bagels on to a greased cooking sheet. You can sprinkle any toppings at this point. I used sesame seeds and sharp cheddar cheese on a few. You can also use poppy seeds, nigella seeds etc.
Bake in a 220C oven for about 20 to 30 mins. Enjoy your fresh bagels!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Crossover Pinafore Dress

I have never touched a sewing machine before in my life.
I see all these cute clothes people make and pin on their boards in pinterest and it has just galvanized me. Time to set the wheels into motion and adopt a new quirk.

First, a big cheer goes out to my mother in law who gave me indispensable first lessons on her awesome sewing machine!

Second, I got this pattern and the tutorial from the below blog, the instructions made the whole project effortless. So a big thank you to Maggie.

Here is my amateur attempt at a reversible pinafore for my little pumpkin.

And here she is, modeling her new "Mommy Made". I am hoping my pint sized wonder would fit into it better in a couple of months.

Hoping I can keep up the enthusiasm!

Pin Cushion

I am a sewing novice and like most people I love to read and take online tutorials and yes, purchase all my supplies even before the first project begins!

I got these most colorful set of pearl head pins!

I wanted to make a simple pin cushion for these. So found some online tutorials and ended up making something that fits the bill.

Here are the supplies:-

Small circular piece of cloth
A small bottle cap
Small piece of ribbon
Needle and thread
Cotton as batting


Using a needle and thread, do a simple running stitch over the circular cloth.

Glue on the ribbon to the sides of the bottle cap.

Pull the thread on the cloth and make a small pouch.

Add cotton batting to this pouch.

Stick this pouch into the bottle cap. Here is a neat little pin cushion.

Happy sewing!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Vanilla Extract

Some years ago we went vacationing to Hampi. Its one of those long lost cities, where ancient kingdoms(Vijayanagar Empire) flourished. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and is truly stupefying.

And after our grand tour of the lost city, we settled to eat lunch at this quaint place called the Mango Tree Restaurant. Yes, you have to see it to believe it.

While walking through a dense banana plantation one begins to doubt if there really is a place to find a hot meal or was that an urban legend. Once the thicket clears up you see a mundane entrance to a place that doesn't look too appealing. Appearances believe me, are very deceiving.
Gobbling up a handsome meal while lounging on stone benches perched on the cliff of a small hillock overlooking the Tungabhadra river. A place to relax and see the world go by. Swing away into the river like a 4 year old. Spend sleepy afternoons reading books under the canopy of the mango tree. Watch people enjoy coracle rides in the river. Breathe in the fresh air and clear all the city smoke filled lungs. It is a hidden gem. An experience you cannot miss. Magnificent is an understatement.
It was here I bought a packet of a couple of vanilla beans grown locally.

Now that the story of the source is over, lets get onto the extract.

Vodka - 150ml, 70 proof , vanilla flavored is a plus
Vanilla beans - 2 pods

Split the vanilla beans in half lengthwise. Scrape the beans. Also chop the remaining beans into small pieces. Add this to 150ml of Vodka (we got a 180ml Vodka bottle, and ended up using 30ml for macerated strawberries with vanilla ice cream!). Shake well and leave in a cool and dark place for 2 months.

We have a beautiful homemade vanilla extract that we use in all our baking! I plan to follow the same procedure to make lime and orange extract soon. Stay tuned for those updates!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Homemade Swiss Style Muesli

Finally got on to making my own muesli at home. I love muesli, its truly my go to breakfast.

Here is the recipe that makes about 400 gms or so of muesli -

Oatmeal - 3 cups
Flaked or chopped almonds - 30 odd almonds
Coarse dried fruit mix - 1 cup
Honey - 1/2 cup
Raisins - 30 odd

For the coarse dried fruit mix, coarsely chop/grind pistachios(20 odd), cashew(20 odd), cardamom (10 pods), peppercorns(5-6 or omit altogether).
Mix all of the above mentioned ingredients except raisins in a bowl.
Spread it out on a baking tray.
Preheat oven at 180C for 10 mins, bake the oatmeal mix for 20-25 mins at 180C(fan aided). In the middle toss it about a bit in the oven to ensure even roasting. Keep checking that it is not burning towards the end.
After baking, let it cool. Add raisins.

