Thursday, July 5, 2012

Rose and Vanilla Poached Peaches & A White Chocolate Mascarpone Tart with Peach




I am a food shopaholic…the fact that I can actually make our travel plans depending on whether or not we can buy good food ingredients from a particular place, just proves it beyond a shred of doubt! And you know what…I am proud to be one (mostly ;) )

Stone fruits are in season…peaches, plum, and cherries are plentiful. Given my addiction of food shopping last weekend I bought a whole lot of peaches (way more than two people can humanly consume J ). We enjoyed eating a lot of them and still had enough left…thus I came upon the ‘consume peaches in various forms’ mission. Some of the peaches that I bought were still a little unripe, the best way to eat these is to poach them and that’s exactly what I did. In fact I experimented with the flavour combination of peaches, vanilla & Rose! Nothing that could possibly go wrong with these anyway J I used the lovely dried roses that I had bought from my last trip to Shenzhen. The peaches beautifully absorbed the rose aroma and flavour, with the vanilla bean adding a rich muskiness to it without overpowering its sweetish, slightly tart floral taste  J



These can be eaten as is with the sweet aromatic syrup or top them on a bowl of yogurt or crème fraiche along with a spoon of the gorgeous syrup. It would serve as a perfect light desert.

A few slices of peaches along with yogurt can be topped with granola for a quick and healthy breakfast option.  R was particularly hooked on to this one; he ate this twice a day for at least a week J


I still had half a jar of these rose poached peaches, they just seemed perfect to be topped on a Tart. So I made a Mascarpone & White Chocolate Tart with an easy to assemble, no fuss Oreo Crust & topped it with these peaches. This one was, my favourite way of eating the peaches. The sweet mascarpone & white chocolate filling was beautifully contrasted with the tart flavour of Peaches with the hint of aromatic rose & vanilla, needless to say, the Oreo crust was the perfect accompaniment as a crust.



Recipe           

Rose & Vanilla Poached Peaches

Ingredients:

10 Peaches halved & stoned
700ml Water
5tbs Sugar
½ a Vanilla Bean (split lengthwise & seeds scrapped)
6-7 dried Rose Buds (the dried rose buds have a more concentrated flavor)

Method:
   1. Combine the sugar, water, vanilla seeds, bean & Rose buds together in a broad based pan/pot and simmer it over low heat till the sugar dissolves.
   2. Gently place the peaches in the pan in a single layer, making sure all the pieces are submerged.
   3. Let it simmer on a medium flame for about 3-4 mins.
   4. Once done, remove the peaches from the pan. The skin would have separated from the fruit. Peel it and keep the peaches in a single layer on a plate.
   5. Let the remaining liquid simmer on a medium flame for another 8-10 mins till it gains a syrupy consistency.
   6. Remove the rose buds & vanilla pod from the syrup with a slotted spoon and let it cool down.
   7. Once both peaches and the syrup have cooled down, transfer them into a sterilized glass jar. You can store it in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

White Chocolate Mascarpone Tart with Oreo Crust
Yield: Three 4 inch Tarts
Ingredients:

For the Crust
2 small packets of Oreo Cookies
1 ½ tbsp Butter (melted)

For the filling
½ cup White Chocolate Chips
200gms Mascarpone Cheese
½ cup Fresh Cream/Full Cream (I used Amul fresh cream as that is the only option)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

For the Topping
4 sliced Peaches (Poached of Fresh- I have used the poached peaches)
Dried Rose Bud

Method:

For the Crust

   1. Crush the Oreo cookies to a fine grainy texture in a food processor/blender.
   2. In a large bowl stir together the cookie crumbs & the melted butter until combined and the crumbs are evenly moistened.
   3. Press the crumb mixture evenly onto the bottom and the sides up. Preferably use tart tins with removable base, this will ensure easy un-moulding. Refrigerate the crust for at least an hour.

For the Filling

   1.  To make the filling, melt the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
   2.  Remove bowl from the pan and set it aside, let it cool down.
   3.  In a separate bowl beat the mascarpone cheese (cheese should be at room temperature) and lightly whip the cream in another bowl. Fold the cream into the cheese, stir till combined. Then gradually add the molten white chocolate and vanilla and combine the mixture.  

