Thursday, February 26, 2015

Baking I Ice cream Bread. With just four ingredients

Ever since I saw the recipe for an ice cream bread on Charis's blog two years ago, it's been on my mind forever to try and make it.

The idea is simple, you take some left over ice cream, some flour and baking soda and a bit of sugar, mix it all together and bake it. And voila! You have something that's halfway between bread and cake. It's like magic.

You can imagine why I've been in awe of this recipe. I've just never ever got around trying it. And I know why - there's never any ice cream left over in my house. Between the cookie monster and me, I think this is a dangerous dangerous house for ice cream.

I am really terrible when it come to ice creams. I can easily polish off a whole tub in a sitting, let alone want to share it. I don't necessarily like to eat it plain, I'm happy making it into a sundae and sometimes even into an ice cream soda. So going by that logic, I should have already made this bread.

I confess, I did try once a few months ago. It came out terrible. It was rock solid and strange and I wondered what I'd done wrong. I realised I had over baked it and that I did not mix it enough, so this time armed with enough ice cream, I set about a second attempt.

I had some black currant ice cream leftover, so I used that but I'd recommend you use vanilla or chocolate to get the real deal. I also added a pinch of salt which was alright but in hindsight I wish I'd added another spoon of sugar.

You see, despite all that ice cream this bread is not sweet. No sir, it isn't. It's quite cakey and would do well with a nice dollop of butter and some jam.

You can ofcourse mix in whatever you'd like - sprinkles (like Charis does), chocolate chips, dried fruits, some nuts - just about anything you like to make it fancier.

I left mine plain, with the addition of some strawberries on top, just to pretty it up. But otherwise it's really quite straightforward. All you need to remember is not to melt the ice cream completely in the microwave and instead just soften it and beat in the flour mix, and then, the rest is magic

Ice cream bread
Adapted from here

2 cups good quality ice cream
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tblsp sugar
a pinch of salt

1. In a large bowl measure out the ice cream and pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Take it out and let it sit out.
2. In another bowl sift out the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the sugar to it.
3. With the help of a spoon, squelch the ice cream till it forms a smooth paste. Add in all the flour mix and whisk in well.
4. Pour into a greased loaf tin and bake for about 30 minutes at 180 degree centigrade
5. Serve warm with some jam.

And don’t forget to take part in the Cookaroo and Philips contest to win a Philips Rice Cooker. Click here for more details. 

Festival Review I Rivaayat-e-Rampur at threesixtyone at The Oberoi, Gurgaon

Last month, the Oberoi group of hotels started a movement of sorts called Rivaayat. Or quite literally, the revival of tradition. The forgotten food of the past, that's what they are aiming at reviving. This festival is a pan-Indian journey, through the year. Last month I'd been to the Rivaayat at The Oberoi New Delhi. And this time around it was The Oberoi Gurgaon turn.

The Rivaayar-e-Rampur which is on at the hotel till March 5, is the brainchild of Osama Jalali and his mother Nazish, who are bringing back the glorious food from Rampur, UP. I've sampled their delicious cuisine at Ssence when they did the Shahjahanabad ki Sair and it was mind blowing. You can read all about that here.

This time round, it was all about the amazing company and the beautiful setting. Sitting down for the first-ever Chef's Table at the deck at the Oberoi, it was definitely an afternoon to remember. 

The tasting menu was extensive.And we started our meal with the Dahi Phulki, which was way to flat for me.  Then came the  Shammi KebabSeekh Kebab Kacche keeme ki Tikiya Aloo palak ki Pakodiyan and  Kathal ki Shammi. Of the the kathal ki shammi was hands down the favourite. Beautifully spiced with a glorious melt-in-the-mouth texture made it the best starter on the table. 

For the mains, out came the Saag Kofte Urad ki Daal Gosht, Chicken Qorma, Aloo GoshtMasale ki Machli,  Hari Mirch Qeema,   Mutton kade masalon ka stew and Mutton stew. You can just about imagine the disbelief at the amount of food! My favourite for the afternoon was both the mutton kade masalon ka stew and the mutton stew. I loved how the sweet onions in both the stews made them so deliciously light on the palate. And somehow I could crave was some more the two. But the best was yet to come.

