Tag Archives: Christmas

Lamb Cutlets (with Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Puree, Couscous Salad and Charred Broccolini)

Pan grilled Lamb Cutlets with Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Puree, Couscous Salad and Charred Broccolini – this was the mains I served for my Christmas in July family dinner.

Potatoes with Smoked Salmon, Capers and Dill - thespiceadventuress.com

If you had already checked out the Potatoes with Smoked Salmon recipe that I posted last month, you would be aware that I had collaborated with ALDI Australia to create a Christmas in July feast. And as I mentioned in the previous post, there was no intention to share the recipes here as it was a social media/photography project. But with so many readers asking for the recipes, I thought of posting it here rather than sending screen shots as this is quite a lengthy one with so many different components.

The best thing about this dish is that each individual component is a dish within itself. The red pepper cashew puree can be paired with any sort of grilled meat, fish or vegetable. The charred broccolini with a hint of spice makes an excellent side and the couscous salad is so hearty and fulfilling that it can be a delicious salad or a light lunch at your next barbecue or summer party.

It’s important that you cook the lamb cutlets right as it’s very easy to overcook these and dry cutlets are not at all nice. Depending on the thickness, 1-2 minutes on each side and then rest for another 5 minutes to get the perfect cutlets. You can also sear for a minute on high heat and then finish off the cooking in the oven. Either way, it’s best medium rare for a juicy, delicious texture.

Lamb Cutlets (with Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Puree, Couscous Salad and Charred Broccolini) - thespiceadventuress.com

The roasted red pepper cashew puree is an absolute must try. Believe me; you do need this recipe in your life because it’s so delicious and versatile. It’s a perfect accompaniment to any sort of grilled meat, seafood or veggies but it can also be a great dip. I have used it like a pesto before with pasta and grilled veggies; the result was brilliant.

So let me stop rambling and get on to the recipes as there are quite a few. And enjoy it as a wholesome dish as I served it or make components that you enjoy making the dish truly yours.

Lamb Cutlets (with Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Puree, Couscous Salad and Charred Broccolini)

Lamb Cutlets

Ingredients:

  1. 10 lamb cutlets; frenched
  2. 4 tbsp olive oil
  3. ½ tsp freshly milled black pepper
  4. 1 tsp paprika
  5. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Prepare a marinade with the olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika. Place the lamb cutlets in a bowl, pour the marinade over and rub well to coat all the pieces. Keep for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
  2. Heat a pan till smoking hot (I like to use either a grill or a cast iron pan) and place the lamb cutlets (cook in batches). Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, remove and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Cook all the cutlets in this manner.

Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Puree

(Adapted from thevintagemixer.com)

Ingredients:

  1. 4 red bell peppers/capsicum (whole)
  2. 3 medium garlic cloves
  3. ½ cup raw, unsalted cashewnuts
  4. Salt, to season
  5. 1 tsp chilli flakes
  6. Extra virgin olive oil
  7. Juice of ½ lemon

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan forced)
  2. Line a tray with baking paper and place the peppers inside. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and roast for about 40-45 minutes at 200°C (might vary according to oven) till the skin of the peppers have blackened.
  3. Remove and cover with a cloth for about 5 minutes; this makes it easier to peel off the skin.
  4. Once the peppers have lightly cooled, remove the skin, pith and seeds.
  5. Place in a food processor along with cashewnuts, garlic, chilli flakes, salt, lemon juice and 3 tbsp olive oil. Blitz well and add more olive oil as needed to get a smooth puree.

Note – If you want a really smooth puree, you can strain the sauce but I skipped the step.

Charred Broccolini

Ingredients:

  1. 2 broccolini bunches
  2. Salt, to season
  3. Chilli flakes
  4. 1 small garlic; finely sliced
  5. 1 tbsp olive oil

Method:

  1. Slice each broccolini into 3 pieces (2 stalk pieces + 1 floret)
  2. Heat olive oil in a stove top grill (pan can also be used) and when really hot, add the broccolini stalks and garlic. Cook for a minute on high heat.
  3. Then add the florets, chilli flakes and season with salt.
  4. Toss on high heat for another 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  5. Serve warm

Couscous Salad

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup couscous
  2. 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  3. 1 Lebanese cucumber; finely chopped
  4. 1 medium red onion; finely chopped
  5. 1 tomato; finely chopped
  6. 1 red/yellow bell pepper; finely chopped
  7. ½ cup fresh parsley; finely chopped
  8. 5-6 olives; finely sliced
  9. 50gms feta
  10. Salt, to season
  11. 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  12. Juice of 1 lemon
  13. Freshly milled black pepper

Method:

  1. Cook the couscous as per packet instructions.
  2. To make the dressing, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small capped container. Shake vigorously and keep aside.
  3. Once the couscous is cooked, use a fork to separate the grains. When cooled, add the remaining ingredients and toss well.
  4. Add the crumbled feta and dressing just before serving (or the salad will go soggy), mix again and serve immediately.

Lamb Cutlets (with Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Puree, Couscous Salad and Charred Broccolini) - thespiceadventuress.com

Lamb Cutlets (with Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Puree, Couscous Salad and Charred Broccolini) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

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Indo Chinese style Chilli Lobster

I have a very vivid memory of the first time I tasted lobster.

