Archive | July, 2011

It is all about Salads: The Summer Platter

29 Jul

I have stopped exercising. Those who know me would realize that something is absolutely not right. I have always, always, ALWAYS exercised; whether it lead to weight loss or not is a different story. I got a bit tardy mainly after the birth of my daughter. Being careless and not taking out time for myself are few things that have become mainstream in life right now. I keep complaining about not having enough time or something to that effect all the time. When I say this to others, I hear the old ‘me’ laugh out loud!! I don’t go to work, I have no ‘outside’ pressures  to talk of which means I should spare atleast an hour a day to exercise. But I haven’t been for the last 2 months. The whole idea of stepping into the gym and on the treadmill depresses me.

But, but , but…… nothing stops me from eating healthy and keeping it light on the food side of things. Well, that isn’t happening the way I want to either with my experiments in baking. I feel trapped with nowhere to go. On one side, I have an obsession – baking – threatening to devour me with all that gorgeous butter and chocolate and on the other side, my reluctance to do anything that resembles exercise.

So once in a while to balance things out, I go ahead and make myself some Salad! So I prodded and mulled to come up with something fantastical. About the same time I saw Anamika’s post about baked potato chips. I thought it would be good to indulge in some carbs. Then I felt, it wouldn’t be enough so I decided on some more carbs in the form of burghul. While putting all these together, I felt a craving for some tasty proteins. So I scavenged my refrigerator and found some lovely Halumi Cheese. Together, I made myself a satisfying salad which I dared to call the “ Summer Platter”

Recipe for Summer Platter

Ingredients

a carrot

a cucumber

A slice of tomato

2 Russet potatoes

3 tbsp of olive ( 1 for baking potatoes; 2 for the dressing)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 and half tbsp for honey

2 tsp of white vinegar

A block of halumi cheese

3 tbsp of burghul

2 tbsp of lemon juice

Preparation

1. Make baked potato chips like this and arrange them on a plate.

2. Soak the burghul in some water for half  hour till it fluffs up.

2. Wash all the vegetables and cut them into slices. Arrange them around the plate in any fashion you like

3. Cut the block of halumi into slices and roast them in a pan till they take a golden crust on both the sides.

4. Lay the burghul in the middle and arrange the halumi on top.

5. For the dressing; Mix honey, olive oil, white vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Drizzle all over the salad.

6. Tuck in.

The sweetness of the honey balances out the tartness of the vinegar and lemon juice. You ought to be a little careful about the salt though, since Halumi is a salty cheese on its own. The dressing goes fabulously with the salty halumi.

Halumi,  is one cheese I discovered after moving to Bahrain. I find it so different and versatile compared to other cheeses. Halumi is made from the milk of the goat and sheep. It is salty and firm in texture compared to most cheeses. I was amazed to discover that when you roast Halumi it does not disintegrate like other cheeses. It retains its texture but takes this gorgeous golden-brown hue which tastes divine.

What I find incredible is, when I bite on a halumi slice it makes a squeaky noise and it makes my daughter laugh. Then I bite some more and she rolls on the floor laughing (literally). For that alone, I can keep eating halumi for the rest of my life! 🙂

Also, if you have no patience to lay down the slices of veggies on the plate then you can rough them up into smaller bite sized portions in a bowl. Either ways, it is filling while you tune in to watch your favourite programme on BBC lifestyle!

I am sending this post to the Salad contest on Taste Junction just in time!

A Guest Post by James Claire on Kindness

28 Jul

I am an avid reader of Bahrain This Month magazine.  As soon as I get a copy of BTM, I flip directly to the last page to read through the “ Last Word‘ written by Mr. James Claire. I admire the way he can pick up the most mundane of topics and turn it into something absolutely spectacular to ponder about.  Some people are gifted like that. They see that special something in anything banal ( banal to the eyes of people, like me). I feel it is an extraordinary ability to pick up an emotion, issue, thing, person and then weave the magic of words. Most important, there is always a lesson, a moral, a view-point at the end of each of his articles. I have keenly observed the way he writes and cannot find enough words to show how much it have impressed me. So when our paths crossed on twitter ( @jamesclaire1) I decided to follow him right away.

