Friday, June 30, 2006

Risotto ai funghi e prezzemolo



So, while you are still guessing here and maybe playing here, let me spoil you with something else.

If you're Italian is a little rusty - that means Risotto with mushrooms and parsely. Although I think the name should actually include - garlic and thyme too because these two ingredients also give this risotto it's great aromatic flavor.

Before I do go into the actual recipe I'd like to talk a bit about the real main ingredient. The rice.

Rice is really a staple that is available in all parts of the world. The Japanese use it in preparing Sushi, the Chinese in their fried rice, the Thai, of course we Indians could not live without it. Also in Europe rice is used very widely - Italians prepare their risotto and the Spanish their paella. So, we are talking about a very international staple here.

There so many different cultures that have their own special method to prepare rice. And each have their own variety of rice.

Basmati Rice , Kalijira Rice, Para Rice, Rissotto, Lousiana Rice, Red Rice, Black Rice, Carolina Rice, Jasmine Rice, Arboria Rice, Della Rice, Texamati, Wehani, Rice Varieties, Brown Rice, White Rice, Short Grain Rice, Medium Grain Rice, Enriched Rice, Instant Rice, Converted Rice .... well you get my point!

The two types of rice you see above are the ones I always have on stock at home - actually I have a third too, the jasmine Thai rice - but I was out of that!

It is the long grained and elegant looking Indian Basmati rice and the Italian Arboria short, stout and white. The 2/3 types of rice covers our staple for the different tastes we love. Indian, Italian and Asian.

But before you go and try making this dish here with a basmati rice let me warn you - IT WON'T WORK!

The rice in itself is a very proud little grain. Never insult her by trying to make a recipe she is not grown to be. A little bit like us women ... if we are compared with any other woman we kind of strike by going all wrong. So, imagine a Biryani with a sticky japanese sushi rice - yeeuuhhh!

A lot of you visiting my blog are also from all over the world and what would interest me is if you would share the types of rice you use in your kitchen. Maybe we can make our own types of rice list. This would complement the theme to this month's From My Rasoi event: Rice, being hosted over at Paz' blog!

Now, to my risotto!



In the summer we love to sit out on our terrace and enjoy the long evenings. We eat light meals and sip on light wines and cocktails. Of course a risotto is the perfect type of dish that fits in our summer time atmosphere. Our neighbors usually spontaneously come over and so that there is enough to go around I instinctively make huge portions!

This time I turned to Jamie Oliver and his brilliant Jamie's Italy.

He makes risotto easy, quick and just delectable.

I look forward to your comments and in the meantime: Bueno Appetito!

Just a quick reminder to everyone: This month's Monthly Mingle theme is Big on Barbecue. The deadline is July 8th. Get those barbecues hot, sizzling and give me your best recipe!






Ingredients:

For a basic risotto - Risotto Bianco:
1 l of stock - chicken, vegie, fish whatever you have in store
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion - finely chopped
2 garlic cloves - finely chopped
400g Risotto rice - the best and my preference here would be the Arboria type
2 wine glasses full of dry white wine - if cooking for kids substitute this with more stock
salt and fresh cracked pepper
70 g butter
120g parmesan - grated

For the funghi - mushroom
200g wild mushrooms - cleaned and coarsely chopped
olive oil
salt and fresh cracked pepper
1 whole garlic spud - separated in individual cloves, peeled and cut in half
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 tablespoon butter
1 bunch fresh parsley - very finely chopped
lemon juice







Method:

Basic risotto

Step one:
Bring the stock to a boil. In another pot heat the butter and olive oil together and add the chopped onion and garlic. On a low heat sauté very gently for 15 minutes until the flavors have combined and caramelized. Be careful not to allow them to take on color.
Jamie explains that this is called soffritto in the Italian kitchen. Add the rice and raise the temperature.

Step Two:
Keep stirring the rice while in cooks and takes on a glassy color - approx. 1 minute. At this point add the wine (or stock) and allow the rice to take on the wonderful aroma.

Step Three:
Once this has evaporated and the rice begins to get dry add a ladle full of the stock. Stir well and add a touch of salt. Reduce the temperature so that the mixture bubbles slightly. Now, keep adding ladle full of stock, allow the rice to soak this up and stirring every now and then. When the rice has soaked the liquid add another ladle full. By "massaging" the rice this way you release the creamy starch from the rice giving the dish a fantastic consistency. This whole process takes approx. 15 minutes. The rice grains should be soft but still have a slight crunch to them. Now add a bit of salt and pepper, but be careful as the stock is normally salty enough - so please taste before!

