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Tag Archives: summer

Oysters with Rosé Wine Granita

How many oyster lovers here?

We love oysters, all the three of us, including our 9 year old who started eating raw oysters when he was about 6. And that’s a fact that gets us a lot of attention when we order fresh raw oysters at any restaurant. From the staff to the people dining at neighbouring tables, we get a lot of smiling, curious faces when they see Adi golfing down raw oysters with the happiest grin on his face.

So oysters make a regular appearance in our home when we are in the entertaining mode. Of course we are mindful of how many he eats and we ensure to get our hands on the freshest oysters too (which is important for everyone).

Even though I started writing about Adi’s love for oysters, today’s recipe is not for children. It’s strictly 18+

The idea for this recipe came about when I was sent a bottle of Rameau D’or Cotes De Provence Rosé 2017 as part of a social media project.

Oysters with Rosé Wine Granita - thespiceadventuress.com

From the Provence region in France, this Rosé was a fabulous wine to discover. It was not too sweet unlike many of the Rosés I have had before. Delicious and smooth with hints of delicate spice and Turkish delight/strawberry sorbet sort of flavours, this Rosé was truly a delightful drop.

I enjoyed the Rameau D’or Cotes De Provence Rosé 2017 but still wanted to create a recipe using the wine. And since it was a drop perfect for spring and summer, I came up with the idea of making a granita.

Granita is an ideal summer dessert; it’s simple to make and there are a zillion flavour combinations to choose from. While I have enjoyed the fruit version before, this is the first time I went ahead with a wine based granite.

Oysters with Rosé Wine Granita - thespiceadventuress.com

Granita is believed to have originated in Sicily and it is basically a semi-frozen dessert that is made from fruit or any other flavourings mixed along with sugar and water. A variation of the granita is the Indian gola which is quite popular during the summer months. The difference is that the gola is basically shaved ice onto which the flavourings are poured but in a granita, the flavouring are mixed initially and then allowed to freeze.

Making a granita involves a bit of technicality; you don’t allow the liquid to freeze completely or it just turns to solid ice instead of ice crystals. The liquid is allowed to freeze for a short period of time and as it begins to freeze around the edges, the frozen bits are scraped from the edge towards the centre using a fork creating the crystals. Repeat for a couple of times to get the perfect granita.

This Rosé wine granita is a dessert on its own, a great refreshment after meal for a hot summer day if you don’t want to have any heavy desserts. Or you could pair it with fresh oysters like I did, a really fun and entertaining idea especially if you have friends over.

Oysters with Rosé Wine Granita - thespiceadventuress.com

Oysters with Rosé Wine Granita - thespiceadventuress.com

The same recipe can be followed for other wine varieties too like a Prosecco, Red Wine, Champagne etc…. but you will have to play around with the quantities of lemon juice (I have used verjuice in this recipe) and sugar, both of which are essential when making a wine granita as wine alone does not freeze well.

So let’s make a batch and chill out this summer with a Rosé Wine granita. Pair it with fresh oysters for a delicious starter or finish off your meal with this stunning dessert cocktail.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 cups Rosé Wine
  2. ¼ cup verjuice (or lemon juice)
  3. ¼ cup raw sugar
  4. ½ cup cold water

Method:

  1. Add all the ingredients to a non reactive bowl and mix till the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Pour into a clean baking tray and place in the freezer for 1 hour.
  3. Remove after 1 hour and scrape from the edges using a fork to form the crystals. Freeze again.
  4. Repeat this every 30 minutes for the next 2 hours.
  5. Granita ready!

Note – The quantities of sugar and lemon juice/verjuice will need to be adjusted according to the flavour profile of the wine. So taste after mixing all the ingredients and adjust levels of lemon juice and sugar.

Oysters with Rosé Wine Granita - thespiceadventuress.com

 

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Pan Fried Snapper (with Salsa Verde, Caponata and Asparagus)

How have all of you been?

(Do let me know in the comments guys, because this is the only place where I interact with so many of you. So keep the conversations going….)

I am currently in a ‘season deadline’ zone, a zillion things to do before I fly off to India for our vacation. Yes folks, we are visiting home after a long long gap of almost five years. And no, we didn’t plan on being away for so long, just that a lot of stuff happened on the personal and work front after migrating to Australia that we were not able to take a proper vacation until now.

