March 31, 2011

A Very Vanilla One Bowl Yellow Cake And Announcing The Winners Of The Giveaway!


Isn’t it funny how the simplest things in life bring you the greatest pleasure, and the sometimes the best memories? The other day, I needed to make a cake to serve with evening coffee/ tea and was wondering what to make. The summer has set in and I wasn’t looking forward to spending too much time in the kitchen. For some strange reason it also struck me that I had been cooking for my family for close to 17 years!




All the women of my generation, in our immediate family on both sides, are working women with the exception of me. So at some point I guess it was natural that my daughter, then about 4 years old, suddenly woke up to the fact that her mother was the only one who stayed at home and didn’t go to the “office”. She wanted to know why I wasn’t doing the “normal” thing of going to work. The explanation that I was staying at home to spend time with her and look after her satisfied her.

She thought about all this for a while and then wanted to know if I got paid for the work I did at home. I can still remember her shocked look on her face when I told her that I didn’t get paid for doing the housework. She couldn’t believe that I did all the cooking and no one paid me to do it all. The way she looked at things then, grown-ups who worked got paid!

Being a very fair minded soul, which she is even today, she decided that my cooking (and I) was being totally unappreciated and found a solution immediately. Out of the generosity of her little heart, she told me that from that day onwards she would pay me 25 paise (think of it as 25 cents) out of her pocket money for every meal I cooked for her.

Yes, she used to get pocket money even then (all the coin change in our purses was hers), though she collected only shiny coins and kept giving us all the rupee notes which she considered “dirty pieces of paper”. It’s a different thing that I’m still reminding her of how much she owes from back then, but it’s a memory I shall cherish as long as I live.




Going back to the cake I wanted to make, I was looking for a simple recipe. Something which would take me all of 10 minutes to convert ingredients to batter, preferably without having to take out my mixer or do a lot of washing up. I found what I was looking for in Betty Crocker’s Starlight Yellow Cake. While I was searching for this cake I could make with minimum fuss, I discovered that many people in the U.S. in the 60s and 70s grew up on cakes made out of boxed mixes.

That’s something I never knew about given that my mother didn’t bake cakes, and I’d never seen boxed mixes for anything where I lived. It’s a different thing that cake mixes, including Betty Crocker mixes, can be found in most of the larger Indian supermarkets today. These are very expensive, which can be a good thing in my opinion, and it is cheaper to buy the ingredients and mix up the batter oneself.

You don’t need a boxed mix for a cake with this sort of recipe. All you need is about 10 minutes (excluding oven and cooling time), a cake tin (or two if you prefer), one bowl, a hand whisk and some negligible exercise for your arm. And you have a delicious yellow cake ready to be sliced and served!

Usually yellow cakes owe their colour to the yolks that go into the cake. And I understand that the yolks in eggs in some countries are more yellow than in others. The eggs I get here have yolks that range from a pale yellow to a deeper golden yellow, but not dark enough to colour a cake yellow if I use only 1 for the batter. Using more than 2 in a cake is guaranteed to give it an “eggy” enough smell and taste for us to recognise. So I used vanilla flavoured custard powder to make my cake yellow and more deeply flavoured with vanilla.




I baked my cake in a 9” cake tin and served it plain, warm from the oven. This cake provides a lot of possibilities for serving. You could dust it with powdered sugar/ cinnamon sugar for a sweeter cake. You could divide the batter equally between two 9” cake tins and then sandwich the cakes with jam or frosting if you choose. This cake would also do well if paired with fruit and whipped cream. Whichever way you serve it, it’s a great cake.
It is a lot like my Eggless Custard Powder Cake except that this one has eggs and a little less butter.
Very Vanilla One Bowl Yellow Cake




Ingredients:


100 gm butter, softened

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 egg

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 cup vanilla custard powder

1 tsp salt

3 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 cups milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract



Method:


Put the softened butter and sugar into a large bowl and whisk it together until slightly fluffy. Then keep adding the ingredients, one at a time, in the order in which they’re listed. Whisk everything together until blended into a smooth batter. About 2 to 3 minutes of vigorous whisking should do the job.

Pour the batter into a 9” greased and floured cake tin or divide it between 2 similarly prepared 9” cake tins. Bake the cake at 180C (350F) for about 45 minutes till golden brown and a skewer pushed into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

If you are baking 2 cakes with the same batter, they should be done in about 25 to 30 minutes. Let the cake cool in the cake tin for about 10 to 15 minutes. Run a knife or spatula along the sides and loosen the cake. Unmould the cake and let it cool on a rack.
You can dust the top with powdered sugar or frost it. We liked it best plain and unadorned. This cake serves 10.

Winners Of The Cookbook Giveaway


I’m happy to announce the winners of the cookbook giveaway for my readers in India, and my apologies for slightly delaying this.
The randomly picked winners are Ruchi (from Chennai) who gets the 500 Italian Dishes by Valentina Sforza and Vrunda (from Pune) who gets the 500 Asian Dishes by Gillie Basan. Congratulations!

Please e-mail me your mailing addresses so I can send the books to you. Please note that if I do not receive your mailing addresses within a week (by the 7th of April, 2011), I will randomly pick a new set of winners to receive the book/ books.



Help Japan, Please!





Once again, I would like to take this opportunity to mention that a small group of food bloggers have got together to raise some money through an auction to send to the Japanese Red Cross for their earthquake relief work. It would be nice if you could join us by bidding on one or more of the items on offer. Please help us help Japan. Thank you.
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March 27, 2011

Mets la Main à la Pâte/ Yeasted And Filled Meringue Coffee Cake: Daring Baker’s Challenge, March 2011


For those of us who do not understand French, “Mets la Main à la Pâte” apparently translates as Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake (I think), though Google Translate came up with “Put my hands dirty!” which didn’t sound very promising.
This month’s Daring Bakers challenge hosts, Jamie and Ria, are both very good friends and I know Jamie knows her French so I’ll trust her translation..

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. They challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

Jamie found this recipe on a piece of yellowed paper in her dad’s collection of clipped out and hand-written recipes from the 1970’s, no source, no date, and when she tried the recipe she fell in love with it.




