My grandmother would freak out if she saw what I made on Pancake Tuesday earlier this week.
I’m not sure how it started, but traditionally my grandmother (who still lives in India), and then her daughters (including my mum), would make these delicious crepes stuffed with a sweetened coconut filling on Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Tuesday/Mardi Gras. I’ve never come across this concoction anywhere else in the world; neither in stores or home-made by other people. So it is something special for me and over the last couple of years, I’ve continued the custom.
Since I didn’t have a recipe, I went by taste. The secret ingredient (I suppose not so secret anymore) is cardamom infused into a mixture of coconut, sugar, milk and almonds. The aroma is heavenly – exotic and somehow evocative. I had made a little bundle of cardamom pods in a square of muslin and let it simmer in a saucepan with the other ingredients.
The way my mum and grandmother used to make it, the coconut was delicately coloured a pretty pastel pink. So this year I did make half a batch of pink coconut as a tribute to them. But the little bottle of blue food colour was much too tempting. Honestly, why would they make blue food colour if you weren’t supposed to use it? I made blue coconut mix. My aunt practically screamed when she saw it on Skype, and I definitely heard my mum mutter, “Good Lord, that child!!” (yes, she still refers to me as “that child” despite the fact that I’m 28), but they were every bit as delicious as the pink ones.
See the full recipe here.
Kulsum over at JourneyKitchen and I were wondering (twittering?) about something sweet to cook with carrots, besides the same old carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I remembered the kids cookbook sitting on my bookshelf.
I don’t have kids – rather, my dad had bought it for me as a joke before my first day at university. Little did he know that it would end up being one of my favourite go-to books over the next ten years and more! Since it’s geared towards kids, every single step is accompanied by hand illustrations, which makes it just that much more fun to sift through. Without further ado, here’s the recipe (pics below).
Recipe: Golden Carrot Puddings
- 4 tsps golden syrup (I much prefer honey!)
- 1 1/3 cups coarsely grated carrot
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans (walnuts good too)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
- 1/2 tsp mixed spice (I’ve used allspice or cloves before)
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/3 cup oil
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- whipped cream, to serve
- 1. Lightly grease 4 microwave safe cups with oil
- 2. Put a teaspoon of syrup (or honey) into each cup
- 3. Put carrots, nuts and sugar in a bowl
- 4. Sift flour, spice and cinnamon over
- 5. Add egg and oil. Mix well.
- 6. Spoon evenly into cups. Smooth tops.
- 7. Cook on rack on Medium/High, 8 minutes
- 8. Leave in dish 10 minutes, then turn out. Serve with whipped cream.
I have done a baked version of this too, instead of microwaving. I used a 180 degree oven and baked until the puddings were kinda spongy. If you try the toothpick test, you’ll notice that they’re kinda moist/sticky in the middle. This is totally normal – you don’t want to overbake and have them turn out too dry.
Cooking time (duration): 30 min
Number of servings (yield): 4
Meal type: dessert
Here’s what it looks like (sorry, I just had to show the funny little illustrations for kids too)
It was published in the early 90s but there are still a few copies floating around online. Good if you have kids. Great if you have teens! Here’s a link for some on Amazon:
I was in the mood for something small and simple. Half an hour later, I had a few trays of these mini chocolate cupcakes sitting on my kitchen counter.
I found that even grown men get all childishly gleeful if you hide mini cupcakes in their apartments while they’re away. Still others start drooling and manage to polish off a whole box of these in a single evening.
Sometimes the smallest things elicit the biggest grins.
It’s funny how we crave food that makes us feel the opposite of what the weather might suggest.
In this case, we were in the middle of – yes – another snowstorm. Heaps and heaps of fluffy white stuff dumped on us. The streets buried and sparkling under the streetlamps. Deadly silent. Not a soul ventured outside.
And while I was tempted to experiment with a new recipe, another part of me just wanted a snuggly warm blanket, dog curled up at my feet, a mug of frothy hot chocolate, and a couple of my all-time favourite chewy spice cookies. You can guess what happened next
Spice cookies won by a long shot. I had actually been meaning to archive the recipe online anyway, since the original, scrawled on a scrap of paper bearing the marks of plenty of usage, was looking rather shabby.
And so it was that as the snow continued to blanket the city through the night, we curled up at home with the earthy smells of cinnamon and clove perfuming my cosy kitchen.
Try out the recipe here. It’s wonderfully versatile!
As a kid, one of the best things about visiting my grandmother’s 100-year-old house in India was a far bedroom which once belonged to my dad during his childhood. Bookshelves covered two walls, from ceiling to floor, and the rest of the room was filled with random antiques and items that could be fashionably considered vintage today. This was a quiet place, where the rest of the household rarely ventured at that time, so I made it my hideout.
The faded, frayed Persian rug at the foot of the bed had obviously been the bearer of plenty of traffic in its better days, but it was always a hushed delight to pluck a book off the shelves (at least the ones I could reach) and curl up there to while away the hours.
Afternoons were the best for this. The sun would be beating down unbearably on the dusty roads outside but apart from the droning insects, all else was quiet – most people retired to their beds for an afternoon nap to seek refuge from the heat.
Except for me. Gleeful with my little books. My absolute favourite, even when I’d long outgrown the recommended reading age, was a book that was at least a couple of decades older than me. It had something to do with a family of bears. Bored during a hot summer’s day, the mother bear organised a picnic and made fresh lemonade with oranges and lemons for her little ones. Now, I have no idea what sort of scratch and sniff technology they had in the sixties, but whenever I opened the pages of that book, the fresh smell of oranges and lemons never ceased to enchant me. I can’t count the number of times my mother walked in on me, with my nose literally buried within the pages of that book.
So on this wintry day (thank you weather.ca, with your forecast of -10 to -26C), I caught myself pleasantly daydreaming of that book and those afternoons. The name of the book completely escapes me (apparently I never saw fit to investigate this key bit of info in my youth) and no amount of Google searches for “oranges and lemons, +bears +book scratch and sniff” have revealed the title yet, but I have revived it temporarily at least, with these exquisitely fragrant lemon poppyseed muffins. I did one batch with marmalade hidden in the centre, another with slivered almonds (I was sort of craving almonds in a muffin), and a third batch with thin slices of sugared lemon on top.
Just tried one with the lemon slice. Pure heaven. Mmm. Mornings are going to be a little warmer and sunnier for me this week.
edit 10 minutes later: I can still taste lemon on my lips.