Pink Velvet Strawberry Tiered Cake

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So, before I set out to really bake this cake I wanted to really bake a luscious Red Velvet Cake as a token of celebration for having been accepted into Les Roches International School of Hotel Management, Marbella. But sadly, owing to my poor judging skills this time, I landed up with a pink velvet cake. Well, I would not say that it tasted bad or anything. It tasted fantastic, but again we eat with our eyes first, right ? So I knew I had fix that poor looking pink velvet cake and I went ahead with the idea of a strawberry tiered cake. Now, it’s not typical of me who fixes things in food. I mean I generally don’t play around with the actual flavours. But yes, there are moments when I do set out to make something and turns into something new that I can happily add to my hall of fame. And I am going to shamelessly add this blushing strawberry cake into that category of fame.

I think I always had this brief idea that red velvet had nothing but a general cake batter with some red color mixed into it, but then you can’t really blame an amateur, can you ? So, I went ahead with my gut, without even trying to peep into those Martha Stewart antique cookbooks I own. I made a general basic vanilla batter and took a bottle of red color, from Wilson’s and added into it. And I realised that no matter how much color I added I could not get a deep dark sexy red color. It just had to be pink. And then I said to myself, I was taught that red and white make pink, so maybe its natural and if I let it to bake I would get that slut red color. So once again, I went with my schmuck faced desire of putting it straight into the oven. But perhaps it came out pink. I thought – It smells great, It will taste great. then why not just make it look great. So, that’s pretty much the one month old history of this Pink Velvet Strawberry Tiered Cake.

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Ingredients : 

 2 eggs, 1/2 cup butter, 1 1/2 cups of sugar(caster), 1 cup buttermilk, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1tsp salt and white wine vinegar, 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, 2tsp of vanilla extract and 3 tsps of Wilson’s Red Color paste.

I would generally first start with preheating my oven and then I would move on to creaming the butter and the sugar. Once they are frothy and creamy, add the eggs followed by the vinegar and salt. Whisk it until you fully incorporate enough air in them. Add the color and keep whisking. Now, if you whisk it any further you would over whisk it. Then alternately add a part of flour and the butter milk. Mix it well. Don’t whisk it. Then again add a fraction of both and continue till you’re finished with all the dry ingredients. Add the baking soda into the flour before you start putting it into the wet mixture. Now, what you will get is a pink rosy batter. You have two options. You could go for a rose flavor by adding some store-bought rose crush or something or you could puree some strawberry with some strawberry liqueur and add it to the batter. Pour it into your baking tin and put it in 180 C. Bake it till your spoon comes out clean.

Take it out of the oven and let it rest for about 2 minutes. Later, scrape the ends to loosen the cake and let it cool off completely. I would say give it 5 minutes. And then, flip it over your cooling rack.

For the frosting, you need store-bought chocolate frosting and a lot of fresh strawberries diced into half.

Just slice the cake horizontally from the centre and apply icing on both the sides. Stud it with strawberries and then put the half back. On the top, apply the frosting all over and stick the beautiful fresh strawberries cut side down.

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Bueno Appetite !

Ipshita

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Bisoux Bisoux

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Do you hear the Love bells tinkle ? Can you feel the air around you suddenly smell of fresh flowers ? Do you sense your self to be floating in air ? Can you think of nothing except your ‘special’ one ? 
 
