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A hint of tang, a hint of honey…….A cakey ode to our 40’s!!

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My Mom, has what in my family we call the ‘Recipe Book Graveyard’. She loves to buy different recipe books, especially those featuring the varied regional cuisines of India. So we have Parsi cookbooks and Bengali cookbooks, recipe books of the Konkanastha Brahmins as well as those of the Goans, cookbooks featuring Marwari cuisine as well as a whole variety of books written by Indian TV Chefs. However not one recipe from any of them has ever been tried out.They are relegated to the ‘Recipe Book Graveyard’ situated near my Dad’s ‘Telephone graveyard’….well that’s another story all together……so lets just stay on track.

This tendency to buy recipe books and just read them, not try a thing or try out something that was merely a hint of the original, comes to me, I believe, in a gene from my Mom.

I am not a strict follower of recipes. Wayward in many ways, I loathe following recipes…..and I don’t. Yet, most often than not, I strike success, brought about by another gene, also inherited from my Mom…..talent in the cooking department.
As a subscriber to the BBC Good Food Magazine, India , I enjoy reading the magazine, marvel at the photography and often plan what to cook. But never ever end up cooking anything from the magazine.
My son J, whined and whinged and flung back at me all the lectures we give him about valuing and making use of all that he gets/buys. “Well, Ma……YOU NEVER make anything from your Good Food Magazines!!

So Mama, that’s ME, slunk away, tail between legs……to cook….following a recipe from the magazine.

I searched in some of the latest issues and found the right recipe for me to follow. A Cake. An Orange and Almond Cake.

This cake was perfect. It looked stunning and was so different to anything I had baked before. I had, of course, previously done a Pineapple Upside down. But in this one, I liked the use of honey and orange rind (which is a flavour I am shamelessly partial to), as well as ground almonds in the batter!! Almonds, oranges, honey and of course eggs, how much more goodness could a girl wish for?

As I ate this cake and savoured every bite, I realised I really liked it. Every new mouthful revealed something different. Honeyed sweetness, followed by the bitterness of the orange rind, the nutty texture of the almond and the tang of the oranges. This is such a ‘grown-up’, ‘ adult’ cake. Yet my youngest, 8-year-old D, particularly liked it. She thought it looked stunning and was supremely delicious. Heaving a sigh of relief, that I had spawned children with superior taste buds thus feeling rather superior myself, I continued nibbling.

As I nibbled, savoring each bite….(think wine connoisseur swirling the glass of a particularly prime vintage and you’ll get the picture), I couldn’t help thinking about my bunch of friends. Wonderful women who have either already turned 40 or will be doing so over the next year or two…..and one very lovely 30-year-old who fits in with the rest of the ‘oldies.’ We are all stunning….and sunny. Nutty? Oh yeah….and love it that way. The hint of the rind, a reminder of another facet of our personality…..forthrightness and honesty….often thought of as cattiness. If that be so then MEOW!! But the citrus hit reminds me of all the spunk and ‘devil may care attitude’ that comes only with the age and I’d like to think…AHEM….maturity.

So this one is for all my lovely friends and family as well as all the women out there….who have embraced their forties and rock on with style and panache, wind-blown hair streaked with grey and the confidence to care a damn about whether the grey shows through or not. Who laugh so heartily not worried whether we look like a jackass but confident that any smiling, laughing face is gorgeous, neither does the thought of laugh lines cross our minds.

“We’re not 40, just 18 with 22 years experience.”

Go on try this one….its full of character and its sure to leave an impression on you just as much as it does on everybody.

Orange almond cake

ORANGE AND ALMOND UPSIDE DOWN.(adapted from the BBC Good Food Magazine)

4 Medium sized Oranges
6 tbsp honey
200 gm butter + extra for greasing
200 gm brown sugar
200 gm flour
2 1/2 tsp Baking powder
100 gms ground almonds
4 eggs.

METHOD:

* Pre heat oven to 180 deg C.

orange cake Jan 2013 015* Finely grate the zest from two oranges.

* Peel the skin of all the oranges using a serrated knife.

* Cut the oranges into thick slices.

* Grease a 9 inch round baking pan. Drizzle the honey all over making sure that it covers the entire bottom.

*Arrange the best slices of orange all over the bottom. car rally & orange cake Jan 2013 009

* Finely chop the remaining orange slices.

* Cream butter and sugar till its light and fluffy.

* Bit by bit add in the egg a little at a time, ensuring that its incorporated into the butter/sugar mix before adding some more.

* Sieve flour and baking powder together and add in the ground almonds.

* Fold the flour and almond mix into the wet mix, adding in the chopped oranges halfway through.

* Pour the cake batter over the Oranges and honey in the tin.