Our hosts describe the the Mets la Main à la Pâte as a gorgeous brioche-like dough is rolled jellyroll style around a whipped meringue and whatever filling you choose, shaped into a wreath and baked. The coffee cake is light, fluffy, barely sweet, while the meringue melts into the dough as it bakes leaving behind just a hint of sweetness and adding to the perfect moistness of the cake.

The mandatory part of the challenge meant making the sweet yeast dough for the coffee cake and the meringue, but we were free to experiment with the fillings in the coffee cake.

Things have been hectic this month for me and the last thing I wanted was an adventure in baking so I really didn’t deviate much from the give recipe for a change. I just halved the recipe, and added some chai masala to my meringue for a spicy note to my coffee cake. For my filling, I used broken roasted cashewnuts, cranberries and semi-sweet chocolate chips.




I read the recipe in a bit of a hurry it seems, as I got the size of the rolled out dough wrong. Maths wasn't one of strong points in school, but I cannot believe that I managed to get even simple arithmetic wrong! What this meant was that my rolled up dough wasn't long enough for me to shape into a wreath, so I tucked the ends of my roll neatly and baked it as a log.
So it wasn't a success on an aesthetic level, added to shich I seemed to be singularly stumped for styling ideas when it came to taking pictures of it! Let me assure you that the proof is definitely in the eating, and in that area it proved an unqualified success.
You can find the original recipe here.
Yeasted And Filled Meringue Coffee Cake




Ingredients:


For the yeast coffee cake dough:


2 cups all-purpose flour

1/8 cup (2 tbsp) sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/4 tsp active dried yeast

1/2 cup warm milk

60 gm butter, at room temperature

1egg


For the meringue:


2 egg whites at room temperature

a large pinch salt

1 1/4 tsp chai masala

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract


For the filling:


1/4 cup roasted broken cashewnuts

1/4 cup cranberries

2 tbsp granulated sugar

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

A little milk for brushing over the dough before baking.



Method:


Prepare the dough:

In a saucepan, combine the milk and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted. You can do the kneading by hand, or with an electric mixer, but I used my food processor.

Combine 3/4 cup of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast in your food processor bowl. Gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, pulsing until well blended. Add the egg

With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup and process for a couple of minutes. Add as much of the remaining flour as required to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding only as much extra flour as needed.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl and let rise until double in bulk (about 45 – 60 minutes or so).


Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:

In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the 1/4 cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.


Assembling the coffee cake:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Punch down the dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 10 x 10-inch square. Spread the meringue evenly over the square up to about 1/2" from the edges. Sprinkle the sugar first, then the cashewnuts, the cranberries and lastly the chocolate chips evenly over the meringue.

Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the side nearest to you. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to the lined cookie sheet, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal. Otherwise, tuck the ends neatly underneath and seal well to form a log.

Using kitchen scissors make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring/ log. Cover the coffee cake with plastic wrap and allow it to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.




Brush the tops of the coffee cake with milk, and bake at 180C (350F) for about 25 to 30 minutes till risen and golden brown.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). The dough should sound hollow when tapped. Remove from the oven and very gently loosen the coffee cake from the paper with a large spatula. Cool completely on a rack.

Slice and serve with coffee or tea. (How else would one serve a coffee cake?)
This recipe serves 4 to 5 people.

You may choose to dust the cake with powdered sugar or cocoa powder before serving. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.


Verdict:


I have to confess I was happy to see a yeasted bread (okay, coffee cake) for a change when this month’s challenge was revealed. If it has yeast, to me it’s bread, but this one has butter and eggs so that does make it cake-like like a brioche, but not as rich.

I have never seen a bread/ yeasted coffee cake with meringue inside it and that aspect was what I found interesting about this challenge. I had visions of an eggy mess inside the coffee cake but was pleasantly surprised to see a rather moist bread-like texture with no hint of egg about it.

I am not particularly fond of sweet filled yeasted breads but this one was well liked by everyone here. And the dough produces a sweet bread (yeasted cake) with a really good texture, and softness without the richness one would normally associate with dough of this sort. I will definitely be using this dough to make savoury filled breads.

You really ought to visit the other Daring Bakers some of who have made very unusual and beautifully shaped coffee cakes!




I would like to take this opportunity to mention that a small group of food bloggers have got together to raise some money through an auction to send to the Japanese Red Cross for their earthquake relief work. It would be nice if you could join us by bidding on one or more of the items on offer. Please help us help Japan. Thank you.
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March 26, 2011

Food Photography Basics #3 : Getting Started


Before I get to the matter of this post, I would like to say that this series is not exhaustive. Many others have written extensively about all this and all I’m doing here is presenting my perspective of how I approached learning the various aspects of photography. So in each of my posts, I will try to explain the basics and provide links, wherever possible, to relevant articles/ posts which explain things further and in detail.





Having a camera and lenses means you’re ready to go on a never ending journey of discovery. Every journey has to start somewhere and if you are not familiar with your DSLR, then the best place to start is that little book that comes in the box – the instruction manual.

If you were like me, be prepared to discover that though the manual is written in English it will make as much sense to you as Latin or Greek (I’m assuming you know neither language)! Do not worry; all you need in the beginning is to know the front of your camera from the back. The first thing is to familiarise yourself with all the buttons and dials on your camera and what they do. It also helps to figure out what all the stuff that appears on your LCD screen actually means. (See link at the end of this post)1




Canon does an excellent job when it comes to cameras, lenses and other accessories but one are where they fail miserably (in my opinion anyways) is their instruction manual. Once I had done stuff like putting the battery, setting the time-date sort of beginner’s stuff, I found my eyes glazing over about a quarter of the way into my camera manual!

Of course, it is quite possible that I’m the only one in the world who felt this way but I think not going by the number of “How to get the best photographs out of your ABC-xyz camera” kind of books that are being written with every new DSLR released.

I bought a field guide book to understand my DSLR better and though I have a much better understanding of photography now, I have to admit that after a year and a half of having my DSLR there is still some stuff I don’t know about my camera! The only reason for this is that I haven’t got around to exploring my camera completely.
While I understood some of the stuff written on my lenses there were some numbers that made no sense to me. (See link at the end of this post)2

So how do you manage to get the best out of your camera and take good photographs? There is no easy way to do this and it will take some time and effort.


