Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Dessert I Pasta di Cacao. Chocolate Pasta with Chocolate Soup and White Chocolate Mousse #DelMonteItalianEscapades #Indiblogger





Ok ok don't freak out, I'm not trying to kill you with a dessert that I pulled out of thin air. And as odious as it might sound, it's really quite delicious.

I know that most of us, don't think of pasta as anything but savoury, but trust me, this sweet version of the pasta will knock your socks off.

Chocolate Pasta or Pasta di Cacao is an Italian specialty that is made aplenty across Europe. Especially during the Eurochocolate Festival in Mid October.Yes, traditionally the chocolate pasta is handmade, with flour chocolate and eggs, I decided to see if the same could work with Del Monte Pasta  as well.  Plus this Indiblogger contest seemed to good to miss.

I boiled my pasta with a bit of good quality cocoa powder, some sugar and salt. The fusilli took on a beautiful brown colour as it simmered away and the pasta absorbed a delicious amount of cocoa and sugar, making me want to eat it just plain.

As odd as it sounds, chocolate pasta is quite a versatile treat, you can toss it in a bit savoury sauce, you can drizzle lemon curd with it, you can even do a mascarpone and sausage stir fry to make it a part of your main course.

I, ofcourse, decided to go the straight jacket way. For my sweet tooth, this just seemed the best bet. I couldn't find any fresh strawberries because I love the combination of strawberries and chocolate so instead decided to pair with a simple white chocolate mousse and some cold chocolate soup. Plus I had everything at home, so it just sort of worked out well.





The soup was simple to make, melt the chocolate, a bit of cream, a bit of milk, salt, sugar and vanilla and a touch of cornflour just allows the soup to thicken. Iadded a little bit of orange zest and a capful of Cointreau because, well, I love chocolate orange. You can totally omit the orangeyness.

The White chocolate mousse, was more to soften the dark chocolate tones. The sweetness of the white chocolate mousse worked beautifully against the slight bitterness of the cocoa. I made a shortcut version of the mousse, with white chocolate ganache and whipped cream.

So hows this pasta supposed to be eaten - cold, I say cold. There's a bit of texture in every bite and the smooth chocolate soup makes you want to slurp the dessert, making it quite a delicious and different dessert.




Chocolate Pasta with Chocolate Soup & White Chocolate Mousse
Serves 4

Ingredients

For the pasta

200 grams Del Monte Fusilli Pasta
4 cups of water
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder

For the Chocolate Soup

200 grams good quality dark chocolate
100 ml cream
100 ml + 4 tblsp milk
1 tblsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
a pinch of salt
1 tblsp corn flour
 1 tsp vanilla / orange zest / Cointreau

For the White Chocolate Mousse

100 grams white chocolate
100 ml low fat cream
a pinch of salt
100 ml whipping cream

For the garnish

Chocolate flakes
Mint leaves

Method

1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add sugar, salt, cocoa powder and the pasta to it. Cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside.
2. Make the Chocolate soup by adding the chocolate,cocoa powder milk and cream to saucepan and allowing it to melt together.
3. Meanwhile mix the cornflour with the 4 tblsp of milk and make a thin paste. Pour into the chocolate mix.
4. Stir well, so that there are no lumps formed and add the sugar and salt and the vanilla or orange zest if using, to it. Bring to a boil. Turn off the gas and set it aside to cool.
5. To make the white chocolate mousse, chop the white chocolate into small pieces.
6. Bring the low fat cream and salt to a boil and pour over the white chocolate. Using a whisk, stir until smooth and glossy. Set aside to cool.
7. Whisk the whipping cream until soft peaks and using the cut and fold method, whisk into the white chocolate ganache. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
8. To assemble this dish. Pour the chocolate soup into the desired bowl. Add as much of the chocolate pasta as you'd like to it. Top with a spoonful of the white chocolate mousse. Sprinkle with chocolate flakes and a sprig of mint. Serve immediately.



Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Frozen Treat I Pomegranate & Blueberry Lemon Popsicles




The heat this summer was incredible. The monsoons haven't been kind to less either, to be fair. So it's anyone's guess how the winter will be this year.

