Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mango Kheer. Aditya Bal's Chak Le India. Interaction on the Blogger's Table and a book review

 Lovely pudding © Cookaroo

This is going to be a long post. There's a recipe yes, there's a review and there's a rant. So kindly be prepared.

At Italia, Sid handed a bunch of us Aditya Bal's Chak le India cookbook. Why? Because we were to meet with the author for a Blogger's Table a week later. Which gave most of us some time to go through the book, try out the recipes and talk with each other on the forums. 

Sounds like fun? Yes, it 'twas too. So when I got home, as is my habit with all new cookbooks, I started skimming through this one. I read all about what Aditya had to say about his childhood and about how he got into cooking  and how the show happened. It seemed honest and quite deep, which was lovely. Except. Yes except, I really wanted to pick up a pen and start correcting the grammar (Tanya's going to agree with me here - coz that's what we'd begun our dinner conversation with). It was really badly edited. And the photographs were ghastly and as Charis said, the paper quality, well let's not even go there.

Anyhoo, as I glanced at the recipes, some of them caught my eye - there were lots of Kashmiri dishes, lots of meat and fish dishes. But what intrigued me the most was the aam ki kheer or the mango rice pudding. It seemed simple, had a lot of dry fruits and saffron and plus I'm a total sucker for desserts, in case you haven't guessed already. 

A quick check in the fridge and the pantry, I realised I had everything to make this kheer, including some super ripe chausas - a variety of mangoes, that come right at the fag end of the season. These mangoes are extremely flavourful and very pulpy - perfect for a recipe that calls for mango pulp/puree.

I decided to halve Aditya's recipe - because, well, there's just the two of us at home. The measured the ingredients and began cooking the rice. According to his recipe for 1 cup of rice I was to use 2 cups of milk. Which meant for half a cup, 1 cup of milk would be enough. It seemed off to me right then. So I cooked the rice in 2 cups of milk. Turned out that wasn't enough still. I had to up the quantity by another two cups. 

Alarmed at the discrepancy, I decided to just eye-ball it from that point. His recipe called for pulp of three mangoes or a tin of mango puree. I chose to puree two rather large chausas which gave me about 200 gms of puree. The recipe asked you to cook the kheer/pudding for two hours, adding a bit of milk every now and then to stop it from getting stodgy. Bit like risotto he said.

How odd, I thought to myself, I never remembered my grandmother cooking any kind of kheer for that long. Phirni maybe. But since I'd halved the quantity, I realised I might have to halve the cooking time as well. I did. At the end of about an hour and 10 minutes I got something that resembled a thick kheer which I had peppered with raisins, almonds and plenty of cardamon and saffron. It smelt lovely.

I let it cool and instead of loosening up, it started to thicken more - and ended up looking like a strange mango khichadi - stodgy mush really. So another cup of milk and a tiny bit (2 tblsp) of condensed milk, it looked like this - like a really lovely runny, mango-saffron flavoured kheer that well ended up serving 6 people.

I loved the saffron flavour that came through. The mango was also the star. Honestly, the flavours were bang-on but the measurements, well, totally skewed.  

We discussed this on the Table forum, I realised a lot of us had a similar problem. So we decided to talk to Aditya when we'd see him.

Which brings me to the event finally. Held at Veda and organised through the publishing house Westland, the Blogger's Table met with Aditya Bal to discuss his book. What did I think of Aditya? I liked him. (Of course I am a bit partial to anyone called Aditya, but that apart). He was honest, very down-to-earth and very open to criticism. Plus he has very endearing smile.

He ended up sitting in the middle of this super long table that Veda at organised for us. Look, I am really no fan of Veda and thanks to the really dim lighting, it is also a blogger's nightmare, because, well, no one can really take any photographs right?

More about Aditya from both ends of the table © Sid Khullar (left) and  © Deeba Rajpal

The food at Veda? A slight abomination is all I can say. Parul got it down pat. But despite that, I really liked the Palak ke patte ki chaat - crispy spinach leaves with tamarind sauce and yogurt. It was delightful. The other stuff, which I can't even remember (can you imagine not remembering what you ate?) was really ho-hum.