Urad Ki Safed dal dry Urad ki Kali dal with sukhi Methi, Karele ki chidiya, Laute palaute and the arvi masale ki was served under the vegetarian umbrella and I have to same the Karele ki chidiya was extraodinary. Filled with a masala that included fennel, this was a definite delight. 

The biryani, the khichadi and then the piece de resistance - the khichada was brought out. I love love loved the Khichada, for me this was the dish that saved the same. A beautifully fragrant combination of mutton and lentils served with a whole lot of accompaniments including fried onions. lemons and green chilli, it was as if I had died and gone to heaven. I licked my bowl clean, and then looked around to get another helping.

The meal ended with some Aloo Ka zarda and some Gulathi. Both delicious desserts and were a great end to a meal that had been dissected, discussed and devoured. 

I really enjoyed my afternoon. If I have two suggestions for Rivaayat  it's this - go easy on the salt, and make a smaller tasting menu - but all in all, what a commendable effort.  I can't wait to go try the next one. 


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Baking I Chocolate Cinnamon Souffle for Hamilton Beach and Blogadda to #Createfearlessly

Sometimes the blogging world thinks up of very fun stuff for us food bloggers to do. It's not just about recipes and contests, but also about fun ways to engage people into understanding a product line with the help of us food bloggers.

The #Createfearlessly hashtag is a joint effort between Blogadda and Hamilton Beach. While Hamilton Beach is well known kitchen gadget brand in the US, it's just made it's way into India and that's why it wants to come in with a bang.

I received two fab gadgets from the Hamilton Beach catalog - a Classic hand mixer and a 12 liter Oven Toaster Grill: together called "The Sweet-toothed baker". Boxed in tightly,  I had plenty of trouble with the courier service that was on it's way to deliver it. But the lesser said about that, the better.

The gadgets were both brand new and shining. I loved the steel finish on both. And as I opened the them both up, the attachments stood high and mighty looking at me.

The 12 liter toaster oven was a lot more spacious than I thought. It came with a crumb tray, a grill and a cookie sheet. I loved that it had temperature controls that made it easy to bake. The timer too was easy to use, but I felt it went off a bit too soon. And even though it was tiny it could hold a whole lot of things  such as 1 4 x 6 inch baking dish, 3 ramekins at a time, 4 toasts and 9 cookies. Not too bad I thought.

The problem that I did face is that the back of the OTG gets a lot hotter than the front, so if you're baking cookies, you'll have to flip them after 6 or 7 minutes. Basically it's hard to leave it unattended.

The best part though, was the roll top door, which ensured that you couldn't burn yourself, so yay!

Coming to the hand mixer. It came with it's own box that could store the attachments and let the mixer stand on it. The attachments included two whisks, two kneaders, and one blender. This time around I only used the whisk.

6 speeds and a quick burst options ensured that the whipping, beating, whisking happens every quickly. Easy to use and ergonomically designed, I love love love this gadget.

What didn't make sense though was the combination of the two - it's very very hard to bake a pie or a cake unless its 4 inches large in this OTG. For a baker, this was going to be a hard bet. I think the whisk would have paired better with the 32liter oven while the 12 liters should have been paired with the blender to make it a Breakfast special option.

But oh well.

I also found both gadgets easy to clean, which is a BIG plus from my end.

So on to what I baked with this. A simple super quick chocolate souffle that takes 25 minutes from the prep time to serve time. A souffle for two that can be made with pantry staples.

Of course you can play with the flavours - chocolate orange, chocolate coffee, chocolate mint, chocolate lemon - you know what I mean. I've used cinnamon and chili because I'm currently obsessed with them, but feel free to mix and match your ingredients.

My tip for the souffle is that you must must butter the souffle ramekins well, you'll get a gorgeous even rise and frankly don't be afraid of it, it'll take at least 10 minutes before it falls half way down and even if that happens, give it another 5 minutes in the oven and call it a twice-baked souffle. Voila!

