Saturday, October 30, 2010

A take on corruption for IPAB

A
few days ago, I was contacted by an organisation called Janaagraha based in Bangalore to write an article for their new intitative ,I Paid Bribe.com. This site serves as a platform for the citizens to come forward and share their experience of bribery, stories when they stood up to it and when they encountered honest officials! IPAB's policy is to target process and not individuals.


I have worked for Janaagraha, in 2003. I was doing my Bachelor's in Home Science and we were contacted by Swati Ramanathan to do a small , week long project for them. We were divided into groups and were given maps of various locations in Bangalore. We had to chose an area and measure each property on the map and fill in the columns where the measurements had to be written. I was the head of our group and my group won the Best Team award from our class :-) So that was my small stint with this organization.


The views I am going to express below is my own. 


Bribe.What exactly is it?According to Wikipedia,it is a form of corruption, an act implying money or gift given that alters the behaviour of the recepient.
If you think, bribery starts and ends with governement institutions,I think you are wrong!How many times have we paid an autorikshaw driver an extra Rs.10 that he has asked us? How many times have you paid a police officer Rs.100 instead of the full amount on the ticket and escaped from the situation? If we inspect our day to day activities, we will come across 100's of such situation. Don't you think so?


Bribing gets things moving in a faster pace. It can get you a Doctorate degree even if you haven't seen a school ;-) It can get you positions/seats in companies/offices/colleges that someone worthy might have been rejected for. Bribing is like a maze, once you are in it, you will never find a way out. It's only because it's easy & convenient.


When I asked Jobin, my husband, for some input, he felt that bribe exists in 2 forms: good bribe & bad bribe. It is very sad when someone demands bribe for doing a task for which they are paid to do. This definitely is a bad bribe. The person who seeks bribery is the one who corrupts the system. They are the one spoiling our environment and the main cause behind making earth a bad place to live.The bad bribe is too strong for any checks and balances. The main strength for a bribe is “bribe”. The end to this could be an end to mankind, just because this has been around ever since mankind has been in existence. There is another form of bribe called the good bribe that is used by us. We use this at home very often and in a good spirit. Often we see parents asking their child to study well by bribing them with that they need. This good bribe is for a happy cause. It tries to make our world a better place to live. What we ultimately live for is eternal peace. If this can help us get it, then so be it. Sometimes the situation in our lives makes it so very difficult that we end up using the bad bribe. It is certainly a hard choice for us to perform it.


What I am trying to say is, there is evil around me and you everywhere, it's how we look at it/ handle it.I am not saying that me or you can change the whole world, because this world of ours is so big and so corrupted at each and every stage. But we can do something small for ourselves and eliminate this evil from each of our lives. Maybe if we all try it that way, somewhere, someday, we might see a change and this world of ours might become a better place to live in.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

CHOCOLATE & BOSTON CREME DOUGHNUTS! It's Daring Baker's time once again!


T
here was a time when I could live only on doughnuts.Our college canteen sold the best ever doughnuts in the city plus it was sugar coated. Not that I needed a sugar high in college, but it was fun eating it as the sugar used to stick all over our mouth and our college stray dog(s) used to wait under our open mouths hoping they would get some piece of it and if they didn't, they would jump up, scare us and make sure we drop it for them. That's how 'Jumpy' got it's his name. Then there were eagles swooping down from the roof to snatch it from our hands! It was an adventure!

Here in US, after every Sunday Mass all of us would gather in the Church basement for 'Coffee & Rolls'. They would keep a variety of doughnuts,cinnamon roll, coffee etc and we can have a share of it. I wait for it everyweek because I get to pick my favourite Boston Creme Doughnuts.

A few days ago, I had a bad craving for the same but I didn't get a chance to buy and eat it. So while I was planning for the DB challenge, I knew what variety I had to make. And trust me,it came out exactly the same way! I have made Sugar Doughnuts and Perfect Chocolate Doughnuts before, but nothing's like this one.This recipe is a keeper .

The October 2010 Daring Bakers Challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts.She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.







BOSTON CREME DOUGHNUTS
Recipe source for the doughnuts: Alton Brown




Ingredients:
For the doughnuts:
Milk- 1 1/2 c
Unsalted butter-1/3 c
Yeast-4.5 tsp
Warm water- 1/3c
Eggs-2 large, lightly beaten
Sugar-1/4c
Salt-1 1/2 tsp
Flour- 4 2/3 c
Oil for deep frying. You need about 3 inches of oil in the pan.


