Sunday 31 August 2014

New Menu launch at Pan Asian, ITC Sonar

Celebrated as India's finest East Asian Restaurant, Pan Asian introduced an award winning repertoire of culinary traditions from Across East and South East Asia to Kolkata.
Along with Team Kolkata Food Bloggers I was immensely looking forward to the invitation to the launch of the New menu at the ITC Sonar, Pan Asian Restaurant.
The East and South-East Asian Cuisine in the offer at the Pan Asian is generally an assortment of dishes from regions of China, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines. The East Asian regions also brings flavours footprints from Mongolia, Macau, Korea and Tibet etc.
The East Asian Cuisine by large is very versatile in nature and generally tends to adopt the local flavours of the countries where the cuisine has traveled to. I was particularly looking forward to get the authentic flavours of the dishes from the regions that they were derived from and the chefs who were specially flown in for this very purpose, having tremendous expertise in the same, exhibited the true art and soul of the East Asian Cuisine.

Non-Vegetarian Starters
 The Non Vegetarian starters comprised of dishes like Lemongrass Fish (Stir fried fish essenced with lemongrass), Kushikastu (deep fried crumbed chicken skewers) and Yam moo (Traditional Thai pork salad). The lemongrass fish won the hearts of everyone as it displayed a perfect blend of flavours that represented a true Cuisine of South East Asian culture. 
The deep fried chicken crumbed skewers were very delicately put together with chunks of chicken spaced with bell peppers and onion wedges and perfectly deep fried in batter to form a light yet crisp coat.
The pork salad lean, soft and succulent meat was dressed with a sublime hint of chili dressing that gave the dish a beautiful mildly spiced salad outlook with fresh vegetables. 
Vegetarian Starters
The vegetarian starters consisted of Chongqing crispy fried lotus stem, Yam woon sen phak (glass noodles salad with vegetables) and Chao Shao qie zi (Stir fried eggplant in Chinese barbecue sauce). 
The deep fried lotus stem was certainly a very interesting dish. Little bit more strongly spiced it is traditionally derived from a colder parts of China where the exaggerated usage of spices is generally done to combat the harsh cold climate. The glass noodle salad sure did give a very different outlook to noodles as it is generally known around the world with its very attractive glass like look with the addition of fresh vegetables and light chili dressing. The stir fried eggplant was very crisp and light in texture.

Sumashi (Japanese Seafood Soup) was very dramatic having sea fish, prawn and squid. The sea food ingredients and the sea food broth was served differently. The soup was asked to be mixed to the bowl having the sea food ingredients, giving it a very dramatic experience.

The Main Course spread was as elaborate as the starters. 

Non-veg main course spread
The main course non-vegetarian dish consisted of steamed prawns and glass noodles, Muxu Chicken (stir fried slices of chicken with white fungus and cucumber), black pepper pork spare ribs and Nasi Goreng which is the Malaysian version of famous rice preparation with prawn, chicken and dried shrimp paste.
The black pepper pork spare ribs was very soft and had a beautiful presentation and a subtle pepper flavour that was not over powering. 

Vegetarian Main Course Spread
The Vegetarian main course had Stir fried pokchoy,mushrooms in soybean sauce,  Asparagus and garlic glazed bell peppers and Babycorn with spicy tomato, water chestnut and onions. 
Both the asparagus and the baby corn dishes wore a wonderful presentation of thinly sliced mix of bell peppers. The mushroom in soy bean sauce was again wonderful in presentation but the soy bean sauce was a bit more intense for my liking.  

Coconut Ice Cream
The icing on the cake was the dessert which was Ice cream Kati Sod which was homemade young coconut ice cream served in shells with coconut jelly. The extremely beautiful presentation was coupled with a very natural coconut ice cream with coconut jelly.   
The East and South East Asian New Menu Launch at the Pan Asian ITC Sonar was indeed one of the finest dining experience in the field of their respective regional cuisines. The true authenticity represented the ethnic character of the East Asian cuisine without the dilution of the evolved spices that usually comes with the local markets. This indeed makes Pan Asian the destination to relish the best of the combined East Asian Cuisines.

Hours- On weekends, Lunch- 12:30 PM to 2:45 PM.
            Through the week - Dinner 7 PM to 11:45 PM


Disclaimer: The views presented above are solely the unbiased perspective of the writer. The writer was invited for the launch of the event and was not paid monetarily or otherwise.  

