Friday, July 25, 2014

Affogato - A perfect, quick dessert!

Nothing says "pick-me-up" as Affogato does! It's an all time classic Italian dessert (beverage, really) and something even the laziest people can make in a jiffy. There's no recipe to it, only assembly. So here it is:

Scoop, Pour, Serve!
  1. Brew a nice cup of Espresso Coffee.
  2. Take a glass and scoop about 2-ish scoops of fine quality Vanilla Ice Cream.
  3. Pour warm coffee over the icecream (there's something about this that I love!).
  4. Garnish with grated chocolate or coffee beans.
  5. Serve. Sluurp!
Tip: Affogato goes really well with coffee ice-cream. Get innovative with toppings: Baileys and Bitters go well!

    Sunday, July 6, 2014

    Classic Espresso - Brewed using a Moka Pot!

    Coffee - my to-go beverage when I'm looking to perk up my mood or just feeling glad! I love coffee and more so lately. There's something about a good cup of coffee and there's more to it. You can screw up on making coffee in more ways than one. In simple terms, you need primarily good coffee (well roasted, fresh ground), good brewing style (espresso machine / filter coffee maker / moka pot / french press etc) and good water.
    I Love Coffee!
    I was recently introduced to Moka Pot by my better half (he is a terrific coffee aficionado!) and I was pleasantly delighted by the superb coffee it brews time over again! IF you love Coffee - GET A MOKA POT! It's a simple, 3-part tool which essentially helps you brew a stunning Espresso coffee at home, at 1/10th the cost of a high-end Espresso coffee machine! Let me show you how:

    Ingredients (for 2 cups of coffee):
    • Freshly ground coffee - 2 table spoons (to fill your moka pot)
    • Water -- that's it!

    • Fill the bottom of your Moka Pot with water, till the pressure valve level.
    • Add fresh ground coffee to the coffee holder - make sure to top off but don't apply pressure.
    • Screw the top firmly, ensure no scope for steam to pass.
    • Put your Moka Pot on stove (or gas, if you will) and watch the magic unfurl. What will happen is that the water will heat up, gradually rising to the coffee grounds and then due to the pressure within, will rise through the tube and eventually what you will have is fresh espresso in the Moka Pot dripping slowly - something about observing this process is magical!
    • Enjoy!

    This is how a Moka Pot works.

    Tip: From here you can pretty much make Cafe Latte, Cappuccino,  Mocha or even simple filter-coffee by just adding milk and sugar.

    Monday, June 23, 2014

    The Perfect Summer's Sandwich

    We all look forward to Summers. The Mangoes (yum!), Pool Parties, Holidays, Ice Creams, Golas - everything becomes better with Sunshine it seems! On a warm Summer's day, it's often best to stay away from spicy curries and biryanis. A light meal is perfect for Summer and it helps our bodies to stay cool, calm and feel energetic. Here's what I love making and serving during Summer - The Perfect Summer's Sandwich. It's packed with goodness of Vegetables & Sprouts and makes up for a fantastic Lunch with a bowl of Soup or just a nice light Dinner.

    A perfect balance of textures, flavours and colours - this is a visual treat and culinary delight of a Sandwich!
    Ingredients (for 2 Sandwiches):
    • 4 slices of Bread - preferably multi-grain - lightly toasted.
    • 1 Avocado - scooped and sliced.
    • 1 Tomato - sliced.
    • 1 Cup of Alfalfa Sprouts (or any sprouts if you don't have them handy).
    • Few Black Olives - Sliced.
    • 2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced.
    • Few leaves of crisp Lettuce.
    • Olive oil & Mustard, Salt & Pepper to Taste.
    Everything Fresh, Everything Simple!
    • As is with any good sandwich, it's all about the assembly - so get creative and bring in nice visual and proportional balance of things.
    • Apply Olive oil to bread and smear it with minced garlic and mustard.
    • Begin layering Lettuce, Tomatoes, Olives and Avocado. Season with Salt and Pepper.
    • Top off with a nice, hearty heapful of Alfalfa sprouts and close the sandwich.
    • Slice in half and Serve!
    Tip: Try adding Hummus to this sandwich, it goes really well! A healthy sprinkling of Toasted Sesame Seeds will take this dish to next level!

