Pumpkin and Leek Soup

My sister in law served up this beautiful Pumpkin soup as a part of her Christmas eve dinner and ever since I have been wanting to do something similar in my kitchen. Now I am a pumpkin lover, as a kid one of my favourite meal would be steamed rice with a pumpkin-potato mash and a dollop of butter. Even now I do indulge in such meals sometime while the boys cringe! Coming back to the pumpkin, soup is the only possible way I can make my 8 year old try it.

soup main

With minimum labour, it turned out to be stellar. Again the flavours are clean and easy and with a little prep ahead, it can be doled out in a jiffy. I used some leeks ,oregano and parsley for it to come together. My SIL puts loads of lemon grass, which goes pretty well too with pumpkin. Well then, a book and a warm blanket is all you need for some delicious me – time. More on me- time in my next post.

soup 1

 

Pumpkin and Leek Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Continental
 
A flavourful pumpkin soup perfect for cold winter days
Ingredients
  • Yellow pumpkin - half a kilo - diced
  • Leek - 2 stems - diced - if not available use 1 medium sized red onion
  • Ginger paste - 1 tsp
  • Olive oil - 1 tbsp.
  • Oregano - as per taste
  • Chilli flakes - as per taste
  • Vegetable Stock - 2 cups or use warm water
  • Salt - to taste
  • Parsely - chopped a handful
Instructions
  1. In a pan heat the olive oil, sauté the leek till transluscent.
  2. Add the diced pumpkin , oregano ,cilli flakes and salt. Saute till the pumkin is soft.
  3. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock, cover ane let it simmer for 10 mins.
  4. Check seasoning.
  5. Remove from heat and blend into a smooth puree.
  6. You can strain it through a sieve for a silky texture but I left it a bit chunky.
  7. Garnish with chilli flakes and chopped parsley.
  8. Serve hot with toasted bread or soup sticks.
 

 

Peanut Butter Cupcake with Chocolate Cream Frosting

It was my 8 year olds first day in school after the winter vacay and I wanted to make sure something special waited for him when he got back. Of late he has gotten hooked on to the Masterchef series and has been picking up culinary jargons which of course makes his mama very pleased. I am also hoping this would broaden his eating horizon as well as he will overcome his fear to try out different things as and when . Now peanut butter is not something he would particularly enjoy but in the avatar of a cupcake with a gooey chocolate frosting , it will surely brighten up his day.

peanut butter cupcake main

The initial idea was to make some cookies but then I came across this at Sallys Baking Addiction – a truly wonderful blog to follow if you are an avid baker. The recipe is loosely based on hers with my twist of the chocolate cream frosting which is very different from your usual ganache , but so delicious.

peanut butter cupcakes 2

 

Peanut Butter Cupcake with Chocolate Cream Frosting
Author: 
Recipe type: baked goodies
Cuisine: continental
Serves: 12 cupcakes
 
An easy way to use up peanut butter
Ingredients
  • For the Cupcakes:
  • Flour - 1 cup
  • Granulated sugar - 1 cup or a little less
  • Eggs - 2 nos
  • Butter - ¼th a cup
  • Peanut Butter - ½ a cup
  • Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
  • Baking powder - 1 tsp
  • Milk - 2 tbsp.
  • For the Chocolate cream frosting:
  • Powdered sugar - 4 tbsp.
  • Cocoa powder - 2 tbsp.
  • Cream - 2 tbsp. - I used Aul low fat cream
  • Butter - ½ a cup
Instructions
  1. For the cupcakes:
  2. In a bowl whisk together the sugar, butter and peanut butter. Use a handblender for better results.
  3. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Sift the flour and baking powder together.
  5. Add the vanilla essence.
  6. Add the flour mixture in two batches , folding it into the sugar- butter mixture.
  7. Add the milk and give it one good stir.
  8. Fill up the prepared muffin cups with this mixture and bake for 15- 20 mins in a preheated oven at 180 deg C.
  9. Once done, let it cool before frosting the cupcakes.
  10. For the Frosting:
  11. In a bowl, whisk the butter well. Add the sugar and cocoa powder I, and whisk it into a smooth mixture. Add the cream and mix well.
  12. Fill up a piping bag with your favourite nozzle.
  13. Fill this mixture in and frost the cupcakes. Garnish with some sprinkles of your choice.
 

