Saturday, May 31, 2014

Simple Chocolate gateau

Simple Chocolate Gateau 

To be fair,  I love exploring new desserts and as a result some very basic ones are pushed in the little closet of my mind and unfortunately they remain there and are not used in reality. So when one of my friends asked me for a simple recipe for a cake which she wants to bake for her mother on her mother's birthday the most simple cake which came to my mind was the good old chocolate cake with buttercream filling  and a ganache frosting. To be fair most people who have baked foam cakes would know that a foam cake which air leavened and uses little flour and fat is the lightest base for a gateau or what is commonly known as a layered cake but foam cakes take a lot of practice and well in India most of the cakes we get at bakeries are not foam cakes but are still very light and airy because they use oil instead of butter which is quite obvious because if one carefully smells the cakes they would find that it doesn't have that special aroma which butter incorporates but the problem with baking a British chocolate sponge cake is that though it is basic it tends to be more packed than what we get outside and a reader had once pointed out that though she loved the cake which she had baked using my recipe for sponge cake she missed that light texture. Well that was a year ago , so this time what I did was use a simple trick to make the cake airy fluffy yet with the buttery smell. All one needs to do is separate the eggs and use some extra egg whites and voila you have airy spongy light cake , which is well less airy than a foam cake but tastes quite nice. I adapted Mary Berry's recipe for the cake base altering the recipe with my separation of eggs and addition of egg whites, used a basic buttercream recipe and ganache recipe .

So here goes the recipe

Serves 4 to 5

For the base :-

175gm of all purpose flour (1.5 cups ) cups which hold 250ml of liquid
50gm cocoa powder (Half a cup of cocoa powder) the cups which hold 250ml of liquid
100gm butter
4 eggs separated
4 egg whites
1 scant tsp baking powder
200gm castor sugar (2 cups)

For the buttercream filling :-

62gm good quality dark chocolate
100gm of butter
25ml cream
25ml milk
125gm of icing sugar (you can increase the amount of icing sugar as per your taste)

For the ganache

175ml of cream
100gm of dark chocolate chopped well

Start by first preparing your baking pans ( 6 inch to 7 inch) by greasing them  with butter and dusting it with flour. If you are doing this for the first time refer to the videos on youtube which show you how to prepare cake pans. Sift your cocoa powder. You need two baking pans of size 6 inch

Now start by sifting the flour with the baking powder. This helps in making the  cake airy and light.
Whip your egg whites to a firm peak. You are using a total of 8 egg whites.
Now preheat the oven to 180 C and quickly cream your butter with a wooden spoon,  that is mix the sugar and butter well with the wooden spoon till the sugar is well incorporated and now use a whisk to fluff it up. Add the yolks one by one and keep whisking. Once done sift your flour and baking powder which has already been sifted once again and fold it in with the wooden spoon. Add the cocoa powder and fold that in then fold in the egg whites.
Bake the cake at preheated oven for 30 minutes if using a convection oven and 20 minutes for regular OTG.  Once baked insert a toothpick in the middle and if it comes out clean your cake has been baked else bake for another 5 minutes or so. let it cool on the pan for 5 minutes to 10 minutes and then run a sharp knife under hot water and run ti along the edge and take invert the cake on a wire rack to cool down completely.

Once the cake has cooled down completely cream your butter and icing sugar and melt the chocolate over a double boiler and once its cool enough add it with your creamed butter. And keep whisking well till its fluffy and light and add the milk and cream and fluff it up again.

For the ganache simply chop the chocolate and leave it in a big bowl , heat the cream over a double boiler and pour the cream over the chocolates and mix well. If you find lumps put the entire bowl over a double boiler till everything melts into a smooth silky texture

To assemble the cake you must remember that the cake must be allowed to cool completely before you proceed. So once it has cooled down completely . I usually proceed. I usually leave it to cool down for 2 hours or more. Now First cut the cakes in two and apply a generous amount of buttercream on the middle layers and put it in the refrigerator to firm up for about 15 minutes and then assemble them by placing them on top of one another and apply a base coat of buttercream and put it back in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Now generously apply the ganache and put it back in the refrigerator for 15 minutes and now simple cut the cake and serve .