*With a spatula or wooden spoon, make a depression in the centre of the cake.This will help the cake rise evenly when baked and not ‘dome’.

* Bake at 180C for 50-60 mins or till a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

* Allow it to settle for around 5 minutes before turning it out.

* Serve as it is or drizzled with honey.

iPhone pics....New year- Pondy Rally 003

Personally, I prefer the flavour the next day.

But I’m sure you know your own likes.

“At the age of 20, we don’t care what the world thinks of us; at 30, we worry about what it is thinking of us; at 40, we discover that it wasn’t thinking of us at all.”

So sit back with a piece of this cake and savour the sweet, the bitter, the tang and nuttiness……embrace it’s flavours and personality.

ENJOY!!

Entering this into the Tea Time Treats Citrus Challenge hosted by Lavender and Lovage and What Kate Baked.

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My Christmas Tree Memories

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Ok….so I know it’s already the New Year…..but these thoughts have been floating around my head and heart for the past month….ever since I put up my Christmas Tree.
My Christmas Tree is always up by the first week of December, especially coz its my daughter D’s birthday on the 7th.
Besides it makes Christmas last that much longer!! My home feels so special and even on years when we are away, I make sure that our house is decorated for Christmas, the star hangs on the balcony and the tree is put up.
This year as I put up my tree,I couldn’t help but be amazed at the amount of meaning it held. Not just the tree itself, but the ornaments, each one special in its own way.
As we hung up each ornament, so many wonderful memories came flooding back…..memories of people and places, years that were especially wonderful and others that weren’t.
Yes, Christmas is about Jesus and church, carols and pressies, food and wine…..but it is so much more as well. Christmas is about family and friends, laughter, reunions, and memories…..creating new ones and revisiting the old.
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Living in Chennai, India….we only have access to artificial trees. Ours was a gift from my sister ML in the first year of our marraige…..that makes it 15 years old! ML is my big sis…..8 years older than me. I followed her everywhere and in every way! Probably still do!! As I put up the tree, I think of her and her family….although she lives in another part of the world, we are lucky enough to meet every year, most often more than once! An expert ‘organiser’, I admire the way ML values family and connections, making sure she meets up with them each time she is back home, tirelessly keeping in touch by email or telephone calls, which has made me in the recent past reconnect with cousins and childhood friends, bringing me indescribable happiness.

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Brought by Dutch friends from Holland more than 30 years ago, this ornament hung on my husband V’s tree each year through his childhood. Although his siblings are scattered around the world, I marvel at how they all gel and connect on the rare occasions they get together. V values everything and believes in perseverance and hard work to achieve what you want. It’s a rare value in today’s world, one that I admire greatly.

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These namesake teddy bear ornaments are gifts from my sis to my kids
J and D, who bring us not just joy, but also keep us on our toes with their insistent questioning about everything. J has a deep sense of justice and I admire his integrity and courage to stand up for it, although I struggle to guide him on how to acheive this without seeming brash. Unfortunately in today’s world ‘falseness’ is the order of the day. Fake smiles, sweet yet untrue words are accepted so easily, yet those who tell us the truth plainly from their hearts are brushed aside just because we cannot face it. As I write this I realise that I have a few yet wonderful plain speaking friends. I am thankful for that. That I am surrounded by genuine smiles a gift I would wish under my tree every year.

D has a boundless amount of joie de vivre. Ever creative, she never fails to surprise us with her ‘surprises’!! Art, craft, dancing, cooking, acting, talking, sports and people all excite her. She is accepting of everyone teaching me to be more so…..tough, as I struggle to accept the differences I see around me. As a result, she makes friends effortlessly.

Sept to Dec 2012 267

Our first Christmas together was spent in KL, Malaysia as V was on a training course there all through the month of December. These ornaments were probably the first I bought for our tree. Accompanied by my childhood friend Nathan, who happened to be living in Kl at the time, I raided the post-Christmas sales. As I put these up, I think especially of all the wonderful boys and girls I grew up with. We never had a ‘curfew’ but yet never abused the freedom we were given. In the environment in India today, all of us parents with daughters are afraid….very very afraid. How do we teach our daughters to enjoy the company of the opposite sex without being suspicious or afraid?
How do I bring up my son to be like the boys I grew up with. They looked out for the girls and we had good clean fun without the fear of being misunderstood or taken advantage of. For that I am truly thankful for all our parents, especially mine, who brought us up to respect each other and to behave in such a way that we earned the respect of others. Yet we never knew we were learning this…..I wish for a gift under my tree that would give me the ability to be able to teach my kids this. href=”https://josmojo.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/my-christmas-tree-memories/sept-to-dec-2012-264/” rel=”attachment wp-att-546″>Sept to Dec 2012 264