Must have been about eight or nine years old, I was living in Dubai at that time. One of my dad’s friends who worked in the Merchant Navy had gifted him some as a Christmas present.

Lobsters were literally unheard of, at least in my home. But I could sense the excitement as if something expensive was bought home. Little did I know that it was indeed super expensive and quite an out-of-reach ingredient for most people.

Lobster - thespiceadventuress.com

I don’t remember clearly what was the exact dish my mom cooked but it was a South Indian one, pretty much like how she would cook prawns. The lobster meat tasted sweet and plump, and I couldn’t really see the comparison with prawns. And that taste remained a memory for so many years till I moved to Australia.

While it is still expensive, lobster is no longer an out of reach ingredient. It is available easily at leading seafood stores, and very common during the summer months.

Lobster always evokes a sense of indulgence and that makes it the ideal choice during the festive season. The lobster meat is so succulent, juicy and sweet that it needs very little accompanying flavours.

But today I am going a bit heavy handed with the flavours.

Indo Chinese is one of our favourite cuisines and thus came the idea of putting a spin on a much loved classic. Chilli Lobster – a true indulgence for the taste buds!

Indo Chinese style Chilli Lobster - thespiceadventuress.com

An excellent starter to serve at your parties and its fingerlickin good with sweet, spicy flavours coating the lobster pieces. You could serve it on a beautiful platter as shown or serve it inside the shell of the lobster if kept intact.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 Lobster tails
  2. 1 medium red onion; diced

Find the full recipe here.

Indo Chinese style Chilli Lobster- thespiceadventuress.com

 

Disclaimer – Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood

 

 

Christmas Gift Guide for the Food Lovers + a Food Hamper Giveaway

I know it’s late for a gift guide but hey, I am sure there are plenty of last minute shoppers out there. And I really wanted to do this for all the food lovers out there who are looking for something unique yet simple and affordable for their food loving friends. And in Australia, we are indeed spoilt for choice.

So without much chit chatting, let’s get onto the task. And remember, there is an amazing food hamper waiting for you at the end of the post; you don’t want to miss out on this one.

The Spice People (Spices & Blends)

Based out of Melbourne, Liz Edgecombe is a passionate spice evangelist and my go to spice expert. We can talk for hours about spices, blends and flavour combinations. I have been personally using their spices and blends for more than 2 years now and vouch for the quality and freshness. In fact, 90% of all the whole spices I use are bought from The Spice People and I also buy many of their unique blends like French Vadouvan Curry, Greek Gyros etc….  So do check out their online store for some great deals and spice up your lives this festive season.

(The Spice People have also kindly sponsored 3 spice packs for the food hamper which you can check out below)

The Spice People (Spices & Blends) - product photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Eat me Chutneys (Chutneys & Preserves)

Most of you would have read my recent post about Eat me Chutneys. An epic social project for rescuing the bruised and unwanted fruits and veggies thereby tackling food wastage. Organic, fairtrade and sustainable, a jar of Eat me Chutneys is a perfect gift for any food lover. Currently, they are even offering complimentary shipping so don’t waste your time!

Eat me Chutneys - thespiceadventuress.com

Smoke and Roast (Flavoured Salts)

Are you a fan of smoked and flavoured salts? Then this is a great choice not just as a gift but also to use during this festive season. My favourite is the curry flavoured salt (of course!) which can transform your steaks, lamb ribs or seafood into something magical. Absolutely recommended for the barbeque season. Do check out this recipe that I did using the curry flavoured smoked salt.

Smoke and Roast (Flavoured Salts) - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Bondi Chai (Chai Latte)

Got a chai latte lover at home? Then a pack of the Bondi Chai is the best gift you can give this Christmas. It is Australia’s most awarded chai latte and comes in two delicious flavours – Club Cinnamon (my favourite) and Vanilla Honey. With very less sugar and naturally sweetened with Australian honey, the Bondi Chai is also gluten free and Halal certified. While the hubby enjoys this as a traditional chai latte, I enjoy it in my smoothies like this apple pear chai latte smoothie with a touch of cinnamon.

(Bondi Chai has kindly offered 2 packets of their chai lattes to be part of the giveaway hamper)

Bondi Chai (Chai Latte) - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Picky  Picky Peanuts

There is no way you will have a party without featuring the nuts (unless you have an allergy). So this festive season, let’s binge on some delicious Australian peanuts from Picky Picky. Such a cool name! Available in 5 different flavours – savoury honey roasted, tangy Mexican salsa, sweet chilli & lime, classic sea salt and sea salt & pepper. Delicious and locally made, these make excellent gifts and also great to serve at parties.

(And one lucky person will get to enjoy all the five flavours as part of the food hamper giveaway)

Picky Picky Peanuts - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Red Rock Olives (Artisan Olive Products)

Situated near the Grampians National Park, Red Rock Olives produces award winning premium quality extra virgin olive oil, artisan vinegars, olives and olive salts. I especially loved the flavour of the olive salts which come in two flavours – classic and chilli infused. A unique hand crafted Australian product that would make a great gift for any food lover. There are also special limited edition gift packages available for the season.

