Friday, February 12, 2016

Dessert | Tiramisu Cake




So just as I posted the recipe for Roasted Purple Carrot and Goat Cheese, my friend Sangeeta had just posted her recipe for the Black Carrot Soup with Feta on her blog as well. What a wonderful coincidence.

You see, we've had a glut of purple carrots this year. I mean I've never seen them last this long ever. Strange, but so good no? Therefore how can one resist not making something seasonal and delicious with them?

I roasted these bad boys a lot this winter and then topped the with thyme and goat cheese and ate them as is. Then I made a purple carrot cake, which I'll post later.

Meanwhile the big V-day is making its way towards us and as much as I love strawberries, I've been dying to eat something non-chocolate and non-fruity for a while. The toss up was between caramel and coffee and coffee won hands down, when I saw a cake Chandrima Sarkar had posted.


I used Deeba's foolproof sponge cake recipe - 3 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar. 1/2 cup flour - and made a nice dry sponge and finally used plenty of mascarpone to make a filling and topped it with some coffee whipped cream.

To be honest, this was a simple cake to make on a busy day, since I was able to bake, cool and fill in less than an hour and and a half and let it chill till the night, when we decided to cut and eat.

Oh this cake was delicious, and it totally made my day! I loved the tang from the mascarpone and the booziness from the Kahlua and rum. I loved how nicely the cake soaked up the juices and I love the how beautifully the coffee cream just brought it all together.

This is a must make cake, its stunning, easy and super delicious.



Tiramisu Cake
Serves 8

Ingredients

For the cake
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 flour

For the mascarpone filling
100 grams mascarpone
50 grams cream
1 tsp instant coffee
1//3 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

For the soaking syrup
1/3 cup freshly pressed coffee
1/3 cup rum
1/4 cup Kahlua (optional) or 3 tblsp sugar

For the coffee cream
200 ml whipping cream
1/3 cup icing sugar
a pinch of salt
2 tblsp freshly pressed coffee

Method

1. Start with the cake. Preheat the oven at 180 degree centigrade. Line a 5 inch tin with butter paper.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff keep aside.
3. In another bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale and frothy and nearly tripled in size. Fold in the flour.
4. Gently fold in the egg whites. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes or until done. Keep aside till cool.
5. Prepare the syrup by mixing together the coffee, rum and Kahlua or sugar.
6. To make mascarpone filling, whisk together all the ingredients until smooth. Keep aside
7. Make the coffee cream by whipping cream until stiff and add the coffee, icing sugar and salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.
8. To assemble the cake: Cut the cake in half horizontally. Brush one half of the cake with half the syrup. Top with all the mascarpone filling. Top with the other half. Brush with remaining syrup. Now, ice the cake with the coffee cream, covering it completely. Refrigerate for 4 hours until set.



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Savoury Baking | Roasted Purple Carrots and Goat Cheese Souffle



Having spent my college years in Chennai, meant that I was more or less the designate cook for dinner at home. I mean, ofcourse we had help and my grandmother would make the menu, I would be the one who would finally cook.

Three out of the seven days we'd have staple North Indian fare, other days would be bakes such as Mac and Cheese or vegetable gratin or a simple soup, cutlet and toast. And when I'd feel fancy I'd whip up a cake, or some mangoes and cream or a trifle pudding. 

And then ofcourse there were Sundays. Sundays were when we made whatever we felt like. Homemade pizza from scratch, hand rolled pasta, momos, quiches and salads, just whatever we had craved all week long in our heads. Cheese souffle was another thing that I'd often experiment with. Souffles were my nemesis. They'd fall too often, be dense too often or just often be undercooked. It wasn't until I realised I had to love them eggs to begin with, did I ever manage to make a mean souffle. 



Ever since that, I've been experimenting with flavours for a good souffle. Blue cheese is my personal favourite with a side of arugula salad with balsamic drizzle. I've made a corn and jalapeno souffle which I love and a double baked goat cheese souffle which is amazing. 