James responded immediately by following back and we checked each other’s blog out.  James blogs at http://thescribe-jamesclaire.blogspot.com/ where he not only writes about what he sees on a daily basis but also about his life. There is so much wisdom there, that I cannot help but get addicted to his posts like I am to his column in Bahrain This Month. I invited him to do a guest post on my blog as I want everybody who reads my blog to also know and read James’s blog. I am sure that each one of you will enjoy it as much as I did. So while you do enjoy what you read, do not forget to spread the word.

Thank you, James. It really is such a privilege to have you write here for my space.

James sent me a wonderful article on  Kindness. I was impressed and touched, all the same. He has showered me with a lot of undeserved appreciation ( which I pleaded with him to edit out but he wouldn’t have it any other way!!) . So, people, here is James’s note on ” Kindness” and how important this emotion is  to him personally.

P.S.  I have NOT paid him write all these nice things about me!! 🙂 But it sure feels nice 🙂

On Kindness – by James Claire

It is an honor to have been asked to guest post on my friend and blog master Anita Menon’s – A Slice Of My Lyfe. Without Anita, I was but an aging dinosaur with no clue of much in the techno blogosphere of the modern age. A dinosaur who had almost given up hope of learning such. A little afraid or shy to return to school and classrooms over the age of 40 to learn such things , especially when others profess, “It’s easy”. Everyone else, well except my parents, are face-booking, blogging and are up to date. When did I fall behind? I’m scared to attend classes for such things out of fear I’d be the only mature student ! Classes too are inconvenient and expensive.

What I needed was the kindness of a friend to just sit me down and explain clearly what I needed to know. But where to find such kindness in this very often capitalistic, money hungry life style we all seem to be leading in such a hurry. To shorten a lengthening story, Anita offered the kindness of time, skill and friendship to teach me. And therefore a guest blog on her site should be about one of my friend’s greatest assets, her unquestioning kindness to the world.

I appreciate kindness more than most. Many years ago, in a past life so to speak, I had a vastly successful other career. At the height of it and with multiple events occurring around the launch of my latest book, I received a Christmas card from my childhood best friend. Until that day we had spoken on the phone every week, hand written letters to each other at least monthly to tell of new girl friends, new jobs being offered us and how we both missed the high school and primary school days of our recent youth. This day, too busy with my own success, I did not open and read his Christmas Card, but instead sat a work load of papers on top of it and summarily forgot its arrival. A few days later, Christmas had been and gone. Sitting in my office alone,I received a phone call from another school yard friend. They asked a simple question, “Had I heard the sad news of his suicide.”

They say, “time heals all wounds,”, well let me tell you it does not.

To this day I can still feel the guilt and shame of picking up the Christmas Card from under the pile of work papers, as I sat the phone down and slumped back into my chair looking at that envelope. Never had something so simple as an envelope scared me so much. What were the contents?

While I agree, even had I opened the card earlier things may still have reached the  same historical conclusion, it is the fact that he left the world not knowing that I was indifferent to everyone upon it. That I cared! That as my closest friend he had the love of a thousand suns within me! He should have known that I was the sort of person who would answer a card arrived with an immediate answer or call especially at such a heart-felt time of year..

Ralph Waldo Emmerson said,” You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon,  it will be too late…………”

And I so agree.

Procrastination is not a blessing. Many people today see me as being brash, impetuous, of not thinking before I do and say things. Some who truly do not know me, see it as immaturity, a cavalier attitude with others hearts and minds or simply as me being foolish. Thankfully not many people have experienced the sadness and shock that I did back in 1990. More than most people, I value speed of saying what I think and feel, for I never want another to pass without my emotions being stated. If I meet you and you are kind, I want to tell you and buy you a gift to thank you for that kindness. If you slow down entering a merge lane and allow my car to enter traffic, I will take the time to wave and mouth “thank You”, because I am thankful for your kindness. If you take the time to meet me, or simply stop to say “Hi” in passing, I will take the time to buy you a coffee or stand and talk, because I thank you for your kindness.  We are an evolving species. We have as a race, achieved great things. But if we lose humanity and kindness, respect and appreciation in the race for technological advancement then have we achieved anything at all? I think not!

