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Archive for December, 2012

My Christmas wish-list

There’s no getting around it. A big part of Christmas is exchanging presents.


It’s a wonderful feeling, tearing open beautifully wrapped packages with glee.
But it’s an even happier feeling watching someone you love opening the gifts you’ve chosen for them and loving it.


I’m part of two Secret Santa groups this year. Just sent out secret presents to a fabulous fellow blogger :)


I believe there are two types of gifts. There is the “want” list and the “need” list.
The “want” list has stuff we are really excited and greedy about. Fast forward to a few days later, and chances are the excitement is over.


Let me demonstrate with my “want” list for this year.


Things I would like include: A KitchenAid, a Kate Spade watch, an Ipad, an Iphone, and the ENTIRE Calvin and Hobbes box set.


Now let’s talk about the gifts I really, really need. This is my Christmas “need” wish-list.


The walnut cake Dad makes only for me every Christmas.


Hugs and smoochies from this puppy.


grumpy Simba


A long walk with Mum.


Decorating the tree with my brother.


Taking a family photo like this one.


family photo


The sight of my Church lit up on Christmas eve.


Isn’t she beautiful?


Church


Eating snacks and drinking Thums Up on my bed with my oldest friends.


Baking something with Dad, with Mom yelling about how we’ve turned the kitchen upside-down.


Being at home with everyone I love.


Making bread and being marvelously surprised in the process. Oh wait! That happened already! :)


crusty white loaf 1


Gorgeous loaf, you.


crusty white loaf 2


There is such a simple pleasure in kneading dough for bread. It has to be therapeutic, because I certainly feel better.


Watching it grow and rise and bake is magical. And then you cut a slice to taste it :)


crusty white loaf 3


Crusty, brown magic.


crusty white loaf 4


Crusty white loaf


Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 45 mins, plus rising and proving
Serves: 8-10


crusty white loaf 5


Ingredients:


1 tsp vegetable oil, for greasing
500 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
7 g packet dried yeast (I used Tesco)
1 tsp salt
320ml lukewarm water, plus more if needed


Method:


1. Grease a clean, deep bowl with oil and set aside. Place the flour, yeast, and salt in another large bowl, and make a well in the centre. Add the water and mix well with your hands until it comes together in a rough, sticky ball. (Add a little more lukewarm water if the dough is too dry.)
2. Transfer the dough onto a clean surface dusted with flour and knead until you have a smooth, elastic dough. This took me about 12 minutes or so.
3. Place the dough in the greased bowl, cover with cling film and leave for about 2 hours, until double in size.
4. Knock back the dough on a floured surface, pushing out the air and deflating it. Shape the dough into a rough log and place in a 900g loaf tin. Cover with a clean cloth and leave to prove for half an hour.
5. Preheat the oven to 220º C. Sprinkle a little flour over the loaf, make some diagonal slashes on the surface, and bake for 15 mins. Then reduce the heat to 190º C and bake for 30 mins more. Remove and leave on a wire rack to cool. Cut into slices and toast, then slather with butter or extra virgin olive oil and enjoy.


It amazes me every single time dough rises and the smell of baked bread fills the room. Pure magic.


crusty white loaf 6


The simple, wonderful joys in life. Family, friends, health, laughter, conversations, and great food.


Those are the gifts I want this Christmas. For me and for you all :)


What’s on your “need” list this Christmas?


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Last Sunday at noon, Sid, Antara, and I headed out for lazy brunch.


A surprisingly short drive later we were at the beautiful Claridges, Surajkund saying hello to Parul, and Mukta who came bearing delicious cookies!


The brunch offerings were extensive with something for everyone: antipasti, salads, Italian, Chinese, Indian, desserts.


The best part: Unlimited refills of sparkling wine. Seriously my flute was never once empty!


Sparkling wine


This is a wonderful place if you’re looking for an out-of-town feel without really going very far at all.


The ambience is lovely – you can choose to sit indoors or out in the winter sun.


Outdoor seating


This is what you’ll see if your eyes wander upwards.


What you see when you look up


The whole experience is languorous and relaxed and comfortable, just as a brunch should be.


Ask the chef to create a signature pizza for you, cut yourself a piece from a gorgeous leg of ham, nibble on some fresh bread, and even sneak a smiley face from the kid’s section :)


Here’s a look at the offerings.


Fresh, warm bread station.


Bread station


How often do you see baby octopus in a brunch buffet?


Baby octopus


Or pickled sardines in oil and garlic for that matter?


Sardines pickled in garlic and oil


Lots of cheese and fruit and crackers for everyone.


Colourful plate


Cheese platter


Ham


Sushi lovers can celebrate.


Assorted sushi


And take a look at this beauty – fresh wasabi root. Isn’t that a gorgeous green?


Fresh wasabi root


There was a huge leg of ham which I fell in love with. I wanted to take it home, introduce it to my parents, and start a family with it.


