Yummy cakes

PLUM CAKE
Plum_cake_L2Ingredients : 120gm flour ; 2eggs ; 20gm mix fruit jam ; 120gm butter ; 2 to 3 drops vanilla essence ; 5gm baking powder ; 8gm raisins ; 30gm broken cashews and walnuts ; 120gm tutti-frutti ; 40gm dates and dry figs ; 2gm cinnamon and nutmeg ; 150ml dark rum and beer ; 100gm sugar. ———————- For the icing : 1egg white ; 2gm cream of tartar ; 150gm icing sugar.
Method : Soak dates, cashew nuts, raisins, tutti-frutti in red wine, rum and beer, at least 20-25days prior, so that the fruits absorb all the spirits.  Mix butter, sugar, vanilla essence along with the 2eggs.  Fold in the sifted flour and baking powder.  Add the soaked ingredients to this mixture.  Grease the cake tin and place a sheet  of butter paper on the bottom.  Pour the cake batter into the tin and bake at 160 degrees Celsius for about 20 to 25mins.  Leave aside to cool.
For the icing : Beat the egg whites, powdered sugar, and cream of tartar on low speed until stiff and white.  Pour the icing on the cake and leave to dry.  Serve chilled.
SPIDERWEB CAKE 
spider_web_cakeIngredients : 1cup maida ; 1egg (beaten) ; 1/2cup butter (at room temperature) ; 3/4tsp baking powder ; 1/2tsp baking soda ; 1/2tsp vanilla essence ; 3/4cup sugar ; 1/2cup milk (use only if the batter is too dry)
Topping : 100gm dark chocolate (melted with 1tsp of butter) ; 1cup fresh cream ; 1/4 cup sugar ; a few drops of vanilla essence.
Method : Sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder together.  Keep aside. Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth, add egg and vanilla essence to this and mix well to form a smooth batter.  Now, add flour to this and mix well.  Grease and line a cupcake tray.  Spoon the batter into the cavities and bake for 15 mins at 180 degrees Celsius or until done.  Take out from oven and allow them to cool down completely before icing them.  Mix fresh cream, sugar, vanilla essence together.  Whip this until it begins to form soft peaks.  Pour this mixture into a piping bag with a narrow nozzle.  Once the cupcakes have cooled down, spread the chocolate evenly on the surface.  Then use the piping bag, with the fresh cream to draw concentric circles, followed by diagonal lines to represent a web.  Let the cupcakes rest for 15mins before serving..

Feeling Christmassy

Here are two recipes that the children would love this season : —
REINDEER CAKE POPS
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Ingredients : 100gm chocolate brownie ; 100ml melted chocolate ; 50gm mixed nuts ; 15gm whipped cream ; 5 plastic sticks. –FOR HORNS : 50gm flour ; 1egg.
Method : In a bowl, break the brownie into small pieces, add nuts, add melted chocolate and knead it to a tight dough  Divide into small portion, and shape into small balls, pierce them with the plastic stick and dip the pop into warm tempered chocolate.  Keep aside to set, decorate with horn and make eyes using whipped cream and chocolate drop.
For Horns : Beat egg and flour together into a smooth paste.  Using butter paper, make a cone and put the mixture in it.  Pipe the mixture into the shape of a horn and bake it for 10 – 15mins.
CHRISTMAS TREE CAKE POPS
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Ingredients : 500 gm leftover cake crumbs ; 500gm white chocolate ; 1/2tsp green colour (food grade) ; 50gm assorted edible sprinkles ; 10-12 plastic sticks.
Equipment : 1 large mixing bowl ; 1 large metal spoon ; wax paper ; plastic wrap ; deep, microwave-safe plastic bowl.
Method: In a bowl, knead the leftover cake, if dry add sugar syrup or chocolate sauce.  make about 12balls, 50gm each.  Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in micro oven, add the colour, mix well and keep aside.  Take the cake balls, pierce the plastic in the middle, and start shaping like a cone, keep pressing and shape ach like Christmas trees.  Dip the cake tree in the chocolate.  Take a toothpick and make scratch marks, before the chocolate sets sprinkle with the decorations.