(Red Rock Olives has kindly sponsored one bottle of olive salt as part of the food hamper giveaway)

Red Rock Olives (Artisan Olive Products) - product photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Mork (Specialty Hot Chocolate)

What’s Christmas without hot chocolate? Agreed we have a summery Christmas, but hey there is no specific season for chocolate and we can enjoy it chilled too. Mork needs no introduction; a handcrafted product from the cacao artisans designed for pure sensory pleasure. Check out their range and also special gift packs for the season.

Mork (Specialty Hot Chocolate) - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Cookbooks

Cookbooks are an excellent gift option for food lovers. While there is no dearth to good cookbooks these days, my favourite picks would be these three;

  1. The Bangala Table (Flavours and Recipes from Chettinad) b y Sumeet Nair, Meenakshi Meyyappan with Jill Donenfeld
  2. Mourad: New Moroccan by Mourad Lahlou
  3. Recipes from My Mother’s Kitchen by Guy Grossi

Cookbooks - photography - thespiceadventuress.com

The Craft & Co

The Craft & Co. is not a product but a unique space incorporating all facets of food and drinks. A one stop shop located in Collingwood, this place is a haven for local food producers. I could happily get lost here and never want to go back home. An eatery, bar, brewery, deli, distillery, winery, food store etc….. this is the place to go shopping this Christmas. I was there recently for the Christmas market (and have been bombarding all of you with pictures) and came home with so much delicious stuff for my party and unique edible gifts. So if online shopping is not your thing, just head over to Craft & Co to make the most delicious purchases this season.

The Craft & Co. Collingwood - thespiceadventuress.com

One of my best purchases of the day was the Craft & Co. Limoncello made in house in collaboration with the Gypsy Brewing Co. Handcrafted in small batches, each bottle is unique and adapted from a Chef Dom Marzano’s family recipe. A delicious tipple that is best served on ice after a meal or as a cocktail infused with lemon and mint for a summer party.

Craft & Co. Limoncello - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

And the folks at Craft & Co. have also generously offered one bottle of their Nero D’Avola, Heathcote 2015 towards the food hamper that will soon go to one lucky subscriber. This particular wine is slightly different to other Nero D’Avolas because of its unique lightness and smoothness on the palate. A pale beautiful red, it is medium bodied with hints of fresh red berries, plums, savoury spices and baked earth. Pairs well with blue cheese, antipasto and red meat.

Nero D’Avola, Heathcote 2015 - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Artemis Gin

Artemis is not the average bottle of gin that you would pick up in a random liquor store. It is a true artisan product handcrafted in small batches by Derv and Seb in collaboration with The Craft & Co.

In Derv’s and Seb’s words…….. “Artemis Distilled Australian Gin is juniper forward, classic London dry style, complimented by a few local botanicals and our namesake, Artemisia.  It is spicy, savoury, with a kick of citrus and a long finish with clove, nutmeg and ginger.  It is bottled at 44% alcohol, a little above the usual strength, to give the botanicals a little extra punch.  Artemis Gin is perfect in a G&T, sings when combined with Vermouth, which also gets its name from Artemisia, in a Dry Martini or Negroni, and the spices shine when paired with citrus in cocktails like the White Lady or Southside’

This gin was a revelation to my spice loving tastebuds……an explosion  of flavour that can only be truly described by experience. If you decide to buy just one thing this season, let it be a bottle of Artemis.

Artemis Gin - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Melbourne Hot Sauce

The undisputed leader of hot sauces in Australia! There’s a flavour for every taste bud from mild to fiery and when I say fiery, I mean it with flavours like Bhut Jolakia, Spicy Sanchez and Streets of Rage. While I did taste and enjoy the fiery ones, I wasn’t sure of my guests so came home with the milder Chipotle BBQ which has a beautiful sweet n’ spicy smoky flavour great as a dip or as a marinade. Special gift packs are on offer so do check it out.

Melbourne Hot Sauce - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Rum Diary (Spiced Rum)

There’s no way this gift guide will be complete without a mention of this season’s favourite find – the Spiced Rum from Rum Diary. Yet another revelation to my spice loving taste buds, this drink is handcrafted from the finest Caribbean rum and infused with local and native Australian spices. Also launched the pre-batch cocktails in 3 different flavours – Spiced negroni, Spiced old-fashioned and Spiced peach tea spritz. Highly recommended!

That brings us to the end of the gift guide; I agree it was a long one but I wanted to write a bit about each product as these are unique and produced by people who are passionate and take great pride in the work they do.

Rum Diary (Spiced Rum) - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Now onto the food hamper giveaway….