From our time in Sri Lanka, a beautiful land filled with wonderful people. As I put these up I think of our neighbours, friends, extended family and the most wonderful group of Indian women who I met there.
What’s so unusual about a group of Indian women bonding? Well, we were of different ages and backgrounds and yet we gelled. The older ones, a good 15 to 20 years older than us, have taught me that age is just a state of mind. They were rocking then and are still today as well!
There was an extended family in Colombo, my sister’s in-laws, who drew us into the comfort of their homes, wooing us with the most amazing food and warm personalities, friends who were as close as family……I love SL for all these reasons and it will always be a place that is so special coz it was where my D was born.
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This little crochet angel, makes me think about Bandra…..the place where my heart belongs. I love the energy and the people who truly know how to enjoy life….dancing through it with smiles on their faces and music in their hearts. Creativity and effervescence abounds. I love to see the older folk rock any dance floor as much as the teens, the natural effortless style in everything and the fact that this has been a place that my family has lived in since the 1500’s (as far back as the records tell us…..probably longer!!) A sense of belonging that is unmatched!

Sept to Dec 2012 261Sept to Dec 2012 263Sept to Dec 2012 265

Just a few of the ornaments from around the world that remind me to be thankful for all the experiences I’ve had by meeting people of different cultures and for the gift of being healthy and lucky enough to travel to many interesting places.

These are just a few of the many ornaments that hang on my tree each year. Every year I add a few new ones. This year I got 2 picture frame ornaments from my friend Jo. Meeting her after a gap of 8 years set the tone for my Christmas season this year. Amazingly, I bumped into many more friends that I had not met in eons…..so these new ornaments will have pics of my reunion with 2 of my BFF’s that made my Christmas 2012.
As I get ready to take down my tree this weekend, I am grateful for all the people in my life, those who form a big part of it, as well as those who have breezed through. I believe there is always a reason for everyone and everything we encounter. So this New Year 2013, I look forward to all the ‘encounters’ that will fill my year.
May you too have a year filled with happy memories of old and memories created new.

Why Dulce de Leche is Doubly Sweet for Me…..

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A couple of years ago a very close friend of mine, Unnati, suggested I join an online baking club. I was skeptical, very very skeptical. But thought there’s no harm, I can always leave if I don’t like the way it works out.

Unnati, an architect by profession is a passionate cook and a budding wine maker. Check out her blog here. Along with some old friends and a couple of Indian woman from around the world we formed the ‘Flour Power Club.’

The objective was very simple. Each month one of the members has to post a baking challenge for the others to complete. The person posting the challenge should have never made the challenged recipe ever before.(even if the others had done so)

The very first challenge set was ‘Banoffee Pie’……a classic, surely, but one that did not sit well with me at all. 

I HATE bananas….period. There’s no more to say.

I was really disappointed, upset even. Regretfully, I wrote to the member who posting the challenge explaining why I was unable to participate in the challenge. She very kindly wrote back urging me to try at least the most important component of the pie, the DULCE DE LECHE…….

…….and I did! Not just the version she had posted, which involved boiling a tin of condensed milk for 3 hours, but the one which involved boiling milk, sugar and vanilla over a stove for the same amount of time till it thickened and caramelised.     

I did make a pie….not Banoffee….but ‘Peachoffee’, substituting the bananas with peaches.

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If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know by now that food has always been part of my life. I have assimilated all my food knowledge as if by osmosis from home and topped it off and sealed it in when I studied food as part of my degree in Hotel Administration and Food Technology.

However, once I got married and moved to Chennai, I lost all interest in cooking, hating to cook the daily meals and ordering in food whenever we had guests.

But joining the Flour Power Club and my first brush with Dulce de Leche, changed all that.

Something piqued my curiosity to find out which method of preparing Dulce de Leche would give a better result.

Needless to say that the one that required that milk and sugar be boiled down to a caramel, beat the condensed milk dulce hollow. The colour was richer and the flavour so much deeper and more intense.

I am a firm believer that anything that takes time, that is gently simmered and needs your attention gives results far superior to the easy, quick fix methods.

As a true lover of food, not just good food, but food that is soooo good your taste buds just pop…..requires time, love and attention.

This was a lesson I learnt that day…..the day of the double dulce de leche.

But this trial also got me back on the foodie bandwagon…..and since then I am back with gusto in the kitchen churning out many delicacies…..but always full of flavour and goodness.

So for these reasons Dulce de Leche always strikes a chord with me……and whenever I make it, I always eat a dollop-full from a teaspoon…..relishing the intensely caramel-ly hit!

