This Monday, I was so excited.
I mean dyingly, jumpingly, couting-the-minutes, more-excited than-for-my-birthday-excited.
Because I was going to spend a whole week at Indigo- one of the finest and hippest restaurants in the country!
But after 30 minutes there, our mentor packed us off and said there was nothing for us to do that day (probably since we weren't in the required outfit, but he never told us to wear anything specific...) and told us to come the next day at 8...
I was devastated! But my mum made up for the day by taking me to Crossword for lunch and to buy something with the gift voucher I had.
I had a delicious chocolate chip pancake over lunch with her at Moshe's and after chatting I topped it off with buying 2 new recipe books :O
I knew I would go to the recipe section, because I have much too large a reading list already and loads of unread novels sitting at home.
One of them was 'Good Old-Fashion Teatime Treats' by Jane Pettigrew- I flipped through it and was immediately salivating: bread recipes, hot cross buns, bara brith, flapjacks, things that I've always wanted to make and things that I've never heard of.
I knew I had to do some baking that afternoon!
I settled on Scarborough Muffins- English Muffins (NOT the sweet, flavoured American ones-- these are plain and bread-like, to be toasted and eaten with stuff like butter, jam and cheese ;) )
Somehow, something went wrong with this simple recipe and my mixture was not a soft dough, but was a thick batter... Don't ask me why, or how...
So instead of adding heaps of flour, my mum suggested I pour the batter into a muffin tray. I ended up forgetting about them and they rose way over the tops of the tray and then proceeded to sink in the oven.
But they taste pretty good :) Again, they're not meant to be eaten alone- enjoy it warm and topped, along with a nice drink.
Pass The Plate & Chaos in Mumbai...
This is pretty self-explanatory: Bread, butter, cheese, chili, chili flakes, masala (I put it for Pass The Plate). We used to make a simpler (and in my opinion, much yummier) version a lot for weekend lunch- good brown bread, dijon mustard, fresh cheese, salt & pepper and baked in the oven so the cheese gets a little crispy and bubbly :)
On a side note, my dad and I went for a long drive around the city to take photos of all the Ganpati festivities going on right now- for those who don't know, Ganpati is a festival celebrating the elephant god, Ganesh. I'm not to clear on it myself, but from what I understand, there's a big celebration when the Ganesh statue arrives at your home and different people keep it for different durations. After a certain number of days, the statue is led out in a long procession to be immersed in the sea.
The processions. Drums, dancing, colour, kids, men, women, grandparents, drunk people, loud music. Sometimes they are just annoying and weird when it's all drunk men, noise and firecrackers. Sometimes it just makes you smile because people are having so much fun, being so carefree and passionate. The drummers are enthusiastic, the children have a blast and the grown-ups decide to take a day's break from whatever they do.
We got some pretty cool photos, but right now I'm just waiting for the big final day of immersion so that all the firecrackers stop!
It's all a learning experience...
After my pie success, I got into the mood of inventing and experimenting. Another thing I want to be able to do is just whip up some cookies or cake, changing the ingredients based on my mood. I needed to get the basic idea down and I was inspired by the cereal cookies my mum made recently (I pretty much hogged the whole batch for breakfast for days...)
I sort of go through phases... no, I always go through phases... and I get it from my dad. I discover something new, I love it, and I eat it day in and day out for ages.
I also have a habit of wanting to try everything, but not necessarily becoming obsessed with it. That happened with my Weetabix Crunchy Bran cereal, and then with my Cookie Crisp cereal.
It wasn't bad... it just didn't taste like a chocolate chip cookie. It was just sweet.
I'm not even going to give you the recipe for what I tried out (unless you want it so you know exactly what NOT to do :P)
The batter was gooey and tasted very cocoa-y, but I let it be. They baked for almost an hour because the skewer kept coming out with soft dough on it. But when I took them out, the bottoms and sides were burnt and the middles were raw...
Plus, they lacked any form of flavour (minor detail).
But I wasn't sad about throwing them all away. I mean, it wasn't like I was going to be missing out on some delicious treat. But I usually want to make the most of something and salvage my efforts. But this was a lost cause, and I was OK with that.
