Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

How fast time flies…It feels like just yesterday…the noise of clinking champagne flutes, as we welcomed 2011. It has been a roller coaster ride for me. Loads of highs and lows; I am still holding it tight in my hands, not willing to let go, knowing for sure the New Year is going to bring me much more adventures. I have some exciting projects in the pipeline and can’t wait to share the news with you next year. As I sip my coffee, I try to recapture all the memorable moments of 2011 that swept past me leaving me emerge stronger, experienced and adventurous. Phew! What an amazing year. 
A very Happy New Year to all my fellow bloggers & readers! Hope 2012 brings you health & happiness in abundance, lets you achieve your goals & dreams.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

White Chocolate Ricotta Cheesecake with Baileys & Cranberries

As promised I am back with this smooth like velvet, white chocolate cheesecake with baileys & cranberries. Don't ask me why, but this mixture of ricotta, cream cheese & quark makes a very luxurious filling. It bakes to a dense, creamy sweet filling that practically melts in your mouth. The sweetness from white chocolate & the tartness from the cranberries are just perfect, with hints of baileys as you dig in. I reckon you could use chocolate digestives and skip the cocoa & chocolate, but somehow this method below makes it more chocolatey. 

White Chocolate Ricotta Cheesecake with Baileys & Cranberries
For the base

100g digestive biscuits 

25g blanched almonds 

50g dark chocolate chopped 

30g butter 

1 heaped tbsp cocoa 

For the filling 

170g good quality white chocolate 

200g soft cream cheese like Philadelphia 

300g tub ricotta 

70g quark 

3 large eggs 

2tbsp Baileys (I used hazelnut flavour) 

1tbsp lavender honey

handful of cranberries 
zest of 1 orange

Preheat the oven to 160C. Spray an 8-inch spring form tin with non-stick spray. Now pulse the biscuits & the almonds for a minute until fine. Add cocoa, chocolate and butter, process until you get sandy rubble. Transfer the mixture into the tin, press onto bottom and a little up the sides of the tin. Freeze the tin until needed. 

Melt the white chocolate using a double boiler or microwave and set aside. In a processor, blend the ricotta until smooth. Add the cream cheese & blend, stopping the processor occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Blend in the honey, baileys and orange zest. Now add the eggs and pulse. Add the melted chocolate & whizz until you get a satiny smooth batter. Stir in the cranberries. Pour the filling to the cooled crust. Bake the cheesecake until filling is just wobbly in the centre and edges begin to crack, about 45min-1hr. The cheese cake I baked took about 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow to cool, leaving the door ajar. Refrigerate overnight or for a couple of hours and serve chilled with coulis if desired. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Guest Post for Made With Pink

Here's the sneak peak of the guest post I am doing for Andrea. I was honoured when she asked me to guest post on her blog, while she was away on maternity. You will find the recipe here at Andrea's beautiful blog called MadeWithPink. And please, wish her a happy motherhood!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Holiday Granola

What did you have for breakfast? One big question I am always asked when I call my mum in India or when S calls me after his morning meetings or when I say no to heavy lunches while visiting friends. As kids we always had Idli, Dosa, Pongal, with chutnies & sambhar in the morning before rushing through the door to get the school van. We called it "morning tiffin" and never ever skipped it. Then came the new trend of Kellogg's cornflakes but, we were allowed this luxury breakfast only on Sundays and I eventually got bored of it. Living away from home, I did make proper "morning tiffin" for a long time, until I discovered how easy it is to make granola and how awesome it is with milk or yogurt. I have made so many variations but I think I like this one with chocolate & spices in it, perfect for the holiday season. S likes to drown them in milk while I like mine with flavored yogurt & fruits. This has led me to the curious question of How you like your morning cereals?Do you like it with milk or with yogurt? Do you like the milk warm or cold?


Holiday Granola 

400g jumbo oats or a mix of oats,millet,spelt 

200g flaked almonds 

50g hazelnuts 

100g omega mix (linseed, sesame seeds, pumpkin seed, sunflower seeds) 

2tbsp maple syrup 

3tbsp honey 

120ml melted butter or vegetable oil 

100g mixed dried berries (cranberries, blueberries etc) 

Seeds scraped from a vanilla pod 

Zest of 1 orange 

1tsp mixed spice 

1tsp cinnamon 

Handful of white chocolate buttons (60g)
Handful of dark chocolate buttons  

Preheat oven to 170C. Pour the melted butter/oil and honey over the oat mixture. Add the spice mix, zest, vanilla and stir until all the oats and nuts are coated with the liquids. Bake them for about 25 to 30 minutes or until they are crisp and golden. Stir in the berries half way through. Remove the granola from the oven and allow cooling slightly and stir in the chocolate buttons while still warm, so that you have some melted and some as bits. Store in an air-tight container once cool.  