Step Four:
Take the pot off the heat and add the butter and parmesan cheese. Mix well and cover. Allow the rice to take on all the flavors - 2 minutes. According to Jamie this is the moment of truth - as giving the risotto this time allows it to unfold it's perfect creamy-moist consistency.

The wild mushroom mixture:

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Around the end of preparing Step Three (above) you should begin with the preparation of the mushroom mixture.

Heat an ovenproof pan and add some olive oil. Sauté the mushrooms for approx. 1-2 minutes until they take on a bit of color. Add salt and pepper and all the garlic, the thyme and the butter. Put this in the oven for about 6 minutes until they release their lovely earthy aroma.

After you have completed Step Four - adding the butter and parmesan - mix in the parsley in the risotto too. It takes on a lovely green color. Then coarsely chop half of the mushroom/garlic mixture and stir into the risotto. Add a generous squirt of lemon juice which is a wonderful neutralizer for the earthy mushroom/garlic taste. Serve the risotto on plates with the rest of the mushroom mixture over the top.

Serve immediately.




Verdict:

It does sound like a lot of work doesn't it. But believe me this is done in such a jiffy that you'll have plenty of time to surf the blogs ;-)

I can't even begin to describe the exclusive taste of this dish. The flavors literally explode in the mouth. The thyme, garlic and mushroom works so well against the fresh parsley and tangy lemon. It harmonizes with the cheese to bring a very powerful, rich and aromatic flavor.

Tom absolutely loved it. It is filling but not heavy and with such dishes I always get bonus points ;-)
Soeren on the other hand found the whole thing very garlicky. He did eat a moderate portion and loved the mushrooms but the garlic was picked out.

I really recommend this dish for a fantastic summer holiday feeling on the balcony, porch or terrace. With the perfect chilled wine who needs the hills of Tuscany when you have all of Italy in your mouth ;-)

With all those herbs in this dish I hope Kalyn will enjoy this one in her Weekend Herb Blogging.
Entry also for Cate's great ARF 5 A Day Tuesday.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Getting to Know You - Meme


I read this Meme over on Pam's blog and thought what a great Meme. Something to get to know my readers. I am always kind of nervous about asking my readers personal informtion as I never know how far does that one reader want to get involved. Some of you are here all the time ;-) and I love you folks for it. Others visit on and off - I always have room for you. Yet others do come but remain in the background. So, whoever is interested in answering these questions please go ahead and comment on them. That goes for you lot in the back there too! ;-)

PS. I just changed one thing from the original Meme and that was question number 9. The original was Tony Bourdain and although I think he is OK, I still think Jamie rocks!

PPS. Oh! and since you are already commenting, try taking a guess here.

  1. What do you do as your occupation?
  2. Drink: what and where?
  3. What was the last thing you ate?
  4. Which other blogs do you read?
  5. How did you first find your way here?
  6. Do you take baths or showers?
  7. It’s Friday night. The lights are low. You’re lookin’ out for a place to go…where to, rockstar?
  8. French Fries or onion rings?
  9. Jamie Oliver: hot or not?
  10. Favorite ice cream flavor?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Mixology Monday IV: Aperitif Upton




I believe this is not only my first entry to Mixology Monday, but it is also my first drink/cocktail on my blog. Mixology Monday is being hosted at Jimmy's Cocktail Hour and the theme is Aperitif.

Actually I should be ashamed of myself! I mean what is a blog without some great tasting cocktail recipes, huh? Especially when the owner loves to nip on one or two in the evenings with neighbors and friends. It's true I am a cocktail freak and love to have Margarita parties with my German girlfriends every now and then. This is something I instigated a while back and they have become a cult sort of evening.

As the days are long and warm outside I thought a nice summery and fruity cocktail would be perfect. I quickly looked through my trustworthy, ever so loyal and a little sticky cocktail book (500 pages!!).

The Upton was something I kept coming back to. The fruity mixture of the fruit juices seemed to appeal to me and with one slight moderation I decided it would be the Upton.

I certainly was not going to make a cocktail and let it pass at that! I called up a few friends who were always interested to see me in action preparing for my blog and told them they were in for a treat.

It was Uptons all around and a show that my buddies found extremely amusing .... I think they found the positions my body would convulse into while taking pictures extremely hilarious!

To be quite honest after a few of these I think they would have found anything hilarious!






