Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pinterest Picks: All day Breakfast recipes

I've been a bit of a bum about blogging. Honestly, it has nothing to do with not cooking or having any ideas, but more to do with utter laziness.

Just before leaving Delhi, I was often asked what I was going to do the whole day. Sleep. I'd say. Sleep for two months straight. Truth is, I have really been sleeping. And how! Islamabad is a very quiet city. You don't hear noise from the streets. You can barely hear your neighbours really. Which means, I get to sleep quite a bit.

I nap post breakfast sometimes. I nap after my exercise classes. Sometimes I nap after I've finished a good book. Other times, I nap after basking in the sun. Yeah, so yes, I've been catching up on a lot of sleep.

Which also means that we've been eating very erratic meals. Breakfast smoothie for lunch. An egg salad sandwich for tea-sup. Beans and potato salad for breakfast. You get the drift.

My favourite meals these days is a fried egg, sitting on a nice tawa toast, with a slice of cheese on top and then some rocket and basil and a thick slice of tomato. An open sandwich of sorts if you must. But can I please tell you, it's like a party in my mouth! I love the sharpness from the rockets and the nice crisp bits from the toast. One of those whoppers around noon and I'm good till dinner.

It's things like these that have caught my fancy. So for this month's Pinterest Picks, I've chosen some fun Breakfasty things that are totally worth trying. Brunch recipes, at your service.

Oh and follow me on Pinterest wouldja?

1. Mango Blueberry and Granola Breakfast Parfait

2. Chocolate Buttermilk Pancakes

3. Baked Potato Egg

4.  Apple Cheesecake Quesadilla

5.  Crunchy Nutella Sticks

6.  Cheddar Waffle Sandwich

7.  Ham and Potato Mini Quiche

8.  French Toast Roll Ups

9.  Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

10. Banana Yogurt Breakfast Cake

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Homemade Nutella

I've said this before and I'll say it all over again. I'm not allowed to bring Nutella home. The reason? I eat the whole jar dammit. Spoon by spoon. One quick lick at a time and by the time I know it (read end of the day), I've polished the entire jar off.

Yes, yes, I know  I am sick. That I have some sort of addiction. And so the best thing I can do for myself is not bring any home.

But hey, nobody said nothing about making some of my own. And with a glut of hazelnuts sitting pretty in my kitchen cupboard, you can just about imagine, how I succumbed the temptation of making my this amazing chocolate hazelnut spread.  Especially since I've already made some hazelnut pesto and chocolate hazelnut biscotti.

First things first, I cannot believe how simple it is to make Nutella at home. Especially with a spot of condensed milk. The only thing that takes time is grinding the hazelnuts into a paste. Or to the nut butter stage. Which takes about 12 to 15 minutes in a grinder.

. I have to also say that this was the first time I actually read the contents on the jar of Nutella - palm oil, whey powder, soya lecithin etc. And I was like good grief! That's how much rubbish I have been eating.

Homemade Nutella has none of the above. Atleast not the way I make it. The question really is, is it as good as the jar-bought version. The truth? It's even better.

The best part is you can modify this recipe to how you like it. Sweeter? Add more condensed milk? Nuttier? Leave the hazelnuts coarse. Runnier? Add a smidgeon of milk.

I used 60 per cent dark chocolate. I was tempted to use my 100 percent, but instead opted for a bit of cocoa as well. I also added a spot of salt and vanilla, both as an afterthought so basically didn't photograph either of the ingredients.

I left my home-made Nutella slightly grainy because I really liked the bite it gave. I also suggest that it's a great idea to let it sit overnight before going out spreading it out on your toast or crepe or well, spoon because the flavours get time to rest. And also because it tastes fantastic the next day.

Homemade Nutella

Makes 1 jar

140 grams toasted and skinned hazelnuts
2/3 can Condensed Milk (about 270 ml?)
2 heaped tablespoon Cocoa powder
150 grams 60 percent dark chocolate
1/4 cup warm milk (but use only what's needed)
1 tsp vanilla
A pinch of salt


1. If you haven't toasted the hazelnuts, do it immediately. Cool.
2. In a dry grinder add the hazelnuts and start pulsing. It will turn into coarse powder. Keep pulsing till you feel the oil coming off the nuts.
3. Let the nuts rest. Pulse again till the nuts change colour (almost peanut butter like). Stop.
4. In a bowl melt the chocolate and add condensed milk to it. Add to the ground hazelnuts.
5. Add the vanilla, salt and cocoa powder along with the milk. Grind again. Emulsify.
6. Check for consistency, if you like it runny, add a little more milk.
7. Keep refrigerated. Lasts for 3 weeks in an airtight container.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hazelnut-Basil Pesto

Every time I find something new in the market I go a teensy bit nuts. When I mean nuts, I mean seriously bananas. 