Assembly

   1.  Once chilled remove the tart shells from the refrigerator and pour/spoon the mascarpone cheese mixture into the shells. Smooth the top with an offset spatula.
   2. Let it chill in the refrigerator for another half an hour.
   3. To serve, top it with sliced peaches garnished with a dried rose.
   4. Unmould the tart just before serving


   








Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Strawberry, Basil & Roasted Almonds Ice Cream




When we go to the supermarket for buying our groceries, we usually divide the list of things that we need to pick up between R and me, to save time. (trust me, it is needed.. for 2 reasons..1) my list is usually long and 2)more often than not I loose track of time  while shopping for food J) So every time R comes back with his half of the list, there are always a few tubs of ice cream that come along J He loves Ice Cream, and I mean it when I say he Loves it.. He sits with a tub and polishes it off; all by himself, at one go…

Well, that is reason enough for me to make ice cream at home. Unfortunately I have been trying to get my hands at an Ice-cream machine for a while now. Have tried almost every possible place, but without any luck. I wanted the cuisine art and although it is available on amazon, it will cost me a fortune to get it shipped to Mumbai. So, I kind of was putting off making Ice cream at home, till I could find some other model. Wherever I have read, most of the people said that making an ice cream without the ice cream maker, hugely affects its texture.  But then I guess I was getting too impatient and decided to find out a way of making it without an Ice Cream. After reading a lot of recipes online I decided to make one with a combination of a few.

I had frozen some strawberries just before the season got over. This would be the best time to use them! J I made a strawberry and basil Ice Cream with Roasted Almonds.


Check out this picture.. This is ice that had covered the strawberries, it had the exact impression of the bumpy strawberries, slight pinkish hue.. it looked beautiful! J







The recipe is very simple and uncomplicated, good news for vegeterians..doesn’t have any eggs J.

Recipe
           
Yield:  1 1/2 Quarts approx

Ingredients:

400gms Strawberries (Fresh or Frozen chopped)
400ml Cream (Amul Fresh Cream is what I have used)
¾ cup Fresh Basil leaves (washed & dried)
¾ cup lightly Toasted Almonds (Chopped)
1 cup Sugar
Juice of 1 Large Lemon
Half a can of Sweet Condensed Milk

Method:

   1.  Let ¾th of the strawberries & sugar macerate in the blender jar for about half an hour.
   2. Then blend the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice & basil leaves together.
   3. In a Large Bowl whisk together the Cream & Condensed Milk.
   4. Pour the strawberry puree into the cream mixture, stir in the almonds, chopped strawberries (If you prefer your ice cream smoother, you can puree all the strawberries, I like mine chunky J) & whisk it all together till well combined. Pour the ice cream in a freezer safe container & freeze for at least 4 hours.
   5.Remove the ice cream from the freezer and blend it, till it’s all smooth again. Refreeze & repeat the procedure at 2 more times every 3-4 hour. This process helps break the ice crystals and results in a smooth textured ice cream.

The resulting Ice Cream is smooth, almost gelato like in texture. The taste is oh so refreshing with just the right amount of nutty crunch from the toasted almonds, little bursts of strawberry awesomeness from the strawberry chunks and basil giving it that exotic edge, each flavour shining through! Oh Strawberries can’t wait for you to come back again…. J

P.S: The ice cream takes just a little longer to freeze and I wanted to photograph it the same day, hence the pictures are that of a slightly runny ice cream J I had planned on taking some more pictures the next day after it froze properly, but guess what? There wasn’t any left to photograph..so, sorry for the not being able to post the perfect scoop. J





Monday, June 25, 2012

Roasted Pumpkin & Walnut Soup


Saturday morning I woke up to a dark cloudy sky..... One would think that’s a gloomy day…
But I was exhilarated!! The dark clouds were a promise of arrival of the long awaited rain..I love rain!!
Rain has always been magical to me, it cheers me up, it nourishes my soul...when it falls the sound of it calms me down, making me happy,  drowning away all the worries in it’s melodious sound and the sweet smell of earth. Pure Bliss!!