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Cookie glass & some choco-chip cookies

Every now and then I am on a break from our blog. I guess with everything that you are passionate about there comes a time when you want to take a break.. relax..take a backseat and just wait for the right moment to get back on your feet and start again....that is if you are still passionate about it. 
Thankfully my passion to cook and click is still alive and hence here I am sharing a little overdued 'Sweet day' post. 
Choco chip cookies is not something new to the world of baking. In fact they were invented accidentally by Ruth Graves Wakefield of Toll House Inn who replaced baker's chocolate with chopped pieces of semisweet chocolate bar from Nestle which did not melt and only softened giving birth to the famous Chocochip cookies.
As famous as the chocochip cookies itself is its pairing with a glass of milk. There is certainly something about dunking your cookie in a glass of milk and eating it which is loved by all. 
Recently I chanced upon the Cronut Guru Dominique Ansel's newest invention-The Cookie shots where he has given a new dimension to the timeless pairing of cookies and milk. He made cookies shaped in glasses which can hold the milk and therefore you can drink your milk and eat your cookie at the same time. The cookie shots are lined with a layer of melted chocolate to avoid the milk seeping in the cookie and breaking it. 
I decided to try them at home but struggled with any pan of that shape. Found on the net about using stainless steel for baking and chose some glasses for my experiment which turned out pretty good. Stainless steel can get very very hot and hence you need to be very very careful while dealing with it for baking. Another important thing is greasing the glasses really really well. I regretted not trying one batch by lining the glass with butter paper/parchment paper. I overbaked one batch and had the toughest time of my life trying to get the cookie out from the glass. Well, it finally crumbled and came out a mess. Thankfully one cookie glass came out good enough for my experiment and I loved pouring my milk into it and enjoyed the experience of having my milk in a cookie glass! 
This sweet recipe definitely had to be on my Sweet day recipe list. Vaanya, my daughter enjoyed the cookies more than the cookie glass. I guess the traditional did beat the modern here. 

Recipe : Adapted from here 

Ingredients : Yields about 15 small cookies (2" round) and 2 cookie glasses (3" height)
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3 tbsp sugar, powdered
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar, powdered
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup choco-chips
  • 1/4 cup melted dark chocolate

Procedure : 
Take butter and both sugars in a bowl and whisk till light and fluffy.
Add all purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and knead to a smooth dough.
Knead in the choco chips. 
Refrigerate the dough wrapped in cling film for 30 minutes. 
Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius.
Take Stainless steel glasses and brush inside with butter liberally. Take little portions of the dough and press against the steel glass and smoothen it. 
Refrigerate the glass for 15 minutes for the dough to set.

Roll the leftover dough to 1/4 " thickness and cut out round shapes with a cutter. 
Place them on an aluminium lined baking tray. 

Bake the cookies for 10 minutes and allow them to cool.
Put the steel glasses in the oven and bake for 15-17 minutes.
Allow to cool completely as the steel glass will be very hot.
When completely cool tap the cookie glass out of the stainless steel glass. 
Coat the inside with melted chocolate and let it dry.

Pour milk in the cookie glasses and serve. 
Enjoy a sip from the cookie glass and take a bite from the cookie glass or just enjoy the choco chip cookies classic style by dunking them in a glass of milk.

  • You can use deep muffin pans to make the cookie glasses instead of the stainless steel glass
  • Melted white chocolate can also be used to coat the inside of the cookie glass
  • You may omit the cocoa powder in the dough for the more classic Choco-chip cookies

Happy Chocochip cookies devouring

Monday 11 August 2014

Gibassier-Orange flavoured bread

Baking is healing, baking is fun, baking is very enriching. 
One of my reason to join various baking groups is to get the opportunity to experiment with bakes from around the world and to learn different techniques and methods. 
We knead to bake #19 is a sweet bread from France called Gibassier (zee-bah-see-ay) which is a breakfast bread and is from the Provence region. This bread is flavoured with orange candied peel, orange blossom water and aniseed. It is a decorative bread with snippets on it and is one of the 13 traditional French Christmas desserts that are traditionally served after Midnight Mass to signify Christ and his 12 apostles at the Last Supper. 
Gibassier is simple to make but only requires time as there is a pre ferment which needs to be made a night before. I had to substitute one of its main ingredient, the orange blossom water because of its unavailability and had fun making the candied orange peel from scratch. I even replaced aniseed with fennel seeds which went extremely well with the orange flavour. 
The dominant smell of the orange flavour while baking will certainly make you want to pair it with your cup of tea. I personally loved the tiny specks of orange candied peel peeping from the bread along with the fennel seeds. 

Recipe source : Aparna from My Diverse Kitchen. Adapted from CirilHitz’s Baking Artisan Pastries and Breads

Ingredients : Yields 4 

Biga (pre ferment)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • a pinch of Instant yeast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp orange essence
  • 1 1/2 tsp warm water
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 20 gms butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp chopped candied orange peels
  • 1/4 tsp orange zest
  • All the Biga from above
Glazing : 
  • Ghee for brushing
  • granulated sugar for sprinkling

Procedure : 

Biga : 
The previous night, you start baking, mix all the ingredients in a bowl to a smooth dough. Add more milk if required. 
Put the dough in a well oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides. 
Cover loosely with a muslin cloth and let it stand at room temperature fro 14-16 hours. 
The dough next morning will have a fermented look.

