You know, when you're leaving on vacation and you have to empty out your fridge?
Sometimes the outcome is a disjointed meal with bits and bobs of stuff. But sometimes it works out quite nicely, so you hit two birds with one stone.
Last night we had some pastries, some spinach pasta and a vegetable soup.
Officially, I was in charge of making the soup, but I can't take credit for it all-- the combination of my mum's ideas, my dad's supervision and my cooking brought it together.
Coincidentally, we used leek and zucchini (like my soup the other day at The Pantry) and we also threw in some potatoes and tomatoes.
Essentially you chop up the vegetables, place them in a baking dish with a general drizzle of olive oil, some salt, pepper, herbes de Provence and some grated parmesan and you put it under a grill for a while, until they look a bit soft. Boil the potatoes separately and keep the water.
Fry off some chopped onions and garlic in a saucepan and add the vegetables (with their oil). Let them cook for a few minutes, add some stock, or preferably the potato water.
Put a lid on the saucepan and let it all boil and let the vegetables cook. The zucchini should be soft, after about 15-20 minutes. Let it cool, puree it with a hand blender, check the seasoning and top each serving with some fresh parmesan, if you want. Adding some fresh herbs when you add the stock would taste delicious too. You can change up the vegetables, omit some, add some, add cream, don't puree it... whatever you want.
This coming week I'll be in Delhi with my grandparents, and they make insanely delicious food- so I'll be sure to try and learn some of the dishes and post about them. The restaurants and cafes there are exquisite, too... creperies, bistros, sweets, thai, punjabi food...
Reading over my blog introduction the other day, I realised that I had written that this blog would be more that just a collection of my cooking endeavours. So the past couple of weeks I have been making a conscientious effort to document foods I try, places I go and things I do.
This cafe has been in Bombay for decades, and shut down a while ago for renovation. It recently reopened and has been big news all over the city. My dad remembers it from his stay in Bombay in his twenties, and it's now a slick, bright, bustling and modern cafe.
The ambience is sunny and evidently very high-society. The pastries look absolutely delicious, and the menu is a definite highlight: designed like an old newspaper, it features witty descriptions, good photography and an extremely well-rounded menu. It's mainly western food, but the choice is baffling. The food is served creatively, but the service was very slow. (Read about our trip to the cafe).
We waited more than an hour, while a group of people nearby got their food before us, even though they ordered much later than we did. On top of that, they brought my mum the wrong burger.
Despite the mess-ups, we were all happy with our dishes: a melty mushroom sandwich, veggie burgers, macaroni and cheese (which wasn't the usual processed-cheese-glop, but had a stronger and more sophisticated flavour).
There's plenty more I want to try there, but I need to set aside quite a bit of time.
Chocolate Fudge Cappuccino
It's winter holidays! Finally...
My friends and I always go and do something on the last day of school, so on Friday a few of us went to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. For non-Mumbaikars, this place is like Starbucks (but most of my friends think Coffee Bean makes better coffee).
I've never actually sat down there for a long period of time, so this time I noticed why it's so popular among teenagers, mums and businesspeople alike: it's energetic, it has a good range of well-made food and the drinks are delicious. To get myself somewhat into the 'holiday spirit' I ordered a Chocolate Fudge Cappuccino (I have a newfound love of cappuccino)-- a limited-time Christmas drink.
It was heavenly... to be honest, it tasted like hot chocolate made with foamy milk, but I wasn't complaining. My validation for having so much chocolate (on top of all the brownies and cake our teachers brought in for our class that day) was that the coffee in the drink was good for me...
My mum's friend told her about a new pizza place in Kala Ghoda, so we set out to find it last night. It turned out not to be a pizza place, but an absolutely adorable new boulangerie-patisserie-brunch place-dinner place. The decor is clean yet exciting, the ingredients intelligently sourced, the menu seasonal and the service insanely fast. The place could be in Paris, with creative minds sipping a smoothie or a coffee and munching on scrumptious fresh food while churning out new, world-changing ideas.
But it's in Mumbai. An ever-evolving, diversifying, special city.
I enjoyed a leek, spinach and sweet lime soup, and my family had a winter vegetable tart; a spinach and ricotta tart; a tofu salad; banana-fig smoothie; chocolate chip cookie and a vanilla bread and butter pudding... all of which were big successes.
The menu is tempting me back, so we have to go there sometime soon-- preferably breakfast, to try out the Oatmeal Brulée :O
I took a lot of inspiration from their fun interior design and the subtle yet pervading Christmas decorations-- If I want a beautiful café, I'll have to start brainstorming now ;)
P.S. Merry Christmas! We had an 'Express Christmas' today, since we'll be out of town on the 25th... Modern Family lovers will get the concept. Non-Modern Family lovers: 1. Shame on you. 2. Just watch that episode.
Loving my weekends...
I had a really lovely weekend, actually. For most people, getting up at 7:30 on a Saturday isn't ideal, but I was doing it for a good cause: art.