It makes everything look so beautiful and happy, even a city like Mumbai that is usually full of hustle & bustle seems to take a break and enjoy this weather.

The view outside the our home window is gorgeous...the rain drops are dancing away happily, the contours of buildings &  people have vanished in the misty drizzle the only sound that can be heard now is the resounding pitter-patter of rain and rain droplets tapping against the windows.  The initial gentle hum of the drizzle turned into the roar of a downpour.

I drank in those beautiful rain moments standing near the window, oblivious to everything else in the world for a few minutes, with R besides me.

Then me and R both started talking about how much fun it used to be to walk in the rain. A wave of nostalgia washed over, bringing back fond childhood memories.  Sailing paper boats in the gushing water, getting drenched to the skin in the love of nature, jumping in the muddy water splashing water all around...

We both looked at each other and smiled mischievously...whoever said we could not do it now! And off we went to truly enjoy our rainy day. R made some of his famous ginger tea that we filled up in a thermos and went down in the garden for a walk in the rain.

We loved the feeling of walking together holding hands, getting completely drenched in the rain and not caring..wading through the water, shoes squishing . Everyone including the flora and fauna seemed to be happy, the plants and trees were swaying happily glistening, washed in the shower, their thirst quenched. A feeling of absolute bliss came over as the rain came down on me..It felt so good!!

A good one hour walk later, we sat in the garden gazebo sipping hot tea.  After a while we went back home, took a nice long hot shower and felt rejuvenated! It was also the best time for a nice hot soup. So, I made us a roasted pumpkin & walnut soup, that we ate with warm toasted bread, watching the wonderful rain. J










Recipe           
Ingredients:

½ kg Pumpkin
2 tbsp Olive Oil
4-5 pods of garlic (peeled)
1 medium sized Onion
Mixed Italian Herbs (Dried)
Sea Salt
Regular Salt & Pepper to taste
Fresh Thyme & Oregano
Vegetable Stock/Chicken Stock (Optional)
Fresh Coriander Leaves, Toasted Walnut to garnish
½ cup Toasted Walnuts

Method:
  1) Remove the seeds, wash them, dry them and fry them in 1 tbsp oil and keep aside. Sprinkle a little salt over them. (These will be used for garnishing later) They are quite tasty on their own…I eat a few while making the soup J
  2) Cut the pumpkin in approx 2 inch wide and ½ inch thick pieces.(Having equal sized pieces help in even cooking) Place them all spread evenly in a baking dish/tray. Sprinkle some sea salt, dried herbs, add garlic & drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Bake it in the oven at 180 degrees for about 35-40 mins or until the pumpkin is cooked. (Test by inserting a knife or a fork)
  3) In the meanwhile, chop a onion in juliennes and sauté it in 1 tbsp olive oil on a slow flame till translucent with a pinch of salt.
  4) Once the pumpkin is baked and cooled, remove the skin and puree the pumpkin with walnuts & onion in a processor/blender.
  5) Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a pot/pan and add the puree to it. Add the vegetable (you can use chicken stock also) to it and bring it to a gentle boil. Add a little bit of water if required and especially if you are not using any kind of stock.
  6) Add chopped herbs (thyme & oregano), salt & pepper to taste & let it simmer for about 10 mins.
  7) Serve them hot or warm.
  8) I served them with a tiny swirl of cream, a few drops of flavourful oil that I gathered from the baking dish that I used for roasting the pumpkin, a small piece of walnut & coriander flower.

The soup is earthy, with a hint of smoky sweetness as a result of roasting the pumpkin, the walnuts give it the just enough richness and the garnish gives a burst of flavours with each spoonful! J



JWsMadeWLuvMondays

Monday, June 11, 2012

Watermelon and Mint Popsicles




Summer brings its joys! As much as I have cribbed about the heat the past few weeks, I have enjoyed the summer bounty of delicious fruits like, mangoes, cherries, peaches, lychees, watermelons  and the pleasurable  cold treats that summers brings along with it and make the season enjoyable.

