Friday, 25 July 2014

Chocolate mousse-2 ingredient recipe

We are at the threshold of a new beginning. A new chapter is awaiting to unfold in our lives. Our tiny tot (who is three years now) is about to join school. Vaanya is about to enter a magical world of learning new things everyday, of making new friends and of understanding the things about life. Vishal and I, as any parent, are both very anxious and excited at this stage. Our talks revolve around discussing schools nowadays. A girls or a co-ed, a convent or an international, an ICSE or a CBSE....why is choosing a school so difficult. 
With so much going around nowadays, getting to hear horrific incidents about the things happening in schools, I sit and wonder what exactly am I looking for. Do I put her in a school that thrives on reputation since ages or do I put her in a school which exceeds in the number of extra-curricular activities they engage the child into. Every school has its own positive and negative aspects which naturally makes the whole thing all the more difficult.
We as parents want Vaanya to grow in an environment where she learns the values, the discipline and the true essence of life. We want her to enjoy the wonderful days of school and become a beautiful, sensitive and a caring human being.   
After some years, we will face this same anxiety while choosing a college for her and then after more years while getting her married. Parents and their anxieties...we now understand. Circle of life, they rightly say. 
For my 'Sweet Day' this time, I am sharing an extremely easy and quick eggless chocolate mousse. It just requires 2 ingredients and is as simple as ABC.

Ingredients : Serves 2
  • dark chocolate, roughly chopped to fill 1 cup (I used Morde dark compound)
  • 1 cup whipped cream

Procedure : 
Take some water in a pan boil it. Reduce the heat to medium and let the water simmer. 
Take a bowl big enough to fit on top of the pan in a way that the water should not touch the bowl.
Add the chopped chocolate to the bowl and place it on top of the pan and allow it to melt over the simmering water. Be careful as to not let the chocolate burn.  
Allow the chocolate to cool little bit. 
Keep about 1/4 of the whipped cream aside for garnishing.
Add 1/2 of the whipped cream to the melted chocolate and fold gently. 
Add the remaining half and fold it gently too. 
Once you see no more of the white streaks in the chocolate and the cram has been folded well, divide the mixture in serving glasses/bowls. 
Refrigerate for 2 hours to set.
Garnish with whipped cream piped on top through a star nozzle and some chocolate shavings. 

Notes : 

  • You can alternately melt chocolate in the microwave for about a minute in 10 sec bursts.
  • You may add some brewed coffee to the melted chocolate to intensify flavours. 
  • To make chocolate shavings, simply grate a bar of chocolate. 

Happy Mousse devouring

Friday, 18 July 2014

Cherry Shortcake

PhasesWe all get into it. Taking a break from the usual mundane thing that you do. At times even taking a step back from your most favourite thing. Changing the way you think (at least trying to). Looking things in a different light. We all have phases. I have this theory that we keep changing. Not only in our physical appearances but also in our thought processes. We keep running in and out of different phases throughout our lives.  
With all my ranting above, its time to admit that I have been in this phase of ignoring the baking groups that I have been a part of for the last 4-5 months. The basic reason for joining these groups was to bake along with equally passionate bakers and have the opportunity to experience new bakes. And I have learned so many new techniques and such a variety of amazing bakes. 
I finally decided that it was time to come out of my phase and pull up my lazy socks. A great way to start was to bake this month's challenge before anyone else did. Baking Partners challenge for this month was suggested by Reeni of Cinnamon spice and everything nice who encouraged us to try Berry Shortcakes. I noted down the recipe the moment it was shared (yes, I maintain a hand written diary) and decided to use cherries instead of the fancy blueberries, blackberries, raspberries suggested since we do not find them here. You can use any fruit in place of the berries like the way I used cherries. Summery stone fruits like plums, peaches will work great with this recipe. 
The shortcake is a really simple recipe and uses very easily available ingredients. You will require some whipped cream to fancy it up and that all about it. 