All with 3 simple ingredients…

So here is the recipe for Dulce de Leche I use:

1 lt Milk

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 vanilla bean (split)

1/2 tsp baking soda

Method:

Bring the milk, sugar and baking soda to boil without stirring.

Remove the foamy layer that forms on top.

Add the vanilla bean at this point and simmer the mixture for an hour.

You will find that the colour will begin to deepen and the mixture thicken to a thick silky caramel.

I do not stand over the mixture but occasionally stir it. Only at the end when the caramel is thickening, ensure that you stir it to prevent it from burning.

Enjoy your dulce de leche in brownies, ice cream, ribbon it through cake batters, use it on toast or pancakes, or even in a mousse.

Here is the Dulche de Leche in various stages of caramelization:

  

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Move me to Sri Lanka……just for this…..LAMPRAIS! (Foodie Gyans and yarns-3)

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“The best things in life are the people we meet, the places we’ve been and the memories we’ve left along the way.”

 

There had to come a time when I would have to….. just have to write about Sri Lanka.

3 glorious years in Sri Lanka……and other than back home in Bandra, Mumbai……..a tiny bit of my heart rests there.

I loved everything about Sri Lanka….but the joie de vivre of it’s people reminded me so much of Bandra.

Like Bandraites, people here know how to enjoy life. Laughter and smiles flow easily as do graciousness and generosity.

The FOOD!!!!

Whoo hoo…..little shops selling ‘short eats’ all through the day…..cutlets, rolls, stuffed buns, puffs, patties, tarts and pastries.

My all time favorites were Fab and Green Cabin.

Again, all these reminded me of all our little ‘snack bars’ in Bandra.

Lovecake, Bruedher, Milk toffee, hoppers, idi-oppers, kiri-baath and so many more all have to be written about in detail…..but none more so than the Dutch Lamprais.

My link back to Colombo and the ‘Lamprais’ is thanks to my friend Shankari, who carts a load of them for me back form Colombo every year. The kids and myself wait eagerly, relishing every last grain of rice on the banana leaf.

Lamprais are something you either love or hate.

My hubby hates them……but all the more for us, we say.

They are available all over Colombo, made by  Burgher ‘Aunties’ who specialize in this. Everyone has their own favorite and mine was a beautiful lady called Jean just off Nawala Road and Lorraine who sells them at the Dutch Burgher Union.

The kids and I just LOOOOVE it !

So what are these LAMPRAIS I keep raving about.

 

Lamprais are made up of :

  • Short grained rice such as ‘Suduru Samba’ that has been cooked in a meat/chicken stock
  • Lamprais Curry which is a piquant gravy of diced meat, ideally boneless
  • Brinjal Pahi, a sweet n spicy fried brinjal preparation
  • Frikkadels, a crumb fried meatball of meat or chicken
  • Blachang, a finely grownd dried prawn ball flavoured with lime juice and chilly.
  • Seeni Sambol, made with fried onions, sugar and chilly.
  • Sometimes, Fried Ash Plaintain

 

All these are carefully arranged in a Banana leaf, wrapped into a packet and steamed.

The flavours all merge beautifully and a wonderful complex aroma hits you as you unwrap the leaf, causing your tummy to rumble in anticipation of this gastronomic delight!

Normally one would serve a boiled egg along with it.

According to my Burgher friend Annie, the Dutch Lamprais packets are small, as compared to the Sinhalese lamprais which are more like a lunch packet containing an enormous quantity of rice. I won’t waste my time on these.

A true Dutch Lamprais would not contain an egg within the packet nor would the meat be bone-in……so I was informed.

Whatever the case, Lamprais have me hooked for life. It was something I just had to carry back for family and friends every time we came to India on holiday.

 

The Legend of Lamprais

(From http://www.lankanewspapers.com)

“The Golden Age of Dutch exploration and colonialism in the 16th and 17th Centuries saw traders and armies of the Dutch East India Co. sail East from Holland with the Trade Winds, around the Cape of Good Hope and onto the East Indies in their quest for spices and riches. When the winds changed and favoured their return, the journey back home was most often by way of what was then called Zeylan. Their travels uncovered untold treasures and firmly rooted many traditions in most of the countries in which they settled. Possibly their greatest find for gastronomes would be the then humble lomprijst . Discovered in Java, the locals ate the small packets of rice wrapped in a banana leaf holding it in the palm of their hand. Typically, this would consist of a few leftover curries and condiments from the previous meal thrown together with a handful of rice and wrapped in the ubiquitous leaf. It was essentially a working man`s nourishment, carried on his person ready to be eaten whenever time allowed. The Dutch explorers knowing a good thing when they saw one and being good eaters in their own right, took the concept and refined it, adding a few touches of their own to produce what is now the elusive lamprais. Lamprais is an Anglicisation of the original Dutch term lomprijst , the origins of which are unclear, but could stem from either the Malay word klemper, which refers to a ball of lutinous rice wrapped in a banana leaf, or the Dutch words klomp, which means lump and rijst which means rice. Terminology notwithstanding, the contents of the lamprais is a highly debated topic amongst veterans of the chase.

