Mulling Syrup Receipe – An easy edible gift for Christmas

It’s the time of the year again where it’s all festive. People are getting all excited about almost everything. Our team in the office has planned like ten Christmas lunches. Organizing secret Santa, Christmas lunches, decorating the desks, shopping for Christmas jumpers is what comprises of the December calendar. We never celebrated Christmas in the true sense till we moved to UK. In India, as one can expect it used to be more traditional back in the day. While it did involve some decorations and good food, it was more about going to the mass, visiting family and friends. It makes sense considering the Christian population in India is just above 2%. But, I do enjoy the festive season and me being me I want to do it all and be  part of everything, so we have a tree, visit markets , exchange gifts and of course eat to our hearts content on the day – – ok well during the month J . We will be in India this year and I am hoping the globalisation has done good in terms of getting people out a bit more to celebrate Christmas irrespective of their faith.

For me, personally, it’s still a bit low profile at the moment because of the extremely challenging deadlines and work load. I am not even excited about gifts ‘yet’. My son gave me his letter to Santa where he requested toys for his cousin’s as well …how sweet no? When I appreciated him for that, he liked the idea and wants to update his letter and wants to add a whole lot of things to the list for his loved ones. I am like ….yeah…You get them those things not just ask Father Christmas  :) . Buying gifts is getting more and more difficult and challenging starting from gauging the person’s likes and dislikes, cost, shopping around for gifts. I personally love the idea of handmade gifts. Especially, if they are edible gifts then all the gifts are sorted in one go and you will definitely have happy receivers because who doesn’t like a bit of a Christmas treat? I have attempted edible gifts before and made chilli chocolate brownies along with few other things, which was very successful with the colleagues, friends and family. This year the whole thing became even more exciting because a bunch of  my lovely girl friends decided we would exchange handmade gifts over a brunch as a christmas tradition.I have taken a ginormous task of making a hamper of edible goodies for friends. I was up against the time but managed to pull it off in the end. It looked something like this.

Christmas Hamper

 

hamper

 

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My friends on the other hand were so organised and all of their gifts were filled with good wishes and love. Receiving gifts is one thing but knowing that the person has put in so much hard work for you, just to bring a smile on your face, that’s really something to be thankful about. Also everyone has been so kind and posted how they made their DIY gifts in their blogs. Do visit their blogs and take a look at how they went about making their friends happy.

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From Top clock wise : Nisha, Vinee,Me, Suchi

So on this occasion S presented us with these super cute, personalised jar of body scrub and a lip balm

Suchi's Bath Scrub specially made for me

Suchi’s Bath Scrub specially made for me :)

V made these gorgeous rocky road and oh boy! were they delicious. the family completely enjoyed chomping on them.

N made candles in a lovely vintage tea cups and fizzy bath bombs. Don’t they look just pretty?

Nisha's  Rose scented Candles and Fizzy bath bombs !! (Nisha's picture)

Nisha’s Rose scented Candles and Fizzy bath bombs !! (Nisha’s picture)

I have started with these lovely bottles of Mulling syrup. I was so impressed with the idea, but was debating the recipe for some time. When I finally made up my mind, I decided I would go about it just as I would do with my regular mulled wine which is adapted from Jamie Oliver’s recipe and I am quite happy with the results.

So, the idea is to give someone a no-nonsense mulled wine. An easy way to whip up a glass of warm wine for themselves or those unexpected guests. Usually, mulled wine does involve little amounts of a lot of ingredients, which can be tedious to shop around for. And shopping for the spices is a separate story, especially if someone who is not into cooking will not have all the spices and you don’t want your loved ones to have a store-bought, ready-made mulled wine do you? That is where this fabulous idea of mulling syrup comes and once you have bottled it, all they have to do is warm up some nice fruity red wine and mix the syrup which is infused of all the necessary action. Isn’t that even a handy thing to keep at home to welcome you on those chilly nights after work? So, to get started with making this infused concentrated potion.

This recipe will make four ml bottles of Mulling syrup.

