Cinnamon chocolate chip loaf cake

You wont imagine what happened today. I did not either, till the time it had actually happened. So in school, in Le Cordon Bleu, we have an erratic time-table. The day is divided into four three-hour parts, and the demonstrations or practicals start at 8.30am/ 12.30pm/ 3.30pm or 6.30pm. We mostly have 2-3 classes each day, and one of the three-hour slots is always free. Today, after the morning session , I said good-bye to my friends and stepped out for lunch to come back for the 3.30 class. Whilst sitting peacefully and having lunch like a Parisian, in a cafe at about 2 pm, suddenly I checked my timetable and found that I had class at 12.30! Shoot! I practically ran like a whirlwind to the class, changed into the elaborate uniform (which takes at least 5-7 minutes), and went to the demonstration class.

But it was too late. Most of the stuff was already done. And the school has a very particular rule (quite logical if you ask me on any other day) that if you miss a demonstration, you can’t attend the practical. So I missed two classes out of 40, and just came back home. Yeah, that was very stupid of me. I felt so sad, that I even refused to go shopping with my host and wonderful friend Danielle, once I came back home.

The good part was, the chef just demonstrated two types of cookies, which luckily we wont have to make in the exam. And we are allowed to miss 5 classes in the course. So, I escaped this folly without any major damages. And like my father-in-law said “Every early mistake is a stepping stone to success especially if the mistake was inconsequential.” Well, I truly hope that one helps.

Other than this incident, the classes are going very well. Sometimes, during practicals, some chefs talk only in French, and 90% of the class is baffled. I hate it when that happens. But some Canadians in our class translate parts of it into English and we manage.

The amazing thing about the school is that they teach some brilliant techniques. Later on, we can modify and experiment with it, to our liking. For instance, there is this Choux pastry technique, which is super easy once you get the texture of the dough right. And it is hollow in the center once baked, so that you can fill in either chocolate pastry, or cheese and onions, or add some savory mix in the dough before cooking. There are numerous possibilities. Once I return back home, I promise to experiment and give you guys full-proof recipes.

Here is a photo of the choux pastry in the form of a St. Honoré (a choux pastry cake with Chantilly cream). Its made in class, and you can still see my name tag on the top left corner.

Choux pastry

For now, the comforting smell of cinnamon and the makes-everything-feel-better chocolate is going to give me company while I drink a Cinnamon hot chocolate. And just because I don’t want you to feel left out of the cinnamon-chocolate goodness, and a quick remedy for those days which don’t look that good, I am sharing a quick-fix chocolate-chip cinnamon swirl cake recipe. Had I not been making two-desserts-a-day at school, I was sure to bake some today. It’s very soothing.

Two slices of cake

Cinnamon chocolate chip loaf cake recipe

What you will need:

  • 250 gms all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 120 gm semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg (at room temperature)
  • 150 gms light brown or dark brown sugar
  • 50 gm regular granulated sugar
  • 240 ml ( 1 cup) buttermilk or 3/4 cup plain yoghurt and 1/4 cup water
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) unflavored vegetable oil (I use groundnut oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cinnamon swirl :

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 65 gm granulated sugar

What to do :

  1. In a large bowl take flour, salt and baking soda and combine together with a whisk. Add the chocolate chips. Set aside.
  2. In another medium bowl, whisk the egg, brown sugar and granulated sugar to combine. Whisk in the oil, buttermilk and vanilla.
  3. Then slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredient, and gently whisk till there are no more lumps or no more flour streaks. Do not over-mix, or the mixture will become elastic.
  4. Make the cinnamon swirl by mixing together the cinnamon and granulated sugar.
  5. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan generously with softened (not melted) room-temperature butter. This helps to give the loaf a beautiful brown crust.
  6. Pour half of the prepared batter into the loaf pan. Spread evenly with 3/4 of your cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  7. Pour the remaining batter on top and finish with the rest of the cinnamon-sugar. Sprinkle with a some more mini chocolate chips if desired.
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 170° Celcius.
  9. Loosely cover the cake loaf tin with aluminium foil and bake it for 45 minutes to one hour. Poke the centre of the cake with a toothpick, if it comes out clean, it is done.
  10. Allow the cake to cool completely before in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into slices.

Slice of cinnamon cake

Note :

  1. Buttermilk gives the cake a very moist texture. Don’t skip on it.
  2. Room temperature egg is essential to mix it well. You can also get the egg to room temperature by placing it in warm water.