 

So if you ever visit Sri Lanka….try this, it is such an explosion on your taste buds!

A Sunday afternoon favorite……but I won’t complain if its served during the week either!

I’d love to go back and live there just for this!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Aside

I cannot believe that it has been a month since I began blogging!

What started as a lark, with absolutely no plan, has panned out beautifully and I feel truly blessed.

I was new to blogging….still am, but I enjoy the lessons that it teaches me everyday.

In this one month, other than the first day, I’ve had hits on my blog everyday. Ranging from just 2 hits on a day to 165 on another and I enjoy watching the blog statistics.

It humbles me to see that visitors from countries like China, Colombia,Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Japan and Philippines stop by. Places where I do not know anybody. Thank you for seeing something in my posts that interests you and ‘liking’ my posts.

Of course family and friends from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Canada and the US who take time to stop by and comment …..Thank you.

To those of you who have called, messaged,mailed and commented…..thank you….I thrive in your constant encouragement.

To those who have shared my blog on FB, Pinterest, Twitter…..please keep doing so, you guys have driven many more to my blog. Thank you and Mwah ❤

To my fellow bloggers,  I know you only through your writing, and you, me, through mine.

Although its only been a month I can see a little circle forming, each of us encouraging the other.

To me this is the most profound part of blogging.

The ability to see and appreciate the beauty of another’s writing, approach, humor and candor, is  all encompassing…..bringing out appreciation, encouragement, awe and inspiration.

 This was nothing I could ever imagine as a non-blogger.

I thank you all again and again…….

But here I need to mention:

Deeba Rajpal of   Passionate about Baking.  The fact that an Indian living in India could have  such a beautiful blog was inspiring. Deeba very kindly answered my questions about recipe copyrights and I was on my way. Check out her blog for fabulous recipes and food photographs.

Thank you Deeba.

Aarti Mahesh, who’s casual comment, urging me to start a blog, wormed it’s way into my head and stayed there gnawing away till I did start.

My sister Mary-Lou who sent out a zillion emails to every one she knew telling them about my blog…..I’m sure she was single handedly responsible for  the 165 hits on day 5.

Sindu Sanjith…..I guess I could call you my most ardent follower…..Thank you for trying out so many of my recipes and posting them on FB…..I truly appreciate the effort.

Charmaine, Kuki….you too, your posts brought me many more hits.

My son J who helps me with the photo’s, an amazing creative writer, he is also my critic.

My hubby V and daughter D who put up with my late nights at the computer and patiently wait for their meal while I get the photo’s done!!

My parents who have instilled in me this love for food…….all my foodie knowledge was picked up by osmosis at home.

My Mama has also tried really hard to figure out the computer just to read my blogs!

There are so many of you to name…..so I will stop here….but THANK YOU ,THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

Today is also the day MOJO   started…….Mostly Organic by Jo.

Every Monday I bake mostly organic goodies which friends and family can pick up.

 Today we had Wholewheat Carrot and Apple Cupcakes and Mix fruit and nut Oatmeal Cookies.

Thanks to every one who did order and appreciated my products.

I’m happy to say that we supplied Redwood Montessori School who are committed to offering their children fresh organic produce.

June 11th 2012…..MWAAH!

A Month since JosMojo……and a new beginning….MoJo

Aside

If you had to ask me what my favourite cuisines are, I would have to really think.

Coz I love all food, I love variety. 

I thank my lucky stars that my palate was exposed to a great variety from the time I was quite young and so am very willing to try anything new. 

But if I just HAD to, they would be Japanese, Cantonese, South East Asian and Mediterranean.

As you can see Japanese comes way up.

However, I do not cook it nor do I profess to have eaten a whole variety.

 But a platter full of sushi and sashimi always hits home.

I love its simplicity and wholesomeness.

The dominance of fish and sea food of all kinds!

The SEE food as well!

What I mean is that Japanese food is so pretty.

There is so much effort taken in the presentation that it’s hard to dig in!

Of late I have been reading a lot about FUGU.

What is it?

FUGU means, quite literally in Japanese, Pacific Ocean Native  fish.

I was familiar with it as ‘Puffer Fish’ or ‘Blow Fish’.


Eating Fugu is kind of like a gourmet Russian Roulette.

The skin, ovaries, testicles, eyes and especially the liver is extremely poisonous.

