Thursday, 22 March 2012

Spring signals

So I guess, some of you might have noticed that aside from a few post here and there and some photo shares on Facebook, I havent been blogging much lately. Its mainly because I was super busy working on a side project (all food relevant, ofcourse) which had been taking up all of my free time. And although there had been a lot of cooking and baking going around, I was mostly so tired in the evenings with almost no energy to deal with the overload of stuff that has just piled up in my camera and computer.

But wait, I am still around and actually trying my best to get back in the swing of things. There will hopefully be a heap of new and interesting posts over the next few days which should actually make up for the entire sparseness. (But please, do forgive me, just in case the nice sunny weather outside makes me slack off a bit :p) Anyways, now that we are talking about the weather, how about welcoming the warmer days with a light and fruity dessert?

Gosh, it was beyond awesome!!!

With lots and lots of beautiful springy colours and citric aromas - an exquisite balance of refreshing flavours and delicate sweetness.

Layered Berry Mousse Trifle


1 sponge cake ( ca. 8")
1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
1/3 cup cornflour
1 cup fine granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tbs gelatin powder / 2 tbs agar agar (see note)
200 g frozen or fresh red berries
300 g whipped heavy cream
1 pkt jelly crystals
Fresh berries and other fruits of your choice

Dissolve gelatin in 1/4 cup tab water and place aside.
Note: In case youre using agar agar, just ignore this step. Unlike gelatin where you have to dissolve it in cold liquid first, agar agar can directly be cooked with other ingredients. It is generally a good substitute for gelatin and the ratio usually remains the same as powdered gelatin but when it comes to acidic liquids, you need to add more. Please note, it might not set with very high acidic foods like kiwi, pineapple, mangoes, peaches etc.

Take the fresh orange juice in a small sauce pan, dissolve cornflour in it and add in the sugar.
(Also add agar agar, if using).

Cook on medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture starts to thicken.

Remove from heat and put aside to cool. (Once luke warm, add in the gelatin).

Meanwhile, puree the berries in a food processor and strain through a fine sieve to remove the unwanted seeds.

Add the purree into the orange sauce and stir.

Also add the whipped heavy cream and fold carefully.

Fold in a hand full of fresh berries (or whatever fruits youre using).

Line the bottom of your serving bowl with a layer of sponge cake. Tip: You can either use a ready made sponge for this or make your own like I did.

Pour the prepared mousse over the base.

Cover with the remaining sponge cake.

Now take 200 ml boiling water and dissolve the entire packet of jelly granules in it. Add 200 ml iced water to this and stir gently.

Tip: For more details on the technique, check this post.

Pour the jelly over the sponge cake layer and put in the refrigerator for two hours or just until set.

Decorate with fresh fruits of your choice, glaze with melted apricot jam (or Tortenguss, in case you live in Germany) or dust the fruits with icing sugar immediately before serving.

Voila. Isn´t it gorgeous???  

Thursday, 15 March 2012

What a ride....

There is a bunch of mixed feelings inside me today. I am happy, surprised, humbled, excited, everything. Just cant believe that I am about to hit my one year mark in food blogging. And as they say, whenever you hit a milestone, do look back at the road behind to acknowledge what exactly youve achieved and learnt on your way, that is exactly what I want to do today.

It was exactly 12 months ago that I wrote my first blog and reading it today makes me literally smile. With so many typos and grammatical mistakes, the post appears so childish to me now but that also reminds me how clueless and naive I was then in the world of blogging. After all, it wasnt a planned activity and was only supposed to be a way to share my culinary knowledge with a few close friends who had been keeping my phone busy for hours asking for the same recipes again and again. So, I decided to catalogue them all at one place. And once they were out on the web, I had nothing against sharing them with the entire world. But as I said, since it all began just like how I start most things in my life, i.e. without any strategy and thinking much about the consequences, there was nearly no traffic other than the family and relatives in the beginning. Even today, my space might not be visited by the largest audience but its still an improvement on how it was a year ago.

I didnt know anything about a Facebook page, Pinterest or other social networking sites until I found out that being a self published writer I needed to have more platforms to promote my blog. Soon after making public profile on numerous sites and joining few foodie communities, the results started to show in my favour. And its certainly getting better with each passing day.

Its nice to see the positive changes that my blog has gained during this year but its even more satisfying to see how I myself have grown over this entire period. This place has not only been important to me because I was getting recognised and popular, but because this little slice of Blogger gave me a voice - it literally provided the inner cook in me a reason to come out and get to know the world from a different eye, from the eye of a food anthropologist. It gave me a creative outlet to express and share my ideas, inspirations, experiences and projects that I would have never done elsewhere.

All in all, I am truely grateful for the time that I have invested in this platform and specially for the strong tribe of online connections that I have been able to build through it. Without all these awesome friends, it wouldnt be nearly as much fun.

