Fruit and Nut chocolate Muffins

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The sweeter side-effect of Diwali is all the leftover mithai and chocolates. This time we had a box full of Dairy milk chocolates which we converted into these muffins. A Sunday baking with my son is the good way to relax, ableit you have to ignore all the mess those little hands make.
The Diary milk can easily be replaced with similar quantity chocolate chips or any other chopped chocolate . The texture of these muffins is slightly on the dry side which many people seem to prefer over the heavy moist cupcakes. I have dressed them up with plain chocolate melted over a double boiler, cooled and then spooned over the cupcakes.
 Dairy Milk Fruit and Nut muffins. 
Ingredients :
  • 300 gm all purpose flour (maida)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 125 gram salted butter, softened, I use Amul
  • 100 gm castor sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream (I use Tropolite)
  • 125-150 gram Dairymilk fruit and nut, chopped into small pieces.
  • 180 gm chocolate melted for frosting

What to do :

  1. In a small bowl, mix all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix it and sift it together.
  2. In another bowl, take the softened butter and castor sugar. Whisk it with an electric mixer for 3-4 minutes, till it becomes ribbonlike soft and combined.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time while mixing together.
  4. Then with a spatula fold in the dry ingredient mixture alongwith the heavy cream, alternately. Always start and end with the dry ingredients.
  5. Fold in the chopped chocolate.
  6. Pre-heat oven to 180C.
  7. Line the cupcake pan with cupcakes liners. Spoon the mixture into the liner, about 2/3rd cup full.
  8. Bake the cupcakes for 15-20 mins, till they are springy and soft to touch.
  9. Take the pan out of the oven and let it cool down in the pan for 15-20 mins and then invert it on a wire rack to let it cool down further.
  10. Melt the chocolate over double boiler for frosting the cupcakes, and frost it once the cupcakes completely cool down.

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Notes :

  1. I put the chopped chocolate in the fridge for 15 mins before putting them in the cupcake batter. This ensure that the chocolate doesn’t sink top the bottom while baking.
  2. The batter is quite thick as the ratio of flour to wet ingredients is high. Spoon it into the cupcake liners for baking.

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Velvety Cocoa Cake with Ganache

When in doubt always bake a chocolate cake. I don’t know who said this, but it is one of the most useful pieces of advice I have heard.

This velvety cocoa cake was baked for my dad’s 61st birthday. A soft and delicate cake it comes alive with each bite of ganache melting in your mouth. Its a simple recipe inspired from Martha Stewart.

Velvety cocoa cake

Velvety cocoa cake slice

Velvety Cocoa Cake with Ganache

What you will need:

  • 2 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour (maida)
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 170 gram butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cup buttermilk

What to do:

  1. In a bowl, mix together flour + cocoa powder + baking soda. Then sift it with a sieve and keep aside.
  2. In another bigger bowl, whisk the butter with both the sugars until it is smooth and creamy. I generally use an electric mixer, but a whisk will also work.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, while whisking so as to make it a smooth batter.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and mix.
  5. Now to this butter mixture, add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately. Fold it in with a spatula. Always start and end with the dry ingredients.
  6. Prepare two 9 inch round baking pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper and generously butter the sides.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 160 C and bake the cakes for 25-30 minutes, till a skewer inserted in the centre of the pan comes out clean.
  8. Once the cakes are baked, run a butter knife through the sides of the cake to release it from the pan.
  9. Turn it over to a wire mesh and let it cool completely before frosting with ganache.
  10. For ganache recipe , see here.

TIPS:

  • To make a tiered cake, I bake this recipe in three 9 inch pans, so as to do 3 layers of ganache filling. But two layers also work fine.
  • After adding flour, always gently fold in with a spatula, refrain from using a whisk. It gives softer feel to the cake.

Cocoa Cake with pineapple

Cheers!

Rutvika

The one life we have..

IMG_6237This week before my birthday is the week of existential crisis for me every year. A time of taking stock and always feeling inadequate, not enough. Not doing enough, not planning enough and just simply not being enough. On most other weeks, I have my head firmly on my shoulders, but as my mental Earth is about to complete one more round around the sun, everything suddenly seems out of focus, dizzy and inundating.