    Friday, April 25, 2014

    Panchratna Uttappams - Savoury Pancakes w/ 5 Delicious Toppings!

    Let's admit it -- a burst of colours never hurt anyone! I like colours and love it when they blend into something appetizing too! Few weeks back, on a Sunday, I made these Uttappams on my brand new mini-pancake griddle and they turned out perfect. Talk about transforming a rather easy snack into something curiously gorgeous and delicious too! I highly recommend these for Breakfasts or Tea-time snacks. And you can whip them up for your little one's tiffins too (I don't recommend -- the other kids may pounce upon!)

    Simple. Quick. Appetizing. Delicious. What more can one ask for? :-)
    Ingredients (for 4 people or 40 mini-uttappams):
    • 1 Kg Uttappam Batter (easy to make from scratch, but needs overnight fermentation).
    • 1 Cup Grated Beetroot
    • 1 Cup Finely Chopped Onion
    • 1 Cup of Diced Tomato, de-seeded
    • 1 Cup of Chopped Coriander
    • 1/2 of Cup of Milagai Pudi Powder (or Powder Chutney / Gunpowder)
    • Salt to taste
    • Ghee or Oil to cook
    Kindle the artist inside you. Paint your Uttappams with creative and colourful toppings! Yum!
    • It can't get any simple. Simply give your Uttappam batter a nice stir (and a salt check) and bring it to room temperature if cold.
    • Take a griddle, preferably a mini-pancake one, and lay about 3 Table Spoonfuls of Batter - roughly making a 3-4" Uttappam.
    • Top each of your Uttappams with Beetroot, Onion, Coriander, Tomato & Pudi.
    • Be careful not to go overboard with the topping - just try to cover the top, that's it - or you may have difficulty in flipping over.
    • Add some Ghee (or oil) around edges and cook till the bottom is nice golden brown. 
    • Flip it. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes until the toppings are cooked and mild caramalization occurs.
    • Serve hot with coconut chutney or ketchup! Enjoy!
    Tip: Try going a little creative with toppings. Try Schezwan sauce, Cheese, 3 colours of Capsicum, Minced Broccoli, Grated Coconut, Ginger Chilly Paste, Black Pepper Powder etc! Your platter is only limited by your imagination!

    Friday, March 21, 2014

    Hasselback Potato - Fit for a King!

    Potatoes; I love them. They're versatile, full of flavour and just satisfying in any which way you make them. I've been waiting long enough to try my hand at Hasselback Potato since I first saw them on a food blog. Hasselback Potatoes are all about turning a humble potato into a gourmet delight and a visual treat, and how!
    Finally a dish which gives full justice to the humble Potato! Crispy outside, Creamy inside - Y.U.M!!
    Ingredients (for 1):
    • 1 Large Potato - Preferably firm
    • 1 Clove of Garlic - Sliced into slivers
    • Few Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary - partly chopped and partly whole
    • Olive Oil
    • Grated Cheddar Cheese (any cheese will do, though)
    • Salt & Black Pepper to Season
    • Optional: A little dollop of sour cream!
    Herby, Cheesy, Creamy and Crispy. This is how we rock and roll!
    • Wash the Potato thoroughly and dry it. Place between 2 chopsticks horizontally and begin making cuts at about 3-4mm distance. Make sure NOT to cut all the way down (thats why the chopsticks).
    • Once done, dip the potato in ice cold water for 3-4 minutes. This should help to release a lot of starch and open up the potato. Run your hand across the potato 2-3 times to speed up this process. Once done, get the potato out and leave it on dry surface for a moment - this will get rid of most of the water.
    • Insert a Garlic sliver between each slice as deep as possible, but be careful not to break the potato. Be gentle. Enjoy the process!
    • Transfer the potato to a baking dish which has been lined with foil. Gently coat the potato from all sides with quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Ensure that there is a decent amount of oil brushed on top so that the slices get a good share of oil.
    • Sprinkle Salt, Pepper and Minced Rosemary across. Add a few sprigs of Rosemary around the Potato so that it absorbs maximum flavour while it bakes. Top it up with cheese (not too much).
    • We're ready to bake. Add the baking dish in a pre-heated 200 Degree oven for 25-30 minutes (or maybe a little more) until you have absolutely crisp edges on potato and gorgeous browning all over.
    • Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream and chives on top! Enjoy each bite of the perfect medley of potato, garlic & rosemary!
    Tip: Most people recommend using copious amounts of Butter with this recipe but I avoided it totally. It's much healthier and mellow with Olive Oil. 

