27 March 2012

Easter Hunny


'Shining Star' by Nneka

This song could be the one. 
 Nneka is on every morning before I leave for work, and if my head is feeling up to the bass, possibly even before I go to bed. It's definitely the song that will remind me of how surreal this year is folding out. That's where music is similar to food, they both sit with you or can take you back to a moment in your past, that reminds you of how things used to be.

These few weeks have been like a walnut whip of a craziness. Yes I have been cooking and by the looks of it, blogging less and less. This doesn't mean I have forgotten about this beautiful hunky green page of food and music, basically I haven't had enough time to sit down and type. I've been experimenting with spices, perfecting my seasoning, and crushing almost everything with my pestle and mortar. To be honest I have been so focused on a certain project, my mind won't let me wander elsewhere. By the end of this week my crazy blogging behaviour will be back, and I will have a few poptastic creations I want to share with you.

The cakes looks scrummy don't they? I hosted a very yellow Easter party for a group of little girls, and their little eyes grew very big once they saw these! A fun cake case, filled with a simple vanilla sponge, covered in Nutella, sprinkles and a mini egg. Simple yet effective. Take note: if applying Nutella as a topping, make sure you have some wipes nearby for the kids.Personally butter cream is over rated, I would rather eat a cake covered in icing or chocolate and have a mouthful of butter on a hot cross bun. 

Tips for organising an Easter egg hunt party:

1. Invest in a lot of mini eggs and hot cross buns, check for deals in supermarkets.
2. Make everything egg shaped or themed. The sandwiches at this party were even egg shaped (using cookie cutter). Boiled eggs were also on the menu!
3. Maybe try crumbling up a Flake chocolate bar and create a 'nest' effect.
4. Boil a few extra eggs so the kids can paint, this depends on their age. Or print out egg pictures and the kids can colour and decorate them.
5. Bake cupcakes night before and decorate on the day, trust me you will save a lot of time.
6. Get everyone to wear a yellow item of clothing. My neon yellow dress lit up most of the day, as well as being an extra light whilst cycling home in the evening.
7. Hide eggs well, kids these days are extremely clever.




*Nestle claim that a Walnut Whip is eaten almost every two minutes in the U.K. That my friends is a scary statement. 

22 March 2012

Adidas Original Biscuits


Once I saw these on ebay, I turned into a little princess. I had to get them, the bidding turned out of control, and after paying an arm and a leg, I finally got this little box of treasure back to the house. How cute are they!? Imagining the possibilities with these cutters blew my mind! One of my favourite brands combined with food, it's like a dream. You can see how original I get with these, as there will be a whole category on the blog dedicated to how I use them.




'Original Album Classics' By RUN-DMC

I couldn't think of a better album to fit these funky, fresh biscuits.


Biscuits. Oh yes, a buttery and crumbly texture is what I need with a good cup of chai. There's nothing like dipping the biscuit in for less than a minute then catching it in your mouth, before it disintegrates in your mug. That's the beauty of the biscuit - right there. My all time favourite is the digestive, it's wholesome flavour would bless my chai. It got so bad my mum said I was only allowed two for every mug! The digestive dipping also got to a point when I forgot to actually drink the chai, because there was so many smashed digestives at the bottom of the mug, and a teaspoon was used to scoop up the biscuit tea porridge: loved that.


Let me inform you that Adidas originals is a brand which will always have a place in my wardrobe. Walking into one of their stores is incredibly dangerous, its similar to when I smell fresh bread, the senses heighten and I feel a rush of adrenalin that can only be calmed after exhausting the credit card.

The biscuit above is not a digestive but a Breton butter biscuit which I also adore, and one of my favourite biscuit recipe's to work with. Holding an original cutter in the palm of my hand, I knew I had to step up a level with my creativity.


▶ Recipe for 20 - 50 biscuits (depending on the size of cookie cutter)


Ingredients:


375g plain flour (13oz)
200g soft butter (70z)
150g caster sugar (5oz)
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract


Method:


: Rub the butter in with the flour and sugar, until it resembles breadcrumbs.
: Pour in the vanilla extract and egg.
: Tip the whole bowl upside down on a clean work surface, and work both hands into the dough. When you have formed a soft ball, then it's done.
: Cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
: Preheat oven to 170°c.
: Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough (about 4mm thick) with a baker's rolling pin.
: Press down firmly with the cutter and place each biscuit about 2cm apart on a lined baking tray.
: Bake for 20 minutes. Making sure they are not too brown, otherwise they will be rock hard. Look for a golden colour.
: Peel off carefully and place on a cooling rack.
: Once completely cold, then they are ready to decorate.