Just before the main course arrived, Aditya decided to hop across to our side of the table where Tanya, Deeba and I were sitting. Motor mouth me decided to tell him what I thought. I began as apologetically as I could, but I don't think poor Aditya stood a chance. We asked him if he'd tested the recipes at all - turned out he hadn't. Apparently the publishing house told him to watch the show all over again and eyeball the recipes. He did exactly that.

What about the photos we asked him? He said, that the publishing house didn't give him time enough to shoot and style the photos the way he wanted to do.

And the grammatical errors? Well, I'll be honest here - that really isn't his fault. That's his editor's. So in turn I asked the representative of Westland what she thought about the errors. Her answer in verbatim was, "You know the common man like me will not even realise there is an error. So I don't think it's a problem."

Tanya and I looked at each other completely stumped. Did a representative of a publishing house really just tell us that the people who read this book don't really shouldn't be allowed to read good, clean English? Or that the publishers didn't really care what they put out to the public? 

At that point, I went back to my food. A portion of Dal Makhani - which pasty, yes, was nice. The Mutton Rara, I really liked. Other than that - the food was a disaster and oh, don't even get me started on the Kulfi. It tasted it was made out of a box and of plain condensed milk. It was awful. 

By then I was feeling awful about the whole evening. Aditya was more than generous at accepting his faults and he was very sweet about the "erratas". I really liked that about him.

But do you know what saved the evening? The conversation. And the cake. What cake you ask me? It was Sangeeta's birthday so Deeba had made this amazing Pineapple Mascarpone Cake that we cut for dessert. 

And us  © I don't know who took this picture
Anyhoo, you’ve got to read what the others have to say too. Read that at
Deeba Rajpal @Passionateaboutbaking
Sangeeta Khanna @Benaraskakhana
Rekha Kakkar @Mytastycurry
Parul @ The Shirazine
Sid Khullar @Chefatlarge
Sushmita @ My Unfinished Life
Charis @ Culinary Storm


And now that I've got all that off my chest, I'm going to write out the recipe for this Mango Kheer, which honestly, once it was refurbished, I really quite enjoyed 

Eer beer kheer © Cookaroo

Mango Kheer aka Aam ki Kheer
Adapted from Aditya Bal's Chak Le India Cookbook.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1/2 cup good quality basmati rice
4 1/2 cups of milk - divided - 2 plus 2 plus 1/2
3 tblsps of sugar
200 gms mango puree
3-4 ground cardamom
3 tblsp almond flakes
4 tblsp raisins
a few threads of saffron soaked in warm milk


Method
1. Wash and drain the rice thoroughly. In a saucepan, add 2 cups of milk and the rice. Let it come to a boil and then simmer until the rice is cooked. At this point, it'll look like it's going to be spoilt, add a cup of milk instead.
2. Add the mango puree, sugar, a little saffron almonds (save a few for later) and raisins. Cook on sim for half an hour, stirring and adding a bit of milk (from the one cup) till the starts resembling a porridge.
3. Add the remaining milk and the cardamom and cook for another 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, taste for sugar and add the remaining saffron mix. Stir until its cools.
4. Top it with some almond flakes and serve cold. 


Pudding and pie © Cookaroo

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Italia at DLF Promenade. Olive Galore Promotion. Food Review




There is nothing I say that's enough about how much fun I am having at the Blogger's Table lately. And while this post is slightly later than the others, I just want to say, I'm really having a blast.

So the weekend before last, we were invited to Italia - this lovely Italian restaurant at DLF Promenade Mall. Because of its location, I've eaten here more than a dozen times - it's so convenient especially because the movie theatre in the mall is my favourite. Also until about a couple of months ago, my favourite supermarket was located there.

Most of the times our order is standard – the melon and prosciutto salad and a pizza. Because really, their pizzas are the best. Thin crust – crisp and oozing with cheese – just perfect. And they let us go half and half – salami for the husband, plain cheese for me.

Except for the one time I’ve eaten there, where the food has been well meh, I haven’t really ever had a bad experience there. When I asked around, I was told that the regular chef hadn’t come in.