Food hamper giveaway - thespiceadventuress.com

So I have curated one food hamper to give away to one lucky subscriber of mine. The hamper valued at $150 contains some of my favourites (a few were featured above);

  1. The Spice People
  • Dried lemon myrtle leaves (1 pack)
  • French Vadouvan Curry (1 pack)
  • Persian dried rose buds (1 pack)
  1. Bondi Chai
  • Club Cinnamon (200gm)
  • Vanilla Honey (200gm)
  1. Picky Picky Peanuts
  • SeaSalt & Pepper (1 pack)
  • Sweet Chilli & Lime (1 pack)
  • Savoury Honey Roasted (1 pack)
  • Tangy Mexican Salsa (1 pack)
  • Classic Sea Salt (1 pack)
  1. Red Rock Olive salt
  2. Grampians Olive Co. Toscana Organic Extra virgin Olive Oil
  3. T2 Lemongrass & Ginger
  4. Caffe trombetta dal 1890 ORO coffee blend (Italian)
  5. The Alice Tea Co. Spicy Chocolate loose leaf tea
  6. Craft & Co. Nero D’Avola, Heathcote 2015 (1 bottle)
  7. Annabel Trends tea towel

To enter, all that you need to do is;

  1. Subscribe to my blog using your email id
  2. Leave a comment below on what are your plans for this festive season and also your email id to get in touch if you are the lucky one.
  3. Spread the cheer!

Terms & Conditions:

  • You must be 18+ years of age and an Australian resident.
  • The giveaway will be open till Monday 19th, December 2016 midnight and a lucky winner will be chosen and notified on Tuesday morning. The winner must respond within 24 hours or a new winner will be chosen.
  • The winner will be picked by random draw.

This giveaway is now closed and a winner has been chosen.

Mushroom & Sundried Tomato Hummus Toasties

On a slightly chilly evening, about two months ago, I sat down with my pen and diary to plan out the blog posts leading up to Christmas. There was so much I wanted to cook and post, especially traditional dishes like roasts, cakes, cookies etc…..

And somehow I just never did any of those which I had planned so meticulously. Instead I found myself cooking whatever my heart fancies based on a spur-of-the-moment idea or ingredient. In short, bid goodbye to my best laid plans.

If this had happened a year back, I would have become super stressed about the whole thing and worried about blog stats, traffic etc… etc…. But 2016 taught me the biggest lesson of all; to enjoy what I do above all else and the rest will fall into place. I found my unique voice in terms of food and photography, a space I am very comfortable in. No more comparisons with what others are doing anymore. I learnt to say no to the zillions of emails that have nothing to do with my vision for the blog and learnt to embrace the differences that make me stand different in the crowd. Inner peace and clarity….at last!

Moving onto my recipe for the day; I was actually looking for inspiration to create a vegetarian canapé for my Christmas party, something I could prep ahead of time and just assemble on the day of the party. Browsing through Pinterest, I found quite a few versions of the avo toasties which sort of got me thinking along those lines and ta da……the idea for these delicious Mushroom and Hummus toasties took shape.

Mushroom & Sundried Tomato Hummus Toasties - a delightful vegetarian canape for the festive season - thespiceadventuress.com

I loved how these toasties turned out and the minute I got the approval from the boys, I knew it had to go on the blog. So here you go guys…..a very delicious vegetarian starter that can be enjoyed in any season.

P.S.: The sun dried tomato hummus makes an excellent dip…in fact, I am planning on making an extra batch of the hummus for the party which will go on the cheese board. And my little boy loves it slathered in his pita roll.

Sun dried Tomato Hummus - a delicious dip for the festive season - thespiceadventuress.com

Mushroom & Sundried Tomato Hummus Toasties - a delightful vegetarian canape for the festive season - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

(Makes about 20 toasties depending on the length of the baguette)

For the hummus:

  1. 1 cup chickpeas (soaked overnight)
  2. ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes (with the preserved oil)
  3. 2-3 tbsp tahina (sesame seed paste)
  4. 3 medium garlic cloves
  5. 1 lemon
  6. Salt, to season
  7. 3-4 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

For the toasties:

  1. 1 baguette (I used the sesame seed crusted one for extra flavour); thinly sliced
  2. Olive oil
  3. 200gms white mushrooms; sliced
  4. 200gms brown mushrooms; sliced
  5. ½ inch ginger
  6. 1 tsp paprika
  7. Juice of ½ lime
  8. ½ tsp dried thyme
  9. Salt, to season
  10. 2-3 sprigs fresh coriander leaves; finely chopped
  11. 1 cup sun dried tomato hummus

Method:

To prepare the hummus:

  1. Boil the chickpeas with a bit of salt till well done and lightly mushy. Drain and keep aside.
  2. Add the garlic cloves and the juice of ½ lemon to a food processor or blender and whizz.
  3. Then add the sundried tomatoes along with the preserved oil and 2 tbsp tahina. Blend well for at least 2 minutes.
  4. Next add the boiled chickpeas with a pinch of salt and blend well till smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust with lemon juice, salt and tahina if necessary.
  5. Remove to a bowl, create little depressions with the back of your spoon and add the olive oil on top.

Note – The texture of the hummus is better when preparing the chickpeas from scratch as opposed to using tinned ones. But if you are pressed for time, you may use the tinned chickpeas too.

If using the hummus as a dip, add more olive oil and garnish with black olives and a pinch of paprika.

To prepare the toasties:

  1. Preheat the oven (fan forced) to 180°C
  2. Line a baking tray with oven proof paper and place the baguette slices; drizzle with olive oil lightly and bake till light golden brown. Takes about 8 minutes depending on the oven. Remember that the slices only need to crisp up.
  3. Remove and keep aside.
  4. To prepare the mushrooms, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan and add the mushrooms. Cook on high heat for a minute and then add the grated ginger. Continue to cook for another minute and then reduce heat. Add the paprika, dried thyme, juice of ½ lemon and season with salt. Remove and keep aside.
  5. To assemble the toasties, spread a little bit of the hummus over a baguette slice and spoon some mushrooms on top. Do this for all the slices.
  6. Arrange on a platter and garnish the toasties with chopped coriander leaves and a touch of paprika.