Last weekend I made some watermelon & mint Ice pops/Popsicles... These were so much fun and undeniable soul satisfying in the heat of the afternoon.

Extremely simple to make and the combinations that could be used to make these cold treats, are just limited to one’s imagination....Just blend and pop them into the freezer and enjoy them on a hot day or on a cold one if you like J 






Recipe           

Makes about 8 small sized popsicles

Ingredients:

3 cups chopped (deseeded) Watermelon
½ cup Fresh Mint Leaves
3 tbsp Sugar
Juice of 1 Lemon
 ½ cup Water

Method:

   1)  Boil the Sugar & water together for about 6-8 mins to make the simple syrup.
   2)  Blend the water melon, simple syrup, lemon juice & mint together in a mixer/food processor for  about 3-5 mins.
   3)  Pour the blended mix in Popsicle moulds & freeze it for at least 3-4 hours or until it is solid.
   4) To unmould, dip the popsicle moulds in running water or leave out for a few minutes.
                                                    
P.S: In case you are in the mood for a boozy popsicle, you can add 4 tbsp of White Rum        while blending and enjoy a frozen Watermelon Mojito on a stick. J




Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chocolate Fudge with Toasted Macadamia nuts, Nutella & Hazelnut Flavored Bailey's




Chocolate is so uplifting, and add Nutella to that and you are set for a perfect day of Happiness!! and as if that was not enough, think about adding some wonderful toasted macademia nuts..Bliss! But hey, I want something more….take it a notch up and add some Hazelnut flavoured Bailey’s… Are you swooning yet? I know me and R were when we took a bite into this boozy, decadent, no fuss candy J

This chocolate fudge is maybe one of the simplest candies to make. It barely requires any cooking, it’s more about just putting it all together and you have a delicious treat ready in less than 15 mins in a single bowl. It’s just perfect for satisfying any chocolate or dessert craving.

Making this felt so good: melting the luscious dark chocolate, toasting the fragrant macademia nuts, the spoonful of nutella and most of all adding the delicious bailey’s to the already in heaven fudgy mixture. 




My Fudge has Polka Dots! :)



Just a disclaimer: The Fudge was melting away, even while I was trying to photograph them at superwoman's speed :D The crazy heat is to be blamed not ME for the messy pics! :D




This picture of the word Fudge written with nuts was R's Idea :)




Recipe           
Ingredients:

50 gms Chocolate chips (at least 60% cacao)
3 tbsp Nutella
3 tbsp Butter
100 gms Toasted Macadamia Nuts
Half a can of Sweet Condensed Milk
3-4 tbsp Bailey’s Hazelnut Flavor
½ tsp crushed Sea Salt to sprinkle

Method:
  1.  Line an 8 inch baking pan with parchment paper/butter paper with extra paper to hold on all four sides (this will make it easier for you to un-mould the fudge once refrigerated) Keep this aside.
  2. Put the chocolate chips & butter in a microwave safe bowl and microwave it for about 1 ½ min (remove it from the oven and stir every 30 secs) and also keep an eye on the chocolate in case your oven takes less time to melt as chocolate burns very easily. If you don’t have a microwave oven, simply melt the chocolate & butter over a double boiler. (To form a double boiler, place a large pot filled with water on the burner, then place the bowl with chocolate & butter over this – the level of water in the pot should be low enough so that it doesn’t touch the bottom of the chocolate bowl)
  3. Once the chocolate is molten, remove it from the oven/boiler and add the other ingredients to it one by one, incorporating them till it becomes a homogenous mixture. (reserve some nuts to dot the mixture after pouring it in the pan
  4. Pour/Scrape the mixture in the pan lined with parchment paper. Smooth the top with the rubber spatula, dot it with the remaining macademia nuts & sprinkle it with the sea salt.
  5. Cover the pan with a cling film and refrigerate it till the fudge is firm (for about 2 hours)
  6. Once chilled, remove the fudge from the pan using the extra parchment paper around the edges, if the fudge is stuck in the corners; just use a slightly warm knife to loosen them.
 7. Place the firmed fudge on a flat surface, and chop it into desired size of squares using a knife dipped in warm water and wiped clean.
 8. If you manage to save some, these can be refrigerated in an airtight container in the fridge for a week. J
  
The fudge comes out smooth, luscious, not too sweet with just the right amount of kick from the wonderful hazelnut flavoured Bailey’s. The macademia nut adds a perfect nutty flavour and all the flavours are brought together with an added depth from the sea salt.



Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Aam Panna or Kairi Panna - A refreshing Indian Raw Mango Squash




I have been cribbing about the hot weather for a while now, and not just me, almost everyone is. I have realized that off-late most of my phone conversations back home or with anyone else in this country has at least 5mins dedicated to discussing the weather, the increasing heat and the eternal wait for monsoon J. Last week I was talking to Mom, she had just come back from the market and she said that she could barely shop for anything because of the crazy heat, back there the temperature had reached a 118 degrees! While talking to me she was making herself Aam Panna and was telling me how refreshing and energizing it was. It gave her the strength to enter the kitchen and cook dinner  J. She insisted that I should also make some and store it in the refrigerator, it’s good for health and me and R should drink it regularly. I did take her advice seriously (I am smart enough to know that Mom’s are always right and listening to her was in my best interestJ) and headed towards the kitchen.


Aam Panna is a popular Indian summer cooler. It’s a delicious refreshing drink well known for its heat resistant properties.

The traditional way of making this is by roasting the raw mangoes (kairi) over coal since that was not an option for me I decided to roast in on an open flame. This gives the drink a nice smoky flavour. While roasting and the Mangoes the house was filled with  a heavenly smoky mangoey smell... R came in the kitchen and said ‘this really smells like summer’ the aroma brings back all the memories of our mom’s making this for us throughout summers J

We relished this drink hopefully other’s too enjoy this refreshing squash this summer! 







Recipe           
Aam Panna/Raw Mango Squash
Ingredients:

2-3 Large raw Mangoes
½ cup Sugar
Black Salt/Rock Salt/Kala Namak to taste (about 1 tsp)
1 ½ tsp Roasted Cumin seeds
1 cup fresh Mint Leaves

For Serving
Water & Crushed Ice
Cherries & Raspberry Sugar (Optional)
Juice of half lemon
Pinch of Salt

Method:

The mangoes can be cooked in 3 ways:
     1)    Roast on an open flame: Roast the whole mango over an open flame till the skin is charred and  
          the pulp has softened. Once roasted the skin can be peeled easily.
     2)    Baking: Wrap the mangoes in a foil and bake it in the oven at 300 degrees till the pulp is soft 
          and cooked through.
     3)    Boiling: Pressure cook the mangoes for 2-3 whistles or boil it in a pot filled with water for about 
          15-20 minutes.

Once the mangoes are cooked the pulp should be soft. Peel off the skin and remove the pulp in a bowl.

Pulse the Sugar, Cumin seeds & rock salt together in a blender to a powder.

Combine the powder & pulp together till you achieve a thick homogenous mixture.
This pulp can be stored in the refrigerator for about 4-5 days in an airtight glass/plastic container.

To serve

Mix about 4 teaspoons of the pulp with half a glass of chilled water, 1/3 cup crushed ice and a few torn mint leaves.

Optional: I served it garnished with cherries and raspberry sugar on the rim of the glass. For covering the rim with sugar, place the lemon juice in one plate & the raspberry sugar & a pinch of salt combined in another plate. Dip the glass in the lemon juice and then in the sugar.
The crunch of salty & tangy sugar goes really well with the sweet and tangy flavour of the drink.  

For the Raspberry Sugar

Ingredients

1 cup coarse Sugar
4-5 Raspberries

Method:

Combine the Sugar & Raspberries & pulse it in a blender a couple of time. (do not over this or else you will end up with a powder/paste)

Remove it on a large plate, spread evenly. Dry it in the sun for about 2 hours.

Then store it in an airtight jar in the refrigerator. It can be stored for about 2-3 weeks.  




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