For example, my latest fascination are hazelnuts and I'm doing a lot with what I've got. So far, I made some lovely biscotti, made yummy chocolate cup, thrown it in my smoothies in the mornings. And now am contemplating doing a deep dark chocolate cake with ground hazelnut.

But before I could go completely overboard with my dessert fixation, I bought a huge bunch of basil that smelt so fresh that I had to do something with them. I've been wanting to make pesto for a while, because this basil is slightly different from what I get back in India, I've used almost a cup less. 

It's basil alright, it's just lot sharper, and definitely more aromatic and if you see how the leaves are, you'll understand what I mean. One leaf does the work of three I feel. Which is why the pesto you see in the jar is a lot lighter than what you're used to. But don't get me wrong, it packs a punch.

The hazelnuts add a certain mellowness that you don't get with say almonds or cashews, and a lovely mouthfeel that you get with pinenuts but almost a buttery after taste which is really quite amazing.

Also the Parmesan I used was salted, so I didn't need to add any extra, but please adjust according to taste.

Oh and wait a minute, you see this jar? I got this from the most amazing Vintage Shop in Isloo. I'd been trawling on Facebook when I stumbled on them and can I just say it's run by the sweetest couple ever!

The husband and I rang their doorbell really late one night since we were in the neighbourhood and were surprised to find the loot they had. Gorgeous wall plates, old old old transistor radios, gramophones, LP, teapots... oh I was in vintage heaven. 

This jar was lying on the top most shelf, among other things like playing cards etc, and there was no way I could reach it. But the sweet man, that he was, he handed it over to me and I was in love. I loved the air-tight double cap and the shape of the jar and I could think of a million things I wanted to put in it. 

You like it, he asked me, looking at my lovelorn expression. I nodded in agreement. It's yours, he said. I was like dude you can't give it to me for free. He was like no, this is a present for you. 

This is how my experience has been so far in Pakistan. I'm so overwhelmed at people's generosity that I don't know how to reciprocate the joy I feel. Thank you Vintage Shop, for making me feel at home. You're going to see a lot more of the jar (and other stuff) soon.

Hazelnut-Basil Pesto

1/2 cup hazelnuts toasted and skinned
1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated
1/2 cup plus 2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1 tblsp lemon juice
2 tblsp water
2 cups fresh basil ( for those back home, please use 3 cups)
Salt to taste


1. Toast your hazelnuts on slow flame for about 5 to 7 minutes till the nutty smell engulfs you. Turn off the heat and transfer onto a plate. Let it cool. Use your hand to crumble out the skin
2. Wash and dry your basil leaves. Grate your cheese. Peel your garlic. Squeeze out the lemon juice.
3. In a food processor or a small blender add the hazelnuts and give it a quick whir. You only want to break it down and not mush it up.
3. Add the remaining ingredients barring the olive oil. Whiz it a couple of time, till you can see it all coming together.
4. Slowly add the olive oil leaving aside the two tablespoons to top later. Whir till it all comes together. I like to see bits of nuts in my basil so I don't really puree it.
5. Transfer into an air-tight jar and top with remaining olive oil
6. The hazelnut pesto should last your for two weeks in the refrigerator.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Chocolate and Hazelnut Biscotti

Disclaimer: No Nutella was consumed during the making of this recipe. Or looked at.

Oh scratch that. No butter was even looked at when I was making this. And you know why? Because good biscotti uses no butter. Or oil. Or margarine.

Good biscotti relies on nuts, or fruits or eggs to get that perfect texture.  Which is why, when I was pottering around in the market and I found a small bag of hazelnuts which were perfectly affordable, I was in heaven.

I've been trying to source good quality hazelnuts forever back home in Delhi. But either the lot is completely unaffordable, or the nuts are rancid and I have to go have a fight with the shopkeeeper. So when I spied them this time round, I only bought 200 grams worth.

When the husband found me in the kitchen yesterday trying to toast half before biscotti-ing them, he asked me a pertinent question... will these taste like how they taste a in chocolates? The truth is that they didn't. But they felt buttery and crunchy which was a good sign.

As I went about assembling the ingredients of the biscotti, the toasted hazelnuts had cooled down considerably and I was slipping the skin of them when I popped one in my mouth. Oh. My. God. They tasted amazing. Straight out of a chocolate. So delicious.