Anyhoo, this time we – Sangeeta, Sushmita, Sid, Rekha, Tanya, Deeba and me – were called for the menu tasting of the Olives Galore promotion which began on August 24. Apart from being able to pop a variety of olives, the chef – Somopriya Basu- brought out a course by course menu of some of the yummiest olive-based stuff.

 

It all started with a flatbread-focaccia  - paper thin bits of bread that had been baked in the brick-oven – which were served with the most amazing garlic puree and some pesto. Totally addictive and totally amazing.

Next was the Smoked Salmon and mascarpone involtini. Nothing to be scared of – just some salmon rolled with olive-flavoured. Quite nice, except I don’t really have a palate for salmon, so my friend N, who’d come with us, was passed the portion. I’d eaten the aubergine version of the same, the last time I’d gone, and was really wistful I didn’t ask for the vegetarian portion.


This was followed by an appetizer platter  which consisted of a Milan-style chicken with colossal olives, Shitake, button mushroom and cepes skewers and a Arabian Sea Calamari, Bay of Bengal Shrimp, sole and Taggiasche Olive Panzanella. The chicken was almost like a schnitzel (and I love schnitzels) and the salad with the shrimps and calamari was really lovely




Then came the total damper of the evening – the Spaghetti with Trapanese pesto. Nothing wrong with the spaghetti – it was al dente and all – but the pesto seemed to have no bite. It was bland and under-seasoned. The parmesan crisp (by the time it got to us, was soft- so really a parmesan soft) was awesome. When we checked with the chef, he said, that the trapanese pesto used almonds instead of pinenuts and another cheese pepperoncini apart from the parmesan. A quick check around the table revealed that well, most everyone felt the same.

By now, you have to understand, most of us were bursting. Plus because of the slow service, we’d eaten a lot of the flatbread and the puree, popped all the olives that were sitting on our tables and were honestly, borderline full. But the maincourse and the dessert were still upon us.

You could pick your maincourse – a choice between the John Dory with Israeli couscous, Tenderloin medallions with vegetables and rosemary foam and Pan-seared Polenta with mushrooms and asparagus spears. I ordered the Polenta and loved it. The sauce really complemented the polenta and the asparagus added a lovely bite. I tasted a bit of Sangeeta’s fish, which was lovely and the beef tenderloin turned out to be excellent too.




And then there was dessert – Olive oil ice cream, which I liked a lot served with a chocolate truffle cake, which was a bit well, meh. Not really begging to be eaten. This was sad because I love Italia’s Tiramisu and their Balsamic and ricotta gelato and even their chocolate pots. I wish the dessert was more poncy and worthy of the olive title.



But that said, we had a wonderful time. The food was good. The company fun. There was general laughter around the table. And when I was going the through pictures to process, I found a couple of my friend N’s rather strange ones. I had to put them up because she looks like the girl from The Ring in these.



Anyhoo, you’ve got to read what the others have to say too. Read that at
Deeba Rajpal @Passionateaboutbaking
Sangeeta Khanna @Benaraskakhana
Rekha Kakkar @Mytastycurry
Sid Khullar @Chefatlarge
Sushmita @ My Unfinished Life


Monday, August 27, 2012

Prune and chocolate olive oil cake. Gluten-free


So this is a new one for me. I'm entering one of my recipes into a contest. Specifically the Del Monte Blogger Recipe Carnival. Fun as it was making this, I have to admit the lure of the prizes was just as much of an inspiration. 

The rules were simple - make something out the one or more Del Monte products and link it up on Indiblogger and to the World Foody FB page. The thing is I use Del Monte products almost all the time, so it didn't feel there was much of a challenge to it. The peaches and the corn kernels are my favourite. I always have a tin of them in my pantry. And same goes for the olive oil. There's a bottle lying around all the time. 

But I wanted to use ingredients that I wasn't very comfortable with and the Prunes just checked the right box. A salad seemed just too easy. Ice cream was another thought that crossed my mind but I figured I should do something that's slightly out of my comfort zone, but really not quite. I remember reading about a chocolate and prune cake, which had sounded quite lovely. 

So after fiddling around with ingredients, I figured making it gluten-free with olive-oil might make it a lot more poncy and so much more of a challenge. This is my own recipe and the cake turned out to be very rich. It had a mildly olive oil taste to it but the prune-flavour came through nice and strong.