Important tips : -

  1. The butter for both the cake base and butter-cream filling must be at room temperature completely softened 
  2. Once you have whisked your butter and yolks you must not use the whisk else you will knock down the bubbles and your cake will be dense , so after you have whisked the yolks you must use the wooden spoon to fold in the flour and then the egg whites 
  3. In case you do not have two pans or your oven is small cream the butter and add yolks and then use half of this and use half of the flour and half of the cocoa powder and half the egg whites and bake , let it rest cool down and then leave it to cool on a wire rack, clean your pan grease it , dust it with flour and then fold the remaining flour and cocoa powder with the remaining creamed butter and egg yolk mixture and the egg whites bake again but you must never prepare the entire cake batter and leave half of it because then the cake becomes dense and horrible . 
  4. When making the butter cream keep tasting it to check whether all the sugar has been incorporated. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Linguine in Bacon Pomodoro Sauce

Linguine  in Bacon Pomodoro Sauce 

Sometimes you need to make some changes to the original recipe because of lack of ease of availability of ingredients. So I was set on this beautiful Italian recipe but the cheese used is rarely available and my friend had come over  before I had ordered the required cheese. Needless to say I substituted the required cheese with another easily available Italian cheese and the result was scrumptious even with the change. I mean there is little chance of going wrong when you have bacon, Parmesan, a nice tomato based sauce heaped on pasta cooked al-dente

Serves 2 :-

180gm to 200gm dried linguine pasta
4 to 5 plump big tomatoes
2 fat cloves of garlic
1 large onion sliced very thin
3 fatty rashers of bacon
A good handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Spray of olive oil

Simply boil your pasta as per instructions on the packet. For al dente be careful to take out the pasta and cook it for a minute less than the specified time. Now if the instructions ask you to boil the pasta for 7 minutes to 9 minutes start making your sauce after 4 minutes of boiling the pasta. Mince the garlic and chop tomatoes and slice onion. Now spray a pan with olive oil and fry the bacon and when its nicely done and you have a lot of bacon grease take out the bacon and  saute the garlic in the bacon fat and then add the sliced onion and finally the plump juicy chopped tomatoes and cook then for 1/2 a minute on high flame and add salt and then simmer covered to make a nice sauce and mash with masher and add 1 ladle of the pasta water . When you get a  thick sauce mix in the Parmesan reserving some to be sprinkled on each plate. Meanwhile keep an eye on the pasta and drain it and plate it and pour the sauce on top and add bacon and a sprinkle of Parmesan and serve

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Dried Fig Ice-cream

Dried Fig Ice-cream 

Sometimes a dish is completely unplanned but is made because of excessive ingredients from a previosuly made dish. Well it was time for an all girls brunch again . You see we are this group of friends and since my friends seem to like what I put on their plate we usually have this brunch which rolls till dinner at my place every time my friend comes down from Delhi. Of course my best friend from the group can be found at various times of different days at my place. Well this time I had opted for a Coffee parfait with a delightful flavour of wine and that required heavy cream.

Now I do understand that procuring heavy dairy cream in India is difficult but its not impossible and here is why I would personally suggest steering clear from  non dairy whipping cream. Cream is naturally supposed to be from cow milk so it is supposed to be dairy and anything which is non dairy is quite obviously unnatural, moreover there was this one time that I had used whipping cream for frosting and making ice-creams and believe me when I say a zinc like taste had ruined both dishes. I do understand that most bakeries in India use Non-dairy whipping cream but any frosting which stays unharmed for days on the end is bad news. In case heavy cream is not available use Amul cream

Now of course there are people who are lactose intolerant and so this particular recipe is not for them. I am not much of a fan of the American style of ice-cream so mine always uses eggs .

You see once you have tasted a superior version of a dish there is no turning back. I was initially a very non-adventurous ice-cream eater who would basically stick to dark chocolate flavoured scoops, coffee flavoured ones, butterscotch, rum and vanilla and then I tasted this fig flavoured ice-cream in Mumbai and I was bowled over. It blew me away but then again without the eggs the richness is just not there. Its not as creamy , not as smooth etc etc. So when I had a good 800ml heavy cream left from my coffee parfait I naturally decided I was going to make a Dry fig flavoured ice-cream.

