Birthday!

My dear M’s birthday was just around the corner. Every year (for the last 3 odd years I have known him), it so happens that we always buy a massive mousse cake for my birthday and that makes such a huge diference to both our waistlines that we decide not to eat any special cake on his birthday but just buy a bran-raisin muffin, stick a tiny candle into it, and sing ‘happy birthday’ at midnight. Not very romantic, I know.

So this time I said to myself, “This time, I bake”. Not just any simple one, but a pineapple upside down cake: both M and I love LOVE love fruity cakes. So two days before his birthday, I started on it. I bought the best quality canned pineapples, read and re-read all the recipes I could find on the net, and even prayed to God Almighty.

Didn’t help a bit.  It was more pineapple-stuck-to-the-baking-tray-and-also-burnt cake. I did not have any more time left for any more experiments. And I still wanted pineapples in my cake!

Thats when the Triple-Layered Fruity Cake was born. I bought some ready-to-use white frosting and slathered the whole cake with it. Even decorated it with M&Ms (even good old Cadburys Gems would have done, but then I had M&Ms lying around the house)! I surprised M at midnight with an entire home baked cake and his gifts (I bought him a not-too-pricey touch screen phone among others).

He loved it.

Triple Layered Fruity Cake:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (500 mL) sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2-1/2 cups (625 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (250 mL) milk
  • 1 cup (250 mL) vegetable oil
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons (11 mL) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla
  • Half cup strawberry or mixed fruit or raspberry jam
  • A drop of yellow food color
  • 1 can of white frosting (I used Pillsbury’s creamy vanilla icing)
  • Some canned pineapple rings, chopped up a bit

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C. Line two 9-inch (23-cm) round cake pans with parchment paper. Grease the paper and the sides of the pan well.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar and eggs together until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Add flour, milk, oil, baking powder, and vanilla and beat for another minute, just until the batter is smooth and creamy. As I always say, don’t over-mix.
  3. Divide the mixture into two portions. Into the first mixture, add half cup of jam/preserve. I used good old Kissan’s Mixed Fruit Jam. You can use strawberry, raspberry, guava or mixed fruit – basically any reddish jam/preserve. This portion of the batter becomes pinkish after adding the jam.
  4. Into the other mixture, add a bit of the yellow food color. Mix and keep aside.
  5. Pour the two batters into the prepared baking pans.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick poked into the center of the layer comes out clean. Loosen the sides of the cake from the pan with a thin knife, then turn out onto a rack and peel off the paper. Let cool a bit.
  7. Now take the pinkish cake, the one where you added the jam/preserve, and cut it horizontally into two.
  8. Take the bottom layer, slather a whole lot of frosting on to it, then layer the chopped pineapples on the frosting.
  9. Now place the yellow cake on top of the pineapple-frosting layer, top it with another slather of frosting and pineapples, then finally place the other half of the pink cake on it.
  10. Slather the whole cake or the top of the cake (as I did) with the remaining frosting. If you want, decorate with M&Ms or Gems. Let it now cool completely. Serve a bit chilled.

Next year, I will try the pineapple upside down cake again. Any advice?

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Rainy evening and a whole bunch of ‘shammis’

Both my husband and I have a fascination for rain. Where I stay, in Bangalore (India), summer brings in cool breezes and bursts of rain every single day. If you ignore the terrible traffic jams that come with it, sitting in the veranda, watching the whole world soak in the freshness as raindrops go pitter patter all around you, brings in a great calm. And with “calm” comes thoughts of hot steaming morsels of food and liquid warming your heart and innards too.

The other day, we both got home early from office at the first sight of gray skies. Which was a smart thing to do, considering people got stuck everywhere for hours on the streets what with the heavy downpour. Anyway, M and I watched the rain for a full 10 minutes (wow! a new record!) before we got hungry. And I was not ready to settle for frozen chicken nuggets this time. No siree! I wanted the real deal.

And that why I made a dozen or more of chicken patties spiced up with Indian spices. The whole batch was ready in a jiffy, and tasted just simply YUM. I call them Tandoori Shammi: tandoori for the bucketful of tandoori masala I used in them, and shammi because, well, shammi kebabs are my favorite and I tried to shape these patties up to look more like shammis than burger patties.

K’s Tandoori Shammi Patties:

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams minced chicken
  • 250 grams of boiled and mashed potato or equal amount of re-hydrated dehydrated potato
  • Half a cup of chopped cilantro/coriander
  • 2 Tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 Tbsp cumin powder
  • 2 Tbsp coriander powder
  • 3 Tbsp tandoori masala – I like it a lot, so used about 5 Tbsps of it. It made the mixture ‘hot!!’ [For those of you who donot have access to this masala, just use ground 5-spice mixture that you can get from any neighborhood asian grocery store]
  • Half a cup chopped onions
  • 1 Tbsp red chilli powder or paprika, whichever suits you!
  • Salt to taste!

Procedure:

Very simple process… Mix everything together! With your hands, preferably, to get all the spices and meat and potato together. Then shape them into round palm sized patties as shown below:

If you are the patient type, let it sit in the refrigerator for about an hour or so so that it sets.

Or, if you are like me, just start frying them. I shallow fried them as shown below:

You can bake ‘em too!

Now all thats left is to eat them up. I served them with sweet-sour thai sauce that I got from the store. Or you can eat them with burger buns, breads – anything! They simple taste awesome.

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Ways to use up peanut butter

Trust me, I am not one of those people who let glorious peanut butter rot away in the cellar. I diligently eat a PBJ sandwich every night before going to sleep, slather peanut butter on cream-crackers and biscuits and cookies, mix it into smoothies, brush it on home-made satays, use it as a noodle sauce (got this one from Nigella, recipe here). We even keep 3 different types of peanut butter at home: regular creamy, regular chunky and fat-free (for those evenings when fat-free sounds more like no-fat than less-fat).

But there are times when too much peanut butter kind of gets to you and you ignore it for days at an end… till you have too much of it and too little time. Thats when M emptied one entire bottle of regular-creamy into the muffin mix he was preparing.

One word – YUM. And since I did not use butter and also used more of skimmed milk than oil in the recipe, it is healthier too.

Peanut Butter Choco Muffins:

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups plain flour or all purpose flour
  • ½ cup castor sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder, not heaped, just filled up
  • ½ tsp salt
  • About 3/4th cup skimmed or whole milk
  • Half a cup of tasteless oil – I used vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 heaped tablespoon cocoa powder
  • Half a jar peanut butter – I used about 200 grams of Skippy’s creamy peanut butter

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 180° C.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt.
  3. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and then add the sugar, milk, oil and vanilla to the eggs. Once mixed properly, add the peanut butter and whip the mixture up.
  4. Thoroughly grease and flour a muffin pan (or use paper muffin liners).
  5. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ones> Remember not to over mix, as I mentioned last time.
  6. Gently pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan.
  7. Bake about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean.

The peanut butter in the mixture makes the texture of the muffins extra smooth and creamy even though I haven’t added any butter and I have replaced half the oil with milk. For the ones who want decadent, replace oil with 120 grams softened butter and replace skimmed milk with half a cup whole milk.

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