There is a lot of pending work, and I have no clue how I am going to manage it all. This season’s always a little crazy and it is also a fact that I didn’t plan and organize my work effectively. And honestly, I do find it a bit stressful and overwhelming at times when I see such amazing content from other bloggers. The feeling lasts me a couple of hours. But I don’t let it affect me more than that; a few deep breaths and telling myself repeatedly that I am not a part of any ‘rat race’ is my therapy.

That feeling of ‘not doing enough’ used to plague me much more earlier on. But over years, I have perfected the art of dealing with it effectively. I have learnt to say ‘NO’ and I have learnt to stop comparing myself with anyone else. Believe me; it’s so important in the chaotic times we live in.

So no festive recipes from me this year, just food that I have enjoyed with my family and some that I have created for clients. Hope you guys don’t mind.

The title for today’s recipe might read a mile long, but it’s a super easy one. It’s one of those seafood dishes that can easily come together on a weeknight or sit just as perfectly on your weekend entertaining menu.

Pan Fried Snapper (with Salsa Verde, Caponata and Asparagus)

I have used Red Snapper today; it is a beautiful and versatile fish that can be cooked in so many different ways. The steaks can be used for traditional style curries or fried preparations, the whole fish for grilling or the fillets can be used in so many interesting contemporary dishes like we have today.

It is the accompanying combination of salsa verde and caponata that makes this dish really fresh and perfect for summer. I have added a bit of Kashmiri chilli powder (you could use paprika too) to the fish; I think that hint of spice adds loads more flavour than just salt and pepper.

Really fresh herbs are the key to a good salsa verde; the pickled capers and mustard add a whole dimension of flavour and really jazzes up the herb flavour. The caponata is again so fresh and adds real vibrancy to the dish; make sure that the veggies are tossed on high heat or it will go soggy, which we definitely don’t want. And grilled asparagus ofcourse, for that crunchy textural element.

So let’s dig in – Pan fried Snapper with Salsa Verde, Caponata and Asparagus

Ingredients:

Snapper:

  1. 3 large snapper fillets; deboned and cut into large steaks
  2. Salt, to season
  3. Freshly milled black pepper; to season

Find the full recipe here.

Pan Fried Snapper (with Salsa Verde, Caponata and Asparagus)

 

Disclaimer – Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood

 

Citrusy Sweet Tea Cocktail

I do not follow seasons when it comes to cocktails. And whenever we make at home, it’s usually based on the stash that’s available in the bar cabinet. When I dine out at restaurants, then I would pick a cocktail that sounds interesting or different, something I have never tried before.

Tea based cocktails are really amazing and I have tried out quite a few different ones over the last couple of years. One of the best I have had was at Monkey King; wish I could get the bartender to share that recipe with me.

Inspired by all my past experiences with tea cocktails, I thought it’s time I did one too. And that’s how this Citrusy Sweet Tea Cocktail happened.

Citrusy Sweet Tea Cocktail - thespiceadventuress.com

Sweet Tea cocktails are very famous, especially in the Southern regions of US because it is essentially, a summer drink. It is light, refreshing and very simple to make in large batches, hence very popular for summer backyard parties.

There are many variations but essentially the drink contains tea, citrus, sweetener and good quality bourbon.

But for today’s drink, I tweaked it slightly by using an iced tea recipe (from this cookbook) that I use often which has spices like cinnamon and star anise for that extra punch. And both these spices work like magic with both tea and bourbon.

The Citrusy Sweet Tea Cocktail is extremely simple to make. The tea infusion can be prepared ahead and chilled, a time saver if you are making large batches for a party. Good quality bourbon…don’t compromise on that because it does make a difference to the flavour.

Citrusy Sweet Tea Cocktail - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 5 cups water
  2. 2 tbsp black tea leaves (or 2-3 tea bags)
  3. 1 inch cinnamon stick
  4. 1 star anise
  5. Peel of 1 medium lemon
  6. Sugar, to taste
  7. Orange juice
  8. Bourbon
  9. Star anise, for garnish
  10. Orange slices; for garnish
  11. Ice cubes

Method:

  1. Bring the water to a boil and take it off the heat.
  2. Add the tea leaves to the water along with the lemon peel (remove using a peeler), cinnamon and star anise. Allow to steep for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Strain the tea and allow to cool. Refrigerate in a closed bottle until use.
  4. To make the cocktail, add a few cubes to the glass and fill half of the glass with the tea infusion. Add 15 ml orange juice and 40ml bourbon. Stir and taste; add more orange juice or bourbon to suit personal taste.
  5. Garnish with a star anise.
  6. Cheers!!!

Note: If you want a non alcoholic version, mix the orange juice with the tea infusion to taste. Serve in a glass filled with crushed ice.

