Monday, August 31, 2009

Where did it go?

Where did it go? Summer! Why so early? I guess it's never too early for fall! Today is kind of an official start of fall. We have this end of summer festival in Zurich on September 15 of each year..which is the last of those beer-glugging-wurst-eating-cowboy-hat-wearing-half-naked crowd swinging away to some random beats! (That was a long one!).

Well we can't stop the summer, but surely can celebrate the onset of fall! The changing flora, the cozy evenings, cool mornings, chocolate, pies, hearty soups and stews! And of course Halloween, Thanksgiving (and the Black Friday), Christmas and then New Year..

It is the beginning of change. Sure you'll see it here berries are most likely to be replaced by chocolate! Apple, cinnamon, chocolate, mulled wine are to winter what berries, peaches, watermelons and mangoes are to summer!

Let us all enjoy the last few of those sunny and long days that we have on offer..and bring on the limoncellos, the barbecued fish, maybe some refreshing green salads.. more mojito for me pleese..hic Share

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Nectarine Pie

After all my posts with berries, I thought of posting something with other summer fruits as well - no I am not done yet with berries - not until they completely disappear from the fresh fruit section of my grocery store! Just using more fruits in my recipes. This time it is nectarines - a nectarine pie. Usually when I think pie, I think pumpkin pie and of course, I think Thanksgiving. (yes, the name is awfully close to this very blog -
Pies for me are usually a winter thing. But it's been a while since I made one, and nectarines and peaches are wonderful in pies. So that is what I made.
Of course I never go to the extent of making the pie crust myself - that is just too tedious and time consuming. Buying from the store is what I always do, and recommend as well!
So with the pie crust sorted - it's as easy as 1,2,3! Here is what you need

- 6 nectarines
- 1/2 cup sugar (I don't like my desserts too sweet, so I usually add a little less than that)
- 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- A ready rolled chilled pie crust

Pre-heat your oven to 375 F. Wash and slice your nectarines thinly. In a bowl mix together the cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, flour and lemon juice. Toss in the nectarines and mix gently for half a minute or so. Roll out your pie crust and place it into your pie pan. Mine was ready rolled in an over proof pan, so it was a breeze.
With a rubber spatuala, scrape the nectarines on to the pie, leave a few to be the top garnish. I placed the top ones as neatly as could, so they look good. Bake the pie 375F for 30-40 minutes. Once cooled, sprinkle some powdered sugar so it looks prettier!
This post goes to the Summer Holidays With Vacation Food event. Share

Monday, August 24, 2009

San Marzano tomatoes

How do you make your tomato sauce for your pasta? Is it out of a jar? Do you use canned tomatoes? Or just about any kind of fresh tomatoes? I guess all of it is fine - these are the options I usually use when making pasta. But today I almost jumped when at Migros - our local grocery store, I saw San Marzano tomatoes, and what's more - they even had those cute cherry San Marzano tomatoes! The bulb in my head just went 'Ting' to tell me 'Tis the season for these precious things! Go grab a basket or two!'

Ok, so what's this deal about a variety of tomatoes after all? San Marzano is the region in Italy where this variety grows and are often touted as the 'world's sauciest tomatoes'. These are very long, meaty and plum tomatoes with very few seeds and a lot of flesh - and they have an excellent flavour. Depending on where you live, you'd find them to be a bit more expensive that the usual variety since they grow only in one region in Italy for a limited period. They are available canned as well, and yes, a bit more pricey than the regular canned variety. Also since there are a lot of imitations - make sure you check for the logo to be sure you are buying the real deal.

Now is the season when they are so easily available fresh. Try it out for making your pasta sauce - And let me know how you like it! I am going to make mine now :) Share

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Raspberry smoothie

I think I have written enough in praise of berries in my earlier posts, that I love them, and how one look at all of them together is a celebration of summer itself! At the risk of repeating myself - 'I love berries' - all kinds! My favourite ones are blueberries but raspberries make for such a lush and rich red drink, or for garnish, along with strawberries, that I love them simply for their colour!