 Fudgy, I say fudgy © Cookaroo
I made it for a friend's lunch this Saturday, but carried with me alternate desserts if people didn't like it. Turned out I was a bit stupid and really didn't need to. The cake had a lovely texture - fudgy and thick and it just melted in the mouth. I served it with a bit of sweetened cream because it off-set the tartness of the prunes. Plus, because it's gluten-free, it means everyone can eat it.

 All in all this recipe turned out to be a keeper! So yay!


Hello! Am gluten-free © Cookaroo

Prune and Chocolate Olive Oil Cake. Gluten-free
Makes 1,  9-inch cake

Ingredients
160 gms Del Monte prunes
4 tblsp brandy


250 gms baking chocolate. Minimum 44 per cent solids
2 tblsp butter

1/3 cup + 2 tblsp rice flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup Del Monte extra virgin olive oil
3 eggs seperated

Directions


1. In a microwave safe bowl, zap the Del Monte prunes along with the brandy for 1 minute. Set aside till it swells up, about 20 minutes. 
2. Once the prunes are ready, either chop them into tiny dices or blitz them smooth in a processor. I did the latter. Set aside. 
3. Chop the chocolate and put it in a microwavable bowl. Zap it in intervals of 20 seconds until melted. Add the butter to it. Set aside.
4. Measure out all the dry ingredients - rice flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. 
5. Separate the eggs. To the yolks, add the Del Monte extra virgin olive oil and milk. Add this to the dry mixture alongwith the chocolate and pureed prunes.
6. Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff. Fold into the chocolate mixture until they are just incorporated. 

7. Pour into a parchment-paper lined tin and bake at 180 C degrees for 60 minutes. Or until toothpick comes out cleanish.
8. Cool. Serve at room temperature with sweetened whipped cream


Carry me home tonight © Cookaroo



Friday, August 24, 2012

Chicken Satay. With Peanut Sauce

 Stick it up © Cookaroo 

When we were growing up, my father would take my sister and I to this place called Dynasty in Chennai. It was a Indo-chinese place with mild South Indian influences to it. Our order was pretty much standard - One portion of Chicken Satay, One tomato soup one by two and a portion of the Pan-fried noodles. My father would order the chicken steak in pepper sauce and we'd steal bits of the sauce from it.

The satay, called the Satey-que-Chicken, would almost always come with the soup, ensuring that my sister or I would burn our tongues so that we could quickly finish our soups in order to attack the satay. Because really, that was our favourite part of the meal. Dynasty's chicken satay were these long skewers of almost panfried meat dunked in a sweet chilli sauce and then grilled. Also served with skewerable vegetables such as onions, capsicum and tomatoes.

Both of us would get one whole skewer, and perhaps half of another. And if we were still  hungry, we'd be allowed to order another portion to eat with our noodles. I think we ate like that for at least a decade. In fact I think apart from eating out at the club, this must have been my brother's first meal out as well. So much so, whenever my sister or I go back home, now at 16, he always demands that we go with him to eat these skewers.

Dynasty, of course, is different now. The quality has had it ups and downs. But, us Hoons, are more than happy to get our fill of the skewers. Perhaps that is where my love for anything skewered has surfaced. I find they are great fun to make and super easy to eat. And the dips they come with? Most fun to dunk into. Plus they are the fastest dinner party hors d'oeuvres to make.

Thai-style Chicken Satay is another personal favourite. I love the peanut dipping sauce it comes with and well, given a choice, can eat it plain. This recipe is from one of my favourite Asian books of all times - The Steamy Kitchen - and if anyone is looking to buy a fool-proof Oriental Book, truly this is it.

I used the beef satay marinade recipe from this book, but Jaden Hair has a chicken satay recipe too. And hey my satays aren't burnt - since I used a dark soya sauce, they just caramelised that way.
Skewered not shaken © Cookaroo 

Chicken Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce
Adapted from Jaden Hair's Steamy Kitchen. Available in India, US and UK

Peanut Dipping Sauce recipe's here.