You will need : 4 Bottles sterilised (Wash them in hot water or a dish washer and dry them completely)

Mulled wine in preparation

Mulled wine in preparation

Ingredients : 

15 Cloves

6-8 Bay Leaves

4 Tsp Nutmeg powder

3 Clementines

2 lemons

1 Lime

5 Cinnamon sticks

2 Vanilla pods

6 Star Anise

1 Kg sugar

Mulled Wine

Method : 

Halve the clementines, lemons and lime. Mix all the ingredients in a deep pan and add 3 liters of water. Boil the mixture for about an hour . Keep the lid on for the first 20 minutes so the aroma, and flavours are infused to some extent and then for the rest of the duration you can keep the lid off. This only makes the process quicker and within an hour you should have concentrated, sweet and infused syrup.

Let the syrup cool. Once cooled, filter the syrup and fill the bottles.

To make Mulled wine from this syrup :

Add 500 ml syrup in one ltr of a good fruity red wine and bring it to boil. Serve warm mulled wine and enjoy the instant warmth that it provides.

Have a merry Christmas and a Happy New year!!

 

 

Beetroot Gnocchi & Castello white with truffle cheese

So when I trailed my way along with some girlfriends Suchi from Kitchen Karma, Nisha from Kitchenantics and Sandya Hariharan from Sandya’s Kitchen to the Castello Cheese pop up store event, little did I know that I will be so overwhelmed with all the cheese that is on show. The aim of the pop store is to introduce their amazing collection of cheeses from rest of the world to the deprived cheese lovers in UK :) . Honestly, why are these cheeses not in UK? Anyway I hope the lovely people who visited the pop up store in Shoreditch have voted for some good cheese so that they can bring it here for us to devour. The event itself was so much fun and we were personally excited about the spread of different wine and cheese pairings along with other condiments. And to top it up, the pairings were all presented and explained by Matt Day who was very keen in sharing his ideas and giving us tips on how to choose our drinks. We were also handed out a chart which illustrates all the featured pairing which is quiet handy for people who do not take notes at events like this and only focus on eating :) …yes, I have my priorities and I tend to stick to them most of the time :). Talking about priorities, we were also served delicious canapés while the one and only Sapient Gastranout, Stephen gate is showering us with all the information regarding the event and the concept store.

 

Canapé's and the Spread at the event

Canapé’s and the Spread at the event

That night, we returned home satisfied with our cheese and wine intake, lots of inspiration to use the variety of cheese in our culinary experiments, tons of enthusiasm to immediately host a cheese & wine party at home and a gorgeous goody bag filled with a complete set of cheese pairings. While I and my son gobbled almost all of the pineapple halo cheese as a midnight snack, I saved some white truffle cheese for something special which I am so pleased to share it with you today.

Real cheese lovers always argue that cheese has to be enjoyed as it is and usually do not support cooking it. But I am sure I can nudge them to agree with me that cheese sauces play a very significant role for most pastas. Especially, when I tasted the white truffle soft cheese, it was invariably piquant and I instantly decided that I could set it up with some sweet and mild gnocchi and the marriage will have lasting results J and so the story of Beetroot gnocchi and Castello white with Truffle cheese sauce has come into being and my dear lovely readers ……..it was a success.

CASTELLO® WHITE WITH TRUFFLE

CASTELLO® WHITE WITH TRUFFLE

The beetroot Gnocchi recipe was basically worked out looking at various methods out there, but if you want a reference and see what happens in between Indian Simmer has a nice video. Cheese sauce recipe is however, a standard recipe but I deliberately kept it very simple and did not want to twiddle with the flavour of the cheese itself.

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Let’s get cooking:

Ingredients:

Serves 4 portions

For Gnocchi

5 large boiled potatoes – Use good floury kind like Maris piper or King Edward

2 beetroots

1 Cup Plain Flour

1 Egg

For Cheese Sauce:

150 grams Castello White truffle soft Cheese

½ Cup Milk

2 Tbsp Plain Flour

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Method:

For the Gnocchi Let me warn you, it seems tricky and is a very messy job. But home-made gnocchi is always so much better than dried store-bought. The texture is entirely different.

Chop the beet into quarters, place them a sauce pan, cover the lid and let them dry roast on low flame. The moisture in the vegetable should be good enough to facilitate the cooking and should not stick to the pan.

Alternatively, place them on the baking tray and roast them in the oven at about 150 degrees. We need at least some of the juices of the beetroot to be retained. Puree the beetroots without any extra water and keep aside.

Mash the potatoes and run them through the ricer to make a smooth mash. Add the egg, beetroot puree and quarter of the flour.