When I had bought my Magic bullet , I thought smoothies and juices would now be the order of the day. I guess I was on a high from reading all those 'Power juice' and 'Fasting with juice' books and how it will detoxify my system, make me 'live a fuller life' etc. I think I was just being too ambitious thinking I'd accomplish that! I still do have the intention of making a healthy concoction with veggies and fruits every morning, but it has remained just that - an intention!

Smoothies with fruits like berries are such a breeze! No peeling, no deseeding, no mess at all. Guess that's why I always have at least one berry in my weekend shopping basket.

Anyways, this is just one of the smoothies me and my husband are addicted to these days. Here's how I made it.

The ingredients are :
- 1 and 1/2 cup fresh raspberries. Of course you can thaw and use frozen raspberries too.
- 1 medium sized ripe banana
- 1/4 cup + about 2 tablespoons milk. I use whole milk.
- Sugar if you need, according to your taste.

The banana I used was nicely ripe and gave the smoothie just enough sweetness, so I didn't use any sugar at all.
So it's as easy as blitzing it all together into a lush red smoothie. Try it, you'd love it! Share

Monday, August 17, 2009


Are you a complete cookie junkie like me? Every weekend when I go grocery shopping, while walking past the cookies and cakes aisle, I always tell myself - no I wouldn't pick up these biscuits - they are tasty yes, but I already have a stash at home!. And we know, nothing beats the satisfaction of baking your own cookies and serving them warm with your afternoon tea or coffee. And I always have my qualms about some of the ready-to- eat store bought items - like the kind of fat used, the amount used , and I'm always looking for the taste plus nutrition factor.

But then there are days that are exceptions - like when I pick up packs of the best biscuits ever made - The Walkers Pure Butter Shortbread. Seriously, these biscuits are divine! And like all things going 'whole'- what with whole wheat pasta, whole wheat 'white' flour, whole wheat tortillas, can butter biscuits be far behind?

So when I saw 'Digestive' butter biscuits, and that too from Walkers, there was no way I was going to pick up just one. These are made with oats, wheat, honey and butter. Trust me you all - try these and I bet you'd thank me for that. Sure it has more butter than I would put in 10 batches of cookies, but you know what - Who cares? These are 'digestive' right? Lol...

So here is how it's made..hehe..just kidding..

Go grab a pack or two. There are some amazing versions. I can't quite recommend one or two..if I start quoting my favourite, it'll probably be all that they have - but definitely try the Shortbread, these Digestive ones, Raspberry and White Chocolate, Belgian Chocolate...oh..I could go on and on. Better visit here for more. And no, Walkers are NOT sponsoring this article (sigh..)

P.S. - It's almost mid-night as I write this, but just looking at the pictures of these beauties has made me pining for them all over again...and there go another couple of them in my hungry tummy!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Italian Almond biscotti

Do not forget to enter for the $100 giveaway on this blog. Open internationally! Link available here!

On a good day if you ask me what would I like with my coffee - it would probably be a healthy little cookie like an oatmeal and whole wheat kind, or one with arrowroot, maybe a macaron, or a biscotti. But of course there are days when I sit eating up an entire package of a peanut butter or chocolate chip cookie and not offer it to!
Of all these healthy variety, I have to say - macarons and biscotti are my favourite. Simply because you can play around so much with the flavours and colours and it just tastes great!
These cookies are from Italy and 'biscotti' just means cookie in Italian. These are baked twice giving them a long shelf life. Usually the Italians would dunk it in their dessert wine and eat, but of course, coffee and tea are also its wonderful companions! Here is how I made it.

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated white sugar. I know some people add 1 cup, but I think 3/4 gives just the right sweetness for me.
1 cup almonds, toasted in the oven for about 8-10 minutes at 350 F
1 teaspoon vanilla extract ( I use vanilla sugar coz we don't get vanilla extract here easily!)
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract. This is what gives the biscotti their signature almond-y it!

