Sunday, June 28, 2009

Blueberry cake

The farmers markets in summer are such a riot of colours! Just walking past it inspires me to make all kinds of fruit compotes, berry muffins, sangrias, mojitos and ratatouille. Wow! I love summer - well, who doesn't!

So I picked up some blueberries - they have to be my favourite berry - they aren't too tart and go excellent in any dessert. I am thinking cheesecake, muffins, pies, cobblers, shortcakes ... quite an endless and mouthwatering list.
Since berries have a very short shelf life, I decided to use them up in a cake while they are at their best. Sure you could use frozen blueberries too - just remember to thaw them. So herez how its made.

2 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract(Since we don't get vanilla extract, I used vanilla beans this time. Usually I use vanilla sugar)
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 cup blueberries
I don't use a mixer for this recipe, so its important to whip the egg nicely, and sift the dry ingredients. Mix the wet and the dry ingredients, and then gently fold in the blueberries. Pour to a greased cake tin, or better a silicon one. Bake at 400 for 35-40 minutes. Do the usual test - if a toothpick comes out clean you're done. They are great when served straight from the oven, and had with coffee. Share

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Baileys, Mars and a banana

Bailey's Irish Cream, Mars chocolate bar, a ripe banana, butter. Now you can't possibly go wrong with that.

So this morning I woke up earlier than my usual weekend time - I was wide awake at 7 am! It's just a weekend thing - you can't sleep on Friday night, 'coz its Friday night. And since weekends are always sooooo small, I try (trust me I do try) to wake up early on weekends - just so the day seems bigger :)
So hubby and I went to the farmers market in the morning - ate some rustic looking butter bread with cranberries from one of the stalls for breakfast, came home and wanted to try something new, different and decadent. This one is mentioned in the Baileys website, and herez how it's made.

Heat up a tablespoon of butter (the more, the better, you could add 2), slice a banana lengthwise. Toss the banana in the butter, and let it cook until you just start getting a nicely golden brown colour on it. While thats browning, start melting a bar of Mars in a heavy bottomed pan on low heat. Once its gooey, remove from heat, let it cool a bit, and then add in 1 and half tablespoons of Baileys Irish Cream. Mix it so you have a sauce like consistency. Drizzle it over the cooked banana, and dig in! As you can probably tell, this combination is heavenly! Share

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson on a food blog? Sorry but I am overwhelmed with shock and some of the (horrible) jokes that I read on him on the net. I couldnt quite resist posting this.
The web is abuzz with people talking in disbelief, shock and sadness over the sudden death of the legend. I am suddenly finding myself questioning my opinion of the 'Wacko Jacko', as I used to refer to him. In fact, as I watch his 'Earth song' on TV, I am feeling awful even using that moniker. I mean, think about it - you have a childhood of abuse from your own father at home, a childhood full of the pressure of performing, thats all you do since age 5 - at an age when you'd rather have friends than fans, ..
At age 30 you build yourself a fantasy land from Peter Pan rather than a home with a spa, gym, or your usual boys toys. It all is just crying out loud of a life that is confused, lonely, deprived of childhood and normality. But the world, your age and your fans demand something more star - like, gracious and normal. A fragile mind not equipped to handle his issues made him an escapist. It showed right from some of his songs to the multiple surgeries from changing his colour, his nose, his chin, cheeks, eyes etc.
Eccentric, bizzare, pedophile, mannequin. I'd rather remember him as the Thriller, 'Moonwalk'er, the King of Pop. Michael Jackson, you would be missed. Share

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A perfect Mojito for a perfect summer day!