1. You really have to passionately and desperately want to take good pictures. I’m assuming that you have this if you have invested in a DSLR but I am just mentioning it because it is this passion that will drive or motivate you to go on. This is true especially when you have just spent half the day trying to take pictures which had visualised a certain way and not one of your photographs is anywhere close to it!


2. Please, buy a tripod. This is advice from someone whose husband bought her a tripod even before she got a DSLR but never used it for almost a year! I learnt the hard way how necessary it was to get really sharp pictures. Even if you have the steadiest hands with your camera, which I pride myself on having, you will need that tripod eventually. (See link at the end of this post)3

A lot of food shots involve a shallow depth of field (DOF/ blur in the back or front) which means using lower apertures. Sometimes you would have low light situations, heavy lenses or just an unsteady pair of hands! This means the slightest movement, even that of pressing down the button will result in “shake” = blurred photographs. In the tile below, both photographs of the chocolate pieces and the strawberry were shot at the same time with the same lens and in similar conditions.You can see the blur in the photograph on the left whereas the one on the right is sharp.




Sometimes this blur will not be apparent on your camera LCD screen but will show up once you have uploaded the photograph to the computer and it’s too late to re-shoot the photograph. Unless you’re one of those food bloggers who shoots while connected to the laptop, which I am not.


3. As I said earlier, the first step is to understand your camera. Explore shooting on manual mode (the “M” on the dial) or the semi-manual modes like Aperture Priority (Av) or Shutter Priority (Tv). There isn’t much point in shooting on the Auto or pre-set modes if you have bought a DSLR since the idea was to have more control over your photographs!

This is not to say that you're not a good photographer or will not get good photographs if you shoot in Pre-set or Auto modes. It only means that you will have full control over your photography if you learn to shoot on the Manual mode. This gives you complete control over the decision about which mode to use when. (See link at the end of this post)4

4. Similarly learn to shoot in RAW whether you end up deciding or prefer to shoot your images as JPEG. RAW has nothing to do with nudity and refers to a format where the camera retains all the data of your image unlike the usual JPEG format where there is some data loss due to conversion of image by the camera’s internal software.

The advantage of shooting in RAW format is that you can adjust the white balance, chromatic aberration and exposure if you need to, since all the data is available. This can be done with the RAW converter that comes with your camera software, Photoshop or free software available on the net. (See link at the end of this post)5


5. Practice, practise and more practice is really the only way to better photographs. By this I don’t mean you take 1000s of photographs without some definite idea of what you want to shoot, but using your camera at every available opportunity. Carry it with you everywhere you go. This series is about food photography but do not limit yourself to shooting food. Taking any type of photographs (landscape, people, children, portraits, and nature) will stand you in good stead as it will help you understand light and exposure better.


6. Read as much about photography and techniques as you can. Check out your local library as they would be bound to have some of the standard books/ magazines on photography. (See link at the end of this post)6
The internet is a very good resource for everything from understanding your camera, lenses and other accessories to showing you exactly how to achieve a particular type of photography and editing techniques.


7. If it is possible, attend short term classes/ courses in basic photography/ workshops. These are a lot more helpful than books and magazines because you learn hands on and can clear your doubts by talking to someone who knows photography. You get a better grasp of what goes into a good photograph and the interaction with fellow students is a big plus.


8. Join photography groups where you can interact with other photographers with similar interests who can offer you a lot of help as well as constructive criticism about your photographs. If you want to improve your photography, you have to be open to criticism and not take it personally but learn from it. Most people tend to be diplomatic and not say negative things to you, but there are many good groups on Flickr where you can find something you like and join them.


9. Go through food magazines and food sites like Foodgawker, TasteSpotting, Tasteologie, foodblogs with excellent photography and food photography portfolios to see how the food can be photographed. This will give you some idea about presentation, composition, props and colour combinations, how light is used, the angle at which the photograph has been shot, etc. Please, DO NOT attempt to reproduce any of what you have seen. You are not only insulting the original photographer but also getting into copyright issues.

However, do consider which photographs appeal to you the most and why, and then try to work on how you could achieve that in your photographs in various ways. Soon you will find that you will be developing a distinctive style that is your own and this should be what you ought to work towards.


10. Take time to think about exactly what and how you want your photograph to showcase your food. All those beautiful food photographs we see all the time had a lot of thought put into them. Also try to do your photography when you have the time for it, as you will get better photographs that way.

I mostly shoot food for my blog and I know that things like doorbells that need answering, phone calls that have to be attended to and a family that keeps asking, “Are you through? Can we eat? We’re hungry!” is not conducive to good food photographs!


11. Everyone looks at the same photograph differently. So be prepared that you might think a particular photograph of yours is a masterpiece but very few others think so. As an example, look at the two pictures below.




I put a lot of thought into this “messy” photograph of my Eggplant & Fig Caponata. The caponata looked like a bit of a brown mess and I wanted to do something different with it. So I thought about shooting it from the top and must have spent close to an hour setting it up. It is still one of my personal favourites but I have had reactions ranging from “It looks messy” and “Why do you want to present food like that?” to “Why would anyone want to eat that?”




I shot this photograph of home-made strawberry jam without giving it too much thought. I think it doesn’t look too bad but don’t think there’s anything particularly wonderful about it. Yet this photograph made it to “Explore” on Flickr!


12. This also means that if your picture doesn’t make it on Foodgawker/ TasteSpotting it doesn’t necessarily mean your photographs aren’t good. They invariably do pick up well-lit and composed photographs, so if you get a rejection saying “poor composition/ dull or unsharp images/ lighting white balance issues”, take another look at your photograph and try to work on those issues.

When I used to submit my photographs to these sites initially, most of them used to get rejected. Today, I get  fewer rejections so all it means is that practice and working at your photography makes all the difference. Sometimes, you will find that one will accept a photograph while the other will reject the same one so that shouldn’t worry you too much.




Foodgawker rejected these Vanilla Yo-Yo Biscuits citing "Lighting issues - dull/unsharp" while TasteSpotting published it.




On the other hand, TasteSpotting rejected this photograph of my Cardamom Flavoured White Chocolate & Pistachio Panna cotta because they didn't like the "composition", but Foodgwaker thought it was good enough to publish.


