Monday 31 August 2015

Swiss Apple Roesti

Knowledge about food and food habits of specific regions intrigue me in a special way. My interest invariably lies in the understanding of the dessert of a particular region. The more I dig into it the more I realize that it such a vast area of interest, one which personally I am a big fan of. I keep hunting for dessert ideas from different countries and love to try them out in my humble kitchen. 
Swissotel, Kolkata had invited KFB for their Swiss National Day celebrations some time back. Celebration of such sorts are a great learning experience for us where we are exposed to authentic taste of the dishes and are educated about some traditional dishes from the region. We had the grand opportunity to have GM Mr Marco Saxer and Executive chef Mr Pranay Singh sit with us and talk about Swiss Food. Along with some other dishes discussed what enthralled me was the description of this dish called Swiss Apple Roesti. Mr Saxer was very particular about having this dessert on the menu and found a video on Youtube to help the chef make it. 
All of us were stunned by the simplicity and the flavours of this dessert. Crispy chunks of bread with apple pieces sauteed in French butter with a beautiful hint of cinnamon was truly a winner dessert for all of us. We were told that the French butter was specially imported for this dessert. It was served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and the dessert was drizzled with some vanilla sauce. 
I instantly knew that I just had to try this dessert at home. The high end French butter was replaced with the dairy white butter which is unsalted. Good quality red apples were bought for it especially and a loaf of brown bread was kept for 2 days to make it stale. The entire process takes hardly 5 minutes because all you need to do is throw in a large chunk of butter in the pan and get your bread crisped in it. Add in the chopped apples, sugar and cinnamon and you are done. 
The video is a must watch for the detailed and hilarious take on the traditional Swiss dessert. 
Recipe adapted from here : FX cuisine on Youtube

Ingredients : For 2 servings
  • 1 apple
  • 2 slices bread (stale) (I used brown bread)
  • 50 gms white butter
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar(or more)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder(or less)
  • handful of pomegranate kernels 
Procedure : 
Cut bread into bite sized squares.
Chop apples in bite size too after removing the seed and with the skin on.
Take butter in a pan and as it melts add the bread. Let it get crisp from both sides which can take 4-5 minutes.
Remove from heat and add the chopped apples and the powdered sugar. 
Mix in the cinnamon powder.
Sprinkle the pomegranate kernels on top and serve with vanilla ice cream. 

Happy Roesti Relishing

Thursday 27 August 2015

Chocolate Salami

Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi has been a fairly simple festival in my house while I was growing. Being Sikhs, we have adapted a lot of our customs from Hinduism and therefore we celebrate a simplified version of it which means no tilak and Pooja. I remember seeing my Aunt perform the morning fast before tying the sacred thread on my Father and Uncle's wrist but as children we never had to do that. As children, I would tease my younger brother that being a girl is so lucky as you get 2 gifts in a year, one on birthday and another on Rakhi. At home, Mom would make some bread rolls for breakfast and thus our Rakhi would be over with some sweets. 
This year, Vaanya, my daughter will get to tie a Rakhi on my nephew. I see a part of my childhood in her and am looking forward to see her enjoy the day with her little brother. She is naturally too small to understand the importance of Rakhi but I am sure with time she will cherish these moments just like me. 
This year I wanted to try a rather very simple sweet. Something which does not require much work and is done in a jiffy. Therefore I decided to play with these Chocolate Salami where there is no definite recipe and you can add just about anything that you want. 
Chocolate Salami or Salame di cioccolata or Salame de chocolate is a traditional Italian and Portuguese dessert which is made from dark chocolate, broken bits of biscuits or cookies, butter, eggs and alcohol like rum or port wine.
A misleading name, Chocolate Salami is named because of its appearance where the dessert is shaped like a log and is cut in roundels while serving.
I skipped the eggs and got an intensely rich, rum laden chocolatey goodness in this dessert. For a children's version I used milk chocolate and skipped the nuts and fruits. Instead I added some cake pieces, biscuits of my daughter's choice and some almond powder. 
This dessert has endless variations. Go ahead and enjoy making and relishing it this festive season.