Ingredients 
2 chicken breasts
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tblsp thinly sliced lemongrass (or lime zest )
2 tblsp minced onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger
1 tblsp cooking oil
2 tblsp dark soy sauce
1 tbslp brown sugar
A pinch of salt

8 bamboo skewers soaked in water for one hour

Directions

1. Pound the breasts of chicken and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Wash and set aside. 
2. Combine all marinade ingredients - the ground coriander, lemongrass or lime zest, onions, garlic ginger, oil, soy sauce and brown sugar into a plastic bowl. 
3. Add the chicken strips to the marinade and mix well. Marinate for 30 minutes to overnight.
4. Preheat the grill.  Skewer the meat onto the bamboo sticks which have been soaked in water for 1 hour.
3. Grill 1-2 minutes on each side.  Serve with peanut dipping sauce.


And you dip! © Cookaroo 
I'm also sending this to Frugal Fridays at Fuss Free Flavours


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pinterest Picks. Popsicles. Before the summer is over

I've been meaning to post this month's Pinterest picks for days, but there's always something that has to be written or shared or done or eaten. And before the summer's up, I really wanted to share all the beautiful popiscles that were so tempting and lovely that they had to be made and shared.

Unfortunately, this summer I made exactly two popsicles. Neither one I've shared on the blog nor were they as awesome as these that I had the face to share them. Also, I never got to take the pictures. That said, I've now just got to show you how awesome and unique these popsicles are. 

Click on the pictures to go to the sites they are originally from. In case you want to see June and July's picks, you'll find them here too.  Also follow me on Pinterest, if you already aren't :)


1. Cherry Apple Whiskey Sour Popsicles from Baker's Royale



2. Cookie Dough Ice Pops from Girlichef


3. Rainbow popsicle from Zoku Home


4.  Frozen yogurt popsicle from Dessert First


5. Dirty Pirate Popsicle aka Rum, Coke and Kahlua Popsicle from Endless Simmer


6.  Spring Flower Popsicle by Family Fresh Cooking


7.  Mango Orange Yogurt Popsicles from 6bittersweets


8. Spiced Caramel and Bluberry Crumble Popsicles from Roxana Home Baking

 
9. Kiwi Orange Creamsicle from Dessert for Breakfast


10. Fudgesicals from Rikki Snyder



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cafe Delhi Heights. Restaurant Review


Did you know that there are barely 10 places in Delhi or rather NCR that are baby-friendly? That is apart form coffee shops like CCD and Barista.

Gurgaon's Cafe Delhi Heights is one of them. Situated right across the Galleria mall in Cross Point mall, it's a places that surprises you every time you go there. How many times have I been there, you'd ask. Well, just twice. But each time I've had a very lovely experience.

The first time I went to Delhi Heights was a Sunday. We wanted to have brunch, so the four of us - us two sisters and respective husbands, happily went in search of the restaurant. A call to the local search engine and armed with a phone number, we drove into Gurgaon, only to figure that no one really picked up the phone. A call ten minutes later, however, was picked up and we were given directions.

My first impression of the place was that it was loud and it was still just 11 am! My second impression though was that it seemed quite empty.

I was wrong on both counts.

As we placed our orders - two hungry boys and two average eating girls - we decided to look around to see what the place was all about. There were Delhi memorabilia - photographs of the popular monuments, kitschy cusions - autorickshaws and bling, and plenty of board games - Jenga, Pictionary - which could keep you amused for hours.

The restaurants open kitchen too was an added bonus. You could smell, hear and taste the rush of the kitchen depending on where you were sitting.

Chop chop © Cookaroo
 As we waited for our orders to arrive, the smoothies,juices and shakes made their way to our table. We'd ordered for the Chocolate Oreo Shake (Rs 175), Mango-banana smoothie (Rs 135), Watermelon Celery and Pomegranate juice (Rs 155)  and Peanut butter and jelly shake (155). They arrived super tall, in these huge canning jars. And turned out to be one of the best part of the meal. The smoothie and the shakes were thick and luxurious and they were super filling. The juice was fabulously fresh.