Cinnamon before and after cake

This cake stays well for a week in an air-tight container. You can also put some banana slices on top and get brownie points for adding fruit to your dessert.

And now I am going to check my time-table every 3 hours, just to ensure I don’t miss any classes.

 

First few days in Le Cordon Bleu and Deviled Eggs

Bonjour Mesdames et Messieurs!

Mon nom est rutvika. Ça va? Je fais bien. Merci beaucoup. 🙂

Well, my French is limited to these few words and phrases, but thankfully for me, and many students like me, we have a translator who translates everything to English at the Le Cordon Bleu. Everything. Even if the chef swears while demonstrating the technique, that gets translated. I am yet to pick up any swear words in french, but very soon.

It has been four days since my school started and it’s quite intensive. We have 6 to 9 hours of class daily, but it’s so much fun! The day is divided into two parts. First the chef demonstrates the technique of making a new pastry for about 3 hours and then the next morning we have to make it on our own, and so on. And, let me tell you, the school does not have any printed recipes. They just give us a blank sheet of paper with the ingredients listed out and we have to write down the recipe during demonstration, in our own words. We have to observe what the chef is doing, hear the translator and write it down in as many words as possible. And write it so well, that it can be repeated next morning. Almost like blogging for myself. 🙂

In our Basic Pastry class of 30 students, we have girls and boys coming in from at least 15 countries. Yeah! And the Director of Cordon Bleu said that there are students from about 59 countries at any time in the school in Paris. It is very interesting, and when I meet a new girl from a different country, I come home and read about that country. For instance in the last 3 days, I read about Austria and Latvia! They have very similar flags, just the Latvian flag color is a deep maroon and Austrian is bright red. That’s some trivia for this week.Latvia and Austria flagOnce we make a pastry, we can take it back home. Since it’s just 3 things that we have made yet, I get it back home and we are able to finish it by: 1. Eating some of it ourselves or 2. Distributing among friends. Danielle my friend and host in Paris has a lot of friends and I am so glad for it, we get to distribute a lot of it. My fellow students in the school who are mostly staying alone have to throw it in the trash, or what else are you going to do with tonnes of dessert?! I know that’s sad, but we also have a plan of finding some homeless people and giving them the desserts! 🙂

Meanwhile, back home a couple of days back, we had made Deviled Eggs for a Diwali party. They are so much like a tart, just the egg whites in place of the tart shells and whipped egg yolk in place of whipping cream! Ha! That’s the Le Cordon Bleu effect.

Devil eggs1

The deviled eggs can be done in innumerable ways and its very very easy. And for a party, they can be made well in advance and refrigerated. A perfect, healthy party food. Kids love it too, because you can control the spice and it’s comforting to bite into soft smooth whipped egg yolk and then feel the tender but firm seasoned egg white.

Deviled eggs

Deviled Eggs Recipe :

For 20 portions,

What you will need :

  • 12 large eggs, preferably 3-4 days old
  • Mustard, Chilli powder, salt, basil, coriander, olives etc for seasoning, as per taste

Steps :

Making deviled eggs is easy, and once you know how to hard boil eggs, most of your work is done.

  1. The egg yolks can be centered by resting the eggs in the carton on their sides overnight (or for about 8 hours). So that when you cut it in half, you get two perfect slices of eggs, with the yolk in the centre.They get sturdier to handle, and look pretty.
  2. Take your eggs from the fridge half an hour before you want to cook them. Let them rest on their sides. This will reduce the amount of cracks during cooking by reducing the shock of any rapid temperature changes.
  3. In a large vessel, place the eggs. Let there be comfortable space for the eggs to move around while boiling, or they might bump into each other often and crack.
  4. Boil one or two more eggs than required, as some of them will crack open while boiling, peel off very badly or yolks may be at the edge and hence may not be usable for making deviled eggs. You can have them for sandwich.
  5. Fill your vessel with cold water, enough to cover the eggs by about an inch. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to raise the boiling point and help your eggs cook faster.
  6. Cover the pot with a lid and set it on high heat. It will take about 6-7 minutes to get the water boiling.
  7. As soon as it gets to a rolling boil, with large bubbles, take the vessel off heat.
  8. Add a tablespoon of vinegar over your eggs, to make it easier for peeling and let the eggs sit for 30 minutes in the hot water to finish cooking. Put a timer for 30 mins, because if it stays and cooks longer, the egg whites will become tough.
  9. The eggs must first be cooled before they can be peeled. Lift the eggs and place them in a bowl of ice-cold water. This way they cool rapidly and it avoids forming a green ring on the egg yolks while cooling. Leave the eggs to cool for 10 minutes and start peeling them.
  10. Gently tap the egg on the kitchen counter till it looks fractured from all sides and then peel it off. You may need to start the process off by picking a small bit of shell off with your fingernail. Then the egg shells should slip off perfectly.
  11. Then, cut the eggs into half and squeeze out the egg yolks by gently nudging the egg whites. The yolk will usually pop out easily. You can also take a small spoon to ease the yolk out if the egg sides appear particularly thin or fragile.
  12. Then break the egg yolks with a fork.They will seem dry and almost powdery. For nice, smooth fillings, mash the yolks well so that there aren’t any large lumps.
  13. Then add any or as many seasoning as you like. For 10 eggs, I added 2 tablespoon mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon mustard paste, some salt and some chilli powder. But don’t limit yourself to this,  you can even mix finely chopped onion, olives, pepper, Italian salad dressing and so on..
  14. Mix it all very well and pipe it into the halved egg whites with a piping bag or even a ziplock bag with the tip cut off. Or you can simply spoon it into the eggs.
  15. Drizzle with some coriander and chilli flakes for the colorful yellow-white-green-red effect. And you are done.
  16. Now go, get ready and dazzle you guests!