Here is the deal. I do not own an ice-cream maker and so I naturally welcome recipes which doesn't use ice-cream makers and so Mary Berry's recipe was the perfect solution. I will be honest,  I did not follow the recipe to the tee at all but when you have the basic concept in your head things become much more easy.

Here is the recipe :-

Makes about 12 to 15 scoops of ice-cream

4 eggs separated
500ml heavy cream / Amul Cream in case heavy cream is not available.
3/4th cup icing sugar . You can always increase or decrease the sugar as per taste
A few drops of lemon

For the flavouring
1 heaped cup of dried figs (cup holds 250ml of liquid)
1 cup of water + extra if required
2 tbsp granulated sugar

Start by making your flavouring. Simply bring the figs, water and sugar to a boil and then simmer till its soft. You might be required to add more water but make sure it softens well. It took me 15 minutes over the gas stove on low flame. Let it cool down completely.

Whip your egg whites to soft peaks. use a few drops of lemon. The lemon ensures that the whites do not collapse after being whipped . Now whisk the egg yolks and then add sugar and whisk till its pale and fluffy and add the cream and sugar and create a custard base over a double boiler. At the end you will make a smooth delightful consistency. let it cool down over an ice-bath. Simply take a tray full of ice which is big enough to hold the container with the custard and place it on top till it cools down completely.

In the meantime blend the softened figs to a pulp and now mix it with the custard and whisk well. Fold in the egg whites and pour it in an air-tight plastic container and wrap the container with foil and freeze for at least 3 hours to 4 hours till completely frozen and enjoy the decadent scoops but do eat fat because it melts fast . Next in my mind is this apricot in wine flavoured ice-cream

Monday, May 19, 2014

Green Apple Watermelon Salad

Green Apple Watermelon Salad 

Lets face it 40C is too much of heat. I am ready to migrate to a cooler place and understand why in the old times some would have Summer homes in the hills . This temperature has suddenly led to my craving of fresh tangy food. I mean I am craving tangy taste but with a fresh crunch. Sarani from Back to Basics had posted this refreshing Watermelon Avocado salad. Well it was just so summery. I  replaced the avocado with green apples mostly because I am not a huge fan of avocados, added my own ingredients and there was this refreshing summer salad indeed .

What you need for 1 serving :-

1 green Apple
1 cup of cubed de-seeded water melon
2 tbsp soft feta
Freshly ground black pepper as per taste
Salt as per taste
A drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Simply cut the green apple in cubes like the watermelon. Mix everything and enjoy a healthy summery tangy salad.

Ghee Roast Chicken Pilaf

Ghee Roast Chicken Pilaf 

There are times when the name of a recipe is tempting enough for you to try your hands on it even without reading through the recipe at all and the bonus is that you create a  dish. So the name was 'Ghee roast Murgh' which translates to Clarified butter roast Chicken. Now anyone who has used clarified butter would be familiar with its beautiful sweet aroma and the delightful taste it imparts .So this time I tried a simple marinate and what followed was this :-

Serves 1

1 Chicken leg + thigh without the skin
1.5 tsp ghee aka clarified butter
1/4th tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp paprika or if you don't have it then use Kashmiri Red chili powder
1 blade of mace crushed
Tiny pinch of Nutmeg
Salt as per taste

For the pilaf

1 cup of cooked basmati rice
A big handful of cranberries
A tiny pinch of nutmeg powder
1 tsp ghee/ clarified butter

Simply marinate the chicken with clarified butter, cinnamon, paprika or kashmiri red chili powder, salt, mace and nutmeg and let it marinate well for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 180 C and place the chicken on a rack and put a bowl beneath the chicken on the lower rack so that it collects the juices and roast for 15 minutes and then turn the chicken and roast for another 15 minutes. Now place the rice in the bowl which has collected the juices and mix well and place the chicken on top and bake for another 5 minutes. Its a mild flavoured dish and somehow with the spices and flavour of ghee it works in the summers because of the light texture  and the cranberries give it a nice tangy flavour.