For now, I adore my home of Bahrain and the friendship of such amazing people  as Anita , who offered kindness to teach a dinosaur the ways of the internet, and then offered the kindness of allowing me to Guest blog on her site to speak of such trivialities as human kindness!

Perhaps the world is slowly changing a few degrees to the better. The cynic within doubts it.

But the dreamer inside me hopes that  it will one day come to pass that the world is as emotionally forward, and fast to thank and offer kindness as the giga-bytes and nano-chips which we pursue in the name of evolution.

Oh what a wonderful world it would be!!

Nigella Lawson’s Bread

24 Jul

There is something very comforting about bread-baking. I am not sure if it is just the kneading process that makes me break into a sweat and gives a feeling of a task accomplished. It could also be that making something as fundamental as bread at home, could be so ridiculously easy, surprises me each time. People feel intimidated when they have to go about using yeast, whilst, I am comfortable handling yeast. So in order to enhance the little knowledge that I already have gained by reading the material available on the internet, I decided to gift myself, Dan Lepard’s ” The Handmade Loaf”.

He is an artisan bread maker and renowned for his almost no-knead technique of bread making. His book covers bakers from all across Northern Europe. It is fascinating to note, that there are so many different methods, ingredients (some I have never even heard of ), leavening agents to make hearty loaves. Stunning photographs of local bakers, their rustic ovens and handsome loaves make it such an interesting read. He stresses on making your own leavening agent at home. I find that part a bit intimidating and hence never got down to doing it.  So if Dan Lepard would ever read this post, I would want to apologize to him since I have dared to use the infamous Dry Active Yeast to puff up my bread. Next time, I would show more respect and buy fresh yeast from a local bakery here in Bahrain to bake my bread.

More than the recipes it is the technique of making the bread – Dan Lepard style – that holds my attention. I tried my best to incorporate his method in baking Nigella Lawson’s Simple White Loaf of bread.  The results were no doubt, spectacular.

I  have Nigella Lawson’s ” How to be a Domestic Goddess” which is another fabulous book.  Known for her non fussy comfort cooking, Nigella inspires home bakers like me.  So in this post, I shall share with you Nigella’s recipe and Dan Lepard’s  technique as simply as possible. It wasn’t possible for me to take pictures at each juncture of the bread making process but in words, I will try my best to explain how and what I did.

Recipe for Nigella Lawson’s Simple Loaf of Bread

Ingredients

31/2 cups of bread flour plus more for kneading ( I used the wholemeal organic bread flour)

1 package /1 tbsp of dry active yeast

1 tbsp salt

approximately 1 1/3 cup of warm water ( I could manage with less than cup of water. So it entirely depends on the kind of flour that you use to make the bread)

1 tbsp of unsalted butter, soften

2/3 cups of pine nuts or any other kind of nuts/seeds that you would like to incorporate

Preparation

1. Put the flour, yeast ( dissolve the 1 tbsp of dry active yeast in little warm water and let it dissolve. Let it stand for about 7-10 minutes before you add it to the bread flour mixture) , salt in a bowl and pour in about 3/4 cup of water, mixing as you do so with a wooden spoon or your hands. Be prepared to add more water as you require to convert the flour mix at hand into a mushy mess.

2. Add the butter and pine nuts and mix in.

3. Now using Dan Lepard’s method of no kneading, transfer the mushy mass on a lightly oiled, clean patch of work surface. I used a wooden cutting board. Knead for 5-10 seconds. Stop kneading before the dough absorbs the oil and sticks to the surface. Flip the dough over and leave it to rest. Cover with a cloth. Leave it for 10 minutes covered on the work surface, which is what I did. Alternately you could transfer it to a well oiled bowl and cover it.  In either case, leave the dough covered for 10 minutes.

4. Come back after 10 minutes ( which is the time , I chose to catch with “Come Dine with Me” on BBC LifeStyle) and start the kneading processes again for 5-10 secs on a well oiled work surface/wooden cutting board. You would feel that the dough is easier to work with and more resilient. I repeated this entire process of kneading for 5-10 seconds and then going away for 10 minutes 4 times. By time time, I had a very obedient mass in my hands that was ready to kept away for an hour or two to rise.  I kept it, covered in a well oiled glass bowl,  in the warmest corner of my kitchen so that the yeast could act faster.