So here I am folks, exactly one year later, saying THANK YOU to each one of you for your visits, support, encouraging mails and all the lovely comments that youve been leaving here and on my FB page.

P.S. To celebrate my first blogiversary, I am adding a new label containing my PERSONAL favourite posts, dont forget to have a look into all of them.

Hope you too will enjoy the ride (and the cake, ofcourse;) as much I did.

Love you heaps,

Friday, 9 March 2012

Cream Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

- Fresh, easy and quick.

- Super tasty.

- Prep time: 12 minutes, Cook time: 25 minutes.

- Serve as delicious and creamy hors d´oeuvres or a hot vegetable side dish with poultry, meat or fish.

- Can be prepared several hours ahead and baked right before serving.

- Entire plate cleaned in less than 5 minutes.

Not convinced yet??? Just continue reading...

Cream Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms


15 large fresh mushrooms
1 small finely chopped onion
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tbs olive oil
125 g soft cream cheese
2 tsp chopped dill
2 tbs grated cheese (Gouda / Emmental / Cheddar)
salt, pepper, paprika powder
Red chili flakes (optional)

Clean mushrooms. Remove the stems and chop (stems) finely.

Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the chopped stems until all moisture has evaporated.

Add the finely chopped onion and fry for a minute.

Then add garlic and fry for another minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Take off from heat and allow to cool a bit. Mix in the cream cheese, chopped dill as well as grated gouda (or whatever cheese youre using).

Spoon the filling into the mushroom cavities and arrange (a little apart from each other) onto a greased baking tray.

Sprinkle chili flakes on top and bake in preheated oven at 200C for about 25 minutes or until tender. (Oh, they smell soooo good in the oven).

What are you waiting for? We had these for appetizer last night and DH is again on his way to the market to get a fresh batch of mushrooms.

Guten Appetit!!!!

Monday, 5 March 2012

A hap hap happy birthday

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday my dearest Nael, happy birthday to youuuuuuuuuu........

Mini burgers, potato wedges, deep fried samosas, creamy chicken mushroom pasta, spicy baked chicken, thousand island sauce, ghulab jamun!!!

Now before you all collectively shake your heads in dismay at the high-calories, high-carb fare placed on this table, hear me out first:

This all is actually quite healthy keeping in mind what you normally get on a three years olds birthday party. Okay, it wasnt really a childrens party, just a get together / dinner sort of a thing. Unlike his first two birthdays, Nael has celebrated his third one at the kindergarten with his new friends this year, so we kept it very simple and pretty domestic inviting the two couples who are very dear to our little mans heart.

The event was unplanned but very special, the guests were like-minded and informal, the ambiance was great, the food was awesome but the cake....Oh please, dont ask about that! I am sure it was the worst character cake I have ever done. A complete fiasco - from start to finish!!

Believe it or not, this is the best image I could find for uploading here!

Looking at my sons latest obsession for the Disney´s cars, I actually wanted to make him a Lightening Mcqueen cake but there was this whole series of disasters simultaneously happening that day which turned the red ganache-iced chocolate cake look more like an old rusted car with a ruined bumper and dented fender instead.

I shouldve baked the cake a day ahead, that wouldve made it easier to carve and ice

Look at the grainy ganache, didnt have enough time to seal the crumbs:(

Although my husband had warned me not to upload any images of the awful mess but I am still doing that. I am a daring blogger, after all :p No, I seriously wish my readers to consider for a while before getting critical and judgmental that it was a surprise gift that a mother tried to conjure for her son in a limited time of only three hours. There are certainly more beautiful and better car cake ideas out there on the net but this one is exceptional not only because of the emotional attachment I have to it but also because it was my first attempt on colouring white chocolate ganache. So, in the end it wasnt something to be overly negative about :)

And here is a photo of the Madagascar cake my little lion man and his friends got to tear into at the kindergarten two days later.

By the way, in case youre wondering about your share of the treats, I have attached recipe links to few of the items above. Will  do a separate post on how to make marzipan and fondant figurines in a few days but for now, here is the recipe for potato wedges.

Homemade Potato Wedges


5 potatoes
3/4 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp mixed italian spices
salt, pepper
Olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
1/4 tsp red chili flakes (optional)

Wash potatoes with a scrub brush. Cut each one of them in half, then each half into three wedges.

Take a large bowl, mix together all the herbs in 2 tbsp olive oil. Tip: In case youre using lemon juice, dont add it at this stage!

Lay the potatoes (skin side down) on a baking tray lined with aluminium foil or baking paper. Drizzle with 1 tbs olive oil and bake in a preheated oven at 200 C for about 40-45 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.

Drizzle with lemon juice and bake further for 5 minutes.

Mouth-watering, arent they?? One bite and youll be hooked forever!