Tips to cook the rice :-

  1. Take double the amount of water of rice and bring to a boil and cover and simmer for 15 minutes. If the crockpot is too small the bubbles might come out in that case leave a gap when placing the lid and once the water gets absorbed cover completely and cook. 
  2. Once you have cooked the rice let ti stay with the lid on for 5 minutes and then serve it. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Ham Cheese Egg Roulade

Ham Cheese Egg Roulade 

I strongly believe in the widely accepted theory that a good breakfast helps you begin your day well. You see as the name suggests its breaking your fast while you rest throughout the night.

I have to confess that while on some days I do like a fruit smoothie or a shake there are these other days when I crave a hearty breakfast and while the definition of 'hearty breakfast'  is subjective for me inclusion of eggs is a must. That along with my love for sausages and ham made me create this Ham Cheese egg roulade which basically keeps you full almost well into the second half of a day. A roulade basically means to roll and this is nothing but a rolled omelette with stuffing inside.

What you need for serving 2 people :-

3 eggs well beaten
3 to 4 slices of lean ham
A handful of grated Parmesan
Salt as per taste
Freshly ground black pepper as per taste
1/2 tsp of thyme
2 tsp olive oil

Simply beat the eggs well with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper  and then heat the oil on a large skillet and make a thin omelette and wait for 2 minutes and carefully place the omelette on a surface and add the ham and then the cheese and roll it and there you have your roulade. Sprinkle with the thyme and we have a hearty breakfast with some fresh fruits.

Here are a couple of tips which might help :-

  1. Eggs are very delicate items and so they must be handled carefully which means too much heat burns the bottom and too little wouldn't set it. In my experience if the skillet is heated well and then the eggs allowed to cook on medium heat for a minute while it sets then the chances of burning is minimized . 
  2. Once the eggs begins to set one can use the back of a ladle to spread out the unset egg mixture 
  3. Be careful when taking it out of the skillet, too much pressure breaks the beautiful omelette  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

ITC Sonar's Treat for Mothers

A Delightful Sunday Brunch 

Presented by ITC Sonar's Eden Pavilion 

Make your own Mother's Day any given Sunday with ITC Sonar Edevn pavillion's Fun filled Sunday Brunches. So do you really feel Mother's Day is that one day of every year. Well if you are like me you would probably want everyday to be Mother's day and ITC Sonar gives you the opportunity to have a fun day with your mother every Sunday, oh well wherever a mother goes the family follows and so its a treat for the entire family.

I was invited as part of Kolkata Food Bloggers to sample Eden Pavilion's Sunday brunch on Mother's Day and I was actually very happy to have been informed that it was part of their regular Sunday brunch and the activities ta Brunch goes beyond the scrumptious spread. So there is face painting for your kids and I am not sure why the adults cannot take part it as well. Then there are  balloons, magicians and of course a cookie making stall. These are the simple activities which a mother and child can do together which makes an ordinary Sunday extra special and why you need not wait for that one day of the year to make your Mother feel extra special.

Well before I share my experience let me state that I unfortunately forgot my Camera and so I have borrowed all the photographs used for this post from the lovely Archita's blog My Food My Life.

I was ever so pleased when ITC Sonar invited not only the members of Kolkata Food Blogger but invited our mothers well. It was one of the best events I have attended. With all our mothers and fun loving members it was a beautiful brunch and I must say that our gracious hostess Arundhati took extra care of our mothers which touched me indeed.

So when you decide to go in for their Sunday brunch be prepared to sample a variety of delicacies from around the world. So the bread station has 5 to 6 options of bread from Focaccia to bread rolls .

There is an extensive spread from their salad bar and there were enough number of items to make me feel 'spoilt for options' but I shall nevertheless mention that the prawn cocktail was a decadent affair as mentioned by my mother and since I am allergic to seafood I tasted their platter for cold cut and I must say it was as expected from ITC . It was of top notch quality indeed. There is an array of salads for the health conscious and of course there are Indian starters which includes enough variants to make your taste buds feel  pampered . So there are fish kebabs and Shammi kebabs and Corn tikkis.