What a bright and sunny summer day it is! It is on days like these you feel like celebrating summer! Peeping out of my kitchen window was a pot of mint. Bingo! What do I need? A Mojito of course!
You know how smells remind you of something or someone(I mean the pleasant kind please!), a certain song would remind you of your days gone by, for me sometimes a cocktail does the trick. Last year when we were in Frankfurt on the 1st of September, there was this 3 day SeptemberFest that was just what we needed. Frankfurt isn't really a touristy place, so we ran out of things to do on the first day itself. It was this fest that made our weekend. A typical summer celebration, with different bands playing their own kind of music, stalls selling souvenirs, flowers, hats and of course there was food from all corners of the globe( does the globe have corners?)
Anyways, so here we were sitting one evening, soaking up the sun, listening to Summer of '69, sipping on a Mojito. Hmm..good times.
Almost 1 year later, I think of Mojito, and thats what I remember. Herez how to make it. You need
Few mint leaves (3 to 4 per glass)
1 lime
2 teaspoon powdered sugar
2 ounces white rum
2 ounces club soda

Put mint leaves in a glass, squeeze the lime, add powdered sugar, and muddle it together. Don't be too aggressive, just muddle it to release the flavours. Add in the rum, ice and stir. Finish it with the club soda. And a mojito wouldn't be a mojito without a sprig of mint for garnish. Go wear your sunscreen, grab your sunshades, make a mojito and get the party started!
This post goes to the Summer Holidays With Vacation Food event. Share

Time saving tips

So what do you do to make your life a bit easy in the kitchen. I mean I love cooking and eating, in fact I cook at least a meal every day(coz breakfast on weekdays comes out of a box). I pack lunch in the morning, and when I come home, I cook dinner and the next day's lunch. Some of the things get so mundane, and are so time consuming that I like to finish it off over the weekend. Maybe you could use some of these tips. So here's what I do

- Chop up an entire batch of onions - usually 7 or 8 and store in the fridge

- Shred up carrots and keep in the refrigerator - they make for an excellent salad with or without yogurt. Sometimes on a weekday I just sprinkle some lime, salt and let it sit while I do the rest of the cooking and cleaning. By the end of it - they are nicely soft delicately sour n sweet at the same time. I love it.!

- Garlic. I know a lot of people who prefer pre-minced, or garlic paste from a tube. Its all fine, but I am a bit of a fresh-food-fresh-ingredients junkie. So I peel open the pods of garlic and keep it in a glass bottle. I know peeling hardly takes a second - just smash it under your knife - but ready peeled is still better! One of those handy tools - the garlic press is a must have for me. I put in some garlic cloves , and let the press do its work.

- Aluminium foil, silicon moulds, greaseproof papers, ice cube trays! What a lifesaver these can be! No mess no cleanup. I sometimes even spread out a newspaper while peeling potatoes/carrots etc coz I just roll it all up and I'm done with the cleaning! In fact I prefer making a crostata rather than a pie simply coz it uses a dish less! (Recipe for crostata coming up soon)

- Mise En Place - just a fancy word meaning putting in place.(And its French, so I had to use it!). Have you seen how chefs have 10 different bowls with all ingredients neatly chopped and measured out? You don't have to do that, but putting all the ingredients so its within hands reach makes it a lot easy, I find.

- Lastly, invest in a good knife, and learn how to use it. Makes a world of difference, trust me.

What are your kitchen time-savers? Share

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Magic

Yesterday my Magic Bullet arrived. Despite all the skepticism that I had, I was still so enthusiastic to open it up and try it all out. Checked the cups and appreciated the nice and strong motor. Made a spice powder that I used for making curry. It is good. So is the magic bullet :)
The best thing I am liking is that the different blades are just the lids to the cups. I don't need an entire cupboard devoted to the different blades - much like they say in the advert.
I have always wanted to own one - each time I would give up on trying out a dish coz it involved using the bulky mixer and then having to struggle cleaning it up, I would resolve on picking up one of these. Just that the ad made it look too good to be true. Of course it is, but whatever. I'd probably have more home-made smoothies and chutneys than I've had in all my life hope the enthusiasm (and the bullet) stays :)

From what I have been reading, following are the points to keep in mind while using the Magic bullet
- Twist/Press the cup only for a max of 30 seconds a time. The motor gets hot very quickly and may break
- Fix the cups on the motor properly before starting it. The rubber will otherwise wear from the blades underneath
- The rubbers are vital to the mixer, so make sure it is not exposed to heat.(The rubber is a part of their shabby design and actually limits the life of the mixer).
And oh if you think you can get it from their customer support, think again!
Anyways, here are some pictures of my beloved mixer Share