I wanted to post about them because this is exactly why I made Chocolate Tulip. To show you my ideas, my successes and my failures. Most of the blogs we follow are by amazing people who just manage to make gorgeous food every single time. Sometimes it's disheartening for me when I follow a recipe exactly and yet my dish is nothing in comparison.
But the point of this blog is to show people that they're not the only ones who mess up, and that it's ok. It's to encourage everyone- whether they're teenagers or parents or experienced bloggers- to try and invent something, try something new, put together new flavours and not be ashamed if it doesn't go to plan. Because, as much as this is clichéd, it's all a learning experience.
Lessons Learnt: Now I know that immense amounts of cocoa need lots of sugar. That mashed bananas do not replace everything. And that eggs don't really go in cookies.
Lessons To Be Learnt: How to make my own cookies. ;)
What mess-ups have you had? Come on, share them :)
And a pretty one, at that...
I really want to build up a repertoire of stuff I should just know how to make.
Like, people on Masterchef just say "Yeah, I'm gonna make a chocolate mousse tart."
"I'm going to whip up some fresh pasta and do a panna cotta for dessert."
"I'm making fresh bread and dumplings."
How do you know how to make all that? They just know.
One thing that's been on my list is pie crust- once you know how to make it, you can adapt it for a sweet or a savoury pie.
I also want to work on my creativity and inventing my own recipes instead of working with a recipe. I had an initial pie idea, but my parents weren't too sure on it... maybe I'll try it someday anyway just to see how it turns out...
I wanted to steer away from the usual creamy, cheesy interior and make a lighter pie (well, as light as you can get when you're dumping a cup of butter into the shell...).
I worked surprisingly fast- don't ask me why or how, but the filling, layering and closing was done in about an hour. I made and blind-baked the dough in advance-- oh; and I used my old marbles for blind-baking! Talk about being creative.
I was so thrilled with my lattice, too. I found superb instructions on Smitten Kitchen and it was loads of fun... it's like art!
My sister, the pie-loving-pie-munching-pie-obsessed girl thoroughly approved and shotgunned taking the leftover slice to school the next day.
I passed the Ultimate Taste-Tester Test :)
I have a really cool idea for my next pie dough (it's a surprise!) and I can't wait to try and make a sweet pie with almond flour and honey... I have a new-found love for honey, sparked by the lovely stuff we got in France.
So go and have some fun: make a sticky dough -I used Lottie + Doof's recipe (all hail)- make a pesto-y roast vegetable filling (or work with fish, chicken or soy protein), weave a beautiful lattice, and enjoy pretty pie.
Pass The Plate + Masterchef + Experimentation...
I have wanted to try making these for aaaages...
Jamie Oliver's pizza dough recipe has been used innumerable times in my family- not only for pizza, but for calzones and little ciabatta-like buns too.
Ever since making those buns, I've had the idea of filling each one with a bit of chocolate, nutella, peanut butter or cheese and then baking them, creating a warm, gooey treat.
A recent episode of Masterchef Australia solved one of my problems: what to call them.
Little boules of bread filled with something?
Suppli is a dish from Rome consisting of a ball of risotto coated in egg and bread crumbs and deep fried. The 'surprise' inside is that the risotto is surrounding a hunk of mozzarella.
Is that tempting or is that tempting?
One team made a twist on suppli: pork meatballs with a fig filling.
So why not try my own suppli?
This wasn't as successful as I had hoped. The cheese wan't stringy and gooey when I took the buns out. Once, when we made regular buns using this dough, I sliced and put some cheese in one and baked it and the cheese came out how I wanted. The difference there was that the bun was already baked, so I only had to bake it long enough for the cheese to melt. This time the whole dough had to cook, so the cheese was in for too long.
The nutella and peanut butter ones came out nice and gooey, although I wanted more of an explosion of flavour and filling. When I was filling them, I had to put very little because otherwise they started to ooze out as I rolled them. I think making bigger buns would enable me to put more filling in.