The Peruvian Pop Up @ Swissotel , Kolkata

Sometimes its good to indulge in something without having any knowledge about the same. Being a food blogger, its assumed that we  are this know-it-all breed when it comes to food, but that’s not really the case. We are passionate about food no doubt and leave no opportunity to learn about a new dish, a new cuisine, we are constantly learning , that’s who we are! The same happened to me when I got an invite to preview the Peruvian pop up at Swissotel. Armed with zero knowledge about the cuisine , I landed up at Café Swiss on a beautiful winter afternoon to sample some Peruvian food.The fact that I was meeting all my favourite people at the hotel was an added bonus.

collage 1

The menu comprised of snacks, salads, soup along with the main courses and dessert. Peruvian cuisine is influenced by a variety of other mainstream cuisine and it does borrow from the cuisines brought in by its immigrants from parts of Europe, mainly Spanish and Italian , also Asian influence from Chinese and Japanese cuisine. The original menu has been created by Chef Erika Santa Maria of Swissotel, Lima but developed here by the very dedicated Chef Pranay of Café swiss along with his team.

causa rellena
Causa rellena – Layered potato, avocado and chicken salad

We started our meal with a beautiful layered potato, avocado and chicken salad which Chef Pranay told me is always served at the start of a Peruvian meal. Subtly flavoured, it acts as a palate cleanser. We moved on to a few other entrees like Cebiche de Champignon – a pickled mushroom dish along with Cebiche de Pescado – lemon marinated fish served along with some corn and sweet potatoes. The success of this dish depends on the freshness of the fish and full marks to Chef for delivering something so wonderful. The little apprehensive me when served anything raw , went in for a second helping!

cebhiche de champignon
Cebiche de champignon- pickled mushroom
cebiche de pescado
Cebiche de pescado – lemon marinated fish

The Jalea Mixta – deep fried sea food and Antichichus de Pollo – Chicken skewers came in next, one could clearly see the Japanese influence. Crispy crunchy delight! Aji Amarillo – a kind of yellow pepper grown in Peru is at the heart of most of the dishes. The names may sound a bit alien but trust me once u taste these dishes , you will find so much similarity with the kind of food we eat. Many common ingredients but a different technique to use it, that’s the essence of food and how it binds everyone. The Aguadito de gallina – a hearty chicken soup with rice and potatoes flavoured with coriander was a comforting meal in itself.

jalea mixta
jalea mixta

 

aguadito de gallina

The rest of the meal was equally delicious, simple and yet so nice.Pescado a la Chorillana – fish cooked with onion, tomatoes and oregano and Lomo Saltado – chicken cooked with onion tomatoes and soy sauce served on a bed of French fries! For the vegetarians – Pimentoes Rellenos con quinoa – Capsicum filled with quinoa layered potato , avocado is a great option.

pescado a la chorillana
pescado a la chorillana
pollo a la brasa
pollo a la brasa

pimentos rellenos con quinoa

Our Peruvian lunch ended with a lovely dessert platter which consisted of Arroz con leche – a rice dessert, definitely a twin of our very dear Paayesh. There was Crema Volteada Peruana – Crème caramel with quinoa and Maracuya cheese cake.

dessert platter

The Peruvian Pop up is the brain child of Mr. Marco Saxer , brilliantly executed by his team here. The food is new and delicious and definitely worth a try. It is on for a week from today and dishes are available on a la carte basis. Thank you Team Swiss on behalf of Kolkata Food Bloggers  for this experience.

