Friday, 12 December 2014

DIY home made gifts for Christmas

A bunch of us here have a tradition of making home made gifts for Christmas. Just for the fun factor, we all slog it out for weeks and come up with DIY gifts that for me are much more personal than buying something from the stores. Last year i gifted everyone this home made lemon extract and sweet and salty crunchie bars. This year, I thought I'd go completely off food and do something different. Needless to say, hours were spent on pinterest, Etsy and the like for some motivation and finally i decided on doing vintage home made candles.

I have been obsessed with candles for the longest time. There used to a time back in India when i had candles strewn all over my apartment but when there was a power cut I wouldn't let Ro light even one of those (because they were really too pretty to waste at a power cut). It was a joke my husband loved telling everyone. Grown out of all that, now i use scented candles more to smoothen the cooking smell and such.
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I had chanced upon candles in vintage tea cups long back and since i had trawled Ebay for English tea cups for our chaiparty (more on this later), i knew what my options were. So making a decision to gift those came easily. Now, of course i couldn't gift just a candle, so again pinteresting started and i decided to gift a sa pack for my friends this year. the pack would have the scented vintage tea cup candle and an assortment of scented fizzy bath bombs, for that relaxed night in.

They were both really really easy to put together and I was rather proud of how organized I was this time, ordering everything online and finishing it all off way ahead of time. The cost is also very minimal because you are putting these together yourself, and for me it was the creative part of it that was most fun.
My lovely friends gifted me so cool stuff as well. Vineetha made delicious rocky roads and presented them in a beautiful vintage tin, Gayathri went all out and made a hamper with Christmas classics like mulling syrup, stollen, panettone, salted caramel and garam masala sea salt and Suchi did a spa pack with personalised body scrub and lip balm, full on with our name tags and such. Not to mention, her packaging was spot on. I love this tradition of ours and am so glad I have a small group of friends who share the same interests. We exchanged these gifts over a lovely brunch in Covent Garden followed by some shopping.

Scented candles in vintage tea cups (makes 4)
Vintage tea cups with saucers- 4 (i bid on them on Ebay. These are Royal Albert English Rose tea cups)
Candle wicks- 4, waxed and preferably with sustainers
Wooden skewers- 8, to hold the wicks in place
Heat proof bowl- 1
Cup with spout (if its heat proof then use that for the wax as well, in which case the cup is not required)

Eco friendly soy wax- 500 gms
Wax dye- 2 gms (I used baby pink. For a darker shade add more)
Fragrance oil- 1 tsp, or according to preference (I used one called Woodland Rose)

Before getting on with the process make sure you have set up the containers with wicks etc.
I first tried to keep the wicks in place with a clothes peg balanced on the rim, but when i poured in the wax, with the slightest movement they changed position.
So I placed two skewers on either side of the wick to keep it in place (as in picture).
(small sticker dots to stick the wick came with the kit but the moment the hot wax hit it, it just melted and came off. i have no clue what the purpose of this thing was)
PicMonkey j Once the mis en place is intact, heat enough water in a saucepan to come about half way up and bring to a simmer.
Place the wax in the heat proof bowl (cut them up into smaller pieces if they are in a block, to allow easy and even melting) along with the wax dye and let it slowly melt.
Use a long wooden skewer to stir in between if needed.
Once the wax has completely melted, take it off bain marie and keep aside to cool a bit.
Pour in the fragrance oil at this point, stir with the skewer and slowly pour into the cups till about 3/4th full.
If the wicks have moved a bit, don't worry, just readjust. The wax is not going to set immediately.
Also, rinse out your utensils quickly.
Don't move the candles until its completely set. If there is a bit of sinking in the centre, just warm some more wax and fill it up.
Light the candles only after 24hrs.

