January 23, 2013

Vanilla cupcakes

Vanilla cupcakes

Lil A turned 3 this month! Not so little anymore. Before I realized, he is a little boy with opinions, tastes, moods and pranks. He likes interacting with Tiny M and squishing him. It's us who keep saying "gentle, gentle". Tiny M, on the other hand, is excited to see his big brother. He shows it by waving his hands, kicking his legs and now smiling.

Coming back to the birthday cake, the first two year's cakes were my choice - banana and chocolate and strawberry cake.  This year too I was thinking of a fruity cake. Not so. The instructions were quite clear from my 3-year old. "I don't want a birthday cake. I want vanilla cupcake." Not only that, he even mentioned the color of his frosting - "green" with sprinkles on them.

So off I went to figure out vanilla cupcakes with green frosting. Instead of buttercream, I decided to do whipped cream that worked out quite well. Some of it was licked from the bowl itself. :)

For the cupcake, I took the basic recipe from William Sonoma and tweaked it by adding some whole wheat flour and brown sugar in the mix. The cupcakes came out quite well. The two batches I made - one for his school and the other for the home party - were gone in no time. I can now say "I am a vanilla cupcake expert!"

Ingredients:
(adapted from: Williams Sonoma)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tspoon baking powder
1/4 tspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
6 tbspoon (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 whole egg plus 1 egg white, at room temperature
11/2 tspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk (I used whole milk)

For frosting:
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tspoon 
12-15 drops green food color
handful rainbow sprinkles

Vanilla cupcakes
Method:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Prepare the 12 muffin pan and line them with oiled paper cups.

Sieve together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set it aside.
In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat together the sugar and butter for 2 to 3 minutes. The mix will change color and begome light and fluffy. To this add the egg and egg white (one at a time) and mix some more.

Now add the vanilla and beat some more.

Then add the flour in 3 parts, each one accompanied with little milk, and mix it till it's smooth.

Divide the batter in the muffin cups. I used a ice-cream scoop to help keep it even. Fill each cup about 1/2 to 3/4.

Bake for 19-20 minutes till the toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for an hour before frosting.

Frosting:
Beat  the whipped cream with color, sugar and vanilla till soft peaks form. Pipe it over the cupcakes and add rainbow sprinkles. Viola, cupcakes are ready!

Vanilla cupcakes
Serve immediately.

January 03, 2013

Tanjore Marathi recipe - Thona Thona

Thona thona

Happy new 2013 to all of you my dear friends, bloggers and readers! I am looking forward to a brand new year waiting to be filled with new recipes, adventures and other delicious memories. I haven't made any new resolutions for this year, other than being mindful of everything around me and knowing that life can't always be planned, but to take it with all that it has to offer. 

The last month was busy with the little ones. But over the break we traveled to get away from it all. It was our first road trip with two little ones - one newly potty trained. Thankfully it went well, without any incidents. In Chicago, Lil A and Tiny M were cuddled and spoiled by uncles and aunts, they played with their cousins and enjoyed the gifts Santa brought for them. 

I also tasted some new food, this being one of them. I had it in Aswin's cousin Ramya's house and it was so delicious; must have had at least 3 servings. Thona thona (a is silent in the first word and Th is pronounced as T in Tank) is a Tanjore Marathi dish and the word means a chatterbox. 

I was so taken by this recipe, that I immediately asked MIL to help me make it at home and get the recipe down. We had it again for the New Year's day. I am however curious about why it's called Thona thona. Please let me a comment if you know. 

I made it with spinach but you can make it with other greens like methi as well.

Ingredients:
1 1/2  cups spinach
1 cup yogurt
1/4 tspoon turmeric powder
2 tbspoon frozen coconut
salt to taste

To soak:
1  1/2 tspoon chana dal (bengal gram)
1/2 tspoon toor dal (pigeon pea)
2 green chillies (increase or decrease as per taste)
1/2 " ginger
1 tspoon cumin seeds
1 tspoon coriander seeds

For tadka/tempering:
Pinch of asafoetida
3-4 curry leaves
2/3 tspoon mustard seeds
1 tbspoon oil

Method: 
Soak chana dal, toor dal, chillies, ginger, cumin seeds and coriander seeds for 30-40 minutes. Set it aside.

In the meantime, clean the spinach leaves and cook it in 1 cup water with some salt. Once cooked,  mash it and keep it aside.

Take all the ingredients soaking and grind it to a fine paste with the coconut.

Add 1 cup water to the yogurt and make it into a thick buttermilk. It tastes best if the yogurt is a little sour. Now add turmeric powder to the yogurt. And then add the ground mix along with the spinach leaves to the yogurt and mix it well.

Now cook it on on low heat till it just comes to boil and then remove it from heat.

Heat oil in a small pan and temper it with asafoetida, curry leaves and mustard seeds. Add it to kadhi.

Thona thona

Serve warm with rice.

Here is another Tanjore Marathi kadhi I blogged a few years ago - okra kadhi.

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