DONE!

You would never have guessed...


Adi Dassler's was trained as baker as well as a cobbler, but instead turned his kneading power to be the founder of the German sportswear company 'Adidas', this started by making his own sports shoes in his mums laundry room. Imagine if he focused on baking, the food world would be flipped over as fast as a hot pancake.
Adi had a brother called Rudolf and unfortunately thanks to Adolf Hitler, both brothers went their separate ways and Rudolf created PUMA. Adi continued to make shoes and supply them to major sporting events, changing the brand name so it was similar to his. Might give that a go with my own name. 

Would like to say a big thank you to Callum for making me aware of these retro cutters. Definitely biscuits, macaroons or even original sandwiches coming your way.x

Favourite Song:

ê 'My Adidas' By RUN-DMC


This time last year:




17 March 2012

Mother's Day Cake

An exotic fruit cake that should be on a pedestal, embroidered with royal pink icing, gold and colourful chocolate beans.



'Spice' by The Spice Girls

This album reminds me of the times my mum would encourage me to stay in: but I never listened and hopped on my bike to discover new shops, to spend all my pocket money. Some things haven't changed! Now you could probably find this album tucked away in a charity shop, because The Saturdays and Little Mix are the new flavours in the teen world. The only song that will put the icing on the cake this mothering Sunday is 'Mama'. I secretly wanted to be Ginger Spice! The dress Geri Halliwell wore at the 1997 BRIT Awards, started my obsession with the union jack - that to this day hasn't expired. 

Mother is an avid fan of the following:

Almond Chocolate
Flower gardens
Shopping for sari's
A good cup of chai
Swarovski Crystal
Fresh and dried fish
Fudge
Babycham
Fruit
Brandy

Putting everything mum loves in a cake would be ideal, unfortunately fish and a pink sari won't digest! From all the above the outcome was fruit cake laced in brandy, glazed cherries, almond essence and the seeds from a cardamom. A glorious combination of flavours that work hand in hand, just like mother and daughter.

This is how it looked when I carved out the heart:



After nibbling on the bits that didn't make the cut, I have to say the cardamom seeds gave the cake a gorgeous kick. 

I have a feeling her heart will melt once seeing and eating this.

Enjoy your weekend.x

This time last year:

16 March 2012

Banana Oat Flapjacks



'Language. Sex. Violence. Other?' By Stereophonics

Every time 'Dakota' plays, it's like I have just sat in a time machine and been transported to 2005, when life had a careless feel, and the student loan let me buy organic foods and boxing boots. That's when I cooked loads of savoury dishes, ate at Nando's and was a bit anally retentive about my food cupboard!  Now I have a three big lovely cupboards, stocked to the brim with canned pulses and ketchup.  
When I wanted to make banana bread, there was no sign of flour! Instead I grabbed a packet of organic oats, bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar. When you happen to buy a bunch of cheap and cheerful ripe bananas, try this recipe.

 ▶ Makes 16 big chunky oaty slabs.

Ingredients:

220g organic oats
220g caster sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp cinnamon
450g mashed bananas
4 tbsp soya milk
4 large egg whites

You will need:

Large, deep brownie baking tray 36cm x 25cm (or roasting dish)
Greaseproof paper
250g dark chocolate to decorate.

Method:

Preheat oven to 180°c.
: Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
: In a second bowl mix the wet ingredients.
: Mix altogether and pour in the tin.
: Bake for 40 minutes.
: Once out the oven, put chunks of chocolate on top and put back in the oven for 2 minutes.
: Then take tray out and spread the chocolate evenly.
: Cut up once cold.

DONE!

They have the taste of a flapjack but will make you feel less guilty!

This time last year:

15 March 2012

Chili Scotch Eggs


'Rocky Balboa, The Best of Rocky' By Various Artists

Ever had that feeling when your whole body aches after a hardcore session of exercise?That's me right about now, and all I wanted was a bit of protein to nibble on after. My first boxing class was like entering the film set of 'Rocky', I was thrown a skipping rope and for the remaining hour and a half worked out like a machine! That's why I had to play this album while cooking!
While strolling extra slow in the supermarket, I picked up a packet of scotch eggs and stared at them for an unusual amount of time: not excited by them at all.
The picture above are duck eggs, encased in a chili and coriander crust. Hold on there's more: the sausage meat has been injected with chili, coriander, cumin and cinnamon. Spices I have researched, and know they work tremendously well together. The only tricky aspect of making these is how you have to mould the meat round the egg, messy stuff! 