13. The word photograph actually means “light drawing”, and photography is all about light. This is something we all know and though I mentioned it at the end it is the most important aspect of photography. The key to a good photograph is how well you use the light in your photography. This is generally referred to as “ exposure” and once you understand this aspect of photography and the rest will be much easier. The next post in this series will be about exposure in photography.

If you have any questions about this post, would like me to touch upon any particular aspect of food photography or anything related to photography, please leave a comment here or send me a mail. I will do my best to answer them.




Useful Links


  1.  Meet Your New DSLR Camera

  2.  DSLR Lenses And Their Abbreviations

  3.  How To Use Your Tripod

  4.  Canon Shooting Modes

       Do I Really Have To Shoot Full Manual Mode On My DSLR?
      
       5 Reasons To Shoot In Manual Mode

  5.  RAW vs. JPEG

       When To Choose JPEG vs. RAW

  6.  20 Must Reads For Any Serious Photographer

       Food Photography Books




Previous Posts In This Series


Food Photography Basics #1 : Do I Need A DSLR To Get Good Photographs?

Food Photography Basics #2 : Which Camera? What Lenses?
Read full post.....

March 23, 2011

International Food Bloggers Auction for Japan: A Little Help Goes A Long Way


On the 11th of March, 2011, most of us woke up to the horrifying news that the north-east coast of Japan had been hit by a massive earthquake, one of the worst known to man. Registering 9.0 on the Richter scale, the earthquake set off a 10m high Tsunami, caused a nuclear emergency and left thousands of people devastated.

Time and time again, the human spirit has proved indestructible in the face of destruction and despair and people in Japan are slowly trying to pick up the pieces and get back to the business of living and helping each other towards a normal life. The rest of the world must do whatever it can towards this end and no help or effort can be too small to count.




In an effort to lend a helping hand, in a perhaps small but meaningful manner, Asha came up with an idea of raising funds through an International Food Bloggers Auction for Japan. This Auction is a contributive effort by a small group of food bloggers across the world using their passion for food to raise funds the Japanese Red Cross Society to be used towards their earthquake relief work.

I am happy to be a part of this small group of food bloggers and each one of us has pledged various items which will be auctioned and delivered to the highest bidder. Details of the pledges are included below.




I am offering 2 boxes of my home-made Eggless Decorated Cookies, one each to two of the highest bidders for them. Each box shall contain one dozen largish decorated cookies, packed to ensure they reach their destination without breaking.

Due to restrictions in many countries regarding importing of food items and the prohibitive costs involved in shipping worldwide, I will be shipping the cookies only within India. However, you are more than welcome to bid for the cookies if you would like to gift them to your friends or family in India.

The auction will run live for a week from today (23rd of March, 2011 to the 10th of April, 2011) during which period readers may bid on as many items as they wish. Once the auction closes and the highest bidder is identified, that person will receive the item that he/she bid for and the bid amount will be donated to Japanese Red Cross in entirety.

We request and hope that you will join us in by bidding for a good cause, and help our friends in Japan by raising as much money as possible with this gesture. You do not have to be a food blogger to join us in this effort.



The Details of the Auction/ Bidding Procedure:



1. The auction will run from the 23rd of March, 2011 to the 10th of April, 2011.


2. The auction will close at 12pm IST on 10th April, 2011 (and at 12pm your time on 10th April, 2011 for bidders outside India). Highest bidders and bid amounts will be revealed in a post by April 12, 2011.


3. Bid entries are to be made using the Auction Bid Form.


4. The auction is open to all readers across the globe, though some items may be shipped only to certain parts of the world. Availability of items is as indicated in the Auction Bid Form.


5. Bidding can be for one or more items. Multiple bids from the same bidder will be accepted and highest bid will be taken into account. Minimum and High bids for each item will be made available at the end of each day.


6. The winners will be asked to transfer the pledged amount through PayPal, which, will then be donated to the Japanese Red Cross Society via Google Crisis Response.


7. Winners will receive their items within two weeks of the reveal post announcing the winners.



List of Items Pledged For Bidding At The Auction:


1. Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen – 1 box each of a dozen assorted Eggless Decorated Sugar Cookies to 2 of the highest bidders.


2. Asha of Fork Spoon Knife – Breakfast Basket with Homemade Granola with Fruits and Nuts, Orange Marmalade and Strawberry Jam.


3. Asha of Fork Spoon Knife – Peanut Goodies Basket, sponsored by Peanut Butter & Co. Hamper includes 1 large picnic basket with 8 jars of a variety of peanut butters from Dark Chocolate Dreams to Cinnamon Raisin Swirl, 3 jars of fruit preserves and jelly, 1 jar of peanut pretzels and a Peanut Cookbook.


4. Liren of Kitchen Confidante – Afternoon Tea Basket, inspired by her husband's family who spent 5 years in Japan. Also includes a freshly baked loaf of our family's Buttermilk Banana Bread, a tin of Samovar Green Tea, and a few other Bay Area goodies.


5. Simone of Junglefrog Cooking – Traditional Dutch Basket with many Dutch food items like stroopwafels, Dutch Cheese, Muider schipperbitter which is a typical Dutch alcoholic drink and much more.


6. Trissa of Trissalicious – Signed copies of cookbooks from Australian cooking icons - Maggie Beer, Margaret Fulton and Stephanie Alexander.


7. Vanille of At Down Under – Kiwi Basket with 1 pot of NZ organic Manuka honey (J.Friend & Co - 160g), 1 pot of NZ organic Kamahi honey (J.Friend & Co - 160g), 1 bottle of Feijoa and limeblossom juiced tea (Teza - 325ml) and a reusable shopping bag (Ooid Design - 100% Organic cotton).



If you would rather not participate in this Auction by bidding but would still like to help Japan on to the road to recovery in some way, there are many other ways of doing so. What is important is not how we help those who need it, but that we do make the effort.

Please feel free to help us let others know about this effort to help the Japanese people by tweeting about it on Twitter and posting on other social networking sites.

May I request, once again, your full support to this cause through your bids? If you do bid (using the form), please leave a comment at this post letting us know, so that we can keep track of all the bidders.