This souffle is made from seasonal purple carrots that have been roasted for a deeper and sweeter flavours. Paired with tangy goat cheese, it made a delicious meal. The first time I made this souffle I realised it needed a lot of secondary spices to seduce the flavours of the cheese and the carrots.

My second attempt at the souffle was way better. I'd upped the goat cheese, added a bit of lemon and finally added more cheese and thyme. The result was a filling savoury souffle that was just perfect for dinner for two. 

And while purple carrots are seasonal, (and chockful of anti-oxidants and Vitamin A) these can easily be made with regular carrots as well.




Roasted Purple Carrots and Goat Cheese Souffle
Serves 6

Ingredients
4 large Purple carrots
Olive oil
Salt 
Pepper
1/2 cup Goat's cheese
1/2 cup Cream cheese
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp thyme leaves
1/4 tsp paprika
juice for half a lemon
1 tsp corn flour
Butter for the ramekins

Method

1. First peel and cut the carrots. Drizzle olive oil over it with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes at 200 degree centigrade. Keep aside. 
2. Once the carrots are cool, puree and keep aside.
3. In a large bowl mix together the goat cheese, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, egg yolks, milk, thyme, paprika, mustard, salt, pepper, lemon juice and corn flour. Whisk until smooth. Add in the carrot puree.
4. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff.
5. Fold the egg whites into the carrot mix. 
6. Pour into buttered ramekins and bake for 20 minutes at 180 degree cenitgrade. 
7. Serve hot with a salad or some bread.


Restaurant Review | Pluck at Pullman Aerocity



I'm going to say this outright. This was perhaps the best meal I've had in a long long time. Heck, it's certainly the best meal I've had so far in 2016.

It was so good, that I've already gone back twice. Once for a complete meal and another time just for that deadly Parmesan and burnt garlic soup. Which by the way is the love. 

Situated at Pullman Aerocity, close to the International Airport, Pluck is a sort of farm to table restaurant in the city. Why farm to table? Because most of the greens and veggies are all grown in the vicinity and then used in their salads, dressings and sides. Pretty cool huh?



Our meal started with a beautifully plated amuse bouche. A little arancini with bread dust. Simple, stunning and just delicious. A few fresh salad leaves arranged in a vase along with the day's dressing - I had the sundried tomato dressing - made its way to the table. Very nice. As were the flavoured butters and home-made breads.

Then came the best part ever - the soup. This gorgeous molten preparation was like eaten a river of Parmesan. Velvety smooth and so fantastic, this is the stuff that dreams are made of. I could have eaten bowl fulls of this soup. At least three before I had my fill. Plus after I saw this one particular episode of Chef's Table, I couldn't stop dreaming of this soup.



The Pluck special Caesar Salad was also very nice. Fresh and crisp leaves, with thin slices of croutons and parmesan, what set it apart were the pieces of candied orange and a beautiful raspberry vinaigrette. I loved the textures at play and was very happy with my choice.

For my mains, I opted to eat the black cod, whilst my companions tried the broccoli and quinoa cake and the sous vide chicken with home fries. Every single one of this dish was so beautifully presented. They looked like works of art and it took quite a bit of cajoling to eat it.



My cod had a lovely crispy skin and was served with the smoothest mash in the world! That and puy lentils just made the entire meal complete. The broccoli cake too was a winner all the way. The quinoa just lifted the dish completely and the lemon butter it was served with, was absolutely stellar.

Finally, it was time for dessert - we tried two the first time - Yuzu and white chocolate flan and the double chocolate mouse. Again, absolutely stunning looking and my favourite was the yuzu and white chocolate flan.



But here's what happened the second time I went - I'd ordered the Gulab jamun creme brulee and the pear and toffee as well as the other two and was underwhelmed by all three other than the flan. Just some place the flavours are amiss and I was a little saddened by that. Even then, it's a brand new restaurant and it's only going to get better from here.