Well it’s the Valentine’s day and every body is going head over heels. Trying their best to look to their best. Buying the best of the presents to impress their lovers. And some even trying to gear up the courage to walk up to ‘them’ to finally tell them , how they really feel about them. Its the time of the year when you forget all the fights and you just give in to the spirit of Love. But for me, this year it has been more like –  romancing with food more than anything. The entire year has been about shunting between college apps and kitchen. And when I think of Valentine and Hearts, I can’t stop my mind from wandering over the French Pattissiere Streets. 
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So today I decided to go to this beautiful French Patisserie – L’Opera. Its one of the most premium pastry shops, here. And honestly,  all my friends thought I was crazy for carrying heaps of money in my pocket and walking into a pastry shop on Valentine’s Day, alone. They thought it was meant to be celebrated with your lover over a candle lit dinner or maybe a stroll. But for me, what is the point of being with your lover, if you can’t feel the love in the air? And I knew the only way I could feel loved and in the middle of Paris, was here. I decided to go solo. I decided to go flirt with the blushing pink macaroons, densely sexy chocolate eclairs and burnt white lemon meringue tarts. 
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I know a lot of you might just hate me for posting this.But I somehow can never picture Valentine’s to be without stores with red cake pops, shops selling special crafted candies and deliciously mouthwatering food. I think this day is the perfect day to celebrate with food. I mean you enter any shop and all you can find is beautiful and delicately ornate dishes. The smell of simple freshly baked croissants are just simply more arousing to me.  Forget gifts, forget cards and flowers. Make some dark and sexy chocolate truffles or perhaps fall in love again with the help of strawberry and Champagne. Dine out and rejuvenate the love between you and your partner. Because if the man’s belly is happy, the marriage has lasted. 
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So my friends, this post wont have any recipe or any secret to perfecting dish. I think its the time of the year, you went out. Splurged on your love, that is food. Go and eat out or make a delicious meal for your love. Enjoy every bite of a mille feuille without counting the calories. You owe this to your self and your Valentine and if you’re single then go on a Galentine’s ! 
VDAY
XOXO
I love you all ! 
Ipshita
PS. This post is specially dedicated to my best friend, Denny.
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Ginger Beer Coffee and Prune Cake

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This is the first time I baked this cake and trust me, every one I know has fallen in love with this cake. Christmas or not, they want it. Its the kind of cake you would want it to go to your ‘Hall of Fame’ recipes. And I am really not kidding out here. This super moist cake is to die for. It can easily give a run to the chocolate decandances of the best. It is also not some extra ordinary recipe. Its just a little amount of nip and tuck, and bam! – you get a dark, moist and fragrant cake for your winters. I mean its the coffee, the prune and the cinnamon in it which makes it so special for the 3 degrees weathers. Its a comfort food, for sure.

So, don’t worry. Go ahead with your regular chocolate cake batter. Add eggs, flour, butter, vanilla, baking soda, sugar and chocolate to your measurements. But before adding the dry ingredients with the wet ones, add about 4 table spoons of good dark coffee. I used espresso. Next, instead of adding water to the cake,  use ginger beer. For those who cannot find ginger beer, they can replace it with some ginger ale. Now, it is this carbonated flavored water which makes all the difference. Its the key to make make this cake super soft yet not collapsable-spongy. But that comforting softness in your mouth is a surety. Now, take a small pan add some chopped dried prunes, some cinnamon powder and a good squirt of maple syrup. Let it bubble up and then add it to the batter. Mix it intensely and then pour it to your cake tin. Bake for 35 minutes – 190 degrees. The key to know when its done is, when you see the sides have sprung off from the tin. It will be spongy, so don’t feel alarmed if its not a dense cake. Please don’t overbake it under the pretext of under-baked.

Once its done, sprinkle some icing sugar and edible glitter. You could embellish with little christmas toys.

Enjoy

xx

Ipshita

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Italian Christmas Cake Pudding

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This is one those amazing Nigella’s recipes that I got from her book, Christmas Kitchen. And I want to tell you that christmas cooking is really not that difficult or intimidating. I mean all you need is a pair of hands and your heart. I know it sounds very corny and clique, but believe you me, and I am not trying to brag – but, I finished cooking for twenty in seven hours. And I didn’t slog in the kitchen at all. I just sang carols through it and had he most wonderful time of my life. So if you have the knack for it, you can probably pull off more than I did. Cze I think, I could have done the same too! So this traditional pudding has a bit different kick to it. You will find out as you read it !