Beautiful leg of ham


Here’s a look at my many plates that afternoon.


Plate 1


Plate 2


Plate 3


Small portions of lovely vegetables and mini salads.


Assorted anti pasti


Assorted anti pasti


Chef Gurjyote Singh is a master plater in my opinion.


Salmon herb platter


He also offered to make us custom pizzas. Here’s the pepperoni.


Pepperoni pizza


Chocolate fountains are marvelous. I wish I had one next to me at all times. It would make me a happy person.


Chocolate fountain


For dessert I had a vanilla panacotta, coffee profiterole, and pineapple dipped in chocolate.


Desserts


We also had Mukta’s yummy cookies,


Mukta's cookies


and the liqueur chocolates Antara brought :)


Liqueur chocolate


As always, it was the people who made the afternoon really memorable.
Here are the smiling ladies.


The ladies


And here’s Sid, whom we love, especially because he took Antara and me shopping AND played catalyst in one of THE funniest moments in my life.


Sid


Drop by The Claridges at Surajkund, with your family or friends for a relaxed Sunday brunch. It’s a perfect winter outing :)


These are the various deals on offer:


Sparkling Brunch – 2300 + Taxes
· Elaborate buffet (Multicuisine)
· Sparkling Wine
· Mocktails and Cocktails


Champagne Brunch – 3000 + Taxes
· Elaborate buffet (Multicuisine)
· Champagne
· Sparkling Wine
· Mocktails and Cocktails


Moet Rose Brunch- 4500 + Taxes
· Elaborate buffet (Multicuisine)
· Rose Champagne
· Champagne
· Sparkling Wine
· Mocktails and Cocktails


Kids Brunch – 999 + Taxes
· Elaborate buffet (Multicuisine)
· Smiley
· French fries
· Mini pizza
· Mini burger
· Cup cakes
· Puddings
· Fresh juices


Here’s what the others had to say:
Sid- Chef at Large
Parul- The Shirazine
Antara- Antypasti
Mukta- Bake-a-mania


And here are the three lucky winners for the Hilton, Mayur Vihar giveaway:
Neha, Pranay, and Aastha! Congratulations guys! Please send me your email addresses so I can mail over your discount codes.


Have a happy week people :)


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Very often I’m asked: What do you do with everything you bake? Do you eat it all yourself?


Dear person who thinks I’m a dessert-inhaling monster, this post is for you.


I love baking. But you already knew that about me.


Here’s what I love more: happy people eating and (usually!) appreciating what I’ve baked.


When I bake something, I usually taste it, photograph it, and then put it into a big box to share with the happy people I work with.


The cookies/pies/cupcakes/tarts are tasted and I receive critical feedback, big smiles, bakery-opening advice, and general happiness in return.


It’s lovely sharing good food with wonderful people.


This is what happened when I handed a few people a peanut butter cookie on a dreary Monday afternoon. I call it the peanut butter cookie effect. (How very scientific of me, I know. Aren’t you proud Mom? :)) Take a look.


Glenda


Neha


Rupa


Navi


Chitra


Alicia


Simran


Vikas


Dorothy


If that’s not happy-making I don’t know what is!


Also happy-making- My aunt just sent me my Advent chain presents. Every year for as long as I can remember she gives me 25 presents – one to open every day from 1st December to Christmas. How amazing is that? I love her.
Take a look at the heap!


Advent chain presents


Now for some happy news for you all, my darlings.


The awesome folks over at Hilton, Mayur Vihar have some discount vouchers they want to give you!


Here’s what you could win:


1. 15% discount on the Sunday Brunch at Cafe On 3, DoubleTree by Hilton, Mayur Vihar
2. 20% discount at Roadhouse Bar and Grill, DoubleTree by Hilton, Mayur Vihar
3. 20% discount at Infinity, Hilton Mayur Vihar


To win, just leave me a comment telling me what’s your favourite thing to cook/bake during Christmas. So simple, no?
Entries will be accepted till 9th December, 2012. 3 winners will be announced right after.


Oh and if you’re in the mood for those delicious flour-less peanut butter cookies, made with only 3 ingredients (crazy, right?) that everyone is smiling about, then here’s the recipe :)


3-ingredient flour-less peanut butter cookies
Recipe (slightly adapted) from: Laura’s Sweet Spot


Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 8 mins
Makes: 24 medium cookies


Ingredients:


255g creamy peanut butter
225g caster sugar
1 large egg


Method:


1. Preheat the oven to 180º C and line two baking trays with parchment.
2. Mix the peanut butter, sugar, and egg together in a bowl. Scoop out tablespoons of the cookie dough and roll between your palms to form rough balls. Place on the baking trays and then gently press down on each ball with the back of a fork (twice) to form criss-cross lines. Make sure there is enough space between each cookie, as they expand a bit while baking.
3. Bake for 8 minutes and then leave on the tray till completely cool before eating. This is important because the cookies are too soft to handle when they’re hot.



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