Chocolate Cinnamon Souffle
Serves 2

70 grams dark chocolate (50 percent atleast)
1 tblsp cocoa powder
3 tbslp sugar
1 tsp butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 egg yolk
3 egg whites


1. In a microwave friendly bowl melt the chocolate and add to it the sugar, butter and cocoa powder,
whisk well.
2. Add the cinnamon, chilli, vanilla and salt and whisk well. Keep aside.
3. In a large bowl whisk the egg whites till they form stiff peaks.
4. Fold gently into the chocolate mixture. Pour into prepared ramekins.
5. Bake at 180 minutes for 15 to 18 minutes.
6. Serve hot dusted with a bit of cocoa powder.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Vegetarian I Thai-spiced Carrot and Citrus Soup

I can’t claim to love soups but if someone hands me over a cup, I’d be happy to drink/ eat it. Truth be told, I  have grown up eating a lot of strange soups made from whatever vegetables that my grandmother or mom could find in the fridge.

As I grew older, my palate obviously became slightly more refined, so I could distinguish one vegetable from the other.  I knew when the combination was of bottle gourds, tomatoes, onions and potatoes or when pumpkin carrots and onions had been bunged in together.

I definitely did NOT dig these soups.

The older I grew, the choosier I became. Especially since I had discovered a whole range of Thai soups that I could not get enough of. Even now my favourite soup remains the Tom Kha.

What I found to deal with however, was the mess with all that puree. You had to boil your vegetables, wait for it to cool down and then puree and heat again. The Philips Soupmaker really changed all that for me. And you can read the review here.

The Soup maker has done two things for me – much less mess and much less time consumed to make a soup. And I love these things about it.  The last time around I made a chunky soup with the machine, this time I decided to make a smooth  and blended soup.

This soup uses a bit of Thai curry paste and some peanut butter to give it those lovely Thai flavours. You get the aromatics from the lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves without actually having to go and look for these ingredients and the addition of the peanut butter makes it creamier and gives it a mellow nutty flavour to it.

Of course if you don’t have Thai curry paste, I’d suggest you get at least lemon grass for this soup,  otherwise you’ll  miss those flavours. I’ve used orange juice for the citrus part of my soup but you can just as easily add a bit of grapefruit or lemon or tangerine.

This is a very wholesome soup. And despite so many flavours, the carrot really shines through and makes for a great meal for dinner.

Thai-spiced Carrot and Citrus Soup
Serves 4

4 large red carrots
500 ml vegetable stock or water
1 tsp Thai red curry paste
1 tblsp smooth peanut butter
½ cup orange juice
Salt to taste

1.       Peel and chop the carrots roughly. Add  it to the soup maker.
2.       Add the stock or water to it along with the Thai red curry paste and the peanut butter
3.       Set it to the blend mode and wait for 20 minutes till the soup is ready.
4.       Once the soup is blended adjust for seasoning and add the orange juice to it.
5.       Serve hot.

And don’t forget to take part in the Cookaroo and Philips contest to win a Philips Rice Cooker. Click here for more details. 


New Menu I Pan Asian at ITC Sheraton

I’m not a big fan of Chinese food, no matter what province it is from. I especially don’t like indo-Chinese food since I find it pretty greasy and I feel the flavours are all the same.

So you can imagine my apprehension when Pan Asian at ITC Sheraton asked me to come by and check out their new menu. I've reviewed them before and you can read all about that here. Ok, so I know Pan Asian means all things Asian, I was fairly sure I’d be stuck eating a lot of Chinese.

How wrong could I have been.

Divvied up into categories such as Chinese, Japanese, Thai and the rest of Asia, the new menu is a treat to look and read. I, ofcourse made a bee-line for the Thai and Japanese flavours while my companions couldn’t stop gushing about the Chinese menu.

We started our meal with some soups and salads – Suan Rong Shu Chai or the Chinese Vegetable Clear soup and Miso Shiru, the miso soup as well as Som Tam or the Raw Papaya Salad and the Monkey Head Mushroom in Chilli Vinegar Sauce.

