“Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.”
Anthony Bourdain

Ptasie_mleczko or Birds Milk Cake Ptasie_mleczko or Birds Milk Cake …my adaptation. With a name as intriguing as that, I quickly jotted it down as my Ukranian friend translated it out of her mothers cookbook in Sydney earlier this month. There is an eternal charm in handwritten recipes of times gone by, this recipe book is from the 1960’s. Neat, and well explained, the recipes all written In Ukrainian, talk to you, explaining each step. The measures are often in glasses from the Old Soviet Union, standardised at 200ml, a measure my sweet friend continues to use as her mother once did.

Ptasie Mleczko (Polish) is a soft chocolate-covered candy filled with soft meringue (or milk soufflé). In Russian it is called ptichye moloko (птичье молоко) and in Romanian lapte de pasăre. All these names literally mean “bird’s milk” or crop milk, a substance somewhat resembling milk, produced by certain birds to feed their young. However, this is not origin of the name; rather, ptasie mleczko is also a Polish idiom meaning “an unobtainable delicacy”. In Poland, Jan Wedel, owner of the E. Wedel Company, developed the first Ptasie mleczko in 1936. Wedel’s inspiration for the name of the confectionery came from his voyages to France, when he asked himself: “What could bring greater happiness to a man who already has everything?” Then he thought: “Maybe only bird milk.”

Ptasie_mleczko or Birds Milk Cake This must be one of the quickest birthday cakes I’ve ever made. And yet another very very delicious one. You can find my coffee take on it at the bottom as Ulyana decided to bake one for us the night before we were due to fly out. No pictures of the cake in Sydney as we were racing against time. I didn’t get too many pictures of the cake I baked here too as coming home after a vacation is always far too busy. It was however tasty as hell!!

Sydney 2015

Sydney 2015 Our trip Down Under was great fun! All trips there always are! Sydney has been one of our fave places to go when possible, and this was our fourth trip. Like every earlier trip, this too was packed and flew by like a heartbeat. This trip was short, just a week ‘long’, but we had a great time. With hosts as good as ours, the days went by driving from mountains to beaches, with great food and drinks thrown in. Mindless banter, endless shopping what with the daughter with us, too much food,  overindulgence … ad before we knew it, time to fly back.

Sydney 2015 We flew in comfortably, sleeping all the way on Cathay Pacific, with a short stopover in HKG. There too the daughter shopped till we dropped for 3 whole hours.Hong Kong Hurriedly dug into some delicious street food, raced back to the hotel, showered and hopped onto the Sydney flight. A long 9 hour flight, some great food, Aussie wines too, Pamela’s book kept me entertained and nostalgic as we landed there into a crisp 4C at 6am. We were really blessed to see great weather the few days we were there.

Blue Mountains, Sydney 2015

Blue Mountains, Sydney 2015We’ve done most of the iconic must see places on the earlier trips covering The Rocks, Opera House, Botanical Gardens, Tiranga Zoo {to date one of my sons fave places}, Butterfly Park, Harbour Bridge, Harry’s original van at Wooloomooloo, the Blue Mountains … and so much more. Yet a visit to the Blue Mountains is a quintessential part of Sydney for us, and that’s where we headed pretty soon. It as a freezing COLD day but we managed to stop by some breathtaking spots, taking in the gift that only nature can offer. Knocks your breath A W A Y!

Blue Mountains, Sydney 2015 We went off piste, little walkways dot the Blue Mountains, each with a signboard telling you how long it takes to get to the destination, level of ease …and more! There’s loads to do. Did I mention stunning beaches? Yes those too!Maroubra Beach, Sydney 2015Beautiful beaches, birds, crabs, shells, nature, left over pizza from the Italian pizzeria from the night before, chilled beer though not as chilly as the cold winds, great company … couldn’t have asked for more.Maroubra Beach, Sydney 2015 Of course I shopped some too. It’s always good to know the ‘right’ people, who in turn know the right places…and a Sunday morning market later, I was back a happy camper. There was loads I could have gladly bought to ‘prop’ up the blog, but sense had to prevail. It was a struggle I tell you!Food Prop shopping, Sydney

Food prop shopping Sydney 2015No trip to Sydney for me is complete without a visit to Victoria’s Basement. Though short on time, we did a quick walk through, a near impossible task in itself given the treasure trove you can find under a roof! I shopped a wee bit more here and there, constantly thinking of how much I could stuff back into suitcases. You know! Oh the choices we have to make!

