Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

How fast time flies…It feels like just yesterday…the noise of clinking champagne flutes, as we welcomed 2011. It has been a roller coaster ride for me. Loads of highs and lows; I am still holding it tight in my hands, not willing to let go, knowing for sure the New Year is going to bring me much more adventures. I have some exciting projects in the pipeline and can’t wait to share the news with you next year. As I sip my coffee, I try to recapture all the memorable moments of 2011 that swept past me leaving me emerge stronger, experienced and adventurous. Phew! What an amazing year. 
A very Happy New Year to all my fellow bloggers & readers! Hope 2012 brings you health & happiness in abundance, lets you achieve your goals & dreams.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

White Chocolate Ricotta Cheesecake with Baileys & Cranberries

As promised I am back with this smooth like velvet, white chocolate cheesecake with baileys & cranberries. Don't ask me why, but this mixture of ricotta, cream cheese & quark makes a very luxurious filling. It bakes to a dense, creamy sweet filling that practically melts in your mouth. The sweetness from white chocolate & the tartness from the cranberries are just perfect, with hints of baileys as you dig in. I reckon you could use chocolate digestives and skip the cocoa & chocolate, but somehow this method below makes it more chocolatey. 

White Chocolate Ricotta Cheesecake with Baileys & Cranberries
For the base

100g digestive biscuits 

25g blanched almonds 

50g dark chocolate chopped 

30g butter 

1 heaped tbsp cocoa 

For the filling 

170g good quality white chocolate 

200g soft cream cheese like Philadelphia 

300g tub ricotta 

70g quark 

3 large eggs 

2tbsp Baileys (I used hazelnut flavour) 

1tbsp lavender honey

handful of cranberries 
zest of 1 orange

Preheat the oven to 160C. Spray an 8-inch spring form tin with non-stick spray. Now pulse the biscuits & the almonds for a minute until fine. Add cocoa, chocolate and butter, process until you get sandy rubble. Transfer the mixture into the tin, press onto bottom and a little up the sides of the tin. Freeze the tin until needed. 

Melt the white chocolate using a double boiler or microwave and set aside. In a processor, blend the ricotta until smooth. Add the cream cheese & blend, stopping the processor occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Blend in the honey, baileys and orange zest. Now add the eggs and pulse. Add the melted chocolate & whizz until you get a satiny smooth batter. Stir in the cranberries. Pour the filling to the cooled crust. Bake the cheesecake until filling is just wobbly in the centre and edges begin to crack, about 45min-1hr. The cheese cake I baked took about 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow to cool, leaving the door ajar. Refrigerate overnight or for a couple of hours and serve chilled with coulis if desired. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Guest Post for Made With Pink

Here's the sneak peak of the guest post I am doing for Andrea. I was honoured when she asked me to guest post on her blog, while she was away on maternity. You will find the recipe here at Andrea's beautiful blog called MadeWithPink. And please, wish her a happy motherhood!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Holiday Granola

What did you have for breakfast? One big question I am always asked when I call my mum in India or when S calls me after his morning meetings or when I say no to heavy lunches while visiting friends. As kids we always had Idli, Dosa, Pongal, with chutnies & sambhar in the morning before rushing through the door to get the school van. We called it "morning tiffin" and never ever skipped it. Then came the new trend of Kellogg's cornflakes but, we were allowed this luxury breakfast only on Sundays and I eventually got bored of it. Living away from home, I did make proper "morning tiffin" for a long time, until I discovered how easy it is to make granola and how awesome it is with milk or yogurt. I have made so many variations but I think I like this one with chocolate & spices in it, perfect for the holiday season. S likes to drown them in milk while I like mine with flavored yogurt & fruits. This has led me to the curious question of How you like your morning cereals?Do you like it with milk or with yogurt? Do you like the milk warm or cold?


Holiday Granola 

400g jumbo oats or a mix of oats,millet,spelt 

200g flaked almonds 

50g hazelnuts 

100g omega mix (linseed, sesame seeds, pumpkin seed, sunflower seeds) 

2tbsp maple syrup 

3tbsp honey 

120ml melted butter or vegetable oil 

100g mixed dried berries (cranberries, blueberries etc) 

Seeds scraped from a vanilla pod 

Zest of 1 orange 

1tsp mixed spice 

1tsp cinnamon 

Handful of white chocolate buttons (60g)
Handful of dark chocolate buttons  

Preheat oven to 170C. Pour the melted butter/oil and honey over the oat mixture. Add the spice mix, zest, vanilla and stir until all the oats and nuts are coated with the liquids. Bake them for about 25 to 30 minutes or until they are crisp and golden. Stir in the berries half way through. Remove the granola from the oven and allow cooling slightly and stir in the chocolate buttons while still warm, so that you have some melted and some as bits. Store in an air-tight container once cool.  

Double Chocolate Christmas Fruit Cake

I am positive, like me many of you are still finding this time of the year a bit crazy. On one end, there is a high- level of enthusiasm for the holidays & shopping and on the other is the blustery weather with endless downpour from heaven. Covered head-to-toe in layers of warm clothes, hat-scarves-gloves et al, just to go to the corner grocer, images of endless winter, snow and slippery paths stirs my worries. This is the time I find solace in my kitchen, cooking or baking something, escaping from the relentless chill. There is something soul satisfying & comforting about staying indoors, receding to the warmth of the oven or stove. I absolutely love festive baking, the gorgeous heady aromas of soaked boozy fruits, Clementines, Cinnamon, Ginger, Clove, Vanilla and more puts even the best aroma-candle to shame. Although I have made a batch of the traditional drunken fruit cake, constantly feeding them with Armagnac, I still wanted to make a fruit cake with less fruits & more of the flavours I like. So if you are running away from the usual fruit cake here's one with a spin! It is not only pretty traditional, packed with all the Christmassy flavours, but also has chocolate in two forms, cocoa & chocolate chips stirred into the batter along with another favourite of mine, coffee. Somehow for me coffee makes chocolate taste chocolaty. Give it a try and let me know what you think! 
  I am cheered and inspired in my kitchen and hope you do too and happy baking!

Fruit Cake
450g soaked fruits
50g flaked almonds
150g butter softened
125g brown sugar
3 large eggs
215g flour
15g cocoa
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
handful of dark chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp instant coffee
seeds scraped from a vanilla pod
Brandy or Armagnac for brushing and feeding
Grease & line an 8" pan with double layer of grease-proof paper and wrap the outside of the tin with newspaper, securing with a twine. Preheat oven to 140-160C. Beat butter & sugar till light and gradually add the eggs one by own, beating well after each addition. Sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Toss the fruits & the chocolate chips in a tbsp of sifted flour. Fold in the flour into the egg mixture with a spatula and spoon into the prepared tin. Bake for about 1.25-1.45 minutes or until skewer inserted comes out clean. (Mine took about 1.20 min). Let it cool in the pan and brush the top with brandy or armagnac.
Its best to store the cake in an air-tight container wrapped in layers of parchment & foil. Feed your cake with brandy every week until ready to serve.

Next up is a holiday granola & then a luscious cheesecake with surprise flavours to adorn your holiday table. 

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