I have had an incredibly tiring summer/monsoon though. One a scale of 1 to 10, I am 11 exhausted. Which is ok. Good infact, better than how low I was feeling a few months ago. This has been a summer of lots of new things for me, and I suppose I am learning to embrace that.

For starters, it was the summer where we adopted two grown up dogs. Quite an adjustment it is to your everyday life, I must say. But most fun too. It was also the summer of my siblings. My brother came to stay with me for over a month, which was lovely, but my sister moved out to another city last month, which has been a bummer. 




So I ended up cooking plenty this summer. Hating a lot of the time, I stayed in the kitchen, but nonetheless cooking. The summer also saw me making a lot of desserts. With my brother vying for something cold and sweet all the time, I make a lot of popsicles. 

I made these delicious Nutella Fudgesicles, that I had to make some four times over. I made Lemonade Popsicles with Kiwis and Strawberries, Mango & Berries Popsicles which I don't think I could even manage to take a picture of because they disappeared so quickly. 

So when I made these Pomegranate and Blueberry Popsicles, I made sure I took a picture. Firstly, because they were so darn refreshing, that they were perfect to beat the heat and secondly, because they were awesome. 

Easy to make, almost no fuss, popsicles have become my new favourite go-to things. Ofcourse you can mix and match your berries, and see what works for me. This combination was just phenomenal and the mint ofcourse made it even better.




Pomegranate & Blueberry Lemon Popsicles
Makes 6

Ingredients

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup blueberries
1 lemon sliced
10-12 mint leaves
250 ml water
8 tblsp sugar

Method

1. Mix the sugar and water together until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the mint leaves and keep aside.
2. In the popsicle mould, drop in the pomegranate seeds until 1/4 full.
3. Top wit blueberries, distributing them evenly.
4. Drop in one slice of lemon in each mould and then top with the sugar water mint mix until it's till the brim.
5. Freeze overnight. Serve chilled.





Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Review I SelectED Events & Dining. A Bespoke Catering Event at Heritage Village, Manesar




It may have been the peak of summer that just made me want a getaway badly. So when SelectED, the events and dining section of Select CityWalk decided to host a three part meal in a beautiful little resort in Manesar, not even hell could have stopped me from being there.

The three-part meal included a large spread for High Tea, a very quaint sit-down dinner and finally culminated in a beautifully spread out brunch the next morning. 

As we arrived at Heritage Resort & Spa in Manesar, Ishaan Sarkar, CEO of SelectED greeted us and gave us a glimpse into what we could expect for the next 24 hours. The idea, he said, was to experience all that the catering service could do and well, more.

Here's what I loved about SelectED - the personalised service. I loved the cute little touches with the personalised cupcakes, the menus and even the takeaway tokens. I loved how the entire staff knew us by name and how beautifully curated and designed it was.

I had this beautiful cupcake bouquet with my mug on a cookie in my room when I arrived. I think I was floored by then. A nap later it was time for the first event - the High Tea.

The High Tea

The High Tea was perhaps my least favourite of the three meals. I understood what the chef wanted to do - make a sweet table a la Sugar Stars on TLC but, it didn't work out conceptually because of the space crunch. From profiteroles to cupcakes to cookies. There was something for everyone. But only two desserts worked for me - the Spiced carrot madelines, which I thought were delicious and the Californian Avocado Pie - something distinctly different. 

The Linzer cookies and the chocolate danish were a bit of miss as were the Coconut Truffle Pops. But what I sorely missed were the savouries. So while the Quinoa tikkis and the Empanadas were fab, I just felt the Golgappass and the mini pizzas really didn't make the cut. And frankly the sweets outnumbered the savoury, making it quite unbalanced.

Having said that, it was nice to sit down and drink some tea and look around and chat up with everyone who was a part of those 24 hours.

We got a little time to rest between this and the big meal - the sit down dinner. Making up my mind whether I wanted to dress up or go my bhangi self, I think I made a good call to dress up.Because when I landed at the event - there was a fabulous cocktail party that was already underway. A lovely selection at the bar, I opted to drink an apple mojito, which I loved and drank through the next two events.