Citrusy Sweet Tea Cocktail - thespiceadventuress.com

The ‘Green’ Mojito

Green coriander seeds! I cannot tell you the joy and excitement at seeing these for the very first time in my life…..

Green coriander seeds - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Growing up with parents who were passionate about gardening, I must admit that a bit of the ‘green thumb’ has rubbed off on me too. I have a very basic garden at the moment, mainly herbs and succulents, but I definitely do intend to expand it in the coming months.

One of the first herbs to get planted in my garden was coriander, simply because I use it almost every day and realised that growing it is not only super easy but also an affordable option when you are a food photographer. I highly recommend growing coriander if you are starting out with the whole gardening experience. Quite a sturdy, all season herb that grows easily (giving you that much needed confidence when you are a novice) and works well in a tiny apartment space too.

I have always mentioned how social media helps bridge distances and is a source of positivity and encouragement if you use it in the right manner. When I posted a glimpse of my tiny herb garden, a very kind gentleman Mr. D got in touch saying he would like to send me some seeds that he grows in his garden. He lives in Perth and has an amazing garden filled with all sorts of fruits and vegetables, some of the varieties bought specially from India. And he got my address and send me the seeds of quite a few vegetables including some native greens, carrots, radish and coriander. I thoroughly appreciate your gesture Mr. D and I will forever be indebted.

While the carrots and radish were not a success in my apartment terrace, the coriander grew and blossomed much to my delight. But there was one problem….I didn’t know how to collect the seeds for the next growth cycle. My ‘duh’ moment!

So back to Mr. D, social media and YouTube it was, to understand how to collect the seeds. Until then, I would always snip away the flowers to encourage growth of new leaves and I realized that if I needed to get the seeds, I needed to let the plant flower. The flowers turn to seeds…..can’t believe I forgot my basic botany lessons from school!!

And this spring, I let that happen and soon the tiny pretty white coriander flowers had blossomed into vibrant green coriander seeds. The ‘spice adventuress’ in me was intrigued on how these seeds could be used in cooking as it had the most intense delicious coriander flavour….I would describe it as a cross between the leaves and dried seeds. I did dry one batch of the seeds for the next season but I also got plenty of green seeds for my flavour experiments.

There isn’t much info available on using green coriander seeds but a bit of research and speaking to friends who go gaga over spices and herbs like I do resulted in today’s drink which I fondly call, the ‘Green’ Mojito.

The 'Green' Mojito - a vibrant, summery cocktail with green coriander seeds - thespiceadventuress.com

Now it is almost impossible to buy green coriander seeds so the only way you can enjoy this drink is to grow some yourself or get some from your gardening enthusiastic friends. The seeds can be crushed and infused in vodka or you could infuse it into the sugar syrup like I did. The sugar syrup keeps well in an airtight container for upto 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

So there you go…..a very summery, vibrant and delicious Mojito with green coriander seeds!

Sugar syrup infused with green coriander seeds - thespiceadventuress.com

The 'Green' Mojito - a vibrant, summery cocktail with green coriander seeds - thespiceadventuress.com

The 'Green' Mojito - a vibrant, summery cocktail with green coriander seeds - thespiceadventuress.com

The 'Green' Mojito - a vibrant, summery cocktail with green coriander seeds - thespiceadventuress.com

The 'Green' Mojito - a vibrant, summery cocktail with green coriander seeds - thespiceadventuress.com

The 'Green' Mojito - a vibrant, summery cocktail with green coriander seeds - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 30 ml sugar syrup (infused with green coriander seeds)
  2. 30 ml lime juice
  3. 45 ml white rum
  4. Sparkling water/soda
  5. ½ tsp green coriander seeds
  6. Lime slices; for garnish
  7. Coriander flowers; for garnish (optional)
  8. Ice cubes; crushed

Sugar syrup:

  1. 1 cup raw sugar
  2. 1 cup water
  3. 2 tbsp green coriander seeds

Method:

To prepare sugar syrup:

  • Crush the green coriander seeds lightly
  • Add the sugar, water and coriander seeds to a pan and place on low heat. Stir occasionally till the sugar has completely melted.
  • Cool well and keep the seeds in for at least an hour to further infuse the flavour.
  • Strain and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

To make the mojito:

  • In a tall glass, muddle the green coriander seeds along with the sugar syrup and ¾ ths of the lime juice.
  • Add the white rum and crushed ice cubes. Stir well to combine and top the glass with sparkling water.
  • Taste and add the remaining lime juice if necessary.
  • Garnish with lime slices and coriander flowers.