Mushroom & Sundried Tomato Hummus Toasties - a delightful vegetarian canape for the festive season - thespiceadventuress.com

Mushroom & Sundried Tomato Hummus Toasties - a delightful vegetarian canape for the festive season - thespiceadventuress.com

Mushroom & Sundried Tomato Hummus Toasties - a delightful vegetarian canape for the festive season - thespiceadventuress.com

Mushroom & Sundried Tomato Hummus Toasties - a delightful vegetarian canape for the festive season - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Crumbed Prawns with Desiccated Coconut and Spices

Why not one last recipe before 2016 arrives, especially when we love seafood so much!

Prawns are indispensable for our summer parties, and one of our most favourite foods to throw on the barbie. But today we are having crunchy, crumbed prawns with a difference. Bye to breadcrumbs and welcome to desiccated coconut to crumb these beauties.

Crumbed Prawns with Desiccated Coconut and Spices - a simple, easy to make crunchy prawn starter for your next party - thespiceadventuress.com

I made a batch of these crumbed prawns for a small get-together at home and everyone loved it, especially the kids. And ofcourse spices are integral to any recipe of mine, so I used a basic marinade for the prawns which boosts the flavour quotient. Not much of heat, but definitely more flavour.

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This is an extremely simple recipe, very few ingredients. The prawns can be pre-prepared and kept in the refrigerator till your guests arrive. I oven baked these with absolutely no oil as the coconut releases a bit of oil which is enough to get a crunchy exterior. But if you wish to shallow fry, you may do so but again, very less oil.

Served with sweet chilli sauce, these crumbed prawns with desiccated coconut and spices make an absolutely delicious starter.

Crumbed Prawns with Desiccated Coconut and Spices - a simple, easy to make crunchy prawn starter for your next party - thespiceadventuress.com

Wishing all of you a fantabulous 2016 and a year ahead of joy, happiness and abundant blessings.

Ingredients:

  1. 500gm prawns; shelled and deveined (retain a bit of the shell at the tail end)
  2. 1 ½ cups desiccated coconut
  3. Salt, to season

View the full recipe here.

Crumbed Prawns with Desiccated Coconut and Spices - a simple, easy to make crunchy prawn starter for your next party - thespiceadventuress.com

Crumbed Prawns with Desiccated Coconut and Spices - a simple, easy to make crunchy prawn starter for your next party - thespiceadventuress.com

Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood. 

Strawberry Jelly (with Chambord Liqueur) and Vanilla ‘Semifreddo’ Custard

2015 has been an incredible year so far.

The first post of the year was this berrylicious semifreddo and in all likelihood, today’s semifreddo might be the last post for this year. Not at all planned and a big irony that both the dishes turn out to be desserts.

A fellow foodie recently asked me, ‘aren’t you making any cakes or cookies for Christmas? The entire blogging fraternity seems to be doing so.’ I am quite un-Christmassy in that regard! But I still wanted to make a dessert that is reminiscent of the season, something light and refreshing after a heavy meal, especially keeping in mind the soaring temperatures here.

It must have been the crates and crates of strawberries at our local market that sparked off the thoughts of a strawberry jelly.  Also the fact that I wanted to master homemade jelly after years of eating the packet ones.

After much internal debate along the lines of strawberries and cream, here is what I came up with…….Strawberry Jelly (with Chambord liqueur) and Vanilla Semifreddo Custard.

A berrylicious Christmas with this fun Strawberry Jelly (with Chambord Liqueur) and Vanilla ‘Semifreddo’ Custard - thespiceadventuress.com

 

The strawberry jelly is really easy to make, a tad bit time consuming though. But the good part is, it can be made much ahead of time especially if you are making it for a party. I added a dash of Chambord liqueur to the jelly for that hint of raspberry flavour. But it is entirely optional or you can add any liqueur of your choice.

And to accompany the jelly, a delicious and creamy Vanilla ‘Semifreddo’ Custard. Well, who am I kidding! It’s not really custard but a semifreddo which is not completely frozen. We tried both the frozen and semi-frozen semifreddo with the jelly and the unanimous decision was that the latter tasted better.

There’s so much you can do to personalize this recipe. Use any berries in season; raspberries would be great! Can’t bother to make semifreddo? Just get a tub of your favourite vanilla icecream, I bet it will be as delicious. Or add a bowl of chopped summer fruits…..perfect if you are hosting a lunch party!

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I set the jelly in a flat tray to cut out some stars for the kiddos and the rest in shot glasses. After a heavy meal, most of my guests hardly have any room for dessert and these shot glasses are the right size. But you can use any type of mould, glass or bowl to set the jelly in.

A berrylicious Christmas with this fun Strawberry Jelly (with Chambord Liqueur) and Vanilla ‘Semifreddo’ Custard - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

A berrylicious Christmas with this fun Strawberry Jelly (with Chambord Liqueur) and Vanilla ‘Semifreddo’ Custard - thespiceadventuress.com

Strawberry Jelly (with Chambord Liqueur) and Vanilla ‘Semifreddo’ Custard – my kind of Christmas in a plate shot glass!

