Almost LazyĀ Sunday

Saturday afternoon proudly declared that Sunday was going to be even more sleepy and droopy-woozy-gloopy. It was almost six in the evening and I just couldn’t wait to wrap-up all the drawings and samples and rush home to sleep through the weekend. Two feet away from me, Kunsh slept snoring softly and clutching his stick (constructed painfully out of straws) and I was surprised to find myself envying a little child.

Saturday evening went by softly, with a quick visit to one of our favorite coffee hangouts, Mocha. Fauri and I went back home excited about all the lazying around that we were sure was awaiting us.

Don’t know what went wrong, but we woke up to the doorbell. The maid.

The gardener followed in an hour. The neighbor came up for help another hour later. The watchman. The newspaper guy’s assistant. The cable guy.

So much for sleeping through Sunday.

Finally, I decided that chopping mushrooms would let out some of the irritation. And I was right.

Just the color, texture and simplicity of them got me excited and ambitious enough to cook up a complicated gourmet something…ah, well…

In the end though, I made a simple, super-easy lunch of pan-seared chicken (for me) and aloo ke parathe (for Fauri), before we headed out to catch Monsters vs. Aliens at Fun Cinemas. Very grown-up, I know.

Earlier last week, we got a mound of button mushrooms and had used up most of them in two very high-calorie batches of pasta and a mushroom risotto. And we’re still left with a small box. Well, not anymore.

Ultra-simple Chicken in Mushroom Sauce

What You Need:

– 400gms boneless chicken pieces

– three tablespoons of vegetable oil to fry

– 150gms button mushrooms , sliced or chopped (I prefer, sliced)

– 3 medium-sized scallions, chopped finely or pureed (pureed scallions obviously make the sauce smoother)

– 8-9 cloves of garlic, smashed with a side of your knife

– 1 tablespoon of whole peppercorns

– Half a teaspoon of dry basil

– Half a teaspoon of chili flakes (depends on how hot you like it)

– 1 bay leaf

– Quarter cup of white wine

– Half a cup of fresh cream

– Salt, pepper and sugar, to taste

– Half a cup of chicken stock or water, this is optional, depending on the kind of consistency you want your sauce to have.

– Chopped cilantro leaves to garnish

How-To:

Heat oil and sear the chicken till brown. Do this in batches, depending on the size of your pan/skillet.

– Remove from the pan. In the remaining oil, add the chopped scallions, garlic, bay leaf and peppercorns and saute till soft and translucent. Alternatively, if you’ve pureed the scallions, saute the garlic, bay leaf and peppercorns for about a minute on high heat and then add the puree and cook till the mixture turns slightly golden brown.

– Add the mushroom. Lower the heat, cover and cook till the mushrooms become spongy.

– Add the white wine and basil.

– Wait till the alcohol evaporates. Then add the cream and ultimately season with salt, sugar and pepper to taste.

– Cover and cook till the mixture comes to a boil.

– Add this point, is the sauce seems too thick, add half a cup of chicken stock or just plain water,or more till you get the consistency you like. Cook for another 5-10 minutes.

– Add in the seared chicken pieces and toss lightly.

– Take it off the heat. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with steamed rice.

Foram’s parathas were a little more spicy than I would have liked them to be….but yummy all the same!

The Potato filling:

Peel and boil a couple of big potatoes. Mash them when cool. Heat a little oil in a skillet. Fry chopped red onions with ginger-garlic paste. Add in the potatoes and season.

Meanwhile mix water and flour together to form a soft and springy dough. Divide in equal-sized balls. Roll out in circles. Place a handful of potato filling in the middle. Wrap the edges of the rolled out dough on top of the filling. And carefully roll out the stuffed ball again.

Heat a little oil in a flat pan (tava) and place one of the stuffed parathas on it. Turn about a minute later till both sides are golden brown and the flour is cooked thtough. Serve hot with mint chutney or chilled cucumber raita.

Updates.