The poison ‘tetrodotoxin’ has no known antidote and is more than a 1000 times more poisonous than cyanide.

Yet this fish is considered a delicacy in Japan.

Chefs need to have licenses to just cut the Fugu to ensure that their skillful cutting does away with all the poison.

It is said that if a Fugu chef serves a piece that kills his patron, it is honourable that the chef disembowel himself. 

 JEEZ!!!

These guys spend 10 years of their life just in training!!!!

Seems like Russian Roulette and Fugu go hand in hand! Even with the chefs lives!!

Confidence is definitely a quality required if your ambition is to be a Fugu Chef!!

Well, the best part is, that the slivers of Fugu Sashimi are ironically served in the arrangement of a chrysanthemum, the national flower of Japan but also the flower of choice at Japanese funerals!!

YIKES!!!

Now apparently the ‘in’ thing is for the chefs to leave in just a trace amount of poison so that fugu connoisseurs can feel a numbness on their lips and tongue and just flirt with the danger!

Is the flavor of the fish so unique that this danger is worth it?

Apparently there are mixed reactions.

But as I think about Fugu, I think about all the things I’d love to do!

Skydiving, Bungee jumping, tight rope walking…..but have absolutely no guts to.

But one CAN dream!!

So if someone gifted me an @ 300$ Fugu meal…..well I’d definitely be looking for the exchange policy.

Could I trade that in for a meal at ‘The Fat Duck’ or ‘Noma‘ ……PLEEEAZE????

What about you?

Are you DYING to try FUGU????

To Fugu or not to Fugu? Would you?— Foodie Gyans and yarns-2

The Need to Knead (Wholewheat Pizza Base)

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The plan was pizza for dinner tonight.

Got my sauce done in the morning and planned to get the base done in the evening.

How I love to see the vibrant red sauce, so fragrant, simmering on the stove!

All food that needs to be simmered, slowly, patiently, intrigues me. Considering that by nature, I am not a patient person, I find this very interesting!

Soups, stews, simmering pots of stock and sauces, all have a special place in my foodie heart.

I love that the flavors intensify, bringing out multiple layers and interesting nuances.

Bread dough.….another favourite, is another ‘demand-er’ of tons of patience.

Yet this too, is me….all impatient me!

I love watching the yeast react with the sugar and bubble up……MAGICAL!

Watching the dough rise up and double in size……FASCINATING!

I love to knead, I find it mindfully MEDITATIVE.

That a tumble of flour, water, oil and yeast, rather messy looking, needs just a bit of kneading to turn into a smoothly polished ball of dough is fascinating.

Yet how much easier is it for me to do this, than knead gently into relationships with those around me.

My patience evaporates.

As I kneaded the dough for the base this evening, I could not help but dwell on this…..

……and work out my biceps at the same time. ; )

I had, for the longest time, been trying to zoom into a great wholewheat pizza base recipe…..I was really happy with the results of my experiment this evening.

The dough when baked was soft yet crusty on the edges, lending a beautiful texture to the pizza.

WHOLEWHEAT PIZZA BASE

( adapted from Oprah.com)

3 tsp fresh yeast

2 tsp honey

3 cups wholewheat flour

1 cup flour (maida)

2 tbs olive oil

2tsp salt

*Mix the yeast and honey in a bowl with @ 1/2 cup tepid water. Make sure you disperse the yeast completely.

Leave this yeast mixture aside and keep the other ingredients ready.

I prefer working directly on a clean kitchen counter.

*Measure out the flour and make a well in the center.

*Pour the oil into the center of the flour.

*Check the yeast mixture. It needs to have bubbled on the surface.

If it has, pour this into the well of flour and mix gently into the flour.

*Once you have mixed up the oil and yeast mixture with the flour, pour in the remaining water, bit by bit. Mixing well after each addition. (approx 1 cup)

Once you feel that you have a firm dough stop adding the water and begin to knead.

*Place your right hand to the top of the dough at a 12 o’clock position and your left at the 6 o’clock position.

Begin to knead with your right hand while holding the dough with the left. For some more tips click here.

Roll the dough and continue this action till you find the dough has developed a smooth texture.

Note the picture above and the one below to notice the difference in textures.

By kneading, the gluten strands are strengthened allowing for a more uniform crumb.

*Roll into a ball.

*Keep the dough ball aside in a bowl to prove. Make sure you cover it with a damp kitchen towel.

*Once the dough has doubled in size, knock it back down by punching the dough and dispelling the air.

*Leave it to prove once again.

*Once it doubles in size again, knock it down and roll out into the desired base size.

*You can wrap the extra dough in cling film and keep it in the freezer to use at a later date.