Pour in the pumpkin

Drinking rules for the Holiday Season, actually mentions at No. 371 : “A man’s drink shall not involve pumpkin.”  This is one Commandment that could do with some flouting.
Pumpkin is, perhaps, not on top of your list when it comes to flavoured cocktail ingredients, but on Thanksgiving (or the day after) it is in keeping with tradition to swill a pumpkin pie drink or two.  Pumpkin pie cocktails are easy enough to make —- easier by far than baking the pie.
Most cocktails call for pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice (mix  1/2tsp cinnamon powder with 1/4tsp ginger powder and 1/8tsp of clove and nutmeg powder each, to create 1tsp of the mix.)  You can also have pumpkin pie flavoured spirits, including vodka and Kahlua that you can probably stock up on to make your post-Thanksgiving drink truly delicious.
WHITE RUSSIAN PUMPKIN PIE STYLE
Pumpkin Spice White Russian 3
Ingredients — 45ml pumpkin pie flavoured vodka ; 30ml Kahlua ; a pinch of pumpkin pie spice ; 90ml milk.
Method : Pour the vodka, Kahlua and pumpkin pie spice into a shaker and mix.  Next, add milk to the shaker and mix again.  Pour into a glass with ice.
WARM PIE COCKTAIL
Hot-Pumpkin-Pie-Cocktail-4
Ingredients — 1cup apple cider ; 1/2cup pumpkin puree ; a pinch of pumpkin pie spice ; 1/8cup dark rum.  Method : Mix the cider, pumpkin puree and spice in a pan, on high heat.  Boil, then simmer for 5minutes.  Strain into a glass.  Add the rum to the glass, mix and serve.
PUMPKIN PIE MARTINI
pumpkin-pie-martini
Ingredients —- 30ml vodka ; 20ml dark rum ; 1tbsp pumpkin puree ; 1tbsp heavy cream ; 1/2tbsp sugar ; pinch of pumpkin pie spice ; ice.  Method : Pour all the ingredients into a shaker with some ice.  Shake and pour into a Martini glass. (Optional : Rim the glass with a crushed Graham cracker).

Ten things you didn’t know about Christmas!

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It’s  the festive season, I mean Yuletide.  The aroma is RUMMY and the taste is PLUMMY.  It’s the time for puddings, loads of baking, family time and decorations.  Here are some fun facts :

(1) YOUR CHRISTMAS FEAST TAKES 295 DAYS TO GROW :—- According to a research study, it takes seasonal vegetables and turkey ten months to grow before it is ready for the festive feast.  On the other hand, it just takes 30minutes to polish up the grand feast.

(2) 47 YEARS TO THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS DINNER :—-Burnt your turkey ?  Fret not. A study says that it takes 47 years to master the culinary techniques for cooking Christmas dinner, owing to the techniques being tricky and challenging.

(3) The largest turkey on record weighed 86pounds, about the size of a large dog.  According to statistics, 22 million turkeys are consumed each year during Christmas, compared to 45 million at Thanksgiving.

(4) WATCH YOUR SALT INTAKE :—-On an average, the salt RDA is 5 gm, but on Christmas Day, dinner contains about 8.87 gm. of salt.

(5) CHRISTMAS COLOURS :—-Always wondered why Santa is RED and the Christmas Tree is GREEN with GOLD and SILVER ORNAMENTS ?  Well, these traditions come from Western and Northern European customs.  GREEN is the colour of HOLLY & MISTLETOE which symbolises LIFE & REBIRTH.  RED is the colour of LOVE & ENERGY which symbolises the Blood of Christ and GOLD represents LIGHT, WEALTH & ROYALTY.

(6) ON A SILVER DISH THE CHRISTMAS PUDDING REPOSED IN ITS GLORY :—-According to folklore, the pudding was traditionally made with 13 ingredients to represent JESUS & HIS DISCIPLES, and is always stirred from EAST TO WEST in honour of the 3 WISE MEN, who visited Baby Jesus.  The tradition says, Christmas pudding should contain 4 tokens to foretell the future :—-a COIN, a THIMBLE, a RING and a BUTTON.  It was believed, if you got one of the latter two, YOU’RE DOOMED TO BE SINGLE FOR ANOTHER YEAR.

(7) STIR-UP SUNDAY :—-The last Sunday before the season of Advent, is traditionally the day for families to make Christmas Puddings, giving the pudding plenty of time to develop flavours before Christmas.  Traditionally, members of the family take turns and stir the pudding, whilst making a wish.

(8) SWEET CANDY CANES :-Christmas candy canes originated in Germany about 250 years ago.  A story says that a choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral handed out the sugar sticks among children to keep them quiet during the ceremony.  He wanted to remind them of SHEPHERDS who visited Jesus at the 1st Christmas, so he made them into a ‘J’ shape.  According to age-old tales, the WHITE of the cane represents the PURITY OF JESUS CHRIST, the RED STRIPE symbolises the BLOOD SHED WHEN HE DIED ON THE CROSS and the PEPPERMINT FLAVOUR represents the HYSSOP PLANT that was used for PURIFYING the Bible.