Both the soups totally hit the spot. The broth of the clear soup was extremely flavourful. It was light on the palate and had a delightful tangy flavour. The miso soup was just perfect as well. The umami from the miso shone through and the pillowy soft tofu was just perfection in each bite.

The Som Tam was a bit of a miss for me. It was far too heavy on the lemon and really light on the peanuts. It didn’t have the right balance of crunch, sweetness and sour for me. I also wasn’t too hot on the presentation, having just eaten spectacular Som Tam at Neung Roi.

The mushroom salad however was a revelation. The earthy flavours of the mushrooms really paired well with the chilli and the vinegar and I could eaten this the whole night.  I also loved the presentation and the effort that the chef had put in it.

Chef Vaibhav also brought out a Micro Green salad for us to sample.  What a fabulous salad. He’d used seasonal cape gooseberries and figs alongwith the micro greens which had been dressed in sesame and tamarind. I loved how fresh it tasted and how easy it was on the palate.

Next up, we’d ordered the some sushi – so out came Mixed vegetable Maki and the salmon maki.  You can’t fault the sushi at Pan Asian, Chef Nakamura is a legend and the sushi just lived up to its reputation of being stellar. Meanwhile we’d also ordered the spinach and waterchestnut bao, which was really quite excellent. The bao was soft and squishy slightly sweet while the filling was sharp and had a lovely crunchy texture thanks to the water chestnuts.

Age Dashi Tofu – deep fried tofu with light soya sauce  was a delight, and it was served with a lovely satay sauce. The Wasabi prawns were excellent. The crisp coating, almost like a tempura batter really worked with the pungent sweet wasabi mayo and I could have eaten atleast a dozen of these babies.

Obviously we had no space for anything now, but since we had to try some of the mains, we had the Pla Neung Rad Prik or the steamed sea bass with thai minced chilli as well as the vegetarian fried rice. This was my least favourite dish. The fish was too fishy for me – I suppose that was because the skin was on while the birds eye chilli sauce was way too spicy and too sour and did nothing for the  fish. I honestly wish I hadn’t ordered this at all.

The fried rice though was delicious, and I could easily go back to just eat a bowl of that rice.

For dessert, the chef brought out a sweet gyoza or dumpling filled with dried fruits and nuts which he served with some ice cream and berry compote. It was quite an interesting dessert but I wish I could have finished my meal with some good Pan Asian dessert such as Mango sticky rice or even a coconut ice cream.

All in all we enjoyed our meal and will definitely be going back for some Thai and Japanese flavours. 

And don’t forget to take part in the Cookaroo and Philips contest to win a Philips Rice Cooker. Click here for more details. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Baking I Alice Merdich's One Pot Cocoa Brownies

I love a good brownie. I love a good brownie so much, I can forgo food for the day and eat that sheet of brownies that I have just baked through the day.

And because I love a good brownie so much, I am always trying out new ones. I’ve made Rocky Road Brownies, Triple Chocolate Brownies, Hot Chocolate Brownies, Dark Chocolate Brownies with cherries and almonds and Fudgy Brownies.

Ofcourse I tweak original recipes aplenty but I think I have finally found THE ONE.

The one brownie that you cannot stop eating.

The one brownie that can be made with just pantry staples and no special ingredients required.

The one brownie that required just one pot and a whisk.

These are Alice Merdich’s Cocoa Brownies. So fabulous. So easy. And so so delicious.

It’s all about the chemistry between the cocoa and the butter and the flour. And whisking it 40 times over.

I mean that’s the instruction these brownies come with. Once the cocoa butter and sugar are melted together and the eggs and vanilla added in, you have to whisk in the flour and then beat it 40 times over. I think it activates some gluten, which allows the brownie to be crisp on the outside and nice and chewy on the inside.

I don’t with the microwavable or double boiler instruction. I just use a heavy bottom pan which I bunged on the gas, melted the butter, turned it off, stirred in the sugar and cocoa until it cooled and then added the rest of the ingredients. It was like one pot magic!

