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Risk-free blueberry muffins

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“Really good.”

– Ram Swaroop, my dad’s assessment of the muffins

These muffins are inspired by my Dad. His dietary restrictions include no sugar and no salt but he enjoys baked good so I tried to give him a taste of muffins without any of the risk!

Dad enjoyed the taste and I feel great giving him something he likes. At last a Father’s Day gift that he won’t want to return!!

For the recipe, click here.

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Celebrating with scones

Fresh-baked scone, anyone?

“I loved it. It was like a peach-scone sandwich.”

– Betty Hallock, assistant food editor at the Los Angeles Times

I made these a couple of days ago to celebrate becoming a new aunt. I baked these up and brought them in to work where my Los Angeles Times colleagues ate them up.

My new niece, Sonali Krishan was born in Minneapolis, Minn., a full month premature to proud parents Sapna and Krishnan Ramaswamy. She was born early in the morning on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011.

I was so happy to hear the happy news that I wanted to celebrate and express my affection for the newest member of the family by baking something.

I decided to modify the easy recipe for peach jam scones and call the new version Sonali Scones. Want to make them yourself? Click here.

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Truffle Doughnuts

These incredible confections were made from a recipe by Sherry Yard. The are crisp and crunchy on the outside and molten chocolate on the inside.

This is an incredible treat that you want to make right before you serve. They need to be eaten hot!

This is so scrumptious that it’s hard to believe it can be this easy. Kudos to Sherry Yard for making a delectable treat so simple, easy and fast.

After I had made the batter, I was wondering how a flash fry (30 seconds on each side in scorching hot oil) would allow the soft batter to cook solidly. Turns out I needn’t have worried. The Panko crust of the exterior fries up crispy and light while the inside turns into molten chocolate. Quite a heady delight!

Gone in 40 minutes

This is the cinnamon-pecan-cherry coffeecake I made.

“It’s so moist, rich and flavorful. Yet light and delicate.”

Aisha Khan, copy editor on the foreign desk at the Los Angeles Times

It was a rainy Sunday and since I couldn’t go take my usual hike or hit some balls at the tennis court, I decided it was the perfect day to bake something delicious. Baking is a relaxing and creative activity for me. But I wanted to make sure my creation was something that I could toss in a tuppeware container and take to work for the Sunday Crew at the Los Angeles Times. I thought a coffee cake with some nuts, dried fruit and plenty of sugar and butter would smell great during the baking part and taste great too.

“Scrumptious,” said Matt Moody, LAT graphic artist said after he finished his piece.

“The cinnamon really works with the other flavors.” said Lauren Raab, finance section copy editor. She also insisted that the pecans I put in the cake were toasted. No, I never toasted them but the melted butter that doused the top of the nuts may be the reason the nuts seem so crispy and aromatic.

Sugar high: If you normally don’t eat sugar or are on a low-sugar diet just one bite of this cake will give you a buzz. But be careful because one bite won’t be enough of this addictive confection. Remember, this cake was gone 40 minutes after I took the lid off the container. That type of speed is due to the candy-like filling and the tender, buttery cake it is layered in. Enjoy!

Want to make it for yourself? Click here for the recipe.

Chocolate sensation

This is the Chocolate Ganache-Hazelnut Tart spiked with a spicy raspberry jam that I made today. I took it into work so that we could enjoy it as part of the normal Sunday spread. People liked it and all but the last piece was gone in the first two hours.

 “A slice of perfection.”

Rich Nelson, National Copy Chief at the Los Angeles Times

I’ve wanted to make my version of this chocolate ganache tart ever since I saw Kelly Liken make it for the “Top Chef” pie quickfire several week ago. I finally got around to it this weekend. I baked the cocoa-butter-flour crust last night and put the filling together this morning.

I wanted to give this chocolate concoction something that was all me so I added a layer of Nutella – a chocolate-hazelnut spread – on the bottom and kicked up the raspberry jam with ground cloves, freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon.

I was touched when 1AA designer Molly Beford said “If this dessert was on a spread of sweets it would stand above the rest. I mean I know what a cookie or a cake tastes like, but the flavor of this tart is intriguing.”

Many others said that the spicy raspberry kick in the filling along with the hazelnut spread reminded them of something they’d had during the Christmas holidays.

But the gem of the evening came from National Copy Editor Anne-Marie Dillon who I kept troubling as I switched out photos and jacked up the photo captions on the story that she was editing. She said, “Oh my God, keep bringing in food like that and you can do ANYTHING you want to my captions.”

Would you like to make it yourself? Click here for the recipe.

Celebrating Holi

Just part of the Holi spread: Aloo Tikkis (potato pancakes), Gujiya (delicious Indian pastries), Somosas and Kurma (both savory and sweet fried Indian snacks).

The Swaroop family came together on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010 to celebrate Holi, the Indian Festival of Colors that is traditionally celebrated by splashing colored water and attacking each other with colored powder in a festive, fun celebration that includes a massive Indian spread. In our family, everyone gathered in Huntington Beach to celebrate.

However, we did not play colors. It was decided that nobody was up for the task of cleaning up the mess the colors leave. So sad, since it isn’t really Holi for me without the rambunctious glee of color but more of a food fest.

Nothing wrong with a food fest, though! Pictured above is our spread of the plethora of main courses: Hand-made sandwiches by Sujata; Fried Chicken, Chicken Soft Tacos and Potato Salad provided by Suki.

Fried Chicken

Here is a closer look at one of the staples of our Holi menu. It’s not exactly a traditional Indian item, but it is certainly a traditional Swaroop Holi item. The chicken and the potato salad behind it was picked up from a local deli. It looks good, doesn’t it? Well, you should’ve been there because the delicious aroma stayed in the house all day long tempting those of us there to devour some. We did.

And let’s not forget the massive chicken soft tacos. Above, Roshan enjoys a taco as he finishes up lunch. Actually, they were so good he had two!

The family: In this picture is Sunita, Ram, Karen, Shawn, Surabhi and Rita enjoy lunch in the California sunshine. There was a steady downpour the day before so we felt blessed for the balmy weather.

Raksha Bandan

I made these ice cream sandwiches from molasses spice cookies and mint chocolate chip, butter pecan and chocolate ice creams. Click the Recipe Index tab for the recipe.

I made these ice cream sandwiches from molasses spice cookies and mint chocolate chip, butter pecan and chocolate ice creams. Click the Recipe Index tab for the recipe.

The family gathered to celebrate Raksha Bandan in Huntington Beach. For those of you that don’t know: Raksha Bandan in an Indian holiday that celebrates the bond between sisters and brothers. The sisters all make some sort of dish for their brothers and tie a rakhi around their brothers’ (and their wives) wrists. For that they are rewarded with a gift, but more often cash. It is a great time.

This year Suki hosted the festivities in the sunny garden with a menu that included quiche, berry salad, pasta salad, tater tots, buttermilk biscuits, mango, strawberries, tea, water, lemonade and juices. Surabhi brought Desi turkey sliders (the hit of the meal!) and potato salad. Sujata contributed samosas with accompanying chutneys.

For dessert there were ice cream sandwiches, brownies, cupcakes, tollhouse cookies, ras malai, assorted pastries.

Everyone enjoyed the festivities and visiting with those who attending including: Dad, Mom, Vijay Chachi, Surabhi, Subodh, Sujata, Sunil, Bansi Dada, Karen, Sunjay, Dinesh, Serena, Murli Dada, Sangeeta, Maya, Suki, myself and special surprise guest my cousin, Vishnupriya Saksena from India who happened to be in California on business.