But all in all, what. a. meal. I still can't stop talking about it.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Baking | 3 Ingredient Nutella Loaf Cake



It's World Nutella Day today which means this is a day dedicated to me. Ok I kid. This should technically be my most favourite day ever, if and only if I had a huge repertoire of friends who bought me Nutella by the kilo.

The other day I wrote ten points why I love Nutella so much. If you haven't read that already, you must read it here. The truth is, I haven't found an ingredient as versatile as this.

I am always trying to look for super simple recipes to make with Nutella. I have made quite a few cakes with Nutella such as this one. But what I've seen what work the best are my 2 or 3 ingredient Nutella recipes that are basically hassle free. Take this Flourless Nutella Cake for example - just two ingredients and it poufs up to become a beautiful cake. Like magic almost.



Then there's the Banana Nutella Ice Cream. Again a two ingredient recipe. But so quick that it's almost unbelievable. Oh and how I can I forget my Nutella Brownie Bites. Oh. My. God. If there's a recipe I have loved more than anything, it's been this one.

So for World Nutella Day, I decided to figure out something super simple too. And something I could whip up in a jiffy. This cake is exactly that. Eggs, Flour, Nutella and a pinch of salt that well, optional. Pop it in the oven and the next thing you know the cake is done. Drizzle some Nutella and serve!



Nutella Loaf Cake
Makes 1 large cake or 4 small loaves


Ingredients
250 grams Nutella
150 grams flour
4 eggs
a pinch of salt

Method

1. In bowl, whisk the the eggs until they are foamy and almost double in size.
2. Mix in the Nutella, the eggs will air out a bit, put don't worry
3. Sift in the flour with the salt and then using a spatula cut and fold into the batter until mixed.
4. Bake for 20 minutes at 180 degrees.
5. Drizzle more Nutella and serve.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Baking | Citrus Creamcheese-filled Chocolate Kumquat Cake



I can't believe it's February already. Normally these months feel forever - I suppose it's a combination of the bitter cold and very little to do. This year however, it's completely flown. 

I have a very fun February which I am totally looking forward to. For starters, I'm going to see my grandmother in a few days. Then we have an exciting food walk planned for later this month and finally we doing an all-girls trip to Varanasi. So all these things put together, I'm expecting it to be a really good month. 

Produce wise to, it's a great month - purple carrots, tangerines, kumquats and plenty of leafy greens just make it so much fun to cook. Because of the cold, frostings set so well, food can be slow cooked without having to worry about it spoiling and finally, eating al fresco is actually a joy in itself. 



I'm going to be baking many cakes this month, just making use of the good stuff that available. Plus the I got a whole lot of cheese to sample from by the good guys at Dairy Craft and that's always fun. 

This cake is a simple yellow cake that has been layered and frosted with a bit of cream cheese, layered with chocolate ganache and finally topped with freshly cut kumquats.  The combination was decadent but not too sweet. The tang of the citrus worked so well with cream cheese while the flavours of the kumquat cut the sweetness of the cake.

I served it for tea to some friends, while the husband took nearly half of it to work with it. And everyone had the same reaction. All in all, this was a win-win cake. 




Citrus Creamcheese-filled Chocolate Kumquat Cake
Serves 6

For the cake
Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the cream cheese filling
1 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
1 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp orange zest
a pinch of salt
1 tblsp kumquat juice

For the chocolate ganache
200 grams chocolate
200 ml cream

For the topping
20 kumquats

Method

1. First make the cake. Preheat the oven at 180 degree centigrade and line a baking tin with butter paper and keep aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla to it and whisk well. 
3. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt together. 
4. Whisk in the milk and flour mix alternatively until the batter is smooth
5. Bake for 35 minutes until the skewer comes out clean. 
6. In another bowl whisk together cream cheese and butter, add in the vanilla, orange zest and salt. Sift in the sugar and whip until smooth. Keep aside.
7. In a separate bowl chop chocolate and pour boiling cream over it. whisk to make it smooth and glossy.
8. To assemble: Cut the cake into two parts. Fill with cream cheese. Frost with the ganache and finally arrange the kumquats.
9. Chill and serve.



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