Double Chocolate Christmas Fruit Cake

I am positive, like me many of you are still finding this time of the year a bit crazy. On one end, there is a high- level of enthusiasm for the holidays & shopping and on the other is the blustery weather with endless downpour from heaven. Covered head-to-toe in layers of warm clothes, hat-scarves-gloves et al, just to go to the corner grocer, images of endless winter, snow and slippery paths stirs my worries. This is the time I find solace in my kitchen, cooking or baking something, escaping from the relentless chill. There is something soul satisfying & comforting about staying indoors, receding to the warmth of the oven or stove. I absolutely love festive baking, the gorgeous heady aromas of soaked boozy fruits, Clementines, Cinnamon, Ginger, Clove, Vanilla and more puts even the best aroma-candle to shame. Although I have made a batch of the traditional drunken fruit cake, constantly feeding them with Armagnac, I still wanted to make a fruit cake with less fruits & more of the flavours I like. So if you are running away from the usual fruit cake here's one with a spin! It is not only pretty traditional, packed with all the Christmassy flavours, but also has chocolate in two forms, cocoa & chocolate chips stirred into the batter along with another favourite of mine, coffee. Somehow for me coffee makes chocolate taste chocolaty. Give it a try and let me know what you think! 
  I am cheered and inspired in my kitchen and hope you do too and happy baking!

Fruit Cake
450g soaked fruits
50g flaked almonds
150g butter softened
125g brown sugar
3 large eggs
215g flour
15g cocoa
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
handful of dark chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp instant coffee
seeds scraped from a vanilla pod
Brandy or Armagnac for brushing and feeding
Grease & line an 8" pan with double layer of grease-proof paper and wrap the outside of the tin with newspaper, securing with a twine. Preheat oven to 140-160C. Beat butter & sugar till light and gradually add the eggs one by own, beating well after each addition. Sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Toss the fruits & the chocolate chips in a tbsp of sifted flour. Fold in the flour into the egg mixture with a spatula and spoon into the prepared tin. Bake for about 1.25-1.45 minutes or until skewer inserted comes out clean. (Mine took about 1.20 min). Let it cool in the pan and brush the top with brandy or armagnac.
Its best to store the cake in an air-tight container wrapped in layers of parchment & foil. Feed your cake with brandy every week until ready to serve.

Next up is a holiday granola & then a luscious cheesecake with surprise flavours to adorn your holiday table. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

As a kid I could never say few things. I would use ‘tha’ for ‘kha’…na’ for ‘ra’ and made up my own language. I had difficulty in saying pumpkin and I always called it ‘umpkin’. I grew up in south India where pumpkin not only appeared during holidays but was pretty much a normal everyday vegetable. Mum made curries with it and also made a gorgeous sweet halwa with it. For a long time I made this too, but I changed. Last Year, I made pumpkin cupcakes.
Anyways, it’s time for thanksgiving and there are things that always re-appear on the holiday table. One such thing is this humble umpkin pumpkin pie. It’s like Marmite you either love it or hate it!
With holidays soon approaching and things to do, it must be crazy week for everyone. Some of you have travel plans to be with your family, some of you must be busy planning Christmas menu, some of you amidst madness in crowded stores shopping for loved ones. And then some of us have to finish work before the holidays begin. phew!
But, I am really insanely thankful for all things truly important: great friends, far-away but dear family, good food, job I love & a good life. I am thankful for meeting S who loves me immensely for what I am {and loves food ;-)}, I am thankful for meeting lovely friends who have become family and for their amazing support and unconditional love. I am thankful for meeting new friends through this blog who have become a part of my life now. 
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
This robust pie has a very gorgeous roasted pumpkin flavour, smokily intense sweetness from dark brown sugar and honey, heightened creaminess with the use of ricotta & cream, spiciness from the fresh ground spices & zestiness from fresh orange zest & booziness from brandy to remind us of holiday flavours.. 
Pumpkin Ricotta-Brandy Pie
For the pastry I used the recipe from here
For the filling:

800g of roasted pumpkin puree

4 eggs
100g dark brown sugar
120ml heavy cream
100g ricotta or mascarpone or cream cheese
3 tbsp brandy
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp acacia honey
1 tbsp pumkin spice mix (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg)
More whipped cream for piping on top.
Whizz everything in a processor & pour onto baked pie shell. Bake in a pre-heated 180C oven, for about 35-45 minutes or until it slightly wobbles. Allow to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for a few hours before slicing and pipe some cream on top.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