Knead the dough and keep adding more flour as you knead. Use the rest of the flour only if you need. The dough will not be hard but you should be able to work with it with lots of flour on you worktop.

Divide the dough into 3 large balls. Roll it into a thick sausage shape and cut the dough further to form the final gnocchi.

Beetroot Gnocchi

Beetroot Gnocchi

 

Now, you can use a fork and run the gnocchi over it to form a shape or roll them into small balls or just leave them as it is like I have. Gives a nice rustic, homemade feel to it isn’t?

At this stage you can either refrigerate the gnocchi or freeze them untill you decide to use them.

Hand made - Beetroot Gnocchi

Beetroot Gnocchi

 

When you are ready to prepare the gnocchi, fill a deep sauce pan with water, bring it to boil and add the gnocchi . Your gnocchi is ready, as soon as they float to the top. Remove them from heat, drain the water , run them through some cold water and keep aside untill you make your sauce.

For the sauce, in a saucepan, add some unsalted butter. As it melts, add 2 tbsp. of plain flour and stir it for a minute or so, add the milk and keep stirring until there are no lumps. Now for the fun part, turn the heat to low and add the Castello  white with truffle cheese and stir until it forms a lovely silky sauce. Serve immediately, over the beetroot gnocchi and top it with some fresh ground pepper.

 

Beetroot Gnocchi - Served Cheese Sauce with truffle

Beetroot Gnocchi – Served Cheese Sauce with truffle

 

Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani and a tribute to my Grandpa

If you set the scene back to 90’s and walk into our house in Hyderabad you will find a bunch of kids and adults at the dinning table getting ready to eat. Observe closely and you will see everyone on the table including the adults, are nervous as if they were in a very serious game show. The last person to join the table is an elderly man in his white Kurta pyjama, with a television remote in his hand and a bottle of buttermilk. As he settles at the table, he maintains his stern look but does not make eye contact with anyone. The food is served and everyone is trying hard to focus on their meal, eat quickly and escape whatever is going to happen soon. But, you cannot avoid the inevitable and a deep voice cuts the silence. ‘Who is the current irrigation minister?’ is the first question put to the kids and the vein of questions follow during the course of the meal. The adults are expected to answer, when the kids fail to give the correct answer. That person who terrified us with his voice, looks and questions is my most beloved grandpa.

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A retired air force personnel, grandpa is a hero for us in the family. He enjoyed narrating stories and jokes from his service days. Although most of the times he used to burst into laughter  even before he finished the joke and we used to stand there waiting for the joke to be finished . Meanwhile, my grandmother used to get so annoyed waiting that she used to sulk and walk away. Sometimes, he used to take control of TV for hours which again annoyed my grandma. But there are times he showed how  protective and caring he could be of her that really wowed many of us. He is, just in that matter a typical indian husband who does not express his love for his wife but definitely show it when the time comes. He was very fascinated by the world affairs. He followed the news and read so much about the west that he spoke about the brands and the local brands, habits and people as if he lived there. Tinned sardines and tuna from london were his favourite.

One of the positive side effects of old age is, people get more relaxed and open up as the years pass by. Exactly, the same thing happened with my Grandpa. I was so shocked, when my son, who my grandpa calls ‘Napoleon’ said ‘ I am not afraid of Grandpa the great’ ….I was like what do you mean you are NOT afraid, everyone is scared of Grandpa :) ..But then I realised the bond they had was completely different. Grandpa’s face used to lit up when he saw his great grand son. He starting showing the numerous stamps and coins he collected all his life, which he never let anyone see them, let alone touch them. Napoleaon also admired ‘Grandpa The Great’ (that’s what he calls my Grandpa) and was amaze by the fact that he was in air force. The duo even had a flying lesson via skype.

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I am dreading this years visit to India where I will not get to see grandpa anymore. The last 45 days have been very difficult for me since he passed away. I thought living far away from them and not being a part of the rituals and ceremony’s would be good in a way because I can keep myself busy in my daily routine and forget about everything.But I was wrong, being far away, you don’t get the closure you need, the wound never heals.Making plans to go to India has never been so painful.