Low effort yet packed with a chewy fudginess that you only get with a top class brownie. These have to be made now!

One Pot Cocoa Brownies
From Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet

140 grams butter
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup (63 grams) all-purpose flour

1.Preheat oven to 180 degree centigrade. Line an 8″ square pan with parchment paper so that there is an overhang on two sides.
2. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a large heavy bottom pan and put it on the burner. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. 
3. Remove the bowl off the fire and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the vanilla. 
5. Once the batter looks shiny and well-blended, stir in the flour until no streaks remain. Vigorously beat the batter for 40 strokes. Spread the batter evenly into the pan.
6.Bake until a toothpick in the middle comes out slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes Remove and let cool completely before lifting out of the pan and transferring to a cutting surface. Cut to your desired size.

Oh and don't forget to take part in the Philips Soup Maker Challenge. The winner will get a Philips Rice Cooker. All you have to do is follow the instructions on this link.

Masterclass I Learning Thai @ Neung Roi in Radisson Blu Plaza

I love Neung Roi. (Read the review here ). But you probably knew that already.  I love love love their salads. The Thai Pomelo Salad is out of the world. As is the Winged bean salad. So imagine getting a chance at actually learning these yummy things.

Called Thai Masterstrokes, the people at Neung Roi, Radisson Blu Plaza Mahipalpur organised an amazing Masterclass that included a handful of bloggers. We got to learn some spectacular dishes including Pla Yang Kami or the grilled sea bass, Gai Kaprow  or the stir fried chicken with basil and chilli, Yam Tuea Plu  or the winged bean salad, Tom Kha Gai or the chicken and coconut milk soup and finally Tub Tim Krob or the water chestnuts in coconut milk.

Chef Yenjai is a fantastic teacher. She’s funny and she’s patient and she’s incredibly nimble. Two hours just flew as she taught us all these fantastic things. She even gave us fantastic tips on how to keep the aromas in all the dishes, which are the good brands to use in the kitchen and ofcourse on plating.

After the class we got to sample all that was on the menu and more. Some grilled mushrooms, pad thai and that delicious Thai Pomelo salad were also brought to our table.

 Deeba and I opted to eat the Tom Kha Vegetarian, which might I add, is the best soup in the world while the others drank/ate  the chicken kind.

As we ploughed through the salads and mains, we also had the options for dessert – coconut ice cream, tub tim krob and the sweetened pumpkin. I was in heaven.

By far this was one of the funnest bloggers event we have done in a long long time. There’s truly nothing better than good food and great company.  

Image Courtesy: Deeba Rajpal
Oh and don't forget to take part in the Philips Soup Maker Challenge. The winner will get a Philips Rice Cooker. All you have to do is follow the instructions on this link.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Winter Menu Review I Guppy by ai

The menu has always been simple at Guppy.  Fresh flavours, clean plating and fabulous food that’s been the mantra forever. Keeping that in mind, the winter menu is all that and more.
We started our meal with Chicken Suimono ,clear chicken soup with root vegetables and chicken dumpling that was served in a tea pot.  Steaming hot, it really warmed us from the inside. But what was really fantastic about this soup was the broth – flavourful and light – it was delicious, and I was happy to keep sipping on it.

As we waited for our salad - Snow peas and mushroom in a sesame dressing, Edamame beans were brought out, and as always, that had the most perfect snap. The salad was so pretty that it was hard to eat. The punch from the sesame worked very well with the mushrooms and the corn and the beans really added a nice texture to the salad.

Crispy soft-shell crab came next – fried in a batter that had been lightened with some nitrogen – and it was A-mazing. Crispy and soft at the same time. Served with wasabi mayo this made for a delicious starter.

Of the Sushi we ate both Shake Maki or the Scottish Salmon sushi and the kappa Maki or the cucumber maki – both excellent.

Up next was the Nasudengaku inspired aubergine grilled – and was perhaps the best thing that afternoon. Pureed aubergine with onions, garlic and miso, it was like umami in a soft eggplant. Absolutely spectacular.