* Allow it to prove for 5-10 mins and then add the pizza sauce and toppings.

* Bake in a preheated oven at 200 deg C for about 10 minutes.

To ensure that the dough is cooked, press gently. If there is a small depression it is not yet ready. Bake till the dough pops back up when pressed.

“Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven”

Yiddish Proverb quotes

Loved this proverb…………leads to an interesting story from African mythology. Iyadola’s Babies.
Resource guide for Chennai:

Organic Wholemeal flour – Econut and ReStore. Pro organics or Letter Mantra Brands available in Nilgiri’s

Fresh Yeast – Nilgiri’s…..look in the refrigerated section.

Satay Supreme

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Satay has been one of those things that everyone in my family loves.

My 7 year old D, has called it ‘Chicken on a Stick’, forever. Its always been a sure thing to get her to eat whenever we are out for a meal.

Yet for no particular reason, I had never attempted to try it out myself.

My first brush with Satay was when I was about 10 years old and had travelled with my Dad and siblings to Singapore for a Food trade fair.

We tried many varieties of food on that trip.

One that exposed and refined our palates to receive a variety of flavours as we grew up.

We went to a place called ‘Satay Club’, a hawker center which had the most finger-lickingly delicious Satay on offer.

Photo Credits Kirsten Dixon A Singapore Hawker Centre

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Being true blue Bombayites, hawker centers was right up our street.

But that was many moons ago.

Many, mannnnnyyy moons ago…….

We still enjoy our Satay. Hubby has even packed some from Malaysia and brought it back home for us to relish.

It is one of those dishes, I’m sure we all order at restaurants and relish at parties.

Yet for some reason, if you are like me, we are quite content to order it and have no reason at all to attempt making it.

Around 3 weeks ago, I had a strange compulsion to try out Satay. Since then I’ve made it thrice, always with great results.

I realised that it is soooo versatile.

My first attempt was just that…..an attempt. But it was delicious.

My second was when I had planned on Phad Thai for dinner. A friend decided to drop in that evening and I needed to a quick dish to add to the menu………Satay it was.

My third was for a picnic by the beach. I thought this would be a great crowd-pleaser along with chilled beers.

And what do you know, Satay is my new fav dish in my repertoire.

I’m sure it will be yours too.

Only once you have actually made it will you realise just how easy it actually is.

So JUST DO IT!!

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Chicken Satay with Peanut dipping sauce.

( Adapted from About.com)

8 Boneless Chicken Breasts

40-50 wooden skewers

For the marinade:

1/4 cup chopped lemon grass (white portion only)

3 Shallots or Sambar onions

3 cloves garlic

1tsp chilli powder

1 ” ginger,chopped

2 tbs corriander powder

2 tsp cummin powder

1 tsp turmeric

3 tbs dark soya sauce

4 tbs fish sauce

5 tbs brown sugar

2 tbs vegetable oil

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The first thing you need to do is to soak the wooden skewers in water. This is really important as if you don’t they will burn while grilling.

Cut the chicken breast into long strips. ( medium thin)

Using that part of the lemon grass which is closest to the root, the white part, chop roughly.

Place all the ingredients of the marinade in a food processor and mix well.

Taste your marinade. It should have a combination of sweet, salty and spicy, but should lead with sweet and salty for the best results when cooked.

Adjust the seasoning using the fish sauce for salty or sugar for sweet.

Add some more chilly powder if you like it spicy.

Strain the marinade through a sieve as the lemongrass tends to be a bit fibrous.

Marinade the chicken strips in this.

Even an hour is sufficient to marinade but 24 would be great!

When ready to cook, thread the meat onto the damp skewers.

Grill on a BBQ or in an oven.

I do it under the grill in my oven. 5 mins on one side and then another five after turning them over.

When you turn them over, baste with the remaining marinade.

Do not overcook or it will end up very dry.

Enjoy your satay with a peanut dipping sauce.

Somehow I feel a BBQ will take the Satay to a different level, but I make do with a gas grill.

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Peanut Butter Satay Sauce.

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Now I am not one to use packaged ingredients in my cooking……and I turn my nose up at shortcuts of the ‘packaged kind’.

But when I needed to make a dipping sauce for the satay, I needed peanut.

Unfortunately I did not have any in stock.

Fortunately I did have ‘Peanut Butter.’

Something I had bought to experiment with in my baking. It however seemed to have found another calling in my kitchen…..Satay Sauce.

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3/4 cup Peanut Butter ( the type that I used still has a few crunchy bits left in)

1/3 cup water

2 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp dark soya sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

2 tbs palm sugar or brown sugar

2 tsp fish sauce

1/2 tsp lime juice or tamarind paste.( I just use lime juice here)

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/3 cup coconut milk

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Once again, easy-peasy.