Note: If you do not like the seeds to remain in the drink, strain after muddling with the sugar syrup and lime juice.

The 'Green' Mojito - a vibrant, summery cocktail with green coriander seeds - thespiceadventuress.com

The 'Green' Mojito - a vibrant, summery cocktail with green coriander seeds - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

Good Palm Oil vs. Bad Palm Oil + a Recipe for Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake

Today, we are going to have an important conversation regarding palm oil. And even though the recipe might sound like a more interesting read, I would encourage all of you to spend a few minutes and read through this post.

Do you use palm oil? I bet most of you would answer ‘no’ to that.

The truth is that most of us still remain largely unaware of the fact that palm oil is an integral part of our daily lives. Often labelled as ‘vegetable oil’, it is a main ingredient in almost 50% of our supermarket goods ranging from biscuits, cookies, chocolates, margarine, sauces, condiments etc… The raw materials derived from palm oil are also a main component of more than 70% of the cosmetics and household detergents we use.

Surprised? I sure was but what was even more surprising or rather shocking was the fact that many of the everyday products that I purchase for my household was made from ‘bad palm oil’.

Does your cookies have good or bad palm oil - thespiceadventuress.com

Does your icecream have good or bad palm oil - thespiceadventuress.com

Good vs. Bad Palm Oil is not about health; it is more about sustainability and protecting our forests and ecosystems.

And it is my own lack of awareness that made me want to collaborate with RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) and take part in the #GoodBadPalmOil campaign.

This global campaign which was launched on 23rd Sept in Australia aims to raise awareness around good and bad palm oil and why it is important for each one of us to make an informed choice everytime we reach out for our favourite lipstick or biscuit.

To quote, ‘at RSPO, we believe that achieving 100% certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) is not only a realistic ambition but a vital one too. The production of ‘bad’ palm oil is rapidly destroying virgin rainforests and ecosystems causing air pollution to rise and putting many species at the risk of extinction. If grown sustainably, ‘good’ palm oil can benefit local communities with fair working conditions and help protect valuable species and forests.’

Good vs. Bad Palm Oil - thespiceadventuress.com

I was happy to read that there are a lot of companies, both Australian and global, who have pledged to use sustainable aka good palm oil. They are certified RSPO producers and the products carry the trademark so that ordinary customers like you and me can make the right choice. But these numbers are not enough; more work needs to be done and there has to be higher visibility and transparency. And this can come only through our informed choices. It is the consumer’s voice that eventually leads to change, albeit one small change at a time!

Read more about the #GoodBadPalmOil campaign here and also watch Jessica Dance’s knitted food videos which spread this valuable message.

I did spend a lot of time looking through this list of Australian companies to understand more about who are certified and also to find out if my favourite products are indeed doing their bit. There were a few nasty surprises but there was good news too.

And when it was time to create a recipe for today, I chose Arnott’s; incredibly happy that one of our favourite brands believes in sustainability and also exhibits a strong social responsibility. Arnott’s ANZ is not only a member of RSPO but also works with a third party NGO so that they can trace their supply back to the mill. All the palm oil used in their products are sourced from Peninsular Malaysia, regions that are meant for agricultural cultivation and does not result in deforestation, peat destruction or exploitation of workers. You can read more about the company’s corporate and social responsibility here.

And when we think of Arnott’s, we think of Tim Tams – the Aussie icon! And what a delicious icon it is!

Mango flavoured Tim Tams - thespiceadventuress.com

Tim Tams are much loved in our household (I am sure it’s the same for you). Even a non-biscuit lover like me is extremely fond of this chocolicious delight. And now I am relieved that I do not have to feel too guilty about eating these.

So I decided to create a summer treat using these and packed the hubby off to the nearest Coles to get me a few packets. My mind was torn between the dark chocolate and chewy caramel but imagine the surprise to find the new mango flavoured ones. I am guessing these are limited edition for the season so grab a few packets before they disappear from the shelves.

And a few experiments later…..here we have a delicious frozen treat to beat the sunny days!

Mango flavoured Tim Tams with a no churn Vanilla Icecream Cake!

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert - thespiceadventuress.com

Drawing inspiration from the cheesecakes, I blitzed the Tim tams and used it as the bottom layer. And though icecreams are traditionally made using eggs, I used a simple eggless version so that a lot more people can enjoy making this. The texture of this is somewhere between a traditional icecream and a semifreddo.