The brunt of it is faced with severe force by the husband and a few friends who I fight with or cry on their shoulders or simultaneously both at times. It is also a time when unfulfilled desires which are brushed under the carpet come forth again, with vengeance. You wanted to write a book, didn’t you? Wake up, you are going to be 33 and time is running out. Or did you always think you wanted 2 kids? Uh oh, may be not. Clock is ticking, perhaps you will die as a mother of one and never have a daughter.

Things which make me want to get up and create or procreate or go to sleep for the rest of the week. Its always a dichotomy between two extremes. I can either make a book or a baby. In all probability next year I will be at the same place, same time, turning 34 without having created either.

Perhaps what I need to learn in this year of life is to be alone with  myself, complete within me. Not look at external factors for validation but look within self for the fulfilment that I crave. Par yeh hain kya andar ? Dekhu kidhar ? A well wisher told me to start meditation , another one asked me to write the journal with happy thoughts. Be mindful and try to live a meaningful life. But saala ye sab ek moh maaya hain and hum sab iske shikaar hain.

As a child I loved birthdays, my parents would call a small group of friends from our society and there would be Monginis cake-cutting and some idli chutney or home made Batata-vadas. A new dress was donned, presents were had and in general it was a time of cheer.

Then came the strange early-teen years where I would want the guy I am crushing on to notice me and come say something to me on my birthday, but that didn’t happen. I was very nerdy and the first-bencher types.

Then there was a brief spell of my very early 20s when the world felt this charming thing I had in my control. Education was happening as per plan, I was dating guys who adored me and lavished me with attention. It was a time of roses and chocolates. Even the early years after getting married at 24 were birthdays filled with surprises. Because husband and you are both trying to impress each other and trying to find out what exactly works.

I distinctly remember, I was 28 when I started feeling it’s all downhill from here. All major milestones in life have been met and now it’s just existing. There are wonderful moments in this existence and I feel very productive and fulfilled at work and engaged in family life, but every once in a while it starts feeling pointless, unnecessary. Like, why are we doing all this? Why are we born? Who made us? Why is humanity existing? This feels like a play mankind is acting, but who is the narrator? And the viewers? Why do we wake up every morning and do all these things and make up all the technology just to end up worrying about global warming?!

I have no answers to this and I have read a decent amount of philosophy to know that no one does. Neither Socrates, not Aristotle nor Plato. I am not hopeful that I will find any answers either, but perhaps, dear God, send me some rays of hope, some light which shows me the pathway to why I am on this earth. What do you want me to do with this one life that I have?

I hope it’s something worthwhile and we are not just carbon atoms colliding into each other in different forms

I hope my life matters to someone, something, I leave it a bit better than it would have been in my absence.

One good thing of having a child is, no matter how purposeless or futile you feel, the child will alway think you are the most amazing that has happened on earth. For now, I will hold on to my 4 years olds’ belief of life and go on.

Cheers,

Rutvika

P.S : Check out this if you want to know how inconsequential we are, Tiny Glowing Screens

Chicken and Mushroom in red wine sauce

Chicken and mushroom in red wine sauce

This one is for those hot summer days when you want to cook something fancy but don’t want to spend too much time cooking. And what better excuse to keep drinking wine during the day than cooking with it? Here you go, very flavourful chicken and mushrooms in red wine sauce.

What you will need :

  • 3 whole chicken breasts, chopped into small pieces
  • 300 grams mushroom, washed and chopped
  • 2 + 2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 + 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup hot water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • coriander or mint for garnish

What to do :

  1. Marinate the chicken in salt and pepper and keep aside for 15 mins.
  2. In a skillet heat 2 tablespoon oil + 2 tablespoon butter.
  3. Brown the chicken pieces on both sides in 2 batches. Remove with a tong and keep them aside.
  4. In a wok or Kadhai, transfer the remaining fat from the skillet, add the remaining 2 tablespoon of butter and oil.
  5. Sauce the onions and mushrooms till soft and golden brown. Stir occasionally till the water of the mushrooms evaporates.
  6. Add the chicken broth + 1 cup water and let it come to a boil.
  7. Then add the red wine and cook it for about 5 minutes till the wine evaporates.
  8. Simmer the sauce until gravy is reduced to about 1/2 cup. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper as per taste.
  9. Then add the chicken pieces and let it further cook for 2-3 mins.
  10. Serve with rice soaking up the delicious jus.
  11. Garnish with some finely chopped coriander.

