Archive | September, 2011

Restaurant Review Project 20 – Cappuccino Cafe

27 Sep

A Restaurant Review after such a long time.

Though I visited Cappuccino nearly a month ago, I can without any aid, recollect, the wonderful time I had sampling their delicacies. That is the mark of a good restaurant. Eons may pass, but some restaurants leave that indelible mark. Cappuccino is such a restaurant, tucked away in a quiet little corner on Saar Road. It is quite easy to miss this quaint little cafe and we had some difficulty tracing the place. This place came recommended by a friend, Riddhima, who has nothing but excellent opinion about the food that this cafe dishes out. I made it a point to visit it at the first given opportunity and wasn’t disappointed at all. One of the finest British comfort food serving restaurant is how I would define Cappuccino.

Coming straight to the food,- I ordered some cream of spinach soup with great anxiety. Spinach is not my favourite but Riddhima was so insistent that I give it a try. I was completely bowled over by a number of things. First, the presentation, the flavours and the whole idea that you could have your soup in a bowl and eat it too ( literally). They served piping hot spinach soup inside of a bun. For the same, they had cut out the insides of the bun and filled it with this flavorsome soup. Simply gorgeous. This got my taste buds buzzing and I was ready for more.

During my time in the UK, when I was heavily pregnant with Mimi, I craved for Jacket potatoes all the time. I had to have them every other day, with different kinds of fillings. It could be baked beans with cheese, vegetables and cheese etc. When I saw they had my favourite Jacket potatoes flavour combination –Baked potato with broccoli, mushrooms, corn with salads, I had to order it.

If I was to say, that these were the best jacket potatoes ever, would be an understatement. I haven’t savoured a dish so much in a long time. Okay, maybe I have ūüôā But this Jacket Potatoes made me forget all the other good things that I might have devoured at other places.

Scones came highly recommended, so we did order them.

The most scrumptious scones that were buttery, soft and crumbly, served with dollops of jam, butter and cream. I would highly recommend the scones since I haven’t had such wonderful scones even in bistros of London or Birmingham.

Apart from the recommended delights, we felt like sampling some of their regular fare like a chicken burger which was equally delightful.

We washed it down with a glass of iced coffee which was refreshing (  we enjoyed  our meal in a relaxed manner- hint: Mimi was sleeping)

While the food was spectacular, the ambiance lacked sophistication. I gathered from the menu that they were trying to do a British pub/ cafe style food. But the ambiance and the service did not reflect any of that. The service was very tardy and it took us quite some time to attract any server’s attention to take our order.
So I am proud to declare that Cappuccino cafe has been Sliced!!A meal for 3 cost us about 18 BD and as far as the food was concerned, it was the best meal I had had in a long time.

The verdict is :
Food – 4.5 /5
Ambiance – 3.5/5
Service – 2.5/5
Overall – 3.5 /5 (and an additional 0.5 because the food was excellent) so a total of 4/5

I hope to go back to Cappuccino again for breakfast to sample their wonderful brunch spread.

Muffin Monday : Jam Filled Muffins

19 Sep

Can you imagine looking forward to Mondays?

I do. There are few reasons :-

1. In this part of the world (Bahrain), the working week starts on a SUNDAY. ¬†Incredible isn’t it? So it is all about ‘SULLEN SUNDAYS’ and Monday means ¬†I am a little closer to the weekend ( which are FRIDAY and SATURDAY).

2. I am a stay-at-home mum and I am on duty 24X7 looking after my daughter. I never get an off. So Sundays or Mondays or Tuesdays or any day don’t really matter to me. ¬†I enjoy what I do which is spend time with my daughter and my days just fly and meld into each other. There are days when I have no clue about the day or the date. Time flies when you are having fun, they say. They speak the truth.

3. The biggest reason of them all – it’s that day when all the Muffin Monday posts come up!!

This Monday, Anuradha of BakerStreet invited us to bake Jam filled Muffins which are simple to put together and kid friendly. Oozing jam and soft muffins are such a great match. The recipe is from allrecipes.com

Recipe for Jam Filled Muffins

 Ingredients

1 and 3/4 cups Flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup milk

1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

2 eggs

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1/2 cup jam  ( I used peach jam)

Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 400F

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

3. In another bowl, lightly beat eggs, milk, butter and lemon rind.

4. Pour into the dry ingredients and the stir until moistened.

5. Spoon half batter, make a well, add jam, spoon the remaining batter and bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden.

