The Perfect Flan: In the Kitchen with Manisha

At the Garden of the Gods

[Continued from the previous post]
The next morning Andrea graciously offered to drive us through the Garden of the Gods before dropping us off at Jim’s office downtown. Kristin was driving up from Denver to pick us up. She, her husband Paul, Jim, and I, had been classmates at KSU and later Paul and I ended up working together in Denver. Today they own a successful design firm that is doing impressive work in and around Denver. It was so good to note that not only were all of us make a living out of what we had trained to do but also that we loved doing it!

In Denver, Paul and Kristin took us down memory lane, literally. Together we drove to some of the once-familiar places including the little garage-unit at Corona and 11th (it had it’s own fractional address: 1125 1/2!) that had been my home, and the office at Cherokee and 11th. By the time we were through it was too late for a Japanese country-style lunch at Domo’s, which had been a favourite with the office bunch. So we went to Benny’s for Mexican instead – chimichangas and margaritas it was. Later we hung out at the City Center Cultural Complex with quick visits to the Denver Public Library, the Capitol Plaza, and the Denver Art Museum before catching the bus to Louisville from the all-new Union Station.
Continue reading The Perfect Flan: In the Kitchen with Manisha


Foolproof Coffee Cake: Welcome 2015

cake 06

Welcome 2015, with a quick coffee-flavoured cake.

All in all, 2014 was a good year. Ani was home for some time. When he left, it was to find his feet and spread his wings with more confidence – he got his first job! I am now the mother of a gainfully employed young man. We traveled a little. The road-trip to Ladakh, a long time in planning, finally happened. Vijay and I crossed another milestone together – we have been married 25 years now. All of us, the extended family included, kept good health, which is the greatest blessing of all.

Ani Vijay 1992-93
The Boys – 1992
October 1989
October 1989

Now that I think about it, nothing much out of the ordinary happened in 2014! And that’s what makes it a wonderful year – everything in moderation, no sharp dips or sudden spikes. I wish I could say that I started exercising regularly, but I haven’t. The rest, I’m pretty pleased about.

Sometime, mid-year, I and a friend decided that we ought to eat out more. Heck, I don’t even have that one kid to worry about now! The intent is to try new places and make new favourites. We tried Pot Belly, a small restaurant serving Bihari food in Shahput Jat. It gets a big thumbs up – everything we tried was fabulous. This was followed up with The Pop Up, a pop-up, at Asian Games Village complex, that got a thumbs-down. This was a strange experience. We were the only ones there still the service lacked shine. We might have made unsuitable choices but they left us wondering whether they were a pop-up for another reason.

Towards the end of 2014, I even started blogging at a better rate! Through the year I also discovered some food blogs that I want to share with you; they are refreshingly unique.

Delicious Istanbul

Hiroyuki’s Blog On Japanese Cooking

Heron Earth

The Silk Road Gourmet

Yes, I notice too there’s a theme here! It is interesting to learn about the cultural and historical links of how we eat, and these blogs offer that.

I was a little upset that blogs/websites that essentially gather everyone else’s recipes were getting all the traffic. Some of them had my recipes! That included, among others, Tarla Dalal’s site that took down the picture, after I complained, but still retains the recipe, verbatim, for my Green Chili Pickle! Search for “Carrot Kanji” and you will find the web flooded with pictures from my post with hardly any attributed to me.

For a brief moment I did consider Googling “how to get more traffic to your blog” and then stopped. I wasn’t going to let how Google reads dictate how I write! You, who are still reading, are the ones that I want! The quiet comments section though, is a bit disheartening. What’s up with that? In the time of Insta-everything leaving comments does get a bit tedious, I agree, usually requiring some kind of verification – an extra step most of us don’t have the time for. Won’t you, every now and then, leave a note? I am not offering any giveaway, and yet hoping you will outgrow being The Very Quiet Cricket.

2015 has begun well with my new passport finally arriving in the first few days of the New Year. It did entail a fourth and final visit to the Passport Office just before the year was out, and took 9 months from the time of application. The US Visa on the old passport is valid till September 2015, so…who knows!

I was going to start the year off with another pickle (red chilli) but what with it being festive season yet again, Makarsankranti, Pongal, Bihu, and what have you, I decided I should re-post an old recipe. Better I than someone else! 😀 This time, with pictures (err… cell-phone pictures for now). I baked it last weekend to take it to a friend’s tea party which ended in dinner!

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Teatime Coffee Cake

1C + 1T maida (all purpose flour)
1t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 medium sized eggs
3/5 C oil
3/4 C granulated sugar
1 heaped T instant coffee powder (optional)
3-4 T cold milk
1t vanilla essence
1/3 C slivered almonds

Sift flour and baking powder. Mix in salt. Oil a 9″ cake tin, dust with flour; tap upside down to remove excess flour. Dissolve the coffee powder in the milk.

Turn oven on to Gas Mark 6.

In a mixing bowl whisk together eggs, oil and sugar with a hand-held mixer (not a hand-blender) till the sugar has dissolved completely. This takes a few minutes because our sugar here comes in large grain size.

Add the coffee-flavoured milk, and vanilla essence. Mix till combined. Keeping the mixer on the lowest speed add in the flour. Beat till combined. Pour into the prepared tin. Sprinkle evenly with slivered almonds. Bake in the center of the oven for 40-50 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool (if you have the time). Slice and serve with tea or coffee.

Lime Cake for the Party

I sure botched up the invitation to the annual Party this time.  I published the announcement as a page and some of you missed it.  At least, that is the face-saving escape route I am taking.  It has been six years of blogging here.  In August.  Here I am updating an anniversary post more than a month late.  Like the White Rabbit in Alice, I am always rushing to wherever I’ve got to be.  As far as the blog in concerned, in any case.  I am never late for professional meetings or for my class.  Perhaps, I ought to set myself deadlines here as well.  But, won’t that make the blog more like work?  This is my space away from work.  Let’s keep it that way.  No deadlines; no stress.

lime cake with lime glaze

Even though I have slowed down here, the blog still manages between 800-1000 hits a day.  Some of those are from old-time readers and I cherish them.  New ones get added, some old ones drop out.  But, some, the really mad ones, stick.  And, this Party really is a celebration of that madness.  A welcome to new readers and a big thank you to the old ones – it wouldn’t be fun without you!

When the deadline for the event was extended for the late-comers (Manisha usually brings in the tail, and this time quite the tale she has!), I thought I ought to cook some more for the party.

September 28 was TH’s birthday and my sister urged me to not be my lazy self and bake a cake.  I too felt I ought to.  So after wrapping up a full day’s work in the office, I came downstairs determined to do something special for dinner where we would eat cake because I had no inclination to roll rotis. Continue reading Lime Cake for the Party

Simply Italian

pasta bianca
Comfort food. Different things to different people. But always disarmingly simple. A few ingredients, a basic recipe, but the final outcome is something that satisfies a craving that nothing else will. A dish that wraps you around your home, your family, your culture, and many times, around the various stages of personal growth.

I am always drawn to such fare – what people cook on a regular basis in their kitchens, curious about what fits the bill for others. For many a Kashmiri it will have to be haak-baateh (braised haak greens served over rice), the equivalent of what dal-chaval is to a lot of other Indians.

When Meeta asked us to cook authentic Italian I became curious about Italian comfort foods…

Nothing says Italy like its food, and nothing says Italian food like pasta.

Continue reading Simply Italian