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Archive for October, 2012

Epic battles.


Greeks versus Trojans.


David versus Goliath.


Sauron versus (free) Middle-earth.


Batman versus The Joker.


I could go on, but you get the drift.


Here’s personal battle:


Delicious food versus Staying fit.


Are you familiar with that one? Bet you are!


I’m constantly surrounded with food.


I have a dessert-baking disease.


My work involves looking at pictures of food and writing yummy recipe descriptions.


My friends/co-workers/parents/dog ALL love food and if we’re not talking about food, we’re eating it while simultaneously planning our next meal.


I often have the wonderful opportunity to review restaurants and food festivals and eat all kinds of scrumptious things.


So since food is pretty much my entire existence, and I want to live to see my grandchildren, I’ve realised that staying fit is important.


I already do the stuff we all know: portion control, kickboxing, filling up on water, blah blah – but what really helps, I’ve found, is a recipe that’s healthy AND yummy. And I can tell you, my friend – there aren’t that many.


A friend sent me this book recently.



It’s a rather hilarious read with funny chapter names like “PMS (Pissy mood snacks)” and funnier recipe names like the “Denver Bitchlette for two” for instance. Essentially it’s a vegan cookbook with strange ingredient requirements like vegan beef strips and vegan chicken patties.
Seriously?! I would not eat that. Like. EVER.


The philosophy of the book however, is making healthy food delicious, which is something I can totally get on board with.


And in that spirit, I present this.


Crispy cauliflower poppers. Beautifully caramelized. Crunchy in part and chewy in part.



It’s no secret I’m not a fan of vegetarian food. But these are SO good. Each floret has lovely brown, crispy parts.


Slightly sweet and slightly savoury. Entirely yummy.


Dunk in a yogurt dip. Guilt-free, healthy food never did taste this good.



Crispy cauliflower poppers with a garlic-yogurt dip


Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 45-50 mins
Serves: 2


Ingredients:


2 medium heads of cauliflower, washed and cut into florets
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
salt and pepper


For the dip


200g yogurt
1 tsp garlic paste
sprinkle of dry minced garlic (you can leave this out if you want- I just like my dip really garlicky)
paprika salt (or regular salt, but paprika salt is prettier :P)



Method:


For the cauliflower poppers


1. Preheat the oven to 180º C.
2. Dab the cauliflower florets with kitchen paper to remove any water. Mix the olive oil and honey in a bowl and add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Toss the florets a few at time into the oil and honey mixture and toss to coat well. I like to use my hands here, so the cauliflower gets nicely coated. Place the florets on a baking tray. Make sure they are spread out. This will ensure each one gets caramelized.
4. Bake for 45-50 minutes, turning the florets two or three times during the process.


For the dip


1. Mix all the ingredients for the dip together and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.
2. Serve with the cauliflower poppers. Dunk and enjoy!



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You know when you’re having one of those days.


Crawling out of bed requires superhuman strength.


Your hair decides to play a cruel joke on you.


You pull out a shirt to wear and discover a button is missing.


Usually more awful things compound your already miserable day.


Things like paper cuts, annoying emails, vegetarian lunches, and people with too much attitude and too little intelligence.


It often leaves me wondering:



Sometimes I lose it and do a Dory:



Then I call my mom and she doesn’t answer the phone. Then I call my dad and he doesn’t answer. Then I call my brother and he doesn’t answer.


And I’m all like:



Then they all call back and I yell and then I feel sad because the truth is I really miss them :(


I realise I’m being very specific here, but you get the general feeling don’t ya?


When you’re feeling like that, this cake is what you need.



There is a scientific reason behind it: the proportion of the frosting to the cake is directly proportional to the good feelings you will get once it’s in your belly. And this cake is all about the frosting, baby.



Now we could just eat the frosting. And although that sounds soo wrong and soooo right at the same time, we will do the adult thing and smear it over some cake before sticking our face in it. Okay?



Look at this piece. Come to Momma.



More frosting than cake. That is my new motto. It’s a good one, wouldn’t you say?
Have a super super weekend, my darlins!