100 SoulCurry posts = Birth of WithAPinchOfSalt and a Gift

Hurray! I have written a jolly hundred posts. When I started this blog, I had absolutely no idea what was in store for me. But I think it’s one of the best things I have done in my life.  Through this blog, I have found so many wonderful, talented people and have learned & progressed so much. It has all been a very enriching experience. Thanks to each and every one of you!
So to celebrate this, S got me this gorgeous baby (flown all the way from US by a dear friend). 
Also, I have started a new blog WithAPinchOfSalt, where I will be posting everyday-simple-to-make-on-a-budget recipes. I hope to receive the same kind of love & audience for my new blog.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Triple chocolate espresso cake = Triple the fun

I am still here guyz and I promise to make something special blogwise soon! Just been very busy and I need to give you SOME NEWS soon! For now I have a cake recipe to share..The most sinful cake ever!
Last weekend was so much fun. It was a dear friends 30th and boy we had some serious fun..
 I made 2 cakes one a rich Triple Chocolate Espresso Pound Cake frosted with whipped Mocha Mousse and a Chocolate Espresso Cake layered with Mocha Mousse & covered in chocolate collar. If you think its chocolate-coffee excess, let me tell you we needed all of it!

How the Cake was Demolished in Minutes!
Easy Peasy Triple Chocolate Espresso Cake (adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Cake Bible)
125 gm Plain flour
35g cocoa powder
1tsp instant coffee
60ml cup freshly brewed coffee
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
175gm granulated sugar
½ tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
185gm unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup Dark chocolate +1/4 cup milk chocolate+1/4 cup peanut butter/white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a 7inch pan (I have used a Giant cupcake form).Beat the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one by one and beat after each addition. Sieve the dry ingredients into one bowl and toss the chocolate chips in one tbsp. of the sieved flour. (This helps the chips to stay all through the batter rather than sink). Add the coffee along with the dry ingredients and fold carefully. Finally, fold in the chocolate chips.
Pour the into the form and for about 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

For the Whipped Mocha Mousse Icing I used the Mocha Mousse recipe from here  and just piped free-form using a large star tip.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Happy Diwali!

A very Happy Diwali to all those wonderful people who follow my blog and to the lovely fellow bloggers!
Deepavali Legyam/Chooran
Saffron-Cardamom Kalakhand
Besan Laddoo
Moong Dal Chakli

Crunchy Ribbon Pakoda

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


 Breakfast in Bed : Saffron-Scented Chocolate Hazelnut Croisssant
Lunch Box Treat:Cheese & Onion Croissant with sea salt & cracked black pepper
 The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child! (Remember Julie & Julia?).

I pretty much stuck to the recipe but made a sweet & a savory version. Just before I rolled the pastry into a croissant I carefully spooned the filling into the triangle & then rolled it up.