I followed the recipe as it was given and added jam of my choice, which was a very sweet peach jam. I used it sparingly as it was quite sweet. But after baking, I wished I hadn’t been that stingy. Anyhow, that would my big note for the next time, since this was the first time I was filling something within a batter and baking.

Taking photos was fun as I had my daughter trying to thwart every single attempt of mine to get a good shot. After more than 60-70 odd clicks I managed to get a few. She was really enjoying eating the lemon rind off the spoon and licking the jam side by side.  She also had a jolly time imitating me clicking photographs.

Mimi, my daughter goes to a playschool now. So I have two hours to myself to indulge on some jam filled muffins and a hot cup of black coffee.

So happy Monday, everybody. Hope the week flies by and you are able to accomplish everything that you set your heart on.

Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street. A culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop in a quick line to join her on her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.    

Indian Street Food : A Guest Post for Taste Junction

15 Sep

In my opinion, the whole Guest Post concept is such a swell one. In many ways, it expresses the great camaraderie that the  food blogging community shares. I did a guest post about Indian Street Food for Anamika of Taste Junction who had been away for three whole weeks on a beautiful vacation. My love for chaats and all things chaats is legendary, so before Anamika took off for her vacation, we had an Indian Street Food theme dinner at my place. The excerpts from that delightful night are here.

While Anamika and I were busy prepping the dinner, the food was being photographed by my talented friend Namit. He did a brilliant job with the collage that depicts the true essence of Indian Street Food.

Though a bit late, hope you have a good time reading it!!

Muffin Monday : Granola Muffins

12 Sep

I have been following Anuradha’s blog for some time now. Each Monday, she rounded up a ritual of Monday Muffins which I found fascinating. Every Monday all the food bloggers around the world participated in this scrumptious event. I waited for the round up eagerly and drooled over the delicious muffin pictures on her blog. I cannot think of any other way to beat ¬†Monday blues away.

This is the first time I am participating in this event and I am excited. This is my first attempt at making muffins. I shirked from participating before as I did not have muffin moulds. But Anuradha was more than willing to overlook this and here is my post for the Muffin Monday.

This time Anuradha wanted us to make the super healthy Granola Muffins. They make such a fantastic snack to munch on anytime. I even sent them in Mimi’s lunch box. Her teacher seemed happy today as she had finished a muffin very quickly unlike other days when she doesn’t seem interested in eating. So this is not the last time I would be making these muffins.

I have on me a box of pumpkin flavoured organic granola which is simply out of this world. Each morning I wake up with anticipation to dig into a bowl of yogurt laced with honey and some pumpkin granola. I used the same to make these muffins and they tasted spectacular.  With no butter or sugar it is a guilt free indulgence. Thank you Anuradha for sharing this recipe and am glad to be a part of this Muffin Mania.

Recipe for Granola Muffins

Ingredients

1 cup granola
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large or extra large eggs
1/4 cup mild honey, such as clover
1/2 cup buttermilk or plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 375¬ļF with a rack in the middle. Grease 12 muffin cups.

2. In a bowl combine the granola and milk in a bowl and let sit for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cover the raisins with hot water and soak for 15 minutes. Drain and dry on paper towels.

3. Sift together whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

4. In medium bowl, beat together the eggs, honey, buttermilk or yogurt, canola oil and vanilla. Quickly whisk in the flour, then fold in the granola and raisins. Combine well

5. Spoon into muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full.

6. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then unmold and cool on a rack.

Notes : I used a pumpkin flavoured organic granola and also topped the muffin with more granola for the crunch

I used sunflower oil instead of canola

Used cupcake moulds but the time it took to make it was approximately the same – 20 minutes.

 Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street. A culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop in a quick line to join her on her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.

Random Bakes of Kindness & a Thank You Note to Vanessa

7 Sep

A few months back, I did recipe testing for Vanessa Kimbell, who is the author of the fabulous book ‘PREPPED‘. I tested her recipe for Chocolate Savory cookies which were nothing short of gourmet cookies with a homely touch. I was thrilled to bits when she mentioned me and my blog on her blog. I kept track of how she was managing the whole show- writing the book, maintaining a blog, her three children, a house, cooking, baking, marketing, a radio show… Phew. The list is endless. How can somebody do so much at one time! But that’s Vanessa for you. I was impressed by her passion and it is this passion that fuels her to give her best at all times.

Fast forward and one day I receive a package. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw it was from Vanessa. It contained her gorgeously sexy book РPrepped. It is shocking pink in colour and contains page after page of spectacular photographs. It was easy to understand that this book is a blessing in disguise for all those spontaneous moments such as unexpected guests, impromptu parties et al. It gave me brilliant ideas and ways to save time by prepping a few basic things beforehand so that it eliminates the last-minute cooking hassles.