Thank you.
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March 22, 2011

Laugenbrezel (German Style Soft Pretzels) With Sesame Seeds


It has been a while since Alessio, Asha, Pamela and I got together for our monthly challenges. The four of us have been busy with personal matters which took precedence over our kitchen explorations/ experiments and we didn’t really have the spare time. So much so, that we have all been a bit irregular even with our own regular blog posts. It seemed a good idea to take a two month break from “Velveteering" and we’re back at it once more.

This month Alessio suggested we make a favourite snack of his, German style Soft Pretzels. As is the style of the challenges we usually set ourselves, the choice of recipes are left each of us and we’re free to put a twist on them if we like. This time, I decided to be conservative rather than adventurous and the only twist in my pretzels is the one I put into shaping them!

Like many foods I have tried in the past, the only pretzels I have ever eaten are the ones I have made, as I’ve never seen Pretzels in the stores here. Pretzels can be broadly divided into two kinds – soft pretzels and hard pretzels.




Apparently the Pretzel (from the German name for it, “Bretzel”) has been around since about 610 AD! The story goes that monks in France or Italy created these shaped breads from small strips of dough as rewards for young boys who sat quietly through church services.
The shape of the Pretzel is thought to resemble folded arms during prayers, and the three holes in it are supposed to represent the Holy Trinity. The monks called these little breads “Pretiola”, a Latin word which means “little rewards”, later known as “Brachiola” in Italian meaning “little arms and eventually became “Bretzel” in German and is today the Pretzel!

The hard and crunchy Pretzels is said to have originated in Pennsylvania in the late 17th century. According to stories, a baker’s helper fell asleep while Pretzels were baking in the oven. When he woke up from his nap the flames in the oven had died down.
Feeling the Pretzels hadn’t cooked enough, he lit the oven again only to have the Master Baker decide that the Pretzels had been over baked and couldn’t be eaten. Before throwing them out, the Master Baker decided to taste one of the lot and to his surprise, found the Pretzels crunchy and quite tasty. He also realised that Pretzels baked this way had a longer shelf life.

There are a lot of traditions, festivities and stories fashioned around the Pretzel. The phrase “”tying the knot” is also supposed to be attributed to the Pretzel! Some people think that this comes from the Pretzel featuring in Royal weddings of old in Switzerland where the couples wished for happiness with a pretzel forming the nuptial knot!!

I have no idea how much of all this can be proved by history, but it makes for extremely interesting reading. I looked at a lot of recipes for making soft Pretzels and they all involved boiling the Pretzels in a caustic soda/ lye solution (sodium hydroxide) or a less dangerous solution of baking soda in water like is done while making bagels. Just baking them would have made them soft so I was curious why they needed to be boiled first.

It seems soft Pretzels can be made without the boiling process and the Germans call the boiled and baked Pretzels, “Laugenbrezel” which means boiled in lye. If you make them shaped into little rolls, they’re called “Laugenbrötchen” but as “Laugenstangen” if made into small bread sticks.
It seems that the boiling in the soda solution makes them deep brown (Maillard Reaction), soft yet somewhat chewy and gives them their unique flavour. I can vouch for the flavour difference as I have made a Cheddar Cheese And Onion Pretzel Bread (no boiling here) and I liked these Pretzels much, much better.

The word among those who are in the now is that Pretzels boiled in caustic soda/ lye aren’t a patch on those boiled in a baking soda solution, but I’d rather leave the caustic soda in the Chemistry lab and use the baking soda in water. Baking soda is easy to find and more importantly, very safe to use.




I found many Pretzel recipes that used a lot of butter, some used oil and others had eggs but I felt that the more authentic version would be one without any of these. The original Pretzels were, after all treats, doled out to well behaved little boys sitting through long and boring sermons and I somehow do not see the clergy rewarding good behaviour with brioche!

Alright, I’ll come clean. The real reason I chose this recipe is that I can do without butter and eggs in my breads. I also chose to top my Pretzels with a mixture of white and black sesame seeds and not sea salt simple because I didn’t have it. So I increased the salt in my dough by half a teaspoon.
Laugenbrezel (German Style Soft Pretzels) With Sesame Seeds

(Adapted from MyRecipes)



Ingredients:


2 1/4 tsp dried active yeast

1 1/2 tsp sugar

1 cup warm milk

3 cups + 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

6 cups water

2 tbsp baking soda

1 tsp cornmeal or semolina

2 tbsp milk

2 tbsp white sesame seeds

2 tbsp black sesame seeds



Method:


In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm milk and allow that to stand for about 5 minutes.

Add the 3 cups flour and salt to the proofed yeast and stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. The dough will feel slightly sticky, so add a bit of flour as and when necessary while kneading. This should take about 8 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl, turning to coat the dough with oil. Cover and allow the dough to rise for about 40 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)

Deflate the dough, cover and let it rest 5 minutes. Divide dough into 12 equal portions.

Work with one portion at a time and cover remaining dough to prevent it drying. Roll each portion into an 18-inch-long rope with tapered ends. Cross one end of rope over the other to form a circle, leaving about 4 inches at end of each rope. Twist the rope at the base of the circle. Fold the ends over the circle and into a traditional pretzel shape, pinching gently to seal. Place pretzels on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise 10 minutes (pretzels will rise only slightly).

Put the 6 cups of water and baking soda in a non-aluminium pan and bring to a boi. Turn down the heat and simmer. Gently lower a pretzel into the simmering water. Cook on each side for about 15 seconds. The pretzel will swell/ puff up a bit. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and place on a greased wire rack. This will prevent the pretzel from sticking to the rack. Repeat with the remaining pretzels.

Place the pretzels on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal or semolina. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 220C (425F) for 12 minutes or until pretzels are deep golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Serve warm with a dip of your choice or just plain. They’re best eaten fresh, and on the same day. This recipe makes 12 Pretzels.

Verdict:


I had made Pretzels, once before, and a very long time ago but I don’t remember being so happy with the way they turned out or tasted. We liked these Pretzels very much, and they were so easy to make.

They were nice and brown, even though I didn’t use egg wash on them. They were really soft, yet mildly chewy and the sesame seeds added their own dimension. It might be the boiling in the baking soda solution that was responsible for an almost butter-like after taste in these Pretzels.

You can serve them with a mustard based dip or a spicy herbed cheese dip, but I thought they were best plain. Oh yes, and a cup of hot tea to dunk them in!

