Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Chocolate Mango Pudding Jar



I've been feeling very bummed for the last couple of days. Yeah, pretty much out of sorts that even dessert doesn't cheer me up. No, wait. It does cheer me up.

Especially if you're creating something from leftovers.

So I'd baked a cake for an eight-year-old and had bits of the pudding I had frosted it with as well as some of the cake leftover. And as much as I wanted to eat it whole, I realised I was feeling slightly fruity (quite literally). With a bunch of mangoes lying around the house, I remembered a gateaux I'd eaten many moons ago.

With the last of the mangoes sitting in my fridge, it was time to in make a trifle of sorts. A pudding in a jar maybe? Something cold end refreshing yet with a lovely mouth-feel on this super sultry day.



I know that mangoes and chocolate sound like a disaster, but the truth is they taste pretty darn good together. If you have some langdas (I don't know their English name) lying around, then my friend you've hit home. These mangoes have a distinct flavour that nothing can mask and taste just about phenomenal with everything.

I used a bit of liquor in my pudding to moisten the cake and a couple of dollops of cream which made this dessert really delectable. With mangoes and chocolate in each bite, I was totally hooked. I couldn't stop licking the spoon and by the end of the making my jars, I'd eaten up two nice jars of the pudding and one whole mango. And that was dinner.

Did I feel better at the end of the day? I think so. You see, pudding can cure any kind of blues, you just need to figure out what kind you've got :)



Chocolate Mango Pudding 
Makes 4

Ingredients
100 grams Chocolate cake - leftover
(I'd used this recipe)
150 grams Chocolate pudding - leftover
(I used this recipe)
100 ml fresh cream
2 mangoes
4 tblsps chocolate liquor / hot chocolate


Directions

1. In the jar/ ramekin/ dish of you choice crumble in the chocolate cake and press it down with a spoon. Spoon chocolate liquor all over it.
2. Spoon in some mangoes to create, beautiful yellow layer.
3. Spoon 3 tblsps of fresh cream over it.
4. Spoon in generous helpings of the chocolate pudding
5. Top with more fresh mangoes and drizzle on another spoon of fresh cream.
6. Let it chill for 1 hour before serving.





Sunday, July 28, 2013

Doughnuts. For Daring Bakers.



Eenie Meenie Miney Moe. What a fun challenge. It basically meant that we got to choose from any past Daring bakers or cooks challenge and recreate it by the reveal date.

I really wanted to this challenge. Except I was truly running out of time. I wanted to do something simple yet challenging. But not so challenging that I would spend two days over it. Quick easy yet something I hadn't tried before.

Even then, I had a lot of fun. In a "celebration" of past Daring Baker and Daring Cook challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we'd like! The REAL challenge was picking which delicious recipe(s) to try!



I spent over three days trying to figure out what I wanted to do. And finally zeroed in on making doughnuts. Except I didn't figure how it was a daring baker's challenge, because there was literally no baking involved. More like kneading, frying and frosting!



I used Alton Brown's recipe, only because I have a lot of faith in all things Alton Brown. He is just amazing. I also decided to make mini doughnuts because I thought they'd be a lot more fun to eat. And can I please tell you that I was done frying up the entire batch in a little under 10 minutes, they take just so little time. 

I made two basic kinds of frosting. Vanilla and chocolate with lots of sprinkles. So fun.



Alton Brown's Doughnuts

1 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 ounces vegetable shortening, approximately 1/3 cup
2 packages instant yeast
1/3 cup warm water (95 to 105 degrees F)
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
23 ounces all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surface
Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying (1 to 1/2 gallons, depending on fryer)
Directions
Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment, combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch doughnut cutter or pastry ring and using a 7/8-inch ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 degrees F. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.

Frosting







Friday, July 26, 2013

Rainbow food. For Pinterest Picks for July

Monsoon. Dreary, wet and sloppy monsoons. Most years I love the wet weather. Stamping in wet puddles, carrying my umbrella, eating corn on the cob on the side of the road. Heck I even love all the water pours into the passenger seat each time I turn. My leaky Santro that sees me through the water-logged roads of the city. Yes, it's all good.