Coarsely chop the toasted almonds. Snack on a couple maybe - they taste so good!
Combine the dry ingredients. In a seperate bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla and almond extracts. Add in this mixture to the dry ingredients slowly and stir. You could use your electric mixture for this. Add in the chopped almonds and the remaining egg mixture so that you get it to form a dough. Shape the dough into 2 logs about 10x2". Bake it on a 350 oven for about 40 minutes. Then take it out of the oven, let it cool so you can work with it- about 8-10 minutes, and cut them at a diagonal so that you get that classic biscotti shape. Lay these biscuits flat and bake for about 10 minutes again per side, or if you can make it to stand, then just once would be fine.
Allow it to cool a bit before you pop it into your mouth :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Beetroot halwa

Do not forget to enter for the $100 giveaway on this blog. Open internationally! Link available here!

So who wants a dessert that is healthy too? And has more nutrients than you can count. Don't think too hard - I'll answer it for you - it is my latest favourite dessert - Beetroot halwa. A quick search on the holistic benefits of beetroot will enlighten you on how good it is for you, but I had been eyeing on turning this vegetable into something that I can fall in love with. I don't like it raw, I don't like it in salads, not in a vegetable curry, not in a soup..yeah I am quite choosy that way. But I need my iron. I will not turn this into a health bulletin but all you folks who don't eat red meat - you need your iron - which you'll find aplenty in this veggie.

So last weekend i tried turning it into a dessert - a halwa. Traditionally a halwa uses copious amounts of ghee(clarified butter), but since it is not so easily available in stores(except Indian and health food stores) I replaced it with a can of condensed milk. And it was ready in minutes. Of course after 30 mins of my work out in grating it very fine. So here is how I made it.

- 1 large beetroot washed, peeled and finely grated
- 1/2 can of sweetened condensed milk
- 2 and 1/2 tablespoons ghee/butter
- 4-5 cardamom pods or 1 teaspoon of cardamom powder
- 1 tablespoonful of cashews/pistachios/almonds
- 1 tablespoon raisins

Heat 1 and 1/2 tablespoon ghee or butter in a heavy bottomed pan. Add in the beetroot and fry it on medium heat for about 10 mins. Add in the cardamom. Then add the condensed milk and reduce the heat. Keep stirring for 20-25 mins. In a seperate pan, add in the remaining 1 tablespoon of ghee and then the nuts and raisins. Once the nuts get a light brown colour and the raisins puff up, add them to the halwa.
Add some more nuts for garnish while serving.

I made this last weekend just as a test since I am known for not liking this humble vegetable, but was surprised when my husband ate up 2 cup fulls of deliciousness and demanded I make it more often. And I couldn't be happier to finally start my love affair with this vegetable so understated! Share

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Blackberry cake

Do not forget to enter for the $100 giveaway on this blog. Open internationally! Link available here!

When I picked up a basket of blackberries this weekend, I was thinking more on the lines of blackberry coulis drizzled over an angel food cake, pancake, or just about anything sweet. But while I was grocery shopping, I saw this new ad showing a cup of coffee and a big slice of cake with all kinds of berries in it! I would have stopped and eaten it up right there - but I was alone, and eating alone isn't much fun as we all know. Also, I managed to prove one thing to myself - the oft-repeated "Do not go grocery shopping when you are hungry". I can tell you - nothing can be more true!
Anyways, so I came home and decided to make a cake, and eat it too! A blackberry cake. This is the version I made - although I usually prefer making a simple cake - like an angel food cake and dress it up with some cream cheese and berries. Here is the recipe

1/2 cup butter
1 cup fresh blackberries - washed and completely dried
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated is lovely, although the powdered one works fine)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger powder
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat your oven at 350 degrees, grease your cake tin and sift the flour, and all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Now cream the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs one at a time, and continue beating. Add the flour mix slowly and gently mix it into the butter-egg mixture. Add the buttermilk slowly else it will cause lumps to be formed. Gently fold in the blackberries. Pour into the cake tin and bake for about 55 minutes. Once done, add your choice of icing. I really couldn't wait to eat it up, so just sprinkled some powdered sugar, and chocolate gratings.