(9) RUDOLF, THE RED_NOSED REINDEER :—-Like the ENERGIZER BUNNY, Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer got his start in advertising in 1939.  Copywriter ROBERT MAY created him for MONTGOMERY WARD department to attract shoppers.

(10) BUCHE de NOEL :—-A traditional cake, BUCHE de NOEL, is of French origin. The name translates to CHRISTMAS LOG, symbolising the belief that a large log should burn continuously on Christmas Night and if it goes out, it means BAD LUCK IN THE COMING YEAR.  Traditionally, the next morning, ashes from the log is scooped up and kept as a GOOD LUCK CHARM to heal sickness and to guarantee success in business.

Credit: Anisha Bhatia.

It is the festive season!

wallpaper_gratitude_p78de1Yesterday was Christmas Day.  It brought to mind what Christmas meant for me when I was a child.  Every year on the 24th of December, i.e. Christmas Eve, we were allowed to paint our nails with natural coloured nail polish.  We always waited for this time of the year, because that was the only time we had nail polish on our nails. The rest of the year, the nails had to be clean, trimmed and bare.  Then we prepared to go for the Midnight Mass in our new dresses and straw hats (the same colour as the dress ).  All the little children, who were also our friends, looked so cute.  Christmas carols were sung, and the Organ was played.  Of course the Mass was in Latin, the language of the Liturgy of those days.

Today, I miss that beautiful Christmas Service and the ‘Silent Night’ and ‘O, come all ye faithful’.  Those carols have given way to other carols that do not sound like carols.  Even the Liturgy of the Church(Latin) has been replaced by the vernacular, and does not give me a high when I listen to them.  I still feel that the true spirit of Christmas has been lost somewhere in transition.

santa-claus-true-spirit-of-christmasThe importance of the Birth of Christ is lost in the glamour and din of today.  Christmas, as I understand it, is a festival of HAPPINESS, PEACE and SHARING.  As children, we were taken to the Cheshire Homes of the Aged, where we shared eatables, like cakes, biscuits, chips, marzipan and other goodies.  We were asked to bring whatever we could afford, and we were not compelled to do so.  We did that out of our own free will.  There were a few children who could not contribute anything, but they were also include in the group that visited the Cheshire Homes.  It was a Community effort.  No child was debarred if he or she couldn’t contribute anything.  Such a child was not singled out.

We all went happily and sang carols danced with those old people, I mean at least those who were able to do so.  At least at Christmas, we learnt that it was a good time to share whatever we had, be it goodies, laughter, hugs, kisses and thus we brightened the day for these people who had no one to make them happy.  Most of them had been abandoned, maybe by their own children.  We never knew or were told about their lives, but we, as children do, instinctively knew they were in need of a lot of love.  This was an important part of Christmas for us ————spreading cheer and love to those who needed that most.  Of course, we had our families and friends with whom we could always celebrate Christmas, but spending our time with those inmates of the Cheshire Homes gave us a lot of satisfaction.  This is the Spirit of a true Christmas.  Today, the materialistic aspect has taken over ——-eating rich food, cakes going for the Christmas dance (at night) instead of the Midnight Mass, and we forget those who are not so well-off.

mormon-lds-ideas1The lord Jesus, came to us as a little child.  We ,too, have to become childlike, not childish.  We should retain that awe and wonder of a child and also the unfettered spirit that enables a child to love all, without any bias.  Thus we will capture the Spirit of Christmas.

Here is a Christmas Meditation:

If we but had the eyes to see God’s face in every cloud

If we but had the ears to hear His voice above the crowd

If we could feel His gentle touch in every stirring breeze

And find a haven in His arms beneath leafy sheltering trees

We would not need to ponder or ask to understand

For we’d know He held the answers in the Hollow of His Hand.

—Helen Steiner Rice.

Merry Christmas!

getimage.dllWe all love gifts. The more, the merrier! And thats why Christmas holds such a special place in our hearts, it is the season of joy, of celebration, of gifts and pastries, of togetherness. When we were kids, we waited eagerly for the night of the 24th, when Santa would drop his goodies in the sock (although personally speaking, I would prefer hanging up a big bag instead…why give Santa a smaller bucket eh? hehe). When we woke, the first thing we would do is to rush to the tree, and open the gifts with glee!

Most of us are grown up now…(although we all secretly wait for Santa anyways)…So maybe its time to relive the dream, in a different way. Lets all bring a smile to someone who needs it, to children who look forward to Santa but may not feel his presence. I’ve learnt during the years that getting a gift is a great feeling, but giving one is more satisfying…

This Christmas, visit the Sri Rakum School for the Blind (www.rakum.org) and light up the faces of the kids there…make them smile…give them something that brings them joy and happiness…

This Christmas…BE THE SANTA 🙂