Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Navarin of Lamb


Navarin of Lamb






It might sound cliched but I had realized long time back that one of the most important relationships for an adult or for that matter child is friendship.

So basically work or no work I knew I needed a Christmas Party and what better way to celebrate it than to have a Potluck Lunch where  kitchen enthusiasts whip up amazing dishes and share it .

Off late I have become obsessed with Larousse Gastronomique's recipes if not for anything else then for the sheer variety of recipes it offers , mostly French but then there is so much to learn and flipping through the pages I realized many dishes can be cooked universally because the ingredients are quite universal.

I chose Navarin of Lamb because a stew seems comforting and delicious on a pleasant winter's day and what better to make a stew than add white wine.


Serves 6 to 8

1.5 kilogram of lamb meat (Preferably a mix of meat from the  legs and neck)
2 plump large tomatoes peeled seeded and crushed
2 large cloves of garlic
250gm of baby carrots
100gm to 150gm of baby peas
200gm of turnips (if they are baby turnips you can leave them whole but mine were large and I chopped them up )
Bouquet Garni which I made with Parsley, Thyme, Bay leaf and Rosemary
Salt as per taste
Pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp freshly crushed black pepper
7 to 8 baby onions
200ml of white wine
Water for cooking
4 tbsp butter

Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large flat bottom casserole and brown the lamb well and keep aside. Take out 1/3rd of the fat which is left behind and then add the lamb back to the flat bottomed casserole and add the minced garlic and the wine and mix well , then add enough water to submerge the meat with the bouquet garni , crushed pepper , nutmeg and salt and bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes and then transfer the meat with all its contents in a pressure cooker and put it on low flame till the first whistle. switch off the gas immediately after the first whistle and let the steam go out on its own.

In a separate wok melt the remaining butter and brown the vegetables and now put back the meat with all its content and the vegetables and bring to a boil and simmer . Add a bit of water if required. Serve hot with crusty bread.

Cooking tips


  1. The flat bottomed pan ensures that the heat gets distributed evenly and all the meat is cooked evenly
  2. I use the slow pressure cook method to reduce time on the gas stove and this process ensures that the meat is soft and super tender. If you do not use the pressure cooker you need to simmer the meat for a good 1 hour to 1.5 hours till the meat is super soft but firm and juicy.  





Sunday, December 21, 2014

Strawberry Tart

Strawberry Tart 





Of late the markets in Calcutta are being painted red with all those beautiful strawberries which seem irresistible. Now I have wanted to make a Strawberry Cake for the longest time but getting hold of good quality fresh cream can be a daunting task in Calcutta and so I eventually enjoy these plump sweet and sour delights by themselves or make preserves out of them.



Ever since I bought this edition of recipes from Larousse Gastronomique I have been extremely happy. In-between office work I keep checking the book for recipes to mark and create. It was one such day when I was aimlessly flipping through the pages when I came across the recipe for strawberry tart.



What immediately caught my attention was the pure love for strawberries that this classic recipe expressed. There wasn't any pastry cream which was exactly what caught my attention. I wanted a recipe which solely depended on crisp buttery shortcrust pastry and the delightful taste of strawberries and nothing else.

This is part of our ongoing virtual event 'Kickstarting Christmas' which I am hosting with Pritha from Guilt Free. Do check out this lip smacking Mango Spiced Glazed Roast Chicken from her blog.

Recipe source :
Larousse Gastronomique

So here goes the recipe :-

1 kilogram of strawberries washed hulled and macerated with  50gm castor sugar and juice from 1 lemon
1/4th cup strawberry jam


For the pastry :-

300gm all purpose flour
150 gm butter which is chilled and chopped into tiny pieces and re-chilled.
2 tbsp water ice cold water


Start by mixing the chopped chilled butter with the flour till you get a breadcrumb like consistency. Work as fats as possible and add the water and make a dough as quickly as possible and chill for 15 minutes and then flour a surface and roll it out and line a buttered tart pan with the dough trimming off any extra dough and chill for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 180C and blind bake till the edges brown slightly and then let it cool in the tart pan for 20 minutes and then take it out of the pan and cool on the wire rack for the entire night.