From their mains there is a whole range from European cuisine as well as South Asian Delights. The Dhaka Biriyani stands out indeed. Mild subtle flavours with melt in the mouth succulent pieces of chicken it did catch my fancy and as we all know ITC does have a reputation for churning out some of the best South Asian dishes in Calcutta be it from Eden pavilion, Dum Pukht or Peshawari.

While my fellow diners loved the 'Kosha Mangsho' Mutton in gravy I found the chicken curry 'Kosha Murgi' to be exceptionally tasty.

You have 'well done ' tenderloin and Eggs benedict from their Continental spread and in case you do love Western Cuisine book a table at their West View bar and Grill an exclusive diner at ITC Sonar which serves excellent Cold cuts and Grills and its all A la carte and tailor made for the guests.

If you have a sweet tooth the spread at Eden Pavilion's Sunday brunch will spoil you indeed. There are slcies of praline cakes and mousse au chocolat and blueberry cheesecake and then there is Bengal's famous 'Mishti Doi' (Sweetened curd) and they even have an option or two for those unlucky people who have developed diabetes with Pannacotta for the diabetic.

Senior Sous Chef Gaurav  Lavania informed us that the spread changes every Sunday which is good news indeed. And this humongous spread is available for Rs1850 plus taxes per person every Sunday . So treat your mothers any given Sunday.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bhetki Macher Kalia

Bhetki Macher Kalia 

(Fish in a rich gravy from Bengal) 

We Bengalis from Eastern India are known for our love for fish. In fact there was a time when chicken was not allowed in most homes and mutton was also mostly avoided other than the meat cooked from animal sacrifice. Of course all that has changed and in fact Bengal was one of the first few states where one could enjoy a wide variety of cuisines but then again with time the rest of India caught up with its global outlook and some have more to offer than our state at present but a Bengali's love for fish remains unchanged. There are enough number of varieties of fish to confuse me and I personally do not like all the varieties but then again there is one fish which I simply love and that is the famous 'Bhetki' . Its probably the soft texture of the fish or the fact that it is what is mostly used for fries which most people love and is an item which is a definitive inclusion for all special occasions.

We Bengalis have a way of organizing and categorizing everything so we have soupy curries which we call 'Jhol' then the word 'Jhal' which literally translates to hot food can mean different things to different family. To my family any 'Jhal' will most obviously have mustard to provide the heat and then there is Kalia . I am not sure what it exactly means but all I know is it is a rich curry which is mostly served on special occasions. I recently read that it is called so because of the use of onions but since the source is not completely credible I wouldn't go by it.

Most homes have their own version of Kalia with addition and substraction of a few ingredients and as usual for traditional Bengali dishes I have looked upto my Mimi who has taught me the tricks of Bengali cuisine. Before I move on to the recipe I have to say a few words about my beloved aunt (Mother's Brother's wife). I have not seen any other lady who always produces perfect dishes from her kitchen. Her luchis are always perfectly puffed up (Puffed up flatbread) Her dishes always have the perfect balance between spices and saltiness and sweetness and if you follow her recipe then its a cakewalk because we all learn from experience as to what we must do and not do when preparing something but with Mimi she tells you beforehand what problems you might face. So she warns you that the fish might break for frying and you have to handle it gently or it would splutter oil so that int eh end you end up with a lovely dish and half of the credit goes to her. Here is a recipe which had been handed to her by her mother and since she has handed to me I might as well this recipe a heritage one.

Serves 4 to 5

Around 1 kilogram and 100gm Bhetki fish sliced into 8 pieces
1 heaped tbsp smooth ginger paste in which 2 green chilies has been added before making the paste
1 heaped tbsp smooth garlic paste
5 tbsp smooth onion paste
6 tbsp tomato paste
2 green cardamom
Cinnamon around the size of half a thumb
4 cloves
2 large bay leaves
Mustard oil to fry the fish
4 tbsp ghee
Salt as per taste
1 tsp chili powder
Turmeric for rubbing on the fish and a pinch to be used for the gravy
650ml of water
1 green chili for garnishing

Start by rubbing salt , turmeric and 1 tbsp mustard oil on the fish and marinating in it for about 1 hour. Now heat the oil and fry the fish but do not brown it. Since it will be used in the gravy one should ideally fry it lightly so that it reaches a nice golden colour and transfer to a big container.