Healthy whole wheat and oatmeal cookies

It is only on weekends that you can have the luxury of having warm, freshly baked, straight from the oven cookies with your evening tea(or coffee). I was in the mood for some chocolate chip ones, but they usually demand such a lot of butter that sometimes just the thought of pouring that amount of butter puts me off. Surely I would happily eat it up of I were to see it with my lunch at Subway or with a Starbucks'-so-called-espresso ;)

So I made up a batch of cookies. And guess the ingredients. Let me give you some clues. Its healthy. Its light. I'd happily eat them up for breakfast. All of'em.

So heres how its made. And this is not my recipe. I took it from the Whole Grain gourmet website with a few changes(

1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup applesauce
1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup Steel cut Oats. You could add more but I didnt want it to be too oat-y.
1/4 tspn baking soda,
1 tspn baking powder
a pinch of salt, a tablespoon vanilla sugar(or vanilla essence if you have), a tablespoon cinnamon, 1/2 tablespoon cardamom powder.
a few chopped almonds. Walnuts would be better I guess, but I didnt have them on hand
Half a bar of 70% chocolate that I chopped up.

Then it is as simple as mixing it all up, and dropping my the tablespoon fulls on the cookie sheet. Bake it on 375 for 15 minutes. Share

Blueberry and peach Clafoutis

Clafoutis. No not 'klafootis', but its French so pronounce it 'klafutee'. Doesnt it sound beautiful, chic and sort of romantic? Actually all of French is so poshly romantic. I mean the language :). Oh and Paris too. Chic haute cuisine par excellence. Its all French. But the French fries are in no way french. They wouldnt give the fries a name so bland. I thought it must be an American version. A bit of googling later - its Belgian. The Swiss dont bother crediting any country though - we here simply call it Pommes Frites - meaning potato fries. Simple.

Today I wasnt in the mood to make crepes for breakfast. But was looking for something sweet and easy. And have the 3 buzzwords I look for in a recipe - nutritious, easy and tasty.

Clafoutis is a dessert, sort of like a baked custard traditionally made with cherries, but then who'd bother with pitting all the cherries. I used whole wheat flour, blueberries and peaches in my version. Herez how I made it

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1 and 1/4 cup whole milk
3 eggs
About a cup of blueberries
1 peach.
and of course the usual pinch of salt and vanilla essence. For some reason we dont get vanilla extract in bottles here in Switzerland the way it is available the world over (that, and packed brown sugar too ..sigh..). So I either use a table spoon of vanilla sugar instead or a vanilla bean.
And about a cup of blueberries, and 1 peach.

Mix up flour, sugar, vanilla sugar, milk and salt. Whisk it a bit. Add eggs. Whisk again. And you're almost there. Cut the peaches, wash the blueberries. Butter the pan nicely till the edges coz its going to puff up. Layer the fruit, pour over the batter. Bake for about 40 minutes in a 350 oven. C'est magnifique !

P.S. - I cant but resist sharing this snippet I read somewhere
Q :Why is it good to be French?
A : You can surrender at the beginning of the war, and the U.S. will win it for you. Share

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Canned ....chicken !!

CAUTION: Spoilers ahead. I am feeling strangely and mildly sadist...


Fresh tomatoes or canned? Roasted peppers from a jar or from scratch? Sweet corn from a can, or fresh (and barbequed, served with butter !!). Fresh strawberries or frozen?

Its all about the ease aint it? Always beats a bag of chips or a pizza from the local takeaway. Not bad nutritionally either. But chicken in a can? A whole chicken!! I thought of keeping a picture here so you know what I'm talking about - but hey, mine is a humble new blog, and I couldnt possibly scare away anyone who stumbles on here ! Here is a link though - be warned - its not for the faint hearted, and certainly not while you are eating or thinking of eating!

It says 'Great to have on-hand in your pantry for emergency dinners ', 'Be sure to visit Hometown Favorites Storefront for hundreds of other hard to find food favorites!'. Yeah right!