Ingredients : Makes around 7-8 slices of the chocolate salami
  • 200 gms dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cream(I used Amul)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3-4 pieces of Marie biscuits or any digestive biscuits
  • 1/2 cup of assorted nuts and dried fruits(I used almonds, walnuts, cashews, pista and cranberries)
  • 2-3 tbsp rum (optional, may be substituted with orange juice)
Procedure : 
Dry roast the nuts and chop them fine. Mix with the chopped cranberries and keep aside.
Roughly break the biscuits in medium sized chunks and keep aside.
Heat cream in a pan. Be careful not to burn it.
Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate to it. Mix it well so that the chocolate melts.
Now add the butter and mix. 
Throw in the nuts and biscuits and give it a stir. 
Allow this mixture to cool and thicken for around 4-5 minutes, or more if required.
Put this, now thickened mixture, onto a cling wrap and give it a log shape. Twist both the ends to secure it.
Pop it in the refrigerator for 3-4 hrs. 
In between take it out and roll it to maintain the shape.
Slice it and serve.

Note : For a children's version I used milk chocolate instead of dark one and added digestive biscuits, chocolate biscuits, cake pieces. I also added 1 tbsp of almond powder instead of the chopped nuts. And yes, the rum has been omitted there. 

Happy Raksha Bandhan

Saturday 22 August 2015

Opéra Cake

Birthdays are a special day in my household for more reasons than one. For the baker in me, it is a day to put my hands on a long awaited cake that has been on my list for a long time and that finally gets to see the light of the day. With my husband Vishal's birthday falling on 27th last month, I needed to try a rather special cake. And so it had to be the coveted Opera cake, the French classic cake which I have been scared to try because of the sheer number of elements it has. 
The Opera has an equally amazing history too. Story goes that in 1955 French pastry chef Cyriaque Gavillon, working at the legendary Dalloyau shop in Paris, invented the Opera while wanting to create a cake with complex layers in terms of texture and taste. His wife, Andrée,  told him that it reminded her of the famous Paris Opera house, which eventually was the name given to the cake. 
Another story goes that the cake was invented in the Paris Opera to help people stay awake through the final acts of the lengthy shows being heavy coffee laden. 
An Opera cake consists of thin layers of almond sponge called Jaconde which is moistened with a coffee syrup and is then sandwiched with layers of coffee buttercream and chocolate ganache. The cake is then topped with a chocolate glaze. Traditionally the cake is adorned with a edible gold leaf and has the word 'Opera' piped on it.
This cake was even more special and was the right choice for Vishal's birthday as both me and Vishal are ardent fans of music. We love to spend our time singing songs while Vishal strums his Guitar. Music is the key to our hearts and holds us close together. 
The cake turned out a winner as everyone who got to taste it loved it. Being very critical about my own cakes, I found the sponges a bit over soaked but that was not an issue with anyone else.
My over excited daughter was much more eager about her Papa's birthday and made a very sweet card for him. 

Recipe adapted from : Joe Pastry

Ingredients and Procedure

Jaconde (Sponge cake)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp clarified butter, melted
Preheat oven to 200 degree Celsius.
Grease and line a jelly roll pan 28X21 cm with baking paper and then grease it again.
Take egg whites in a bowl and whip till soft peaks. Add granulated sugar and beat again till stiff peaks. Keep aside.
Take whole eggs and almond meal in a bowl and beat till light and foamy for about 3 minutes.
Add flour and mix.
Incorporate the egg whites in 3 additions carefully with gentle mixing. 
Fold in the melted clarified butter.
Pour batter in the prepared pan and spread with a spatula.
Bake 8-10 minutes.
Cool and flip it over baking sheet. Carefully peel the baking sheet and keep aside.
Can be refrigerated for a day. 

Coffee Buttercream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200 gms butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee powder
  • 1 tsp hot water
Dissolve coffee powder in hot water and keep aside.
Take egg yolks in a bowl and whip for 5 minutes.
Prepare sugar syrup by combining sugar and water in a saucepan and allowing the sugar to melt. When the mixture starts bubbling, remove from flame and pour the syrup in a steady stream over the egg yolks while beating continuously. 
Add the butter and vanilla extract and whip together. 
Add the coffee mixture and mix. 
Refrigerate for further use.
Can be made a day in advance.

Chocolate Ganache : 
  • 1 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 cup cream (I used Amul )
Heat cream in a pan. Take care not to scald it.
Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Mix well and keep aside.
Can be refrigerated.