Merry Christmas folks!

Ingredients:

Strawberry jelly:

(Adapted from delicious.com)

  1. 1 kg strawberries; hulled and halved
  2. 1 tbsp lemon juice
  3. 60ml Chambord liqueur
  4. 70g caster sugar
  5. 15 g gelatin leaves

Vanilla Semifreddo:

  1. 400 ml full cream milk
  2. 400 ml condensed milk
  3. A pinch of salt
  4. 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  5. 250ml heavy cream

Method:

Strawberry Jelly:

  1. Place the strawberries in a large heat proof bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place over a pot of simmering water and allow to cook for 1 ½ hours to extract all the juice from the fruit.
  2. Line a sieve with muslin or cheese cloth and place over a large bowl. Pour the cooked strawberries with all the juice into the cloth and allow to drain for 30-45 minutes. Do not press the fruit as this will make the jelly cloudy. Discard the pulp.
  3. Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water to soften.
  4. Pour the drained juice into a measuring jar and add lemon juice and liqueur. Make up the volume to 600ml with water and transfer to a pan. Place over heat and add the caster sugar, stirring to dissolve. Remove from heat.
  5. Add the gelatin leaves to the warm liquid and stir until completely dissolved.
  6. Pour into moulds and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until set.

Notes:

  • Buy the ripest strawberries you can find; don’t go looking for the perfect, beautiful ones. The lightly mashed up ones are the best.
  • As mentioned, use any liqueur of your choice. If you do not want to use any, make up the extra volume with water itself.
  • Add half the quantity of sugar, taste and keep adding as all strawberries might not have the same sugar content.
  • Rinse the moulds before pouring the jelly, helps it come out easily.

Vanilla Semifreddo:

Method:

  1. Place the milk, condensed milk and salt in a pan and bring to boil; stirring continuously. Reduce heat and add the vanilla paste.
  2. Continue to cook for another 10-12 minutes, stirring often, till it reaches the consistency of a thin custard. Allow to cool and then chill in the fridge.
  3. Whip the cream into soft peaks and then fold into the chilled milk mixture.
  4. Line the tin with baking paper and pour the mixture into the tin. Freeze for at least 3 hours for a semi-frozen texture or 4-5 hours for a frozen one.

Serve the jelly along with the vanilla semifreddo and garnish using a baby basil or mint leaf. Enjoy!

 

A berrylicious Christmas with this fun Strawberry Jelly (with Chambord Liqueur) and Vanilla ‘Semifreddo’ Custard - thespiceadventuress.com

Roast Chicken with Vegemite Masala (with Chilli Garlic Asparagus and Cumin spiced Mashed Potatoes)

Vegemite Masala – my boldest Indo Australian fusion dish to date.

This dish was sparked off by a conversation I had a couple of months ago with a friend based in the Middle East. She inboxed me asking about interesting ways to use Vegemite, a bottle of which was gifted to her husband by an Australian client visiting his company. I told her I had no clue as I had never used it before and not a big fan of it either (inspite of it being an Aussie icon).

A couple of days later, I receive another message from her saying how her husband used it to make roast chicken which turned out quite delicious. Well, I asked her for the recipe and poor thing had no clue. Of course we know how it works – the man would enter the kitchen once in a blue moon, dish out something that turns out great and then no end to the bragging. Sigh!

To cut a long story short, I was left with no recipe but a fantabulous idea which I been toying with for the past couple of months. Finally here it is, after much refinement – Roast chicken with vegemite masala served with chilli garlic asparagus and cumin spiced mashed potatoes. Our early Christmas dinner!

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Vegemite is ‘very much’ an acquired taste. For those who have never heard of it before, you can read the Vegemite story here.

My son who usually agrees to eat anything I put on his plate vehemently opposed to picking a bottle of Vegemite off the supermarket shelf. Well for the hubby, he just smirked his face knowing well how crazy I have gone these days.

Well, the thing with vegemite is that is a rather strong yeasty flavour and smell. So the challenge was to draw out the rich flavours masking the unpleasant ones. And what better way to do the job than spices!

So I combined the most traditional Indian curry base with vegemite to create a spicy marinade which was then generously massaged onto the chicken Maryland and then roasted. By the way did you know that in Australia, chicken Maryland is a butcher’s cut as opposed to America where it is the name of traditional dish.

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Chicken Maryland is a great option for smaller families who do not want the tedious job of roasting a whole chicken. This is affordable, easy to roast and no leftovers.

To go along with the vegemite chicken, I pan roasted asparagus with a bit of butter, chilli and garlic. Yum!

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And of course there’s no roast chicken without mashed potatoes; so check out my version of garlicky potatoes spiced generously with cumin and caraway seeds.

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Believe me when I say that this is delicious and do give it a shot. But if this sounds too crazy or you cannot get vegemite in your part of the world, just omit it and you will still have a delicious roast chicken recipe.