 Ingredients : Yields 3-4
  • about 50 gm cherries
  • 2 tsp + 1 tsp sugar
  • 6 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 12 tsp melted butter
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream

Procedure : 
Pit the cherries by removing the seed and then chop in halves. Toss 1 tsp sugar with the cherries and keep aside. 
Preheat oven to 200 degree Celsius. Line a baking tray with aluminium foil.
In a bowl, sift all purpose flour, cornstarch, sugar and baking powder. Stir in the heavy cream a little at a time and moisten the dough. You may not need the entire quantity. 
Gently pat to a circle about 3/4" thick and use round biscuit cutters to cut them out. 
Gather the remaining dough to get some more. 
Dip the rounds in the melted butter and place on the prepared baking tray. Sprinkle sugar and bake for about 15 mins till they become puffy and golden in colour. 
Allow to cool.
Split shortcakes in half and spread whipped cream and prepared cherries. Top with some more. 

Happy Shortcake Indulging

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

'French Weekend' at the Swissotel Kolkata Neotia Vista

Kolkata Food Bloggers Team with Swissotel GM, Marco Saxer, Mademoiselle Louise Arnes, Enakshi Kundu, Asst Manager Marketing & Communications, Ms Debiroopa and Pastry Chef Sanjay 

Swissotel Kolkata, redressing its pure passion for perfection presented  'French Weekend', a French specialty menu as a run up to the French National Day (celebrated on 14th of July) with Mademoiselle Louise Arnes  who brought with her traditional recipes from Lyon, the Gastronomic capital of France.
As a part of Kolkata Food Bloggers team, we were treated to a dining experience which lived up to the signature Swissotel pamper.
The drive (both figuratively & literally) to the Swissotel Kolkata comes more from the hunger of exceptionally good food that pronounces its own authentic characteristics individually. Its perplexing to choose the better amongst the bests and it is this personification of perfection that Swissotel looks to execute each time which turns a casual checkout approach into a regular check-in habit.
Notwithstanding the Swissotel's contemporary swiss styled and locally inspired flair that attracts business and leisure travellers alike who enjoy high end hotels with fresh innovation, Swissotel also bears a noticeable hospitality which reflects genuinity in nature, making the dining experience more enjoyable.  

Welcomed with sparkling wine under the envelope of the Football World Cup fever, the flow of starters soon changed hands with endless array of classic and contemporary French specialty menu.

Amongst the starters the Smoked Salmon and Avocado Verrine served with Caviar was mesmerizing. Each element of the dish clearly pronounced an individualistic but synergized robust effect on the palate. 
Also served were dishes like Gougeres (cheese puff), Asparagus and Ham Ballotins, Mini Chicken Croquet Monsieur etc. Accares (Fish dumpling) was again an amazing dish with flavours of crab meat and a melt in the mouth texture. 

The starters

The main course consisted of both the vegetarian and the non vegetarian dishes that were equally impressive. 
The vegetarian dishes had the likes of Warm Camembert with Wild Mushroom Fricassee, Dauphinois Potato (Potato Cooked with Cream), Ratatouille, Onion Leek Tart etc. 
It was hard to pick the best vegetarian dish but the Wild Mushroom Fricassee won our hearts and taste buds along with the other French classic Ratatouille.   

The vegetarian spread

The Non-Vegetarian spread saw a blissful spread of the French classic Lobster Thermidor, Poulet au Vinaigre (Lyon speciality of vinegar braised chicken), Boeuf Bourguignon (Tenderlions cooked with red wine), Gigot d'agnaan (Roast leg of lamb served with roast potato, Pork Tenderloin with bacon and apple riesling sauce.
Our unanimous pick was Lobster Thermidor which truly represented one of the all time great French dishes that has won the hearts of millions around the globe.   
The Pork Tenderloin with Apple riesling sauce was again a standout dish with tenderloins cooked to perfection.

The Non-vegetarian spread

The Dessert spread had an amazing array of traditional French dishes such as Croquembouche, Paris Breast, French Apple Tart, Pear Tarte Tatin, Mille Feuille, Cherry Clafoutis, Creme Brulee etc.
The intricacies of the Croquembouche left us spell bound with its presentation and taste.
The Paris Breast with a lovely hazlenut spread was another treat to the sweet tooth.
The Dessert spread

Exactly as Mr Marco Saxer, General Manager of the Swissotel Kolkata Neotia Vista said, that the French cuisine is known for its exquisite taste and presentation and was proud to present traditional French recipes brought to them from Lyon, France,known as the gastronomical capital of France, and that he was sure that the people of the city would enjoy the dishes, the French dining experience was truly a treat never to be missed.
Along with the Kolkata Food Bloggers Team we wish to immensely thank Swissotel for inviting us over for the fabulous French Weekend.
The French menu festival started from 11th July and continued through to 13th July at Cafe Swiss for buffet dinner from 1900 Hrs to 2300 Hrs and was priced at INR 1600 plus taxes per person. 