Coming back to Grandpa and the things he loved, he had admirable passion towards food. He used to declare his desire to eat a specific dish from a specific place and sometimes at specific time. He loved his food. Fish and chicken especially were his favourites and one of them have to be cooked on sunday. He always made sure coconut rice and potato kurma was prepared on a certain day. He declared himself  Mulslim only to celebrate Ed and eat biriyani. We kid is actually  believed him to some extent. He tried all the biriyani places in Hyderabad and secunderabad. He could even tell from where the biriyani came.

On his 90th birthday today, I am sharing his favourite Hyderabadi chicken Dum Biriyani recipe. Hyderabadi biriyani is the most popular Biriyani’s ever. People from all over the world visit Hyderabad to try the Biriyani. They say it is a blend of flavours from Moughul and telugu kitchen which was invented by the Nizams. The recipe itself  is usually kept very much under covers by most chefs. So, I never got the recipe from the person whose Biriyani I liked. So I just tried and tested so may recipes untill I hit the nail (I think I did) last month. This a Kacchi Biriyani where the meat is marinated at least for 5 hours and layered raw with rice which is cooked on ‘Dum’ ie., steam.


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This recipe makes enough biriyani for 10 people.

Ingredients:

For the marinade: 

1.5 kilos Chicken

5 Tbsp Yogurt

3 Tbsp Chilly powder

4 Tsp Cumin powder

4 Tsp Coriander powder

2 Tsp salt

4 Tsp Garam Masala powder

3 Tsp Ginger Garlic Paste

For The Rice  : 

750 Grams Rice

12 Cloves

12 Cardamom

3 Tsp B lack Cumin

6 Bay Leaves

6 Cinnamon sticks

5 Star Anise

5 Mace

For the rest of the method : 

3 Onions

Orange Food Color

Juice of 1 lemon

Few strands of Saffron soaked in 2 Tsps of milk

8 Green Chillies

5 Cloves

5 Cardamon

5 Cinnamon

3 Mace

3 Star Anise

4 Bay Leaves

1 Tsp  Black Cumin

5 TBsp Oil

Oil for frying Onions

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Method : 

Slice the Onions and deep fry them in oil till they turn light brown in color. Keep them aside.

Boil 1Ltr water with all the spices from the ingredients listed  for the rice. Let the spices boil in the water with the lid closed for at least 10-15 minutes. The idea is to extract all the flavours into the water.

Once the water is ready, add another 500 ml of water and the rice.

Add salt and 1 TBsp oil or purified butter.  Let the Rice cook for about 8 minutes or until the rice is half-cooked.

Drain the rice and cool it instantly by running cold water to stop it from any more cooking. keep the rice aside.

In a huge vessel , heat 5 Tbsp oil, add  half of the fried onions, green chillies, spices and saute them for 2 minutes

Add the marinated chicken and saute it again for not more than 2 minutes.

For the next few steps, keep the flame really low.

Remove all the chicken from heat except some to form the first layer.

Place the rice as the second layer, garnish the layer with 1 tsp of lemon juice, few fried onions.

Repeat layering chicken and rice alternatively while garnishing the fried onions and lemon juice.

On the top layer, sprinkle the saffron along with the milk . The color will be absorbed by the food vertically giving it a nice multi coloured rice.

Do the same with the orange food color. Sprinkle it on the top layer.

Now the tricky Bit – DUM

Dum is essentially cooking on trapped pressure or steam. In out kitchens we can use various tools to achieve this.

Keep the flame medium. Place a huge pancake pan and then place the vessel you are the biriyani in. This is moderate the heat and avoid the bottom getting burnt since it’s not direct heat.

Cover the lid and secure it with kitchen foil so the steam does not escape.Place a heavy utensil or a brink on the lid to make sure the steam does not escape.

Let the biriyani cook on dum for 45 mins. Check if the rice and meat has cooked. Pop everything back on if it isn’t and give it another 10 minutes. Serve the biriyani hot with raita. And when you serve make sure you  do not mix the layers . The proper way to serve Biriyani is in its layers.