This is an extremely versatile recipe and just about any Tim Tam flavour can be used. Can’t find Tim Tams where you live, buy your favourite pack of biscuits (just make sure it is RSPO certified). You could also add other ingredients to the icecream for eg: some fresh berries for a more fruity flavour especially if you are using a chocolate flavour base.

Mango flavoured TIm Tams - thespiceadventuress.com

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert - thespiceadventuress.com

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert - thespiceadventuress.com

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert - thespiceadventuress.com

An easy peasy summer dessert which is a sure hit with children too; you can get them to help you make this infact. Comes together in no time at all especially for this party season. A very light and delicious ending to any kind of meal.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 pack mango flavoured Tim Tams (use any flavour you wish to)
  2. 400ml full cream milk
  3. 400ml condensed milk
  4. A pinch of salt
  5. 250ml double/thick cream (chilled)
  6. ½ tsp good quality vanilla essence

To decorate:

  1. ½ pack mango flavoured Tim Tams
  2. Dark chocolate shavings
  3. Cake Sprinkles

Method:

  • Line the bottom of a round springform cake tin (20cm) with baking paper.
  • Crumble the Tim Tams in a food processor and add this to the cake tin. Press down well using a spoon or ladle to form a tight base. Refrigerate.
  • Add the milk, condensed milk and salt to a pot; bring to boil and then simmer gently till you get the consistency of a thin custard. Make sure you keep a close eye stirring often or else the mixture can bubble over. Remove from heat and allow to cool down completely and then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Beat the chilled cream to get soft peaks. Add the vanilla essence and then gently fold in the chilled condensed milk mixture till combined well.
  • Pour this over the Tim Tam mixture in the baking tin and freeze for at least 4 hours or till completely set. Remove from the cake tin onto a serving stand.
  • To decorate, I lined the edges of the icecream cake with chocolate shavings. Added 2 Tim Tams to the top and a handful of sprinkles. Just let your creative juice flowing and decorate it however you wish to.

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert - thespiceadventuress.com

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert - thespiceadventuress.com

Disclaimer – This post has been bought to you in collaboration with RSPO. But all the opinions, recipe, photographs and the decision to use Arnott’s biscuits is entirely mine. 

 

 

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing

It’s been a pretty ‘meh’ week so far and I can’t wait for it to get over. My health took a beating and what followed were days of extreme fatigue and tiredness. And I think when women fall sick, we tend to suffer more emotionally than physically.

The week actually started off on a really good note. On Monday, I went on an impromptu lunch date with two of my girlfriends and we had a really good time. Those stolen couple of hours for ourselves were a blessing in our otherwise harried lives. But the euphoria didn’t last long because by the end of the day, I started feeling weak and terrible.

I hardly got any cooking done, surviving on takeaways and basics the whole week. I am quite behind on deadlines but I really couldn’t care less. A big lesson I have learnt is to listen to your body and slow down when it tells you to and I am doing just that. And since I hadn’t tried out anything new, I decided to share with you guys a gorgeous salad that I did a while ago for a client – a Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing.

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing - a light, refreshing and gorgeous salad - thespiceadventuress.com

If you like delicate flavours, then you will love this crab salad. It’s light and summery with a hint of heat from the chillies and aromatics. And that fresh herb dressing only adds to the sweetness of the crab meat.

Purchasing crab meat can be an expensive affair and I would recommend getting those huge mud crabs and taking the meat out yourself. A bit time consuming but way more affordable. And if you have kids, get them onto it…will keep them silent for a while though you might end up with shells all around.

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing - a light, refreshing and gorgeous salad - thespiceadventuress.com

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing - a light, refreshing and gorgeous salad - thespiceadventuress.com

Excellent as a refreshing salad on its own, but it can become the most gorgeous looking party canapé just as easily. I used fried Indian pappads to become a crunchy vehicle for this beautiful salad. You can find all sorts of small sized pappads in Indian stores (sometimes in major supermarkets too). I used the masala pappads for that extra dash of flavour but you can use plain/pepper or cumin studded ones. Generally as an accompaniment, I tend to roast the pappads but for a canapé, I prefer fried as it stays crisp for longer.

You could also opt for crackers or mild flavoured potato crisps….anything crispy that doesn’t overtake the sweet freshness of the salad. A glass of sparkling and this pretty canapé is bound to get conversation flowing….

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing - a light, refreshing and gorgeous salad - thespiceadventuress.com

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing - a light, refreshing and gorgeous salad - thespiceadventuress.com

And as always, I love to hear from you when you have tried any of my recipes. Feel free to drop a comment, mail or share on social media (remember #thespiceadventuress so that I will not miss it). Have a great weekend folks!