Happy French National Day

Vishal & Amrita

Monday, 7 July 2014

Mango cupcakes with Mango Buttercream frosting

The mango season came this year and has already almost gone. 
Summers for me has always been synonymous with the love for mangoes. I remember soaking them for few hours in water and then chilling them to devour after lunch and dinner. Yes, two times a day. I have always loved mangoes. For us the season to relish this fruit starts with the arrival of Langra. It is the most loved variety in my house. We do compromise with the taste of a Dussheri but that is when Langra has already bid farewell. 
Every year I look forward to all the yummy treats I can whip up with the King of fruits. But this year, mangoes arrived and I just did not feel like picking them up. The reason being last year Vaanya, my daughter, fell sick and developed rashes all over her body and we believed that it was the heat of the mangoes that made her sick. 
Only at the fag end when the mangoes are bidding adieu with the promise to come next year, I decided to put my hands on a Mango cupcake with Mango Buttercream frosting. 
I spoilt one batch of cupcakes due to my over enthusiasm of putting too much fresh pulp in the batter. For the next batch I decided to reduce the moisture from the mango pulp by cooking over low heat. This yielded me cupcakes full and bursting with the mango flavour. And I decide to get overboard with the flavour by adding some of it to the Buttercream frosting as well. I had made some Mango sandesh which I reserved to make some cute decoration to beautify my cupcakes. 
After clicking pictures, Vaanya leapt on the cupcakes and gave me the best compliments in her toddler language declaring them to be 'Delicious' and kept saying 'yum yum' throughout. Luckily with my camera beside, I could take some lovely shots of the beautiful moment. 

Ingredients : Yields 5-6 medium sized cupcakes
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 50 gm butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (adjust according to the sweetness of the mango)
  • 1 egg
  • Mango pulp from 1 medium sized mango
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
Frosting : 
  • 3 tbsp white butter, softened (you can instead use amul butter and use twice the amount of sugar)
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tsp or more of the mango pulp

Procedure : 

Mango Cupcakes 
Prepare mango pulp by peeling and chopping the mango and processing it in a mixer. Do not forget to strain it to remove any threads from the fruit.
Take this pulp in a non stick pan and mix with 1/2 the quantity of sugar i.e. 2 tbsp. Cook over low heat, stirring continuously, till the mixture thickens and reduces to half the quantity. Keep aside and allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius and prepare cupcake moulds with a cupcake liner or simply grease and flour it.
Take butter and remaining sugar (2 tbsp) in a bowl and beat till pale and creamy. Add the reduced mango pulp and mix it well.(Keep a tsp reserved for the frosting)
Sift all purpose flour with the baking powder. 
Add egg and flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and mix till incorporated well. Do not overbeat.
Pour the batter equally into the prepared moulds till 3/4 full. 
Bake for 15-20 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Allow to cool.

Mango Buttercream Frosting
Mix butter and icing sugar very well. Add a tsp of the reduced mango pulp and mix. You may use fresh mango pulp too. Add more if you want more colour and flavour. 
Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and refrigerate for 15-20 mins to set and for the flavour to enhance.
Take it out before piping and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Pipe on the cooled cupcakes and decorate with a flower and leaf decoration made out of Mango sandesh. Check here how to make Mango sandesh
I made the flower by pinching four small balls together and shaping them as a flower. For the leaf, I added a tiny drop of green food colour to the mango sandesh dough and shaped as a leaf. 

Notes : 
  • Use 1/4 cup of fresh mango pulp in the cupcake batter instead of cooking the mango pulp.
  • Do not add any water while making the mango pulp. And do not add too much of the mango pulp to the batter as too much liquid imparted by it will hinder proper baking.
  • You may take the cheats way out and make the flower and leaf decoration with mashed paneer. Add food colour of your choice.
  • You may enjoy the mango cupcake without any frosting too. 

Happy Mango relishing


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