The next day drain the strawberries and let it dry and in the meanwhile mix the jam and the liquid from maceration to make a jellied consistency. It is important to note that the consistency cannot be liquid at all else it will make your tart base soggy. Now fill the tart with this jellied consistency and arrange the strawberries and chill and serve with a dollop of creme fraiche.









Saturday, December 20, 2014

Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin 

Chicken cooked in Red Wine 





And Our Christmas event 'Kickstarting Christmas' which I am organizing with Pritha from
Guilt-Free  continues.

Today's choice , Coq au Vin Rouge. So basically I have been obsessed with the classic culinary book 'Larousse Gastronomique ' and decided that I must make the Coq au Vin which I had planned on making quite some time ago before I purchased the book but then again my grandmother doesn't eat bacon and I adapted the recipe and my friend Karen from France assured me that as long as there is the coq and the vin its Coq au vin.

My first Coq au Vin

So my father is coming back home and I had decided to make a stew and what better way to spruce it up than some full bodied red wine.

For this recipe a chicken with the skin on is a definite requirement else it loses out on its flavour.

Its a simple recipe and yields amazingly comforting warm results. The flavour of wine infused with bay leaf, thyme, rosemary , parsley along with onions carrots and a good quality stock makes it the perfect winter treat and the wine gives it a definitive Christmas like feel.

Once you have this dish bursting with flavours do have some Spiced carrot Cake with Apricots , Walnuts and Raisins  which Pritha has made.

Serves 5 to 6

So here is the recipe :-

1 whole 2 kilogram chicken with the skin on
20gm butter
250gm baby carrots
5 to 6 small onions
Bouquet garni made with Thyme, parsley, bay leaf and rosemary
Salt as per taste
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4th cup red wine


Ask your butcher to  carefully debone the chicken  and make pieces with the skin on.

Use the bone from the breast along with the liver , some fat and giblet to make a stock with 1 litre water , salt and a bay leaf. Bring this to a boil and simmer till reduced to half.

Once the stock is made melt the butter and brown the onions and carrots and then add the chicken all except the pieces from the breast and brown it well on medium flame stirring from time to time and then add the stock and bring to a boil and then simmer covered for 20 minutes and add the pieces of breast along with the wine and simmer covered for another 10 minutes and then let it rest for 10 minutes to 15 minutes and take out the bouquet garni and serve it with some freshly made bread.

Tips


  1. Chicken breasts when over cooked become dry and tough which is why it is added much later while cooking.
  2. Resting the dish not only enhances the flavour but gives time to the pieces from the chicken breast to become soft and juicy if at all they become stringy.  





Friday, December 19, 2014

Napolitain Biscuits

Napolitain Biscuits 







Its that time of the years when I feel happy even if I want to be grumpy. Quite honestly Christmas ushers in the time for delightful lunches and dinners but my favourite time of the day is the tea-time when the tabled and laden with a variety of savoury puffs and sandwiches and buttery biscuits. Ah well buttery biscuits do never go out of style.

This is part of Patience Brewer's Cookie Exchange event. Do visit their special page on Christmas Ornaments for beautiful handcrafted gifts this festive season.



I have recently purchased the Big Fat book of collected recipes from Larousse Gastronomique. Its one of those books which is what a passionate cook cherishes. I have read and re read and marked numerous recipes and when I saw the recipe for Napolitain biscuits I was amazed because I had previously made a very similar biscuit which uses almond flour and butter and is a delight to eat. The only difference was the use of egg yolks and the decoration with Jam.

So I made a boozy Brandied Strawberry jam and then went on to make these fabulously crisp yet buttery biscuits.

This is part of the event 'Kickstarting Christmas' which I am taking part with Pritha from Guilt-Free and don't forget to check out her fabulous Strawberry Pistachio Cake.