Oh and while you're at it, dont forget to read the customer comments - they are grossly and disgustingly hilarious.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Posh nosh

A long time ago I had seen a bag of blue corn chips while grocery shopping in London. Not exactly grocery shopping, I was there on holiday and like on all holidays I loooooove to go to the local grocery store, the old rugged and rustic looking bakeries, the local drug stores where I love to pick up some cosmetics, some face creams, some hair masks and just browsing in general. So anyways, today I saw a video by Nigella Lawson talking poshly about posh blue corn. And that got me thinking - what nosh is posh and what is not so posh? I came up with my list of all things posh

- Blue corn tortilla chips
- Vanilla bean instead of vanilla from a bottle
- Truffle and truffle oil. Somehow I feel some chefs are just showing off by using truffle oil in an attempt to go 'gourmet'. I mean agreed it goes great with starchy food - potatoes, pasta, bruschetta, but truffle oil on salad? Now that I think is a bit of a show off.
- Dark chocolate as opposed to Snickers.
- Caviar. Even the name sounds posher than the real deal - fish eggs anyone?
- Foie Gras (duck liver ?)
- Croissant vs Dunkin Donuts?
- Espresso vs Starbucks' Tall Lattes?
- Home made sauce vs ketchup?
- Free range chicken and eggs

Oh my head is exploding with options. Will come back with more later. What are your ideas of posh food?


Friday, June 12, 2009

Third time lucky?

Somehow I havent yet had any luck with blenders. My first was this Moulinex which had more parts that I could count. Used just the 2 most handy ones - until it broke after a year. There was another one that I bought then which works alright, but you know...its quite a task to clean it. After a hard day's work I cant quite find that energy to bother with it all. Not to forget the sound of 50 jets flying around my head! I bought myself a Magic bullet. Yeah..gave in to the gimmick! Have been reading its reviews on Amazon, and I dont have the same enthusiasm to use it now..
Well we'll see. At least I'm hoping to make more smoothies each morning..well..ok..every 'weekend morning'. Along with the crepes, and the nutella, and the banana, oh throw on some nom mum.... Share

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Muesli Bar

Oh the pressure of a new post on a new blog! I want to impress you all, follow the blog, give me comments(only good comments allowed ;-) .. ) spread it, quote it, appreciate it....yeah right! There goes my greedy self hungry again!
Let me just start with what is almost my weekly ritual. Nah not quite, I get bored too easily. But I do make it quite often. Mainly coz its easy, and better still, healthy. We here in Switzerland (no, I am not the "extremely smart, handsome, clever and bright person, who is just a little bit too perfect to be real" - also known as 'Swiss'. Dont believe me? Check the Urban Dictionary). Ok so the Swiss call it Muesli Bar. Maybe the Germans call it the same too. (wonder who's the copy cat?). So heres how I make it
2 cups rolled oats - I use the steel cut variety
1/3 cup each wheatgerm, pumpkin seeds/sunflower seeds, sesame seeds
some chopped dried fruit - dried apricot, figs, cranberries. Sometimes I use dates, but they are too sweet for my liking - at least in a muesli bar. All of this chopped to be about a cup and a half.
1/2 cup peanut butter. I have been meaning to make it at home, with good quality Extra virgin olive oil, but havent done it yet. Somehow I am never so sure about the oil used in peanut butter at the supermarkets. Anyways..
1/3 cup brown sugar. And if gets a little dry, (coz I havent measured the stuff properly), about 2 tablespoons honey.
The butter, sugar is melted in a heavy bottom pan. The dry ingredients mixed up. Then its time to get the hands dirty. Mix the butter and sugar gooey paste to the dry stuff, and lay it on the baking tin. You'd have to press it, coz the stuff is quite sticky and gooey. Bake it at 150 for 35-40 mins. Cool it, cut it, pack it, and snack on it. Share

Snacksgiving is here!

Well here I was thinking of a catchy tagline, a catchy name, snacking away(as always..picture an old fat a*s sitting on her laptop eating more than writing...and well guess what? that's NOT me!! ). So should it be Snacksville? Snack-a-pack? Snacks and more?(yawn....), and there it was moment of zen. With a halo around my head, I create Share