The Sit-Down Dinner

Two beautifully laid out tables decorated with just the most gorgeous candles and flowers, really took my breath away. There's really nothing quite like simple elegant dining. As it happened, I was seated next to Ishaan and Sid. Ishaan told me that at every event, he made sure that the chairs were repainted and that the flowers were fresh. Sid and I, instead just giggled over everything.

With our names on the menus, the first course was the Sarson ka saag mousse with the makki ki roti biscotti with a lassi shot as an accompaniment. What an amazing mouthful. The mousse was so light and flavourful, and the biscotti crusty and delicious. I would have happily popped a few more. 




For the second course, we had a choice of the Lobster, Salmon, Cottage Cheese and Eggplant. I, ofcourse, opted to eat the eggplant or the Ennai Kathrikai with String Hoppers topped with Tamarind Salsa. What a fabulous dish! The tartness from the tamarind paired beautifully with the eggplant which was flavoured with sesame and jaggery. A simple elegant dish, which was just fabulous. 

The sugarcane granita though was a bit if a damper. It was supposed to be a palate cleanser but instead was more like dessert. A bit of lime and some salt would have worked wonders for this.

Up next was a choice between the Gucchi Khichdi with Nimona Fragrant Basmati Rice,  Chicken nehari with pulled chicken khichadi and the New Zealand lamb chops with aam papad and kokum jus. To be fair, I wanted to try them all. So Sid and I decided to order different things and then share our portions. The Chicken Nehari was beautifully spiced. Mellow and delicious, this was a surefire winner for me. That is until I tasted the lamb chops. Oh. My.Word. The meat for the chops were tender and the accompanying kokum jus just elevated the dish completely. 


We managed to sneak in a taste of the Gucchi Khichadi too, and I must say, the vegetarians were in for a treat.Earthy and light, this was a way too delicious to be underestimated. 

Finally our dessert platter was brought out - ghevar, gulab jamun tart and a chocolate cup with raspberry sauce. All very nice, but not something I'd really want to eat again. Except maybe the chocolate cup, that was truly delicious. 

We all spent some time chatting before we called it a night and were told to take our time to come for brunch. 

The Outdoor Sunday Brunch

A lazy morning later, I was joined my husband and siblings for this meal. As we made our way to the garden, we were taken aback by how beautiful it was. Outdoor catering that was just fantastically laid out with beautiful huge copper pots, wooden embellishments and live stations.



Salads, fruits,  cold cuts, pastas, eggs - there was some intense amount of food. I ofcoursed spied the haleem over everything else and made a beeline to it. And loved it completely. Next up I opted to eat the Char Sui Bao off the like Bao counter. I ate the first one with great gusto and then ended up eating another two, because it was really so good.

But there were biryanis to try, daals to taste and so many meats to eat, that by the time we'd finished our meal which we began at 11.30 am, it was already 3 pm! And because I didn't really like the desserts the last two meals, I began the sampling of the desserts very tepidly. Oh how stupid I was.




The mangoffee pie was outstanding, as was the wasabi ice cream. The chocolate pots de creme, the pannacottas oh my, the desserts very simply exquisite. I had truly underestimated the dessert chef and have to say it was one of the most fabulous dessert counters I'd seen in a buffet.

As if that wasn't enough, we all got an amazing chocolate cake to takeaway in our goodie bag. Boy they really knew how to spoil us. 

SelectED is now a year old. They take only one order a day, so you can imagine the queue for something so fantastic. My advice is that if you have an event coming up, book them now.

Details:Select ED, Select Office Tower, 7th Floor, Select Citywalk, Saket, New Delhi-110017.
Tel: +91 95607 86491
Website: www.selected.in



Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Candy I Chocolate Walnut Fudge for California Walnuts



I love love love walnuts. They are my most favourite nuts. I am not so hot on almonds, cashews or even hazelnuts as I am about walnuts.

There's something quite fabulous about this brain-shaped nut. I love the earthy flavours and almost oily texture of the nut. I also love that that you can get a good dose of Omega 3 which I think is an added benefit as is Vitamin B, so yay for glowing skin!