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

    Baby Ubtan Powder - For your special little ones!

    Being a mom is a delight! And a challenge too. Like every mom, I wanted nothing but the best in everything for my precious little one.
    One of the most important aspects of a healthy toddler's daily routine is their oil massage and the shower following that. I highly recommend that you use the best quality seeds' cold-pressed, non perfumed natural oils for best results. Try Olive Oil, Almond Oil, Coconut Oil or Sesame Oil. Ayurveda suggests that one should change the oil used for massage with seasons for best results (Eg: Coconut oil is GREAT for Summers since it's cooling in nature & Sesame oil is wonderful for Winters since it's hot in nature).
    What follows after a session of massage is a shower. As a practice, I always massage my little one with this beautiful, aromatic and skin-rejuvenating massage powder or Ubtan (which is a routine in India and highly recommended. Not only does it help to remove all the oil easily from a child's body after massage, it is extremely beneficial for their skin in so many ways. It's anti-inflammatory and promotes blood circulation while imparting wonderful luster and texture to their skin! Let's get mixing!

    Wonderfully Balanced Ubtan for your precious little one's delicate Skin.

    • 500 Grams Masoor Dal (Split Red Lentil) Flour. This flour is the base of my powder and it's excellent for skin. Not only it absorbs all the oil when rubbed on skin, it's got naturally occurring compounds which are purifying for skin.
    • 3 Table Spoons of Amba Haldi (Wild Turmeric) Powder. Amba haldi is an aromatic stimulant, tonic and carminative. Widely used in skincare in India for its anti-bacterial properties. If not easily available, use regular Turmeric Powder.
    • 3 Table Spoons of Kapoor Kachri (Camphor Compound) Powder. Camphor is aromatic stimulant which is beneficial for cleansing skin and is anti-bacterial.
    • 3 Table Spoons of Chandan (Sandalwood) Powder. For the aroma and skin-glowing properties.
    • 2 Table Spoons of Orange Peel Powder. Naturally scrubbing and anti-bacterial properties. Also known to be excellent for skin disorders.
    • Optional Additions: Almond Powder, Blood Sandalwood (Rakht Chandan) Powder, Gram Flour (Besan).
    Easy to make and can be stored for up to 6 months!
    • Sift all ingredients through a seive and ensure there're no foreign objects or dirt.
    • Mix everything carefully for 4-5 minutes ensuring a perfectly balanced mix.
    • Pack and store in a small containers cool & dry place. Use in batches.
    Usage: Mix 2-3 Table Spoons of Ubtan with Rose Wateror Cologne-sc ented Water and massage on your baby's body after oil massage and before shower. Gently massage the Ubtan all over baby's body, especially face but make sure it doesn't enter eyes, or mouth. Then wash it off with water and give your baby a nice soapy bath to ensure clean, dry and glowing skin.

    Note: Be prepared for flattery, for, They'll shower you with a million of those cute little giggles and smiles for your effort and their beautiful skin. Not to mention the compliments you'll get for being a super-mom!