Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Jamie comes to town !!!

Jamie Oliver – Simple Honest and Fresh !

That is Jamie Oliver…… in his books, on the television and his restaurants !!

So before I start talking about the new kid on the block in the food business in India, let me tell you a little about Jamie Oliver, the man himself !!

Jamie Oliver started cooking at his parent’s pub, the Cricketers, in Clavering, Essex at the age of 8 years and has gone on to work with some of the top chefs of the world and today is a renowned name on the global food map !! Today he is not just a successful celebrity chef and entrepreneur, but also a responsible citizen who believes in giving back to the society. His television and publishing career began in 1999 with the Naked Chef series. Since then, he has revolutionised home cooking in UK.

Jamie’s Pizzeria opens in Ambience Mall, Gurgaon. Following the passion & pride of Jamie Oliver, Jamie’s Pizzeria is a happy place for pizza lovers. Founded in the old Library in the Centre of Cambridge, Jamie’s Pizzeria is at Oxford and Cambridge serving traditional Italian Pizza’s, sides and desserts.

The ethos of the restaurant is simple, seasonal and fresh !! So if a particular ingredient is not able to be sourced fresh, it is not served at Jamie’s Pizzeria. The chef takes pride in the fact that the pizza dough is freshly made everyday. No frozen foods or doughs for this pizzeria. Actually that is the main differentiator…. the dough ‘made with love’ everyday !! One can actually feel the freshness and lightness of the base in the very first bite !!

The ambience is rustic, the idea being, to be part of the community, though I think a little too rustic for my liking !! The walls are scribbled with drawings and paintings giving the place a casual feel and the open kitchen gives you a peek into the food being cooked. Though again the visible clutter in the kitchen could have been curtailed.

The menu is a blend of traditional best-selling Italian dishes and some more contemporary dishes with a Jamie and Gennaro twist. Menu and design takes into account local ingredients and culture so there is always something new to experience.

Bread Horns | Baking

So I’ve been working on my sourdough bread which turned out to be disaster, last week. Yes the sourdough starter is live and kicking but the bread was another story. Will elaborate on that in another post soon. So when your bread has failed, you are miserable, and you feel like you suddenly don’t know how to cook / bake etc…. it’s time to go back to the basics (for moral boosting) with a twist….well literally eh !!



Over the weekend I baked Bread Horns. They are such a delight to look at !! Perfect for parties and a sure shot crowd pleaser. I used the basic dinner roll recipe for these cuties and filled them with chicken mince. You can obviously let your imagination run wild and will with whatever you like. Though a nice prawn salad or a refreshing corn and cucumber salad will be good ideas 🙂



Bread horns come with an added advantage of being guilt-free, unlike their Cream Horn look alikes (well almost), which are made of puff pastry so full of butter and lard and cream….ummm yummm !!!

Bread Horns

Ingredients

250g All Purpose Flour
2 tsps Dry Active Yeast / Instant Yeast
1 tsp Sugar
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
Luke warm water as required

For The Filling

500 g chicken mince
2 spring onions
1/2 a red bell pepper
1/2 capsicum
1 tbsp oil
White sauce / cheese sauce.
salt to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper powder



Directions

1. Prove the yeast with a teaspoon of sugar and lukewarm water.

2. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and add salt and olive oil. Mix well with your hands

3. Now add the cultured yeast and the warm milk. Rub well, till the yeast and milk are completely incorporated in the flour.

4. Now start kneading the dough and use the push-n-fold method. You’ll need to knead this till the dough is elastic enough and absolutely smooth, about 10-12 minutes.

5. To check if the dough is well kneaded, roll it into a ball and press it gently, if the springs back, the dough is ready. If not, knead it a little more.

6. Rest the dough in a big bowl and cover with cling wrap. Keep it to prove for 1-1.5 hours, till it doubles in size.

7. Once the dough has doubled itself, punch it down and divide into 12 equal portions. 

8. Now roll each ball into a long strip (the way we used to play with our playdough and make snakes) and wrap it onto the horn moulds. Make sure you pinch them at the bottom to seal them.

9. Place them on a baking tray covered with parchment.

10. Brush with the milk and sugar glaze or the egg wash and let it rest for another 20 minutes.

11. In the mean time preheat your oven to 220 degrees C and bake the bread horns for about 20 minutes.

12. Remove from the oven, transfer on the cooling rack and let them cool down completely.

The filling

1. While the horns and baking and cooling make the filling.

2. Saute` onions in a pan, add the chicken mince and cook through. Now add the bell peppers and capsicum and saute` for another minute. Finish off with salt and pepper.