But this year, it's been raining for days. Some days there's no sun at all.  So in lieu of all that, I decided to concentrate on the rainbow. Quite literally. So for this month's Pinterest Picks, I'm presenting super fun Rainbow food that will uplift spirit, mood, emotion or what-have-you-not. Just like this rainbow cake I'd made for my sister's b'day a year ago. Like a pot of gold right?

Oh and don't forget to follow me on Pinterest.


1. Cookie over a cup



2. Pancake stack



3. Cake in a jar



4.  Jello shots



5. Cupcake fun




6. Ice cream!




7.  Fruit and cookie stack


8.  Cake pops



9. Popsicle


10. And finally cake!


Pomodoro. The Hilton Janakpuri. Blogger's Table

I was late. So very late. Considering I lived barely 15 minutes from The Hilton Janakpuri, I should have been the first one there. Unfortunately, the pot-holed roads and the one-way traffic ensured I reached 45 minutes late. Aaargh..

The others from the Blogger's Table were waiting for me. And had been slowly but surely polishing off all the freshly baked bread (read ciabatta and focaccia) that was magically replenishing each time the bread basket showed a hint of dying out. That with a beautiful basil pesto and a sun-dried tomato dip.

It almost seemed like a collective sigh of relief was heaved, when I sat down and then the lunch began.

Two kinds of bruschetta made their way out - Tomato, garlic, basil  and parmesan and then the Olive and artichoke toastie.  As a bruschetta lover, I loved the tart-sweetness and the pungency of the former one as against the tart-tartness of the latter. And despite trying to stay off the carbs, I did eat it whole.



Since the menu was pretty much divided into the whole anitpasti-entree-main rigmarole, I opted to eat the mozarella and tomato salad which was served with a generous helping of the argula. I loved the balsamic reduction that came with it, and even asked for more. The bocconcini was absolutely divine, you could taste how beautifully fresh the cheese was and the tomatoes which seemed partially sundried made the salad quite delectable. The fish lovers meanwhile ordered the warm squid and prawn salad with brown butter which was super fishy because of the anchovies, but I have to say that the prawn was a beautiful juicy specimen.



While the minestrone soup was up next, I did request to skip this course, but fortunately (or not!) the waitstaff brought out a bowl for me. With a generous helping of parmesan, the soup was quite lovely. Except I wanted to not fill myself up with it. And also I'm not a big fan of minestrone soup, but the bite from the vegetables made up for it all.

The pizza Pomodoro was brought out next. Lots of veggies and a bit of cheese. But it was ok. Not great. And not a patch on the pizza that Chef Theo had taught us at Hilton last year. (read that post here). It lacked character and the tomato concasse was somewhat heavier on the spice, perhaps making it more palatable for the gentry around. But truly this was the least favourite of my options.



My favourite dish from the Pomodoro's repertoire was brought out next - Slow cooked lamb ragout with pecorino cheese and red wine. The ragout was so delicious that I felt it didn't even need any of the rigotini in it. The flavours from the tomato and the lamb melded beautifully together.

By now I was done. Like really done. But the mains still had to come out. I'd opted for the Grilled vegetables with creamy polenta while Rekha ordered the risotto, Sid and Mukta the lamb and Aishwarya and Charis the Pan seared Salmon.



My polenta was lovely but not a patch on the lamb ragout. I wish I'd got more of that.

Dessert finally and tiramisu it was. Quite a sad tiramisu too. Too much mascarpone, too little sponge and even less coffee. I was like waaaaa. For an Italian restaurant to screw-up on the Tiramisu is totally not right. It's like not sending Salman Khan to jail.



I did order an espresso just to see whether it would change the way the dessert would taste. And yes it did.

I had a great time at the restaurant. There was plenty of banter, lots of chatter and so much laughter that people would have been scared to approach our table. But the food? I'd give it 7 on 10. I would however give the hotel 6 on 10 for the garish decor and the smelly loos. Not happening for a 5-star.