Ingredients:

2 cl Brown Rum
2 cl Pineapple juice
1 cl Orange juice
1 cl Lime juice (here the original recipe called for lemon juice)

Shaker
Ice Cubes






Method:

Mix all the ingredients in the shaker throw in some ice cubes and shake well.

Pour into glasses and decorate with a lime.

Happy Hour!

Verdict:

Hic!


Just a quick reminder to everyone: This month's Monthly Mingle theme is Big on Barbecue. The deadline is July 8th. Get those barbecues hot, sizzling and give me your best recipe!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Zucchini and Fennel Frittata -Perfect picnic alternative



When the June weather is so perfectly warm and the days are nice and long, there is nothing we like doing more than getting on our bikes and taking a tour along the Ilm river. Of course, the bicycle tour would not be complete with a long stop at an idyllic place on the river banks underneath a huge oak tree. And certainly not complete if I had not packed a scrumptious picnic basket.

Oh yes! I would have to hear the complaints from my two men! Both would not mind the simple sandwiches and raw vegies and dip picnic, but there are times when I like to take a special treat and surprise them with it. It still has to be simple enough to carry in a backpack on the bike but a little more exclusive than the ham sandwich.

I think a nice spongy frittata is a perfect alternative to take on picnics. A chilled white wine for the adults and some cool lemonade for the kids and a nice crispy baguette - a picnic hit all around.

I like experimenting with different types of fillings for the frittata and this time I found great recipe in one of my very old magazines that I collected during my pregnancy leave. It used green asparagus. Unfortunately green asparagus was not available at the market and I had to re-think my plan! I decided for a different combination of vegetables and herbs.




Ingredients:

300g Zucchini - cut in half lengthwise then in slices
200g fennel - thinly sliced
1 medium onion - finely chopped
2 garlic cloves - finely chopped
1 cup chervil - finely chopped
8 eggs
150 g cream
salt and pepper
100g parmesan - grated
2-4 tablespoons olive oil






Method:

Pre-heat oven at 150°C.

Whisk the eggs and cream together. Add the chervil and 40g of the grated parmesan to the mixture and whisk further. Salt and pepper to taste.

In a large frying pan sauté the onions and garlic in some of the olive oil. Add the vegetables and sauté for a further few minutes - approx. 3-4 minutes.

Grease a casserole dish with the rest of the oil and spread the vegetables evenly. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and sprinkle with the remainder of the parmesan cheese.

Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes.

Allow to cool and cut in cubes.




Verdict:
"Nice one mum!" was Soeren's comment with a mouthful of the frittata. I know fennel is not everyone's favorite vegie, but somehow Soeri was not complaining in any way. Tom was happy that I had come up with a great idea as he actually was not in the mood for sandwiches. He really enjoyed the fresh herby taste the chervil gave the frittata. Chervil is a great herb and I do admit one that I use to seldom in my cooking.
I had made a fairly large casserole dish and was very glad that the container was empty, when I got back on my bike ;-)

As I found this to be a perfect picnic dish I thought it would make a perfect entry to the theme of the Weekend Cookbook Challenge # 6 Picnic.

Furthermore, a nice herby recipe to enter to the Weekend Herb Blogging, this time being hosted closer to my shores - in France at Absolutely Green.

Entry also for Cate's great ARF 5 A Day Tuesday.



Just a quick reminder to everyone: This month's Monthly Mingle theme is Big on Barbecue. The deadline is July 8th. Get those barbecues hot, sizzling and give me your best recipe!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Starwberry Kisses - Strawberry Almond Muffins



Strawberries are in season .... yoohoo! We have fresh strawberries growing in various fields around here and on the weekend we went and picked about 3 1/2 kilos. Besides eating them straight off the field (these are not sprayed with any pesticide or treated with anything else then water, sunshine and all mother nature has to offer) it was a great way to spend part of the afternoon. I'll post a write up and a few pictures sometime later.

So what do you do with so many strawberries? Well you have strawberries with your cornflakes, with cream, with egg liqueur (that is a delish little secret for an after dinner treat), with ice cream and of course just plain. Because that is how they really taste best.

I did decide to make a little treat with a few of them. Basically I was dying to try out my silicon mini muffin tray. It has been lying in the cupboard and has only been used once, when I made those Raspberry Kisses.

Today, I am sending you some perfect looking and awesome tasting Strawberry Kisses!