DE close upThree devil eggs

Maharashtrian Chirote or Fried layered crispies

Currently as I write this post, it is just 5 days before I leave for Paris, and I still do not have the Visa in my hand. It is in process since the last 2 weeks, but our not-so-competent (realized just now) travel agent did not mention that an original document notarized in Paris is required for the visa. I had to then urgently call my host in Paris, an amazingly sweet and efficient lady (which I realised now), had to rush to the Paris town hall, get the required document and courier it to me. I will get the document today and then I have four more working days before I fly to Paris. Pray for me.

I have been making to-do lists with a blue pen, then ticking off with a red one, then making another list and working on it, and then another one. It has come to a point where I will need to make a list to index and manage other lists. Phew! You know what I am talking about? It’s that sort of frenzy here right now. I always go crazy when there is a lot of stuff to be done, but right now my craziness is at its worst. To top it, Akshay has gone on a jungle safari which was planned way back , and he has limited phone range there, my mum had fractured her foot and is in a plaster, and my best friend has disappeared to another non-cell phone range area. Where are you guys?!

So for now its just this crazy-to-do-list girl and her my mum-in-law.

The Diwali week has come to an end, and we had a fantastic fun filled Diwali! A healthy mixture of meeting family, partying with friends and then cooking and learning from the masters. In current scenario, my grandma-in-law. Like all grannies, she has a box full of hidden treasures, and I can’t get enough of it. Her secret recipes can be learnt only if you cook with her. If you ask her the recipe, she would shrug it off and say “There’s nothing to it. Just heat some oil, do tadka, saute some things, let it simmer, add some coriander and its ready.” I replay it in my head and try it alone at home. It comes nowhere close to what it tastes like when she makes it. Nowhere close.

So this time around during Diwali, I tricked her into making her crisp, light and multi-layered chirote while I “help” her and for record, I took zillion photographs. Each time I would take out the camera, she would ask me “You will click this too? Whats to click in this?”. I persisted and got the detailed procedure.

So chirote, are a Maharashtrian delicacy made during Diwali. They are a bit cumbersome to make, and takes a while. And hence it is disappearing from Marathi households. Most of us don’t have the technique and/or the patience to do these beautifully ghee-layered crisps. We made about 15-20 2-inch chirotes, and it took us 2 hours. Or more. But once you make them, and they melt in your mouth, you will want to make them again. That’s my promise.

Multi layered Chirote

Chirote or Multi-layered Crisps Recipe

What you will need :

  • 2 cups regular all purpose flour or maida
  • 3-4 tbsp hot ghee or hot clarified butter
  • 4 tbsp whole milk
  • 4 tbsp corn flour
  • 6 tbsp ghee
  • 3 cups ghee/ clarified butter for frying
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

What to do :

