Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Orange and Cranberry Muffins

Am sure you experience it too .. the burgeoning of small businesses all around us. In the past few months, I have been introduced to so many of them. From those working directly with the weavers of Varanasi to one that is pioneering India's first range of organic and artisanal chocolate. I have bought from social enterprises that are helping women stand on their feet to businesses where an individual has taken a leap of faith to strike out on their own, with only their passion as their surety. And it's been an inspiring coincidence that so many of them have a woman behind the enterprise.

What strikes me most is to see the level of detail and care and planning that goes into these businesses. Beside their core product, be it the brand name or the packaging or their social media presence, there is so much soul and feeling that goes into it and invariably, it is an extension of the entrepreneur's personality. So, it is always a delight to meet the person behind the brand. 

So, I was tickled when a friend launched her own wellness company, 'Pahadi Local',  that is dedicated to sourcing natural products from the hills. J, is an old friend from college who has found her mojo as a serial entrepreneur and it's a fascinating journey, which you can read here. The first products to be launched are 'Gutti ka Tel' - pure, unadulterated apricot kernel oil and 'Khal' - an apricot scrub made from the residue after the oil is extracted. 

While shamelessly plugging a friend's business comes with the territory of being an old friend, these are also products I personally use and vouch for. I have dry, sensitive and extremely moody skin, ever since I was a child and that's taught me two lessons. One, the skin should be well moisturised at all times and second, only use products that are natural and stay wary of anything artificial and chemical. Mess with these two points and it's not been pretty!

The apricot kernel oil works on both counts, especially when the season changes to Winter and the skin can do with all the help it can get. It really rejuvenates your skin and rest assured, it is so pure and safe that it is used by babies and pregnant women. Anyhow, that's my personal experience with 'Gutti ka tel' and I'd recommend, if nothing else that you at least connect with 'Pahadi Local' to know about their products.

Talking about Winter, the past few weeks have seemed as further away from it as can be. It's been to the point of being uncomfortably hot. But, on this blog, we like to play pretend every once in a while and so, made these orange and cranberry muffins that Isidora Popovic describes as 'appealing on a cold winter's morning'.

These are zesty, citrusy, moist orange muffins that are packed with cranberries and topped off with pistachios. They are good for the morning as they are not too sweet and citrusy flavour is a great pick-me-up. Unfortunately, I had to make do with dried cranberries but just imagine how pretty these would be with the fresh ones. 

Now, I would love to hear if you or someone close to you has been involved in an interesting start up. Hope you're having a good week!!

Note: You can connect with Pahadi Local on their Facebook page or on +91-75064 69522 

Monday, 5 October 2015

Apple And Brandy Syrup Cake

I do envy all those of you who are experiencing Fall right now. The colours of the leaves, the crispness in the air and the general cosiness that the season evokes, be it the clothes, the food or just the general, toasty vibe.
You could argue that the Winter is anyway pleasantly mild in my part of the World but with the way the weather is these days, Winter or whatever we pass off as Winter is still a while away. So, I did the only sensible thing one does when you can't get what you want. You bake a cake, of course! And this one has the flavours of Fall!!
It's an apple cake with a supporting cast of oranges, cinnamon, raisins and walnuts that once baked is then glazed with a brandy syrup. Much like other cakes on this blog, this one too, is not much of a looker but don't be hasty in judging it.
It's a dense, moist cake that is crammed with flavour. The star pairing is that of apple and cinnamon with the undertone of citrus giving it some freshness. The toasted walnuts and raisins provide the tiny pockets of texture and taste that are always welcome. If anything, the flavours are slightly reminiscent of a Christmas cake.
Over the course of the baking, the apples stew in their own juices with the sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar on top and will remind of you of everyone's favourite Apple Pie. The brandy syrup keeps the apples and the cake below moist.
A warm cake does not need any embellishments I believe, but if you'd like, you can pair it with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream or even some vanilla custard, depending on how the weather is in your part of the World.
Now, if only the weather would oblige....Have a lovely week ahead!!

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