Dwunk © Cookaroo
And then the breakfast food arrived. We'd ordered for a portion of the Egg's Benedict, which came on top of a croissant with ham and hollaindase sauce (Rs 245). While the egg's were poached just fine, the problem was with the hollaindaise sauce, which from the looks of it wasn't really freshly made. Either it was out of a packet or was not hollaindaise at all.

The Speciality omelette (Rs 225) was light and fluffy and came withe a side of hash brown, sausages, grilled tomatoes and butter-fried mushrooms. With a non-stop supply of toast and butter.

But my favourite, was what I'd ordered - Baked Aubergine with Mozzarella and Tomato (Rs 95). Shallow-fried slices of aubergine baked in a stack with oozy mozzarella. Almost like an Eggplant Parmesan, except it was more mozzarella-ey.


A round of fish and chips  (Rs 425) later and a bowl of Khao Suey (Rs 325),both of which were nice,
you'd think that should have been enough, but apparently - these were just appetizers. The boys and my sister, decided they wanted to eat one more thing. Please, they said.


The choice was obvious. The much-advertised Juicy Lucy Burger (Rs 325) had to be eaten. Described as 250gms of fresh lamb mince seasoned with our in-house rubs and spices, the burger turned out to be gigantic.

Giant © Cookaroo
Split two-ways it took them about a good ten minutes to polish off the burger, before they realised they couldn't move an inch. Some Masala Chai (Rs 110) and a Banta Soda (Rs 95) helped.

A good 15-minutes break, led us into contemplating dessert. We decided on ordering one single dessert and sharing it and therefore the Chocolate Fondant (Rs 185) was brought to our table, only to be walloped in under 60 seconds.

With the super huge menu - even if I went back 10 times, I'd never be able to eat through it. There's still the tasting menu I want to go through as well as plod through the soups and salads and eat some of the Indian.


So what did I think of the meal? I really enjoyed myself. Cafe Delhi Heights is a lovely way to spend a leisurely Sunday morning. The drinks are a class act. The food is good. The portions are American. The ambiance is light and easy.

Need I say more? I went back already, didn't I?


Cafe Delhi Heights

Where:
 1. First Floor, Galleria 2, DLF Cross Point, DLF Phase-4, Shop No. 121-123, Gurgaon, India 122006
    Contact:  9911154033
    Meal for two: 1500/- With Alcohol
    Time: From 9 am to Midnight (All day Dining)

    2. Ambience Mall- R301, 3rd Floor, Ambience Mall, Gurgaon ( Bar coming Soon)
        Contact: 9716254033
        Meal for two: 800/- Without Alcohol
        Time: From 9 am to Midnight (All day Dining)


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Spiced Pear Cake with maple syrup and almond meal

Don't be pear-shaped © Cookaroo
Remember how I'd written about this whole lot of pears that my aunt had got me? I made pear and chocolate muffins with them and then this yummy French Pear Tart. This was followed by a Pear crumble, which I've still got to post and then this!

I suppose you think I am obsessed with pears. Fall fall fruit for us in India, are actually pears and apples. I can't remember a single year when my mom wouldn't stock these in our fruit basket or give us money to buy the fruit from the school canteen. Now that I think about it, my school canteen also would get truck loads of apricots and plums that we could buy by a piece (or kilo) and take it back home.

While I don't remember doing anything about eating the fruits - as a salad or just plain old, it wasn't until I was mesmerized by a plum galette about a decade ago that I started making things out of fruits. By this, I mean anything other than apple pies and apple crumbles.

 Single in the city © Cookaroo
As a 16-year-old, I remember making an apple cake. Which I would colour with green for a marbled effect. Later, I'd try a pineapple upside cake, which became one of my frequently asked fruit cakes by my friends. But being able to experiment with fruits such as peaches, mangoes, pears and plums in baked goodies came much later to me.

While I do like eating them just plain or with some yogurt, I also like to see how far I can stretch myself with them. Also because the husband is rather strange about eating fruit, I find this an easy way of enticing him into eating it.

By odd, I mean, the fruits must be cut and kept under his nose. With a fork. That way, the Prince of Dwarka will even eat papayas. But hand him a peach to bite, he'll pooh-pooh it out right. On the other hand, litchis and oranges he's happy to devour. However, apples and pears he despises. Tells me, it hurts his teeth. So other than making babyfood for him, this is the only way these fruits make it to his system.