3. Mix in the white sauce / cheese sauce, adjust the seasoning and let it cool down completely.



Once both the horns and the filling is cooled completely, fill the horns with the chicken mince and serve.
you can either warm them slightly or serve them as it is. This depends on your preference as well as the kind of filling !

Happy Baking !!

Semolina (Rava) Bread

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.” – M.F.K. Fischer



True that !! Nothing like the smell of baking bread !! 
The weather was awesome….a light breeze and a constant drizzle with spells of heavy showers off and on….. Isn’t it the perfect setting for baking. Baking breads. 🙂
I made Semolina Bread. Semolina known as Rava or Sooji in India. Semolina flour is often also used in making Pastas. In breads it adds a sweetish fermented aroma and a smooth silky texture.


This bread dough is made with a technique called Sponging. It is an old fashioned type of sponge called Flying Sponge. So first we create the sponge (more in the recipe….) and then add it to the main flour. 
Yes you do need to have time at hand to do this bread but one bite and you know it was all worth the effort.  It has a crispy crust and chewy inside. 
So it was a perfect Saturday spent with a surprise from the cousins over lunch and then bread baking. Between making and sponge and the main dough KJ and I decided to take a walk in the rain…. yes we had that kinda time in between 🙂



So here it is:

Semolina Bread

Makes 2 large loaves

Ingredients:
Sponge:
180 g (1 ½ cups) Semolina Flour
180 g (1 ½ cups) Bread Flour
250 g (1 1/8 cups) Water
1 ¼ tsp Instant Yeast
½ tsp Sugar
Final Dough:
270 g (2 & 1/8 cups) Semolina Flour
270 g (2 & ¼ cups) Bread Flour
306 g (1 and 3/8 cups) Water
1 tbsp Salt
2 tbsps Olive oil, extra virgin
Sponge, all of the above

Procedure
Creating the Sponge:
1. Mix the semolina flour, bread flour, water, yeast and sugar until evenly incorporated.  You can use the mixer, but I just used a large fork.
2. The sponge should be fairly loose.  Let the sponge ferment for about 1¼ hours.

Mixing the Dough:
1. Add all of the ingredients, including the sponge, to the mixing bowl and mix on first speed until all of the ingredients are incorporated, about 3 minutes.
2. Increase the speed to the second speed and mix for another 2 to 3 minutes.  The dough will be of medium consistency. It should have noticeable gluten development.
I used my hands to mix the dough and kneaded it with hands too.
Bulk Fermentation:
Let the dough bulk ferment for 1½ hour and fold the dough after 45 minutes.  

Dividing Shaping and Baking the Loaves:
1. Divide the dough into two halves, preshape lightly into rounds and place the rounds on a lightly floured surface, seams up.  Cover the rounds with plastic.
2. After about 10-20 minutes, when the dough has relaxed sufficiently, shape it into tight round or oval loaves.  Place the loaves into floured lined baskets.
3. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees C.
4. Invert the loaves onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  They came out of the baskets really easily.

5. Spray the top of the loaves with water and sprinkle them with sesame seeds or nigella seeds and score the bread with a sharp knife or a blade.
6. Once the oven is preheated, bake the bread for 15 minutes on a water bath, and then lower the oven setting to 230 degrees C.  Continue baking for 20 to 30 minutes more.  Check the breads during the bake and rotate them 180 degrees for even baking if necessary.

7. Remove the loaves to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and serving.



Happy Baking !!

Making Sour Cream at Home | How To Series| Kitchen Hacks

When you love to cook, especially everything from scratch, learning about these small but important things is not only imperative but also gives me a high.

Making Sour Cream at home is just so simple. Just so amazing !! And again costs you one fourth of what you buy from the market.
Homemade Sour Cream stays happy in the refrigerator for a month and it gets thicker and thicker and better and better with time.
Please make sure that both the cream and the buttermilk are at room temperature when you are making sour cream. This is important for best results. If the ingredients are cold, the sour cream will take much longer to thicken or may not thicken properly.
A lot of friends and my readers have been asking how to make sour cream at home. Finally, here it is:

Sour Cream
Ingredients
2 cups or 400 ml Light Cream, at room temperature
2 tbsps cultured Buttermilk, at room temperature
Procedure
1. Place the cream in a medium sized glass bowl.
2. Add the buttermilk and mix well.
3. Cover tightly with cling wrap and keep in a warm place for 24 hours, until thickened to a custard like consistency.I keep it inside my microwave.
4. After 24 hours keep the bowl in the refrigerator for atleast 24 hours before using the sour cream. The sour cream may continue to thicken in the refrigerator.