Coffee flavoured cake syrup : 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee powder
Dissolve sugar in hot water and add coffee powder.
Cool and keep aside.

Chocolate glaze : I made a ganache instead of the traditional tempered chocolate topping
  • 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup cream
Heat cream and add chocolate. Stir and mix well.
Keep aside.

Chocolate writing : 
Melt a little chocolate and add few drops of vegetable oil to it. Mix well and put in a piping bag and use. 

Assembly : 
Cut the Jacondes in half(to get 2 rectangles).
So you have 4 layers Jaconde sponge.
Take a layer and apply coffee syrup. 
Apply layer of ganache.
Apply coffee buttercream layer.
Put another sponge and apply coffee syrup.
Repeat with ganache and coffee buttercream with all layers till the top.
Pour the chocolate ganache on top. 
Let it firm up in the fridge.
Trim edges from all sides to show the neat layers.

Happy Opera Relishing

Afraa Lounge & Restaurant- Taste of Tuscany

Us with GM Diksha Pande, Debamita Banerjee and Chef Arnab
Afraa Lounge & Restaurant at City Center Salt Lake, a fine dining restaurant with exceptionally breath taking view of the city's skyline, showcasing a blend of multi themed interiors and decor that encompasses a taste from traditional classic to a more contemporary outlook, all in one, armed with machineries to roll out global cuisines, geared up to give the city a taste of pure Tuscany.

Region of Tuscany in Italy, (Picture Credit: Wikipedia)
As Amrita and I, representing Kolkata Food Bloggers, had the oppurtunity to dine along with GM Diksha Pande, we got to know more about the food of Tuscany, 
Tuscany is a region in central Italy known for its landscapes, traditions, history, artistic legacy and its influence on high culture. 
Tuscany cuisine, known to have a very simplistic outlook, is power packed with the richness of the olive oils, cheese, fresh green vegetables and a lot of protein. 
Tuscany also produces some of the best wines in the world. 
The Tuscany Festival at Afraa was a great treat to relish. Most of the element in almost all the dishes were imported all the way from Italy and the artistic chef Arnab, who has gone through extensive training in this particular cuisine, displayed very intricate gastronomical skills. 

Our evening started off with Olive oil tasting sessions where we were served 3 kinds of Olive oil shots by chef Arnab himself. He educated us about the texture and use of each kind. For Amrita and me, it was a rather unusual experience gulping down shots of olive oil.

Antipasti Platter
Armed with a glass of a beautiful crisp white wine, we headed to the table where we were served a mixture of veg and non-veg Antipasti platter. Imported straight from Italy, the cold cuts were a treat to our olive oil dunked tongues. The Mortadella, Salami, Chorizo, pickled fish were far beyond excellent and a wonderful way to start our tryst with Tuscany food. The excellent quality of the food on the platter made us forget to pair it with any of the numerous dips and pestos it came along with.  

Herb crusted Bekti
For mains, we were served Erbe in crosta di barramundi Indiano- herb crusted Betki with caramelized onions and melanzana involtini. The fish coated with Panko crumbs, as told to us by Chef Arnab, was first cooked in the pan and then in the oven. The dish came with lovely accompaniments like a dollop of Risotto, grilled aubergines and a garlic based sauce. 

Lamb shank with egg sauce
Next came in a big portion of Agnello brodellato- lamb shank with egg sauce. The lamb, flavour with thyme and rosemary herbs, was a perfect accompaniment to the full bodied Italian red wine.   

The desserts kickstarted with the very traditional Affogato which had a beautiful surprise of a blend of sweetness in vanilla ice cream, a welcomed bitterness in coffee espresso and a perfect neutralizer in Bailey's liqueur. Together they formed a mesmerizing combination that was a pure treat to our palate.
Mango Zabaglione
The Mango Zabaglione came is as another beautiful dessert which had layers of fresh mango and a light airy custard. 

Its amazing to see how everything come together in making a dining experience as fine as the one we have had at Afraa. The Tuscany Festival will be on till 31st of August and you can relish the best produce of Italy right at the very heart of the City Center. 