But this was overshadowed by the beetroot and plump avocado tartar. Delicious fresh flavours, the citrus dressing just made this spectacular.

We finished our mains with the Chicken Katsu Curry – A Japanese style curry that was light and easy on the palate with remarkable notes of warm spices. Served with sticky rice, a beautiful finish to a good meal.

For dessert we ate the warm apple and prune pie which was served with berry coulis. And Blueberry crepe with seasonal fruit flambe. I’d say eat the pie and forget about the crepe.

All in all, a beautiful meal in a beautiful setting.

Oh and don't forget to participate in the Soup Contest on my blog. All you have to do is leave a recipe of a soup and you'll stand to win a Philips Rice Cooker. Read more here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Contest Alert & Gadget Review I Mexican Kidney Bean and Nacho Soup with the Philips Soup Maker

The good people from Philips sent me their new gadget the Soup Maker, so I spent the whole weekend trying to figure out all the magic it could do. 

What does a Soup Maker do, you might ask - and in their own words "The Philips Soup Maker HR2201  is a unique combination of a boiler & a blender that perfectly blends and cooks deliciously healthy soup in minutes. Designed for ease of use, Soup Maker makes deliciously healthy soup in minutes, as it steams and blends the vegetables together, saving time and keeping the nutrients intact."

So fun! Basically it means that it can blend stuff while its hot and thereby saving lots of time in the kitchen. And as an added plus, it can also blend super cold things - making smoothies, froyos accessible and easy. 

I made a lot of fun soups with it - chunky soups, blended soups , cold soups and then decided to figure out what I really wanted to do with it. These soups are made in under 30 minutes including the prep time for chopping the vegetables. Not bad on days where you are completely out of ideas and just want something quick and easy. 

To start the review, I decided to make a combination of a blended and puree soup to see how it works. I zeroed in on a tortilla soup, and then decided to use up some nachos that were lying around the house instead. 

So on the one hand, I made a spiced pureed tomato soup as the base in the Soup Maker, while I prepped for the chunky bits and then threw in the veggies and the kidney beans and set it on chunky mode. The result? a beautifully fragrant soup that could be eaten plain.

Ofcourse I embellished the soup with some sour cream, spring onions and nachos, but eating it just plain was wonderful as well. You'll find the recipe below.


Now, here's the thing. I'm running a contest for all things soup all of February. All you have to do is 

1. Leave a comment with your favourite soup recipe as a "Comment" on my blog 
2.  Like my Facebook Page. Click here

And you'll stand to win, a Philips Rice Cooker!

I will make the best soup out of the lot and post on my blog with due credit to the person.

The contest is on till February 28, 2015 and the winner will be announced on the first week of March. So participate now! The contest is open Pan India.


Here's the recipe for this delicious soup. I know it seems like a long list, but trust me it's really quite simple and delicious to put together. Give it a try

Mexican Kidney Bean and Nacho Soup
Serves four


For the tomato base
6 tomatoes roughly-chopped
2 cloves of garlic -roughly chopped
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
500 ml of vegetable stock or water
(if you have a stock cube then nothing like it)

For the chunky section
1 tso butter
1 onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 carrot
1 red bell pepper
1/2 cup sweet corn kernels
1 cup boiled kidney beans (rajma)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp cumin powder
salt to taste

For the toppings
Sour cream
Spring Onions
Grated Cheese


1. In the Soup Maker add all the ingredients for the tomato base. Set it on to the "Smooth" or "Blended" soup selection.
2. Now, go about making the chunky bits. Chop the onions, garlic, carrots and bell pepper into equal sizes.
3. In a saucepan, add the butter and add onions and garlic to it and saute well. Add carrots, bell pepper, corn and kidney beans and saute with salt and spices. Set aside.
4. As soon as the tomato base is done - about 20 minutes - add the sauteed veggies to the Soup Maker. Set it on to "Chunky" and let it cook for only 10 minutes.
5. Adjust for seasoning.
6. Ladle into bowls and give with a range of toppings. According to me it tastes best with a squeeze of lime, a dollop of sour cream  - you can use yogurt instead and crispy nachos.