Hello everyone! What’s up?

Its been quite a busy week for me actually. And its not really over, since I work on Saturdays too.

The chocolate phirni seems to be the highlight of the week gone by.

Also, last saturday evening, a visit to a very popular eatery, Candies (in Bandra) was quite a pleasant experience…some place I intend to visit again within the next couple of weeks, hopefully. And yes, a review would follow obviously.

Work is thankfully a little slow than before, getting reasonable time to breathe between projects……can’t say that about my personal life. Its been loaded with conversations over the phone with Mum and Dad about my plans for further studies…ouch…

Also, I’ve only recently and for the first time realized that I completely suck at long-distance relationships. Not that I’ve had any before this one. I just wish the Lieutenant and i were living in the same city. We both belong to the “huggy-feely-kissy-cuddly” group of people and this is torture. Seriously. šŸ˜¦

Meanwhile, I’ve developed this wierd itch to click at whatever, wherever with the oldest digital camera in the world.

My dad bought it for me about 9 years back….so trust me when I say its old. Its a Sony and no wonder its still working.

Last Tuesday, on my way to office, I clicked a little tired old lady resting by the side of the road. Very candid, if I may say so myself. And one of a BEST bus with a Tasveer 8 X 10 poster stuck on its back.

I’m not particularly a very good movie critique, but I know what I like, and Tasveer 8 X 10 sucks. Its complete bull****.

Desi boys and girls, you’d be making a grave mistake if you actually buy theatre tickets to watch this one. Trash it.

Akshaye Kumar….dunno what’s gone wrong with him. And Nagesh Kukunoor? He was one of my favorite Bollywood Directors. He still is. But, dude…what the hell went wrong with this one? Supernatural tones? Mutant hero who can get into photographs? An evil twin who returns with revenge in his heart?

Doh!

Anyway…

The last week has also been a food fest for me personally. I’ve had people cook for me more than I have or them.

And the results have been pretty good… šŸ™‚

Special mention goes to Neha’s banana-date-almond cake. Awesome. No other word for it. Perfectly soft and the correct amount of sweet.

She admits she’s always been a perfectionist. No experimenting and a strict follower of recipes. How unlike me.

But hey, I’m not complainig…especially after feasting on the cake the entire day and forgetting lunch altogether.

And I wonder why I find it difficult to lose weight….

Well, I’m so tired right now, I’m barely aware of what I’m typing….should get to bed and catch you all next week!

Blogoversary

I finally got to celebrate my Blog’s birthday!!

A whole year of not much fat-freeness!! Yahoo.

Like I mentioned earlier, the first anniversary went by in February, and I had been too swamped to even whip up a simple something.

Fat-Free Brainwaves had humble beginnings.

My first post was dated February 1st, 2008. It was about fried hotdogs. That’s right. Of all the things I’ve ever made or learnt, one of the first things I tried to cook for my very own party was chopped chicken hot dogs in a flour-egg-oregano batter.

My friends had actually looked at me in disbelief when I had announce the blog’s web address to them.

“A blog?” asked Udit.

“What? You’re gonna write your secrets in it or something…?”

A big burst of laughter followed….

Honestly, I didn’t know. All I knew was that I wanted one. What would I put in it? I hadn’t asked myself this question.

Back in February 2008, we were in the middle of Final Year Thesis, just recovering from the battering that we undergone from our Thesis Guides and Professors on the presentations of our poorly thought-out design concepts. We had little time to think of anything else, let alone blog, websites and magazines. The only typing we were doing at the time was meant exclusively for our Thesis Books and briefs.

And in the middle of all that, setting up a blog seemed like a waste of time and maintaining would have been quite impossible. But I just had to have a place to put up all the photography and design work that I’d done.

And then food happened.

I had learnt too cook basic meals from Mom…on the phone. So, I decided to add all the my mishaps and haps in the kitchen to the blog, along with design and photography. Its been a whole year (a couple of months more) and I can’t wait to hit the 30,000 visitors mark!