Scented fizzy bath bombs (makes 12- adapted from here)
IMG_5108 Bowls- 3, large
Measuring cup
Mixing spoon
Mould- I used my muffin tin

Baking soda- 1 cup
Corn flour- 3/4th cup
Epsom salt- 1/4 cup
Citric acid- 1/2 cup
Food colour - 3 different colours (I used baby blue, kiwi green and pink)
Fragrance oils- 3 different ones (blue- winter spice, Green- Christmas pine, Pink- Woodland rose)
Water- as needed
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Mix together the baking soda, corn flour, Epsom salt and citric acid in a bowl.
Divide it among 3 bowls, around 3/4th cup in each bowl.
Add the colours and fragrance oil into each and starting with one, sprinkle water into the mix bit by bit and mix with a spoon or with your hands if that's more convenient.
Watch it fizz, but make sure you only sprinkle water and not pour water into it or else you'd have a lot of cleaning up to do.
Add enough water to get the mix together. Take a fist full of the mix and press hard and if they hold the shape then you are good to go. If now, add some more water and get the desired consistency.
Pack the mix tightly into the muffin pan and keep aside for about 24 hrs before you turn it over and tap the bath bombs out of the tin.
Store them in air tight containers till ready to use of pack them immediately if gifting.

To use, fill a bath with water and thrown the bomb into it. Watch it fizz, change the colour of the water, enjoy the aroma and have a relaxing bath.
The baking soda and citric acid makes it fizz and the addition of Epsom salt acts as a muscle relaxant

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

What I've been up to...

Right... 2 months since I've opened the blog, yes, not lying, i swear i haven't signed into it that long and today i open to find loads of comments, something I've not seen in a while :). I feel people have stopped reading blogs, like properly reading them and enjoying them, me included. I still do scout around for recipes and the majority of recipes i follow are from blogs, so there is still some hope in this world.

I don't have any recipe for you today. But thought I'd fill you in on what I've been up to.

Sucre Sale by Bobo Macarons
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We have been extremely busy in the Bobo kitchen with the launch of our new collection of savoury macarons, Sucre Sale- sweet and savoury all in one bite. You'd be surprised at how nice they taste, and I'm not saying this because i work there, but from someone who was sceptical about how they'd turn out, you just have to take my word for it. They are yummm. Dora, the chief taste developer, has come up with flavours like English old mustard with salmon mousse and dill, beetroot, coriander and goats cheese, oregano mushrooms filled with avocado cream and so on. They are perfect for parties and seriously, canapés never looked this pretty! We are currently running an exclusive Christmas offer, so if you are wondering what to gift your loved ones, then head on over to our website and place an order. 

Christmas menu at Tentazioni restaurant
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From top left: Swordfish cubes with aubergine ratatouille and red pepper coulis, beef fillet carpaccio with fois gras ice cream, pumpkin ravioli with butter and sage sauce, Scottish lobster and beef fillet, tagliatelle with black truffle sauce, tiramisu.

I was invited to Tentazioni Italian restaurant for a preview of their Christmas menu. It was back in September and walking into a cosy restaurant in Bermondsey with carols playing in the background, Christmas crackers on tables and decorations made me wish for Christmas to approach faster. Now that we are a little over 2 weeks away from Christmas, I want time to stand still so i can hold on to 2014 a little longer. We were treated to 7 different dishes from their tasting menu and i loved all of it, fav being the tagliatelle with black truffle oil. They use fresh seasonal food and the menu is designed by head chef Alberto Modena. The restaurant is conveniently located and has a great private dining area that can host parties of up to 20. I am definitely going back to try their a la carte menu.

Dream non-dairy ice cream
On a cold Nov evening i scurried along the back alleys of Soho to get to the gorgeous Good Housekeeping cooking institute to check out the Dream ice cream pop up. Ice cream in winter is not really my thing but i had to find out what the deal with this gluten free, dairy free, low fat ice cream made with almonds (I know!), was all about. All decked in pink, with an ice cream trolley in a corner, i put together my ice cream sundae of praline crunch and velvety vanilla, full on with sprinkles and wafers. The ice cream is nice, i mean you wouldn't know its gluten free or low fat or anything except its a wee less sweeter than usual, which i think is a good thing, if you plan on dousing it with sauces and such. Right now they have 4 flavours- salted caramel, praline crunch, mint choc chip and velvety vanilla and are retailed at Waitrose at £4.99 per tub. Snuggle up next to a roaring fire with a tub of the praline crunch and I'm sorted. Its never too cold for ice cream, i learnt ;)

L'eto Caffe
L'eto caffe, a high end cafe and restaurant had a press launch of their new location on Brompton street, opposite the V & A museum last month. It was a fun night where bloggers and members of the press attended a champagne and canapé reception and then a feast of pastries from their elaborate collection. We got to take home a goody bag filled to the gills with all sorts of pastries and tarts and cakes. I must add that the tres leche cake i had there was the best, closely followed by the honey cake which apparently is one of their best sellers. L'eto has 6 London locations, so make sure you pop by one of them when you have the chance.