Sydney 2015With travel comes food, and most good memories are tied to taste! Knowing the right folk is great! It’s satiating to explore a country through it’s cuisine, and then comes the added bonus of exploring the flavours they brought from their native lands. So we were spoilt. Ukranian cusine filled our days alongside Aussie quintessential. Gourmet sausages on the barbeque that made the tastiest hotdogs, slow cooked {read dropping off the bone good} lamb-shanks with chickpeas and spinach, Caesar salad galore, smoked Polish sausages and cold cuts, Ukranian potato latkes with garlic and sour cream, artisan pizzas, more Aussie reds, red wine too, pancakes for breakfast with whipped cream and local preserves, cheese in every avatar to die, then more local artisanal unripened cheese as if that was not enough …Ptasie_mleczko or Birds Milk Cake Sweet stuff too, though no pictures. Fresh cherry strudel, macadamia and caramel ice cream, divine coffee gelato, berry gelato too, and then of course this beautiful Birds Milk Cake flavoured with the organic lemon from the yard the night before we flew out. I dreamt of the cake as I slept on the flight back home. I knew I just had to make one soon, my pet flavours dancing in my head.

Ptasie_mleczko or Birds Milk Cake That’s just what I did the next day for the son’s birthday. As we melted into a sizzling North Indian summer at 45C, desperately trying to hang on to memories of 12C, the crisp and beautiful Aussie winter we left behind, Ihit baking mode. This cake bridged the gap beautifully, and that is what good food & travel is all about. Makes you come full circle, flavours and memories sharing a plateful! What a delightful {and delicious} journey this food business is!

Recipe: Ptasie_mleczko or Birds Milk Cake
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Summary: Ptasie_mleczko or Birds Milk Cake finds it’s roots possibly in the Old Soviet Union. A preparation for the light as air filling quite as intriguing as the name ‘birds milk’, it’s a moist and delicious cake that takes well to added flavours. Make ahead and chill for the flavours to mature. It tastes wonedrful as a fresh tray bake as originally intended to be too. Serves 8

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour {plus cooling and chilling}

  • Cake
  • 130g butter
  • 200ml / 1 glass brown vanilla sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 200ml / 1 glass all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • Filling
  • 150g butter
  • 400ml / 2 glasses milk
  • 100ml/ 1/2 glass sugar
  • 3 tbsp semolina /suji
  • 2tbsp instant coffee
  • 1 tbsp Kahlua {optional}
  • Topping
  • 50g dark couverture chocolate
  • 100ml low fat cream
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • White chocolate shavings to garnish


  1. Cake
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line 2 X 8″ round baking tins with parchment paper.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cocoa and salt. Reserve.
  4. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one by one, ten the vanilla extract.
  5. Slowly fold in the dry mix. Turn batter into tins and bake for approximately 30 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Cool in tins for 15-20 minutes then cool completely on rack.
  6. Filling
  7. Make this while the cake is baking {or a few hours before too}
  8. Place the sugar, semolina, coffee and milk in a heavy bottom pan. Stir over low heat until the mixture thickens. Leave to cool completely.
  9. When the cake is ready and cool, make the remaining filling.
  10. Place butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the coffee semolina and Kahlua if using.
  11. Assemble
  12. Place one layer on serving platter and keep in place with an 8″ dessert ring. ladle over half the filling and top with second layer. Top with remaining filling, cover and refrigerate for a few hours {or overnight} for flavours to mature.
  13. Take the ring off gently, top with chocolate ganache {recipe follows} and white chocolate shavings.
  14. Chocolate Ganache
  15. Place ingredients in a heat proof bowl and microwave 1 minute at a time until the chocolate has almost melted. Stir until smooth and glossy. Cool to room temperature before use.

Don’t miss a post Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

“Some of us come on earth seeing.
Some of us come on earth seeing color.”
Louise Nevelson

Dark Chocolate Fresh Plum Wholewheat Meringue Tray Bake Dark Chocolate Fresh Plum Wholewheat Meringue Tray Bake … a bake that ended my bout of lack of inspiration. The heat and humidity is killing. Back from Leh, an exhausting trip that was messed up by the travel agent, didn’t seem to make life better. It was a trip I had waited for forever … then came the mail a few hours before we were due to leave about an error in bookings their end! Try that at 11000ft, tired teens, rarefied oxygen levels …. just didn’t work!

Leh, Kashmir 2015The past few months have seen my nose to the grinding stone, trying to make up for lost time. A project to be completed, the daughter to be packed off to uni, loads of emails in the things to do, a few small things in the pipeline … and then the everyday meals, laundry, grocery, dog etc. Of course hungry teens at home for summer vacation didn’t seem to make life easier.