5. After the designated time, I had the pleasure of punching the air out of the dough that had doubled it’s size.

6. Then preheat the oven for 425 F/ Gas mark 7. Knead the deflated dough for a scant few minutes and then round it into the desired shape. I pushed mine into a loaf tin pan which was generously greased. Leave it for another half hour and let it rise some more.

7. After the half hour lapses, push the loaf tin into the oven to bake for 35 minutes. I dusted mine with a little flour for the crusty loaf.

8. The way to check if the loaf is done all the way through is to lift up the loaf or remove it from its pan and knock with your knuckles on the underside; if it makes  a hollow noise, it’s cooked; if not put it back in the oven for a few minutes. When ready, remove to rack and let it cool.

It is simply divine to have your own handmade loaf with a blob of butter. The soft interior and the crusty exterior of the slice with the nuttiness of the pine nuts is all good by itself too. By using Dan Lepard’s method of repeated kneading, resulted in the crumb of loaf having an open texture. Since I used the wholemeal bread flour, it was denser in texture but absolutely delicious.

Another point to note is that the bread quality depends on the quality of the flour you use. I found a marked difference when I used organic flour to bake bread vis-a-vis the normal wholemeal bread flour. The taste and the texture was extraordinary.

On a final note, in Nigella Lawson’s own words, ” Home baked breads can look bulging and full of cracks and fissures – but that’s fine, that’s because they’re homemade”.

A Birthday Cake! Or was it? – Dark & White Chocolate Torte

19 Jul

So it was my husband’s birthday.  It was extra special because it was also the day that Mimi completed 22 months. A cake was definitely in order. So I flipped and flipped through my baking books, gmail document folders, bloggers’ recipe indexes for that special cake. Everything looked like it was done to death. So I started scouting for other options such as tarts and pies and even puddings. But none of them would look good with candles on them in my head. So finally I spotted a new sort of word in one of my baking books about chocolate – Torte.

I chose the one that looked very rustic and sophisticated in its own sweet way. Imagine a soft, gooey chocolate cream as a layer between two tortes and covered with white chocolate icing all over. I thought it should be good, new and a challenge to try something I haven’t tried before. But my sound advice would that always attempt done-to-death kind of stuff on important occasions. The ones that are tried and test and the ones that you are confident that you and pull off decently well. But my adventurous side was too kicked in to not want to try a Dark and White Chocolate Torte.

I was completely taken aback when I saw no mention of butter in the torte recipe. Instead it asked for colossal number of eggs- 4 nos., very little flour. I was in high spirits and even sifted the flour twice( because there was only little to sift:-))

When it came out from the oven it looked like a thick slab that was springy to touch and dense at sight. Not the most pleasing to tell you the truth. The recipe asked for cutting the torte into two from the middle. I realized it way too thin to be cut into two. So I baked another one – so another 4 eggs gone. Now this better be fantastic, I hoped.  With two thick slabs of torte – neither of which looked anything like a cake- I was determined to do wonders with the icing to cover the goof up. I melted chocolate in boiling cream and whisked to make it thick. I realized I had picked a local brand of cream instead of  a good one. The cream refused to stay and kept running in different directions. Clearly, it wasn’t a birthday cake -making day. With a forced smile, I got the white chocolate icing done and got the cake assembled just in time. Peeled some chocolate curls off a chocolate bar to salvage whatever little I could in terms of appearance atleast.

Now it was time to cut the cake and I brought out my biggest, strongest bread knife to do the honours. It took some time and effort by two people to get a slice out so you do get an idea that it was  a tough cake to beat. People were kind enough to sample the cake with plastered smiles since they didn’t want to disappoint me. Well, I knew the truth. The flavours were really good but the texture was the problem. The entire time, I kept pondering over, where I went wrong? Was the recipe not that great or did I do something wrong?

