Oreo cake for the Birthday Boy




Dearest Rohan, 

Happy Birthday!You turn 12 today and this is an exciting time for a young boy to become a young man and while you stand at this beautiful cusp of time and are making this amazing transition to entering into adulthood,we feel so blessed and privileged that the gods blessed us with a tiny little bundle of joy 12 years back. 

When you arrived into our lives, the joy the beauty and magic that you bought with yourself was simply overwhelming. We have never known so much of happiness since you arrived into our lives with your toothless stare and your baby fat. As you started to crawl and explore the world on all fours you were like a little tiger cub and that’s when I started calling you “My little Tiger” and your name stuck. We have so many fond memories of you growing up and the best of your moments are etched in our hearts and now when we see you sprawled across your bed with that smile that only a divine and pure soul has when one is asleep, they come flooding back and we have never shield to kiss  hug you and tuck you back in to continue with your dreams of the world you create within yourself. 

Growing up with you has been an extremely pleasant learning experience. Teaching you to speak and walk and eat has been a relearning exercise for us and we have gained so much in the process. Your little antics, your expressions for the world you saw around yourself, your love for toys especially balls and cars growing up will forever remain close to our hearts.More recently we are so proud that you are growing up to be a very genuine and caring person. You have been displaying great courage and strength in times of need and you are truly a very caring and compassionate person who likes to share love with one and all without any prejudice, without any expectation in return.



Rohan you have never been proud or arrogant and that is a gift from the gods. Remember to always treasure it. Remember my dearest son our youth, our beauty, our body our external package is simply transient, here one day, gone tomorrow. Just like the wrappers on the presents on your birthday.What is permanent and is remembered however is our beliefs, our values &  ethos and how you treat the others. People always forget what you told them, but they rarely ever forget how you treated them. Every one of us is a dearly loved child of god and deserves to be treated like one. Rohan we love you heaps and heaps and every day we love you even more. You have always made us feel blessed and happy and the joy you share is simply divine. Happy 12th Birthday and Best wishes for the future…


It was a fantastic day spent, school holidays are on at the moment, so what more to ask. The only thing is that he never gets to celebrate his birthday with his mates in the class. I promised him that we are going to host a party in one of his preffered places. 



He wanted to have an Oreo cake with Oreo Biscuits crushed buttercream frosting. I have also realised that fondant cakes are at times tedious to decorate but these naked cakes are totally easy to assemble and absolutely swoon worthy.




I have used my basic vanilla cake recipe. This is a versatile recipe and I have used it many a times for cakes and cupcakes as well.

Basic Vanilla cake
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2 cups plain flour
1 cup sugar
125grams unsalted butter/1cup oil
1tablespoon baking powder
3/4 cup milk
1teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt

Shift plain flour, baking powder and salt together. Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar and add eggs one at time. Whisk it well till incorporated. Add vanilla extract and gradually add flour and milk alternatively until well combined.

Line a baking pan and bake it at 170 C . This recipe is enough for two 8'inch (20 cm) round pan. I used 3  6'inch`pans so I used one batch of the above measurement for two tins and halved the above for the 3rd pan.

PS- If you are using Oreo cookies then add 3/4  PKT of crushed Oreo cookies to the batter before baking.

 Buttercream Frosting
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I have used a fail proof recipe from taste.com.au. It is creamy and delicious and 100 times better than the ready made ones. 

125g soften unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup sifted pure icing sugar
1tablespoon milk
5 to 10 Oreo biscuits crushed

Using the electric blender, beat butter until pale. Gradually icing sugar mixture and milk, beating constantly until creamy. Add the crushed biscuit and give it a stir. The butter cream is ready to go.

Assembling the naked cakes are easy to do. Level the cakes and spread the frosting and top it with another layer. Arrange the Oreo cookies and be creative.

This cake is an inspiration from a book that I have fell in love with, Naked cakes by Lyndel miller
The book is amazing and loaded with tons of simple recipes and frostings for every occassions. The pictures are very captivating and mesmerising.