The Great British Chefs Dinner
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I had the privilege of attending a gala dinner hosted by Great British Chefs in aid of NSPCC at the grand Banqueting Hall. It was a black tie event, and my first time at a fund raising gala, one I'd never forget too. Michelin star chefs- Nathan Outlaw, Martin Wishart, Frances Atkins and Mark Dodson- put together a gorgeous menu and needless to say, the food was fabulous. The dinner gala raised more than £175,000 and I'm so glad i could be part of this worthy cause. If you would like to donate, please do so on the link provided.

Eat First
20141208_190554 One of the problems I face at work is lunch. I don't have many options around and carrying lunch every day is not feasible for me. Same goes with the husband. So I was pretty thrilled to know about this new service called Eat First, delivering fresh and healthy meals to your office. Every day you get to choose from a veg or non veg option (no confusion there) and its delivered within 15 minutes of placing the order, which i think is definitely a plus point. I got to taste some of their food at the launch event and its really good. At the moment they cover only the city and Canary wharf but I'm hoping they'd expand west and I'd be able to avail of their services soon.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Announcing the Indian #chaiparty event and a recipe for Khari puff sticks

With the weather changing and the cold creeping in on us, its getting more and more depressing. Diwali is coming up, so that's something to look forward to, but come November and then we are in that awkward state, where you know Christmas is a few weeks away, but not close enough to start planning or shopping for. So we at Bloggers' Buzz thought we should do something to bring the colour back into gloomy London by hosting an Indian #chaiparty. Yup, a traditional afternoon tea party with an Indian touch. Its going to be held in a leafy bylane of SE10, conveniently located for everyone to get to and we've collaborated with some fabulous brands which we shall be revealing in the next couple of weeks. You can call it a supper club of sorts, cos we are going to be cooking and serving the food we serve at the event, but we are not following the traditional sit down supper club format. I don't want to reveal too much now, but i promise this is going to be a super duper fun event.

What's a chai party without some steaming hot, well chai? Tea India, with their exotic range of rich, flavourful teas have gladly agreed to be part of the #chaiparty and will be providing us the tea for the afternoon. We will be serving a tea inspired cocktail as welcome drink and there would be unlimited glasses of masala chai doing the rounds.
Talking about food, we don't want to harp on the word fusion, but we promise it would be something fabulous. It would be predominantly Indian inspired but with a touch of what the quintessential afternoon teas are all about. To give you a teaser, we're thinking gajjar ka halwa tarts, vodka spiked golgappas (I know!!), mango flavoured macarons, lamb and pistachio kofta's etc. 

If thats not enough, we also have in store some fun festive games, mehendi corner, music and dancing to get the party going. The tickets will go on sale soon, and spaces are limited, so you might want to jump in and book one off right away. I shall be back with more details but till then, leaving you with a lip smacking canapé.

Since we are on the whole fusion food topic, here is a recipe for the traditional Khari biscuits (spiced puff pastry biscuits), but with the addition of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, it takes on the form of cheese sticks, that, needless to say, no one can stop with just one. Topping 2, with a South Indian twist, were my absolute favourite. I cant explain the aroma while these were baking. 

Makes around 20 long cheese sticks
Puff pastry- 1 pack, thawed
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese- 1 cup, finely grated
IMG_4627Topping 1
Dried fenugreek leaves- 1 tbsp, crushed
Pepper- around 1/2 to 1 tsp
Red chilli flakes- 1 tsp (optional)
Sea salt- to sprinkle

Topping 2
Oil- 1 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- 1 sprig, fresh ones
Shallot- 1 small, finely chopped
Salt- to taste
PicMonkey Collage
Preheat oven to 176C and line 2 baking trays with baking paper
If your puff pastry is not ready rolled, then roll it out to about 30 cms, 1/4 inch thickness.
Cut this sheet in two and sprinkle them both with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese . Generously
Sprinkle all the ingredients for topping one, one after the other on top of the cheese and using a rolling pin gently roll over the pastry sheet, just to put the ingredients all in place and to make sure they don't fall off.
Cut into long strips and carefully place them on the baking tray 1/2 inch apart.

