Friday, January 29, 2016

Baking | Fresh Strawberry Galette




It's strawberry season here in Delhi. Which means the ruby red fruit can be found just about every where. I, ofcourse, am always thinking up ways of making delicious desserts, when I am not mixing them in my muesli in the mornings. 

I am a bit pie-obsessive. I like nothing more than making my way through squelchy fruit, into the crisp crust and then forking all of it into my mouth. There's something just so decadent about squidgy fruit and flaky pastry together. 

Ofcourse nothing beats the good old fashioned apple pie. But a good strawberry pie, comes a close second. One of my first strawberry pie experiences was at a Marie Callenders at California. I can never ever forget the fat and juicy strawberries dancing on my tongue or that freshly baked all-butter crust just melting in my mouth. 



I've never been able to recreate that. I don't know what it is about these Indian strawberries that just don't behave like the ones in California. Perhaps because of how sweet they are, perhaps because of its size. Whatever it is, I am just as obsessive about them as I was the first time I ate that pie.

In my experience once you bake the strawberries though, the taste completely changes. They roast beautifully and that tartness turns into a jam like sweetness. That's what happened with these galettes. While I had lined the fresh fruit with some jam, the end result was a deliciously sweet-tart galette what really hit that strawberry spot. 



Fresh Strawberry Galette
Serves 6

Ingredients

For the pie crust
150 grams flour
75 grams cold butter
1 tblsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
ice cold water
flour for dusting

For the topping
6 tblsp strawberry jam
300 grams fresh strawberries

Method

1. In a bowl measure out the flour, butter, sugar and salt.Cut the cold butter into small pieces. 
2. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, blend in the butter until the flour resembles bread crumbs. Add in water a little until the flour just comes together. Do not knead, just bring it together.
3. Press it down and wrap in a cling film. Chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. 
4. On a floured surface, pinch out the 1/3 of the dough and roll into a 1 inch thick circle. 
5. Spread 2 tblsp of jam in the centre. Arrange the strawberries neatly, leaving 1 inch circle on sides so you can fold it in.
6. Once the strawberries are arranged, fold the edges to overlap the strawberries, like you are making a half an envelope. 
7. Repeat with the remaining two. Transfer onto a cookie sheet.
8. Bake for 40 minutes at 180 degree centigrade.
9. Serve warm with whipped cream.




Friday, January 22, 2016

Dessert | Yogurt Mousse with Rose Petal Jam and Pistachios



Receiving a jar of rose petal jam totally inspired me. Considering it was a Chef's special concoction, I could barely wait to get home to figure out what I wanted to make it .

Truth be told, this jam was way to sweet to be eaten with toast. It needed something tart or salty to balance it out. And while I was dabbling for a  bit with the idea of a rose bread butter pudding, I had to veto it because that delicate scent from the rose vanished rather quickly when mixed with butter.

Then this book arrived at home. I mean I'd ordered Persiana a few ago, but it only made it to my doorstep a day or so before the weekend. It had me enthralled. Every recipe, every picture made me want to cook. And the best part? I had literally everything in my pantry and I need to do one bit of vegetable shopping to create a whole meal.

So as I sat there earmarking the recipes I wanted to make, I remembered this greek yogurt panna cotta that I had made a few months ago where I had used sweet middle eastern flavours to compliment the tartness of the yogurt. It was almost as if a bell rang in my head.



I didn't want to make a panna cotta. I mean they are simple and probably my favourite go-to dessert, but I wanted to make something different. Something light and easy on the palate yet something that could balance the flavours of the jam.

A yogurt mousse sounded ideal. But how was one going to lighten the yogurt I wondered. With whipped cream and agar agar I thought.

As I set out making the yogurt mousse, I flavoured it delicately with a bit of orange zest. A combination of honey and sugar gave it depth while the additional of crushed pistachios lent a salty hit which just brought the combination together.

I have to say, this is now my new favourite dessert. Simple, easy and still decadent, it was just heavenly. Plus shooting this was so much fun. It's quite hard no to shoot when big brown eyes are watching your every movement no? I gave a bit to both my dogs, and I have to say they lapped it up like no other.



Yogurt Mousse with Rose Petal Jam and Crushed Pistachio
Serves 8

For the Yogurt Mousse

Ingredients
400 grams hung yogurt or greek yogurt
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup honey
4 tblsp sugar
zest of one orange
1 1/2 tsp of agar agar
1/4 cup  water
a pinch of salt

For the topping

1/2 cup rose petal jam
2 tblsp hot water
1/2 cup crushed pistachio
a few rose petals

Method
1. If you're using regular yogurt you need to drain enough (almost double) to get about 400 grams of hung yogurt.
2. In a bowl, whisk the yogurt with honey, sugar, salt and orange zest together and keep aside.
3. Cook the agar agar with water until transparent, almost 4 to 6 minutes. Strain and add into the yogurt.
4. Whisk the whipping cream into stiff peaks. Cut and fold into the yogurt mixture.
5. Pour the yogurt mousse into serving glasses. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
6. Just before serving, mix the rose petal jam with hot water so that it thins down a bit. Top each glass with this.
7. Add on top crushed pistachio and rose petal and serve chilled.