  1. Mix all purpose flour, hot ghee and milk and form into a thick dough. Knead well for 5 minutes, till all lumps are broken down and it forms a non-sticky smooth dough. Tip: The dough should peel off the hand without sticking to it.
  2. Let it rest covered on the countertop for 10 mins.
  3. Divide the dough into 11 (eleven) equal size balls. We will be needing 9 ultra thin rotis, but there is a chance of breakage, so make additional 2 as a precaution.
  4. On a well floured surface, with a rolling pin, roll out the dough on all sides evenly, adding flour as needed. The rotis need to be really thin, each one about 8 inches in diameter.
  5. Then in a separate dish, take 4 tbsp cornflour and ghee and mix it with your fingers till it forms a very smooth mixture. Divide this mixture into 6 parts.
  6. Now, take one roti and generously apply one part of the ghee and corn-flour mixture. Then place another roti on top and repeat with the cornflour mixture. Place the third roti on this stack and repeat.
  7. Once this stack of 3 rotis is ready, fold it from both sides and then roll it up from the third side till the centre and the opposite side till the center. Both the rolled up layers should meet and stack on each other in the center.
  8. With a sharp knife, cut this roll into 5 equal pieces.
  9. Take each piece on a flat surface and again flatten it delicately with a rolling pin to upto 2 inches wide. Be careful to not squeeze too much into the layers.
  10. Repeat with the other 6 rotis, stacking them up into groups of three and follow the same procedure.
  11. Now your chirote are ready to be fried.
  12. In a thick bottomed vessel or kadhai, heat the butter. Lower the flame and fry the chirote one-by-one.
  13. Hold the chirota in a slotted spoon over the inside of the vessel. Gently with another spoon, pour the hot ghee from the vessel over the layers in the chirota. Pour the ghee over each side 6-7 times, till it sizzles and becomes slightly brown in color.
  14. Then drain on a sieve for a couple of minutes.
  15. While still hot, sprinkle powdered sugar on it generously and coat it from all sides.
  16. These sexy delicate layered melt-in-your-mouth crispies are ready!

Careful, they are super hot till the core!

Here a step-by-step photo tutorial :

Slathering the rotis with a mixture of ghee and cornflour

Slathering the rotis with a mixture of ghee and cornflour

After stacking 3 on top of each other, start folding it from the sides

After stacking 3 on top of each other, start folding it from the sides

Fold from all four sides and start rolling into a cylinder

Fold from all four sides and start rolling into a cylinder

Cut into 5-6 parts

Cut into 5-6 parts

Flatten each part lightly

Flatten each part lightly

Check out the beautiful multiple layers

Check out the beautiful multiple layers

Hold each on eon side of the vessel with a slotted spoon and pour hot ghee on each side

Hold each on eon side of the vessel with a slotted spoon and pour hot ghee on each side

Continue till slightly brown from all sides

Continue till slightly brown from all sides

When still hot, sprinkle with powdered sugar generously

When still hot, sprinkle with powdered sugar generously

Delicate and melt in your mouth crispies are ready

Delicate and melt in your mouth crispies are ready! Grab a bite!

Enjoy these darlings with some milk. I am sure you can’t stop at one.

And yeah, if you wish I can say Thank you to my granny-in-law on your behalf 🙂

P.S: Dont forget to say a small prayer for my visa.

 

Creamy Luscious Chicken Pot Pie !

When I was contemplating the switch from working in a private bank to working at Anchrom (our family business), a lot of things were going through my head. Whether I would like the kind of work , the working philosophy, whether Anchrom would like my way of working and so on. I was also wondering if it would be too much unnecessary proximity, to be staying with the same people at home and working with the same lot in office. But then , because of the daily 3 hour commute to and fro from office, I was missing out on a lot of stuff at home. I would be so exhausted that there would be no time to do anything else except work and getting ready for work!

So I took the plunge, and it been two great years now at Anchrom. I realised this yesterday when we had an amazing Diwali party in office. A couple of days back I announced to our people that I will be going to Paris for a month-long Patisserie course. Within a few moments of saying that out aloud, I could see an array of emotions flirting across their faces. Shock, surprise, confusion, amazement and of course happiness for me. I convinced them that this is just a hobby and I would continue to work at Anchrom for as long as I can imagine. Then I saw relief. 🙂

I also told them about my blog, and gave them Sizzle and Drizzle visiting cards. Yes, I got them printed! Pretty pink cards with a red maroon writing. (Got them printed at this website Printvenue.com, they do 100 cards at just Rs. 100. Thats right!) Then at lunchtime all of them visited the blog and loved it. I was afraid of what they might think of a month-long disappearance , but thankfully I got them over to my side with the blog.

So for Diwali party,  I wanted to have some home-made goodies. For our workforce of 25 employees in the Mumbai office, we made Classic Dahi-wada and Chocolate brownies (egg and egg-free version). Topped it up with some vanilla ice-cream and chocolate sauce and I had people asking for another serving. There can’t be a better compliment than people asking for more of what you served, right?