Yesterday, me and Fauri, like true Indians, cooked up a whole deep-bottomed-pot full of phirni.
Chocolate phirni, at that!!

Phirni (firni) is technically a custard made out of reduced milk with sugar and rice flour, stuffed and garnished with dry fruits.

Its heavy, sweet oh-so-sweet and you can try out a ton of flavors, if you’re willing to experiment.
Phirni, is usually flavored with mava (dry milk), which is something most Indian sweets are made out of.
Our version is flavored generously with bittersweet chocolate…..wat else?

Ingredients:

– 1 litre of full cream milk
– 4 tablespoons of rice flour
– 2 tablespoons of ground almond
– Good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2′ pieces
– 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
– 4 tablespoons of brown sugar
– half a cup of almonds, slivered
– half a cup of walnuts, chopped
– a pinch of saffron
– whole cashews, almonds and raisins to garnish
– 1 tablespoon of rose water

How To:

– Add the rice flour to 1 cup of cold milk and stir well to dissolve, remove all lumps. Keep aside for about 15-30 minutes.
– Heat the rest of the milk on low heat. Add the sugar, ground almond, saffron and the rice flour-milk mixture. Stir well. Make sure no lumps exist.
– Heat the milk till the mixture thickens into a custard. Coat the back of a spoon with the custard. Run a finger across the back. The custard is done when your finger leaves a clean line across the back.
– Stir in the almonds and walnuts.
– While the milk is reducing, melt the chocolate pieces with butter in a bain marie.
– Stir the chocolate into the custard. Mix well.
– Spoon out the custard into ramekins or bowls.
– Garnish with slivered almonds, raisins, cashews, etc.
– Sprinkle the rose water on the surface of the mixture in each ramekin/bowl. this is best done by dipping your fingers into the rose water and flicking the droplets on the surface. Rose water here is not for flavor, just for aromatic purposes.
– Chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours, before serving.

MidnightĀ Cravings

What do you do when you’re up at 1 o’clock in the morning craving something chocolate, something warm and something that doesn’t take much work?
You thank Chef Wan for the Chocolate Valentino flourless cake.

I didn’t follow the recipe word for word and played around with the amount of butter a little, but it turned out nom-worthy anyway…

What You Need:
– 250 gms bittersweet chocolate, chopped to bits
– 2 eggs, yolks and whites separated (since I’m only baking for two, and in a hurry)
– 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter (salted worked for me last night)

How-To:
– Melt the chocolate and butter in a baine marie
– Whip the egg whites till fluffy (but not super-stiff)
– Take the molten chocolate off the heat and let si for a minute.
– Stir in the egg yolks into the slightly cool chocolate mixture (you don’t want the chocolate to be too hot at this moment, otherwise the yolks would just cook in it….ew!)
– Fold in the whites into this chocolate-yolk mixture in 3 parts. Fold. This is important, becaue you don’t want the whites to deflate. The cake will turn out flat if they do.

–Ā  Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350-375 degrees. The cake ideally should look like a brownie, on the surface.

– Cool on the rack.
– Slice. Eat.

And then thank Chef Wan again.


A few things I learned while making this cake :
1)Its very difficult to whip egg whites to peaks with one hand while you’re holding your cellphone on the other, talking to a certain someone. Earphones, at this point, come in handy.
2) The cake tastes better the next day.
3) Too many eggs and the cake turns brownie-like on cooling. Refrigerating overnight, makes it slightly crunchy. I had to leave it out for sometime to bring it back to cake-like consistency.

4) Tastes a whole lot better along with vanilla or banana-strawberry ice-cream.

The next morning, I just had enought time to make some chocolate ganache to ice the cake with. Very simple. Chop chocolate. Boil cream. Add it to the chocolate, Stir from the centre outwards to melt the chocolate. Adding artificial flavors or alcohol is optional. Spread evenly on the surface of the cake.

Divine.