Ingredients:

  1. 400gms white crab meat
  2. 1 small Lebanese cucumber; chopped finely

Read the full recipe here…..

Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood.

The ‘Indian’ Cosmopolitan – a Rooh Afza Cocktail!

I have spoken about my need for change before in this post.

I get bored easily, especially with food, which I would say is the driving factor that gets me into the kitchen experimenting. I crave for creating something new, something I have never done before which gives me that adrenaline flush. A new ingredient, a fusion dish, a new cuisine, it can be anything as long as it is new for me.

People often confuse this as a need to keep the blog going. But to be totally honest, I have always been like this in all aspects of my life (which is why I never lasted in the corporate world).

After a week and half of doing familiar stuff in the kitchen, I wanted to start experimenting again. And this time, it’s this pretty cocktail which I have named The ‘Indian’ Cosmopolitan.

The ‘Indian’ Cosmopolitan – a Rooh Afza Cocktail! - thespiceadventuress.com

Every time I spoke to my family and friends in India, I have been hearing just one thing – ‘It’s so damn hot here that we don’t feel like doing anything enjoyable’. The whole of India seems to be reeling under a heat wave at the moment. And this sparked off the idea of a drink with Rooh Afza.

Rooh Afza needs no introduction at all for those who hail from India or Pakistan. In fact, it has become quite famous in several Middle Eastern countries too.

For those who do not know this product, Rooh Afza is basically a concentrated squash (non alcoholic) that is prepared from a range of fruits (pineapple, apple, orange, cherry, blackberry and many others), herbs (chicory, blue star water lily, coriander, purslane etc..), vegetables like spinach and carrot, and also the essence of some flowers like rose, kewra, lemon etc…. Truth be told, this is a special formulation with a ton of ingredients in there.

Rooh Afza - product photography - thespiceadventuress.com

This product is manufactured by the Hamdard Laboratories which has extensive operations both in India and Pakistan. Quite a bit of history as it was formulated by Hakeem Hafiz Abdul Majeed in 1906 and has been in use since then. Rooh Afza is extremely popular among the South Asian Muslims especially during the months of Ramadan and also popular during the summer months. The formulation is believed to be based on the Unani system of healing and hence considered to be healthy and cooling for the body.

Given its heritage and its popularity among the Muslim community, Rooh Afza is hardly ever used in alcoholic drinks or cocktails except for whacky, adventurous souls like me. It is mostly used as a syrup to flavour ice creams, desserts, cold milk drinks. It has a thick consistency, a vibrant red colour and a strong aftertaste of rose essence with undertones of citrus. And this is exactly why the thought of a Cosmopolitan came to my mind.

The ‘Indian’ Cosmopolitan – a Rooh Afza Cocktail! - thespiceadventuress.com

The ‘Indian’ Cosmopolitan – a Rooh Afza Cocktail! - thespiceadventuress.com

In a classic Cosmo, cranberry juice is used which gets replaced with the Rooh Afza in my Indianized version. Since the syrup has a distinct rose flavour, I used both lime and orange juice for that desired citrus punch.

So here is a delightful, delicious and pretty version of the classic; The ‘Indian’ Cosmopolitan, for those hot summer days and balmy nights.

Note – Rooh Afza is commonly available at most Asian/Indian/Pakistani grocery stores in most of the countries so finding it should not be a difficult job.

Ingredients:

Makes 1 serve

  1. 15ml Rooh Afza
  2. 20ml Triple Sec
  3. 15ml lemon juice
  4. 15ml orange juice
  5. 15ml sugar syrup
  6. 35ml vodka
  7. Ice cubes
  8. Orange wedge; for garnish
  9. Chilled cocktail glasses

Method:

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes and add all the ingredients.
  2. Shake, shake, shake…..really shake
  3. Double strain (very important) into a chilled cocktail glass
  4. Rub the rim of the glass lightly with the orange wedge and garnish with the same.
  5. Enjoy…….responsibly.

Note – Making sugar syrup is really simple. Add 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water to a saucepan; heat till the sugar has dissolved completely. Remove and cool; stores well in an airtight container in the fridge for upto 3 weeks.

The ‘Indian’ Cosmopolitan – a Rooh Afza Cocktail! - thespiceadventuress.com

 

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

Lemon Cake

And I finally baked a cake!