Recipe for 4 large duck eggs or 8 medium hen eggs:

Ingredients:

500g sausage meat (6 pork sausages with skin off)
4 duck eggs or 8 medium hen eggs ( at least 5 days old, and been out the fridge for a few hours)*
1 tsp cayenne chilli powder
1 tsp ground coriander powder
1 tsp ground cumin powder
1tsp ground cinnamon powder
Chopped fresh coriander (small handful)
Salt 
Black pepper
1 egg beaten
Milk
Plain flour
Chili and coriander crust (or plain breadcrumbs)
Vegetable oil for deep frying

You will need:

Small bowl for the plain flour (season with lots of black pepper).
Another bowl with 1 beaten egg, and a splash of milk.
A plate for the breadcrumbs.

Method:

Add all the powders, pinch of salt, pepper and coriander to the sausage meat, mix with a metal spoon. Form patties using your hands. Then cover with cling film and keep in the fridge.
: Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the eggs. For hard boiled, duck eggs take 10 minutes and hen eggs take 5. Once done put in a bowl full of very cold water.
: Prepare the bowls and plates with the covering, this way you are organised and can do each egg in a systematic way.
: Preheat oven to 180°c.
Peel the eggs.
: Heat a pot of vegetable oil, about 500ml. Making sure it's enough to cover the eggs.
: Take the meat out the fridge.
: Roll one egg in the bowl of flour, shaking off any excess.
: Cup your hand and flatten each pattie into a circle, put the egg in the middle.
: With your other hand slowly cover the egg with the meat, taking care not to squeeze or leave any holes. Roll it around in both hands.
: Dip this into the flour again, then the egg and finally roll in the breadcrumbs.
: Put to one side while you sort out the others.
: Fry 2 at a time for 5 minutes, once they are getting dark, place carefully on a baking tray, and into the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Take out and place on kitchen paper, eat hot or cold with a mint raita. 
I think one of the worries many people could have, is whether the meat has been cooked through. Maybe try rolling the meat into a small ball and frying that first to see how long it will take, that's what I did. Make sure the oil is super hot by dropping a breadcrumb in first, or use a deep fat fryer. Baking them after adds more of the crunch, and ensures they have been cooked through.

DONE!

*If you use very fresh eggs, they will be a nightmare to peel.

This time last year:

Favourite Song:

ê 'Eye Of The Tiger' By Survivor

12 March 2012

Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken) PIES


♬ 'Little Bit Of Luck' By DJ Luck and MC Neat.

If this track doesn't get you cooking and moving, you might need to put the volume a bit higher.


Butter chicken in a pie? Oh yes,  I've taken another step out of my comfort zone and mixed a curry in a pie. There was a bit of cheating involved, I used ready to roll short crust pastry. Next time, when time is on my side, my hands will get all floured up and make pastry. When in a hurry and friends are an hour away, the convenience of packaged pastry could save your meal!
After the chapati lid on the vegetable curry pie, I wanted to experiment a bit more and the thickness of this sauce works well in a pie, combined with a few sweet potato wedges and seasonal greens (they were boiling while photo shoot was occurring!).

Recipe for 4 mini butter chicken pies:

500g boneless chicken thighs (about 3-4)
Ready to roll shortcrust pastry

Marinade for chicken:

200ml natural yoghurt
Lemon juice
2 tsp mild chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric

Sauce:

70g butter
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp ground clove powder
1 tsp hot chilli powder
1 tsp ground coriander powder
1tsp ground cumin powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
Sea salt
Pepper
1 tbsp tomato puree
Fresh coriander to add at the end.

You will need:

6 hole, large non stick muffin tin.
Mortar and pestle.