I shall update the list of the others doing this month's challenge as and when they do post on their blogs.


The four of us (Alessio, Asha, Pamela and I) go velveteering, as we like to call our kitchen adventures, with a new dish/ style of cooking/ cuisine every month. Each of us will share our recipes, experiences and verdicts on our blogs.
If you would like to join us, please leave a comment at this post or send me a mail and we’ll get back to you.


This month’s Velveteers recipes:

Asha : Raisin Laugen Broetchen (Raisin Pretzel Buns) for Velveteers


These Soft Pretzels are also being YeastSpotted!
Read full post.....

March 17, 2011

Kaaradaiyan Nonbu Adai (Festive Sweet And Savoury Steamed Rice Flat Cakes)


Yet another post of some traditional Palakkad Iyer festive fare! I know, I try to ensure there’s an even distribution of traditional Palakkad Iyer, Indian and western (read non-Indian) food posts every month but somehow it doesn’t ever work that way. Well, there’s no harm done so long as it’s all about good food, and I can promise you this is good.

On the 14th night/ 15th early morning of this month, all Tamil Brahmin households (including Palakkad Iyers) celebrated Karadaiyan Nonbu (also known as Savithri Nonbu. This particular festival (or tradition) is celebrated when the Tamil month of “Maasi” gives way to the month of “Panguni”. This year this auspicious time of transition was in the wee hours of the morning of the 15th of March, so it was considered more practical and auspicious to do this between 8:00 and 9:00pm on the 14th instead.

Observed by the women folk of the household, married women pray for the longevity of their husbands and a happy married life, whereas the young girls pray for a good husband. Almost every Hindu community in India has its own version of this tradition.





As an unworldly teenager who felt the need to question everything and thought she knew more than everyone gave her credit for, I used to wonder at the wisdom of a tradition where women prayed for the long life of their husbands but men didn’t do the same for their wives.

Now I’m much older with a greater level of understanding and acceptance, I realise these traditions came about at a time when life expectancy was short and women needed the protection of men to have a place in society.
In many Indian communities, it used to be the norm was that there was usually a 10 to 15 year age gap between men and their wives and the average life expectancy for man was somewhere in the 30s or 40s. This meant that women were usually in their 20s or early 30s when they were widowed, and given the social taboos and superstitions that existed then it was better to be dead than be a widow! So it wasn’t surprising that a tradition of praying for one’s husband’s longevity evolved.

Today, I don’t see anything wrong in observing such a tradition even though it may seem odd to many. Praying for the good health and long life of one’s husband can be unconditional (and doesn’t have to merit a return gesture), or even hoping that one does marry a good man isn’t an odd thought. It is also about observing traditions that give us a particular identity and make us what we are, so that it is not lost to our next generations.





The story behind celebrating Karadaiyan Nonbu is a love story. Savithri was the daughter of King Asrapati. When she was old enough to get married, she chose to marry Sathyavan who lived in the forest and looked after his blind parents.
The great sage Narada informed the King that Sathyavan was fated to die within a year and Savithri would soon be a widow if she married him. Despite her father’s entreaties, Savithri married Sathyavan and were happy.
Soon it was almost a year after marriage when Savithri realised that her husband did not have very long to live. She started praying for her husband’s life and making offerings to God with whatever was available in the forest.

On the prophesied day of Sathyavan’s death, Savithri followed him into the forest. He was cutting down wood when he fainted and died. Yama, the Lord of Death, promptly arrived to take Sathyavan’s soul to heaven and Savithri followed him. Yama tried reasoning with her that she could not follow him and her husband as she was still alive, but Savithri refused to leave and kept begging for her husband’s life.

Yama, impressed by her love and devotion to her husband, granted her three wishes provided she wouldn’t ask for her husband’s life. So she asked for her blind parents-in-laws sight to be returned, for her father-in-law to be re-instated as King of the kingdom that was rightfully his, and to be the mother of a 100 sons which Yama immediately granted her all her wishes before he realised he would have to bring Sathyavan back to life for her to be a mother! (Yes, I know there are a lot of loopholes in this story, but I’m just telling it to you like it has been told for a long time now.)





So we celebrate Karadaiyan Nonbu in the same spirit and also by making Nonbu adais for offering during prayer. The Nonbu “adais” or flat cakes look somewhat like dougniuts with a hole in the centre, but are nothing like them. They’re made in both sweet and savoury versions from rice flour, steam-cooked and served with fresh home-made unsalted butter.

The word “Nonbu” means fasting and traditionally women used to fast prior to the ritual worship and break their fast with these adais. I have never seen any member of our family fast for this occasion though the pooja (ritual worship) and making this adais is done every year.

Both adais are made from rice flour and are supposed to give this festival its name, though this is not something I can confirm. Some people say that it comes from Savithri making these “adais” to offer during her prayers in the forest from wild rice which is known as “kaarai arishi (in Tamil)”. Others say it is the black-eyed beans, called “kaaraimani” (in Tamil), used in these adais.




These recipes for the sweet and savoury adais are my mother’s and this is how we make them. You will find many similar recipes for these adais but perhaps with minor ingredient variations. The traditional way of steaming these adais/ flatcakes is by making them on lightly greased plantain leaf pieces and then steam-cooking them on the leaves. If these are not available, you can use greased idli moulds, small plates or even aluminium foil squares to make and steam cook them.

These adais/ flat cakes can be made from rice or store bought rice flour. I made mine with store bought rice flour.

If you are making the adais from rice, wash and soak about 2 cups of raw rice (not par-boiled or basmati, but any other non-fragrant medium grain raw rice) in water for about an hour and a half, for each variation of adai. Drain the water out and spread the rice out on a clean cotton towel for another hour or so (not in the sun), for it to dry out. Then powder the rice as fine as possible and sieve so that you obtain fine rice flour.


Jaggery Sweetened or Vella Nonbu Adai


Ingredients:


1 cup powdered jaggery

3 cups water

1 1/2 cups rice flour

3 tbsp cooked black-eyed beans (vellai payar/ kaaraimani/ chowli)

1/3 cup finely chopped coconut pieces

1/3 cup finely chopped ripe jackfruit (optional)

4 to 5 pods of cardamom, powdered

1 tbsp ghee 


Plantain leaves to steam the adais, if available




Method:


Dry roast the rice flour in a pan till a faint aroma emanates but do not brown.