For filling two, heat oil in a small pan and throw in the cumin seeds and curry leaves
Once they turn crisp, in about a minute if the oil is perfectly hot, add the finely chopped shallot and keep sauteing till they turn crisp.
This could take a while, but make sure you don't burn them, or else its could taste bitter.
Once the mix turn crispy, drain them on paper towels and leave to cool.
Once cool, crush them with a pestle and mortar, not to paste like consistency, but leaving a bit of bite to it.
Season with salt and sprinkle this mix on top of the puff pastry.
Cut them in strips and place on the baking paper.
IMG_4638Bake for about 15 minutes or till the pastry is golden brown in colour.
Take out of the oven, cool for a few minutes and bite into the crispy puff sticks warm.
Serve with a cup of tea and its perfect.

Sending the Cheese Sticks for the Parmigiano Reggiano #dinnertogether competition in association with London Restaurant Week. Wish me luck :)

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Bitterballen (Dutch beef croquettes)

We were in Amsterdam last week for Ro's cousins graduation and other than doing all the wild stuff Amsterdam is known for, we also got around to sampling some of the Dutch food. Well, Ro and his cousin wanted to eat Indonesian food, while i made a big fuss and said I wanted to try Dutch food, which to be honest was nothing to brag about at the end of the day. I tried fried cheese, bitterballen, stroopwaffels (waffles filled with caramel syrup), poffertjes and i was almost talked into trying the raw herring, but that definitely didn't happen. 

The bitterballen was my favourite from the lot i tried and i had to figure out how to make them at home. I scouted around for recipes and finally put together all the info i got and came up with my version. Its basically white sauce and meat mixed together, refrigerated, made into balls and deep fried. Yeah, whats not to like about that? 

I am soooo going to serve this as an appetiser at my next party which reminds me, i haven't thrown a party in so long. Work and other commitments have got in the way, but don't get me wrong, I'm loving every bit if it. Bitterballen is served with a mustard dip, since I'm not that big a mustard fan, i made my own version with the addition of some mayo and chilli sauce.

Makes around 30 medium size croquettes
Stewing beef- 400 to 450gms, cut into cubes
Ginger garlic paste- 1 1/2 tsp
Meat masala- 1 tsp (optional)
Salt and pepper- to taste

Minced beef- 1 1/2 cups
Butter- 90 gms
Flour- 2/3rd cup
Beef stock- 2 1/4 cups
Nutmeg- a generous pinch
Salt and pepper- to taste
Parsley- 1 tsp

Egg- 1, large, beaten
Bread crumbs- 1/2 cup
Oil- enough to deep fry
Cook the beef with the ginger garlic paste, meat masala and enough salt and pepper till done. I used a pressure cooker to make this process faster, but you are more than welcome to cook them with some water on the stove top, or use a slow cooker.
Once done, shred using a fork, mince in the food processor or just finely chop.
This mix can go right into the freezer.

Make a roux by melting the butter on medium heat and slowly whisking in the flour to form a smooth paste.
Pour in the beef stock bit by bit, whisking well after each addition, and the roux absorbs all the liquid.
Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper, stir it in.
Add the beef and chopped parsley, mix thoroughly.
Take it off heat and transfer to a shallow container
Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hr for the mix to harden which would make it easier to work with. This step is highly advised. *
When ready to fry, take the mix out of the refrigerator.
Take about 1 tbsp of the mix and roll into a ball, roughly the size of a golf ball. Arrange on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Meanwhile, pour in the oil into a frying pan, and heat on medium heat
Drop a crumb into the oil and if its floats to the top immediately, then that means the oil is hot enough.
Quickly dip the balls in the egg, roll in the bread crumbs and drop into the oil.
Once it turns golden brown, turn it over and fry the other side.
Once golden and fried all over, transfer to a kitchen towel to drain.
Serve hot with a mustard dip.
Notes:*I lined my baking tray with silver foil and spread out the mix so it would firm up faster and evenly. I also kept it over night in the fridge, covered.
I am not a fan of plain mustard, so i mixed a bit of mayo into the mustard for the dip.
I also froze the remaining balls, after dipping and rolling them in eggs and crumbs. Placed them in a ziploc bag for a rainy day.
Adding cheese to the beef mix is not something i didn't think about, but it was too late to defrost the cheese from the freezer. Feel free to add some. Cheese can only take it a notch higher.
You can try the same with any meat or even seafood. Finely chopped cooked vegetables should do the trick as well.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Brownie butter cake

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Brownie and a butter cake together. Need i say more? Yeah, didn't think so. Every other day Ro asks me, whats for dessert, do we have cake, whats for tea and the answer to this most of the time is, er chocolates? fruit? He gets distracted with those options most of the time, but otherwise he makes a face and pretends like I've deprived him of his basic necessities.