The whole journey of baking and assembling was well worth the effort.........






Caramel Chocolate Anzac Slice


"Anzac Is not merely about cross. It is about courage, and endurance, and the duty, and love of the country, and mate-ship, and good humour, and survival of a sense of self- worth and decency in the face of dreadful odds"
                                                     
                                                                     - Sir William Deane

April 25 is peharps one of the most significant days on the Australian calendar, marking the anniversary of Australian soldiers arriving at Gallipoli in 1915. Anzac day is a national day not only of mourning, but of remembrance, gratitude, pride and hope. It is a time  to remember those who sacrificed their lives to protect the freedom of generation to come, who died fighting for their right to call this great sunburnt land the lucky land.

Around the country. commemorative services are ceremonies are held to honour Australian servicemen and women and to enable people to reflect on the service yet sacrifice that so many make during times of war. Anzac day is the day we remember all Australians who have served and died in all wars, conflict, and peacekeeping operations.

These Anzac biscuits are baked to mark the special occasion. It is said that the biscuits were baked by the wives to the soldiers abroad because the ingredients do not spoil easily and the biscuits kept well during naval expedition.



 

This year in the lead up to Anzac day, I take the pride to bake this traditional biscuit. I have made a delicious twist, baking a slice  combined with caramel and chocolate topping for a change. I have used the basic Anzac biscuit recipe to make the base. I have also used more coconut in the topping along with the melted Chocolate for more coconutty flavour. I really loved it.......

I remember  when we were posted overseas  and I had to baked these lovely biscuits and shared it with other communities. It was a huge hit and texture of these chewy cookies made it  very sought  after.




The crunchy and chewy base with  caramel and dark melt combined with coconut is an essential Anzac day fare.

Ingredients
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1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup brown sugar ( reduce to 1/2 cup if making the slice)
1 cup desiccated /shredded coconut
125 grams unsalted butter
2 tablespoon golden syrup
1teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoon hot water

Filling (caramel)
-----------------------
1 (395g) tin condensed milk
50 grams unsalted butter
1/4 cup golden syrup

Topping
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200 grams Dark chocolate melt
1/4 desiccated coconut  (optional)

Preheat the oven into 160'C. Combine oats, plain flour, coconut and sugar in a large bowl.  Melt butter and golden syrup in a sauce pan for about 3 minutes and  stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Mix soda with hot water and pour it into the butter mixture. Then mix it with oats mixture and stir it to create a crumbly mixture.

 Line a pan (20 x 30 cm) and press the mixture into it. Bake it for about 15 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove it from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes.

In the mean time prepare the caramel filling. Melt butter and golden syrup in a saucepan over a high heat. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Add condensed milk, cook and stir for about 5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened and darken.

Pour the hot mixture over the baked oats and further bake for 10 minutes. Remove and set it aside for 30 minutes.

Prepare the chocolate topping, melt chocolate and coconut ( optional) in a double boiler and then spread over the caramel. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

Use sharp knife dipped in hot water to cut the slice evenly.










Date cups filled with Khoya/Mawa


Every journey begins with a dream and every dream is a tiny seed that is implanted in our tiny boxes on top of our shoulders and likewise every trial and experiment in the kitchen involves a culinary journey through our hearts and minds and creates that gastronomical sense of WOW! That no other creative venture provides. I have found creating recipes in the kitchen a complete and wholesome experience of mind, body and soul and the pleasures from seeing the outcome is a surprise and such a wonderful surprise. 

Like the flow of water you cannot really stop the flow of ideas. Once I start browsing the glitzy food magazines, I am transported to a different plane. Being an avid reader of these magazines and journals since my early teens these moments of aimless surfing the pages are moment of pure bliss for me. I remember having been caught reading my mother's magazines and having been reprimanded after being caught red-handed and being chided to "read your own textbooks with the same passion young lady!"