Notes :

  1. This can also be made with halved chicken breasts roasted and added to the gravy instead of chopping it into pieces. If you have 3-4 people, then this is a better option to serve each one a piece.

Chicken in mushroom sauce making

2. If you simmer it further to reduce the grave then it can also be eaten as an excellent snack.

Cheers!

Rutvika

Connected. For now.

Building blocks for a connected future.

Every week or 10 days, Arjun needs “alone time” with me. One part of the weekend when its just him and me. No one else. He is also aware that he needs it and often tells me that its time we get some alone time. It is most often peppered with him telling his dad that I love you too, but this is me and momma alone time so we can’t take you out with us. He is very well behaved when it’s just him and me. No tantrums, no difference of opinions. We are totally in sync with each other. Our minds operate as one. 

This Saturday we went to the Byculla zoo followed by an event about the origins of Mumbai at Bhau Daji Lad museum. Weekend mornings are the best time to go into our crowded city. Most folks are still at their homes waking up and getting ready and we were at the Humboldt centre with penguins. Watching them do the penguins dance to brush off water from the feathers. Arjun wanted to touch them and kiss them which couldn’t be done, but he was happy to hug the dusty plastic penguin at the entrance. ‘Its good for immunity’ I think in my head and brush it off. 

I invariably thought I would have two, but this modern life and work and personal aspirations made us realise that we can have time and mental bandwidth for only one child. So its always a painful reminder that I will never again have a suckling baby, or a blabbering 2 year old. It makes me cherish the days of this 4 year old a lot more, and mobile phones help us document every little aspect of his being, but I am aware that this is a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity. 

My brother and I always competed for my mom’s attention. When we would lie down with her on her either side, it still mattered which side she kept her head turned towards. So we would stay up to monitor that she is constantly looking at the ceiling and not on any one side, a testament to her loving us equally. With Arjun, its just him and I snuggle into him while he snuggles into me and these baby moments I am soon going to lose forever once he grows up and starts thinking, “oh momma stop kissing me all the time”, or further down the road when kids start feeling that momma is the most ridiculous person on earth, someone who is so old school she doesn’t know a thing about been a shiny teenager. We have all been through it, it’s almost a rite of passage, thinking how smarter we are than our obsolete parents. I am aware about it, it makes me crumple, but I also want him to be so smart and sassy but I wish he takes kindness from his father. I wasn’t so kind to my mom growing up. 

Ketki, my best friend and my shrink since we were twelve, long before we had even heard of this term or even thought that some people may need to go to someone to pay them to talk to them, we are always dissecting each other’s thoughts and beliefs, prodding and questioning our source of discomfort and finding ways to soothe each other and self on a continuous basis. Our parenting styles are different, our circumstances are different, she is a manager at a hot-shot MNC and I am running our traditional family business, but we have grown from the same soil. We are equally invested in our children’s well being and want them to be self-reliant when they grow up, in all aspects, but especially emotionally. We often wonder how our choices as a parent are ruining our kids. And 20 years later when they are sitting and drinking with their friends on a Saturday night, what will they talk about their parents? About us the humans in this flesh, the ones who are going all out on a limb trying to be the best versions of parents they ever know.

But this deliberation of what would be Arjun’s narrative of his mom when he grows up also makes me be a better person. As a 4 year old he worships his mom, he thinks mom and dad are the most powerful and kind people in the whole world. And I know how that’s not true. I am bossy most times, I can be mean and demanding, but under the scrutiny of these tiny little eyes, I try to be gentler. He picks up phrases we use and stuff we say and replicates them while talking to his stuff toys. I often find him kissing my forehead exactly like I kiss his or his father kisses mine, and I also see him reprimand his toys for not cleaning the mess they have left behind. Its heartwarming but a constant reminder that my actions are being emulated here, I better be a better person.

I hope I turn out to be a better person and I hope he always remembers that I tried.

Xoxo,

Rutvika