Now decant the extra mustard oil and heat 3 tbsp ghee and add the ginger paste and garlic paste and sautee till the raw smell goes away and add the onion paste and then wait till the raw smell of onions go away and you find the oil separating and then add the tomato and crushed bay leaf and sautee till the oil separates out . Now crush the whole spices but do not grind them and add them and then bring the wet spice which is being cooked to a boil and add the chili powder, turmeric and salt and then simmer and add the water and bring to boil and then lower heat and add the fish one by one but very carefully and simmer covered for the next 15 minutes or so. You shall see a film of fat from the ghee and then switch off the gas stove and transfer it to a bowl. When transferring remember that the fish is soft so try and gently place them one by one and then use a bit of gravy and place a few more fish and top with more gravy. Use 1 slit green chili for garnishing and serve with plain steamed rice .


  1. The fish is very soft and so there is a chance that it might easily break so  when turning it while frying handle it very gently. 
  2. Do not brown the fish else the gravy would not penetrate through . ideally the fish should have a golden hue when you should take it out of the wok and transfer it to a dish. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Breadcrumb coated Fried fish

Breadcrumb coated Fried fish 

I come from a part of India where a piece of fish is almost compulsory with every principal meal except breakfast. Now to be honest I am not a fishoholic. I know there is no such word in the English dictionary but if selfie can become a word fishoholic is a perfect word to describe people who are obsessed with eating fish but then again I do love certain fish and Bhetki (a local fresh water fish with one single bone which is used for coated fries and curries ) is one of  my absolute favourite fish . Its probably the soft texture , the sweet taste and then of course there are memories attached to this fish.  Special occasion in a Bengali household would definitely mean Bhetki being served one way or the other. Usually India being the land of spices the breadcrumb coated fish fries served in Bengal have quite a sharp taste from the use of onion paste and ginger paste and garlic paste and green chilies but on an afternoon when I was dead tired and my best friend had come over I decided fries I would make but one that didn't need too much of work.

I must mention that I do enjoy the flavours of the ingredients I cook and so when I am cooking fish I do not mind the fishy smell. For me the idea of covering up its own flavours is not compulsory.

At first I had decided on the Classic British Fish n chips but without adequate all purpose flour at home I quickly changed it to breadcrumb coated fish fry since I had baked a sour cream bread a few days ago and when there is bread at home making breadcrumb doesn't take much time.

While many fish connoisseurs from the part of the world where I come from might not be too happy about the use of pork fat I decided on it because I read about beef dripping making Fish n chips tastier and so pork fat it was for my recipe but you can always leave that out. This breadcrumb coated fried fish along with a creamy homemade dip on a lazy Sunday afternoon with your best friend makes some great memories indeed.

So here is the recipe which serves 2 :-

I used two large fillets (say about 100gm per fillet)
I rubbed salt and freshly and finely ground black pepper on both its sides and marinated it for 1 hour

For the coating :-

1.5 cup of breadcrumbs (These cups hold 210ml of water)
1 egg whisked well
Salt and finely ground black pepper
All purpose flour for dredging the fillets , say a handful of it

Pork fat + vegetable oil for frying.

For the dip

2 tbsp sour cream
4 tbsp soft feta
1.5 tsp finely chopped jalapeno soaked in vinegar

Simply marinate the fish in salt and pepper and int he meanwhile make the bread crumb by preheating oven to 180 C and making small squares from your bread slices and baking them for 20 minutes. Turn them once after 10 minutes.

While it gets marinated make the dip by whisking soft feta , sour cream and then add the chopped jalapeno. You might add salt but I didn't need to since the soft feta had enough salt for my taste buds.

Now heat the vegetable oil with pork fat if using it or just the vegetable oil is not using pork fat. Don't let it smoke else your fish fry will turn black on the outside.