These days I am free to browse and browse till my heart's content and download them on my Zinio App. What an opportunity and imagine my bliss....All the world's magazines in an e format for me to gloss over. 


On one such recent browsing session I came across a wonderful recipe of date cups filled with chocolate mouse and since I have a sweet tooth and I have a weakness for Indian desserts. I thought of twisting it and playing with  the Khoya ( mawa) sitting on the fridge and few condensed milk tins in my pantry rolling over to reach the expiry zone soon.

The dates, khoya and nuts matched well and the outcome was very appetising.




Ingredients
----------------
For the cup
2 cups pitted dates
1/2 cup unsalted almonds finely crushed
2 teaspoon ghee

For Filling/stuffing
-------------------------
100g mawa/khoya crumbled - (I used Nanak brand)
100g condensed milk
1tablespoon almond meal

Pulse the pitted dates into a paste. Heat 1 teaspoon ghee in a pan and light cook the dates for 5 to 7 minutes on medium flame. Be careful not to burn the dates and cook till it doesn't taste raw.
Remove it and keep it aside. While still warm. Roll it in to a walnut size ball and use a mini silicon cupcake holder to give the shape. Press the ball into the holder sides and keep it in the fridge for couple of hours. It is easy to un mould from a silicon holder.

For the filling
 Heat 1 teaspoon of ghee in a pan and stir the khoya. Cook till it becomes a paste. Add condensed milk and stir for 5 to 7 minutes on a low flame. Add  almond meal and give it a final stir. Remove it from the fire and stuffing is ready. It is soft and goey.

Once the cup is ready, unmould it and stuff it with the filling  and garnish it with nuts.




I have used another way to make this dessert. Roll the cooked  dates with a rolling pin and spread the cooked khoya/ mawa filling. Sprinkle the nuts and roll it using a baking paper. Slice and Serve.










Marinated chicken thighs skewers on a charcoal flame


I often reminiscence the idyllic Sunday noons when I was a kid frolicking around with my cousins living the life of my dreams. Amongst the make belief stories of our plays and changing roles from being the fair maiden to fighting monsters and marrying off my dolls, Somewhere we would taper off being grumpy little kids getting into an argument and fight only because we would have burnt off our breakfast and hunger would set in from the wafting aroma of freshly baked flat bread (Roti's) from the Choolah (the Eastern version of the Tandoor)  and the Dalma especially the burnt smell of chilli and onion that would be lavishly thrust into the cooked dahl. The boys would get their kick only when they smelt the wood charcoal fire licking the marinated chicken and mutton pieces skewered into cast iron rods. 

Fast forward 30 years and 7,500 Km from home I couldn't let the extra long summer days in Sydney go without a coal barbecue. Trust me when I say this no fancy barbecue  can match the scculuent taste and the aroma that charcoal brings to a barbecue. So like my grandma 30 years back, my husband sat kindling the fire for 45 minutes and that dear readers is the only time consuming part of this amazing recipe. 

As my boys sat around breathing the aroma, I couldn't but resist snapping a picture and posting this up to share. Memories are all but the only treasures I will forever cherish.....Oh! how I miss those idyllic summer days that I see my boys now living their dreams.



Ingredients
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1kg Chicken thigh fillets,trimmed and cut into 3 cm pieces
2 tbsp sour cream
1tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
1tsp turmeric powder
1tsp chill powder or more depending on your spice level
1tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1tsp garam masala powder
finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp kasturi methi ( optional)
sea salt
metal skewers
oil for basting

Squeeze lemon juice and sea salt to the chicken and set aside for 5 minutes. Drain excess liquid and marinate the chicken with all the above ingredients for minimum 30 minutes.

Ignite the charcoal barbecue and thread the marinated chicken into metal skewers.Cook them, turning and basting occasionally, until cooked through.

Serve it with salad and  warm flat bread.

Note- Use wooden skewers if metal ones are unavailable. Soak them in water for 30 minutes to prevent them from burning.