The next morning mix olive oil and orange essence in a big bowl.
Add warm water and mix. 
Now, add the pre ferment by tearing it into chunks and adding to the bowl. 
Add all purpose flour, sugar, salt, yeast and knead till dough is smooth.
Add butter and knead again till it gets incorporated well.
Add the chopped candied orange peels and fennel seeds and mix in the dough.
Shape the dough in a round and place in a well oiled bowl. Cover and allow to double in size for about 2 hours.
Divide into 4 equal parts and shape each into a round and let the dough rest for 15-20 minutes.
Take one round at a time and shape into a semi circle. Make three slits, one in the center and two on each sides, in the middle of the semi circle with a knife. Make sure that the slits are clean.
Now with the help of scissors, make four snips along the arched side at equal distance.
Lift and transfer to a lined baking tray stretching a little to open the slits. 
Repeat the same for the rest of the dough.

Let it rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius, 10 minutes before the completion of the resting time.
Put the baking tray in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or till they attain a brownish tinge.

While still hot from the oven brush them liberally with ghee and sprinkle sugar on top.

Notes : 

  • You can make your own candied orange peels like I did from here.
  • This bread is just about sweet. If you want your bread a little more sweeter, add a tbsp more in the dough.
  • The bread is enjoyed best the same day, esp fresh out from the oven

Happy Orange bread enjoying

Monday 4 August 2014

Swiss National Day celebration at Swissotel, Kolkata

Swissotel Kolkata Neotia Vista, celebrated Swiss National Day which falls on August 1 with a lavish inaugural dinner at Cafe Swiss and Kolkata Food Bloggers were invited to join in the fun. 
Being a weekday me and Vishal got a little late to reach there and missed on the celebrations before the dinner which included some games. Enakshi Kundu greeted us with her warm smile as always and we got ourselves seated with the rest of the gang from KFB. 
Very soon we met Pastry Chef Sanjay who has a heart as big as himself and creates the most droolworthy desserts and is super humble. He introduced us to Chef Abhiru Biswas who has flown in from Mumbai to take special sessions on chocolate and recommended his creations on the dessert counter. 
With not much knowledge about Swiss food apart from their cheese and chocolate, we were happy to discover the widespread delicacies from the region.

The Salad spread
The salad counter was loaded with fresh, creamy and cheesy dishes like Swiss Potato salad, Red Apple and Walnut salad, Carrot and raisin salad and Swiss cheese salad...just to name few. 

The vegetarian fare
The Swiss love their potatoes as much as their cheese and chocolate and it was evident with the traditional Suuri Gummeli (potatoes with sour cream) and the famous Roesti with melted cheese on top which added to the sinful experience. 
Also on the spread for vegetarians was Swiss vegetable casserole and Capuns which has steamed cabbage filled with vegetables served in a tomato based sauce. 

Non vegetarian delicacies 
The Food extravaganza had just began and we continued our journey with the beautifully cooked Prawns with Garlic flakes and olive oil and Salmon cooked with sparkling wine, fresh herb and cream sauce. 
The Spatzle and Urner Hafelichabis (spiced lamb and cabbage stew) were traditional dishes from the region and I personally loved the latter. 

more to the non veg fare
We continued to fill ourselves with dishes like Alpine Rabbit stew, Chicken Cordon Bleu (Crumbed fried chicken with ham and swiss cheese), Rippli (Swiss specialty of pork loin preparation), Suure Mocke (Sauerbraten roasted meat dish served with sour sauce)

My favourite counter-Desserts
If you are wondering how could we have any more place in our stomach, let me tell you that Swissotel's Dessert counter is a beauty in itself and is as lavish as their main course spread. And how much ever full you feel, you can never say no to their awesome range of desserts. 
I was definitely in for some treat with Strawberry Swiss rolls, Baba au Rhum, Engadine Nut cake, Swiss muesli Quark cheese torte, Mini Carrot cupcakes, Duo mousse, Raspberry milk chocolate torte, Apple strudel with vanilla sauce and many more apart from the Chocolate fondue. 
I loved the mini carrot cupcakes exuding the gentle cinnamon flavour and the Engadine nut cake bursting with walnuts. 

The hallmark of Swissotel is an awesome meal with the best of products and warm hospitality.
Do not miss the ongoing celebration which is on till August 7, 2014 and is available for Dinner buffet priced at Rs 1600/- plus taxes at Cafe Swiss from 7-11 pm

Amrita and Vishal


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