Enjoy  making this mouth-watering ish from Hyderabad and do share your biriyani pictures. I would love to see how your Biriyani turned out an if you have any other tips to share.

xx

Plum Jam

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Hey hey my lovely readers. I hope you all had a great summer. Mine has been amazing because I took a break from work, from blogging, from even house keeping :) to spend the summer holidays with my son. I have had so many instances l couldn’t be around for him. Although, my gorgeous little boy (ok lets call him GLB) never complained, it does hurt when you have to miss a christmas production at school, or a concert because of work. So, to compensate all that, this summer was filled with multiple visits to various museums, lots of tennis, park visits, visits to ice cream parlours and numerous sleepovers with his cousins and friends. Ofcourse, I kept out of sleepover’s …err most of the time :). This super indulgence has gone so far, that now my GLB suggested that I should go back to work and also thought it would be good if the work hours are longer so he can spend some time with his friends. Oh well, kids are kids, they don’t understand the sacrifice we parents make. Staying at home and trying to be with them 24 hrs is not easy Hehe :P …(actually it is fun !!) . Ok so one of our summer outing was pick your farm. Now, kids love picking fruit an veg. Even the one, they don’t enjoy eating. It is a fun excercise for them and then the real test is when we are back home, you have plan all your meals for the next 20 days around the fruit and veg you brought home. Something like that happened to us. We picked huge quantities of plums. 3 Kilos to be precise. Now for first 1 kilo, I have managed to stuff it up my husband in the form of fruit and smoothies. He is our food disposal system most of the time. The rest of the plums, are going too ripe, so I had decided to go Jamming …which of course was a lot of Jam but everyone loved it.

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Now for the part of making the jam. I have used the most easy method I know. My mum’s mantra for Jam is equal amounts of sugar and fruit. But, if she was making this Jam she would have pealed the plums, but I didn’t bother. They were too many of them. But trust me, it is just fine…if you don’t have the time or patience, just leave the skin on.

And for the sugar, normal sugar is ok to use but it is easy to find Sugar with pectin in the super markets these days. It speeds up the process and thickens the Jam quickly. Pectin is a jelling agent that is found is citrus fruits. So, if you can’t find sugar with pectin, just add a little extra lemon juice to compensate. Now for the procedure :

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Ingredients : 

1 kg Plums (Yield will be  close to 1.5 kG)

1 Kg Sugar with pectin  (if you don’t have pectin – then add about 1 TBsp. lemon juice)

25 grams unsalted butter

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Method: 

Halve  the plums and remove the seed. Put them in a deep pan on medium heat to cook slowly. Once they release all the liquids in them and start to cook completely, add the sugar and lemon juice. Let the mixture cook again on medium heat untill all the sugar is dissolved.

Keep stirring occasionally making sure the jam at the bottom is not getting burnt. After about 10 minutes, reduce the heat to low and leave it to cook again for 10 min. The jam should start to thicken at this point. Leave it to cool and repeat the process two more times of bringing the jam to boil on medium heat and cooling it down.

I do not use the thermometer to check the setting point etc. I don’t have the tools and everyone has their own preferences when it comes to how think or runny Jam should be. I check the consistency of the jam when it gets to room temperature. It should be obviously start to look like …’Jam’, and when you run your finger through it should form a definite line. If you are in a hurry to do this test, then just pop a spoon of the mixture in a bowl, put it in the freezer for a min and check the consistency. If you are not happy with the consistency, just place the Jam back on heat and bring to boil again untill you get the desired thickness.

I hope you like my a little tedious but easy peesy summer fruit Jam recipe and I really would like if you try it and share your thoughts on this post.

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A Quick Recipe to Make Kalakand!!

We all like simple and easy recipes. Every now and then, we want to be able to whip something up in minutes, treat the unexpected guests, celebrate the sudden success, and reward the husband on a rare occasion when he delivers (haha) . Everyone would like an impromptu treat. I don’t have massive sweet tooth but I would definitely go for a small serving just to remind myself of that fact.

Some of the Indian sweets I do like to dig in though is Kalakand. I have found that texture and the look bear a great deal of significance and factor into my tastes. Kalakand is usually not very sweet and has that brown ombre effect. Kalakand is usually a very long winded recipe, from reducing the milk, condensing and sweetening it and then setting it in trays. It takes hours of hard work and labour to get to the final delicacy.

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What I have today for you is a short and quick recipe to make this sweet. A recipe that is passed on to me by my mum. I have always counted on it during crisis when you NEED a desert. The recipe leads you to a quick easy and delicious sweet meat which you will love!!