¼ oz (7 gm) of fresh yeast, or 1¼ teaspoon (6¼ ml/4 gm) of dry-active yeast (about ½ sachet)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) warm water (less than 100°F/38°C)
1 teaspoon (5 ml/4½ gm) sugar
1 3/4 cups (225 gm/½ lb) of strong plain flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml/9 gm) sugar
1½ teaspoon (7½ ml/9 gm) salt
½ cup (120 ml/¼ pint) milk
2 tablespoons (30 ml) tasteless oil
½ cup (120 ml/1 stick/115 gm/¼ lb) chilled, unsalted butter
1 egg, for egg wash
1. Mix the yeast, warm water, and first teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl. Leave aside for the yeast and sugar to dissolve and the yeast to foam up a little.
2. Measure out the other ingredients
3. Heat the milk until tepid (either in the microwave or a saucepan), and dissolve in the salt and remaining sugar
4. Place the flour in a large bowl.
5. Add the oil, yeast mixture, and milk mixture to the flour
6. Mix all the ingredients together using the rubber spatula, just until all the flour is incorporated
7. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and let it rest a minute while you wash out the bowl
8. Knead the dough eight to ten times only. The best way is as Julia Child does it in the video (see below). It’s a little difficult to explain, but essentially involves smacking the dough on the counter (lots of fun if you are mad at someone) and removing it from the counter using the pastry scraper.
9. Place the dough back in the bowl, and place the bowl in the plastic bag
10. Leave the bowl at approximately 75°F/24°C for three hours, or until the dough has tripled in size.(Photo 3)
11. After the dough has tripled in size, remove it gently from the bowl, pulling it away from the sides of the bowl with your fingertips.
12. Place the dough on a lightly floured board or countertop, and use your hands to press it out into a rectangle about 8 by 12 inches (20cm by 30cm).
13. Fold the dough rectangle in three, like a letter (fold the top third down, and then the bottom third up)
14. Place the dough letter back in the bowl, and the bowl back in the plastic bag.
15. Leave the dough to rise for another 1.5 hours, or until it has doubled in size. This second rise can be done overnight in the fridge
16. Place the double-risen dough onto a plate and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place the plate in the fridge while you prepare the butter.
17. Once the dough has doubled, it’s time to incorporate the butter
18. Place the block of chilled butter on a chopping board.
19. Using the rolling pin, beat the butter down a little, till it is quite flat.
20. Use the heel of your hand to continue to spread the butter until it is smooth. You want the butter to stay cool, but spread easily.
21. Remove the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured board or counter. Let it rest for a minute or two.
22. Spread the dough using your hands into a rectangle about 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
23. Remove the butter from the board, and place it on the top half of the dough rectangle
24. Spread the butter all across the top two-thirds of the dough rectangle, but keep it ¼ inch (6 mm) across from all the edges.
25. Fold the top third of the dough down, and the bottom third of the dough up.
26. Turn the dough package 90 degrees, so that the top flap is to your right (like a book).
27. Roll out the dough package (gently, so you don’t push the butter out of the dough) until it is again about 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
28. Again, fold the top third down and the bottom third up.
29. Wrap the dough package in plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge for 2 hours.
30. After two hours have passed, take the dough out of the fridge and place it again on the lightly floured board or counter.
31. Tap the dough with the rolling pin, to deflate it a little
32. Let the dough rest for 8 to 10 minutes
33. Roll the dough package out till it is 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
34. Fold in three, as before
35. Turn 90 degrees, and roll out again to 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
36. Fold in three for the last time, wrap in plastic, and return the dough package to the fridge for two more hours (or overnight, with something heavy on top to stop it from rising)
37. It’s now time to cut the dough and shape the croissants
38. First, lightly butter your baking sheet so that it is ready
39. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest for ten minutes on the lightly floured board or counter
40. Roll the dough out into a 20 by 5 inch rectangle (51 cm by 12½ cm).
41. Cut the dough into two rectangles (each 10 by 5 inches (25½ cm by 12½ cm))
42. Place one of the rectangles in the fridge, to keep the butter cold
43. Roll the second rectangle out until it is 15 by 5 inches (38 cm by 12½ cm).
44. Cut the rectangle into three squares (each 5 by 5 inches (12½ cm by 12½ cm))
45. Place two of the squares in the fridge
46. The remaining square may have shrunk up a little bit in the meantime. Roll it out again till it is nearly square
47. Cut the square diagonally into two triangles.
48. Stretch the triangle out a little, so it is not a right-angle triangle, but more of an isosceles.
49. Starting at the wide end, roll the triangle up towards the point, and curve into a crescent shape.
50. Place the unbaked croissant on the baking sheet
51. Repeat the process with the remaining squares of dough, creating 12 croissants in total.
52. Leave the tray of croissants, covered lightly with plastic wrap, to rise for 1 hour
53. Preheat the oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.
54. Mix the egg with a teaspoon of water
55. Spread the egg wash across the tops of the croissants.
56. Put the croissants in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the tops are browned nicely
57. Take the croissants out of the oven, and place them on a rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Saffron scented Chocolate-Hazelnut Croissant

100g dark chocolate chopped
100g toasted Hazelnuts chopped
freshly grated nutmeg a pinch
At step 48, sprinkle the filling into the triangle and carefully roll-up and follow the steps.

Onion-Cheese-Smoked Sea Salt-Cracked Black Pepper Croissant
1 large Onion chopped
50g Mature Cheddar grated
Smoked Sea Salt as per taste
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
Method:At step 48, sprinkle the filling into the triangle and carefully roll-up and follow the steps.


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

FBC Part 2

The Video recipe challenge with the gorgeous Anjum Anand & 2 lucky winners soon began. She demonstrated how to make her  courgette carpaccio served with a lovely chickpea salsa which she prepared using Cuisinart’s Hand Blender and Griddle and Grill & the also creamy summery Indian dessert Shrikhand. We enjoyed all the craze surrounding her station but Anjum had to rush back home, as it was a festive  day (RakshaBandhan) back home for her.
Next day I loved Jaden's (Build a Career in Food Blogging; Diversify, Brand & Monetize) session & the lovely Caroline MiLi Artiss made Black Olive Tapenade while we enjoyed brunch. Do check out the foodies enjoying their food pics!
  Simone from JungleFrog @PhotoWorkshop
Food Photography and Styling Workshop with Beatrice Peltre of Tartine Gourmande

Gorgeous Anjum Anand showing us to make courgette carpaccio served with a chickpea salsa

Courgette Carpaccio served with a Chickpea Salsa
FoodBloggers do Eat & Enjoy their food - Proof:1
FoodBloggers do Eat & Enjoy their food - Proof:2
FoodBloggers do Eat & Enjoy their food - Proof:3
FoodBloggers do Eat & Enjoy their food - Proof:4
Black Olive Tapenade in the making.
Caroline MiLi Artiss makes Tapenade with an Asian Twist.

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