Shake your bisque, baby

Fried eggplant cappuccino 

I like soups. All kinds of them – thick and creamy, clear and runny, hot or cold.  But what I like even better, are soups that come in small sizes.

A fat, inviting bowl that ruins my appetite for main course, doesn’t go down well with me. Especially since most broths play with one or two core flavours, a bowlful of repeated exposure is not my idea of savouring soup.

What I personally favour are soup shots. Small cups of goodness that warm up the belly from inside and make way for good food to it fill it up.

The fried eggplant cappuccino is one such soup.

It works perfectly when served in small doses. You sip, indulge in its flavour, gulp and stop at that.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Melon-drama

Vanilla-scented goat cheese custard with fresh watermelon

I cannot think of a better way to beat heat than with a crunchy, cool slab of watermelon. While I spent last season guzzling down glasses of watermelon and mint nectar, the year before I was high on watermelon and cumin curry.  These days,  I have found a slightly more glamorous way to bring down the mercury.

The vanilla-scented goat cheese custard served with batons of fresh watermelon, is my take on the classic goat cheese and melon salad. I have always been amused by the way watermelon’s fresh juiciness gushes right into the exotic sour crumbliness of goat cheese. How effortlessly exotic.

Ingredients
Extract of 1 vanilla pod
50 gm goat cheese
10 ml milk
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
¼ cup chopped watermelon

Method
Simmer milk, sugar and vanilla extract for 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove from fire and let it cool.
In a blender, mix goat cheese with vanilla-scented milk and grind it into a fine puree.
Pour the mixture in greased ramekins and bake at 150 degree Celsius for 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and refrigerate it for 2 hours.
Top it with fresh watermelon pieces and serve.

Ice age

Lemon, mint and pepper sorbet

(Without icecream maker)                                                 

Summer has hit my city and I have to do something about it. While I am busy chasing  UV rays with heaps of sunscreen in another universe, on my blog I will do it with lots and lots of sorbet.

Sorbets remind me of a childhood treat known as ‘gola’. Sorbets charm me with their beautiful icy texture. Sorbets come in tangy flavours that make my lips pucker à la Jolie. And sorbets manage to rouse the most innocuous-seeming cavity. Lucky for my dentist.

Here is one for my afternoon hero. Continue reading

Cracker pot

Charcoal crackers topped with sumac spiced chickpeas and Turkish cacik

Gourmet food stores make my heart melt. The reaction at spotting one is similar to what shopaholics experience at the sight of the word ‘sale’. I rush inside and grab a whole lot of things I know nothing about.

At a recent trip, I bagged a box of charcoal crackers. The way dill crackers are laced with dill and chive with chives, these are flavoured with a small percentage of charcoal powder.

The salty, slim sheets are stark black in colour and have a carbony bite.  Their texture is similar to a pie shell – brittle and crumbly.

Though the crackers went miraculously well with blobs of brie, I couldn’t resist this little adventure. Continue reading

But naturally

Organic spinach and carrot flavoured fusilli with prune and lemongrass dressing

I’ve often imaged myself in knee high gumboots, wading through my personal vegetable patch, looking for the perfect piece of fresh tomato. I would someday like to dress up my salad with herbs that have been plucked from my own garden and roast crunchy carrots that have been unearthed minutes before they go into the oven.

Since I am far from ploughing my own patch, I often hit the weekly organic market where I can get my hands on locally grown vegetables and other goodies.

The whole idea of organic food fascinates me. Natural, unprocessed food that has not been through any drama has such a wholesome taste and texture. It manages to have a real taste that can never be found otherwise.

Recently, I visited an all-organic store in the neighbourhood city and got myself a packet of spinach and carrot flavoured pasta, among other things. Since the pasta had an obvious wheat flavour, I dressed it with a sweet and sour prune and lemongrass salad dressing.  Continue reading

Dumpling ground

Water chestnut, shitake and edamame dimsums with honey, garlic and chilli sauce

I’m not big on Asian food, but when I crave for certain textures and flavours, I happily give in. I believe that no cuisine does justice to the energy of lemon grass, the denseness of tofu, the woodiness of bamboo shoots and the peculiar bite of bean curd, like Asian.

One such ingredient that blends extremely well with Asian fare is water chestnut. Personally, I always end up popping them one by one, as if they were popcorn or something. The burst of sweet juice is so addictive.

Today, I stir fried them with two ingredients that I absolutely adore for their texture – edamame beans and shitake mushrooms. I stuffed them in dim sum wrappers and served it with a hot and sweet sauce.  Continue reading

Meet my roll model

Basil oil sprayed zucchini rolls stuffed with mint and pepper Greek yogurt


I have two rules when it comes to working with herbs. One is that I like to tear them roughly instead of chopping them up finely. I feel that this helps the flavours shine more brightly.

 And second, I avoid mixing more than two herbs unless my recipe absolutely demands it. What would a Thai green curry be if I had to choose between lemon grass and kafir lime leaves?

 Since most herbs have a strong flavour of their own, it would be unfair to cut it down with something equally strong. Today, while making a cold appetizer, I let go my rule number two and mixed together mint and basil. Since the recipe uses just one herb at a time and does not muddle them together, the sweetness of the basil and the coolness from mint came out just right. Continue reading

Over the top cooking

Steamed and stacked vegetables with leek and saffron sauce

Although I’m not a salad person, crunchy vegetables are my weakness. Whether I’m having pasta or a chunky soup, I’m always fishing for crunchy bits of carrots, artichokes, water chestnuts, French beans, broccoli or whatever it is, that has a noisy bite.

I respect recipes that manage to bring out the perfect balance of smoothness and crunchiness in one simple dish. Considering I spend hours looking for that flawlessly, crisp piece of bell pepper or aubergine, carefully puncturing all sides to ensure firmness, I better get to eat just that.

Today, I combined a few crunchy vegetables with a creamy sauce to make that balanced-out dish. Continue reading