Ingredients:

100g soft butter
75g sugar
pinch of salt
3 drops bitter almond aroma
2 eggs
150g flour
3 tablespoons ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
250 g Mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons coconut flakes
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
250 g strawberries - cut in halves
2 tablespoons lemon juice






Method:

Pre-heat oven at 175° C.

Beat the butter, sugar, salt and almond aroma with an electric mixer until it is smooth and creamy. Whisk in the eggs one at a time. Mix the flour, ground almonds and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add this in 2-3 portions to the egg/sugar batter.

Fill in your mini muffin forms with the batter. Bake for 20 minutes. Take out and allow to cool.

In the meantime mix the mascarpone cheese with the vanilla sugar, coconut flakes and lemon juice until creamy. Using a piping bag or just a teaspoon place a dollop of topping on each muffin.

Place the strawberries on top of the topping.

This makes approx. 15 mini muffins.

Verdict:
A great combination of ingredients.

Soeren could not believe his eyes when he came back from KIGA. They were on a field trip today and I had baked these for him to take one or two as special treats. He ate one straight away and wanted one for dessert after dinner to.
Tom too was impressed by the way they looked and as he took a bite I actually saw his eyes closing and he savored each moment and bite.

This is such a summery type of muffin for any type of party or summer time picnic. I am sure everyone will be over the sunny skies when you share these kisses!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Colorful Fish



Photographed at the Monterey Aquarium, Monterey, California.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Confessions in Groups of Five



I've been tagged!

Pam of Posie's Place wants my confessions in groups of five.

5 items in the freezer

1. Frozen broccoli.
2. Yoghurt lollies
3. Grill steaks
4. Pancakes
5. Bread rolls

5 items in my closet

1. Bikini (not enough)
2. Shorts (not enough)
3. Summery dresses (far too many)
4. Shoes (far too many)
5. T-shirt (far too many

5 items in my car

1. Sunglasses
2. Soeren's car seat
3. Folding shopping basket
4. Old cassettes that I never use
5. Soeren's "mobike"

5 items in my purse

1. Credit cards
2. A 2 US Dollar note
3. Receipts
4. Driving License
5. Payback Card

I have tagged the following five blogging buds for this meme

1. Haalo at Cook Almost Anything Once
2. Anthony at Anthony's Kitchen
3. Nandita at Saffron Trail
4. Gabrielle at My Life as a reluctant housewife
5. Mahek at Love for Cooking

I know how some don't like being tagged so please on do this if you like to!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Fruity Fruitness - Mango Strawberry Jam


Summer fruity flavours! Right here on this photo you can see just a few reasons why I love summer. Fresh, local strawberries and juicy mangoes!

Something about summer that has you in a constant good mood and enjoying the fruits of the season. At our local market I bought a surplus of fruit and vegetables today and laying them out in my kitchen I could not help and smile at the wonderful colors and aroma.

The mangoes were ripe and a rich aroma lifted up into the kitchen from the Queen of Fruits. The strawberries - luscious and red screamed at me to eat them NOW! I had bought so many that I did sit back and enjoy a big bowl. I was wondering how I should prepare these and thought of the most fantastic idea. What about a tangy, fruity jam spread? I ran back into the kitchen and looked at the strawberries .... but the mangoes were shouting "me too, me too - Meeta!" Mangoes. Strawberries. Mangoes. Strawberries.

I grabbed both and went to work. I added a few surprising ingredients as I went along.

This is a versatile spread and can be used in so many ways. Fantastic when you can't be bothered to spend time in the kitchen when the temperatures are rising.




Ingredients:

1500g strawberries and mangoes - coarsely chopped. You can choose the amounts according to taste I tried to go for a more mango -ier taste so put in a bit more mangoes.
juice and zest of one lime
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
250g Sugar - In Germany we get special type of sugar especially for making preserves, jams and jellies which is what I used. I am sure normal sugar would be fine too.




Method:

Add the chopped fruit into a large hot pot. Pour in the lime juice and cook gently for approx. 2-3 minutes. Puree the fruit using the puree machine. I like a few fruity bits in my preserves so I pureed the mixture roughly.

Add the sugar and bring the entire mixture to a boil, constantly mixing it. Keep stirring for another 3 minutes. Add the ginger powder, lime zest.

Fill into sterilized jars and seal the lid tightly shut with a twist off lid. Place the jars on the head for 5 minutes. Once cooled refrigerate.



Verdict:
Scrumptious in the morning on toast and croissant, scrumptious in the afternoon on muffins and cake and certainly scrumptious in the evening with vanilla ice cream. Hey and not to mention scrumptious in between, blended into milkshakes!