Just chuck everything into a mixie/food processor and blend away!

Taste and adjust seasoning, using fish sauce for salt, lemon for tang or some more brown sugar for sweetness.

This sauce is just great. It thickens as it sits, so just add a little coconut milk or water if you need it thinner.

It will stay in the fridge for a couple of weeks and works really well as a dip or sandwich spread.

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These recipes are just up my street.

Throw everything together, blend and TAA DAA………..Finger lickingly, skewer gnawingly, lip smackingly delicioso…….

SATAY………..

Enjoy!

Jo

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Pancakes, Pancakes!

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There are 2 memories that spring to mind whenever I think of Pancakes.

The first is a pink and white candy striped pile of coconut and jaggery filled pancakes every  ‘Pancake Tuesday’.

We only ever knew of  Shrove Tuesday  as ‘Pancake Tuesday’.

Traditionally, my Mum made coconut pancakes every Pancake Tuesday and I would run home from school to gorge on the delicious PINK pancakes which somehow seemed much tastier than the white.

The second is Eric Carle’s book ‘Pancakes, Pancakes.’ 

This was one of my kids favorite books when they were growing up, as were all of Eric Carle’s beautiful collage filled  books like the famous ‘Very Hungry Caterpillar.’

Along with Jack we cut and threshed wheat, milled it, milked a cow and waited for the hen to lay an egg.

It was great for my ‘city’ kids to imagine all that went into making a pancake and in our imaginations we made soooo many!

In a bid to recreate my beautiful childhood memories for my kids, I decided that I would make Coconut Pancakes for Pancake Tuesday.

My kids were not impressed.

Me, I was upset.

I had even made the candy striped pile! : (

Well, Pancakes are a regular feature on our breakfast menu and the kids are used to those. In fact they prefer this version of Mama’s pancakes.

So here is a very healthy, nutritious and filling pancake that knocked my candy striped ones off the pedestal.

Wholewheat and Oat Apple Pancakes

Dry Mix

1/2 cup Oats

1/2 cup wholemeal flour

1 tbs brown sugar ( or white if you don’t have any brown)

1/2 tsp salt

1tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

 

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and keep aside.

 

 

 

Wet Mix

1 egg

2/3 cup milk

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

2 tsp vegetable oil

1 apple peeled and grated

1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped

 

Beat the egg, milk, vanilla essence and oil in a bowl.

 

Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and mix well with a whisk or spatula.

When well mixed, grate the peeled apple into the mix. At this point you may add in the finely chopped walnuts.(optional)

 

 

Cover with a clean tea-towel and let the mixture rest. This will allow the oats to soften. (@ 15 mins minimum should be ok)

Heat up your pan or griddle. You do not need to add any oil or butter if you are using a non-stick pan as there is already some oil in the mix.

Then take a ladle full of the pancake mixture and drop it on the pan. You may need to gently push the batter out as it is fairly thick.

Lower the heat and cook the pancake, flipping over when the top does not look moist anymore.

As this is a thick pancake, make sure that the flame is low.

To test for doneness, touch the pancake. If  your finger leaves a depression,then it needs to cook some more.

 

When done, enjoy with honey, maple syrup or nutella.

 

NOTE: We are not a too much of a banana loving family. If you are you could mash bananas into the mix or maybe even a combination of both banana and apples!

I make double the quantity and store the extra in the fridge for the next day.


Resource guide for Chennai

Oats: Organic oats form Econut or Quaker Oats from Nilgiri’s and any supermarket.

Whole wheat Flour:  Organic Wholewheat flour available in Econut and ReStore.

Vanilla Essence: Bush or Viola are good Indian brands. Nilgiri’s stocks bush.

Maple Syrup: Maple Joe Brand available at Nilgiri’s and Mercado. ( The Pancake syrups available in the market are    just 2 % Maple syrup and the rest just sugar so are avoidable.)

Nutella: Just about every store, I think!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quote

A rare occurence

But what to do?

12 Mango-Passion Fruit muffins

Scored a 2!  : (

 

2 outta 10,

that IS quite rare

I scratch my head

I punch my chair.

 

A paperweight?

A muffin ball?

Such a muffed treat

It can bounce off a wall!

 

But then I spy

At the pantry rear

Some gooseberry jam

To me quite dear.

 

Made with passion

By a fabulous cook

My friend Kuki

I take a look.

 

It lifts the muffin

To a culinary height

The muffin’s saved!

I savour every bite!

 

Check out Kuki at ‘The Kuki Jar’

https://www.facebook.com/#!/TheKukiJar

 

 

 

 

What to do with a flopped muffin….