There is a strange sense of excitement and fulfillment that I felt at the end of this baking exercise. Yes, I have made cupcakes before but not a traditional cake. In spite of having a mom who is a baking pro and in spite of having considerable experience assisting her in the baking process (my job was to hold the egg beater as she added one ingredient after the other creating fluffy, moist magic inside the bowl), I put off baking for the longest time possible.

There are a zillion recipes bookmarked in my baking folder but when I finally decided to do bake one, it had to be Cook Republic’s ‘lemon cake’.

Cook Republic is a brilliant food blog by Sneh Roy – a blogger, photographer and designer par excellence. I had shared my views about her cookbook, ‘Tasty Express’ on my social media channels recently and today’s lemon cake is one of her creations from the book.

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This lemon cake works brilliantly during the spring summer season when we all like to enjoy light and moist cakes. It is an extremely simple recipe to master especially for amateurs and beginners like me. Very few and basic ingredients, but loaded with flavour!

In spite of being a simple to follow recipe, I admit I stuffed it up the first time I made it. But that’s entirely my fault. The original recipe called for baking in a conventional oven at 180°C and Sneh has mentioned in the book that if you are using a fan forced oven, temperatures need to be reduced. But I completely missed it and so the first attempt did not turn out as moist as it should have been.

But the folly was soon rectified and the second time, it was a brilliant reproduction of Sneh’s original….and I did my little happy dance after tasting it.

I followed the recipe to a T, except for the lemon juice quantities which I reduced and also took care of the baking time and temperatures as I have a fan forced oven. Though Sneh has not used any buttercream icing for the cake, I did because I am a crazy buttercream lover. Just a basic vanilla icing to cover the cake very lightly. But believe me, you really do not need it….a dusting of icing sugar would do, as Sneh suggests in the book.

Do try and get your hands on a copy of Tasty Express; this lemon cake is just one of more than a hundred easy to make, brilliant recipes for everyday cooking.

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Here’s Sneh’s lemon cake, done my way! A summery, light and tangy affair……

Disclaimer – My pics or cake definitely do not look as gorgeous as Sneh’s but believe me, it tasted divine.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

1. 125 gm butter, softened
2. 220 gm caster sugar
3. Finely grated zest of 2 large lemons
4. 3 standard eggs (55 gms each)
5. 225 gms self raising flour
6. Juice of 1 lemon
7. 125 ml milk

For the buttercream:

1. 170 gms butter; softened
2. 300 gms powdered/icing sugar
3. 2-3 tbsp milk
4. 1 tsp vanilla extract

Note – This yield more buttercream than necessary. Either you can spread a thicker layer on the cake or hand over the bowl to your little one to lick!

Method:

To prepare the cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan forced). If using a conventional oven, preheat to 180°C.
2. Grease a cake tin and line the base of the tin with baking paper.
3. Using an electric mixer/beater, beat the softened butter, sugar and zest till creamy and fluffy.
4. Then add the eggs one at a time, beating after each one to incorporate.
5. Sift the flour into the beaten mixture and add the juice of ½ lemon. Beat for a few seconds to incorporate (just a few seconds!). Taste and add more lemon juice if necessary.
6. And finally, add the milk and beat for a few more seconds till incorporated.
7. Pour the cake batter into the tin and tap gently to settle the batter evenly in the tin.
8. Bake for 40 minutes until golden. Make sure you check the cake after 30 minutes. Insert a skewer to check of the cake has cooked through and then bake more if necessary. If you find that the top of the cake is browning faster but not cooked inside, then reduce the temperature and bake further.
9. Stand in the tin for 5 minutes and turn onto a wire rack or cake stand to cool further.
10. Serve warm dusted with icing sugar or cool with buttercream icing like I did.

To prepare the buttercream:

1. Sift the sugar to ensure there are no lumps.
2. Using a hand/electric mixer, beat the butter till pale and fluffy. This will take at least 5-6 minutes or more by an electric mixer so be patient and let the mixer do its work.
3. Add ½ cup sugar, first mix on low speed and then on high till the sugar is fully incorporated. Continue until all the sugar has been added and mixed thoroughly with the butter.
4. Then add the vanilla extract; beat further till incorporated.
5. Add 1 tbsp of milk to fluff up the mixture. The texture of the cream is a personal choice so if you prefer a thick cream, then add just a tbsp but if you prefer a softer and more wet cream, then you can add more milk.

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Grilled Fennel, Walnut and Cherry Tomato Salad with Fresh Turmeric Aioli

Spring is finally here and I am so happy to see my toes again after a long, almost endless bleak winter.