Now first dredge the fillets with all purpose flour and then dip it in the whisked egg and coat it well with breadcrumbs and then dip it in the egg again and finally coat well with breadcrumbs and fry on medium heat till its golden brown on both sides. Serve with the creamy dip.

Melon Smoothie

Melon Smoothie

Well when its hot and you feel tired all the time there is nothing like a refreshing healthy drink. On these hot summer days when you have a tall glass of refreshing drink to quench your thirst while you get to enjoy the delightful taste its a match made in heaven. Water melon and muskmelon both have high water content and so a smoothie  with these two fruits makes a delightful summer drink. The best way to ensure that your smoothie is chilled is to keep the fruits in the refrigerator and chill them well before blending them since adding ice does dilute the flavour.

Here is what you need :-

Serves 1

1.5 cups of diced water melon
1/2 cup of diced musk melon

Simply blend together and relax with a tall glass of Summer delight. I have to admit that I am a fruit fanatic and love most fruits but in case you are not you may add honey for extra sweetness or to jazz things up you can add some Chaat masala as well.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Croque Madame

Croque Madame 

A French Classic 

 When Indrani from Ripappayan announced the Event on Sandwiches, I was quite happy because I have been wanting to make one of my favourite sandwiches since quite sometime and this was the perfect opportunity. Ideally this classic sandwich should be a Winter's sandwich because of all that butter and cheese but then again a good sandwich does keep you full for a long time indeed.

It is quite obvious that a sandwich would require some good sandwich bread and while you can always pick up a loaf from a bakery nothing beats the delightful taste of freshly baked bread at home. Here is a recipe for Sour Cream Sandwich Bread.

So my choice of sandwich is the classic Croque Madame . This is a grilled ham cheese sandwich which originated in France. Actually Croque Madam has a butter poached egg on top which many say represent a woman's hat hence the name Croque Madam. The other version of this sandwich without the egg is called a classic Croque Monsieur. Typically made with a lot of Gruyere cheese or Emmental cheese this sandwich with the bechamel sauce and butter and ham is a cheese lover's delight. Its a very heavy sandwich and so 1 sandwich keeps a person full for about 5 hours to 6 ours.

Serves 4

So this is what you need :-

8 slices of bread

For the Bechamel sauce

1 tbsp flour
1 cup of whole milk
2 tbsp butter
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt as per taste

For the assembling of the sandwich

300gm of Emmental or Gruyere cheese
8 slices of ham . I have used lean ham
4 eggs
70gm of butter

Bechamel sauce 

Start with preparing the bechamel sauce. Heat you r milk along with the nutmeg and cool it. Melt the butter and add the flour and quickly create a roux which is smooth and then add the milk bit by bit whisking it constantly to create a smooth bechamel sauce.

The skillet grilled sandwich with the goodies inside 

Generously butter the slices of bread and then add enough bechamel sauce to cover the side which faces you and add 2 slices of ham and then a fat slice of Emental cheese and then heat the skillet and use a slice of bread buttered side up on low heat and after a minute place this on the sandwich to finish creating it. The heat from the bread will melt the cheese and now place the entire sandwich on the skillet on low heat. and brown it well but take care to not burn it . Once done the cheese should have melted fully and then spread a bit of bechamel on the sandwich and top it with an egg fried sunny side up. Enjoy

Date almond shake

Date almond shake 

250ml to 300ml chilled  toned milk
5 dates (I used seedless ones)
15 almonds with skin
1 tsp honey (optional)

So dates have a very bad name of packing you with calories so that eating a lot of dates apparently leaves you without a date but the truth is each date has a mere 23 kcalories and they get their bad name because 70% of a date is sugar but its packed with iron and other nutrients and having 5 of these against refined sugar is much more healthy and it energizes you and so beginning your day with it isn't such a bad idea .

So simply chill the milk and use the almonds with skin (the skin has vital vitamins) , dates and honey if you like it extra sweet and add a bit of milk and blend away to make a smooth paste and keep adding the mild bit by bit to make a smooth date shake and enjoy. Adding a bowl of fruits and a water poached egg with the date shake makes it a perfectly healthy start for the day :)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sour Cream Sandwich Bread

Sour Cream Sandwich Bread 

There was a time when making a sandwich at home required buying bread and other ingredients , assembling them and eating it, given the bread would be bought from bakeries but once you have made your own bread successfully there is no looking back. Like my friend Karen says, its therapeutic and I say its an addiction and well you get the best flavours and taste.

