March 22, 2011

Life of Pi(e)

I love, love, love Key Lime Pie. Actually, I love most things with lime…rum and coke with lime, limoncello, Ravalgon’s sugar-boiled lime sweets, lemon curd…the list is endless.  Today is one of those days when I woke up feeling a little blah…dragged myself outta bed, got ready, haggled with the auto dude who had the audacity to ask for Rs 80 from Eldams Road to Cathedral Road (His reason? Road le romba traffic madam! Petrol price increased madam – dude! You have an LPG vandi!). Finally reached office and sat at desk for a good 10 minutes staring into nothingness till I actually decided to get my work done.

Anyway, coming back to the point of this post, yes, my love for all things lime. I was craving something lime-ey (yes, it does qualify as a word in my uber cool, urban dictionary) and since Zara is right next to my work place, I headed there with a book in tow to spend some alone time. One starter down, I asked my steward to bring me the “only reason I am even remotely not biting someone’s head off today” KEY LIME PIE. I loved it. Loved the sweet, unfussy waiters more, and want to share the joy with you. So without much ado, here’s the recipe: 

Key Lime Pie

For the crust:
·         1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
·         3 tablespoons sugar
·         5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
·         1 can sweetened condensed milk
·         4 large egg yolks
·         Zest of 1 large lime
·         1/2 cup lime juice, from 5 limes

METHOD: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter with a fork. Mix until graham cracker crumbs are moist. Press mixture into a 9-inch pie plate or dish. Pat down the bottom and sides.

Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. While the crust is baking, prepare filling. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks. Whisk until well combined. Add in the lime zest, and lime juice. Whisk well. Set mixture aside. It will thicken up as it sits.

When the piecrust has cooled to slightly warm or room temperature, pour the lime filling over the piecrust. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack. When cool, chill the pie in the refrigerator. The filling will set up as it cools. Chill for at least one hour before serving.  Serve cold.

March 19, 2011

So saucy!

I’m a big, big fan of sauces and spreads. To me, not only do these delish dips add value and make even the most boring, insipid meal come alive, they are also extremely versatile and can be used as almost anything – right from a salad dressing, as a marinade, a bread spread, thinned out into a stock or simply eaten as a dip with crackers and chips.

Sure, sometimes I may take my obsession with sauces a bit far (yes, I’m the person who adds all the sauces to her sub sandwich only to make it one soggy mess), but I have learnt to control my urges and steer clear of the ODing bit in the recent past. I usually make a variety of sauces (both sweet and savoury) and store it in airtight jars in the fridge for up to weeks based on the shelf life of the ingredients of course.

I’ve listed here four of my most favourite, easy-to-make recipes. Two sweet, two savoury, so you take your pick:

Perfect Pesto

·         2 Packed Cups of Fresh Basil Leaves
·         1/4 Cup Plus 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
·         2-3 Garlic Cloves, Crushed
·         1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan
·         1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
·         Salt and Pepper to Taste

METHOD: Add your basil to a food processor. Pulse for a bit. Now add half of your olive oil and your crushed garlic. Pulse again. Add your pine nuts and the rest of your olive oil. Pulse. Add your Parmesan and pulse. Scrape down the sides of your food processor and pulse pesto until smooth and dreamy. Taste and salt. If you like it super garlicky, by all means…add more to your heart’s delight!

Honey Balsamic Barbecue Sauce
·         4 garlic cloves, minced
·         2 shallots, minced
·         100 grams tomato paste
·         2 tablespoons honey
·         1 tablespoon herbed vinegar
·         2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
·         2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon soy sauce
·         1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
·         1 tablespoon vegetable oil
·         1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
·         1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
·         Dried chilli pepper flakes, to taste
·         1/2 cup water

METHOD: Sauté the garlic and shallots in a saucepan until lightly browned. Add the remaining ingredients and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, for half an hour or until the sauce has thickened to desired consistency. Let cool and use a funnel to transfer the sauce into a jar. It can be kept for a few weeks in the refrigerator.

Salted Caramel Sauce

·         1 cup sugar
·         1/4 cup water
·         8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
·         1/2 cup heavy cream
·         2 teaspoons vanilla
·         pinch of salt

METHOD: Place sugar in a small heavy saucepan. Pour water evenly over the top. Turn stove top to medium-high heat. Hold saucepan by the handle and swirl occasionally until sugar has dissolved. (Avoid letting sugar burn until completely dissolved.) Cover pan, turn heat to high, and boil for 2 minutes. Remove lid and continue to boil until syrup turns brown around the edges of the pan. Again, grab the handle and swirl syrup occasionally until it turns a deep amber and begins to smoke. Remove pan from heat. Add butter. Gently whisk, until all butter is mixed in. Stir in cream. (If sauce become lumpy, set pan over low heat and stir until smooth then turn off heat again.) Stir in vanilla and salt. If a thin consistency is desired, serve immediately; caramel can also be stored in the refrigerator and heated up for 10 to 20 seconds in the microwave.

The Simplest Hot Fudge Sauce

·         1 can sweetened condensed milk
·         2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
·         1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
·         1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

METHOD: Heat condensed milk, chocolate, 3/4 cup of water, and coffee in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat stirring frequently, then constantly until sauce turns from grainy to creamy smooth. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and adding water as needed to thin to desired texture. Serve.

March 17, 2011

The heat is on!

I have always loved sport…okay, maybe not playing it as much as watching it, but from what I can remember, it has always been an integral part of my life. Maybe that’s because I was always considered ‘one of the guys’ in school (I could beat seasoned seniors at a mean game of pool, thank you very much; or it could also because all the men, women and children in my house are addicted to sport – cricket, tennis, golf, soccer, you name it and there will definitely be some action and live commentary happening my household.