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You will need:

370 grams  can of condensed milk (not sure why the weight is so odd and not rounded off on my can)

2 Tbsp. Full Fat Yoghurt

1 ½ Tbsp. Ghee

Appliances/tools :

Microwave

Tray

Greaseproof paper

Makes : 10-12 small Squares of kalakand

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Method:

Empty the condensed milk in a microwave safe bowl, add the yoghurt and ghee.

Give it a good stir and microwave at high speed for 10 minutes. Stirring at least twice in between.

You will see the milk has curdled and all the liquids have reduced. You should end up with a gooey, kalakand with its gorgeous aroma. Remove from the microwave, spread it in a tray lined with greaseproof sheet and let it cool and set

Now, I like it a bit gooey so I usually remove it from microwave in about 12 minutes maximum. You can always microwave for couple more minutes if you rather prefer a drier version. Once the kalakand is set, cut it up and enjoy.

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Story of Parental Guilt & Butternut Squash Recipe!!

Our Diet – Let me start this post with an honest statement. Both my husband and I struggle to eat healthy. We can eat light but just can’t eat healthy. We are, however trying very hard to change this lifestyle and be kind to our bodies. While we are at it, I am trying my hands on some delicious soup that I always thought looked good but never made them because there were simply no takers at home. One of them I was so impressed with was the butternut squash soup. Lovely colour and tempting flavours, and above all it was to my five year Old’s taste as well.  I have to admit that it is challenging at times to please all the taste buds in the family. As much as the fact that our diet is not an ideal one, we as parents have always passed on the good eating habits to our son. Well, maybe not pass on but at least preached all the healthy mantras. As they say practicing is a lot harder than preaching…….or rather preaching is waaa…y easier than practicing J  . Having said that, I am really proud to say that my five year old does not drink any fizzy drinks or even the sugary stuff that they sell for kids which they call juice except on rare occasions at a friend’s birthday party where all the kids are having it. But the fact is that he knows chocolate and sweets doesn’t have to be an everyday affair and the important part of meal is the greens. I have loads of instances where he doesn’t eat his greens, but I have never had an occasion where he wanted Mc Donald’s, extra servings of deserts or fizzy drinks. Fast food especially is a big no for him and I really hope he sticks to these habits when he grows. He even knows the difference between how healthy homemade food can be in comparison to frozen and fast foods. Of course, I thought him all that, but as I said I literally preached what little facts I know as casually as I taught him numbers and alphabets. And I honestly didn’t foresee the consequences

Soup 3

The consequences – I was a regular cola drinker .And I know it can be difficult to stay away from it, if you are used to it. Trust me, it was easy to stick everything ill about fizzy drinks in the little brain of my son, but when he started talking or rather started questioning, that’s when I realised I am in a great trouble. My son started asking me questions like ‘cola is not good for me now …can I drink it when I grow up? ‘Or ‘if it’s not healthy, why are you drinking?’  And then one day I confessed to him …saying ‘Mamma also wants to avoid and is trying to’…  The amount of embarrassment we (the hubby or I) went through after that was both hilarious and enlightening. Every time we shamelessly ordered cola in a restaurant or picked up a crate at the grocery store we found ourselves in an embarrassing situation where a little boy is shouting at the top of the voice asking us to keep it back because cola is not good. It was hilarious at first and then you look up and find that we have now caught the attention of the fellow shoppers. I know they are now all looking at us waiting to see if I’d put the cola back or continue to buy it. After the embarrassment, it was the immense shame being told by a five year old followed by guilt and parental responsibility. I had many choices to deal with the situation- Ignore him, shush him, say that this is a grown up’s deal and that he can’t question a clever grown up, or even worse, let him drink fizzy drinks OR get my act right and step out of denial mode. I chose the latter!

And Finally – Kids are innocent!  They go by the rules until YOU mess it up. We have decided we won’t mess it up and are now slowly progressing towards a cola free life. I am amazed how my thirst actually gets quenched after drinking a glass of water.  The late night sips of cola just because my son was sleeping, making sure you get enough cola into your system at work so you won’t feel the need for it at home, the occasional excuses and pretence of giving it up have disappeared.  I have to admit that honest attempts of saying ‘no’ to cola are my proud moments. I know this is just a start and I have to make a lot of changes like this if I want to see my son have a healthy and active life.