Of course, the berries never made it to a coulis :)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Spicy Rice flour pancake

Think pancakes - think sweet. Maple syrup, fruit, maybe some whipped cream. Savoury pancakes - yeah, we all have heard of them, few have had it, and then some make it as well. Indian food offers some wonderful pancakes, my favourite one being dosa. Although simple, it needs a bit of pre-planning as you need to allow for some fermentation time. This one - called 'Sarva Pindi' is made with rice flour. Hence, is easy peasy! Just bring together a couple of ingredients, and cook it like any other pancake.
Apparently, this dish is losing the following it once had and is dying out. All this information, and the recipe come from a very famous Indian chef on YouTube - Sanjay Thumma - also known as VahChef for the Netaholics. You can check out his recipe here --> VahChef's Sarva Pindi
Usually had as an evening snack, I wanted to make something that's not sweet, and is easy to make in the morning. Ofcourse I am talking a weekend morning, cooking an actual breakfast on a weekday doesn't even strike as an option to me. I am lucky if I can manage to run and catch my train on time :-)
Someday I would probably do a post on the many different varieties of bread I pick up sometimes for a breakfast-to-go. But for now enjoy this rice flour pancake.
This entry goes to the Rice Feast being hosted by Aathidhyam Share


Nothing can be as quintessential a swiss breakfast as a bowl of hearty Birchermüesli or simply Muesli. And those not all too familiar with the 'guttural CH' or the "gargled R" sounds of German, here is a bit of pronunciation course. Bir-kher-Mew-slee. And trust me, if you are not German, or Swiss German, you will NOT be able to pronounce it the way people here do. I was once told by a Swiss friend, that I should gargle and practice if I want to perfect it. Needless to say, I gave up right there!
For all you followers of the Quick Quaker Oats(or whatever it's called), this is my humble request to you. Just try this one out for once. It is almost as easy as getting stuff straight out of a box - just that you may need to open too many boxes :). And you need to pre-plan a bit.
This recipe was originally created by the physician Bircher-Benner, but has been now adapted to suit different tastes and lifestyles.

The kind that I made is just one variation. The traditional one uses apples - you could use whatever fruits you like or are in season. Also the choice of nuts is upto you. The important thing is to soak the oats the night before - or at least a couple of hours before serving. So here is how I made it.
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup yoghurt
- Some chopped and/or flaked almonds
- handful of raisins
- 1 cup blackberries
Soak the oats in juice and yoghurt and refrigerate it overnight.
Before serving, add in a few blackberries per serving in a bowl and crush them. Mix it with the oats-yoghurt mixture until you get the colour you like. Now add in the nuts, raisins, and more blackberries if you like.
There you have a healthy, nutritious and easy breakfast.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Happy Swiss National Day!

Happy Swiss National Day you all! For those not from this part of the world, 1st of August is what 4th of July is to America, or 15th of August to the Indians. Also known as Schweizer Bundesfeier(German) or Fête nationale(French) or Swiss National Day to us lesser mortals with poor language skills!

I would not bore you with the history or speeches..the latter always making me shout Run!! Run away! But just for a bit of trivia, this was the day in 1291 when Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden - 3 Alpine cantons swore the oath of confederation, an act which later came to be regarded as the foundation of Switzerland.
It is a national holiday, but alas, this year it happens to fall on a Saturday, so no extra holiday. Tough luck!

As for the celebrations, there are some fireworks in some cantons, but in most villages and towns, people light a fire, and enjoy Bratwurst, Büürli and beer - which is basically sausage, bread and beer :-)

One thing I really like is that around this time of the year, you can find the swiss flag almost anywhere - right from mugs, T-shirts and fondue pots to eggs, bread, even cheese and meat!
I picked up this bread which is specially made for the 1st of August, and has cute little Swiss flags, along with a '+', again from the flag - simply called Swiss national day bread. Nice, isn't it. Have fun again y'all Share