They were still fun to eat and they were a success with Pass The Plate too.
So give it a go! Try other fillings: chocolate, meat, different cheeses, savoury fillings like spinach, corn or mushrooms. Share them and enjoy :)
(But don't do what they did on Masterchef and reveal the surprise... that's just lame...)
'Aloo'= potato & 'Tikki'= little cutlet
I was looking forward to today all week. Not only was it 'popcorn day' -I had planned in advance that I was going to cook- finally, a day without a heap of assignments due the next morning!
But I didn't actually have a dish in mind, and I take forever to even decide on something...
So when my mum said that she had been planning to make chaat and aloo tikki, I couldn't resist.
It's simple- minimal cooking or technique required. But they're full of flavour and loads of fun to eat.
For those of you who don't know (gasp! you're missing out...), chaat is a very Indian snack. There are numerous types, but there are some components that appear in almost all: potato, chutneys, chickpeas, masala, coriander, some crunchy fried component, some lentils, some crispy potato or batter sprinkles, some puffs (they look like rice krispie puffs), and yoghurt.
My absolute favourite is Dahi Batata Puri: small, crunchy, hollow boules- each filled with a bit of plain mashed potato and topped with a generous heap of lentils, yoghurt, tamarind chutney, coriander, masala and sprinkles.
Chaat is super easy to make and it'll please anyone. I know for a fact that you can get chaat kits in Chicago on Devon street, and any other Indian food shop will have the ingredients you need. Otherwise, improvise with a crunchy substitute like crackers or bruschetta.
After having aloo tikkis, you'll never have plain ol' mashed potatoes again. They're soft on the inside, crispy on the outside and taste much better than simple salt and pepper seasoning.
Make yourself and your family a snackity dinner- tell me what you thought!
Every year we start off with a weekend trip to one of the hilly areas on the outskirts of Mumbai- a trip consisting of mud, rappelling, last-minute & madly organised talent shows, late nights, early mornings, long bus rides and mess...
Last year I was miserable; it was colder, rainier and worse organised than ever.
But this year I came back oddly satisfied. We had a bunch of cool adventure activities with a crew of helpful assistants (although the guy in charge was scary and we thought he was a reincarnation of Hitler... "Stand in the corner and I will hang you upside down and throw stones in your mouth!"
Our trek was beautiful and the rain refreshing, the talent show was a test for your patience and stamina, but was ever so stunning and amusing.
One of the stereotypical parts of camp is the food: all the girls in my grade come with at least half a suitcase of food... cookies, instant cup noodles, chips, dip, candy, chocolate, indian snacks... you name it.
After 2 weeks of excessive eating in France, I'm kind of fed up of it. So, much to my friends' amusement, I came with almonds, walnuts, Nature Valley Crunchy bars and 3 apples (my mum thought I was crazy: I wrapped them in 2 towels, creating the biggest bundle in my entire suitcase-- but am I the only one who doesn't like bruised apples?? I don't think so.)
I also made a batch of these fudge bars, and I must say, they were divine: they're big, satisfying and taste like one whole block of fudginess. They were another discovery from Chocolate Covered Katie, and she didn't disappoint. She calls them a homemade version of Larabars- bars that I've read about and been dying to try.
You can nibble them, making the huge log last longer, or you can gobble it in massive bites, enjoying the sensation of having every nook and cranny of your mouth stuffed with chocolate.
But surely these are no better than a bowl of chips or cookies?
Here's the magic: they're made of dates.
Dates + walnuts + pure cocoa = prize-winning- good-for-you combination.
I'm going to make these again, because my family definitely has to try them... and so do you!
What's your favourite holiday snack?
Inspired by last week's Pass The Plate post and by loads of recipes I've seen (have you ever heard of the Elvis Presley Sandwich? A grilled sandwich of peanut butter and banana...), I decided to make a snackwich with 2 of my favourite things in the world. This photo really doesn't capture the gooeyness of the sandwich at all, but just take my word for it. The bit where the the peanut butter and the nutella overlapped was amazing and the bites with globs of filling were heavenly...