For the chocolate glaze:
Recipe by Lara Ferroni . I got this recipe from Kamran's blog


Powdered sugar- 11/2 c
Cocoa powder- 4 tbsp
Milk/Water- 6-7 tbsp (or as needed)
Vanilla Extract-2 tsp

1 portion Creme Patissierie 

Method:
For the doughnuts:

  • Place the butter in a large mixing bowl.Heat the milk just to warm it through. Pour over the butter and mix together so that the butter melts with the heat from the milk.
  • In the meantime, add the yeast to the warm water and set aside for 5-10 mins or till foamy.
  • Add the yeast mixture, eggs, sugar, salt and half the flour to the butter-milk mixture and mix using the paddle attachement of your stand mixer or with a wooden spoon.
  • Once it's all mixed together, add in half the amount of flour and mix till incorporated.
  • Add in the remaining flour and knead/use the dough hook and mix for 3-4 mins of till the dough leaves the side of the bowl.
  • Place the dough in an oiled bowl and allow it to rise for 1 hour or till doubled in size.
  • Once it has doubled in size, dump it onto a well floured surface, roll and cut it into the shape you want.For Boston Creme Doughnuts, make plain rounds.
  • Arrange all the cut dough on a lightly floured cake tin/plate/chopping board, cover with a tea towel and allow it to rest for 30 mins.
  • Heat the oil to 360F/180C. Deep fry the doughnuts giving 1/2 a minute on each side.
  • Drain and reserve.



For filling:

  • Transfer the cooled creme pattisierie into a piping bag/ketchup bottle.
  • Poke a hole into the side of the doughnut and squeeze out some custard into it. You will feel the doughnut becoming heavy. Stop it there.
  • Dip it in chocolate glaze and allow it to set.


For the chocolate glaze:

  • Sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder to avoid any lumps.
  • Add in the milk/water and vanilla extract and mix to form a glaze . The consistency is upto you.
  • This glaze will thicken if you leave it unattended.You just need to add a few drops of milk/water to loosen it.
  • Dip the doughnuts in the glaze and allow it to set for 10 mins.



Verdict:
Soft as cotton would be the best way to describe these doughnuts. I couldn't resist so I had a bite of just-out-of-the-oil doughnuts. When I told Jobin that I am going to make doughnuts for DB today and asked for his preference, he said he wanted it plain. But the sometimes-creative-person in me went crazy with chocolate frosting and Boston Creme Doughnuts.


The recipe said it would make 24 doughnuts and 24 doughnut holes. But I got 48 of them!!! I immediately called him and asked him whether I could pack some for his office  and he obliged. When I asked him how it was recieved in the office, he said,' It got over in less that 5 mins,next time make some more :-)' Though he wanted only the plain ones, he ended up eating every variety :-) So did I.

Now,what are you waiting for? Try these immensely easy,delicious, hassle free doughnuts today!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

APPLE & CARDAMOM CAKE


I
hate to admit but I am not a big fan of any form of baked apples. I absolutely detest apple pies. According to me, apples are best eaten raw. I love their crunch . Here,in Minnesota,we have a lot of Apple Orchards in every city so we are  lucky to get farm fresh,firm, juicy,ripe apples during Fall. I love 'Honey Crisp' the most and every time we go to the Farmer's Market, I come back with a 5lb bag of 'Honey Crisp' apples.

This was my 2nd bag of apples and every time I pass by the stack, I grab one and munch. I just cannot get enough of it.I fell in love with these after we went apple picking at a farm nearby.We were also able to see how they make fresh apple cider. I will talk more about it in a post, later.

Long back, when I was in school, I got a recipe for an Apple Cake with a Struesel Topping from my Aunt's cookbook.As always, I wrote it down neatly in my diary. It's one of the first recipes in my diary.It called for frozen apple slices.So, I peeled, cored and sliced the apples fine by hand and froze it the night before. The next day after school, I measured all the other ingredients and got ready to bake. Unfortunately, our hand mixer stopped working and I didn't know about it. I asked Amma if I could make it with hand, she said it would be quite a task because we are so used to our good old Black & Decker hand mixer.

I didn't give up, instead I took a spoon and started beating the sugar and shortening together. By the look of me stirring and panting at the same time, Amma warned me that it is not going to come out fine.I still didn't give up.So, finally I mixed everything and arranged the apples in a very pretty manner on top of the cake and popped it into the oven to bake.The result:

Even Hard Rock Cafe would have had a tough competition (for the name)with my cake, if only they knew each other! It was hard but it tasted really good. So that was the end of my Apple Cake story.
This cake is first baked for 10 minutes and then a very creamy buttery absolutely delicious topping is poured over it and is baked once again for another 40 mins or till done.