So when I decided to make a sandwich I had to pre-plan it from at least 4 days before. First and foremost there was the search for the perfect recipe though but wait the sandwich is yet to be made because first comes the bread. Well to be honest when it comes to bread I don't have to read too many articles and recipes to know where to find the perfect recipe. You see the first time I ever baked bread it came out top notch and perfect and I had nothing to do with it, it was all because of my Bread God Dan Lepard's recipe. His recipes are perfect , so whenever I bake my bread I just follow his recipe and add a little of what I call 'Manjari proof' thing in the end.

So Mr. lepard says this is the 'proper British sandwich bread' and I say it comes out marvellous. It calls for sour cream and so lets begin with the sour cream . You can easily buy your own but believe me making sour cream substitute at home is easier than any other dish. And there is no need to try and make this healthy with wholewheat flour because if you really want healthy bread make a wholewheat bread . I have one in my Cakes and Bakes :)

 For the sour cream :-

200ml cream
2 tbsp vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)

Just mix the cream with the vinegar and keep it in the hottest part of your home and let it ferment for 24 hours to 48 hours and you shall have thick sour cream substitute. Then chill this for a day and you are sandwich ready. I took advantage of the horrible summers in India and my sour cream was ready after overnight fermentation which I chilled for the entire day before using. After using the amount of sour cream required for the bread you shall still have some sour cream. Use it for salads, soups etc. The amount left is too little for cakes.

Recipe Source : Dan Lepard's Sour Cream Sandwich bread

What you need for a good loaf which yields enough slices for 6 sandwiches is :-

125ml chilled sour cream
550gm all purpose flour
150ml cold water
100ml boiling water
2 tsp dry active yeast
2 tsp castor sugar
2 tsp salt
25gm butter (all of which you shall not require)
Milk for brushing

Start by boiling the water. Take a big bowl and add your sour cream, cold water and then add the hot water , salt sugar and yeast. See the recipe did not call for proofing of the yeast and I haven't done it but I am guessing this first step proofs the yeast. After 5 minutes stir well and add the flour and use your clean hands to make the dough and cover and leave for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes butter your hands and knead the dough for 1 minute and leave for 10 minutes covered with the cloth. Repeat its  process twice. Now knead it well and tightly roll it like a scroll and butter your baking pan and leave the dough inside the pan covered with cloth  and let it rise for the next 1 hour to 1.5 hours till it has doubled in size. Brush with milk. This brushing of milk is what I call the 'Manjari proofing' because if you don't there is a chance that the top becomes too dark. This gives a nice brown crust on top and a shine.

Preheat oven to 200 C and bake for 30 minutes to 45 minutes. I personally required 39 minutes. Let it cool in the pan for 2 minutes and then take it out and let it cool on the rack for at least 2 hours to 3 hours and when it has become completely cool only then should you slice it. If you try slicing ti earlier your bread will crumble.

Make a nice sandwich. I shall make it tomorrow because ' Tomorrow is another day'  :)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Green Apple Summer Salad

Green Apple Summer Salad 

Let's face it when the temperature hits 40C you are in a bad state but then again there is  nothing one can do about it except perhaps try to cool off by swimming and having sorbets but wait a minute , what about lunch? For some reason when the sun was snorting out fire I suddenly had a craving for a tangy crispy salad.

So here is some Green apple summer salad which is tangy tasty and that soft Feta provides a delicious twist. Its very simple

What you need for 1 serving is :-

1 Green apple
Half a cup of dried cranberries
1 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil which you can increase or decrease as per taste
Salt as per taste
Freshly ground pepper as per taste
2 tbsp soft Feta which you can replace with the crumbly variety of Feta
Sprinkle of thyme ( I used fresh thyme but you can use dry as well)

Simply chop the apples and mix everything up and then top it with the Feta and serve.