So you can now spend the summer on the terrace or balcony enjoying this spread in a variety of ways. I just hope you don't forget to cook!

I will be taking a jar or two over to my in-laws tomorrow. Their verdict and Tom and Soeri's verdict after the weekend. Yes, I had some already and believe me this is a treat for your family. The combination of lime, ginger and the fruit is rich and aromatic.

Would this not be a great treat for father's day brunch?

Entry for:
ARF 5 A Day Tuesday

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Photo Session



Foodography 5 was all about Brand Awareness. We had to present 3 photos of any brand and depict it in a way that would appeal to end consumers with a concept.

Under the name "Purely Nutella" my concept was: To enjoy Nutella all you need is a spoon. These were my entries. Feel free to leave your comments here or on the actual Flickr photo sets. I would love your feedback.

The enitre pool can be viewed here.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

My Poetic Side



An email from an old Doha College friend sends me into a reverie of memories and brings my poetic side out.

Read more on The Family Buzz

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

1001 Kisses from my Couscous



After eating a lot of Mexican, Chinese and Indian food over the holidays in the US, my taste buds were craving for something different. Just as tasty as all these cuisines but with the use of a few different ingredients.

As I surfed some of my favorite blogs (boy does that feel good) I came across Pam's Middle Eastern menu. She used couscous. Which straight away took me down memory lane of when I was living in Doha, Qatar. I love Middle Eastern food. The use of their fresh ingredients and spices gives this cuisine the right kick. I had not made couscous for absolutely light-years and decided that whatever i did make it would contain couscous.

I sat down and started making a list of things that I can prepare with the couscous. As it is so hot my initial idea of serving this with meat went out of the window. Tom then said "Just do the couscous!"
"Great idea, honey .... here are 1001 kisses from my couscous!" I chirped and thought "why did I not think of that!"

It is quick, easy and perfect for warm days and can be eaten hot or cold. Not to mention it makes a great dish to eat in front of the TV watching the soccer matches.

Are you all watching? A few great matches going on there. Tom is just about collapsing at the soccer everywhere he goes. He is not really such a big fan and just rolls his eyes when I constantly have the TV tuned in to one of the matches.

Anyway, let me take you into my oriental world and serve you my Arabian style couscous with a touch of rose-water!






Ingredients:

250g Couscous
1/4l of chicken stock
1 small can chickpeas
1 bell pepper - chopped
1 zucchini - chopped
1 red onion - chopped
1 tomato - de-seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves - mashed
oregano
herbs of provence
coriander leaves - finely chopped
chives - finely chopped
a few drops of rose water
extra virgin olive oil
butter
salt





Method:

In a large pot bring the chicken stock to a boil. Remove from heat and add the couscous. Mix well, then allow to swell for approx. 2-3 minutes.

In the meantime in a large frying pan heat up some olive oil and fry the onion and garlic until soft. Add the zucchini and peppers and roast till slightly brown. Now put in the chickpeas and continue to simmer gently.

Loosen the couscous with the fork. Place back on a slow heat and add a few chunks of butter. Stir until the butter has melted.

In the vegetables add the tomatoes, oregano, herbs of the provence, salt. Sauté this just for a few minutes. Now add all the vegetables to the couscous and incorporate well.

Sprinkle the chopped chives and coriander leaves and mix well. Lastly add some salt to taste and a few drops of rose water.

Serve in large plates with a sprinkling of olive oil over the top.



Verdict:
This is just one of those dishes that you know you are going to get "ummmmm"s and "aaaahhhh"s to. And it did. Tom was surprised at how easy and tasty this was to make. I even had time to take a few pictures for my photography group (I'll share those with you later).
Soeren ate the biggest bowl and wanted to take some with him in his tiffin but I am not too sure how the teachers will take it when Soeren starts eating something so aromatic (garlic was great) for breakfast!!

Entry for:
ARF 5 A Day Tuesday
Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging
Spice is Right 3 - The Perfumed Garden

Monday, June 12, 2006

St. Louis Arch - The real America?

The St. Louis Arch. What a fantastic piece of architecture. Sleek and amazingly unique. I knew it would make Tom's heart beat a little faster. I am sure most of you who are or have civil engineers/architects at home will relate to the reason why! So, I took plenty of pictures!

More on The Family Buzz!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Football Mingle Round-up!


