Monday, 25 June 2012

Lemon Friands

Lemon thrills your taste buds. What better to drink on a hot summer day than a glass of ice-cold lemonade? The tanginess lingers in your mouth and refreshes you; mind and body. It easily compliments your sweet or savoury dishes and takes the dishes to a different level.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Chicken Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a 2007 computer animated comedy film in which the antagonist, Remy the Rat, aspires to be a cook, being inspired by a famous chef, Auguste Gusteau. He starts by helping Linguini, a hopeful chef in the making, and ultimately wins over France's top restaurant critic, Anton Ego's heart and soul by preparing for him a simple 'Ratatouille'.

And there begins my journey; my journey to find a recipe for ratatouille that will find its way into the hearts of my family, just as the movie.

Ratatouille is a traditional French stewed vegetable dish with tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, squash and bell pepper and is usually served as a side dish. There is much debate on how to make the traditional ratatouille; to sauté all the vegetables together in a pot (this is how Anto's mum cooks the dish in the cartoon) or to prepare the sauce with tomatoes, spices and herbs and later layer it with zucchini and eggplant in a baking dish and bake in the oven (this i guess is how Remy prepares the dish in the cartoon). This dish for the movie was designed by gourmet chef Thomas Keller and his dish later came to be known as confit byaldi.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Braised Beef in Wine with Potato and Celeriac Mash

Another inspiration from Masterchef 2012. Contestant Andy prepared braised beef cheeks with potato fondant and green beans for an elimination challenge two weeks back. I was so looking forward to Masterchef posting this recipe on their site; but they didn't. Guess it is a secret recipe and cannot be shared with the commoners. :(

So here I am, trying to make braised beef cheeks - only that neither my local supermarket nor my local butcher sells beef cheek. The next best option was boneless chuck beef which is commonly used for braising and I happily settled with it.

Bouquet Garni

The bouquet garni (French for 'garnished bouquet') is a bundle of herbs tied together with a string and mainly used to add flavour to soups, stocks, soups and casseroles. The bouquet is cooked with the other ingredients and removed before serving.
                                                          Bouquet Garni ready for cooking

There are differences in the variety of herbs used to make the bouquet garni. Our local supermarket sells this as a selection of Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme and Bay leaves.

Toffee Drops

I made these toffee drops to serve with cheesecakes. I boiled my first batch of sugar and water for too long that my toffees burnt and tasted bitter. I was more careful with my second batch. Happy with the result but there is definitely more room improvement.
                                                    Toffee drops served with cheesecake

If you are making toffees for the first time you may want to read through this.

110g caster sugar
60 ml water

1. Stir sugar and water in a medium, heavy-based saucepan until sugar dissolves. Heat mixture over medium heat and bring to boil. Continue to boil, without stirring, until golden. Remove from heat. Drizzle tablespoons of toffee, length ways, onto tray and allow to set. Use as required.

Cinnamon Mini Cheesecake with Roasted Strawberry Coulis

I am not a fan for cheesecakes. It is just too cheesy (wouldn't expect more, would you?). Nevertheless, I had to try my hands at Cheesecake; simply because my husband and kids love it.

This recipe is adapted from The Cookbook - My Kitchen Rules, made by Kelly and Ash, who were my favourites and hopefuls on My Kitchen Rules show (Aus 2011). A husband and wife, who simply made food that they loved to prepare and serve. Unfortunately, they had to leave half way through the show since Ash's eyesight suddenly started to deteriorate. I wonder where and how she is now. Hope that she is back in the kitchen with her eyesight fully restored, cooking and serving her lovely food to her family and friends.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Light and Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

Pancakes - reminds me of Pancake Parlour. The sweet and savoury assortment of pancakes and crepes they have in their menu is sure to convert anyone of us into a pancake lover. I refused to make pancakes from scratch at home for many years. I simply used the Pancake Parlour Pancake mix to make pancakes at home. And man! They were heavenly.

Joan's Rainbow Cake

I reckon that is the latest rave among Malayalees who love to bake. Everyone is coming up with their own version of this cake - closely inspired by the movie 'Salt N' Pepper'.
                                   Joan's Rainbow Cake - advertised by Sheen's Bakery,Kannur

Homemade Strawberry Jam

Who would have thought that making strawberry jams at home is sooooooo...... easy? You did? Well, I didn't. I remember my grandma making pineapple jam at home when I was little girl, which was such a lengthy and tiresome process that I never asked her for the recipe. My husband always raves about how his Mum and Aunt made jam at home when he was a boy but that too didn't kick me to look around for jam recipes.

So when Debra (Masterchef Aus Contestant 2012) prepared strawberry jam for their Devonshire tea Team Challenge, I was surprised. And my eyes popped out when she listed the ingredients - fresh strawberries and white sugar; nothing else. But she did, later in the show, mention about not having any setting agent like lemon juice, apple seeds or apple skins (oooh!! that is all information to me).

Curiosity got the better of me. I had to find out if this is true. And I had to make it at home to believe it!

Makes: 600 ml (approx.)

Prep Time : 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes + cooling time


Fresh strawberry - 500g, hulled, washed and drained
Caster Sugar - 250g
Lemon juice - 1 tbsp
Vanilla Extract - 1 tsp


 1. Place strawberries in a saucepan and stir through with sugar. Crush strawberries; just a little. Add lemon juice and vanilla extract and mix well.
2. Heat over low-heat and simmer gently until the sugar dissolves. Then turn up the heat to medium-high and boil the mixture for 10-15 minutes, stirring occassionally. Remove from heat and using a ladle scoop the foam off the top layer.
3. Let jam cool down to room temperature. Homemade Strawberry Jam is ready to use.

Wrinkle Test
Before removing jam from heat, how do we know for sure that the jam mixture has boiled enough for it to set? By doing the wrinkle test. This is how to do it.

When you think the jam may be ready, put a little dab of the hot stuff on a chilled saucer, and put it back in the freezer for one minute. Take your jam saucepan off the heat while you do this so it doesn’t cook down further. When the minute is up push at the blob with your fingertip. Do little wrinkles show on the surface? If so, it’s ready. If not, it needs to cook a bit more.

Note:- I want to add at this point that the amount of sugar required should be adjusted depending on the ripeness of the fruit. The strawberry I used in this recipe were not as sweet as the summer strawberries, yet I found the jam really sweet. 

What got me cooking? What got me blogging?

I love to read. I guess I was born to read. I could read for days together with no food and very little sleep. I love romance, mysteries, adventures. I could read them and then totally forget about the romance, the mystery and the adventure. But there is something in these books that captures me; that empowers me. The food - what they had for breakfast, what they had for lunch, what they had for dinner, what the children packed up for their picnic, what the ladies shared with their friends for afternoon tea, what the men drank after they ate and the list could go on. Foods that were known to me; foods that were unknown to me.

And my journey begins - to better the known, to find the unknown and then to try it out in my own kitchen; to share it with my family and sometimes, my friends. Now, I am no Masterchef, nor will I ever be or will ever want to be. The food I make is something my family will love and enjoy (though I shouldn't forget some of the nasty disasters I've had in the kitchen).