I made my custard cake sometime last month on a whim, (mostly to finish off the last of the custard powder and baking soda that had gone past expiry) and I wasn't sure it would work because expired baking soda fetches the most horrid cakes. To my surprise however, this one turned out so so good, much better than the first time and it stayed perfectly moist at room temperature for about 5 days- all i did was cover the cake pan with foil.
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I put Ro through the torture of watching Great British Bake Off and about 2 weeks back on a Sunday evening he wanted to eat cake and trying to get me off the couch challenged me to bake a cake in 1 hr. He did the whole GBBO intro line and all, and me like an idiot fell for it. So i got around baking my mums beat and bake chocolate cake- a cake id grown up with, but never managed to get right for some strange reason. This time I was so hasty with the recipe and couldn't care if it turned out nice or not cos 1- I'm not a chocolate cake fan and 2- Ro would eat anything with chocolate, no matter how it turns out. Surprise, surprise I'd made the most perfect chocolate cake in less than an hour. I was so proud of myself, not because i did it in time, but because i managed to get the taste bang on- the taste of the cake just as i remember from my childhood. Needless to say, the husband polished it all off in no time.

Since the cake luck was prevailing right now, I decided to bake a cake again, today. When I'm in the cake baking mood, its almost always a new recipe I put to test (along with my patience). I'd bookmarked Bee's brownie butter cake ages back and had completely forgotten about it till this morning when i was scouting my bookmarked list. I checked if i had all the ingredients, and except for brown sugar, i had all the other things needed. I still decided to go ahead, substituting brown sugar for demerara sugar.

I initially thought it was going to take time, but nope, had it all done in under an hour again and its a cake that can actually make someone say wow. I am not a big fan of brownies, so i really didn't care too much for that layer, but omg the butter cake was so so good. Moist like nobody's business and so darn tasty. I must remember to make just that one of these days.

Recipe adapted from here
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For the brownie base
Dark chocolate- 140 gms, chopped into small pieces
Unsalted butter- 50 gms
Demerera sugar- 50 gms
Egg- 1, at room temperature
Plain flour- 35 gms

For the butter cake
Unsalted butter- 120 gms, at room temperature
Granulated sugar- 100 gms
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp
Eggs- 2, at room temperature
Plain flour- 120 gms
Baking powder- 1/2 tsp
Milk- 50 ml
IMG_4525 (1)
Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 20 x 10 cm loaf pan with baking paper.
On a bain marie melt the chocolate and butter till nice and smooth.
Take it off heat, leave aside for a couple of minutes and into it add the sugar. Whisk well
Break the egg into it, and beat till well combined.
Pour into the greased and lined loaf pan and chuck into the oven.
Bake for 15 minutes

While the brownie is baking, get on with the butter cake.
Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl till light and fluffy. You can either use a hand held blender or a spatula. I wanted it to be as simple as possible, so i didn't use my free standing mixer. Feel free to do so.
In goes the vanilla extract followed by eggs one after the other, beating well after each addition. The mix may look a bit curdled, but don't worry, the flour would sort this out.
Whisk together the plain flour and baking powder in a separate bowl and add it to the batter, alternating with the milk. 
Once the brownie comes out of the oven, reduce heat to 160C and pour the cake batter on top and immediately even it out with a spatula.
Chuck it back into the oven and bake for a further 30 minutes or till a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Once done, cool the cake on a rack and let the cake settle before slicing.
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Notes: Like i mentioned earlier i didn't have brown sugar, so used demerara instead. Please use brown sugar if you have it.
The brownie bit was still very gooey when i cut into it around 15 minutes later. But was fine when i went back to slice it around an hour later. Yes it was torture waiting to dig in. Using a serrated knife helps.
The cake batter when poured on top of the hot brownie melts immediately. Don't panic, just don't wait but try and do the deed as quickly as possible.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Mushroom cobbler

Clearly summer is over, like seriously over! Its been raining non-stop since yesterday and I've thoroughly enjoyed staying indoors, snuggling up on the sofa watching brainless sitcoms back to back. We are off to Devon day after and i have so much to do, so I'm not quite enjoying the wet and windy day today. 