Read what the others had to say:

Charis @ Culinary Storm
Rekha @ My Tasty Curry
Sid @ Chef at Large
Aishwarya @ Aishwarya Eats
Mukta @ Bake-a-mania


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Eggless Coffee Ice Cream




Coffee is a crowd pleaser. I've always known this. Think Tiramisu. Think White Russian. Think well, cold coffee.

I am not a coffee person. But you already knew that. I am however a coffee ice cream person. From like forever. My father is a coffee ice cream person. In fact he's the one who got me hooked. And to read about that you've got to read this post.



Ever since my new cuisanart ice cream maker arrived in May, I keep the silicon box in the freezer at all points based on the eventuality I'd want to make ice cream on a whim.

This Saturday was the whim. It poured like crazy the whole day. I was out and I was craving caffeine. Plus I had a whole bunch of peeps coming over and that was going to be fun fun fun.



I decided to make an eggless ice cream and based on all that I had read, I needed cream, condensed milk and corn starch - all of which I had lying at home. Easy peasy. 

The only problem I see in making eggless ice creams is that it takes a lot longer to make than the ice cream with eggs because you have to cook the milk down so that the water crystals evaporate and you are left with a creamier ice cream. 

And if you're smart. You'll make the mixture in the morning unlike me. And churn it at least an hour before the guests get in. 



Eggless Coffee Ice cream
Serves 12

Ingredients
500 ml milk
400 ml low fat cream
1 cup whole coffee beans
200 ml condensed milk
2 tblsps corn starch
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp coffee powder
2 tblsp Kahlua


Directions

1. In a heavy bottom pan pour the milk and cream in together. Add the coffee beans and bring to a boil.
2. Turn off the heat and let the coffee beans steep in the milk for 20 minutes. 
3. Strain the milk and set it back on the gas. Let the mixture cook down to half it's volume. This process will take at least half an hour.
4. Add the coffee powder and condensed milk to the mixture. Keep stirring. 
5. Add the corn starch to this mixture and bring to a boil. Add the vanilla to it as well.
6. Strain and let it cool. Store the mixture in the refrigerator until its cold
7. Take the ice cream bowl out of the freezer. Add Kahlua to the coffee ice cream mix and freeze according to the manufacturers instructions.





Thai Pavillion. Meeting Ananda Solomon. Blogger's Table

Legend - wait for it - dary. That's what chef Ananda Solomon is. A total legend. And I got to meet him the week before last (lucky, lucky).

The Hindu
Launched at the Taj Vivanta in Gurgaon, Thai Pavillion is finally made its way to Delhi. Considering the original opened doors in the 90s in Mumbai, this sure took its sweet time to happen. Which brings me to why Chef Solomon is a legend. In the early nineties, it was he who introduced Thai cuisine in Mumbai, and might I  add India. This after travelling across Thailand for several months to understand the cuisine and to create a menu so stunning that it literally transported people to the neighboring country.

I remember reading columns after columns about Ananda Solomon. Especially in Vir Sanghvi's Rude Food. He couldn't stop raving about him. And I was hooked. I read up everything about him and tried to figure out where I could possibly get to eat a bite of this spectacular menu.

But that was then.

With six of us from the Blogger's Table sitting down for dinner at Thai Pavillion in Gurgaon, it was meal I had been dreaming of for days. In fact earlier that day, I remember telling people that I was all set to eat some Tom Kha and Pad Thai.



Sadly there was none of that. Instead our meal started with lovely amuse bouche of watermelon with hints of galangal which was a refreshing way to open a meal.  Som tam or raw papaya salad was out next. Crisp raw papaya with loads of lime, palm sugar and chilli and plenty of peanuts. Fresh and delicious.

Photo Courtesy: Chef at Large

Hot prawn tempuras were out next. I loved the dipping sauce that came with it. And then chicken wrapped in pandan leaves, which were flavoured well, way too mildly for me. And then the corn cakes, which I really liked especially when paired with the sweet chilli sauce.

