Saturday, January 29, 2011

Happiness is...



Leftover Coeur A La Creme batter poured into a tart tin, left in the fridge to set overnight and topped with gorgeous fruit. If it's fruit, it's breakfast right?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Homemade Life

What do bloggers dream of? One day, a publisher tells you to write your best blog posts ever and publishes them in a book. My book dream is still a long, long time away but our book club is reading a blogger whose dream came true. Molly Wizenberg is the writer of hugely popular blog called Orangette. Hers was one of the first blogs I started to read. Molly is also the author of the month at This Book Makes Me Cook with her "A Homemade Life".

Part memoir, part recipe book, A Homemade Life takes you on a journey through every phase of Molly's life. Her days in France, her time spent growing up with her dad. And finally, Brandon, her husband she met through her blog!

The story of a Homemade Life ends at their wedding. But Molly's story continues at Orangette and at Delancey, their restaurant. In the meantime, the book leaves you with a recipe at the end of every chapter. They all sounded so delicious I wanted to try them all. Finally, I settled at that French classic : Coeur A La Creme.



I've always wanted to make this. Traditionally heart shaped, a valentine classic, it's a lovely dessert.

Molly's recipe is rich yet simple. First you find a special heart shaped mold. Or you use a tea strainer. Line it with two layers of cheesecloth.

Combine 75 grams cream cheese with 2 tbsp cream and 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Beat with a whisk or an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Separately, melt 30 grams white chocolate, stir until smooth and set aside to cool slightly.

Molly now says to beat 1/3 cup heavy cream to stiff peaks. If you have 25% cream like I did, beat it to light peaks or as high as it will go. Now add white chocolate to cream cheese mixture and beat until its well blended.

Fold the cream in if you have stiff peaks. If not, pour the cream into the mix and beat with your electric mixer for a couple of minutes. Spoon the batter into the mold, cover with cheesecloth, put it on a baking dish and let it chill for at least 8 hours.

You can scrap out whatever remains in the bowl and eat it with a spoon. I was amazed at how good it tasted already.

Molly makes raspberry puree to go with it. I made a strawberry one instead - blended a cup of chopped strawberries with a tbsp of sugar and strained it to get a puree. You can add more sugar if you like but make sure you still have a tart flavor. This needs to chill and wait out too.

Many, many hours later, pour the puree into a deep plate. Carefully unmold the cheesecake (or however you want to describe it) and place it in the center of the plate. Dig into the best dessert of your life.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

What makes for a perfect birthday dinner

Mimosas with freshly squeezed orange juice.

Crisp yet meltingly soft polenta sticks on a bed of creamy mushroom sauce.

Hearty four cheese and spinach cannelloni.

Warm chocolate tart with cherry sauce and vanilla icecream.

All sitting at a long community table set next to the bar. Named after this central feature in its decor is the Colaba newbie called "The Table".

The table is where you sit when you show up without a reservation. People with more advance planning get the regular tables upstairs. Either way, you are guaranteed great food and impressive service. Waiters know what they are selling (a rare commodity I tell you!) and the "consultant chef" is sure to stop by to check on you. The menu's short but surprises by the variety it packs in.

The Table just might be the best thing that happened to Mumbai culinary scene for a long, long time. At the very least, it made for a perfect birthday dinner!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pasta Al Bakunin



The name is from Little Italy, my favorite Italian restaurant. The recipe's all my own, an attempt to recreate the pasta I order every time when I go there.

To start off, roughly chop 4 tomatoes and 1/2 red bell pepper. Also peel and smash up 3 cloves of garlic. Put all these in a blender with 2 tbsp tomato puree, salt and a tsp of dried oregano. Blend until you get a thick paste.

Wash 8-10 mushrooms, take off the stems and cut them into quarters. Thinly slice an onion lengthwise. Chop 2 tbsp of parsley real fine. Also bring out a tbsp of capers but keep them aside for now.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan. Add onions and mushrooms and stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato paste that you just made and 1/3 cup of red wine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let everything simmer until the sauce thickens. It took around 40 minutes when I made this. When the sauce is close to how think you want it but not quite there yet, add your capers, half the parsley and ground black pepper. Mix it all in and let simmer for another 5-10 minutes.

In the meantime, boil penne or any other pasta you like as per package directions. Drain and mix well with the sauce. Top with the remaining parsley.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Strawberry and Mint Soup



We're right in the middle of strawberry season here, so I figured it's about time I looked through my bookmarked recipes and make the most of the two months that the lovely red berries will be around.

This was the easiest recipe of all. First spotted on the gorgeous Tartelette, this soup can make a delicious breakfast or a delightful end to a meal. Either ways, it's not too much effort. I've already made it twice. Since this morning!

First you make mint syrup. Mix 50 grams sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small pan. Cook for a minute, stirring to dissolve the sugar then add 2 tbsp of chopped mint. Turn off the heat and let the syrup cool so the mint infuses the syrup.

To pass the time while the syrup is cooling, wash, hull and halve a cup of strawberries. Put them in the blender with 2 tbsp of mint syrup. Blend to a smooth soup, adding more syrup if you need (do it a tbsp at a time). Serve in shot glasses.

You'd have plenty of syrup left over which is a great excuse to make this again!

Monday, January 10, 2011

White Milk

Even as a child, I refused to drink milk in its natural state. It had to have bournvita or drinking chocolate or something that made it brown and nice and chocolate-y before I'd touch it. I've never, in living memory, had white milk yet.

Then white chocolate happened. I know it's cloyingly sweet and not even a chocolate, but I spent quite some time this weekend looking for that nice steaming cup of white hot chocolate. It maybe that I've changed, or it may be a whim but I could't get the idea of white chocolate out of my head.

The only one willing to make me some was Mocha Mojo. And that too after lot of persuasion and explaining that yes, I did indeed want what they have printed on the menu. And I don't want any of that milk chocolate, thanks a lot! It was a Valhrona that the flustered server brought me, but they added a citron flavor that took away the essence of what I was looking for.

And this is how I ended up making my own sweet little cup of white milk after dinner. I dropped two tbsp of white chocolate chips in a thick bottomed pan and added another couple of tbsp of cream. Put this on very low heat until the chocolate started to melt, then turned the gas off and whisked with a fork until the chocolate was all melted. I poured 3/4 cup milk on top of this and whisked to mix in the chocolate. Still whisking, I put the pan back on the heat and let it come to a boil.

That's it - just the drink I was searching for. You might want to add a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg. But bookmark this page anyway. One day, when you change your tastes and start looking for white hot chocolate no one's willing to sell, this will come in handy!