Anyways the recipe is here,

Recipe for Dark & White Chocolate Torte

Serves six

Ingredients

For the Torte

4 eggs ( I had to make to tortes so had to use 8 eggs)

100 g castor sugar

100 g of plain flour

For the Chocolate Cream

300 ml double cream

150 g plain chocolate , broken into small pieces

For the White Chocolate Icing

75g white chocolate

15 g butter

1 tbsp milk

4 tbsp icing sugar

Chocolate curls for decoration

Preparation

1. Grease a 20 cm /8 inch round spring form cake tin and line the base with baking  paper( I had to do this twice to get two tortes).

2. Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer for about 10 mins or more until the mixture is very light and foamy. The whisk should leave a trail that lasts a few seconds when lifted

3. Sift the flour and fold in with a metal spoon or spatula. Pour into the prepared tin and bake in a preheated oven 180 C/350 F/ Gas Mark 4, for 35 – 40 minutes or until springy to touch. Leave to cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

4. To make the chocolate cream, place the cream in a saucepan and bring it to boil, stirring. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. Remove from heat,  transfer to a bowl and leave to cool. Beat with wooden spoon until thick.

5. To make the icing, melt the chocolate and butter together and stir until blended. Whisk in the milk and icing sugar. Continue whisking for a few minutes until the icing is cool. Pour it over the cake and spread with a spatula to coat the top and sides. Decorate with Chocolate curls  ( used a vegetable peeler to carve the curls out of a chocolate bar) . Leave to set.

Notes: * The gentle act of folding the flour into the egg- sugar mixture was the one that failed me, in my opinion.

* Buying good quality ingredients is imperative. The double cream let me down and so I am not going to act stingy when it comes to buying quality products.

* Always stick to something that you are comfortable baking on special occasions, else you would be writing notes like this!

A Mother’s Intuition

17 Jul

I never thought I would write about this but I was compelled to. It has happened too many times to ignore it. When somebody starts about mother-child bond, I always found it too bollywood-ish to deal with (this was before I had Mimi). Usually I am kind and listen to it all but passively. The other times, I simply have no patience for such cock and bull stories. I recall the times when my mum strictly warned me about doing something and I would never listen to her. It always ended badly. I attributed that ability of hers, to her experience in life and all that concerns it. Ofcourse, I know that she always has my best interests in mind and perhaps at that moment it may not look like it. Away from home as a student and then as a working professional, I began to really see that her ability had transcended geographies. There were times when she called me in the middle of the night to know how am doing and that used to be time when I was terribly sick. It used to freak me out since I would have deliberately kept this from her since I would not have liked her getting upset. But how in the world did she manage to do it? It comforted and shocked me at the same time. I kept reasoning it as being a lucky guess. She claims that she just knows since I am her child.

Fast forward and now I am a mum. I feel like a novice even after 22 months of handling my child. I feel like everyday she throws something new at me that catches me off guard. I am not a natural at it like my mum or many of you, I must confess. But things have happened where I have started to feel that a mother-child bond is more than just about experience. Sure, I know Mimi better than I knew her 10 or 12 months back. I know her general pattern of behaviour but she is growing every second in every possible way. That makes it important for me to unlearn and then relearn all over again. To cut the chase, I am writing this post merely to solicit advice and comfort out of knowing that it does happen to others also. I have to know and its important to me and that is the reason why am writing this post at 5 am in the morning inspite of having slept only at 2 a.m.

Mimi has this habit of sleeping only at the edge of the bed. Yes, she still sleeps with us in our bed. She has a cot of her own, but she wouldn’t prefer sleeping there. Sometimes I feel, it is more for my comfort that I let her do so. Usually she is fine. Well almost always she fine. But today, early morning at 4:30 a.m I dreamt that she was about to fall. In a matter of seconds I leaned down at the foot of our bed, to pick her up even before she touched the ground. I still hadn’t opened my eyes when I held her close to ease my racing heart. She got miffed by the little disturbance but soon fell asleep. I couldn’t get a wink after that. So I decided to do this post. This has happened so many times before and I kept attributing this to reflex but don’t you have to be awake for your reflexes to be active? I usually get these sights about her when I am asleep and see it very clearly even before it has happened. My nerves refuse to rest after that. These dreams/sights are usually concerning her safety and overall well-being.

