Ria's Collection: February 2013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Idon't have many favourite things to order when we go to an American restaurant and more so when there are Biscuits on the menu. When I say Biscuits please don't get confused with the Biscuits/Cookies we get everywhere else. Here Biscuits are considered to be a part of a meal. They are eaten along with gravy, soup or simply slathered with butter and jam OR if you are like me, just on it's own.
I can go on an on about how much I adore these buttery little round things. They are so light and puffy that every time I ate these at a diner I thought they were hard to be replicated at home.I was proved terribly wrong when I tried baking some at home. It definately was one of the easiest things I have ever,ever made.
Since I like them a LOT, I thought of making it our Anniversary breakfast. So the previous night, I decided upon the recipe and the next day, I woke up around the usual time (7.30 a.m) and went straight to our pantry to grab the things needed. Within 5 minutes I was cutting out and placing the biscuits onto the baking sheet . The oven was preheated by then so all I had to do was to pop them into the oven and get rest of the things ready!
Rest of the things. Yeah right! Store bought jam and some tea for Jobin and some yummy Bru Kaapi for myself :-) He slathered the jam on and I ate them plain. Poor thing, he had to listen to my excitement for having baked these in no time, that too by myself from scratch! I couldn't stop blabbering about how puffy they were and how buttery they tasted and how beautiful they looked  and how better homemade ones are than it is at the Diners and blah blah! He nodded in agreement to all what I had to say :-)

IMG_8995.jpg Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup very cold unsalted butter
3/4 cup - 1 cup milk

Method: Preheat oven to 425 F/ 225 C.
In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients together and cut in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles coarse meal.Gradually stir in the milk until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Turn out onto a floured surface and gently knead 20 times. Pat the dough into 1 inch thickness and stamp out rounds using a floured cookie cutter. Dust the excess flour and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until light golden brown at the egdes. Remove from oven.Use warm or at room temperature.

As always, Ian Vaava got a fair share of these Biscuits and he drooled for more.It was my first attempt at it and I am might pleased with the results. I don't need another recipe for these.Period.If you want to host an American style Brunch at home,for your friends or anyone you care cooking for,bake these and plate them alongside some bacon,sausage links,hashbrowns/fried diced potatoes (in bacon fat,if you prefer),scrambled eggs and orange juice. It is going to be a perfect Brunch!

It's bed time here, for us and I am going to bed thinking of Biscuits & Sausage Gravy. Sigh.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Custard Sponge Gateau

It's my Amma's Birthday today. Happy Birthday,Amma! This one is special as she is turning 50 today,oh yes! I have a very young mother :-) Anyway, if she is celebrating her birthday today that means there's someone else born from the same womb,celebrating her birthday 400 kms away from my Amma!
Happy Birthday Twins!
Custard Sponge Gateau
Are you wondering how Ian Vaava is in her hands now while I am back home in the United States? Well,well,well...I planned a few things quite early this time,yes,for a change!I wanted to be with her to celebrate her 50th and since we knew we wouldn't be together, I thought I'd surprise her with a cake almost a month before her real birthday,which is today.

Custard Sponge Gateau The so - not organised daughter of hers couldn't plan a thing ahead of time other than the idea of 'surprising Amma'. Hmmm, I used to be organised before because I did surprise her once long back,by baking a cake at midnight when everyone else was fast asleep. So I pulled out my cookbooks and scanned through each one of them, just the way I did a few years ago and found the perfect recipe in the cookbook Jobin sent me 4 years ago for my birthday,Nigella Lawson's FEAST. It's a very good book, especially if you love entertaining. But this time, there was no midnight baking. Rather, I couldn't bake at midnight. No,it was not the baby.

Custard Sponge Gateau It's that thing you make out of water...Electricity! Did you know that they have started charging the users depending on the time of the day(only in India)? Well, they have. So any usage of electricty from 10 pm - 6 am was the most highly charged...1.20% more than the regular. So I thought of not doing any midnight baking this time. Luckily, for me, Appan and Amma had to go out for a day to attend a family function so I thought of using that day to bake and decorate the cake. But again, things didn't work out the way I thought it would!

Custard Sponge Gateau
The icing and the cake platter was not the best combo. This icing is not the kind which will set magically...it does flow a bit and I did not foresee that. So I ended up with a mess just when I thought the day was perfect! And that's exactly when Ritchie had to walk in with 1000000000 questions. When I am working at something, I need peace and quiet and the time to think . So you can imagine the confusion that would have happened then ,especially when I heard our car coming in!