In a largish pan, put the powdered jaggery and the water and bring to a boil while stirring to dissolve the jaggery. If you are using freshly powdered rice flour you might need a little less water, about 2 to 2 1/2 cups of water instead of the 3 cups for store bought flour.

Add the rice flour, the cooked beans, the coconut, cardamom and the jackfruit, and take the pan off the heat. Stir everything together taking care to break up the lumps of rice flour.

Place the pan back on the stove, and over medium heat, stir the mixture until the water is absorbed by the rice flour. Add the ghee and cook the dough till it keeps leaving the sides of the pan and coming to the centre as a thick ball. Take the pan off the heat and allow the dough cool to a temperature where it can be handled comfortably (warm but not cool).

Knead the dough by hand a couple of times so it is smooth and malleable. Pinch off bits the size of a small lemon and place on a greased square of plantain leaf or foil or even your greased left palm.

Flatten the dough, with your fingers into a flat disc about 3” diameter and 1/4" thick. Using you finger to poke a hole (about 1/2") in the centre so it looks doughnut-like.

Place it in your steamer. If flattening on your palm, like I did, place the flattened disc in one depression of a greased idli mould. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Steam cook the “adais”, for about 10 to 12 minutes till they’re well done and not sticky when touched. Let them cool, and then remove them.

Serve them with a small pat of fresh home-made unsalted butter. This recipe makes 25 to 30 vella adais (of 3” diameter).



Savoury Nonbu Adai


Ingredients:


2 tbsp oil (preferably sesame oil)

1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds

2 tsp black gram lentils (urad dal)

1/4 tsp asafoetida

1 or 2 green chillies, finely sliced

1 large sprig curry leaves, torn

1 1/2 cups rice flour

3 cups water

salt to taste

3 tbsp cooked black-eyed beans (vellai payar/ kaaraimani/ chowli)

1/2 cup fresh grated coconut


Plantain leaves to steam the adais, if available




Method:


Dry roast the rice flour in a pan till a faint aroma emanates but do not brown.

In a largish pan, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the lentils and stir till they turn golden. Add the asafoetida, the chillies and the curry leaves and stir once or twice and then add the water. Make sure the asafoetida does not burn.

If you are using freshly powdered rice flour you might need a little less water, about 2 to 2 1/2 cups of water instead of the 3 cups for store bought flour.

Bring the water to boil, and then add the cooked beans, the coconut and the salt. Now add the rice flour, and take the pan off the heat. Stir everything together taking care to break up the lumps of rice flour.

Place the pan back on the stove, and over medium heat, stir the mixture until the water is absorbed by the rice flour. Cook the dough till it keeps leaving the sides of the pan and coming to the centre as a thick ball. Take the pan off the heat and allow the dough cool to a temperature where it can be handled comfortably (warm but not cool).

Knead the dough by hand a couple of times so it is smooth and malleable. Pinch off bits the size of a small lemon and place on a greased square of plantain leaf or foil or even your greased left palm.

Flatten the dough, with your fingers into a flat disc about 3” diameter and 1/4" thick. Using you finger to poke a hole (about 1/2") in the centre so it looks doughnut-like.

Place it in your steamer. If flattening on your palm, like I did, place the flattened disc in one depression of a greased idli mould. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Steam cook the “adais”, for about 10 to 12 minutes till they’re well done and not sticky when touched. Let them cool, and then remove them.

Serve them with a small pat of fresh home-made unsalted butter. This recipe makes 25 to 30 vella adais (of 3” diameter).
Like most of the traditional fare from my Palakkad Iyer community, these “adais” are gluten-free. They also contain very little fat and are very healthy provided one is judicious with the butter one eats with them!


You might have noticed that I’m giving away 2 cookbooks for my readers with a shipping address in India. If you would like a chance at winning one of these, please leave a comment at the giveaway post.

I have noticed many comments without the city in India where the books could be shipped. Please note that if you do not leave the name of the city in your comment, you will be ineligible for the giveaway.
The giveaway is open till the midnight of the 20th of March, 2011.
Read full post.....

March 13, 2011

Knol-Khol Kootu (Kohlrabi With Spiced Coconut Paste) And A Giveaway!


Everybody has their share of likes and dislike when it comes to food and it’s no different with us. Occasionally, it happens that all three of us do not like a particular vegetable and so it rarely (if ever) gets bought, cooked or eaten. Beetroot, mushrooms, Ivy Gourd/ Indian Gherkin (Tendli/ Kovakkai), Chayote (Chow-chow/ Bangalore Kathrikkai), Bottle Gourd (Doodhi/ Lauki) and Kohlrabi (Knol-Kohl) are the ones that come to mind immediately.

Ever since I started writing this food blog, and became interested in photography, I have started looking at vegetables differently. I’m not saying we like the “disliked” ones any better but I sometimes buy them in small quantities to find if they prove more exciting through the lens of my camera or perhaps disguised in some dish where no one suspects them of existing!




I have a friendly neighbourhood vegetable lady who provides fodder for my “strange” vegetable adventures by bringing me some of these aforementioned vegetables right to my door, fresh from the fields where they’re grown. My vegetable lady is a nice person but she is shrewd and knows I can sometimes be a bit of a soft touch.

Last week my vegetable lady’s basket seemed to have sprouted a profuse head of interesting variety of green leaves; that’s how it looked to me when I looked down the stairway to see her climbing the stairs with her basket balanced on her head! Apart from the usual spinach, coriander, amaranth and fenugreek leaves, some of the green turned out to be Daikon Radish (mooli) tops and Kohlrabi (Knol-Khol) leaves, both of which are in season now.

It could have been the fact that they were freshly picked from the farm a few hours earlier, but I rather think what made the Knol-Khol irresistible was their strange Kraken-like appearance.




You know how it is. Sometimes, you find something that is sort of repulsive to look at yet it holds a strange fascination that you keep turning back to look at it? Well, that sums it up with the Kohlrabi and me that day.

My vegetable lady took one look at my face and decided that this was one of the days she could mow me down with her sales pitch. She ended up persuading me that I was in for a terrific deal since she was now giving me 4 of those things for the price of 2 that she initially quoted. She also assured me, “Khoob bare asa” meaning that the Knol-Khol were very good!!