Vishal & Amrita Tupper

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Sunday Sparkling Lunch, Aromas,Kenilworth Hotel and their Hilsa Festival "Oh d-ilish-ous"

Kolkata Food Blogger had the opportunity to be invited for the Sunday Sparkling Lunch which co incided with the ongoing Hilsa Festival at the Kenilworth Hotel. Going through their in-house promotions called as Sunday Sparkling Lunch. Listing below are some of the highlights.
 Tantalizing lunch every Sunday from 12:30 – 3:30pm.
Buffet lunch in a medley of World Cuisine from Continental / Oriental and Classic Indian Spreads
Menu Matrix that contain an elaborate spreads of Cold Cuts, Salads , Healthy Counter, Gourmet selection of French & Italian Cheese, Home – made bread creation, Lebanese displays of dips, scrumptious spreads of 15 delicacies, Ethnic Indian Sweet tooths and Enticing home made bakery items.
As much as the Durga Pujas the whole of Bengal every year eagerly looks forward to the Hilsa Festival. The Hilsa Fish is a delicacy and is harvested during monsoon when they come on the deltas to breed.

Beside other dishes smoked Hilsa and Hilsa Biryani seemed to win people's heart. Chef Khemraj Bhatt and Sombit Ghoshal also led me through the brunch programme that Kenilworth Hotel has where they have tried to craft a fusion to blend the major cuisines.

Happy Sparkling Lunch-ing

Vishal Tupper

 Sparkled Menu is priced at Rs 849 plus taxes (Lavish Buffet along with one glass of Sparkling Wine / Beers/ Soft Beverage/ Mocktails)
Unlimited offer is priced at Rs 1250 plus taxes ( Lavish Buffet along with unlimited Sparkling Wine / Beers/ Soft Beverage / Mocktails)
Kids Buffet is priced at Rs 499 plus taxes ( Lavish buffet along with unlimited soft beverages /mocktail) (offer applied to kids age from 6 year-12 year old)
Vishal with chef  Khemraj Bhatt and Sombit Ghoshal

Orange Juice
Fish in yellow Thai Curry
Pad Thai Noodles and Five spiced vegetables with fried cashew nuts and tofu

Charoli Murg Tikka

Dahi ke Kebab and Sabz Jhal frezi

Vegetable biryani

Walnut feta filled chicken parcels

Smoked Hilsa

Sorse Ilish
Ilish Biryani

Friday 14 August 2015

Tiranga Bread Roll

My daughter, Vaanya, had Independence day celebrations at her Montessori today. All parents were informed a couple of days back to dress up their child in colours that represent the National flag. I must confess that I have been the laziest Mom around in terms of showing enthusiasm for such events by running around arranging dresses. This time I wanted to be different and decided to charge up my lazy self and go the market to buy a piece of cloth for her dress. Thankfully my Mom is an expert in stitching and happily agreed (with much more enthusiasm than mine) to stitch a frock for Vaanya. With one day left for the celebrations at school, me and my mom were discussing the buttons and ribbons to be added and so finally the frock was ready. A beautiful dress with the colours of the flag for my most beautiful daughter who was equally happy to wear it to school and participate in singing 'Nanha Munha Raahi hoon'. 

  This year while scratching my head on a recipe for Independence day celebration, I strictly avoided going the sweet way. I was reminded of these bread rolls that my mom made often. Grated cucumber, carrots and crumbled paneer with crushed peanuts make way into these crisp bread rolls. The combination is amazing and I can eat 2-3 of them in one go. Since the filling has all the colours of the flag, I nudged my Mom to help me make this recipe for the blog. 

 Ingredients : Makes 12 bread rolls
  • 12 slices of white sandwich bread, edges trimmed
  • 2 medium sized carrots
  • 2 medium sized cucumbers
  • 100 gms paneer
  • 50 gms roasted peanuts
  • salt and black pepper powder to taste
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
Procedure : 
Peel and grate carrots and cucumbers. 
Take a little butter in a pan and saute the carrots and cucumbers till the water from the cucumber dries up. 
Crumble the paneer and add. Mix well.
Add salt and black pepper to taste and mix well.
Remove from heat and allow to cool. 
Crush the roasted peanuts and add to the mixture. 
Heat oil in a deep pan for frying. 
Take a bowl with water wide enough to dip the bread slice.
Take one bread slice at a time, dip it for a brief second and squeeze out the water by pressing between your palms. 
Take a portion of the carrot-cucumber-paneer mixture and put in the middle of the bread slice.
With your hands shape the bread in a roll and keep aside. Repeat the same with all bread slices.
Once all are ready, deep fry them till golden brown.
Enjoy them with your cup of tea or relish with some tamarind chutney or ketchup. 

