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Showing posts from 2012

The Fat Duck

How do you describe the most amazing meal of your life. It's almost a whole day since I got back from lunch at Heston Bluementhal's "The Fat Duck". And I still can't find the words to explain what you experience as you sit there for four hours, enjoying his decadent 14 course tasting menu.

Maybe I'd start where he starts, the amuse bouche that was one of the my favorite courses. Sweet aerated beets with horseradish cream, the whole package looking like a tiny red velvet whoopie pie. The next course was an apertif. In mad scientist way, the server brought liquid nitrogen and converted vodka and lime or campari and orange into meringue like things that numbed your tongue and set you up for flavor assault about to hit you.

The other courses that would make my top 5 hall of fame include this risotto you see above. It's not from his main menu, and I only got it because I am a vegetarian. This is beetroot risotto topped with radish carpaccio, some kind of foam…

Chop!

Just when I thought he was getting old and a little bit fat, Jamie Oliver has landed himself another winner. His new "store", just opposite Notting Hill Gate, is called Recipease. On the ground floor is a takeout-cum-Jamie's signature cookware kind of shop. And some cooking counters, and stairs leading up to what at first glance is a chilled out cafe. But then, it's also a cooking school.

I signed up for knife skills class last week. It's something I've wanted to do for a while but also felt that it could be a bore - what's fun about chopping vegetables for a couple of hours. Well, let me tell you then, the class at Jamie's is actually fun. You walk in and get offered a glass of wine. Given that I was just about to be handed some very sharp knives, I stuck to water and saved that wine until after the class.

Then the class started. But it didn't feel like one. It felt instead, like you've walked into a friend's house, and she wants you to …

When in Rome...

It is impossible to do as the Romans do. Because there aren't any! Every person I saw on the streets of Rome was a tourist carrying a map. Ah well, travel is meant to burst long held myths and this was certainly not the only one. From the last month of travel, I picked for you what I think of as three top myths:

Myth No. 1: China is Cheap
It has to be, right? After all, they export everything to the whole world. But no, it isn't. At least, not where we were in Shanghai. Every restaurant meal I had was way more expensive than what I would pay in London. Shopping was nowhere less than London prices either. Even Starbucks sells their cappuccino at prices at least 30% higher than anywhere else. Now you go figure.

Myth No. 2: French people are unfriendly and won't give you the time of the day if you don't speak French
Now come on, they were all so friendly. And absolutely everyone, not just the hotel people but passer-bys you ask directions from or wait staff in cafes, spoke…

Top 5 Things to Eat in Paris

When I planned my trip to Paris, I paid little attention to museums and art and all those things first time tourists think about. In fact, I only had two spots on my to-do list - Pierre Herme and Laduree. But because you can't live on pastry alone (well, you can, but let's say you need some variety!), I also bookmarked this highly informative post from my favorite American in Paris, David Lebovitz.

I stayed pretty close to the program, even though an occasional trip to Eiffel Tower or art gazing at a museum crept in, a temporary diversion from the feast in Paris. From all those meals, I've culled for you five things you should not even think about missing if you find yourself in Paris:

1. Start your day at Pierre Herme with a fantastic croissant. Or better still, a kugelof or a buttery koign amman.

2. If you find yourself at Pierre Herme after breakfast time, treat yourself to an ishpahan.

3. Or go to Laduree instead. You can linger in their tea room. But what's the f…

Ispahan

We need to talk, you and I! In the two months I've been gone from these pages, I've collected so many stories I need to tell you. Stories of course, of experiences in London and school and what not. But also of travels to China and a trip out to Europe.

Or I could just sum up all these new experiences in one word - Ispahan! For the uninitiated, ispahan is a pastry created by the legendary Parisian pastry chef Pierre Herme. And in one little treat, it sums up everything that's right with the world.

What you see up there is a crunchy rose flavored pink macaron. The filling is a rose petal buttercream, which has some lychees mixed in. This is then topped with fresh raspberries.

A trifle sweet, a little tart, and very, very pretty - that's how life's been lately. And this time, I am going to be back and blogging regularly so make sure you check back to hear the stories.

Julia Child's Life in France

This may seem like a long time ago but back in May, our book club - This Book Makes Me Cook - picked the iconic book "My Life in France" by Julia Child. I've read this book before, I've seen the Meryl Streep movie based on the book and I readily re-read this highly enjoyable saga last month. I even created a dish inspired from the book. But it's been so crazy around here with exams and assignments that I've only just gotten around to telling you about it.

First the book, it's all about Julia. And the way she immersed herself in France the moment she arrived. In all the culinary surprises Paris has in store for her, her trips to the coast to see that special food and her training at Cordon Bleu, the real Julia shines through. Her passion and her personality then reflect in the book she writes with her two new found friends. A book that has inspired home cooks ever since.

I could have picked a French dish from the book. But to me, the message that Julia i…

Orange Berry Muffins

Now people claim all sorts of distinctions between muffins and cupcakes. But except for the fact that one has icing and the other doesn't, muffins are really just an excuse to eat cake for breakfast. A concept I am totally in favor of. These are even healthy, with so many blueberries in there.

The recipe is from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My home to yours and it produces a tender, light cake that I loved. There is also loads of citrusy sparkle in there that simply makes the muffins shine.

Outside of these small touches, its your standard muffin recipe. You line 6 muffin tins with paper (I got 8 muffins but then I have tiny tins!). Then you mix up the liquids whisking together in this order: 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup buttermilk, one egg, 1 1/2 tbsp honey and 50 grams melted and cooled butter.