That brings me to my topic of discussion or debate today – India Vs West Indies on March 20 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai baby! I love, love, love watching cricket at the stadium…what an adrenaline rush! So this time when I check the schedule for WC 2011 and saw that India had a game in Chennai, I decided to bug all and sundry for a ticket!
The chances seemed bleak, me clinging on to a rope of hope…and just when things seemed down, lo and behold! A very very dear friend, one of my best girls in fact made it happen! So I have decided to reward her and pack a picnic basket replete with sandwiches and cookies. Here’s what I’m making:

Pressed Picnic Sandwiches
·         1 large loaf of ciabatta bread, sliced lengthwise
·         3-4 tablespoons fresh pesto
·         1/4 lb. sliced sweet sopressata
·         3-4 slices good prosciutto
·         3-4 slices provolone cheese
·         3-4 slices mozzarella cheese
·         6-8 basil leaves, washed and patted dry
·         plastic wrap, for wrapping the sandwiches

METHOD:  Slice the ciabatta bread lengthwise, so that there is a top and a bottom slice. Spread 3-4 tablespoons of fresh pesto over the bottom piece of bread. I like a lot of pesto, but don’t use so much that the bread becomes soggy. Top the pesto with the sopressata, then the prosciutto, then the provolone and mozzarella cheese. Top the cheese with your basil leaves, then place the top of the bread on the sandwich. Press down on the sandwiches with your hands, then very tightly wrap them in plastic wrap (seriously – do this as tight as you possible can). When you are ready to eat, unwrap the sandwiches and use a very sharp knife to cut the sandwich into 9-12 small sandwiches.

Peanut Butter M&M Cookies
·         1 3/4 cups flour
·         1/2 teaspoon salt
·         1 teaspoon baking soda
·         1/2 cup shortening or butter for a flatter cookie
·         1/2 cup sugar
·         1/2 cup brown sugar
·         1/2 cup peanut butter
·         1 egg
·         1 teaspoon vanilla
·         2 tablespoons milk
·         1/2 large bag M&Ms

 METHOD: Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment. Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl, set aside. With a hand or stand mixer, cream the shortening (or butter), sugars and peanut butter. Stir in the egg, vanilla and milk. Add the dry ingredients and mix till just combined. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir in the M&Ms. Drop by tablespoons onto baking sheets and lightly press down with a fork to barely flatten cookies. Bake 10 minutes; let cool on wire racks.

March 11, 2011


Not many of us really like soup. It’s most often looked at as something healthy and ‘SICK PEOPLE FOOD.’ But soups have got a makeover and how. No longer do you have to pick and choose between boring options like Cream of Tomato, Sweet Corn Chicken and Hot N’ Sour Soup. There seem to be quite a few experimental eager beavers out there who have come up with some stellar recipes that not only warm the cockles of your, in this case, stomach, but also make an insipid bowl a delicious mouthful and meal by itself.
Here are two gorgeous recipes that you MUST try at home:

Creamy Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Soup
·         1 whole head cauliflower
·         1 large whole head garlic
·         1 tablespoon olive oil
·         1 tablespoon butter
·         1 1/2 stalks celery, diced
·         1 yellow onion, diced
·         1 carrot, diced
·         1/2 teaspoon salt
·         1/4 teaspoon pepper
·         1/8 teaspoon paprika
·         1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
·         1 tablespoon flour
·         1/3 cup dry white wine
·         1/2 cup water
·         2 cups vegetable broth, plus up to 2 more as needed for desired consistency
·         1 dried bay leaf
·         2 teaspoons fresh minced parsley
·         1/3 cup half and half
·         3 ounces cooked and crumbled bacon
·         additional oil for serving - olive oil or truffle oil

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut cauliflower into individual florets. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Transfer to a foil lined baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Cut the top off of the head of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap with foil. Place wrapped garlic on the baking sheet. Roast the cauliflower and garlic at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes. When the cauliflower is tender and golden remove from the oven. The garlic will need to roast for a total of about 25-30 minutes. You can remove it to check it's progress as needed - it should smell fragrant but not raw, be golden and tender.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a cast iron dutch oven or medium-large stock pot. Add the onion, celery, and carrot. Saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Whisk in the salt, pepper, paprika, thyme, and flour and continue to cook for 2 more minutes. Add the wine and water, whisking to combine with the flour mixture. Then, slowly add in the 2 cups broth. Add the bay leave and roasted garlic cloves. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower and simmer an additional 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Working in batches, add the soup to a blender or food processor and blend until pureed and smooth. Add additional broth during or after blending to achieve desired consistency. After all the batches have been completed, return to the pot. Stir in the half and half and parsley. Cook until just heated through. Adjust salt and pepper for tastes. Serve immediately, topped with bacon and a drizzle of olive or truffle oil and a side of bread for dipping.

Cheddar Cheese Soup

·         ½ stick butter
·         1 cup onion, chopped
·         1 celery stalk, chopped
·         2 cloves of garlic, chopped
·         ¼ cup flour
·         ¼ tsp paprika
·         ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
·         4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
·         1 ½ cups half and half
·         2 ½ cups cheddar cheese, grated (I used a cup of smoked and medium for the remaining)
·         a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce

Directions: Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat then add the onion, celery and garlic. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Mix in the flour, paprika and red pepper flakes, stir, then stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer for about 15 minutes or when the vegetables are soft then puree the soup with a hand blender, food processor, or blender. Be careful with the hot mix, folks. Return the mix to the pot if needed and add the half and half. Bring to a simmer once again then add the cheese by the handful, stirring each time until each portion is melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce over the top when serving or add to the entire pot, it’s your choice. Bacon, croutons and a number of other toppings would be wonderful over this recipe.