Chicken and Pakchoi Broth – Just what your soul needs in winter

I came back from my winter vacation to a pleasant Kolkata. Cant say it really feels like winter here but the nip in the air kind of makes up for it. And this kind of weather calls for hot broths – fuss free but delicious. Our favourite Chinese joint , a discreet watering hole tucked away in the lanes of Tangra – China town of Kolkata make a mean chicken , mushroom soup, more a broth I would say. Clean flavours , nothing fancy but soul satisfying . I can survive on bowls of steaming hot soups every winter night , but since its not feasible to source it from outside all the time , I make my own. It just needs a little prep ahead, like you make the stock,store the veggies and you are good to go in a jiffy.

pakchoy soup 1

Just go with your instinct I say when it comes to seasoning your broth. The simpler flavours you go for, the tastier the soup. Like in this one I just seasoned the stock with garlic, ginger and pepper. Toss together some veggies and boiled chicken in a pan, simmer with the stock and it is ready. Totally a soul satisfying experience.

pakchoy soup

 

Chicken and Pakchoi Broth - Just what your soul needs in winter
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Asian
 
A nutritious and flavourful soup for the cold days
Ingredients
  • For the Stock:
  • Chicken - use ones with the bones - 6 pieces
  • Carrots - 1 small - cut into cubes
  • Ginger paste - 1 tbsp.
  • Garlic paste - 1 tbsp.
  • Pepper powder - 1 tbsp.
  • Aji no moto/mono sodium glutamate - a pinch
  • Water - 4 cups approx.
  • Salt - to taste
  • For the broth:
  • Button mushrooms - 1 cup - halved
  • Pakchoi - a bunch - trimmed and washed
  • Spring oinons - a handful - chopped for garnish
  • Salt and pepper - to taste
  • Butter - 1 tbsp
Instructions
  1. Lets make the stock first.
  2. In a pressure cooker , put all the ingredients listed under STOCK and let it cook for 5-6 whistle.
  3. Remove from heat and strain the stock.
  4. Remove the chicken from the bone and keep aside for use.
  5. In a big pan , heat the butter.
  6. Toss in the boiled shredded chicken and the mushroom.
  7. Next add the pakchoi leaves and let it cook for 2-3 mmins
  8. Add the prepared stock.
  9. Check seasoning.
  10. Let it simmer for 5 mins.
  11. Garnish with chopped spring onions and serve steaming hot!
 

Cherry Cheese Chocolate Cake

I will begin with wishing all my readers a very happy new year. A new year , a new hope, a new chance , same dreams but a fresh start. A new year with loads of love and happiness and good food of course. Last year wasn’t really how I wanted to focus on this blog of mine. Something that started as a hobby , as a passion but helped me achieve so much recognition and knowledge. I want 2016 to be the year of My Food My Life , where I can take a few plunges that I have been thinking of for a while now. Cooking and sharing continues for sure in and keeping with the tradition sharing this super recipe of Cherry Cheese Chocolate Cake . It was an experiment gone right and I am so happy to share it here.

cherry cake 1

 

Cherry Cheese Chocolate Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Cake
Cuisine: Continental
 
A beautiful chocolate cake that is rich and festive.
Ingredients
  • Butter - ½ cup
  • Flour - ½ cup
  • Cocoa powder - ⅓ rd cup
  • Sugar - 1 cup
  • Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
  • Baking powder - ¼ tsp
  • Egg - 2 nos
  • Cream Cheese - ½ cup - whipped well along with 1 tbsp. icing sugar
  • Cherries - a few
Instructions
  1. In a microwave safe bowl , melt the sugar.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar, eggs and vanilla essence.
  3. Mix in the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder.
  4. Spread batter into prepared pan.
  5. Put dollops of the cream cheese mixture on top of the batter and swirl it around with a toothpick.
  6. Garnish with the cherries .
  7. Bake in a preheated oven for 35-40 mins at 175 deg C.