Chilly days like these call for warm bakes and crusty bread. So i got around to making this tasty mushroom cobbler by Marcus Wareing, a first for me actually. I have never tried making a cobbler before- a fruit one especially- and was pleasantly surprised at how nice this tasted. The scone was so flavourful and the perfect topping for the creamy mushroom mix. It does take a bit of time, but hey nothing tasty comes easy right? I had the privilege of meeting Marcus Wareing in person and visiting his signature brasserie Gilbert Scott last year. The place is fab and I'm glad i picked this recipe which is straight off his menu at Gilbert Scott.

Great British Chefs has this amazing array of summer recipes, contributed by the experts in the field and i had a tough time choosing one. My first choice was the hokey pokey ice cream, but the husband definitely thought it wasn't ice cream weather. Second choice was the cobbler, closely followed by the new potato salad with bacon and broad beans (which I'm sooo making soon). I'm entering this post for the GBC Summertime Bloggers challenge and even though summer may be over, there is no harm in embracing the summer bounty that's still in abundance. Crossing my fingers. Wish me luck.

Recipe halved (serves 2)
Scone topping
Plain flour- 87 gms
Baking powder 1 1/2 tsp
Cheddar cheese- 15 gms, grated
Dill- 1/2 tsp, finely chopped
Salt & pepper- to taste
Butter- 50gms, at room temperature
Ice cold water- approx. 1 tbsp
Egg white- for egg wash

Cheese sauce
Milk- 300ml
Bay leaf- 1
Cloves- 2
Thyme leaves- a small sprig
Shallot- 1 small, finely chopped
Butter- 20gms
Flour- 20 gms
Cheddar cheese- 25 gms, grated
Ground nutmeg- a pinch
Salt & pepper- to taste

Mushroom filling
Oil- 1 tbsp
Chestnut mushrooms- 250 gms, quartered
Flat mushrooms- 250 gms, chopped into chunks (same size as that of the chopped chestnut mushrooms)
Paprika- 1/2 tsp (optional)
Baby spinach- 100 gms
Garlic- 5 pods, crushed
Bacon bits- 5 rashers (optional)
Salt & pepper- to taste
First get the scones ready.
Mix together the flour, baking powder, cheese, dill, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.
Grate in the butter (i thought this was a really cool idea, to grate in the butter, especially if you have forgotten to take it out to bring to room temperature) and mix gently with your hands to resemble coarse breadcrumbs.
Pour in the water, a bit at a time, if you are doubtful, and bring the whole mix together to form a dough.
Don't over work this mix, or else the scone becomes tough.
Keep covered in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

While the dough is resting get the cheese sauce going.
Mix together the milk, bay leaf, cloves, thyme leaves and shallot shallot in a saucepan, infuse over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
At this point remove from heat and leave aside to infuse for about 20 to 30 minutes (or however long you'd take to prepare the mushroom filling)

Fry the bacon in a saucepan till crisp.
Drain on paper towels and chop into small pieces.
Heat oil in a large frying pan and throw in all the mushrooms.
Season with paprika (if using), salt and pepper and stir fry on medium heat till it changes colour.
Throw in the spinach followed by garlic and continue frying till the spinach has wilted, the mushroom is cooked and all the water is absorbed.
Transfer to a baking dish.
Also stir in the bacon bits into the mushroom-spinach mix.

Preheat the oven to 180C at this point and get back to the cheese sauce.
Strain the infused milk into a cup and use the same saucepan to complete the sauce.
Melt the butter and add the flour.
Stir with a wooden ladle and cook the roux for about 5 minutes on low heat.
Add the infused milk, bit by bit, into the roux and whisk well to avoid lumps.
Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer for about 10 minutes, to cook the roux.
Add the cheese, season with salt and pepper and nutmeg. Stir it all in.
Pour over the spinach mix. Keep warm.