Happy Independence day

Sunday 9 August 2015

Kheer Poode(पूड़े) -celebrating Teeyan(तीयां)

Saawan is the month of rains and like all other months in the Indian calendar, we have festivities attached to this month too. In Punjab this month is celebrated with 'Teeyan (तीयां) da Mela' which means fair of daughters. It is a festival where daughters go back to their maternal house and celebrate the festivity. In the olden days when women when not allowed to visit their parents house often, the women would spend this entire month with their parents and get pampered. 
Women get together and participate in the traditional dance called 'Gidda' with lots of 'Boliyans' or traditional Punjabi songs. Another mainstay of Teeyan are the swings which in earlier days used to be usually around a water body. In olden days it was a way out for women from their normal routine life and indulge in some fun and frolic.
And as far as festivity is concerned how can food be left behind. Teeyan is associated with Kheer Poode (पूड़े) , halwa, malpua and gulguley. In olden days, sugar was used scarcely and instead Gur (Jaggery) was used in everything. Traditionally the Poode are made with gur and the kheer is kept bland i.e. sans sugar which justifies the otherwise weird combination. However nowadays, poode are relished with some kind of Achaar esp Raw mango(Kaccha aam) achaar. The poode are actually crepe like and are made with whole wheat flour or Atta. The sugar or gur is dissolved in the batter and then these are spread thin on a tava with some oil to make them crisp. 
These recipes though extremely simple and humble are getting lost because the festivities are getting lost. Thankfully some families are keeping the festival of Teeyan alive so that the coming generations get a glimpse of the way things were back then. 

Ingredients for Poode : makes 7-8
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour/atta
  • 1/4 cup sugar (powdered)
  • 1/4 tsp saunf powder
  • water as required to make the batter
Procedure : 
Take atta in a bowl and mix sugar in it. Add the saunf powder and make a crepe or dosa like batter with water. 
Allow it to rest for 30-40 minutes.
Take a flat pan or tava and spread oil or ghee on it.
Pour little batter and spread it to a round.
Add more oil and crisp it from both sides.

Ingredients for kheer
  • 1 1/2 litre milk, preferably full cream
  • 1/4 cup rice, soaked in water
  • chopped assorted nuts like cashews, almonds, pista and raisins
  • elaichi powder
Procedure : 
Take milk in a heavy bottomed vessel and let it boil. Add the soaked and drained rice and let the milk reduce.
Keep stirring in between and let the rice cook in the milk. 
When the milk reduces to half the original quantity, take off from heat and cool it.
Add elaichi powder and assorted nuts(optional)
You may add sugar to your kheer if you do not want to pair it with the poode. 

Happy 'Teeyan da mela'

Saturday 8 August 2015

6 Ballygunge Place Hilsa Festival

The rain of Hilsa continued in the city with the launch of the much awaited Hilsa Festival-Ilisher Swadkahon at 6 Ballygunge Place, Salt Lake, a very popular Bengali Restaurant in Kolkata that has made a reputation of winning many hearts, and as a member of team Kolkata Food Bloggers I was thrilled to have the opportunity to cover the same.

Apart from the signature regional dishes like Sarso Ilish, Doi Sorse Ilish, etc the restaurant has introduced some very innovative dishes like Ilish e pur bhara lonka bhaja, Smoked Ilish Cutlet, Tomato Posto Ilish, Anaras Hilsa, Begun Bharta Ilish, Chalkumro Ilish Bhaja, etc.

Chef Sushanta Sengupta of 6 Ballygunge Place said that they were happy to have the Hilsa Festival this time even though the harvest of Hilsa seems to be lesser this year. The people here look forward to the Hilsa Festival from the Restaurant.

The Hilsa Festival is on till 16th August, 2015.

Happy Hilsa-ing

Vishal Tupper

With Chef

Chef Sushanta Sengupta

Doi Sorse Ilish
Ilish Mache Pur diye lonka bhaja
Smoked Ilish Cutlet

Chalkumro Ilish Bhaja

Anaras Ilish

Tomato Posto Ilish

Begun Bharta Ilish

Ilish Dimer Dhoka
Ilish Thali


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