Custard Sponge Gateau So.I thought I'd go tell Amma about my surprise rather than Amma getting a shock seeing the mess I've created in the name of a surprise! Phew! Life was so much easier after that...I took my own sweet time to do what I wanted to but by then it was late in the night. So we cut the cake the next day! It was a very soft and delicious cake with no fancy schmancy ingredients. It is one of those cake which you will eat thinking 'homemade butter cakes are the best'! Really, for certain occassions, you really need those old fashioned butter cakes. Period.
Custard Sponge Gateau 
For the cake:
200 gram(s) all purpose flour
3 tablespoon(s) custard powder
2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs(s)
225 gram(s) soft butter
200 gram(s) sugar
2.5 tablespoon (s) milk
Method:Preheat oven to 180C and line 2x8 inch cake tins.
Put all the ingredients,except the milk into a food processor and process to a smooth batter. Add the milk one tablespoon at a time to get the batter to a soft dripping consistency. Divide the batter equally among the tins and bake for 20 mins or till done. Let the cake cool in the tin for 5 mins then turn it out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

For the buttercream filling:
125 gram(s) icing sugar
4 teaspoon(s) custard powder
75 gram(s) soft butter
1.5 teaspoon(s) hot water
Method:Sieve icing sugar and custard powder to get rid lumps,if any. Add the butter and beat together. Add the hot water and beat well to get the filling easier to spread.Sandwich the cake with this filling.

For the chocolate icing:
60 ml water
2 tablespoon(s) golden syrup
125 gram(s) caster sugar
175 gram(s) dark chocolate
Method: Combine water, syrup and sugar in a pan stirring to dissolve over low heat.Bring it to a boil and switch off heat. Add the chopped chocolate and swirl the pan around to get the chocolate melted. Let it sit at room temperature for 10 mins. Stir the icing well and pour over the sandwiched cake.It will drip down quite a bit down the sides, so use a platter which can accommodate it.

Appan's 50th was a different story all together!He doesn't like any celebrations and cake cutting etc when it comes to his birthdays. So we knew he was not going to do it but we still wanted to have a party for him because I was getting married in a matter of less than 2 months and that would be the last one I would be celebrating with him for a long time,or so I thought. So we called our family and friends over and had a nice get together. I baked a Viennese Chocolate Genoise Sponge with Strawberry Mascarpone cake for him and that was the first time I ever made the chocolate lace! And now, many of you have been trying it out and some even call it their signature style! Very well, thank you ! So,I thought of doing the same for Amma,which I did and you guys saw it too. I must admit, I've done it better...this was not my best chocolate lace :-)

Anyway, all thanks to the Apple God's we were able to get Jobin,who was not with us then to join us for the  cake cutting! And of course, Vaava also got his little share of his 'Ammu's' birthday cake, which I know he thoroughly enjoyed! :-)

Friday, February 15, 2013


Speculoos Chocolate Fudge Meringue Cake
Valentine's Day is usually a quiet day here because we are eagerly waiting for February 15,our Wedding Anniversary. Even though we got engaged on February 14,we still prefer keeping the excitement all inside for the Big Day! Nevertheless,I made some lacy heart pancakes and  Kalakand for him yesterday,the latter being a pending request from him for almost a year now :-)
Speculoos Chocolate Fudge Meringue Cake
I cannot come in terms with the fact that it's been 3 years now,since we got married. And yes, we are blessed with a little boy who is sharing the happiness this year with us. Shhh...I think he has a humongous sweet tooth...he may have taken after his Amma.

Speculoos Chocolate Fudge Meringue Cake
Have you ever tasted Biscoff / Speculoos? If you haven't, you are missing out on some yummy things in life. I  have been hooked onto it ever since I tasted Biscoff cookies they serve on Delta,a few years ago. It changed my life. I am hooked onto those mildly spiced cookies. So imagine a spread which tastes exactly like that? Move over, Nutella!

Speculoos Chocolate Fudge Meringue Cake
This cake was like a jigsaw puzzle,to me. I pulled in and matched up a lot of flavours and finally built our Meringue Cake. I love how delicate it looks. It had super light Meringue layers ( recipe from here) with  Speculoos -Cream Cheese frosting ( recipe from here )& Chocolate Fudge Sauce (recipe from my friend Kamran's food blog) in between each  layer. Finally ,it was garnished with some extra meringue bits on top which were dusted with cocoa just before serving. It was seriously YUM!
Speculoos Chocolate Fudge Meringue Cake

Speculoos Chocolate Fudge Meringue Cake
Chocolate Meringue Cake
6 large egg whites
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
1 1/4 c granulated sugar
3 tablespoon cocoa powder

Method:Pre-heat the oven to 200F and line a baking sheet.
Beat together egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy.Stream in the sugar beat till peak starts to form.Then add in cocoa powder and beat till stiff. Spread the meringue on the baking sheet in four 6 inch circles and bake for 3 hours. Switch off the oven and let it cool inside the oven for 1 hour.Remove and cool completely on the pan.

