Saturday, August 5, 2017

Tea / Coffee and Breakfast Station


Freshly brewed coffee or tea, quick handy breakfast, snacks, treats, in the serenity of your own home, creating a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere for both you and near and dears is indeed the best space you will love in your house. Trust me on that.. 😊 I have been loving mine! 😊




How do you go about setting up one at home? Here are few Ideas and Tips you might want to consider as a guideline.


1.      Choose a suitable Space and Theme : 

Choose a space that's convenient and functional. Make sure you have easy access to water with a water dispenser or a sink nearby. Go by a colour theme of your choice. Do a little research for inspirations and ideas from magazines or Pinterest. Stroll through your favourite stores and do a little planning before you eventually make any major investments. Outline a design and make a list of things you may already have in hand and another list of things you might consider buying. Also make sure you find place for your waste that's well kept.



 2.      Start with a Sturdy Base : 

Choose a sturdy and strong Base. You could either have a mini kitchen cabinet with an overhead as well, set exclusively for your counter or any sturdy table would serve your purpose well.


 3.      Containers and Jars : 

Containers and Jars would serve as storage, as well as enhance the overall look of your bar. So make sure you go by a uniform colour / material theme.

4.      Organizers : 

Organizing is the key to having a functional and easy to access breakfast bar. Make sure it's simple and neat and everything contained is visible. Group like items together and store in an appealing manner. Use storage bins and baskets to store and neatly organize miscellaneous snack packets and items together. You could even label the baskets if required.    


5.      Mugs and Canisters : 
Mugs / cups / jars / travel mugs / cereal bowls / spoons etc are the must haves of your breakfast bar. Make sure you choose it aesthetically. 

6.      Tea and Coffee : 
Stock your favourite tea / coffee collections. Stock your regular brands and buy occasionally used brands only when a batch finishes. Be aware of what you stock up. You don't want to clutter your space with things you end up never using. You could also add Cocoa powder, Cinnamon / Cardamom powder, honey or sweeteners of your choice etc. to your collection. 


7.      Fruits / Cereals / Nuts / Seeds : 
What completes the Breakfast bar, is having a one stop access to everything you might require for a quick breakfast / snacking  or refreshment. That includes fruits, your family's favourite cereals, Nuts and Dried fruits, snack bars, oats, healthy seeds, spices, etc. It's all up to you to personalize the choices according to the eating habits of your family and you.

 8.      Appliances : 

You know best of what you require. Keep it minimal though. If you are a coffee lover, a basic drip maker or a pump espresso machine would be something you would fancy. Or, you could keep it simple with either a coffee machine or a simple kettle would do great too.


9.      Utility Decor : 
Adding a few mood awakening fresh or artificial flowers, mugs with cute / fulfilled quotes, a frame with inspiring quotes, Or even a chalk board painted wall etc. could enhance your space with an alluring and heart-warming feel. Make it the inspiring, and relaxing space in your home, which will instantly boost you with zest and energy. A recharging spot.. :)  


Take a chance to express your taste & style. Put a little thought into it, making it one of the most beautiful spots in your home, where both your health and mental tranquility is taken good care of..  


Happy tea / coffee drinking to all tea and coffee lovers.. 😊



Sunday, December 18, 2016

Vanilla Cheesecake

with Strawberry and Blueberry Compote  
 My version



From what I've read, I understand that Cheesecake is a dessert with an ancient Greek origin. Then the Romans and the French too began making the cheesecake! Slowly the dessert spread all across Europe to countries like United Kingdom, Ireland, Bulgaria, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands, Poland, Belgium.. Then, over to the United States, the South American subcontinent, Japan  and finally over to Asia as well! 
Don't really know.. :) But, that explains the variety of styles in which it is made worldwide!

I have eaten cheesecakes from different places, and honestly, I haven't been a fan of it! But, like how I started loving Gajar ka Halwa after coming up with my own recipe, so does history repeat in the case of Cheesecake too! ;) Yes! If you too haven't liked cheesecake! Trust me, you will Love this one!!! I wouldn't put up this recipe otherwise!

Well, Cheesecake is originally made with eggs, cheese, sugar etc and is baked. Here, I am making the modern version, which is eggless and is refrigerated, not baked. Though Cheesecake sounds like cake, it's nothing like a cake, nor is it a torte, nor a pudding, nor a custard.. Cheesecake, is CHEESECAKE! ;) with a crusted base; melt in the mouth, soft, creamy, cheesy filling and a sweet, flavourful and pungent topping all scooped together to create this mouth-watering heavenly treat! MMMmmm... As I write this, I couldn't resist the temptation of indulging in some out of my fridge! ;) Trust me! You ought to try this one!! :)

This post, is specially dedicated to my sister :) It was her birthday the day before, and she has been after me for a while now, for her favourite cheesecake. Happy Birthday Sweetheart! :)

Well, I guarantee the best results, only if you follow me exactly! No compromises on the ingredients and no substitutes please! So, let's start! :)

Ingredients :









For the Crust :




Digestive Biscuits
-

180g approximately (12 nos.)