PlumsThis was a few days before she left. They were hungry yet again. There is this time in the afternoon between 3 and 4 that some hunger goblins visit our home. I wish I could turn invisible at 3 o clock! Really do. Those goblins have surfaced without fail for the past month. I decided to beat them to it.

resh plums, summer stone fruitI had plums in the fridge… and thoughts of a whole wheat fresh plum cake I had made last year! It was time to work on those lines. A last minute thought made me save some whipped egg whites for the top; wanted to make a visually fun cake. Little did I know that when it would bake, it would endlessly remind me of our trip to Leh.Leh, Kashmir, IndiaWhy? Nothing could have prepared us for what we saw when we landed in Leh. To our mind, we were going into the mountains, at 11000 feet, the majestic Himalayas which would be GREEN and snow topped. 11000ft to me meant more snow that would exceed any we had seen when we visited Srinagar, Kashmir in March. Leh, Kashmir 2014Boy were we gobsmacked. I think we didn’t realise that Leh is a cold dessert. I could’ve never imagined those endless mountains of mud, rock and BROWN! Very National Geographic, very awe inspiring, very unlike what we expected.Leh, Kashmir 2015 That’s not to say the view wasn’t stunning. It certainly was. Still this cake reminded me so much of the vast rocky terrain. Mountains higher than one can imagine, and all made of mud, rocks, actually HUGE boulders, and in many places not a spot of vegetation…

Leh, Kashmir 2015… until we reached where we were booked to stay. On the way to the beautiful Nimmu House, which we eventually got to after the travel agent messed up our bookings, we even saw something like a Grand Canyon. Nature never fails to astound!

Leh, Kashmir 2015 Such a vast terrain, never ending mountains, beautiful wooden gates, doors I could pack and run away with, windows too.Leh, Kashmir 2015 Rustic outdoors that left you wanting for more, more than the eyes could capture. Fresh mountain air as clean and crisp as could be. The landscape was unreal at times, took my breath away …. yet left me with ‘brown’ stamped in my mind.

Dark Chocolate Fresh Plum Wholewheat Meringue Tray Bake And then the tray bake happened, just on the go. One look at it and it was an uncanny feeling. It reminded me of the Leh landscape in so many ways. Unexpected, rustically beautiful {in my eyes}, with unusual tones the brown sugar meringue picked up with the dark chocolate melting into it.

Dark Chocolate Fresh Plum Wholewheat Meringue Tray Bake One bite later and it was pure joy. Moist, deeply chocolaty, delightful plum undertones, what a fun bake this tuned out to be. Must have been the plums that created some berry like magic in there.

Dark Chocolate Fresh Plum Wholewheat Meringue Tray Bake There’s still some summer left here in the plains you are enamoured by stone fruit like me. Go grab some plums and begin experimenting. You never know how yummy life might get! Plums, peaches and cherries will soon be gone, and I will sadly miss them. We are looking at a long extended hot season though…sadly, the rains have failed to show up!

Dark Chocolate Fresh Plum Wholewheat Meringue Tray Bake Have you ever made a cake inspired by landscape or a vacation? Would love to hear about it!

Recipe: Dark Chocolate Fresh Plum Wholewheat Meringue Tray Bake Dark Chocolate Fresh Plum Wholewheat Meringue Tray Bake Summary: Dark Chocolate Fresh Plum Wholewheat Meringue Tray Bake. One bite later and it was pure joy. Moist, deeply chocolaty, delightful plum undertones, what a fun bake this tuned out to be. Must have been the plums that created some berry like magic in there.Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

  • 100g butter
  • 185g brown sugar {divided 100g+85g}
  • 3 small eggs, separated
  • 100g dark chocolate, room temperature
  • 185g plum puree {about 4 medium pitted plums, with skin}
  • 75g whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • vanilla extract
  • 50g dark chocolate chips for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line an 8″ square baking tin with parchment.
  2. Beat egg whites with pinch of cream of tartar to soft peaks. Add 100g sugar a tbsp at a time and continue to beat to stiff peaks. Reserve.
  3. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Microwave for a minute until chocolate melts. Whisk well, add the plum puree, whisk. Then add yolks, whisk again. Add vanilla extract and cocoa and whisk until smooth. Reserve.
  4. Beat butter with remaining 85g sugar for 2-3 minutes, until smooth
  5. Mix in the flour and baking soda, followed by the chocolate mix.
  6. Gently fold in the whipped whites, reserving about 1/2-3/4 cup for the topping.
  7. Pour batter into prepared tin. Sprinkle over with chocolate chips.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the tester comes out with a few moist crumbs. Tent the top with a sheet of aluminum foil if over browning.
  9. Place on cooling rack and leave to cool in tin for about 30 minutes.
  10. Gently turn out of tin. Slice and serve.