Ok …..I have baffled a lot now! Coming back to our soup, I have looked at several recipes and explored the various flavours/techniques used and finally went with a mixture of ingredients that I liked and something that works for me and my kitchen. That is how I usually cook anything.  So, here goes the recipe!!

Soup1

You will need:

2 Medium sized Red onions

2 Red Chillies

3 Garlic pod

½ of a Fresh Rosemary Bunch

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

3 Celery Sticks

3- 4 Carrots

2 Medium sized Butternut Squash

2 litres Chicken Stock

Salt to taste

Fresh Ground Pepper

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Method:

Chop the butternut squash, celery, onions, carrots, red chillies roughly.

Heat about 3 spoons of olive oil in a big pan and sweat the Onions, Garlic and Red Chillies. Add the chopped Celery and Carrots and let them cook for 5 minutes. Add the butternut squash along with the Rosemary and cook for another 2 min. Add the chicken stock , season it and let it cook for at least 30 -40 minutes. Here, I took a fast approach and pressure cooked the vegetables.
Remove the pot from heat and using a hand blender puree the mixture into a soup. Check for seasoning.

Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche, freshly ground pepper and crunchy croutons.

Enjoy the soup steaming hot!

Here’s to a healthy lifestyle!!

Soup 2

Pancakes with Berry Compote

I have only recently learnt that Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday is celebrated on a day before Lent day before starting the 40 day fasting and eating not so rich foods like eggs, meat and dairy products. It’s interesting to see how we have embraced just the pancake bit as a tradition and overlooked the fasting bit. Oh, well, I guess that is how it rolls these days. It’s a pick n mix kind of culture. And moreover who doesn’t like pancakes??

We are a small family of three and yet have to struggle when it comes to mealtimes because all three of us have very different tastes. And that is where my favourite breakfast comes into picture – Pancakes!  Pancakes are something where you can make the basic recipe and then everyone can choose their toppings right from sweet, savoury, meaty. My five year old likes the traditional lemon and sugar pancakes, I love my chocolate and anything fancy J and my guy wants it savoury. Yeah …..As I said .we do have varied tastes

I have an age old basic fool proof pancake recipe which I am going to share with you today. And if you have followed me on any social media sites, you will have noticed that it has been a busy week for me making pancakes for a wide range of friends and family. Thy have loved it and have been tagging me with their plate of pancake on social media sites. Again I give the credit to my fool proof recipe, which came to my rescue so many times when asked to make them impromptu, but the highlight was the pots of berry compote I have been making to serve my pancake with an of course the generous dollops of crème fraiche. Do give it a try …It is gorgeous!

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Ingredients:

For the pancakes:

300 ml Semi skimmed milk

140 grams plain flour

Pinch of salt

Pinch of sugar

2 large eggs

100 grams unsalted butter

For the Berry Compote:

150 grams Strawberries cut in quarters

100 grams Blueberries

50 grams Raspberries

200 grams Crème Fraiche

2 Tbsps Sugar(Optional)

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Method:

For Pancakes:

In a good size mixing bowl, beat the eggs and milk together. Add the pinch of salt and sugar. Slowly add the plain flour and keep mixing the batter until it is smooth and does not have any lumps.

Heat the pan and brush it with butter. Depending on the size of your pan, pour one or two ladles of batter. Use the handle of the pan to rotate and spread the batter as a thin layer. Once you have a thin pancake after spreading the batter, pour any excess batter into the bowl. Practice makes it perfect and your understanding of how hot your pan is. Once the bottom side of the pancake is cooked, flip it to the other side and cook for the next one minute and remove it to serve on a plate or place them as a stack.

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For the Compote:

Take a deep pan and place all the strawberries, raspberries and blueberries and cook on a low flame.

Let the juices of the berries ooze out and the raspberries are the first ones to disintegrate and hold the rest of the berries together in a sauce. Taste the sauce at this point and add the sugar if you need it. You can always leave it fresh and the berries you have used are sweet naturally.  Remove from heat and serve it as a beautiful topping with your pancakes along with generous helping of crème fraiche.

Variations:

  • Just sprinkle some chocolate chips before you fold the pancake for a pleasant surprise for whoever are digging into the pancake
  • For the pancake mix, if your are using whole milk, dilute it with about 100 ml water
  • Spread some cheese on the pancake before folding them for a savoury twist.

Have a delicious pancake day!!