Saturday, June 30, 2012

Julia Child's Life in France

Chocolate Cake by Bombay Foodie

This may seem like a long time ago but back in May, our book club - This Book Makes Me Cook - picked the iconic book "My Life in France" by Julia Child. I've read this book before, I've seen the Meryl Streep movie based on the book and I readily re-read this highly enjoyable saga last month. I even created a dish inspired from the book. But it's been so crazy around here with exams and assignments that I've only just gotten around to telling you about it.

First the book, it's all about Julia. And the way she immersed herself in France the moment she arrived. In all the culinary surprises Paris has in store for her, her trips to the coast to see that special food and her training at Cordon Bleu, the real Julia shines through. Her passion and her personality then reflect in the book she writes with her two new found friends. A book that has inspired home cooks ever since.

I could have picked a French dish from the book. But to me, the message that Julia is trying to send across is that cooking should be simple and it should be perfect. So I decided to look for the perfect version of one recipe that's been out of reach so far - chocolate cake. Well, I do have a fabulous eggless chocolate cake I swear by and a fantastic flourless cake I will tell you about sometime. But so far, I had nothing going in the normal chocolate sheet cake/cupcake world.

I only tried one recipe but I agonized over which one to bake for weeks. The final choice was Chocolate-Chocolate cupcakes from my other baking icon, Dorie Greenspan. Perfectly moist, and topped with an intense chocolate topping, these cupcakes were an instant hit at a party I took them to.

And we might have some exciting book read coming up this month, so write in if you would like to read along.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Orange Berry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins by Bombay Foodie

Now people claim all sorts of distinctions between muffins and cupcakes. But except for the fact that one has icing and the other doesn't, muffins are really just an excuse to eat cake for breakfast. A concept I am totally in favor of. These are even healthy, with so many blueberries in there.

The recipe is from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My home to yours and it produces a tender, light cake that I loved. There is also loads of citrusy sparkle in there that simply makes the muffins shine.

Outside of these small touches, its your standard muffin recipe. You line 6 muffin tins with paper (I got 8 muffins but then I have tiny tins!). Then you mix up the liquids whisking together in this order: 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup buttermilk, one egg, 1 1/2 tbsp honey and 50 grams melted and cooled butter.

Next the dry ingredients. Rub 2 tbsp sugar with zest of a lemon. Mix in 1 cup plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder, a pinch of baking soda and another pinch of salt. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients, stir to mix and finally add 1/2 cup fresh blueberries.

Divide the batter among muffin cups, filling them 2/3rd the way and bake for around 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Halloumi

Halloumi by Bombay Foodie
This is officially my new favorite cheese. It's not that I hadn't seen the appeal of halloumi before. But living in India, it is hard to replace paneer with any other choice. London, on the other hand, has slim pickings as far as paneer goes. The packets of frozen or stale paneer don't really excite me and rather than compromise with bad versions of my favorite, I've been eating more of the other varieties of cheeses. And before you ask, yes, I know how to make my own paneer. But i have a rather hectic class schedule and paneer making doesn't fit in currently.

So back to halloumi. And London's short lived summer. For about a week, the temperature rose to 28 degrees and it was sunny. And everyone was wearing short skirts. Then it started raining and we are squarely back into the 14 degree weather and warm jackets all round.

I did have halloumi on a barbeque during the summer week. But then, I wanted to have it again yesterday amidst a rainy storm. So I made it on a grill pan. I cut thin slices of halloumi. Put them in a wide bowl and drizzled over a tbsp of olive oil and juice of a lemon. The cheese is already over salty so this is all you need. Half an hour later, I put the cheese slices on a hot grill pan and cooked both sides until browned.

You see it served here over sharp rocket and sweet baby plum tomatoes, both flavors that work very well with the cheese!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Tomato Bruschetta

Tomato Bruschetta by Bombay Foodie

Do you know where to find the best tasting tomatoes in the world? Head to Pioneer Woman's recipe for bruschetta. I've never been disappointed by anything Ree's recommended but these tomatoes are really special.

Step one - you halve a whole lot of cherry tomatoes. I used all red tomatoes but Ree says to add half yellow if you can find them. And when I say plenty, I mean plenty. Because you're gonna miss them when they are gone. I think I had about 400 grams in there.

Step two - mince five cloves of garlic. Heat olive oil in a pan, add garlic and fry until it's golden but not too brown. Move the oil/garlic mixture to a bowl that will fit all your tomatoes and let cool a bit.

Step three - To the bowl with garlic, add tomatoes, a tbsp of balsamic vinegar, chopped basil, salt and pepper. Mix everything up, cover and put in the fridge for a couple of hours for the flavors to mingle.

You can then toast some bread and top with the tomatoes to make bruschetta. Or you can do a zillion other things with them. Like serve them with pasta. Or cheese. Or just eat on their own.

Oh! and see if you can spot some Greek basil for this one. It's got leaves that are much smaller than your regular basil. I bought a pot from my local Waitrose a couple of months back, and it just keeps on living and giving out leaves of fragrant basil. Looks very pretty on the window sill too!