Ok ok, I'm being quite horrid. Truth is, I like fruit. So I'm always happy to bake something with it.

This cake is a warm cake with spices such as ginger, cinnamon and all spice. I also made this without sugar, with just maple syrup to sweeten it. Because as you know I have some awesome maple syrup at home. I also used the pears two ways - in the batter and caramelised on top, so that there are two textures to it. And the result? Total happiness with fall flavours

Look at me © Cookaroo

Spiced pear cake with maple syrup and almond meal
Makes one large 6-inch cake

For the spiced pear
pears
2 tblsp butter
3 tbslp maple syrup
1 tsp ginger powder

For the cake batter
1 cup flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 cup melted butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup plus 2 tblsp  maple syrup

For the caramelised pears
pear
2 tbslp sugar
2 tblsp maple syrup

Method

1. In a small cake tin put the sugar and maple syrup. Put the tin on the gas and let the sugar caramelise on slow heat. Meanwhile peel and slice the pear. Once caramelised arrange the pears at the bottom of the tin. Leave aside
2.Meanwhile peel and chop three pears and put it in a saucepan. Put ginger, butter and maple syrup in it. Turn the gas on low and let it cook for 5 to 8 mins. Set aside.
3.In a bowl add dry ingredients for the cake - flour, almond meal, baking powder, soda, ginger powder, cinnamon and all spice. Set aside.
4.In another bowl melt the butter add maple syrup and sugar to it. Whisk in the egg and vanilla extract. Pour in the butter poached pear.
5.Add the wet mix to the dry mix and stir till just combined. Pour into the pear and caramelised tin.
6.Bake at 180 degree centigrade for 40 mins or until skewer comes out somewhat clean.
7. Cool, turn the cake over and serve with sweetened cream

We come in pears © Cookaroo

Sending this to Simply food's Let's cook with fruits event


Friday, August 17, 2012

Evernote Food App on the Blogger's Table at Dum Affairs

I am technology spaz. I am truly. Once I'm comfortable with a certain type of technology, I can't think of changing it. Can you imagine it took my father into literally bullying into buying a DVR last year, and now I can't bear to watch shows with commercials? Or that so far I've totally resisted buying an Android because, well I like the Blackberry so much?  Or that I am totally intimidated by cameras and my hand still shakes when I pick one up?

So you'd be wondering then, why in the world I want to talk about an app that I've never used? Because, truly I get this one.  And how did I figure this out? Well because Evernote organised a Blogger's table for us last week.

Evernote Food. An app that can be accessed on any mode of technology through cloud computing. An app that helps you recall and record all that you've eaten and store all your memories. Photos, recipes, conversations and what have you not. And for someone whose life revolves around food - this is just to perfect to pass up on.


Because I haven't had previous experience with either Evernote or Evernote Food, I asked a bunch of my friends questions that would help me figure this out. Note, these were all Android Users. Sample size was 5.

Q1: Do you think Evernote is a life-changing app?

Ans: It helps me remember things. Whether it's a to-do list or a receipt from a place I've eaten, I can store everything on Evernote. It's like Dumbledore's Pensieve except you don't have to bring out memories from your subconscious, instead you leave it to technology.

Q2: What if the battery dies on my phone?

Ans: That's the brilliance of Evernote, it syncs with your computer, smartphone and tablet. So you can access it anywhere. Also keep your charger handy if your phone behaves that badly.

Q3:  How is Evernote different from Evernote Food?

Ans: It's really not different, just more specific. Whether it's a beautifully laid out table, or an interesting ingredient or even just something decadent that you just HAVE to talk about, Evernote Food helps record all that and more. What's more you can upload it straight onto a Social media platform as well. You can also clip anything, whether it's what you've read on a website or a poster outside a restaurant. Anything just about anything is clippable.



Q4: So how's it different from shooting on your phone camera and posting stuff?

Ans: Well for one, you can scribble along with it. You can note ingredients or methods or conversations along with the food. Which would mean you won't miss out any food experience. Also you can draft articles or posts in the app itself, so there's no double load involved. It also has a tagging system, which can help you link to things that you read or want to later.