I called the husband to taste it now, and he couldn't help but grab a handful and run off, but not before letting me he'd seen so many hazelnnuts of his trips to the middle-east and that I never told him that I liked them so much.

I was ready to dump all the flour on him.

Anyhoo, to cut a long story short, I now know where to find them.

This biscotti is a adaptation of a David Lebovitz's recipe and while I couldn't find the best quality cocoa (I only had the Cadbury's Orange box), I did use some 70 percent callebaut chips that my friend Ammar gave me the other day. Ammar incidently runs Burning Brownie, which does amazing chocolate cake variations.

These biscottis had a nice rich deep dark chocolate flavours and the hazelnuts tasted wonderful with it. I baked my biscotti for 25 minutes initially and then 30 minutes for the second baking. They came out crisp and very dippable.  You can soft bake them if you like, but I think that defeats the purpose.

Chocolate and Hazelnut Biscotti
Minimally adapted from David Lebovitz

For the biscotti
1 cup flour
  • 1/3 plus 2 tblsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts toasted and very coarsely-chopped
  • 1/3 plus 2 tsp chocolate chips
For the glaze1/2 large egg2 tablespoons coarse or crystal sugar 
1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) degrees.
2. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a large bowl, beat together the 3 eggs, sugar, and vanilla & almond extracts. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients, then mix in the nuts and the chocolate chips until the dough holds together.
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into logs the length of the baking sheet. Transfer the logs onto the baking sheet, evenly spaced apart.
5. Gently flatten the tops of the logs. Beat the remaining egg and brush the tops of the logs liberally with the egg. (You won’t use it all). Sprinkle the tops with the coarse or crystal sugar and bake for 25 minutes, until the dough feels firm to the touch.
6. Remove the cookie dough from the oven and cool 15 minutes. On a cutting board, use a serrated bread knife to diagonally cut the cookies into 1/2-inches slices. Lay the cookies cut side down on baking sheets and return to the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, turning the baking sheet midway during baking, until the cookies feel mostly firm.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Eggless No-churn Lemon Ice Cream Pie

I’ve been reading a lot. I mean, really, a lot. In the last month and a half since I have moved I’ve read about a 100 books. Yup, you read that right. A hundred books.

You see, I do have a lot of time on my hand, which does have its benefits , I suppose. I’ve also been reading a lot online as well. Not just going through blogs, but like really reading up on food. NYT Dining, Serious Eats and HuffPo’s Taste are my new bffs. As are Gourmet and Eater.

Which also means I come across recipes that are super interesting.  And thanks to Flipboard have found an easier way of collecting them and then trying them out. And what a fun way it is to collect recipes, because  you can store then both offline and online, which is perfect when you're looking for a quick fix.

I found this recipe on Serious Eats and bookmarked it immediately. I love love love frozen lemon stuff. I love a lemon fro-yo, lemon smoothie, lemon sorbet. Oh there's really nothing quite like the tangy sweetness of a lemon or lime dessert. 

 This Lemon Ice cream Pie is made with exactly six-ingredients – two for the crust and four for the ice cream. It’s eggless and no churn, so really life couldn’t get simpler than that. Plus because am living a country where there's plenty of fresh dairy and you get excellent heavy cream to whip. 

The best thing about this recipe is how low effort it really is. And honest if you don't feel like baking the crust, it's really quite fine. Oh and no eggs! Not a single egg does into this mix, so there's no cooking involved either. Yet, this ice cream pie is so creamy, so creamy, that you'll be wondering why you haven't made it before!

I made this in ceramic pie dishes, but the next time round, I'm going to make 'em in the removable tart tins, I think you'll see how beautifully the pie sits and cuts. And don't forget to garnish it with the lemon zest just before serving, the intoxicating citrus smells will want to make you eat the pie whole.

Eggless No-churn Lemon Ice Cream Pie
Adapted from Serious Eats

Serves 6


For the crust:
10 digestive biscuits
5 tablespoons butter

For the ice cream:
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated lime zest from 1 to 2 lemons, plus more for garnish
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup cream
1/4 teaspoon  salt

1. Crush the biscuits in a Ziploc bag. Add melted butter to it. Press it down on to pie tins.

2.Bake them for 15 minutes at 160 degree centigrade. Once slightly brown, pull out and rest till you’re ready to fill

3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together lemon juice, zest, condensed milk, and cream. Stir until mixture thickens, about 1 minute, and add salt to taste.

4. To assemble: Pour ice cream base into to pie crust, spreading it evenly across with a rubber spatula, then chill in freezer until firm, 2 to 3 hours. Let pie sit out on counter for 5 minutes before serving, then garnish with lime zest and serve.