Now, this is just the work of assembly. I would say prepare a day in advance. Because the pudding needs that resting and seeping process before it is killed and eaten. For my version of pudding, firstly you will need any sweet bread. You should use panettone. But if you just get any walnut and prune or raisin and rum bread, not be scared to use it. As long as the bread shouts and smells Christmas to you. Firstly line your pan/bowl with cling film. Then cut the bread into slices. Not very thin, but enough to make a good base and line/place it on the bottom of your pudding pan. Add a good splash of Baileys into the bread for it to soak. Let it rest for a while, and in the meanwhile just try to take 4 egg whites with a bit of sugar syrup and whisk them until they are stiff and meringuey. You want them to glisten and reach the whipped cream stage. Now, after you have whisked the white thoroughly, spread it on top of the soaked bread evenly followed by placing another layer of sweet bread over it. Now repeat the same process of slightly soaking it with Bailey. Cling film it and refrigerate.

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Take some fresh strawberries and dice them into quarters and soak them in rum over night. Now the reason, I am using baileys instead of the traditional Kahlua in this pudding is because, when everything is so creamy and milky, somehow the concept of something very diluted doesn’t seem to fit here so aptly. So, I prefer to use Baileys instead of Kahlua or Tia Maria for its milky, frothy and creamy texture. Also, it tastes best when chilled.

So, now the next day, whip some mascaporne cream with some vanilla sugar and keep it aside. Take out the pudding with the strawberries from the fridge. Take a normal serving plate and carefully yet immediately flip the pudding on to it. Remove the cling from the bottom. Now place your serving stand on the pudding(the bottom facing up) And flip again so that the top is back to the front. Now, you may notice your pudding has wobbled and its out of place. Let it be. The fact that its messy, assures its homemade. Now add the strawberries on top of the soaked bread and pour the mascaporne cream over it. Embellish with edible holly leaves and cherries.

Enjoy!

Ipshita

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Beetroot and Romain Salad with Olive oil and Parmesan Dressing

There are times when we are hit by a mass of fresh produce and all that we want to do is just put them in our mouth and get lost in its flavor. But what saddens me is things like baby tomatoes or fresh organic spinach, when they are covered with thick slacks of mayo and cheese, it simply ruins rather marrs the beauty and the lovely taste of its own. And perhaps thats the reason I am not a big fan of heavy dressed salads. When I think of a salad, I think of juices sprucing out of the berries or tomatoes and the crunch of the cucumber and french bean. Its the auditory sensation, I’d like to call it – which makes up for my salad. So this salad is those easy non greasy and  non cheesy salads.

I swear, when I say this salad is embarrassingly easy, I want you to believe me. And I am not just trying to say this so that you read my post in the pretext of reading an easy salad, but to actually make you realize that its the flavors of the vegetables and leaves in its self which speaks for it self. You don’t need any elaborate dressing for this. I like how sometimes food is kept without any additional condiments, in order to let the flavor seep through you tongue. And this salad, is exactly one of those.

So, you need maybe some designer salad leaves. If you cannot get those then buy some romaine lettuce and baby spinach. Throw them into your salad bowl or plate. Tumble in some fresh cherry tomatoes. Peel the beetroot and slice them into thin disks. Add those into the bowl as well. Now, for the dressing – Olive oil. Extra Virgin. About roughly 3 tsps of it a bowl. Add a splash of soy sauce. Not the Chings chinese one. But the one which is freshly brewed. They have a different smell and sweet taste to them. A bit of freshly crushed salt. Thats it! Drizzle it over your salad and shave some parmesan.

See, I told you it is going to be an easy salad. I say, savor the flavor of the fresh produce.

Enjoy.

xx

Ipshita

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Christmas Dinner

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First of all, I hope all you people had a wonderful Christmas. Secondly, this is going to be an introductory post. So tighten up your seat belts for a ride on Santa’s sleigh ! Talking about Christmas, this year I took an oath that I would make a proper home cooked Christmas meal for my family and friends. The guest list was a bit intimidating. I mean how much could I possibly cook in seven hours, right after giving my Business Studies practical exam along with dispatching the packets for my colleges. Nevertheless, I took up this challenge and set my self the menu :

1. Aromatic and Spiced Grilled Whole Chicken

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2. Maple Syrup Drenched Chicken Wings

3. Ginger and Mint Grilled Sausages in a Sourdough Bread Boat

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4. Chicken in Coca Cola with Bechamel Sauce

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5. Brussel Sprout and Apple Salad with Whole Grain Mustard and Poppy-Seed Dressing.