I just spent the last 3 days in Cologne on business. The city is going mad with all the football mania. I mean in a small town like Weimar it is wild but imagine what the mood is like in Cologne. A huge area has been secured right in the city centre and a massive TV screen has been put up, which will be broadcasting the matches everyday live!

The atmosphere was crackling with football fans all through out the city, splashing a rainbow of colors with their fine football T-shirts. I really enjoyed the entire scene, the jovial cheering and chanting of the various football hymns brought the football spirit out in me too. I was looking forward to the this all along but being in the US and then being dazed with jet lag I was unable to get in touch with it. In Cologne it was easy.

The only thing that was extremely tedious was coming back home on Friday. I took the train and it was probably the worst day to be traveling with the Deutsche Bahn! With the kick-off Germany vs. Costa Rica only hours away in Munich all the Deutsche Bahn trains were delayed. My first one an hour, making me miss by connecting train from Frankfurt airport to Weimar. I decided to take another one but to my dismay that too was delayed for over an hour. Well, after a wild odyssey I did arrive back home. Unfortunately 3 hours later than expected!!!! This of course made me miss the big kick-off. I would have been madder had it not been for the considerate announcements of the current situation of the match in the train ;-)

For those who are not informed Germany won! YEESSS! Michael Ballack did not play due to a slight injury. This news had all of Germany jittering. Imagine the main dude and the team captain sitting on the bench during the first match in your own home country. I think I can relate to the feeling there!

I must say I am rather proud that the Germans are hosting the soccer championships. I know they are so very patriotic when it comes to sports and it is great to see how everyone is coming together and joining this great feeling. I wish I could share a bit of it with you over the blog so you can get the idea. Everywhere you go, there is singing and cheering. Happy faces and good moods in all the crowds you meet. It's just my kind of place to be at!

I really hope it stays this way though. My memory goes back to the awful hooligan riots during the last championships, that was not a pretty sight. I am sure we will have everything under control here and show the world what great hosts we are.

Talking about hosts and pretty sights, my football party is rocked! There was plenty of cheering and shouting going on here and the food was delicious ..... take a look what my blogger buddies brought along!




First off the gorgeous Haalo from Cook Almost Anything brought along fantastic Carrot Falafels and, as she herself said something that made my mouth water, Vanilla and Chocolate Cannoli. Haalo you've done it again




Lovely Gabriella over at My Life as a reluctant housewife brought some good looking Grilled Chicken Satays with Lime Ginger Marinade. Ummmm!





Swee's Jam filled muffins were sticky and scrumptious. A delight for any sweet tooth! I loved the set up!






Greek eggplant salad was Isis' beautiful creation for the party. Something that I was looking forward to. Isis it looks great!





Ramya brought along an unusual sweet made with rice flour. Badushah was something I have not heard of, but I am sure it's delicious.





To wash down the great looking Go Germany! Pizza Vaishali brought along a fantastic tasting Date Apple Shake. Refreshing, how about a shot of Bacardi in it, anyone?




With GM's Chivda we'll be snacking happy all the way to the finals. Thank you, darling for such a healthy snack ;-)





Sweet Nandita joined in the partying with her soft and scrumptious Orange Rum Cake. Doesn't it look goooood!






And finally my dear blog buddy Pam filled us up with a cheesy Swiss Raclette.






oops! I forgot my own entry! Here it is, the scrumptious Veg Sandwich, piled with cheesy vegtables.






Well ladies, it was such a pleasure partying with you that I think I will just have to invite you all over next month again! This time the Monthly Mingle theme is Big on Barbecue.

Monthly Mingle #2: Big on Barbecue

The last Monthly Mingle was a big success and we girls partied the football theme with some scrumptious dishes.

It was so much of fun that I am inviting everyone over again this month.

What is the theme in June?

Well June is a great month, besides the fact that it is my birthday month (June 2) it is a month of clear blue sunny skies, warm lazy afternoons and long party nights. It is a month when everything in moved to the big outdoors. Playing, sports, sleeping, partying, eating and even cooking are just a few things that we do on the long June days.

I love the spontaneous get togethers with friends and neighbors. Just throw on the barbecue, sit back and enjoy the evening eating, drinking and chilling. Everywhere you smell the aroma of charcoal, spices and you hear the laughter and clinkering of people enjoying glasses of chilled wine, beer or punch. AHHHHH!

So, I would like to get you over here to a fun and awesome barbecue party. It is a hot June day, so throw on your bikinis and shorts and pack that sun block. Soeren's sand box and inflatable pool has been set up to serve as the beach and I have the charcoal sizzling hot.