Unsalted butter
-

60g

Sugar
-

1 tablespoon






For the Cream Filling :




Double Cream (Preferably full fat)
-

250ml

Cream cheese (Philadelphia)
-

300g

Icing sugar
-

60g

Vanilla essence
-

1 tablespoon

Lemon juice
-

1 tablespoon






For the Compote :




Strawberry
-

6 large

Blueberry
-

Roughly 1 cup

Sugar
-

1/2 cup

Vanilla essence
-

1 tablespoon

Mixed berry juice
-

1/2 cup






Preparation Method :

We will need a 20 cm spring fold pan. Other pans won't work for this, unless you are making it in individual cups or something.


Line the base with wax paper. You could line the sides too. But, I am a little impatient. ;)


For the Crust :
In a food processor, throw in the Digestive biscuits. Why 'Digestive Biscuits'? Well, It's made of wheat, is semi-sweet and does not powder like other biscuits. We need a sandy texture! No compromise! Add 60 grams of unsalted butter. If it's winter, you could thaw the butter for a while. If not, you could use it straight out of the fridge. But, please do not melt!


Add a tablespoon of caster sugar and blitz until all the biscuits are crumbed and the butter and sugar are combined well into a sandy textured mixture. If you do not have a food processor, you could also place the biscuits in zip lock plastic bag and beat it well with something heavy and then mix it well with the softened butter and sugar. The point is, we do not want the biscuit to powder. Remember, sandy texture!


Spread that evenly onto the base, pressing down firmly with your fingers or however you would want to.


Make sure you press it down well. We do not want a loose and feeble crust. Then, place it into the refrigerator to firm.


For the Cream Filling :
Meanwhile, whip up 250ml of Double Cream. I only got the light one at the store! MISTAKE! Don't do that! You will end up with a frail filling which will be difficult to slice. :(  


Whip that into a fine cream. If you are whipping it with an eggbeater, make sure you do not beat it on high. It could curdle. You need to be really patient. Again, if it's summer, make sure you refrigerate the cream while you get the cheese ready.


In a bowl empty the Cream Cheese. Philadelphia Cream Cheese has become one of the most commonly used cheese to make cheesecake. It is a form of pasteurized cream cheese. I haven't tried Cheesecake with any other cheese, so I do not know.  Again, if its winter, it would be better to bring the cheese down to room temperature. I am working with it straight out of the refrigerator. Break it down.


Add the Vanilla essence. If you have the vanilla bean, you could use that instead. Then add the icing sugar. Please do not use the regular sugar. Give a quick mix.


Then squeeze in approximately 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and mix everything into a fine cream.


Add this mixture into the whipped cream and fold in gently. Yes! Really gently. Dollop that onto the chilled crust, and spread evenly. 


Give the pan a couple of gentle dabs to release any air in between and spread the filling evenly with a spatula.


Cover that with a cling wrap and chill for 3-4 hours.


For the Compote :
If you are using frozen strawberries, defrost them in a microwave for 2 minutes. If you are using fresh strawberries, microwave the fruit for a minute and then mash them with a fork, to that add the raspberry. If you are using frozen raspberry, make sure you defrost them in the microwave. I'll tell you why!


Next, in a dry sauce pan, add the sugar and heat on high. When the sugar starts to melt, bring down the heat and wait till the sugar melts down completely and begins to turn light brown.   


Do not touch that with a spoon or spatula. Quickly add the berries. Now, why I said 'microwave   the fruits', was because, if you don't, the sugar will crystallize when the cold fruit is added and that could ruin the compote.



Once that begins to bubble and melt into the caramel, add the vanilla essence. Then add the mixed berry juice. and swirl the pan well and continue to cook on low heat for 4-5 minutes or until the caramel has completely dissolved and has formed a thick syrup. How beautiful does that look! :)


Set this aside to cool. To check if this has got to the right consistency, touch it with your finger and wait for couple of seconds. It should neither be watery nor crystallize. Should be of a sticky consistency.  Beware! This Compote tastes awesome! ;) You need this for the topping :) so make sure neither you nor anyone in your house licks and finishes this up! ;) Once this cools completely spoon this gently over the filling and spread evenly.


Now, how awesome does that look! :) :) :) BUT! Be patient! It's not time yet, If you want the most awesome cheesecake ever, refrigerate this for a whole day! :) Trust me, a whole day really counts!


Before serving this, slowly loosen up the cheesecake around the edges with a knife holding it firmly against the wall of the pan and gently release.


Voilà!!! Here we are! With the perfect CHEESECAKE! :) 
Believe me guys! This gets better day after day! The more patient you are, the more you could relish this fabulous dessert! :) Enjoy!


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Mixed Fried Rice

Stir-fried vegetable, egg, chicken, shrimps and rice.    
My Version


I am totally clueless if I am asked about the origin of Fried Rice. All I know is that I loveee it ;) and it is a very common Asian stir-fry usually made with left over steamed rice and anything and everything lurking in the back of your fridge, in a large hot wok. Of course, every region has its own variations in the preparation, but, basically it's an extremely simple dish which needs no exact ingredients or even measures and just about anything can go into a fried rice.
Usually cold, leftover cooked or steamed rice is used in making fried rice. That is, rice left in the fridge overnight. But, I often make fried rice with freshly cooked rice. If you get it right, then it won't turn mushy. Otherwise there are chances that you could end up with a really sticky and mushy rice. Let's hope that won't happen when you follow me.. ;)
You will need medium to long grained rice to make fried rice. Do not use short rice or sushi rice. I usually use medium grain Thai jasmine rice or basmati rice.