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6. Beetroot and Romain Salad with Olive oil and Parmesan Dressing

7. Grilled Halloumi with Beetroot Sauce

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8. Baked Potato with Chive Cream Sauce

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9. Spicy Apricot Cous Cous with Promegante Dressing.

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10. Italian Christmas Cake Pudding

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11. Ginger Beer Coffee and Prune Cake

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12. Raspberry Fool with Amoretti Crumble

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Now looking at all this food, you may get intimidated, trust me even I was intimidated when I thought I was going to do all of this. But if you follow an organized regime and know what you need to do – you will be able to pull it off in 7 hours with breaks for coffee, cake and gossip. And it’s not really a Christmas themed dinner. I mean, you could make this at any time of the year or any part of the meal and you don’t even have to slog in the kitchen. It may sound very easy and luring from a seventeen year old, but trust me, it was just a matter of moments before everything was just ready for the table. I even got time for the little ornamentation for the table.
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I have heard people say that they don’t want to indulge themselves in some kind of tedious roasting and washing business. They just want an easy way out. But I find this incredibly relaxing. I mean what can be more relaxing than dipping your hands in maple marinade chicken and massaging it ? I know I may come across some food-o-maniac. But lets not forget, we all do want our share of food-orgasms.
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  So this is what I am thinking of doing – I plan on giving out recipes to the entire meal in separate posts that I will hyperlink to this post. So within a couple of days, I will have all the recipes put up and they will be just a click away. You can then click on the pictures on this post for the recipe, and you will be directed to the page.
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Until then, I hope you have a great time savoring these pictures.
Happy Holidays !
-Ipshita
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The Triple Goodwill Brownie

Its Diwali time and already I am salivating. The yummy sweets, dry fruits and the rice puddings are an imperative in every Indian household for the next one week. So, you must be wondering what is this all American Brownie doing amidst the Indian delicacies. And you must also be wondering WHY the TRIPLE goodwill brownie instead of a normal brownie ? This is because its my Diwali version of Brownies. Very Indianized to the core. Some may just say it’s a normal brownie with some spices in it. But its more than that. And let me tell you, its daring. No it doesn’t only include cinnamon, nutmeg or all spice. It includes chilli. No kidding. So with all that spice and all, it makes it a single goodwill.

The primary purpose of making these brownies was that I am organizing a little meet-cum-movement in my society to encourage all the kids till grade 10 to not burst crackers this Diwali. I believe that for listening me talk about not doing something they look forward to the entire year, I owe them incentives. And brownies gel the best with incentives for kinds. Now, that’s a double goodwill.

I pondered over this before naming it. I somehow could not sit with my brownies being called Double Goodwill. I needed the Triple. But what made it good by an extra fold ? And like a ray of light, it struck me, ITS A BROWNIE. Yeah, I went all Eureka over it. I mean I don’t need a reason to catapult it to another fold. It’s a brownie – that’s a big enough reason. This made me very proud of myself. Spices to good to the festival. The cause does good to the kids and the society and yes, the chocolate does great to us. So this is my no guilt version of brownies.

The recipe is pretty simple. It involves the usual protocol for making any normal dark chocolate brownie. Be sure you use a DARK chocolate and not a milk chocolate, please. Now a little alteration to be made here. Instead of using water, use milk. Full fat milk. What the milk does is, it stops the brownie from hardening in the later stage when you decide on storing for days. Where as water simply makes it hard. And the last thing you want from a brownie is, that it doesn’t stay gooey and chewy anymore. Besides, I always thought water dilutes the taste where as milk amalgamate everything. Anyway, after having that lumpy batter ready for a brownie, you need to add some freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon, all spice and some chilli pepper water. If you cannot get some chilli water just use ordinary piquante water from the bottles. Use a tiny spoon of that brine. The addition of the brine takes the brownies up to a whole new level. Now, stash the batter into the oven at 160 degree C in a fan based oven for about 25-30 minutes. Once ready, let it cool and dust with icing sugar.

Hope you enjoy the goodwill and pass it on to others as well!

Love,

Ipshita.

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