Let’s just say that I buckled to my fascination with the vegetable, her sales techniques, and then spent the better part of the morning wondering just how to take a decent picture of the Kohlrabi. If you are new to this vegetable, the name Kohlrabi comes from German for “Kohl”meaning cabbage and “Rabi” meaning turnip. It does look like a hybrid of the two with turnip-like shape and the leaf arrangement is somewhat like that of a cabbage if you stretch your imagination a bit.

The Kohlrabi is actually the stem part of the vegetable and I understand the leaves of the young/ tender vegetable can be used in salads. I had no idea how to cook Kohlrabi but it now turns out that there are at least a hundred (maybe I am exaggerating) different ways of cooking it.




A strategy that mostly work for me with a vegetable that is new to us, or not much liked by anyone, is to cook it such that it is disguised either in taste or appearance or both if possible. So I cooked the Kohlrabi into a “kootu”, which is a Palakkad Iyer style of preparing certain vegetables (mostly of the gourd family) with lentils and a spicy coconut gravy. It worked!

I think I might have to take Kohlrabi off that list of “unmentionable” vegetables, and you might just be seeing a lot more of this vegetable here, in my virtual kitchen.
Knol-Khol Kootu (Kohlrabi With Spiced Coconut Paste)



Ingredients:


1/4 cup Bengal gram lentils (chana dal)

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 to 3 green chillies (adjust as required)

1/2 cup freshly grated coconut, loosely packed

3 medium to big sized knol-kohl (kohlrabi), chopped into 3/4” cubes

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1 sprig curry leaves

salt to taste

1 1/2 tsp oil

1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds

2 tsp black gram lentils (urad dal)

1/2 to 1 tbsp coconut oil (optional)



Method:


Soak the Bengal gram lentils (chana dal) in about 1/2 a cup of water for about half an hour. Drain the water and keep aside.

In a small pan, roast the cumin seeds over, low heat until it gives off an aroma. Do not brown. Grind this with the green chillies and coconut with just enough water to a smooth paste. You can add the cumin seeds as they are, but roasting them gives the “curry” a better flavour and taste. Keep this paste aside.

Steam or cook the cubed kohlrabi in the microwave until done. If you don’t want to steam cook or microwave the kohlrabi, follow this procedure.
Take a largish pan and heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add the black gram lentils (urad dal) and stir fry till they turn golden. Then add the cubed kohlrabi, the drained Bengal gram lentils (chana dal), turmeric powder, curry leaves, salt and a cup of water. Bring this to a boil, turn down the heat and cook till the kohlrabi is done.

If you have steam cooked or microwaved the kohlrabi like I do, then follow this procedure. As above, take a largish pan and heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add the black gram lentils (urad dal) and stir fry till they turn golden.
Add the cooked kohlrabi, the drained Bengal gram lentils (chana dal), turmeric powder, curry leaves, salt and sprinkle a little water. Stir everything together, and cook for a couple of minutes on medium heat.



Whichever method you used to cook the kohlrabi, from here the method of cooking is the same. Add the spicy coconut paste and mix well. If the vegetable-coconut paste looks very dry, add about 1/8th (or a little more, if necessary) of a cup of water and cook for another couple of minutes till it comes together. The “kootu” should have the finished consistency of vegetable coated with a thick gravy and should not be watery.

Transfer the kootu to a serving dish and add the coconut oil (if using), then cover the dish and let it sit for about 15 minutes to allow the flavour of the coconut oil to develop. Remove the lid, mix in the coconut oil and serve hot with rice, as a side dish.

This recipe serves 4.
The Cook Book Giveaway


Sometime back, I had mentioned that I would be doing a giveaway for my readers in India. I’m keeping that promise and here it is.
Sellers Publishing have been kind enough, as always, to sent me a copy each of 500 Italian Dishes by Valentina Sforza and 500 Asian Dishes by Gillie Basan to give away to the readers of this blog.


500 Italian Dishes: The Only Compendium of Italian Dishes You'll Ever Need by Valentina Sforza




Another book from the 500 Series, the book has all the features of books in this series including well written and simple recipes with variations on the basic recipes. The recipes are divided into various chapters which are colour coded for easy use and accompanied by beautiful photographs.

The author also includes an introduction on basic ingredients used in Italian cooking, with an emphasis on fresh and seasonal produce. She also includes instructions for preparing basic stock and fresh pasta. The recipes in this book are divided into a First Course Pasta, A First Course of Gnocchi, Risottos and Pizzas, Vegetables, A Second Course of Fish & Seafood, A Second Course of Meat, Poultry & Game, and Desserts.

Valentina Sforza, descended from the famous Renaissance Sforza family and an expert on Italian gastronomy, teaches at several cooking schools in London where she lives. She also a caterer, writer and consultant.


500 Asian Dishes: The Only Compendium of Asian Dishes You'll Ever Need by Ghillie Basan




One more book from the 500 Series, with all the attractive features of books in this series.
This particular book presents a wide variety of recipes from Asian countries like China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, The Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia& Singapore. The book includes an introduction to the cuisines covered in the book as well as the ingredients used in them.

The book includes an introduction to the ingredients used in Asian cooking as well as sauces and dips, and recipes for soups, rice, noodles, spring rolls, meat and fish, vegetables and desserts.

The author of the book, Ghillie Basan is an internationally acclaimed cook and food writer. A Cordon Bleu Diploma holder with a degree in social anthropology, she has written over 20 books and many articles on food and travel.


If you would like a chance at winning one of these books, please leave a comment at this post telling me if you have cooked Kohlrabi before and which way you like it best. Please make sure your comment includes a link or e-mail id where I can contact you should win.
Please also include in your comment, the name of the Indian city where you would like the book to be shipped should you win. This will make picking the commenters for the random number generator easy for me. If you do not leave the name of the city in your comment, you will be ineligible for the giveaway.

This giveaway is open till the midnight of the 20th of March, 2011.
Please note that this giveaway is open only to residents of India. If you do have a shipping address in India you are most welcome to enter the giveaway.
I will randomly pick two commenters who will each win one of these two books. I will announce the winners around the 24th/ 25th of this month. Good luck!
Read full post.....