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Ingredients:

For the chicken:

  1. 2 Chicken Maryland (with skin)
  2. 1 large onion; cut into large cubes
  3. 1 cup white button mushrooms
  4. 1 lime; halved
  5. 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  6. 1 medium red onion; finely chopped
  7. 2 small ripe tomatoes; finely chopped
  8. 3 garlic cloves; finely grated
  9. 1 inch ginger; finely grated
  10. 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  11. ½ tsp caraway seeds
  12. ½ tsp cumin powder
  13. ½ tsp fennel powder
  14. ½ tsp freshly milled black pepper
  15. Salt, to season
  16. 1 tbsp vegemite
  17. Juice of ½ lemon

For the asparagus:

  1. 12 green asparagus
  2. 1 large garlic clove; sliced finely
  3. ½ tsp chilli flakes
  4. 1 tbsp butter
  5. Salt, to season

For the mashed potato:

  1. 500gms potatoes (I used russet but you can use any which lends a creamy texture)
  2. 2 large garlic clove
  3. 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  4. ½ cup milk
  5. 1 tsp dried oregano
  6. 1 tsp cumin seeds; coarsely crushed
  7. Salt, to season
  8. Black pepper, to season
  9. 1 tsp toasted pine nuts; crushed coarsely

Method:

For the roast chicken:

  1. In a pan, heat butter and add the onions. Sauté till light brown and then add the garlic and ginger.
  2. Sauté for another 2-3 minutes and then add the spices except salt. Mix well and cook on low heat for another minute and then add the tomatoes.
  3. Increase heat and continue to sauté till the tomatoes have turned mushy and the whole mixture begins to come together.
  4. At this stage add vegemite; mix well, taste and then season with salt as the vegemite is naturally salty.
  5. Balance flavours with lemon juice and remove from heat. Allow to cool.
  6. Rub the chicken pieces with salt and pepper; apply the prepared masala (reserve a little) liberally all over the chicken pieces and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or as long as you can. Bring to room temperature before roasting.
  7. Heat the oven to 200°C (fan forced) and line an oven proof tray with baking paper. Place the chicken pieces inside (skin side facing upwards) along with the diced onions. Apply a bit of the reserved vegemite masala over the onions and sprinkle with salt.
  8. Roast for 15 minutes and then turn the chicken pieces over; add the mushrooms at this stage. Apply the remaining masala over the chicken and roast again for another 10 minutes.
  9. Turn the chicken pieces over again, increase heat to 220°C and cook for another 5 minutes (or till done) to brown the skin.
  10. Remove from oven, keep covered and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

For the asparagus:

  1. Trim the thick ends of the asparagus (an inch from bottom) and peel the skin off at the lower end of the asparagus.
  2. Blanch the asparagus and keep aside.
  3. Add butter to a pan and add the garlic cloves; cook on low heat till the garlic takes on a light brown colour, then add the chilli flakes.
  4. Immediately add the asparagus, season with salt and stir fry on high heat for about 15 seconds.

For the mashed potato:

  1. Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water till soft.
  2. Add 2 tbsp butter to a small pan along with the garlic; cook on low heat till garlic turns golden. Remove from flame and add the crushed cumin seeds and oregano. Keep aside.
  3. In another pan, place the potatoes, milk and remaining butter. Mash and cook on low heat whisking continuously till you get a smooth, creamy mixture.
  4. Season with salt and pepper; remove when desired texture has been achieved. If you want super creamy texture, pass the mashed potatoes through a sieve (I didn’t do this, though).
  5. Add the melted garlic infused butter to the mashed potatoes and stir through.
  6. Garnish with toasted pine nuts.

To serve:

Place some mashed potato in the middle of the plate; create a sort of depression or well with the back of a spoon and place the roast chicken on top. Place 3-4 asparagus on one side of the chicken and finish off with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Serve with love and gratefulness in your heart!

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Chambord Margarita

Christmas is almost here, isn’t it?

Well, technically there is more than a month but anyone who hosts a Christmas dinner or party would know the pressure and the need to prepare ahead of time. I have not yet decided if it is going to be a Christmas party or a New Year’s one that we are doing. We tend to alternate it every year as our anniversary also falls during the New Year’s time.

Now I have already started to look for recipes, inspirations and ideas for the party. And the first one I wanted to get sorted was a party cocktail. Believe my luck when I received a bottle of Chambord as part of a work assignment.

chambord

For those who aren’t too familiar, Chambord is a black raspberry liqueur that is crafted in a French château in the province of Chambord. The liqueur is a delicious combination of the freshest blackberries and raspberries which are first soaked in French spirits to get an infusion and is then masterfully blended with cognac, vanilla, herbs and other extracts.

I have been wanting to try out this liqueur which comes in a beautiful deep reddish black bottle ever since I first laid eyes on it. But it is slightly on the pricey side and so was reserving the purchase for a celebration time. But as luck would have it, I got this bottle which I am currently carrying around like a baby.

Ok to get back to the recipe, I wanted to make a simple, tried and tested cocktail using Chambord which is also perfect for the warm, summery Christmas that we have down in Australia.

And a margarita seemed to tick all the right boxes. It didn’t need many ingredients, is simple to prepare and can be made in large batches relatively easy during a party. Winner!