Bring along your favorite barbecue dish or drink. Everything is allowed. Marinated meats, vegetables, fruits for the grill, salads and sides to accompany the grilled goods, sauces and of course cocktails and punches to cool down and have us on our merry ole way ;-)

The deadline for the June Monthly Mingle is July 8 so you have plenty of time to prepare. I look forward to having you over. Let's get this barbecue sizzlin' folks!

More info on the Monthly Mingle Guidelines.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Barbecued Chicken - Michigan Style

I still have one recipe still pending from my travels through the US. We visited my mum's uncle, Joe and his wife Ila in Michigan. They live in Farmington Hills not far from Detroit and have a fantastic house opposite golf greens and luscious green woods. A huge deck overlooks this gorgeous view. During our stay there we had temperatures in the 30's°C (90'sF) and beautiful sunny skies. Just the perfect setting for a great family barbecue.

I had not seen uncle Joe in something like 20 years! It was just great getting together and chilling in his cool basement which he has completely renovated as a family entertainment floor, complete with fitness area, small kitchen, movie and music area and sauna! It was too hot to use the sauna but I was able to take in a hindi film. One of the dumbest I have seen in a very long time - "Pyare Mohan"! I won't even go into it coz it's just not worth it.

Early morning I watched uncle Joe and Ila aunty prepare the barbecue chicken for that evening and I just knew I had to get my camera out and take pictures of this recipe and share it with you all.

I was also enamored with this kitchen tool uncle Joe picked up in India. An onion and herb chopper that made the tedious work of chopping in large amounts look so easy. I thought the pictures of it action came out really well, what do you think?

You know what, this was such a great moment that I really thought if I should change my profession to taking pictures full time. It was only for a moment though because my pictures are not THAT great to make a living off. Anyway, I just enjoyed watching someone else cook and I hand my hands free to take all the pictures I wanted to.

Normally, when I am doing both it goes something like this:
1. Think about the recipe for a long time. Decide on the artistic photo I would like to take of the ingredient/food.
2. Depending on the food/ingredient, set up my picture taking zone accordingly with the appropriate colored backdrops and so on.
3. Start preparing the dish in the kitchen. If I need to take intermediate photos (photos that are taken at different stages of the preparing/cooking process) then I need to rush to my photo zone, take a few pictures, check on the notebook if they turned out well. At the same time trying to keep an eye on the cooking of the dish.
4. When the dish is ready, arrange it so that it looks good, take it back to the photo zone, take the photos, check on notebook. This all while making sure the dish itself remains hot or at least warm!
5. Clear up the mess and photo zone and eat - mostly luke warm or at least nuking it before actually serving ;-)

How many can relate to this?

I really enjoy doing this but this time it was just great to be able to concentrate on one. It would be a difficult choice, anyway, if I was forced to decide between one of the two. There are times when I love the photography other times I can relax and enjoy the cooking. Often, I love the hectic of both!

So, as the season is just perfect for barbecues I leave you with this great recipe of barbecued hot, spicy , gingery and garlicy tandoori chicken and open the theme to my next month's event - King/Queen of Barbecue!




Ingredients:

Chicken breasts - de-skinned and boneless
1 jar of tandoori paste
chilies - finely chopped and as many as you can handle
garlic - (my aunt said she used 1 per breast) - finely chopped
ginger - mashed
onions - finely chopped
salt and fresh cracked pepper
natural yoghurt - don't go for the low fat version as this is often too runny. Use a nice thick yoghurt.




Method:

Clean the chicken breasts and slash them lightly with a sharp knife. Rub well with salt and pepper.

In a large mixing bowl pour the yoghurt and add the tandoori paste and mix well. The yoghurt takes on a lovely pink/reddish color.

In another mixing bowl mix the chilies, garlic, ginger and rub a bit of this on and into the chicken. Add the rest to the yoghurt mixture, together with the onions. Salt and pepper to taste. Now place the chicken breasts into this mixture and allow to marinate for 6 - 8 hours or overnight.

Heat up your barbecue and grill each breast until nicely done. My uncle added some carrot sticks and onion rings into the leftover marinade and grilled these too. I leave this to you if you choose to do this.

Serve with lime wedges, mint chutney and fresh salad.



Verdict:
WOW! I love chicken off a grill but normally if it is not taken off just at the right moment it becomes very dry. This here was juicy, and the flavors of the ginger and garlic blended beautifully. The chilies added the right spicy note and the tandoori spices made it truly exotic. I really liked the idea with the mint chutney as it was the right type of sauce that held it's taste with the chicken and added a divine minty and fresh touch.