The cherry blossoms lining my street, the fresh vibrant produce in the markets, the skirts,singlets and thongs are all making me very happy. And I wanted to try and create something light and vibrant to capture the essence of this beautiful season. But I also wanted it to be more than a regular salad. I wanted it to make a statement when it arrives on the table. A bit of fancy, but oh so simple!

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This is my first time cooking with fennel and I wonder why did I put off using such a beautiful vegetable till now. Fennel has such a delicious crisp and fresh texture; an amazing ingredient that can be used in so many ways in your cooking.

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Today, I am keeping it simple; just grilling the fennel to lend a nice charred flavour yet retaining its crunchy texture. The cherry tomatoes are also lightly blistered on the grill but not taking it too far as I wanted that pop of fresh sweetness in the mouth. Splashes of green from the Lebanese cucumbers and rocket, a nutty edge from the roasted walnuts, shavings of good quality Parmigiano Reggiano and finally finished off with a generous drizzle of fresh turmeric aioli.

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The fresh turmeric aioli was a last minute inspiration. I wanted more than a simple vinaigrette dressing; something creamy yet with refreshing flavours. And then I remembered a conversation that I had with a couple of my social media friends about the use of fresh turmeric. I usually use fresh turmeric grated into my morning smoothie and so when I had posted the same, many of my friends wanted to know how else to incorporate fresh turmeric into everyday cooking as it is a powerful immune booster.

And thus, this turmeric aioli happened. This one can be whipped up in no time and keeps well in the fridge for use in sandwiches or tacos. I kept the texture slightly on the runny side (not as thick as mayo) as I was using it for a salad.

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So here’s how you can re-create my grilled fennel, walnut and cherry tomato salad with fresh turmeric aioli. A gorgeous salad with fresh vibrant flavours….

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Ingredients:

1. 1 large fennel
2. 1 punnet cherry tomatoes; halved (keep a few whole for aesthetic purposes)
3. 1 Lebanese cucumber
4. ½ cup walnuts
5. Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) block
6. 1 cup rocket leaves
7. Macrobiotic sea salt, to season (use regular salt if this is not available)
8. Freshly milled black pepper
9. 2 tbsp olive oil
10. Fennel fronds, to garnish
11. Fresh turmeric aioli, to dress the salad

To make fresh turmeric aioli:

1. ½ inch fresh turmeric root
2. 1 egg yolk
3. 1 lemon
4. Salt, to season
5. Vegetable oil (at least 2-3 cups)

Method:

To prepare the aioli:

1. In a food processor, add the egg yolk and squeeze in juice from half a lemon. Season with salt.
2. Blitz the mixture and add oil slowly through the top to start the emulsification process.
3. As the mixture starts to emulsify and thicken, add a pinch of grated fresh turmeric. Blitz with more oil till desired consistency is achieved.
4. Taste and adjust; if less tangy add more lemon juice. If you feel that the turmeric flavour is not coming through, then add a pinch more and blitz for a few seconds. Taste and repeat if necessary.
5. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Note – Fresh turmeric has a very strong flavour which is why it must be added in extremely small quantities.

If you would like to see a video of making aioli; then I liked this one.

Aioli can be made without a food processor; just whip the hell out using your whisk or egg beater.

To prepare the salad:

1. Remove the fronds from the fennel and keep aside (used later to garnish the salad). Cut the fennel bulb into medium thick slices.
2. Heat the grill to smoking hot. Brush the fennel slices lightly with olive oil and season with salt. Grill on high heat for a couple of seconds on either side to get a nice char but still retain the crispness of the fennel.
3. On the same grill, grill the tomatoes for a few seconds. We just need a blister on the tomatoes and do not want it to go mushy.
4. Slice the cucumbers using a mandolin or peeler to get thin strips.
5. Roast the walnuts in a pan; take care not to burn.
6. To assemble; place a handful of rocket leaves on a plate and line two slices of grilled fennel on top. Add a couple of cherry tomatoes and walnuts. Roll 1-2 cucumber slices and place it on the plate. Add 2-3 shavings of Parmesan and garnish with fennel fronds; then dress lightly with a few spoonfuls of turmeric aioli. Finally sprinkle the macrobiotic sea salt and black pepper on top.
7. It is not necessary to plate the salad in this manner; use your own creativity and I am sure you will come up with even better results.

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And if you haven’t already read about all the excitement through my social media channels, I recently bought my first DSLR and this post is the first I shot with it. Notice any differences?

Behind the scenes with my new baby.....

Behind the scenes with my new baby…..

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