This morning, I decided to google about this and found numerous stories and certain grave  ones too- ones that became a matter of life and death. A mother’s intuition saving her children’s lives. Extraordinary indeed!! Research suggests that a mother’s top 5 anxieties are all children-related and these dreams stem from these anxieties. I have also come to believe that Mothers have an incredible radar when it comes to her children. Even in those rare occasions that I am away from her I am constantly thinking about her. I begin to feel disturbed if something unpleasant has happened when I am away.

So that’s my story about my bond with my daughter. I would want to know stories about similar experiences, if you may care to share.

Summer Salad Special – Tabbouleh

14 Jul

Come summers and all I can think of is summer dresses, hats, trendy shades, lots of coolers to drink and plenty of salads. No wonder all that soup in my refrigerator is still untouched. Especially in this part of the world (Bahrain), where summers suddenly have a whole new definition and meaning. To experience the scorching heat bearing down upon you even for a minute can drain you of all the energy. It is only liquids and salads that can help you feel refreshed and have your energy pumping again.

As I do restaurant reviews, it has become almost like a habit to sample various middle eastern cuisine and then try to decipher the flavour. In my mind,  I try to keep the flavours alive in my mind, of all those that make a striking impression. One such thing that I order each time when I go out dining to a middle eastern themed restaurant is a very special salad – Tabbouleh. Tabbouleh in arabic literally translates as “little spicy”. An interesting thing to note about this salad is, though it is a basic combination of burghul, parsley, mint, tomatoes and spring onions,  every restaurant tries to take this to a different level by doing something extra special with it. It would be an extra ingredient or a special seasoning. A typical dressing would be of lemon, salt ( sometimes pepper) and olive oil but I have had a spicier version and sometimes a sweet one or even a vinegar-y tangy one too.

During one such visit I was enamoured by a particular version of tabbouleh and decided to re-create the flavours by trying it at home. The first time I made it, it  turned too soggy to eat, but I tucked in anyways. 🙂 I took down notes (only mentally,ofcourse) in the process and decided to give it another go. It turned out to be perfect timing because one of my favourite food bloggers, Anamika had made an event announcement. On her blog, Taste Junction she has a new contest which required entries for different salads.

Honestly, I can’t wait for her to make the round-up already, because it would mean fantastic salad recipes all in one place!! You have to go to her blog and find out how fantastically talented Anamika is with her cooking and photography. So my second attempt at Tabbouleh which was fairly successful one, I have decided to put forth it as an entry for the Salad Spread contest.

In my opinion, it’s the dressing of this humble salad that is the star of the fare. It is a refreshing blend of balsamic vinaigrette and grenadine syrup reduction. It is supremely important to use the freshest of ingredients since that would make the salad look and feel fabulous. As an avid salad consumer, I  have realized that size of the chop makes the salad taste very different. Seasoning and dressing is what gives the salad its character. With these pointers in mind, I got down to making Tabbouleh early evening, yesterday.

Recipe for Tabbouleh

Ingredients

3 fresh/firm large tomatoes

3-4 stalks of spring onion

A bunch of parsley which when chopped fine should come to atleast one and a half cups

Fresh mint- that when chopped should come to one cup

3-4 tbsp of burghul

one cup of pomegrante

some salt -pepper to season

2 tbsp of olive oil

1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar

2-3 tbsp of grenadine syrup

water as required

1 tsp of sugar if required

Preparation

1. The first step would be to remove the parsley from its stalks and give them a good wash. Then it needs to be dried thoroughly before chopping because once chopped it releases a lot of juice.  Do similarly to mint leaves as well.

2. Soak the burghul in cold water and let it stay for 30-45 mins. After this time, the burghul is puffy and needs to be drained well.

3.  Chop the tomatoes next by deseeding them first. The aim is to keep the salad as dry as possible. Let the finely chopped tomatoes stay for a while to ooze out as much juice as possible.

4. Chop spring onions finely and keep them aside.

5. While all the ingredients rest, made the balsamic -grenadine reduction by adding all the mentioned quantities in a pan with some water ( 1 -2 tsps to start with) and let it all reduce. Add a tsp or two of sugar if you feel the concoction is too tart. Keep adding water in teaspoons to make sure you get the correction consistency-not too thick or too watery. Taste and check whether it suits you. When you feel it does, take it off the flame and let it cool. I like mine tangy and sweet.