How To Make Buttermilk 


Take one cup milk at room temperature.
Add 2 tbsp of Vinegar and let it stand for 10 minutes.
Buttermilk is ready. 
Use it for beads, scones, cakes, sour cream etc.

Happy Exploring !!

Bread…yet again | Baking


Another weekend, another bread loaf !! I think i’ll never get tired of telling you how much I love to bake breads and how versatile a dough it is !! Before you think I’m a broken record…..let’s move on…


So this time it is a 30% whole wheat flour  (atta) and the rest is maida (all purpose flour). You will see every time you change the proportions of the flour your dough behaves differently. A simple basic loaf that goes well with curries or even as a grilled sandwich.




Ingredients

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour

2.25 cups All Purpose Flour

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 tsp Dry Active Yeast

2 tsp Sugar

1 tsp Salt

1.5 cups Lukewarm Water



Directions


1. Activate the yeast in half a cup of lukewarm water.

2. In the meantime, mix both the flours, salt and olive oil together.
3. Now add the yeast and mix it well into the flour mixture. It should look crumbly, like a bread crumbs mix. You essentially need to rub the yeast into the flour with your fingers.
4. Now add the water gradually and knead it into a soft springy dough.
5. Set the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot. 

6. Allow the dough to rise for about 1 hour or until it has doubled.
7. When ready to shape the dough, set it on a very lightly floured work surface and form it into the desired shape. I wanted to make it round ! Transfer onto the dusted baking tray.
8. Cut a cross onto the loaf. Sprinkle some poppy seeds and let it rest for 30 minutes.
15 minutes before your dough is ready to go into the oven, preheat the oven on 220 degree centigrade and once preheated place the loaf tin into the oven. Bake at 220 degree centigrade for about 20 minutes.
9. Once the bread is golden brown on the top remove from the oven and transfer the loaf on to wire racks until it is completely cool.
10. Slice and serve as it is or toasted or make a sandwich !!!

Happy B(re)aking Bread !!

Nankhatai | Baking | Childhood Memories



Nankhatai – the Indian Cookie which most of us, living in this part of the world have grown up on !!
I have some amazing memories of enjoying nankhatais with my grandfather. In our house he was the one who was so so fond of these lovely cookies, and had introduced me to them. White crumbly texture, the richness of the cardamom flavour and the aroma of desi ghee (clarified butter)…oh they make for the perfect cookie!! 



Have tried my hands, a couple of times at making nankhatais, but I was never satisfied. Either it was too sweet or the texture was not crumbly enough !! Finally I’ve found the perfect recipe for the Nankhatai. They look as good as they taste, exactly they way they used to when I was a little kid !
The recipe is courtesy Aromatic Essence.



Nankhatais are shortbread biscuits popular both in India as well as Pakistan. 
On searching the net, Wiki tell me, Nankhatai is believed to have originated in Surat in the 16th century, the time when Dutch and Indians were the important spice traders. A Dutch couple set up a bakery in Surat to meet the needs of local Dutch residents. When the Dutch left India, they handed over the bakery to an Iranian. The locals disliked the bakery biscuits and to save his business he started selling dried bread at low prices. It became so popular that he started drying the bread before selling it. With time, his experimentation with bread ultimately gave birth to Nankhatai.



Nankhatai


Ingredients

2 cups All purpose flour

1 cup Semolina (Sooji)

½ cup Chickpea flour (Besan)

1 cup Clarified butter (Ghee)

1 ½ cup powdered Sugar

Elaichi (cardamom) powder to garnish

Direction
1. In a mixing bowl, mix all purpose flour, semolina, chickpea flour and sugar together.
2. Add ghee, little at a time, to the dry mixture and try to knead the dough. Do not overwork with it otherwise the nankhatais will not be flaky. You need to bring the flour together like we do for the pastry dough. Knead just enough to bring it together.
3. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
4. Line 2 to 3 baking sheets with butter paper.
5. Make small flat balls and place on baking sheet. Using a knife, cut a cross in the middle of each, press some cardamom powder. Rest the cookies in the refrigerator for another 15-20 minutes. In the meanwhile preheat the oven to 180 degree C for 10 minutes.
5. Bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes (depending on the oven)

6. Completely cool on a wire rack and then store in an airtight container.



Happy baking !!

Butterscotch Ice cream ‘n’ Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel | Happy Birthday My Precious One !!