There was not much left over of the barbecue and we all sat back, satisfied and silent, only like when one is when they are so pleased with themselves.

Hope you enjoy this too.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Calzone's Super Veg Sandwich!

San Francisco has gotta be the world's best cities. It is at least in my eyes. There is no other city that boasts of variety in everything. Food, people, culture, tradition, buildings ... you name it SF has certainly got it.

I am finally back in Germany and while I sort out all my pictures and struggle through my jet lag - it really is a mean thing - I really wanted to share a fantastic recipe with you all.

While we were in the city my cousin, Megha, took us out to a really quaint little Bistro in North Beach, Little Italy. Under the name "Calzone's it was a nice street side café with a nice seating area inside. The walls were covered in shelves of Italian food stuff and meat and sausage products. Great for picture taking!

The menu had one mouth watering dish after another. Pizzas, calzone, pasta, soups, and of course sandwiches.

The sandwiches all sounded fantastic and I would have loved to have tried all of them, but I was already eating tremendously during my vacation and just wanted little snack.

I ordered the most amazing veg sandwich ever. It was oozing with deliciously marinated vegetables and cheeses. On the side a fresh and crunchy salad with raspberry vinaigrette. It was a medley for my taste buds.

I just had to come back and give this a try myself and of course had to share it with you too.

This is also my own entry to my Monthly Mingle. I love everything Italian, which has become a known fact, however I won't be supporting the Italian team during the soccer matches .... I have to support Germany and there is no way out of it. But there is no reason I should not stay true to my passion for Italian food. So, kick back and grab a cold German beer from the ice box and let's get settled in with this scrumptious sandwich and a few great matches.

The event ends this weekend so to all those still interested in joining the party you have till June 10 to send me your entries. Look forward to them.


Ingredients:

1 jar of marinated roasted bell peppers
1 small aubergine - sliced
1 small jar of artichoke hearts
1 portabello mushroom - sliced
2 tomatoes - sliced
1 red onion - sliced
Mozzarella cheese - sliced
Goat cheese
Pesto all Genovese
Ciabatta bread

3 garlic cloves - crushed and diced
3 table spoons extra virgin olive oil
1 table spoon white balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
dried basel



Method:

Preheat the oven at 200 °C. Make the marination mixture by adding the garlic, olive oil, vinegar and dried basel in a small bowl and whisking well.

On a baking tray lay out the sliced vegetables and pour the marination over the top. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Allow to rest for 20 minutes.

Put into the oven and roast for approx. 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and colored.

Take out and allow to cool.

Cut the ciabatta in half and spread with the Pesto all Genovese. On the bottom half of the bread pile up the vegetables and lay the mozzarella slices over the top. Crumble a bit of the goats cheese and put into the oven until the cheeses have melted together.

Take out and enjoy warm!


Verdict:
Like I said great city and great culinary delights. This is more than a little delight to enjoy. It is and ecstasy to savour. Tom just could not believe a sandwich with no meat can taste this good. Soeri did not want and artichokes or goats cheese but the rest he devoured.

This is also going to Cate's ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday.

Blogger Meet in Cali!

Folks, meet Payal! She is a great and a dedicated reader of all my blogs. We got to know each other when she first participated in my blog game back in March. We found out over email that we have so much in common and I loved her opions and advice on many things. When I found out that she was living in the San Francisco area it was a meeting waiting to happen.

That's exactly what we did! While in San Francisco we met up at a memorable place. It was nothing less than the Golden Gate Bridge.

It was a rather short meeting because if anyone lives in or has experienced and Indian family will know that when visiting the visitor has nothing to plan really as everything is planned out already ;-) But I am glad we got to meet each other.

Payal is a warm, loving and fantastic person and my whole family took to her and her husband Greg so well. We walked the bridge together chatting and enjoying Soeri's craziness.

The weird thing was that payal knew how we both looked like through The Family Buzz and so she was able to pick us out in the huge crowd.

I am looking forward to her trip to Europe in the future so we can spend more time with each other.

Payal sweetie, this ones for you!!

By the way, that pic of me is sooo awful! The result of late nights with me cousins and family, too much traveling and plain tiredness. I almost decided not to post this one but thought "What the hec! Who cares!"

More on my trip to the US and plenty of photos to come soon so hope you stay tuned.