6. Mix all the chopped vegetables ( drain the tomatoes well) and burghul(after draining it very well). Season it lightly with salt and pepper( I skipped pepper). Add pomegrante and toss the salad well. Pour the reduction on the salad and serve immediately with Pita (bread) and hummous (chickpeas dip). It works well all by itself too.

Notes- You can also try other seasonings such as ground cinnamon and/or all spice too.

If you want to keep it simple then a simple dressing of olive oil, salt and lemon works wonders.

It is absolutely important to use fresh ingredients for the true flavours to emerge

I made the balasmic vinaigrette by blending- 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar and 2 tbsp of olive oil. With the aid of a whisk I made it succumb into a creamy sauce. You can add salt and pepper at this stage to the vinaigrette and skip adding it separately to the salad.

Finer the chop, better the flavour.

The pink of the pomegranate against the green of the herbs has the most soothing affect on my eyes. Infusion of the reduction takes it to a whole new level with a tartness from the balsamic and the sweetness from the grenadine syrup. Perfect!

Do try it and see how beautifully the flavours work with each other.

Chocolate Truffles for a Wonderful Hostess and Friend

2 Jul

In life we meet many people every single day. We like some and we love some. The person that I am about to write about in the post falls in the latter catagory. Life is stranger than fiction, it is said. Nothing can be truer when I think about how I have come to know her. Before I even met her personally, I had known her in the blogosphere as someone who was immensely talented both as a baker and a photographer.

As soon as I hit a new blog, I instantly go to their ABOUT section because that is the story that lets me connect with the individual. In Anamika’s case too I felt I connected with her instantly when I read her introduction. We had so much in common already. I hopped on to her blog everytime I felt she might have posted some of her lovely treats. It became a habit to go to her space to just gawk at the photos and left a comment or two at times. I noticed that she too was kind enough to hop on to mine and comment as well. Needless to say, I was thrilled to bits.

Fast forward a few months and we realize we know each other in personal life too! This came as a total surprise and my joy knew no bounds. It helped that she lived just a few blocks away from my apartment. Quickly plans were made and it was fantastic to meet Anamika in person. She is warm, friendly, extremly grounded and full of life- just as I imagined her to be. She was nice enough to invite me over for lunch with some of her other lady friends. I was excited since this was the first of such ladies only luncheons I have had the chance to attend. I had to think of something to give to my lovely hostess and I felt Chocolate Truffles were the way to go.  I turned to my book of “Chocolate” – a book I bought from my last trip to India and looked up for truffles. Truffles seemed the easiest thing to make and they looked divine in the book. I quickly gathered the ingredients and put the truffle dough together. The toughest part about making the truffles was to roll them into balls and coat them with grated chocolate. Temperatures have been soaring in Bahrain and to roll them in the palm of the hands was really tricky. I had to repeatedly move the dough bowl in and out of the refrigerator to keep them from collapsing into a mess.

 

So moral of the story : Not everything that seems simple is easy!!

The lunch was fantastic with vegetable Tart, spinach lasagna, fruit salad and yogurt parfait for dessert. Anamika had outdone herself and all of the guests including me, were left wanting for more inspite of the fact that we had no room to stuff ourselves anymore. Then later Anamika did the kindest thing. She took the most spectacular photos of the truffles and sent them across. By  far these are the most precious-looking shots amongst all the photos on my blog put together. Thank you so  much Anamika and all of you can check out her blog here.

The Recipe for Chocolate Truffles

Makes 24

Ingredients

176gm plain chocolate

2 tbsp Orange liqueur (I traded this for the lighter orange essence)

40gm  unsalted butter

4tbsp icing sugar

50gm ground almonds

50gm grated chocolate

Preparation

1. Melt the chocolate with the orange essence /liqueur in a bowl set over a saucepan of hot water, stirring constantly until well combined.

2. Add the butter and stir until it has melted. Stir in the  icing sugar and ground almonds.

3. Leave the mixture to cool until firm enough to roll into 24 balls.

4. Place the grated chocolate on a plate and roll the truffles in the chocolate to coat them.

5. Place the truffles in paper sweet cases and chill.

Enjoy your weekend!! 

 

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