So when the good people of the California Walnut  sent me a bagful of the most delicious walnuts (which by the way were sweet and crunchy all at the same time), my mind went on overdrive. I wanted to make a flourless cake at first, then a caramelised walnut tart. I thought about salads, I thought about making a pie crust and then I realised, it's the simplest thing that would make the walnuts shine through. And thus a fudge was born.

Chocolate, condensed milk, vanilla and walnuts. Four ingredients that make the most magical candy ever. And the way to make it? Oh-so-simple.

This is a recipe I remember making way back when I was 10.  The only chopping that's involved is of the walnuts and then it's literally child's play.



Chocolate Walnut Fudge
Serves 10

Ingredients

300 grams dark chocolate
200 grams condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 tblsp butter, melted
1 cup chopped walnuts


Method
1. Grease a loaf tin and line with parchment paper. Keep aside
2. Melt the chocolate on a double boiler or in the microwave. Add the the condensed milk to it and mix well.
3. Add all the remaining ingredients to it and stir until they come together.
4. Pour into the the loaf tin and refrigerate for 4 hours of until set.
5. Remove from the parchment once set and chop into bite-sized pieces. Serve cold.






Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Review I Tamra. All Day Dining At Shangri-La's Eros Hotel


I haven't been blogging. That's just stating the obvious I guess. But I really didn't have the time. So with posts piling up like crazy I just had to take the plunge to clear my debt.

But between a new job, a restaurant project, adopting dogs, unlimited house guests and my sister relocating, there was just never time to do what I wanted to i.e. blog. Not that I was cooking any less, mind you, I was cooking aplenty but I never had the time to photograph and then manage to sit down and write a post.

So now, as I sit with a clear head, now I blog.

First up is this memorable dinner I had at Tamra, the all-day dining at Shangri-La, a few months ago. High ceilings, low lightning, the company  of my father and sister and a menu that was simply exhaustive, it was a great evening to be alive.

First up, was the signature mocktail served in Tiki Tiki glasses. Refreshing, but super sweet, we switched to our favorites pretty quickly after that. Here's what you need to know about Tamra - there's just a lot of food - from Japanese to Italian to Chinese to Regional Indian and even good old fashioned Ghar ka Khaana. And what seems like unending is just the tip of the iceberg because I haven't even mentioned the salad bar or the dessert bar.



The Thai Chicken Croquetas were recommended to us, so we try. While the flavors of the lemongrass shone through beautifully, it was the chicken that bothered us quite a bit, the eat was way too meaty tasting and it was hard to even finish one..

But that didn't deter us from eating some more. Dimsums - corn and mushrooms and chicken sui mai - were both very light and easy but it was the vegetarian sushi that blew me away. The vegetarian maki roll and then california roll were both just perfect and the wasabi wasn't out of a tube and so you could get this brilliant hit from it.



The watermelon feta salad was absolutely stellar. This was no ordinary feta, but fresh thick chunks of cheese that were absolutely melt in the mouth. The crisp and sweet pieces of fruit, sharp rocket and the caramelised walnuts were just the perfect combination to this cheese.



We tried the focaccia and the pita pockets but what was surreal was the Indian food. The good old daal makhni , the chicken tikka and the amritsaru fish were what hit the spot. The daal was creamy and rich while the tikkas were delicious and flaky. The flavours were bang on and every bite was just utterly comforting.

So even when we thought we couldn't eat another morsel, the dessert menu was then shown to us. The signature Tamra Chocolate - shaped like a chocolate bomb - dissolved into a chocolaty mess when hot chocolate was poured over.



Then we just couldn't help our selves so we ordered the Grilled Pineapple and the Gulab Jamun flambe. Oh my lord. The combination of the hot and sweet pineapple with cold icecream was just amazing. Soaked in rum, this was perhaps my favourite dessert ever. Until I tried the Gulab Jamun flambe - oh the booziness of this dessert just took me to another time. Truly a dessert for big people, this dessert should be marked A.

Go to Tamra. Eat the Indian food. And the dessert. Both will take you to a higher place.

Printfriendly