A large wok is ideal for making fried rice, but, you could also make it in a big pan or skillet if you do not have a wok. If you are cooking a large quantity, then it's ideal to cook each ingredient individually and finally bring them all together before the final mixing. I prefer a non-stick wok, to minimize the use of oil.

Ingredients :









Thai jasmine rice or Basmati rice
-

2 cups

Oil (Olive, sesame seed or peanut oil)
-

As required

Shallots (Spring onion)
-

2 small stems

Garlic
-

3-4 nos.

Celery
-

1 long stem

Green chili (Optional)
-

As required

Fresh eggs
-

3-4 nos.

Chicken (Optional) (finely diced)
-

1 cup

Shrimp (Optional) (Shelled and cleaned)
-

1/2 cup

Mixed vegetables (Fresh or Frozen)
I have used Carrot, Beans and Cabbage
-

As preferred or
1/2 cup each

Black pepper
-

As required

White pepper
-

As required

Soya sauce
-

As required

Salt
-

To taste


Preparation Method :

Rinse and Strain the rice.
Boil 5 cups of water and then add the rice to it and cook until rice is almost 80% cooked.


Strain the rice and quickly rinse with cold water and leave the rice to completely strain and dry. The rice should completely cool, so make the rice in advance. If you use rice that's still hot, you could end up with a sticky and mushy fried rice. Never take chances! Make sure you fluff the rice to break down clumps, if any.

Make sure all your vegetables, chicken and other ingredients are ready, 'coz fried rice is basically a game of stir fry and mixing.


Preheat the wok on high heat. Swirl in some oil. Make sure your oil is really hot. Into it add the eggs. Once the sides start bubbling, gently scramble the eggs. Season with some salt and pepper.


Make sure you do not overcook the eggs. It will become too dry. Remove it as soon as it's almost done and a little soggy.


Swirl in some more oil. Then add the chicken and season it with some salt and pepper and drizzle some soy sauce over it. We need regular soy sauce. Not the thick nor the thin one.


Once the chicken is half cooked, add the shrimps. If you do not want shrimps, you could skip it and continue cooking the chicken. Do not cook it too much. An almost 95% is apt. Allow it to retain a little moisture or it will turn rubbery and dry. Remove from the wok.


Again, Swirl the wok with some oil. Add the chopped chili and crushed garlic. Chili is optional, only if you prefer spicy fried rice.


Then quickly add the celery. Celery is usually not a common ingredient used in fried rice. But, I have noticed that it gives the fried rice a very special flavour. Try it.. :) That reminds me to mention about  Mono sodium glutamate (MSG), usually know by its brand name, Ajinomoto.  It is a sodium salt of  naturally occurring glutamic acid said to be a taste/ flavour enhancer and is used by many restaurants, especially the Indian-Chinese restaurants. There have been numerous debates and arguments about the health effects of this MSG. Well, I am in for no arguments! ;) Therefore I am avoiding any controversial ingredients from my cooking :) Let's try celery instead and see if it substitutes taste enhancers.. :D

Then, add the vegetables. You could also use frozen veggies. Make sure you quickly rinse it under tap water and strain off the water completely before adding.


Quickly season with salt. Salt helps retain the colour of the vegetables and helps give the fried rice a beautiful colour. :)


Season with crushed pepper and drizzle on some soya sauce. Make sure your flame is on high and you and stirring and tossing the veggies to evenly cook them. I like my veggies crunchy and fresh, so I prefer not cooking them for too long.


Once the veggies are almost as how u want them, add the already scrambled eggs, stir fried chicken and prawns. You could also choose to skip this process for a vegetable fried rice.


The Next important ingredient that adds that last touch of flavour to the fried rice is white pepper. White pepper is basically skinned black pepper. But, the flavour is very different from normal black pepper powder. Give a quick stir and bring down the heat now.


Then gently add the cooked rice. You can see how each grain is separate. There aren't any lumps and the rice is firm to work on. That's exactly how we want it. Pour in some soy sauce on the rice.


Then, stir everything swiftly but gently in the wok slowly raising the heat. Stir well enough so that the rice mixes well with the other ingredients and continue doing it for 3-4 minutes on high heat. Taste a bit at this stage to see if you require any more seasoning. Your rice would be a bit under-cooked now, you needn't worry.  That's exactly how you need it to be. Just turn off the flame and cover with a tight lid and leave the rice to cook for 5-10 minutes. The rice and the other ingredients will cook well through in that heat and the rice will absorb all the flavours into it.


Open the lid just before serving and fluff up the rice. Sprinkle on some chopped spring onion. You could use the green part and the white part as well. Give the rice one quick final toss and it's ready to serve.

Garnish with some more chopped spring onion.


Serves 5-6 people. Who are moderate eaters of course ;)
Enjoy :)