APPLE & CARDAMOM CAKE
Recipe source: Helene


Ingredients:
For the cake:
All purpose flour- 1 1/4 c
Sugar- 1/2 c
Cardamom- 1 tsp, ground
Pinch of salt
Baking powder- 1 tsp
Whole milk- 3/4 c ( I used 2%)
Oil- 1/3 c
Egg-1
Apples- 2, peeled, cored and thinly sliced ( I used Honey Crisp apples , you can use any variety. I used my mandolin slicer for slicing my apples)

For the topping:
Unsalted/Salted butter- 5 1/2 tbsp, at room temperature
Sugar- 1/2 c
Egg-1
Vanilla extract- 1tsp

Method:
Pre heat the oven to 350F and prepare your cake tin.

For the cake:

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients together.
  • In a glass ,whisk the wet ingredients together till blended.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients slowly, whisking to make sure that everything is blended.
  • Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin and arrange the sliced apples over it.
For the topping:
  • Whisk the butter and sugar together till fluffy. 
  • Add in the egg and vanilla and whisk once again.
  • Reserve.
How to bake:
  • Bake the cake with the apples on top at 350 F/180 C for 10 mins.
  • Take the cake out of the oven and pour the topping over it. Spread using a spoon/spatula if necessary.
  • Put it back into the oven and bake at 350 F/180 C for 40 mins or till a toothpick/skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.


Verdict:

If you are not a fan of baked apples like me, try this, it will change the way you look at baked apples! This cake is such a delicious thing that you just cannot stop with one slice.The topping kind of caramelizes after baking and is SO good! The addition of cardamom into the batter gives the cake a good lift .

I shared it with our neighbours and they called back saying they fought over each piece :-) See, I didn't know my cake would be a reason for their so called 'cake' fight :-) 

Jobin and myself loved this cake and he even took it as dessert to office one day.Yeah, it lasted for only a day, sadly :-/

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

TRIED & TASTED September 2010 - Round up

A
lka's blog 'Sindhi Rasoi' mermerises me.There's so much of information in her space. If anyone  needs to do a detailed study on Sindhi Cuisine all they need to do is visit her space. I made 2 dishes from her blog, but I just couldn't find time to 'click & post' it. Sorry, Alka. I'm pressed for free time these days. But here's what other's cooked from her blog :

Ksenia Klykova of Tales of a spoon made  Dal Puri
                                                                         
PJ of Seduce Your Tastebuds made Bhee PatataMirani KichhdiSeyal PhulkaSeyal PavSprouted KalaChana in Tomato Onion GravyMethi Vegetable Pulao, Petho & Dal Pakwan


Sweatha of Tasty Curry Leaf made a Simple Sindhi Lunch

                                                                  

Usha Rao of My Spicy Kitchen made Soya Nuggets Curry

                                                                
Shobana Karthik of Soups n Desserts made a Sindhi Dinner

Satya Nivas of Super Yummy Recipes made Satpura Phulko with Black Chickpeas
                                                  
Sukanya of Sukanya's Musings made Mattar Paneer
                                                                
Priya of Enveetu Kitchen made Bread Chaat, Paneer Burji & Seero

Denise D Nathan of Oh Taste n See made Sindhi Sai Bhaji

Priya of Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes made  Tidaali Dal,Aloo Tamatar & Satpuro Phulko
                                          
Nivedita of Nivedita's Kitchen made Saayi Dal , Paneer Burji, Chaawaran Jho Dodo, Singhar ji Mithai




                                
Wasn't that a feast for the eyes? I hope you all had a great time trying out these dishes from Alka's blog. Thank you for participating and I thank Lakshmi for giving me the opportunity to host Tried & Tasted for the month of September 2010. I apologise for the delay in posting the round-up.
Hope you are well!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

2 BIRTHDAY'S & A SWEET PUNCH!



M
y brother,my only brother,my 17 year old only brother is a foodie through and through.The only dessert that he asks me to bake over and over again is 'Molten Lava Cake'. I must have baked this yummiest chocolate-y gooey dessert umpteen times by now. And I continue the same as Jobin and our friends here simply love it. One of our friend,saves it & eats it for brekky ! :)

This blog post of mine, today, has 3 intentions.

1.I couldn't bake a cake or even a cookie for my brother, Ritchie for his birthday on 27th September. So this is for him, from me :-)
2.My own baking group rather our baking group Sweet Punch, baked a Molten Lava Cake last month.So this is my entry for the month.
3.This little space of mine turn 2 years today :-) So, this is the way we are celebrating this year! :-)

Talk about killing a bird with 3 stones :-D

I am not typing out the recipe once again instead you can find it in my previous post here. This is not how I wanted to celebrate the 2 years since this space came into existence. I had  big big plans and I still do. It's just that I am a bit short of time these days...but I promise you that my plan will see the day light soon :-)

All those who are interested in baking with us every month, send an e-mail to asweetpunch AT gmail DOT com . Thank you !

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