There are so many other optional items that can be added to this mix - flaxseed, sunflower/pumpkin seeds, dates, dried apricots or figs. Let your imagination set the limits.

It tastes divine with cold milk or cold yoghurt with added fresh fruit. There is no added sugar. Its a power packed snack. Enjoy!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Chocolate Lava Cake

Image courtesy - healthyindulgences.net

Since we had rice for lunch, I was very sure that Ajay would be hungry when he gets back from college. I wanted to make something nice to surprise him. Settled on making a chocolate lava cake.

But what if I put in all the effort and it turns out like a lump of coal or a puddle of cake mush! Had to try it anyway.

It turned out beautifully perfect with molten chocolate oozing out of the center!

Here is the recipe, it was pretty simple and hardly took any time to whip up.

Dark Chocolate - 150gms
Cream - 1/2 cup
Egg - 1
Sugar - 1/3 cup
Flour - 1/3 cup

Makes about 4 full sized muffin cakes.

1. Preheat oven at 180C for 10 mins.
2. Melt the chocolate with cream in a double boiler. Once melted, keep aside for cooling a bit.
3. Whisk the egg with sugar until pale and frothy. I did this by hand, took about 5 mins.
4. Mix the melted chocolate mixture into the liquids.
5. Add the flour and gently fold it into the batter.
6. Pour in greased and floured moulds. I used muffin moulds.
7. Bake at 180C for exact 15 mins.

Took about 30 mins to make the whole thing.

My 10 month old loved it! Here is Adrika enjoying her cake :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What no one tells you about pregnancy

Most people who have children encourage others to have them as well. Some to the extent that you start wondering what their real motives are. We didn't buckle in to all the pressure, we took our time. However interestingly no one gives you a warning about things to come. Well it's not very motivating if you lay out all the facts. So lets discuss some of these facts.

Scene from a movie, girl vomits hence girl pregnant. In real life you mostly figure out you are pregnant fairly before this stage. In fact I almost yearned to get the nausea. Bad move. I had never felt so sick in life before. Vomitting becomes the order of the day. I could hardly keep my first breakfast down in the first trimester. Oh yeah, that brings another fact out, people say that nausea lasts only one trimester. Well well what do they know.

Another interesting fact, sleep on your stomach while you can. Sleeping on a football later may not be too comfortable. And yes don't let a pregnant woman fool you to believe that she has food cravings all the time. Diet selectivity wise a lot of us are deficient. There are many a times I woke up thinking thats odd why does my hand hurt. Three words describe this - carpal tunnel syndrome. I thought if ever i get this it would be due to my occupation(being in software i.e.). Little did I know that being pregnant would have anything to do with it. Keeping on the subject of hands, I had to part with my rings. You ask why. Well something called oedema, plain jane - they swell up. A lot.

By the way you ask, would i at least sleep peacefully. Oh yes, very calmly. There is only the matter of heart burn. Eat what you may, drink a jug of cold milk, but voila its there. Always there. At least you can master the art of sleeping sitting. I am an optimist.

Sticking to the aforementioned subject of sleep, again I iterate, one sleeps peacefully in chunks of half an hour. There is always the case of evacuating your bladder. I truly discovered how inadequate the capacity of my bladder was during my pregnancy.

That brings us to all the crying. Even the most optimistic bird tends to feel sombre during the fourty weeks. The anxiety and the excitement get to you. Also this being the only fact that most husbands recall from your pregnancy. The only one that kind of affects them, so they bookmark it into their memory for future reference. Go ahead shout at him, he got you into this in the first place.

That brings us to the end of all facts(that i can remember) that are surprising and amusing(mildly). However I cannot end without mentioning that after the baby arrives one wishes they were pregnant indefinitely. Suddenly being a big beach ball is very appealing. Enjoy the waddle walk while it lasts and stay tuned to - what no one tells you about a newborn!