Review | Chef's Table at Latitude, Vivanta by Taj, Gurgaon




It's always awesome to meet a new chef in town. It's interesting to see what his vision is like and what he's setting out to do.

Meeting Chef Arzooman Irani was just as interesting. While he really was not able to interact one on one since the table was so large, he did manage to send us all off with an amazing present - that of homemade rose petal jam.

The meal in itself was underwhelming. I mean, actually the service was. Because by the time one end of the table got their food, the other end was on an entirely different course altogether. Quite strange.

Most of the food that reached was borderline cold, and sometimes not until be egged the bearer to bring it. Oh well, c'est la vie.

The menu was contained. We started our meal with compressed watermelon, which actually came to me just before dessert, but nevertheless. Spaghetti vegetables, feta cheese, watermelon and balsamic pearls. It had the potential to be amazing, it was honestly lacking in all areas of flavour. There was not enough cheese, not enough balsamic and the watermelon was sadly tasteless.

Next up, were the jalapeno and cream cheese rangoons which were very nice. A nice dumpling of the two. While the mains were all sharing portions, what was really nice was the Sri Lankan Vegetable Black Curry. I loved the flavours of coconut and curry leaves and the heat of the peppercorn worked wonderfully with it.



I ordered a cold coffee and I have to say it was one of the best I'd ever had. While it was off the menu, it certainly was very delicious.

The small portion of the rigatoni honestly meant we couldn't taste all the good stuff that went into it - enoki mushrooms, fresh basil -a slightly larger portion would have meant we'd gotten all in one bite. We'd even had the tangdi chicken, lasooni rasgulla palak and sarson machchi.



For dessert, we were served baklava. Beautifully plated and presented, it was an unusual choice for dessert. Don't get me wrong, it was good baklava, it just wasn't the best dessert option.

What was fantastic was the rose petal jam that the chef handed us at the end of the meal. That was so full of potential.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Baking | Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake with Nutella Mousse and Strawberries


I love the winters in Delhi. It's just so much nicer to you, the weather, I mean. You can stomp around in your thick socks all day long and not feel the need to peel every layer off your skin. 

I love baking in the winters too. There's just something about that cool slab of granite that holds your short crust pastry come together so beautifully. Or that ganache that sets quickly and works like a charm. I love that my cakes barely take anytime to cool and that the butter is so malleable and doesn't melt in a puddle at the drop of a hat. 

Plus the produce is inspirational. Beautiful red carrots, fresh strawberries, bright green mustard leaves, it's as if they are all waiting to be photographed. 



A few weeks into December, I was left with a glut of chocolate. Which is why you're going to be seeing a whole bunch of baking with chocolate for a bit. 

Having said that, once in a while there comes a dessert that really surprises you. The light crumb, the crusty top, the silken mousse - they all add up to a very welcome surprise. And to top that, really a breeze to put together. You wonder why you haven't made it earlier and then curse yourself. Yup, that's how good this dessert is.

Making a flourless chocolate cake depends, to be honest, on what you have in your pantry. I mean that's the way it works for me most of the time. Have almonds, use ground almonds. Have rice flour or gluten-free flour, throw that in for good measure. Most of the times, I have neither, and I use up the quantity of butter to and fluff the egg whites till stiff to make a beautifully dense cake.




But this one, this is made with a little bit of ground almonds, loads of chocolate and just a 2 eggs. Alright so I made a really tiny cake but I think 3 eggs would be more than enough to make this a larger 8 inch cake as well. 

The Nutella Mousse is perhaps the easiest possible thing. You can find the recipe here. And finally, I've just topped it with fresh strawberries. 

This is a lovely cake to have at tea, but a stunner for dinner. Take your pic. 





Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake with Nutella Mousse and Strawberries
Serves 6

Ingredients

For the cake

100 gms dark chocolate 
75 grams butter 
1/2  cup sugar
1/3 cup ground almonds
1 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
2 eggs

For the Nutella Mousse, click here

300 grams fresh strawberries

Method

1. Separate eggs and keep aside.
2. In a microwavable pan, add in the chocolate and the butter. Blitz until the butter is melted and you can stir together the chocolate to make it a shiny sauce.
3. Add in the sugar, vanilla and egg yolks and whisk well.
4. Whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mix. 
5. Line a 6 inch tin with parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes at 170 degree centigrade. Remove when skewer comes out clean. 
6. Let the cake cool while you assemble the Nutella Mousse. Slather the mousse generously on top of the cake and pile strawberries just before serving.
7. Cut thin slivers for your guest. 






Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Dessert | Five-Ingredient Eggless Nutella Mousse



Dear Nutella,

I love you. But you probably already know that. I haven't, however, told you why I love you and I think it's time I list out the reasons. A few of them atleast.

1. You make a piece of bread come alive with your magic.
2. You make that sweet craving disappear with just a spoonful of your chocolate goodness.
3. You are so easy to use. Spread, melt, whisk, there's always something one can do with you.
4. You pair so well with almost everything. Berries check. Cream check. Vanilla check. Almonds check. Chocolate double check.
5. You inspire me. I'm always trying to conjure up something new thanks to how delicious you are.
6. You come in my dreams. Your portly shaped bottle, your spreadable goodness is what my dreams are made of.
7. You don't pretend to be anything else. Chocolate. Hazelnut. Nothing more. Nothing less. You call it like you are.
8. You hypnotise me every time I see you on that supermarket shelf.
9. You are my ultimate comfort food.
10. You are my sweet babboo.

Meanwhile, try this amazing Nutella Mousse, which is eggless and super simple to make



Five-Ingredient Eggless Nutella Mousse
Serves 6 to 8


Ingredients

100 ml low fat cream
100 ml dark chocolate
200 gms Nutella
a pinch of salt
200 ml whipping cream
1 tsp gelatin
2 tblsp water


Method
1. Melt the chocolate and the low fat together in the microwave for about 1 minute. As soon as the cream starts to bubble, use your whisk to mix together the cream and chocolate until smooth.
2. Add the Nutella to it and whisk until shiny and smooth. Keep aside.
3. Soak the gelatin in water and keep aside for 5 minutes or until the gelatin dissolves. Heat the gelatin until completely dissolved, strain and pour into the Nutella mix.
4. Whip cream with a pinch of salt until you get soft peaks. Fold in the Nutella mix carefully. Be careful not to remove all the air.
5. Pour the mousse into cups or glasses. Chill until ready to serve.



Saturday, January 9, 2016

Dessert | White Chocolate Sunflower Seed and Caramel Brownies




It's been a busy couple of months. I started work full time in June last year with a food tech start up, then one restaurant that I was consulting with launched in September while the the second opened to public in December. So between this and the stream of house guests, I could barely cope with taking pictures, let alone, try and write a post.

But here I am. And it's a brand new year. Which means there's a chance I behave myself better this year! Atleast when it comes to the blog!

So, as is my ritual, I have to start the year with something sweet. I feel it sets precedent for the coming year, and in my head means the year is going to be super sweet, filled with yummy goodies and just fabulous things to eat.



With that, I wish you a very happy year ahead and present to you these uber decadent brownies - White Chocolate Sunflower Seed and Caramel Brownies. The base of the brownies is cocoa and not chocolate allowing all the mix-ins to to sit together and form a gorgeous flavour on it's own.

Chewy and delicious, the sunflower seeds add a gorgeous crunch to the brownie, while the sticky caramel just melts in the mouth. But that's enough about these brownies, what really matters is that you make these and quickly.




White Chocolate Sunflower Seed Caramel Brownies

Serves: 12

Ingredients

100 grams butter
1  cups sugar
¾ cup plus cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cold large eggs
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup white chocolate chunks
½ cup hard caramel cut into bite sized pieces
½ cup sunflower seeds

Method

1. In a heavy bottomed pan heat the butter, sugar, cocoa powder together. Mix till the butter melts and the cocoa and mixes in well. Turn off the heat and keep aside.
2. Meanwhile chop the chocolate and the hard caramel, measure out the sunflower seeds and keep aside.
3. Now into the cocoa mix, add  in the eggs one by one ensuring they mix in well. The batter will now start looking glossy and thick. Add in the vanilla as well.
4. Sift in the flour and the salt and whisk for about 2 to 3 minutes. The batter will turn slightly elasticky, which is a good thing.
5. Add in the white chocolate chunks, sunflower seeds and hard caramel.
6. Pour into a prepared brownie pan (a pan that has been lined with parchment paper). Bake at 170 degree centigrade for about 20 minutes. The skewer should not come out clean, a little stickiness will ensure that the brownie is nice and chewy.
7. Once the brownie is cool, cut into pieces and refrigerate for up to a week, if it lasts that long.




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