Photo Courtesy: Rekha Kakkar
Mushroom parcelled in thai herbs were brought out next, and were at best underseasoned. A bit of a disappointment really. As were the dimsums whose wrappers were way too thick. Bit of a damper that.

But then came the best part of the meal - the thai curries. Red with chicken and Green with veggies. Both were P.H.E.N.O.M.E.N.A.L. I licked my plate clean. Twice.

The crispy fish topped with tangy sauce, was another favourite. So light and delicious with the fish melting in the mouth. I know Sid and Parul loved the lamb chops, but my personal favourite was the waterchestnut and cashew stir fry. Spicy, tangy and sweet. This was what Thai Pavillion was all about.



The home-style stir fry vegetable was a dish I loved too, but didn't particular care for the flat rice noodles. And so when we moved to dessert, I was ready to burst. But dried water chestnut with coconut milk made my day. This is one thai dessert I love to bits, and served straight off the tender coconut. Yummers.



On the whole I'd give the meal 7 on 10.  I missed a soup desperately. I didn't care for 30 per cent of the appetisers and I certainly didn't care for the noodles.

But on the bright side, I met Chef Solomon. Someone I'd only been reading about so far.



Read what the others had to say:

Parul @ The Shirazine
Himanshu @ The White Ramekins
Mukta @ Bake-a-mania
Sid @ Chef at Large
Rekha @ My Tasty Curry

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Smitten Kitchen cookbook. Review

When I started reading food blogs properly in 2008 (yes I jumped on that wagon rather late) one of the first blogs I read was Deb's otherwise known as Smitten Kitchen.

Her style was easy, quick and most definitely of someone who was self-taught - something I could identify with immediately. I liked the stories she told. I loved the food she made and I adored that she did all the cooking from a match-box sized kitchen in Manhattan.




So when her book finally came out, I knew I had to have it. So desperate was I for a piece of Smitten Kitchen in my overflowing bookshelf that I actually pre-ordered it. And I wasn't wrong to have done that. Because I fell in love with the book.

Firstly, it was a nice and chunky book. Not some pea-sized, thinly hardcovered rubbish. Which meant so many recipes. And so many stories. Which also meant that I could take my time going over the book and marking out all that I wanted to try.



Now, whenever I get a new book, I sit with a bunch of post-its to mark out all I want to make from it. And trust me when I say this, but I marked out at least 90 per cent of the book. Divided into roughly 10 chapters - the book starts with a whole preface that is totally worth reading. Filled with tips and do-overs I think this is the favourite part of my book.

Or not. I think it was the chapter titled Breakfast. Or was it Party snacks and Drinks. Or Sweet Things. Basically I loved it all.

The recipes Deb's chosen aren't something that will make you run into a speciality store every time you want to make something. Most of her ingredients are pantry-staples (that is, if you're like me) and she's made it a point not to use very expensive ingredients. And I think that is just such a fabulous idea.



The photographs are beautiful. As are the anecdotes that do with them. Deb hasn't skimped on anything and I think that's what makes it a book that is great for some bedside reading as well.





So far off the book I've tried only three things - almond and date breakfast bars, wholewheat raspberry ricotta scones and the ricotta and lemon olive oil cake. And I have to say everything has turned out just excellent.



I know this is a slightly expensive book, but trust me, it's really a book worth having in your repertoire.

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman is available in India, US and UK


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Plum and Almond Crumble




I hate being sick. But this week knocked the wind out of me. Horrible horrible week. Viral bug made me miserable and to top all that everything I ate tasted like metal.

The only thing I enjoyed eating this week were apples. Apples with a bit of rock salt. And so when I'd asked the husband to buy me some fruits on his way home, I was expecting apples. Instead I got a whole lot of plums. And not just any plums, super tangy and tart plums.

I wanted to scream. But I knew better, because even with plums there is a world of endless possibilities and to be fair I actually quite like this fruit. So on the fourth-day of being housebound, I decided I needed to try and change my palate a bit. I started simple - a bit of plum stew with a dash of cream. That tasted pretty darn good.