That marks the beginning of Diwali celebrations for us. What have you guys been planning and doing this Diwali? Drop in a comment at the comments section, I would love to hear from you.

Meanwhile, for several days, Akshay has been asking me to make a chicken pot pie, reminiscent of the days he spent in USA as a student. I was quite terrified of making it, as the flaky pastry crust is difficult to achieve and the buttery vegetable thick stock filling has a tendency to get runny or harden up while baking. Or so I thought.

As if the Daring Bakers heard my plea, Hannah of Rise and Shine was our October 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to bake our own double crusted savory pot pies. Using any from-scratch crust and filling we choose, we were allowed to get completely creative with our recipe, showing off the savory flavors and fillings from our own home or region.

Chicken whole pie

So last Saturday, I set up on the task of making this savory chicken pot pie. It is so creamy and lusciously rich, that the pastry crust nicely holds it together and gives it a smooth backing, without being too doughy.

Preparation time:
Chicken Pot Pie Crust:  2 hours, including rest time in the fridge
Chicken Pot Pie Filling and Baking: about 2 hours to fill and bake.

It’s a lengthy preparation, and so you can imagine how famished everyone would be by the time you serve it. This pie serves about 8, but it can be refrigerated for upto 5 days.

Chicken pot pie

What you will need:

Flaky Pie Crust:

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cold shortening (I used Dalda), cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup cold salted butter
  • 1 cup ice water

Chicken Pot Pie Filling:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock, (I used 4 Maggi chicken stock cubes dissolved in 2 cups water)
  • 1/2 cup mixture of milk and fresh cream
  • 2 tbsp white/red wine
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3 cups (400 gms) cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas, not thawed

How to make it:

  1. Mix flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Drop in shortening and quickly grate butter directly into the bowl using a cheese grater.
  2. Using your fingers work butter and shortening into the flour mixture until it’s broken down into course, chunky crumbs. Stop mixing when the largest crumb is about the size of a pea.
  3. Using a fork, quickly stir in very cold ice water. Turn the rough dough and crumbs onto a floured surface.
  4. Knead just until dough starts to hold together in a rough mass, up to 10 times. Do not over mix! You will be able to see chunks of butter in the dough and this is a good thing.
  5. Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before use. The dough will keep good in the fridge for a full day.
  6. Preheat the oven to moderately hot 200°C/400°F.
  7. Heat oil in a wide bottomed skillet or sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add carrots and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add onions, celery and salt and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
  8. Meanwhile, make a thick paste by mixing the butter and flour in a small bowl with a fork.
  9. Heat 2 cups (500 ml) chicken stock in the empty skillet over medium-high heat. Drop the butter/flour paste into the stock and whisk vigorously until it come to a simmer. Boil briefly until thick like honey. Whisk in the half and half. Turn off heat, stir in wine, thyme and black pepper.
  10. Stir together the cooked vegetables, chicken, peas and sauce.
  11. Roll out one half of the chilled dough about 1/4 inch (5 mm) thick using a floured rolling-pin on a well-floured surface. Once your round of dough is about ten inches (25 cm) across, dust the top with flour, pick the round-up from the counter and dust under the dough again before rolling out completely to about 15 inches (38 cm) across. Hold your pie plate up to the round of dough to ensure it is large enough to fit your pie plate.
  12. To set the dough into your pie plate, fold the round of dough in half, then in half again to create a large triangle of dough. Point the tip of triangle of dough into the center of the pie plate and unfold. Be careful not to stretch the dough while you ensure that you have the dough tucked into all corners.
  13. Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell.
  14. Roll out the top crust and cover the filling. Trim excess dough and seal the edge crust by folding the top dough layer under the bottom and pinching the dough together with your fingers or pressing with the tines of a fork.
  15. Bake in the lower part of your oven until the pastry is golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. To ensure the bottom is browned, you may choose to prop an electric oven open using the handle of a wooden spoon for the last ten minutes of the baking time. If at any point you fear the top crust is over-browning, cover with foil for the remainder of the baking time. Serve immediately while warm.

Now, though this all looks tricky, it is simple if you follow these beautiful instructions by Hannah, If you want to see step-by-step pictures, hop over to her blog Rise and Shine. She has it illustrated very neatly.

First cut of pie

Pot pie piece

And lastly, have a wonderful Diwali with your family and friends! Make delicious food and some beautiful moments.

My best wishes to a happy new Hindu year and god bless! 🙂