Q5: How much does it cost?
Ans: The app is free!!! Yay!

So yes, that's what I learnt at the Evernote meet. And now, I can't wait for get my Android.

Oh! And this was over a delicious lunch at Dum Affairs, the awadhi restaurant which I'd reviewed two weeks ago. While the table of bloggers, most of who have androids, embraced the technology so quickly, I just held out to eat my favourite things there - The Galouti Kebab - melt-in-the-mouth and really delicious

 Kebabed © Nimpipi
Followed by the Haleem and the superb Biryani. And then awesome Phirnis. All my favourites. Really totally awesome!

Meanwhile do check what the rest of the Table has to say about the Event. Here's who've said what they had to say :)

Rituparna Mukherjee @ Chocolate and Dreams
Sangeeta Khanna @ Deshi Videshi Food
Sushmita Sarkar @ My Unfinished Life
Parul Pratap Shirazi @ The Shirazine
Rekha Kakkar @ My Tasty Curry
Sid Kullar @ Chef At Large
Deeba @ Passionate About Baking
Prerna Malik @ The Mom Writes

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cornmeal muffins with roasted peppers and feta: Daring Cooks Challenge

Colour me badd © Cookaroo
I love savoury muffins. They make such an awesome breakfast option as well as giveaways. Plus if you slather on some butter, you're all set for a delicious snack as well. I've made a plenty in the last 5 years, but my favourite has always been the Spinach and Corn Muffin and this roasted bell pepper muffin. Except I've never made with sort of a combination.


Which is why for this times Daring Cooks challenge, the moment I saw that corn meal was involved, I knew a muffin had to be produced.

You don't really get corn meal in India. At least not the kind you'd want to bake with or make tacos or tamales with. Instead what we get here is makki ka atta, or finely ground corn flour (not to be mixed with corn starch or the leavening agent). The atta is very fine and is normally made into buttered rotis that are eaten with greens in the winter.

I've baked with makki ka atta, but it's really not the same. It's not coarse enough to give me the kind of texture or lift that you want. So this time I smartened up. I bought maize dahlia or broken maize, which I ground into the desired consistency in my coffee grinder. The result? Perfectly-ground coarse corn meal.

Don't get corny © Cookaroo

I had to grind it in two batches, one went a little more fine than I anticipated, but once I mixed them both up, what I got was the kind of cornmeal I remember using in the states. Unlike tacos and stuff corn meal, muffins require a little bit of all purpose flour to give it the right kind of a lift. So that was the other addition I made. Other than I used one of my favourite cheese - feta - to offset the sweetness of the muffins and a bit of onion and garlic to add another layer to it.

And they tasted so amazing right out of the oven! There was the sweetness from the peppers and the onions, the lovely salty hit from the feta and a mealy-kind of bite to the muffin. In short, I was in love. I ate one for breakfast, shared two with a friend and ate another for breakfast today. And have saved one for brekkie tomo.

The husband, however has raised his nose to it. I am not really sure what that means, but I'm sure going to get to the bottom of it all.

See, cut, eat repeat © Cookaroo


Cornmeal muffins with roasted pepper and feta
Makes 6 large

Ingredients
2 large bell peppers
Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper

1 cup freshly ground corn meal
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1 tblsp sugar
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
1 small onion chopped
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
50 gms feta cheese

Method:

1. First roast the peppers. Slice the bell peppers in half and arrange on a baking tray. Drizzle olive oil and spinrkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 210 degrees centigrade for 30 an half. Let it cool for 15 minutes after.
2. Peel the skins of the pepper and cut them in strips. Leave aside.
3. In a small pan saute the onions and the garlic till fragrant. Leave aside
4. Break an egg into a bowl. Whisk to break it down. Add milk, melted butter and yogurt to it. Crumble in the feta and put in the roasted pepper strips, onion and garlic mix leaving aside a few for the topping.
5. In another bowl measure out the dry ingredients - cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper, paprika and sugar.
6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and just fold till the mix come together. Do NOT overmix.
7. Pour into muffin-lined trays and add the roasted peppers on top. Bake at 190 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden on top
8. Serve warm with butter


Call the muffin man please © Cookaroo

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