I kept flipping through it again and again, completely overwhelmed by her gesture. Since then I had been meaning to do a post to thank her as well as try one of the recipes in her book.

The opportunity came in the form of an initiative by Vanessa herself. She called out to all food bloggers to participate in her Random Bakes of Kindness Project. In her own words, she described the initiative as,

“Blogging seems so me myself and I¬†recently. ¬†It‚Äôs so easy to focus on nothing but the food and my own life and I ¬†really wanted to add a human element to baking. ¬†Sometimes it‚Äôs not about the food as such .. it‚Äôs more about the person eating the food and how it makes them feel.¬†I am sure there must be someone in your life who deserves a spontaneous thank you, a kind word and some recognition for just being a marvelous person. I know it’s a bit random .. but that is what makes it out of the usual and for me that makes it special. ¬†The unexpected just means more.”

This was a fantastic way to thank her as well as do my good deed for the day. I decided to participate and for the same baked ” Chocolate Cookies” ¬†from Prepped.

Morsed is a sweet little guy who works with our building housekeeping team. Once every week he comes to my apartment and works very hard to keep it¬†spic¬†and span. He originally hails from Bangladesh and misses his family a lot. This is one emotion we are all familiar with. He has been doing housekeeping for us for a long time and I thought his services deserved to be acknowledged in a special way. I baked a batch of Chocolate cookies and gave it to him as a Eid gift. He was absolutely taken aback since he didn’t expect it at all. He fumbled and floundered, and I couldn’t help but giggle ūüôā . He blushed the most when I took a picture of him. I have never seen anybody so nervous but I am sure the cookies will more than make up for all the awkwardness.

So that is how I concluded my Random Bake of Kindness project with Vanessa. But I feel, it will not stop here. It is a splendid feeling to do something out of the blue for someone who might not expect it. I think, I have caught the bug; drivers, building caretakers, maids, shopkeepers, watch out!

Jokes aside, I must thank Vanessa for sending me a personally signed copy of her book, for starting this wonderful initiative and giving me and opportunity to look outside of me. The cookies were delicious and that gives me tremendous encouragement to try out other recipes as well.

Saffron- Mango Ice cream for all Seasons

3 Sep

With the Summers slowly disappearing all around the world, I see plenty of fall desserts on everybody’s blog posts. The thing about living in the middle east is we are blessed with intense sunshine all round the year. The weather does cool down a little bit towards Nov-Dec- Jan but the Sun is ever so kind be spreading its cheer all the time. There is no Fall or Spring either. Weather-inspired desserts and food have limited scope in this part of the world. So I have decided that there is no reason to bake according to any season. Good food is good food!

In this post I share with you,  this gorgeousness of an ice-cream that uses two of my favorite ingredients – Mango & Saffron.

It may sound funny, if I tell you that both my husband and daughter do not like Mangoes. When 2 out of 3 people do not like something, automatically it gets cut off from the grocery shopping list. But this time, I made it a point to buy some end of season Mangoes and get them both to eat some. On their own, the mangoes weren’t the best since they were the last in the market, but that didn’t stop me for making some fabulous ice cream that all of us could enjoy. My endeavour was met with great success and I managed, well technically managed to get my hubby and daughter to have some mangoes.

I used a recipe from Monika’s blog whose homely recipes have me visiting her blog again and again. She had blogged about  Mango-Pistachio ice cream and I was instantly taken since it did not call for an ice cream maker. I had to try it with Saffron since it is one of my favourite flavours.

The Recipe for Saffron – Mango Ice cream

Adapted from sinamontales
Ingredient
Medium sized  mangoes -4 nos.
Sugar  ‚Äď 3 tbsp
Condensed Milk/Milkmaid ‚Äď 1/2 cup
Milk ‚Äď 2 cups
Lemon juice ‚Äď 1 tsp
Saffron – a few strands

Preparation

1. Puree the mangoes and  sugar together and you could use a little milk if you like.

2. To the puree’d mangoes add the condensed milk, milk and whisk together well . Add the lemon juice and whisk some more. Add a few strands of saffron and retain some for garnish. Transfer the same to a container

3. Cover the container with a foil and put it in the refrigerator for freezing.

4. When it is almost frozen take it out and blend it will in a blender or mixer. In case you find there are too many ice crystals formed, then you could add some more condensed milk and blend again.

5. Put it back for freezing. When it seems done, you can scoop out into individual moulds and  add saffron threads to garnish.

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