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Trick-or-treating: Happy Halloween

What I love about the celebration of Halloween is when my litte friends come disguised with the question "Trick or Treat", with the idle threat ofcourse I choose the 'Treat' part of the deal!. This is my preparation to wish my wonderful friends who are going to knock my door asking for sweeties! I am looking forward to welcome them !

115 gms unsalted butter,
115 gms caster sugar,
2 eggs beaten,
3 tbsp milk,
140 gms self raising flour,
1/2 tsp baking powder,
orange  and black food coloring,
500 gms ready to roll icing,
2tbsp warmed apricot jam,
100 gms icing sugar

Preheat the over to 170 C/325F/ Gas Mark 3.  Grease an 8-inch round tin and line the base with baking paper.

Using a hand mixer, beat together the caster sugar and butter, till it turn pale and fluffly. Add in the eggs and milk. Sift in the flour and baking powder, then gently fold in using a wooden spoon.

Add in half the mixture to the prepared cake tin, and add in a few drops of orange food coloring to the remaining cake mix, then add in the rest of the half colored cake mix, swirl it with the spoon to give it a marbled effect.  Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until well-risen and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin for `10 minutes, then turn out and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Take a small amount of the icing to make the spider, and color it with black food coloring. then add a few drops of orange food coloring  to the rest of the icing, and roll on a surface lighly dusted with icing sugar. Brush the cake with the apricot jam and cover with the icing, smoothing with your hands. Trim the edges at the base and keep the trimings for the spider.

Add few drops of black food coloring and water to the icing sugar to make a paste. Spoon in to a small piping bag fitted with a medium plain nozzle, then make a spider web over the cake.  Using the black colored icing, shape it into an oval for the spider's body, then shape eight legs from the remaning black icing and two eyes from the orange icing trimings.

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Sunshine with Sushi!

Individuals in different parts of the world eat Sushi in different ways, for me it is my much-loved breakfast. Nothing can be a better than starting my day with sunshine and sushi.  It was indeed an amazing experience when my friend Macau visited me and taught me how to make fresh sushis at home. It was like some Japanese expert guiding me how to make sushi !!, just the right way to roll it from both the ends, the perfect technique to slide your knife  through the sushi to get the bits even,  a few seaweed sheets,  some fresh and crispy cucumber and sushi rice all combined to give you an authentic sushi, the Japanese way!  This recipe is a must for all sushi connoisseurs!  Devour this Vegetable Sushi recipe.

2 cups of boiled sushi rice,
4 tables of white vinegar,
Salt as per taste,
4 Nori sheets,
1 cup of cucumber cut into strips,
1 cup of carrots cut into strips
You will also need
Sushi rolling mat,
1 bowl of cold water
Moisten you hands in the bowl of cold water, to avoid the rice sticking to your fingers and also to the rolling mat. Then spread the Nori sheet on the rolling mat and layer of sushi rice in center of the Nori, making a rectangle. Make sure that the rice lies evenly over the Nori.
Lay two cucumber strips and one carrot strip, horizontally across the center. You can changed the combinations of vegetables.
Using the rolling mat, fold the Nori and apply pressure, make sure to give a round shape to the sushi, not rectangular. Apply pressure using your entire fingers on the top taking support from the thumbs placed below. Fold the mat forward once again and apply more pressure.
Dip the entire knife in cold water, trim off the uneven ends, then cut the sushi into six even pieces. Serve the making on a plate with each bit facing up with light soy sauce and wasabi as a dip.

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Living a Dream- Italian Sponge Cake- Pan di spagna- Recipe from Cake Boss

I have been living a dream for some time now, in my next life I want to be Buddy Valastro. I simply admire the way he bakes his cakes. Every time I observe him on TLC, I would wonder what must be the secret to his success, what must be the recipes he would be using to make his cakes, I am left in awe!
I could see so many of my queries being answered and conceivably some ingredients of my dreams coming true soon. And before you know it! I came across his book Cake Boss: stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia. All I could have done was to wait for the book to arrive and start baking from it.
I contemplated on opening with the basic sponge cake and then rolling on. The deliberation of converting my British baking methods to American was overwhelming but I got on with it, and voila! When friends around lived through the cake, the instantaneous response was; hmmmm! The cake comes straight from the bakery!! What more can I express about the cake, yes it was the prevalent accomplishment for me indeed!  My contentment and delight knew no bounds! And yes this is just the commencement, so many more to come from Buddy’s book, Mama Mia!

1 ½ cups sugar, plus more for lining parchment paper,
5 extra large eggs at room temperature,
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract,
Drop of lemon oil (Optional),
1 ½ cups cake flour, sifter, plus more for flouring the cake pan,
1/3 cup vegetable oil,
Unsalted butter; for greasing cake pan (about 1 tablespoon); non-stick cooking spray or vegetable may be substituted

Position the rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350F
Put the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and lemon oil, if using, in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with whist attachment. (if you don’t have a stand mixer, you can put the ingredients in a bowl, and use a hand mixer with the blending attachments). Beat starting on low and raise to medium and whip until the mixture is thick, shiny, and ivory in color, and has multiplied several times in volume, approximately 15 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a rubber spatula to scrape as much mixture as possible off the whisk attachment and into the bowl.
Add the flour and patiently fold in it with a rubber spatula, then pour in the oil, and fold in until fully absorbed into the mixture.
Grease and flour a 9 inch cake pan. Pour the batter into the pan, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula.
Bake until the cake begins to pull from the sides of the pan and is springy to the touch, 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour. The cake should be at room temperature before you remove it from the pan. Put a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet, top with sugar, turn the cake out onto the parchment, the sugar will keep it from sticking.

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Enjoying the Indian Summers in British Autumn- Moroccan Chickpea Casserole

Living so many years in Britain, I discovered a new term ‘Indian Summers’, What?  But it was for real. I experienced the Indian summers in the midst of autumn here. Its only when I thought, it was changing from summers to autumn, and preparing for the wardrobes to change to winter wears, I realised it was time to dig out my summery clothes again, nonetheless it was absolutely welcome. I couldn’t have let gone the beautiful Indian Weather, and it took only a couple of minutes for me and my friend to decide to go to the waterfalls in Brecon.
 The amble through the caves and waterfalls was completely spectacular and captured our hearts. I arrived back home, feeling invigorated and rejuvenated.  What could my revitalized and revived mind cooked for dinner? The Moroccan chickpea casserole was a supreme delicacy to put in some supplementary relish to life with the sparkle of the sultanas and newness bursting from the lemon zest and the protein packet chickpeas with flavours of vegetables!

1 tablespoon of butter,
1 large onion chopped,
1 carrot, chopped,
1 courgette, chopped,
2 cloves of garlic crushed,
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon,
½ teaspoon ground turmeric,
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper,
1 can diced tomatoes,
2 cups vegetable stock,
1 tsp sea salt,
½ cup apricots,
¼ cup sultanas,
Zest of 1 lemon,
Fresh coriander to garnish

Freshly cooked rice to serve

Soak the apricots in hot water. Heat a large saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Tip in the onion and carrot and cook covered for 5 minutes, or until softened. Tip in the chopped courgette, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, salt, cayenne, tomatoes and the vegetable stock and salt. Bring down the heat and simmer it for 30 minutes covered stirring occasionally.
Chop the apricots and add the apricots, raisins, lemon zest, and chickpeas to the vegetable mixture and cook 5 minutes longer, or until hot and the flavours are assimilated.  Serve with hot rice, garnished with fresh coriander.

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