Then some plums with a bit of black salt. I don't know what it was about this astringent fruit that seemed to be easing that horrible taste in the mouth. But by the fifth day I wanted something sweet. Something more mealy. Something more tangible.

I got a whole lot of plums chopped (about 14) and macerated them in some brown sugar and vanilla and then decided to bake them with my favorite crumble topping. They baked at their own pace (read 30 minutes) and a couple of minutes of rest, I couldn't help but spoon some in my mouth. Oh the burst of flavours. The tartness of the plum against the mellowness of the vanilla. The added crunch of the almonds made the filling amazing. The crispy oat and sugar mix just made the crumble perfect. And a dash of runny cream, I was in heaven (albeit sick).  This was comfort food at it's best. And perfect sickness food too.

Oh and see that cute milk jug? My friend Swati from Chatkhor sent it to me. Isn't she the sweetest?





Plum and Almond Crumble
Serves 4

Ingredients

14 medium sized plums sliced
4 tblsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup almonds sliced
1 tblsp corn flour

For the topping

1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup flour of your choice - wheat/buckwheat/all purpose
50 grams butter
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (feel free to replace it with any other spice)
1/2 cup brown sugar

Directions
1. Macerate the plums with brown sugar and vanilla. Keep aside for 30 minutes
2. Add the almonds and corn flour to it. And bung it into the baking dishes, divided equally in four parts.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together oats, flour, sugar, vanilla and butter until crumbly
4. Sprinkle the mixture equally on all four dishes
5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degree for 30 minutes or until the tops are brown.
6. Eat warm or cold with ice cream or cream or creme fraiche.



Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Buckwheat Apple Galette with caramelised walnuts.



The good people at Esvasa sent me a goody bag. Well, actually they sent me a mail and then I got a goody bag.  That was the first time I went to check out what they were all about and I was pleasantly surprised.

An initiative into organic food and gardening, Esvasa, is an extensive guide into all that you ever wanted to know about going organic. Whether it's things you put on your face, or grow in your kitchen garden or put in your mouth, Esvasa will tell you all about it.

New tips everyday, an expert corners and news from across the world about going organic, this is really quite a fab site. So back to the goody bag. I got some buckwheat flour, apple walnut chutney and cream of millet soup.



The soup was drunk on a wet day when I was in no mood to cook. So that left me with two ingredients. And after deliberating over it for weeks, a galette seemed the right way to go.



Buckwheat gave the dough a lovely nutty texture and the apple walnut chutney which is spicy sweet and salty gave quite a dimension to the pie. I added caramelised walnuts just for a bit of crunch and well, when I bit into it, knew I'd done the right thing.

The dough is super easy to put together, you just need to chill it for 30 minutes before getting on with the rest of it.

I think a version with plums and peaches and pistachios would be great too



\Buckwheat Apple Galette
With caramelised walnuts and apple walnut chutney

Ingredients

For the dough

1 cup buckwheat flour
2 tblsp wheat flour
50 grams cold butter
1/4 cup icing sugar
4 tblsp cold water

For the filling
2 apples sliced
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup apple walnut chutney
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup sugar.


Directions
1. Start with making the dough. Mix together the flours and the sugar. Using your hands crumble in the butter.
2. Add the water to it and bring the dough together without kneading it. Refrigerate.
3. In a bowl melt the sugar till it caramelises and add the walnuts to it. Once the walnuts are fully covered with the caramel, with the help of a fork take them out on to a buttered plate. Let them rest
4. Slice the apples with the skin and toss them in some cinnamon and lemon juice. Set aside
5. Remove the dough from the fridge, divide into two and roll out each part in a circle of about 1/2 inch thick. 
6. Slather on the chutney. And arrange the apples on top. Fold the sides to form a galette. 
7. Bake at 180 degree centigrade for 25 minutes or until the edges crisp up
8. Baste the warm galettes with more chutney and sprinkle with caramelized walnuts



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