Recipe Adapted from : Larousse Gastronomique



Yields about 16 to 18 Biscuits :-

150gm of chilled butter
128 gm of all purpose flour
175gm of almond flour  (I blanched about 175gm of almonds and then dried it toasted it and ground it)
130gm of castor sugar
2 small egg yolks
Jam for decoration

For the Brandied Strawberry Jam :-

1 kilogram strawberry washed and hulled
300gm sugar
Juice from 1 lemon + the seeds tied in a cloth
1/2 cup brandy


Make your strawberry jam a day ahead. Macerate the strawberry with the sugar. Just mix it and leave it on its own for about 2 hours or overnight. Bring this to a roaring boil and skim the foam and let it boil and add the juice from the lemon and add the cloth in which you have tired the seeds and let it boil on medium heat till it sets. To check whether it has set, dab a spoonful onto a chilled plate and if it stays put then its done.  If its runny  boil it on high heat for a few minutes till it sets. I like mine set but soft and spreadable. never ever over boil the jam else it will become hard.  The boiling process takes me around 15 minutes or so.                                                                                                        


For the Napolitain biscuits :-

Finely chop 150gm of chilled butter  and mix it with the flour till you get a bread crumb like consistency and then mix in the sugar , almond flour and finally the egg yolk and quickly make a smooth dough and put it in the refrigerator for 1 hour and then take it out and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to a 1 cm thick dough and cut round shapes with a cookie cutter and bake at 200C for 10 minutes to 12 minutes.

let it cool down completely and then decorate with jam.




A Classic way to Celebrate Christmas

The Season of celebration at Flury's 


Flurys is iconic and classic and can never go out of style. I firmly believe that  one cannot move ahead without firm roots and if Calcutta's Western cuisine is evolving its roots is embedded in places such as this  iconic tea room. 

A few years ago a friend of mine had come down to Calcutta and when I took my friend to Flurys and told him that it is Calcutta's 'tea room' , he had corrected me saying its more like a 'tea palace'.

Flurys can actually never go out of style. Quite honestly, in recent times I have heard people complaining about Flury's monotonous menu but quite frankly tradition is what makes Flurys so special and it is this tradition which has led them to keep their Heritage food all of which is mostly brilliant. And along with tradition Flurys is offering a modern Breakfast menu and a lot more.

When it comes to service my experience has always been completely satisfactory. In the past if I have complained about my coffee being a bit weak it has been immediately changed to my liking or if I have complained about a pastry it has immediately been changed and in a world where people believe in immediately going in a defensive mode this is nothing short of delightful.

So when the lovely Supreeta asked me to come down for a tasting of their Christmas menu I could not resist the temptation even though my hands were full with office work and a bake sale to bake for.

It is Christmas round the corner and as always Flurys is ready with their lip smacking Plum cake, Dundee cake, Rum n Raisin Cake, Mince Pie, Mince lattice and a wide range of assorted goodies.

If you are tired of Cakes there are assorted biscuits waiting to be taken with that steaming cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate. Then there is the classic range of chocolates which you simply cannot miss.

Now the special attraction of this season is the amazing spread that Flurys is offering till the 4th of January.

You can choose from the traditional Turkey or grilled pork chop or if you would like  to stick to the usual bird  try the delightful Chicken cooked in red wine or say the Parmesan crusted Basa .

They have a few selected desserts which are must tries . So you may try the warm and rich Pannetone Pudding served with hazelnut creme Anglaise  or White chocolate and strawberry Trifle.

While the Turkey or Pork Main course is priced at Rs950 per head inclusive or taxes, the Fish main course is at Rs750 and the Vegetarian option is at Rs600 per head.

You can head over to The Park for a special Christmas Buffet which includes some exotic dishes such as Veal Ossobuco or our very own Anglo-Indian style Pork vindaloo at the Bridge. prior reservation is required. Do ask them for their special menu for new year's lunch and dinner. With Saffron , Zen, The Bridge and Aqua offering a wide range of lip smacking food Christmas and new year probably just got better.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Butter Brandy Chicken

Butter Brandy Chicken 





At times you need a little nudge from friends to get back your spirit. In my case the spirit to cook. I am a bit too tired with too much work to handle and after a very successful Bake Sale I somehow lost interest in cooking. Of course all this is for just over a week . Anyway when Pritha from  Guilt Free decided to start a Christmas event  I decided to join her to keep my cooking mojo intact.


So we have entered Day 2 of Kickstarting Christmas and its a day of butter brandy. To be fair Christmas might be the time for merriment but its also the time for too many deadlines. So I am late but then as they say 'better late than sorry'

What's Christmas without a bit of brandy and while we usually associate brandy butter with a rich Christmas pudding a brandy butter sauce for your chicken on a bed of potatoes makes a lip smacking dish.