It’s-all-about-the-(coffee)-frosting cake


Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Serves: 8


Ingredients:


For the cake


80 g plain flour, sifted
40 g cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
120 g caster sugar, sifted
120 g butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
4 tbsp milk
2 tbsp coffee powder
1 tsp vanilla extract


For the frosting


120 g butter, at room temperature
150 g icing sugar, sifted, plus more if needed
2-3 tsps coffee powder dissolved in 2 tsp warm water
edible sprinkles (optional)


Method:


For the cake


1. Preheat the oven to 180º C. Line a 9-inch square tin with baking parchment and grease lightly.
2. Mix the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and sugar in a bowl. Then add the butter, eggs, and milk, and stir well till you have smooth, glossy batter.
3. Add the coffee powder and vanilla extract and give it another mix.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for about 25 minutes or until the cake moves away slightly from the sides of the tin. Remove from the oven and let it cool a little in the tin. Then remove from the tin, peel off the parchment, and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.


For the frosting


1. For the best frosting evaaaaa, mix the butter, icing sugar, and coffee together. Depending on how stiff you want it, add more icing sugar and continue to mix well until you have your desired consistency. I like it quite gooey and fabulous as you can see :P
2. Smear this delicious stuff over the cooled cake and decorate with edible sprinkles, if you want. (Also, lick the bowl clean. Go ahead, I won’t tell. :D)



Feel better, don’t ya? :D



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There are a great many hotels, but I believe the thing that separates the good from the truly great ones are amazing staff and management.


From the minute I stepped into the beautiful Leela Kempinski in Gurgaon, I was overwhelmed by how helpful and cheerful the staff was, without being intrusive.


I was escorted to Zanotta, the Italian restaurant and almost immediately handed a yummy glass of bubbly. Before dinner I chatted away with my blogger friends and was introduced to some of the management.


We met the General Manager- Roger Wright, the Food & Beverage Head- Shisheer Manohar, and the Head of PR & Communications- Vinay Narang. The star of the evening was the new Executive Chef- Emmanuel Guemon. Over dinner we also met the popular Masterchef judge Kunal Kapoor. They were all so warm and friendly it seemed like we’d met before!


All together we must have been the most garrulous group around for miles. I had the pleasure of being seated beside Roger Wright and we chatted extensively about food, culture, religion, and names among other interesting things. Dinner was a five-course meal paired with some delicious wines. The wines, you will see, had a rather artistic impact on my photographs for the evening.


The first course was Pan seared scallops with a zucchini salsa, paired with Craggy Range, Chardonnay, New Zealand.



That was followed by a divine Sizillia seafood soup, paired with Albert Bichot Cote de Rhone, Chardonnay, France.



The third course was Mushroom ravioli, paired with Valpolicella “Classico” Allegrini, Corvini, Italy. This was my favourite dish of the night. Each delightful ravioli pocket was filled with mushroom, but they were all different textures- so for instance, one was filled with a mushroom paste and another with whole enoki-type mushrooms.



After this came the show-stopping berry sorbet palate cleanser. Just look at how stunning it is. I loved the presentation idea. It’s an ice hollow with a tea light inside.



The main course was Salmon with Arugula pesto, paired with Penfolds Rawson’s Retreat, Cabernet Shiraz, Australia.



The sweet finish was a Bitter chocolate semifreddo with candied orange peel and berry compote. The semifreddo was rich and smooth, and the fruit added lovely flavour.



After an extended dinner, where no one noticed how time flew, we were all rather happy with both the conversation and the food (and ahem, drinks).


The hotel is lovely, the food was great, but what I really took home was the experience of meeting some wonderful and fun people! I’m already looking forward to my next visit.


Here’s what some of the others had to say:


Sid- Chef at Large
Deeba- Passionate about baking
Ruchira- The Great Cookaroo
Himanshu- The White Ramekins
Rekha- My Tasty Curry
Sangeeta- Banaras ka khana
Parul- The Shirazine

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You know those proverbs? Like Don’t judge a book by its cover and All that glitters isn’t gold?


Yes they’re terrible cliches, I know, but bear with me.