Method:

: In a large bowl, cut the thighs into small chunks and add all the spices for the marinade.
: With your hands, start to rub everything in, then lastly pour in the yoghurt and stir until the chicken looks pale orange.
: Store in the fridge for a minimum of two hours.
: Once you are ready to make the pies, preheat oven to 200°c (180°c for fan assisted ovens).
: Put the fenugreek seeds in the mortar and crush with pestle, then add the powders and grind all of these too. Crushing these seeds will be tough, I just wanted to crush them so they release more flavour, so do the best you can. 
: On a low heat in a large pot, add the butter and when this starts to melt and sizzle, tip in all the spices you have just crushed. Fry for one minute until it smells fragrant, frying spices this way is very important; as it can break down and create flavours and smells you never imagined! Fenugreek is known to be bitter, but by frying or roasting it, a caramel like aroma fill your kitchen: trust me, I'm an experimental flavour queen!
: Next squeeze in the tomato puree and stir with the spices. Then add the chicken mixture and stir once. The colour should go a deep red, this is from the concentrated puree and dark fried spices.
: Cook until the chicken is tender (about 30 minutes).
: Meanwhile roll out the pastry and cut out circles that are an inch bigger than the muffin holes, the lids will need to be this size too.
: Carefully place the pastry in the holes, making sure there is efficient space for the filling, and enough pastry on the outside to press down the lid.
: Fill each pie with a two tablespoons of chicken curry, and pinch each lid on the pie. Make sure there are no holes. There is an option to brush the pastry with egg, personally for this recipe, don't waste an egg. If you press and pinch effectively, the pie should be fine! Poke a few holes at the top.
: Bake for 20 minutes, until pastry is golden brown.
: Serve with sweet potato wedges, mash and more vegetables.

DONE!

The verdict?!

INCREDIBLE.
Pie hats off to me please!

This time last year:


7 March 2012

Raspberry and Chocolate Chili Cake

♬ 'The Blueprint 3' By Jay Z

Totally obsessed with one track in particular at the moment, as I am still having withdrawal symptoms from India. Hayley (lovely friend who loves music, animals and pilates), planted the idea of visiting the big apple. She said, 'Mita lets go and live in New York while we can, because soon we could be tied down and going nowhere!' The girl's got a point, and when she came round yesterday I made her cake and pie.

Behold the mammoth chocolate and chilli cake, with a layer of double cream and raspberry and chili puree.



Chocolate and spice work, so does chocolate and raspberry. By combining fresh chili and raspberry was a brave move, but the result was worth it. Don't be scared to try new combinations out, why only experiment when eating out, when you can try it at home and impress yourself and others.




What makes this cake rather exquisite is the subtle chili kick. I purchased the dried chillies and other spices from a special market in Navsari, Gujarat. 
Check out how excited I got:



After the video, I spoke briefly to the girl who was sat down. She was only 15 and she had to do that everyday to every single chili. At that point I felt really lucky to be where I am, and knew not to moan about my job!  

There were a few boys running this machine below to grind the spices, no safety goggles or protective clothing. I stood quite far back!


Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

200g self raising flour (approx 7.05 oz)
200g brown sugar (7.05 oz)
200g butter (7.05oz)
100g cocoa powder (3.52 oz)
4 medium eggs
1 tsp chilli powder 
7 large dried chillies (don't worry the sharpness of the raspberry helps this out, it's not as spicy as you think)
100g raspberry jam (3.38 fl oz)
200ml double cream (6.76 fl oz)
Fresh raspberries to decorate.

Chocolate fudge covering:
250g dark chocolate (8.81 oz)
70g butter (2.46 oz)
250ml double cream (8.45 fl oz)

You will need:
Two 20cm sandwich cake tins and greaseproof paper.

Method:

Preheat oven to 180°c.
: Whisk the sugar and butter until fluffy.
: Add the eggs one at a time, then sieve in the flour and cocoa powder.
: Time for the chilli powder! Strictly stick to one teaspoon, the flavours in this cake have to be balanced.
: Pour batter into two sandwich tins which have been lined with greaseproof paper.
: Bake for half an hour, until well risen and they spring back once touched.
: Meanwhile make the fudge by putting all the ingredients in a bowl above boiling water. Once melted keep to one side to completely cool, then whisk until thick and fluffy.
: The compote is made by heating up the jam on a low heat with the dried chillies (picture down below), for half an hour. This means once your cake is done, so is the compote. 