Its one of the most easy recipes, requires few ingredients and gives amazing flavours. I guess butter does make everything better.

Don't forget to check out Pritha's Rum Spiked Hot Chocolate

Serves 2

350gm of chicken from breast and thigh cut into medium pieces
3 large potatoes
4 to 5 tbsp softened butter
A good splash of brandy roughly 4 tbsp
Salt as per taste
A bit of freshly rushed black pepper
1 tsp final chopped chive
Flour for dredging
Half a handful of grated gruyere cheese


Dredge the chicken in flour . Melt 2 tbsp butter and add the chicken and saute on high heat for 2 minutes shaping the pan . Cut the potato in circular shapes and make a bed of potatoes after buttering a baking. Add the chicken on top. Add some salt and crushed pepper.  Melt the remaining butter and add the brandy and make a smooth sauce and then add this on top of the chicken and finally topit with the gruyere cheese and bake in a preheated oven at 200 C for 30 minutes and enjoy a buttery boozy chicken.

Tips

Chicken breast is a very delicate item which dries out easily hence the dredging in flour helps it stay moist.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sinful Hot Chocolate


Sinful Hot Chocolate 







Its that time of the year when bells are ringing in my head at all times and Christmas is in the air. Lets have a Chococlaty start. Presenting 'Kickstarting Christmas' with my friend who is equally crazy and passionate about cooking Pritha from 'Guilt Free. While she gives you this tempting recipe of Christmas Rocky Roads here is a sinful chocolaty drink from my end.


Social media can be infectious. Take the simple case of the Hot Chocolate. A few days ago my friend Pritha who blogs from Guilt-free shared a tempting photograph of Hot Chocolate with white marshmallows floating in dark hot soothing chocolate.

To be fair, when she had posted the photograph I was in humid Bombay while winter was just about setting in Calcutta. At this time of the year Calcutta has the most pleasant whether. The sun doesn't hurt you, the weather is cool and you can take long walks and feel energized.

Anyway after a hectic crazy and wonderful week of preparation for Kolkata Food Bloggers' BakeSale2014 which was out and out hugely successful I decided it was time for some indulgence.

Now for years I have tried satisfying my taste buds with Hot cocoa which is kind of the poorer cousin of the creamy hot chocolate where you just about use cocoa powder with milk and sugar.

This time I decided I must settle for nothing else but a cup of indulgence and so hot chocolate it was.

I liked Nigel Slater's article on The Guardian and decided if its going to be hot chocolate it had to be made with some indulgent chocolate. I used about 3 tbsp 70% dark chocolate chips.

Making hot chocolate is easy enough :-

Serves 1

200ml milk
1 tbsp whipped fresh cream
3 tbsp 70% dark chocolate
Sugar as per taste (I needed 1 tsp brown sugar )

The only trick to follow as per Slater is to not let the milk come to a boil once you add the chocolate. So simply add the chocolate to the milk and put it on low flame and keep stirring till all the chocolate melts well and pour it in a cup and then use 1 tbsp fresh cream which is whipped well and enjoy an indulgent cup of deliciousness.




Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Coffee Walnut Cake with a Coffee Caramel Glaze

Coffee Walnut Cake with a Coffee Caramel Glaze 





As part of the Kolkata Food Bloggers not only do I get to meet other people who share my passion for the kitchen but I get to make great friends. I met Pritha who blogs from Guilt-Free  a few months ago but we almost connected instantly and would keep chatting over the messenger and our mutual obsession with creating new dishes would lead to these fun trips to the market. Having never had a partner to go out with and share the same passion I cannot express how much joy I feel when I get to flock with a bird of my own feather.

When I had gone to visit my husband for a few months it goes without saying I missed my friend and so the moment I came back we had a lovely potluck lunch .

Anyway coming back to our event Know Your Blogger 2 I had actually picked a certain recipe of Pritha's quite some time back which I wanted to make but then came work and it just kept piling with a deadline which had robbed me of my sleep.

I was quite at a loss when I suddenly remembered the very first time I was fascinated with another recipe of her's.