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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India


“You’ll never convince me that there’s more to life than chocolate chip cookies”
Charles M. Shultz

Eggless Almond Honey Wholegrain CookiesEggless Almond Honey Wholegrain Cookies … cookies that are meant to be shared! I haven’t posted a cookie recipe for a while on PAB. Possibly since I don’t make new variations very often, or when I do, I forget to jot the recipe down. Ones that I regularly make are all time favourites like Wholewheat & Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies & these Not Quite Anzac cookies.

Eggless Almond Honey Wholegrain Cookies That morning I was due to meet a sweet girl who was coming in to meet me from halfway across India. I knew she was a vegetarian and I wanted to bake something eggless for her. Cookies seemed a good idea for the coffee morning. I had some Strawberry & Cape Gooseberry Quark Mousse chilling in the fridge for her too.

Spring Spring has all but given way to summer. Mornings and evenings are beautifully pleasant; the season inspires like no other. Flowers bloom, fruits spill off bazaar shelves, birds chirp, butterflies zip around. Baking is fun in this weather though baking cookies is fun any time!!

Eggless Almond Honey Wholegrain Cookies The cookies came out delicious, even better since they were packed with nutrition and whole grains. I love the idea of adding nut meal to cookies. In my case I have to since the daughter dislikes nuts with a vengeance. She loves cookies with nut meal though!

Eggless Almond Honey Wholegrain Cookies I baked another batch soon after as we flew into breathtakingly beautiful Srinagar for a short vacation. It’s always nice to carry a ‘taste of home’ with us. Though Srinagar is known for its little bakeries that dot the length and breadth of the city, my humble cookies were much in demand with the kids too! Srinagar, India ... paradise on earthOne look at the ingredients in the recipe and you’ll see the cookie goodness I am talking about. Almonds, whole wheat, amaranth {my latest obsession}, oats, and honey instead of  corn syrup!  Told you … these are deliciously healthy cookies. Indulgent too!

Eggless Almond Honey Wholegrain Cookies Try them. Cookies don’t get simpler than these. One bowl goodness, fun to make, get the kids involved. Do watch them towards the end of baking. Honey in baked goods tends to lead to faster browning. So do keep an eye!

Eggless Almond Honey Wholegrain Cookies Healthy, fun recipes with amaranth, whole grains, oats {read lots of oats}, unrefined sugars, honey etc have kept me busy of late. I’ve been involved in doing a project for Saffola Oats here in India.

Whole foodShot two recipe videos with the very sweet Michelin Starred Chef Vikas Khanna for Food Food Channel, India as part of the engagement. You can catch the first episode for a Bittersweet Dark Chocolate Gateau {Gluten free} which has been uploaded onto You-tube.

[print_this]Recipe: Eggless Almond Honey Wholegrain Chocolate Chip Cookies
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Summary: Eggless Almond Honey Wholegrain Cookies offer deep delicious butterscotch flavour thanks to the brown sugar and butter. Almond meal adds interesting taste, and chocolate chips are thrown in to make another quintessential chocolate chip cookie, this time eggless. These whole grain cookies are nice, chewy if you underbake them a little, and crisp if you bake them longer!  Makes approx 2 dozen
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

  • 100g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 100g honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 55g brown sugar
  • 100g whole almonds {or almond meal}
  • 50g amaranth flour
  • 50g whole wheat flour
  • 100gm oats
  • 50g chocolate chips {I used dark}


  1. Preheat oven to 150C
  2. Run the almonds in the processor with the wholewheat flour until you get a fine-meal.
  3. Heat butter, honey and vanilla bean powder in a pan over low heat till the butter melts. Mix well. {Can do it in the microwave too}.
  4. Add the baking soda, salt and brown sugar and whisk to mix.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to form a cookie dough. The dough will be a little stiff.
  6. Drop tbsp of dough on parchment lined cookie sheets, flatten with the tines of a fork. {I rolled the dough into balls, flattened them slightly with the palm of my hand, and then further flattened them by pressing down with a fork.}.
  7. Bake for approx 20 minutes until golden brown.
  8. Leave to cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes {they are quite tender when they come out of the oven} , and then transfer on racks to cool completely.
  9. Thermomix Recipe:
  10. Run the almonds in the TM bowl with the wholewheat flour on speed 7 for 30 seconds to get a fine-meal. Scrape and repeat if necessary. Turn into a bowl and reserve.
  11. Place butter, honey and vanilla bean powder into TM bowl. Heat for 2 minutes at 60C on speed 2 until fully dissolved. Place bicarb into bowl and mix for 5 seconds on speed 3.
  12. Add remaining ingredients and set dial to closed position and mix for 30-35 seconds on interval speed…. then continue as above from step 5.
  13. Note: Since the dough has honey, the cookies tend to brown faster than normal cookies. I use double cookie trays. Keep an eye on them.


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