: Sieve the compote to extract the puree.  
: Once the cakes are out, let them cool. Actually let everything cool down, take a breather and dance to your favourite track.
: Now you can assemble the cake by whipping the double cream, and spreading it on thickly on the bottom layer, then slowly pour the puree in the centre and close to the sides. The cream is thick enough to make sure the puree won't drizzle off the edge. 
: Decorate the second cake before placing it on top, this way you will have more control with the fudge. It's up to you which way you prefer.
: Carefully place on top, and stand back to admire the beauty.

DONE!




Favourite Song:


ê 'Empire State Of Mind' By Jay-Z and Alicia Keys

This time last year:


5 March 2012

The Full Indian


'My Love Is Your Love' By Whitney Houston

My face dropped when I received a text from a friend about the death of Whitney. Her voice will still be heard in my kitchen.

After my run to Dandi beach, I would drink a cup of tea and struggle what to eat after. I asked Parvati (one of the cooks) what her family have for breakfast, I was then happy to try the tradition. A typical breakfast in the village was mostly a rotlo (made from millet flour) and last night's curry. People there do not have the luxury to buy coffee, have a toaster or buy cereal. When I told Parvati what I normally have for breakfast, she told me all of it sounded expensive and I should finish food from the night before to avoid waste.



This my friends is the full Indian breakfast.
On the thali is a cup of masala chai, one rotlo and two fillets of pan fried masala coated plaice. You might be thinking that fish is a strange choice first thing in the morning, I was sceptical at first but I tucked in and got my protein boost, which lasted me til the evening! Normally this is eaten at 11am, also a vegetable curry would be more appealing. I wish this was on a breakfast menu in London, I would love it!



Tikki puri to eat with masala chai. I consumed so many of these! 


I'm still trying to find out the correct spelling and ingredients of this dish, give me a few days. Does anyone know?

After a few mornings of eating the above, I missed eggs.  French toast came to my mind, so I tried this with a touch of chilli, garlic and ginger. I then made an onion, tomato and egg curry to eat with my rotlo. Those dishes were great, but something without spice as my first meal of the day was all I craved! The omelette craze started and every other morning I would cook everyone a big omelette, adding spinach and spring onions. No spice, fancy herbs or seeds involved, just a simple omelette. Sometimes simple is what works.

Recipe:

Ingredients:
Ghee
2 medium eggs
Pinch of sea salt
100ml milk
Small bunch of washed spinach
3 spring onions chopped finely

Method:

: Heat a drop of ghee in a small frying pan.
: Meanwhile whisk the eggs, salt and milk in a bowl.
: Pour the egg mixture in the frying pan, and turn the pan to the left and right to get all the mixture even and in a circle.
: Sprinkle the spring onion on one half, then lay the spinach leaves on top.
: After a few minutes, shake the frying pan to release the omelette to ensure it didn't stick.
: Using a fish slice, fold the other half on top of the spinach and spring onions.
: Press the omelette down with the fish slice, and leave for an extra minute. 
Serve with fresh tomatoes.

Done!

Favourite Song:


ê 'It's Not Right But It's Okay'

4 March 2012

Voyage To India


A statue of the inspiring Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, taking a handful of salt in 1930, which challenged the rule of the British in India. His determination, teachings and strong will ultimately won India its freedom on August 15th, 1947. 


♬ 'Our Version Of Events' By Emeli Sandé

I went, I saw and I ate a lot of Indian food. Once I got back into London, this was one of the first albums I had to listen to.

I was so inspired out in India, the smells, sounds, colours, and people made me feel alive, and gave me a big wake up call. People worked so hard in order to get food on the table. When I asked a local which one of her jobs she loves the most, or would like to pursue, she looked at me in a strange way. Her reply translated to this: 'Mita, it doesn't matter whether I love one job over the other, I do it because I have to work, if I don't work, who else will?’

There were two local ladies I grew to love and they were outstanding cooks. Night after night the menu was varied and the dishes tasted out of this world. Different types of organic produce would be carried on heads and arrive with a smile. We spent less than £3 a day on food to feed five adults. Here in England, organic produce is a treat on payday! Every night when I joined the cooks in the kitchen I was in my element. The sounds of a local wedding paired with the aroma of curry would light up my evening. Food and music even in India. 
No laptop and internet left me with a pad of paper, a pen, and a video camera; this way I recorded my experiences and gained more confidence in front of a camera.  

Over the next few days there will be posts and videos about what I saw, tried and tasted. 
Be warned, the blog is about to get very colourful, a pair of sunglasses might come handy.


Favourite Song:

ê'Next To Me'