Take the scone dough out of the fridge and give a nice knead.
Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough to 1 cm thickness.
Cut into 7 disks using a 3cm diameter ring and place on top of the mushroom mix .
Brush the scones with egg wash and bake the cobbler in the middle shelf of the oven for about 25 minutes or till the scones turn golden brown and the mixture bubbles.
serve with some crusty bread.
Notes: You can roll out and cut the scones a day or so ahead and freeze them till ready to use.
Original recipe called for oyster mushrooms, i didn't have any, but certainly use them if you can.
I had to desperately use up some bacon and hence added that. Of course you can add chicken, beef or pancetta to the mix to make it a more heavy meal.
If you are using self raising flour for the scones, then reduce the baking powder to 1/2 tsp.
I did add/ omit some ingredients from the original recipe, just to suit our taste.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Basic vanilla sponge cake- the best so far

Its been ages since I've posted a cake recipe here. Truth is, i haven't baked a cake in ages. In spite of tempting Ro every now and then saying, I'll bake a cake, I never get around to doing it. I did bake once or twice in between, but fetched not so nice results- that and the lack of motivation to take pictures left me hanging.

This cake was baked way back in June. My sister in law and family were throwing a BBQ party at theirs and I was in charge of dessert. I decided to make Ria's Tropical Mango Pudding Cake, and after harassing her with numerous questions, I was confident enough to go ahead with the recipe. It was probably one of the best desserts I've made so far. Got really good reviews from all the guests and even though it was a bit time consuming, I'm so totally going to make it again, and blog it. Managed to take some pictures with the phone, just so you get an idea of what it looked like. 

Coming to the genoise cake. I suck at it. Like I've never ever got a sponge that is so so soft and spongy, but always managed to over bake it, over fold it, under fold it, under bake it and whatever can go wrong with it, it always used to happen to my sponge cakes. I love eating sponge cakes, and every time i try a new recipe, its a disaster, hence absolute deprivation of sponge cakes.
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I was petrified about Ria's sponge cake recipe and since i was baking for a party, I couldn't afford to screw up. So i searched and searched and searched for a less intimidating one and the search led me to Jo Pastry website which i must say is a treasure trove of information on pastries. His recipe and description and comments on tackling the genoise put me at ease and i decided to go ahead with it. I was so so nervous while the cake was in the oven, but the moment i took it out, i knew id nailed it. It was soft, spongy, evenly/perfectly cooked and all what a sponge cake was supposed to be. There was a bit of left over batter that i used for 2 cupcakes and they were immediately consumed without any regret. 

I had to record this recipe for posterity and its certainly one I'm going to be fall back on for all my sponge cake bases. For those intimidated by the whole genoise cake making process, this is for you. Try it and I'm sure you wont need to look elsewhere.

PS. I baked 2 cakes with the above measurement. Didn't want to take a chance and double it.

Recipe adapted from here (Makes 1, 9x12" sheet cake) 
Milk- 1/4 cup
Butter- 3 tbsp
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp
Eggs- 3, at room temperature
Egg yolks- 3, at room temperature
Sugar- 6 oz (1 cup minus 2 tbsp)
Plain flour- 3/4th cup
Preheat oven to 205C and grease a 9x12 inch jelly roll pan and line with baking paper.
Mix together the milk, butter and vanilla extract in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. 
Take off heat and keep aside.
Into the bowl of your free standing mixer, add the eggs, egg yolks and sugar and beat on high using your paddle attachment for about 8 minutes or till the mixture is really thick and when the paddle is lifted the batter falls down in ribbons and hold its shape for about 5 seconds before dissolving. This step is very very important, don't skip.
Slowly trickle the warm milk mix through the side of the bowl.
Sift in the flour in 3 additions, folding well after each. I did this using the slowest speed on my mixer, just until incorporated. But if you are not comfortable doing this in your mixer, do it by hand using a spatula.
Make sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl while folding, but not too harsh that you deflate the mix.
Pour into the prepared pan and using an offset spatula spread the batter around, making it into corners etc. Even the top so there is consistency in the baking
Bake in the middle shelf of your preheated oven for about 12 minutes till golden and springs back to your touch
Take it out of the oven and when still hot, loosen the sides using a blunt knife.
Turn it out into a wire rack carefully, cool completely and use as required.