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The Chambord Margarita is light and refreshing; sweet, fruity and citrusy but above all, the prettiest cocktail I have made in a long time. A beautiful blush of pink that tastes as delicious as it looks!

And I admit I got carried away clicking this beauty.

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Recipe Courtesy – Iowa Girl Eats

Ingredients:

Sugar syrup:

  1. 1 cup sugar
  2. 1 cup water

Lime salt:

  1. Zest of 1 lime
  2. 2 tbsp sugar
  3. 2 tbsp salt

For the cocktail (makes 2 glasses)

  1. 6 oz silver tequila
  2. 3 oz fresh lime juice
  3. 2 oz sugar syrup
  4. 1 oz Chambord

Method:

To prepare the sugar syrup:

  • Heat the sugar and water in a pan on low heat till completely melted. Cool before use.
  • Can be stored for up to 2 weeks inside a refrigerator.

To prepare the lime salt:

  • Process the lime zest, salt and sugar in a food processor or blender to evenly mix. Store in an airtight container.

Now comes the Margarita: (For 2 glasses)

  • Rub a lime wedge over the rim of the margarita glass and dip in the lime salt.
  • In a cocktail shaker, add ice cubes followed by 6 oz silver tequila, 3 oz lime juice, 2 oz sugar syrup and 1 oz Chambord.
  • Shake shake shake….shake baby shake!
  • Strain the margarita into the glasses and serve chilled.
  • Drink Responsibly.

 

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Disclaimer – This is not a sponsored post, but I did receive the Chambord for free. 

 

 

 

Lamb Biriyani (Arcot style)

Wishing all my friends and followers a Happy, Blessed and Cheerful Christmas.

I wasn’t too sure if I will get time to post anything on Christmas day as we had originally planned to throw a party for some friends. But that plan got postponed and so we ended up celebrating a quiet, family Christmas this year – just the three of us.

My husband hails from a place called Vellore in Tamil Nadu, India which is ‘famous’ for its biriyani. In fact, no function in any Christian household is complete without a lamb or chicken biriyani. After marriage, the only dish my hubby asked me to learn from his mother is the lamb biriyani she makes…which I did and make quite rather well now.

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This lamb biriyani is prepared in the Arcot style which is famous as a spicy and very flavorsome dish. Lamb is often the meat of choice but chicken can also be used instead. The meat is first half cooked with spices and aromatics; it is then cooked completely along with rice and other whole spices to complete the dish. Like I mentioned, this biriyani is spicy and very flavourful, not really for those with faint-hearted taste buds. And the classic accompaniments for this lamb biriyani is cucumber-carrot raita and oil brinjal (small, baby brinjals prepared with spices)

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So no more talking – let’s get cooking this awesome lamb biriyani.

Ingredients:

For the rice:

1. Long grained rice – 1 kg, washed and drained
2. Red onion – 4-5, sliced thinly
3. Tomato – 4-5, sliced
4. Ginger paste – 1 ½ tbsp
5. Garlic paste – 1 ½ tbsp
6. Bay leaf – 2
7. Clove – 6
8. Cardamom – 6
9. Cinnamon bark – ½ inch
10. Peppercorns – 10
11. Green chillies (whole) – 10
12. Curry leaves – a handful
13. Coriander leaves – 1 cup, chopped finely
14. Mint leaves – 1 cup, chopped finely
15. Curd – 2 tsp
16. Turmeric powder – 1 tbsp
17. Red chilli powder – 1 tbsp
18. Salt – to taste
19. Ghee – 3-4 tbsp
20. Oil – 2 tbsp

For the lamb:

1. Lamb/mutton pieces – 1 kg, cut into curry sized pieces
2. Red onion – 1, sliced
3. Tomato – 1 sliced
4. Ginger paste – 1 tsp
5. Garlic paste – 1 tsp
6. Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
7. Pepper – ½ tsp
8. Red chilli powder – ½ tsp
9. Garam masala – ¼ tsp
10. Salt – to taste

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Method:

• Pressure cook the mutton pieces (2-3 whistles; meat should be 3/4th cooked) along with the rest of the ingredients and a little water till soft and tender.
• Keep a large non-stick handi (deep-bottomed pan) on medium heat and add ghee and oil.
• Once the oil has become moderately hot, add bay leaf, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and peppercorns and crackle
• Then add the sliced onions and sauté.
• As the onion becomes translucent, add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté again.
• Add curry leaves and whole chillies. Saute again.
• Once the onions have turned golden brown, add sliced tomatoes and sauté again for 2 minutes on high flame.
• Turn to medium heat and add chopped coriander leaves and mint leaves.
• As the oil clears, add turmeric powder and red chilli powder.
• Add curd and then lower the heat.
• Next, add the cooked mutton pieces. Measure the broth and add this too to the masala.
• Add the remaining amount of water (water: rice ratio is 2:1 if basmati or long grain rice is used.)
• Add salt to taste and bring to boil.
• Add the washed rice and mix well.
• Turn to high heat and cook covered for 5 minutes.
• Remove lid and mix well, turn heat to low and cook till the rice is done and all the water is absorbed.
• Turn off heat and let sit for a while before removing the lid.
• Garnish with chopped coriander leaves, fried onions and cashewnuts. Serve hot.

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Once again, Merry Christmas to all of you.

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