It’s that time of the year yet again….. 🙂
KJ’s Birthday…..special to me in more than one ways…..Not only that it’s my best friend, my husband, my partner in love-n-life’s birthday but also because his birthday means a new cake I bake !!
KJ loves to push my boundaries; always getting me out of my comfort zone and throwing in a challenge. He knows I’ll never say never for his birthday cake !!


It was a quiet weekend with a modern version of a shakespearean play, followed by dinner. I spent the morning baking the cake for him and we spent a lot of time together watching movies at home. For company we had some thunder and rain !! A perfect setting for a weekend birthday.


So coming back to the cake, this was a first for me….an ice cream cake. A couple of years back KJ baked an ice cream cake for my birthday and now it was my turn !!
Yes he did a cake which I had still not dared to. In the humidity of July, I must confess it is not the easiest thing to handle. After every 5 minutes of work and handling the cake had to be sent back to the freezer or else the ice cream would start melting. And equally difficult was the whipped cream frosting with salted caramel sauce for flavour; but nevertheless I loved every bit of it !! It’s always fun to experiment. Here I was not only experimenting with the technique but also combining new flavours.


Butterscotch Ice Cream and Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce



Ingredients

1 l tub / brick of Butterscotch 
Ice cream

1 packet of Oreo Cookies

2 tbsps Butter

Salted Caramel Sauce (Recipe at the end of the post)
300 ml of Whipping Cream


For the Chocolate Cake:

1 cup Flour

1 cup Powdered Sugar

1/2 cup Cocoa Powder

1/2 tsp Baking Powder

A pinch of Soda Bicarbonate

3/4 cup Oil

4 Eggs

1 tsp Vanilla Essence



Directions

1. Grease and dust a 8-9″ diameter round cake mould. Preferably a springform or a loose bottom mould. (I used a springform) 

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa powder together.

3. Separate the eggs.

4. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt till stiff peaks are formed. 

5. Now add the powdered sugar in batches and keep whisking the eggs till they get a sheen to them. (Do not add the sugar in one go, we do not want the aeration to go flat) 

6. Add the essence to the egg yolks, mix and gradually add them to the egg whites. Whisk well.

7. Now add the oil to the eggs and whisk for 30 seconds.

8. Fold in the flour mix gently (do not use the hand mixer)

9. Transfer to the mould and bake for 35 minutes at 180 degree C.

10. Remove from the mould and transfer on the wire rack and let it cool completely.

11. Once the cake cools down completely, slice it horizontally to get two parts. These are your two layers of the cake.

Assembly of the cake:

1. Crush the Oreo Cookies coarsely. Mix in the butter and layer the cake mould with it. Press it in and set in the freezer for 45 minutes. (Use the same cake mould, you used to bake the cake in).

2. Once the base has set completely, brush a layer of Salted Caramel Sauce. Put it back in the freezer for 20 minutes.

3. Now take half of the ice cream and spread it on top of the caramel sauce. Place one half of the cake. Press it down. Now add the remaining ice cream on top of the cake layer. Smoothen it with a palette knife. Place the second half of the cake. Press it down and put it in the freezer for atleast 3 hours or overnight. I left it in the freezer overnight.

4. Whip the cream well. Till soft peaks are formed. Add 2 tablespoons of the Salted Caramel sauce and whip some more. If you are using Amul cream for the frosting, remove the water content from the cream. If using non dairy cream whip it well. For amul cream or any other dairy cream please add 1/2 cup of icing sugar as well. Whip it on an ice bath. Whipping up Amul Cream is difficult in humid summer months.

5. Once the cake has set completely, remove from the freezer. Cover with whipping cream. Place it back in the freezer.

6. After 30 minutes, again neaten the frosting and place it back in the freezer.

7. For decoration dribble some salted caramel sauce.

8. Chill it again. Serve chilled. Store in the freezer.



Recipe for the Salted Caramel Sauce


Ingredients

2 cups of Sugar
200 ml of Cream
10 tbsps of Unsalted Butter
1 tsp Sea Salt

Directions

1. Place the sugar in a pan. Put it on high flame. Once the sugar starts melting, keep an eye on your caramel. 
2. As soon as the caramel turns amber, add the butter. The caramel could bubble at this stage. Be careful. 
3. Once the butter melts in completely, remove from the flame and add the cream. Mix well. Now again the caramel would bubble, so be careful.
4. Add the sea salt.

5. Once it cools down completely, store in an airtight jar. It stays happy in the fridge for about a month.


Yes this is indeed a tad tedious, but trust me it’s worth all the effort !! Nothing like a chilled frozen dessert on a summer afternoon !!



Happy Baking !!