Speculoos- Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 c heaped Speculoos/ Biscoff spread
1 8oz pack Cream cheese
1/2 c confectioners sugar
1 tbsp milk

Method: Beat the cream cheese on high speed until soft and fluffy. Add the spread and beat on high for another minute. Add the powdered sugar and milk and beat for 2 mins until fluffy and light.

Chocolate Fudge Sauce
100 g dark chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 c corn syrup
1/3 c heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
a pinch of salt

Method: In a medium size bowl, melt the chocolate and cocoa powder together in a microwave for 1 minute or until the chocolate melts and becomes smooth when stirred. Remove and add the corn syrup followed by cream,vanilla and salt. Refrigerate until thick.

Assembly: Place a meringue cake on a cake platter,spread some speculoos frosting over it followed by chocolate fudge sauce. Repeat until the last meringue cake is used. Decorate the top as you wish. Chill the cake for a minimum of 8 hours,before serving.

Those little eyes had lots to watch and capture yesterday. From the loud noisy Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer making the meringue to checking the oven every now and then just to see if anything is happening (even though nothing will happen ,unlike other cakes). He just couldn't resist when I set up the cake on the platter to photograph it. He was scanning me and my movements in pin drop silence because I was handling many things that he has never seen in his past 6 months of life :-)

My tiny pea was super excited to hold the knife along with us as we cut into our cake this morning.I really don't know how he knew it but he brought his other little hand as well to hold the knife better! And of course, he stared at us as we ate our cake,with his mouth wide open. When he got his share, the slice was really big for his tiny mouth so he did have some chocolate stains all around his mouth...also on his pristine white clothes!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Cafe au Lait Pots De Creme
Things are cool and calm here.We are doing fine and I am super duper lazy to get back into my old full swing blogging mode.Infact,I've been cooking a lot of new stuffs but never reaches out for my camera sitting in my closet to photograph that delicious thing I just made.Why you may ask? I am in that winter hibernation mode I think,all I feel like doing is...put our baby on his floor mat,just stretch my feet out over our black ottoman,grab the brand new phone of mine and What'sapp away to glory with my wonderful,wonderful hostel friends. There's no other better way to catch up with them,at the moment.

Cafe au Lait Pots De Creme
This soft set pudding was made over the weekend when Jobin's friend from college and wife came over to  for dinner. I made it a day in advance so that one thing is ticked off my To-Cook list before our friends came in.This is such an amazing make - ahead dessert and such a crowd pleaser,especially if they are big time coffee lovers like me. I have to tell you, I love my big cup of coffee everyday. A big cuppa in the morning and a small one in the evening.

Cafe au Lait Pots De Creme
I started watching food network shows while I was pregnant and found it really lousy except for certain shows.But this time around, I find another set of shows which are interesting.I found this recipe from one such show,Melissa's Ten Dollar Dinners. I watched her make this on her show and immediately made a note in my mind to try it out as soon as I could. We,as a couple,love entertaining so I didn't have to wait long for a chance for me to try it out.

Cafe au Lait Pots De Creme Ingredients:
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
1 egg plus 2 egg yolks

Method:Preheat the oven to 325 F and prepare a water bath.
In a medium saucepan,mix together milk,cream,sugars,coffee powder,vanilla and salt. Bring to a slow boil on low heat stirring ever so often.In a medium bowl,beat together the egg and egg yolks. Drizzle in some hot milk-cream mixture to temper the yolks and then add the remaining stirring all the way. Divide the batter into four 100ml /4 oz ramekins and bake for 22 mins or until the egdes are set and the centre is still wobbly. Remove them from the water bath immediately and cool completely.

When I took a bite of this wonderfully soft set pudding,it really melted in my mouth. While I was doing so, there were a pair of tiny eyes eyeing my action. Vaava's eyes are always eyeing our mouths . I am sure he will steal and eat if we don't give him food ;-) So after seeing the way he was looking at me, I gave him some to taste. Oh boy! I should have known what I was getting into! :-) His mouth was wide open for more ...gave him another bite and his mouth was open even wider,drooling big time this time!!

A big thanks to all who have been visiting this little corner of mine on the internet! It's been a pleasure having you here :-)

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