Next the dry ingredients. Rub 2 tbsp sugar with zest of a lemon. Mix in 1 cup plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder, a pinch of baking soda and another pinch of salt. Pour the liquid i…

Halloumi

This is officially my new favorite cheese. It's not that I hadn't seen the appeal of halloumi before. But living in India, it is hard to replace paneer with any other choice. London, on the other hand, has slim pickings as far as paneer goes. The packets of frozen or stale paneer don't really excite me and rather than compromise with bad versions of my favorite, I've been eating more of the other varieties of cheeses. And before you ask, yes, I know how to make my own paneer. But i have a rather hectic class schedule and paneer making doesn't fit in currently.

So back to halloumi. And London's short lived summer. For about a week, the temperature rose to 28 degrees and it was sunny. And everyone was wearing short skirts. Then it started raining and we are squarely back into the 14 degree weather and warm jackets all round.

I did have halloumi on a barbeque during the summer week. But then, I wanted to have it again yesterday amidst a rainy storm. So I made it…

Tomato Bruschetta

Do you know where to find the best tasting tomatoes in the world? Head to Pioneer Woman's recipe for bruschetta. I've never been disappointed by anything Ree's recommended but these tomatoes are really special.

Step one - you halve a whole lot of cherry tomatoes. I used all red tomatoes but Ree says to add half yellow if you can find them. And when I say plenty, I mean plenty. Because you're gonna miss them when they are gone. I think I had about 400 grams in there.

Step two - mince five cloves of garlic. Heat olive oil in a pan, add garlic and fry until it's golden but not too brown. Move the oil/garlic mixture to a bowl that will fit all your tomatoes and let cool a bit.

Step three - To the bowl with garlic, add tomatoes, a tbsp of balsamic vinegar, chopped basil, salt and pepper. Mix everything up, cover and put in the fridge for a couple of hours for the flavors to mingle.

You can then toast some bread and top with the tomatoes to make bruschetta. Or you can d…

Is that beer in my cake?

I don't drink beer. Even in London, where there is a pub at every corner (one right inside my school in fact!), I refuse to touch ales, stouts or lagers. But then I saw this cake on Valerie's website and was hooked. It's guinness and chocolate cake, people and there is a nutella and cream cheese frosting to go with it.

I still might have given it a miss - buying guinness here means buying at least 4 bottles and what would I do with the rest! But I showed my flatmate the pictures and she showed up the next evening with guinness all purchased and waiting to be turned into a cake.

I made this for a girls' night out and it was a total sell out. The texture is different from your typical cake but the guinness makes it so moist. And the frosting...well, if I wasn't taking this cake out for company, I just might have eaten the whole bowl. It was that good!

My favourite salad

Since I eat this salad at least twice a week ever since I came to London, I thought I might as well tell you about it. It's pretty easy to assemble too - all the effort really happens at the grocery stores.

First the leaves. I am happy for you to pick any of the designer packages of salad leaves. Just make sure it contains some form of rocket. Rocket (or arugula), let me repeat, is a must. In fact, sometimes I do this just with plain arugula. The one you see in the frame above is called baby salad leaves. A couple of months back, my absolute favorite was a brand called Steve's Leaves that sells pea shoots and baby salad leaves.

Once you've washed a couple of handful of leaves and plonked them onto the salad bowl, halved cherry tomatoes are next. Again, the supermarkets have at least 3-4 varieties to pick from over here. But the ones I like best are called baby plum tomatoes. They are sweetish and a great match for spicy leaves.

Next, enough crumbled parmesan to make you h…

I went to a cake decorating class...

Sometimes you need to do certain things before you believe you don't need to! Take cake decorating. I always look wistfully at beautiful cake displays and sigh at the lack of my piping skills.

Now you know I am a self taught cook. If I can't figure out a technique from a recipe or a blog, there is usually a youtube video out there to help. But cake decorating and those neat flowery cupcakes were just not happening for me. So I decided to go to a cupcake decorating class.

London has loads of these 2-3 hour classes and the one I picked was from Sugarshack. It's a lovely way to spend 2 hours. You are given some buttercream, then shown techniques to pipe shells, stars and swirls. Also in the course, the way to color and tint buttercream and make it sparkly.

Once the lesson's done, we were given four cupcakes each to decorate and take home. The one you see above is my pride and joy. I piped in the rose, then sprayed it with pearl lustre spray for that sparkly finish. In fa…

In the Land of Heston Bluementhal

I just got back from a jaunt down to London's Oxford Circus and happy to report that everything's just as it should be. Flowers and heart shaped balloons everywhere, stores decked out in pink and red and almost all guys on the bus carrying elaborately wrapped gifts. Pretty much your typical Valentine's Day.

Selfridges (one of my favorite stores) had long queues in front of chocolate and macaron counters. It's gotten slightly warmer here so I treated myself to Pinkberry frozen yogurt instead.

And here's another treat. A chocolate exploding cake, courtesy none other than legendary Heston Bluementhal. Heston does a weekly show on BBC here. He picks an ingredient and shows simple yet quirky dishes on the theme.

The week he picked chocolate, he made this cake. It's very quick to put together and is way too simple on first glance. But nothing's simple in Heston's world.

The bottom layer is store bought shortbread cookies, baked again until they are golden br…

Four Years of Bombay Foodie

February 3, 2008: I baked my first cookie. I also wrote my first blogpost.

I didn't know this blog will change so many things in my life.

I didn't know Mumbai food blogger community will grow to 40-odd people. And we'd have so much fun when we meet.

I had no idea I will make so many blogging friends in so many parts of the world.

I also didn't think I will stop buying flowers or wine or other gifts when I go visit a friend and will bake them cookies instead. And they'd all love them so much.

I couldn't imagine the way people's eyes light up when you talk about food, and the way everyone's interested no matter what they do or who they are.

But most of all, I didn't know I'd have so much fun on the way.

To everyone who stopped by Bombay Foodie to read my posts, or leave a comment: A HUGE THANK YOU!