I wasted no time in recreating what had initially impressed me and it goes without saying the end result was superb.m Lets just say that this is a dream cake for all coffee lovers. All I did was change the amount of sugar a little bit, leave out the oil and make the glaze a bit differently.

So her is Pritha's Coffee Walnut Cake

Serves 5 to 6

125gm butter
150gm castor sugar
128gm all purpose flour sifted with 1 tsp baking powder
2 medium sized eggs
50gm of walnuts crushed to make walnut flour
1 heaped tbsp ground coffee soaked in 6 tbsp hot  boiled milk and strained twice

For the glaze

Half a cup of castor sugar
50gm butter
Half a cup of  freshly brewed extra strong coffee

Start by creaming the butter and sugar till its pale and fluffy. Now add the eggs one by one and whisk well to create a smooth fluffy batter. Add the strained coffee flavoured milk and beat well. Preheat the oven to 180C. Now fold in the ground walnuts and then fold in the sifted flour + baking powder bit by bit . When you mix the flour you must never whisk it else it looses that airy fluffiness.

Pour the batter in a 6 inch to 7 inch baking pan and bake for 30 minutes to 45 minutes. Here I must expressly mention that the temperature of ovens vary greatly. My friend Pritha and I both use Convection oven and while she required 25 minutes to 30 minutes of baking time , I checked at 30 minutes and the batter was wet in the center and I required 44 minutes in total.

Now let the cake cool completely and in the meantime make the glaze by first caramelizing the sugar on medium heat and then adding the butter and then the coffee and once it bubbles let it cool down. Once the cake has cooled down completely pour the glaze on top and enjoy this delightful treat with what else but a cup of coffee.

Please note that you must wait till the cake cools down completely to glaze it else it will become soggy.




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Monday, December 8, 2014

Minced Fish Curry

Minced Fish Curry 






And so we are in our 4th week of the lovely event from our group Kolkata Food Bloggers called 'Know your Blogger 2' This week our star blogger is Indrani who blogs from Recipe Junction. My interaction with Indrani has been completely virtual but from her huge collection of recipes it is quite apparent that our lady in question is a passionate cook.

She is one of the most active people I have come across. After all not many people manage 3 kids , a household and a beautiful food blog.

Now I have been away from home for quite sometime and so upon my return to Calcutta the first thing I wanted to have was the river fish we get here in Bengal.

Indrani's Fish keema  seemed the perfect dish since it is one dish which goes well with rice, Flat-bread or yeast  breads. Keema is the hindi and Bengali word for minced. It usually applies to red meat or chicken and so this came across as quite unique.

I made it on an evening when I was dead tired after my usual visit to New market for fresh fruits, amazing pork from kalman's and a meet with a dear friend and the thing about this recipe is that its quick and easy which anyone can make no matter how tired they are.

I did change the spice quotient as per my taste buds but the end result was relished by our family.

So here goes the recipe :-

4 medium pieces of Rohu Fish
1 medium tomato
1 medium potato
1 medium onion
1 tbsp smooth ginger garlic paste
Salt as per taste
1 tsp Kashmiri red Chili powder
1 clove
1 green cardamom
1 inch cinnamon
1 green chili
2 tsp mustard oil
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
Pinch of turmeric

Boil the fish in water with a tiny bit of salt and once done take the fish out and smash it with a fork and let it cool down. In the meantime make a smooth paste of ginger and garlic and then make a smooth paste of the tomato and finely chop the onion and cube the potato in small sized cubes. Reserve the water in which you have boiled the fish.

Once the mashed fish cools down carefully take out every thin bone. It takes a bit of patience but is well worth the effort for the end result.

Now heat the oil and add the onions and fry till translucent and add the ginger garlic paste and cook till you get rid of the raw smell and add the tomato paste and cook on medium heat stirring continuously till the colour changes to a deep red and add the spices after crushing them along with the bay leaf , red chili powder salt and turmeric and finally add the potatoes and mix well and add the water in which you have boiled the fish and cook covered till the potatoes are cooked add the mashed fish and green chili and mix well and cook uncovered till you a semi dry mixture, add the finely chopped coriander leaves  and serve with Chapati or rice or even bread.

Tip

Be careful while adding salt when cooking the fish because the water in which you have boiled the fish will already contain some amount of salt.

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