My friends and I spent a good 3 hours working on ceramics together; something so rewarding and relaxing, it's difficult to describe.
The feeling of clay on your hands, of a grey mass slowly coming together into something reflecting your idea, your imagination, your creation. Of course, having hilarious and lovely people there with you makes it all the more enjoyable.
I came out of the art room with the same feeling as I did after our morning at the Bedouin market in France this summer.
I think I was meant to spend my weekend mornings making stuff, shopping at markets or cycling.
My family and I went out to lunch afterwards, to the Sundance Cafe an old place that's been recently renovated and looks gorgeous (I'll write a review on it soon).
We spent a lovely hour (waiting for our food...) talking about time, growing up, the year ahead and the year past, projects, friends, things that are always on our minds but that we rarely sit down and talk about.
On Sunday I went for my much-awaited bike ride with my dad-- the last time we went cycling we almost got stuck in the rain, and I made my dad promise that we would go as soon as the monsoons were over... that was before our trip to France.
We went all the way from our house at Nariman Point, up and down Malabar Hill and back. It was exhausting, but so absolutely worth it; it was like our bike ride in Provence... kind of.
And for lunch I made something I've wanted to try for a while: a Tuscan soup we saw on Masterchef once, called Ribollita. It's full of delicious vegetables, and is so simplistic. No fancy ingredients, no tricky techniques. You just chop up the stuff and leave it to cook in the pot.
We had some delicious focaccia, which I used as the bread base (the concept it that you place a chunk of Italian bread in the bowl and top it with the soup, letting the whole thing soften and blend).
Even my sister, who would really never touch leeks or carrots, loved it and finished first-- she came out of her room just now and gushed "Ohhh that was so good!" when she saw the photos of the dish on my blog.
This soup is warm, healthy, versatile--thick (or thin, if you want it to be), comforting and relaxing... like a good weekend should be.
Life doesn't go according to plan...
I'm obsessed with planning. I had hours' worth of homework lined up last weekend, and I spent at least an hour listing it all out and planning the time it would take, when I would do what and how much time to spend doing what when.
But unfortunately, I've learned the hard way that planning is sometimes redundant.
You know, when you say you'll finish something in an hour, and what feels like 45 minutes later, you look at your clock and realise that you've spent 1 and a half hours writing half a page.
Art work that's been dragging on for weeks and that I'm supposed to finish still doesn't finish; past exam papers that I've been planning to solve for ages still lie unsolved...
The same thing happens with cooking. I was dying to make bread this weekend- David Lebovitz's 'No-Knead Whole-Wheat Loaf' is supposed to be the ultimate foolproof recipe>
I read in a hilarious article by a self-proclaimed 'kitchen klutz' that it's one of the few recipes that she manages to pull of time and again. She said that, as if by sorcery, a shaggy mess transforms into a huge, springy lump, and then into a warm, crusty-outside & pillowy-inside brown boule.
I followed this recipe to the T: each and every step, each measurement and time and temperature.
Shaggy mess? check. Massive ball of dough? um... no. Perfect, crusty brown bread? nope.
I don't know what went wrong... I was puzzled that there was no sugar in the recipe, but I just went with it. Is there really no sugar, or was it a typo?
Anyway, I decided to learn from the last time I tried making bread and to just follow the instructions and chuck it in the oven. The end result was a flat, rectangular loaf of bread that tasted much like ciabatta. I made the mistake of positioning the oven rack too low and the bottom got a bit burnt, but that actually compensated for the lack of a crunchy top. I enjoyed a lovely sandwich with honey, cheddar and cottage cheese. I did a whole photo shoot of the bread, and I'm upset because now I can't find the photos anywhere... I'll post them if I ever find them. In an attempt to prevent the bread from drying out, we kept it in an airtight container on the kitchen counter, but it got mouldy after a few days :(
Thousands of people have supposedly sworn by this recipe-- have you tried it? Any advice?
In the meantime, just go with the flow and see what comes out. You never know-- you may at least get a sandwich out of it. And sandwiches are pretty cool.
We had such a busy weekend, with Tarini's birthday, her party and the omnipresent homework.
But on Sunday morning I made sure I tried out this recipe that I'd been waiting to make for over a week. This came together in a matter of minutes, and it used minimal ingredients. The best part was how quickly they cooked and the fact that you can cook them based on when you want one, or cook them and toast them later to reheat.
These were called Griddle Scones with Honey, but we ran out of honey, so I had mine with butter and jam. I imagine maple syrup would taste nice too (if you're fond of it... it's not exactly my thing) and I'll need no persuading to make these again with a fresh jar of honey :)
What better place to get a good, British scone recipe than from the BBC Good Food website? I love it because they just have simple, easy recipes for the stuff that everyone wants to try and make.
These scones are light, easy and perfectly versatile, so go ahead and make some now-- they'll make a nice substitute for your toast or sandwich ;)