Last Sunday a group of us from the CAL Bloggers Table made our way to Rose cafe for brunch.


An afternoon that held great promise, it did not live up to our expectations.


In retrospect, I should have paid more attention to the signs. Because they were there.


The blank, undiscerning eyes of the staff. The slowly deteriorating quality of food as each dish made its way to the table. The snail-like service.


I didn’t see all of it at first. Why? Because I was high on the pink-ness of it all.


But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?


As I walked into the cafe, I thought to myself – what a beautiful place. The cafe was (very) pink, but accentuated with delicate white lace curtains, small antiques, and chalkboard menus. It had rustic chairs and flowered sofas and hanging lamps. Heck, even the restroom was pretty.


The afternoon started out well. Everyone was seated at a long table and the first things we tried were pizzas and drinks.
The pizzas were good.


This bacon and caramelised onion one made me happy. That kaffir lime drink also, in the background, was very refreshing.



After that we all tried several things. This was fun because everyone ordered something and then passed it around the table for everyone else to taste. Some of the stuff we tried were the chicken bites, the pepper salad, beans in a bun, fried fish, mustard chicken, ham and cheese chicken, and several types of cake. Not one of those things were good enough for me to want to go back again.


The one exception was the Shepherds pie – the mashed potatoes and well-cooked mince reminded me of how my Mum makes it at home.


The desserts in particular were a big disappointment. Almost all the cakes were dense, hard, and cold, the Tiramisu was only half-decent, and the coconut macaroons were just sad.


The service became worse and worse as our meal progressed, and by the end it was just absurd. I distinctly recall jacket potatoes and coffee cake arriving at the table at the same time.


After a very ordinary meal coupled with wonderful company, I was still ready to look at the experience glass half-full.
(I was still ill with pink-ness I’m guessing)


Then came the deal breaker. A staff member who can only be described as a lousy excuse for a human being took it upon himself to address some of us in the most appalling, unacceptable manner. I am ready to forgive the slow, confused service and the terribly ordinary food, but a shocking lack of basic manners and respect (anywhere, but especially in this business) is not acceptable.


Rose cafe is like the dressed-up child-catcher van. Sorry, you need to have seen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to understand that.
Watch this video to see what I mean.


Final analysis: I know it’s a pretty place. But there’s an ugliness lurking inside. Stay away.


Here’s what some of the others had to say:
Sid- Chef at Large
Rituparna- Chocolates & Dreams
Himanshu- The White Ramekins
Sushmita- My Unfinished life
Deeba- Passionate about baking
Sangeeta- Banaras ka khana

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I just got back from a blissful 5 days in the hills.


Every meal I ate consisted of portions of food that in any other place would be enough to feed at least five adults.



I stared in amazement at beautiful mountains and dark trees.




Told a few monkeys and at least one gorgeous butterfly how I was feeling.





Went on long drives through winding roads and felt alive. Saw some breathtaking sights.



Drank out of these darling mini bottles. Aren’t they just the perfect size?



Spent time with my baby cousins and realized they’re growing into wonderful people. Made me wish I could slow down time a little.




The problem is I’m back now and it’s back to the grind.


I’m not complaining really – but that’s because of these divine, dark, delicious things.



Will you look at them? I know you can’t compare it to a beautiful misty mountain, but I promise this tastes better ;)



So easy to put together, these dark brownies will put you in a holiday mood no matter where you are.


Make some today and be transported!


Quick and Easy brownies
Recipe from: Donna Hay


Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
Serves: 10


Ingredients:


150g butter
275g caster sugar
75g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
75g flour, sifted



Method:


1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Place the butter, sugar, and cocoa powder in a pan over low heat and stir until the butter has melted. Pour into a bowl and add the vanilla and eggs (one at a time), whisking well. Add the flour to the mixture and whisk to combine.
2. Spoon the mixture into a 20cm-square cake tin lined with baking paper. Bake for 30–35 minutes or until centre is just set. Cool in tin and cut into squares to serve.


Here’s a bonus picture of me goofing around. Thank you Dad for patiently taking pictures of me while I danced around tall trees. (Some of the other pictures are taken by him too.)




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